Widow Maker Black Ale

Widow Maker Black Ale

Widow Maker Black Ale

Named after a pneumatic drill that was notoriously dangerous for the UP miners that used it, this black ale from Keweenah Brewing Company, South Range, MI, sports a fine-beaded head that doesn’t take much drilling to get through.  The lace slides gently down the glass, and a clean bouquet wafts upward.  Slight coffee, subtle hop and deep black color makes for interesting contrasts in Widow Maker.  It is much lighter-bodied than you think, being smooth and creamy with a mellow roasted caramel foundation.  There’s even a hint of hardwood smoke.  Widow Maker is an easy drinker, light and flavorful with virtually no hops presence to note.  Definitely not an APA or IPA, and that’s a really pleasant change of pace.  My only complaint is the terrible label art, and since the can is pour and pitch, it didn’t bother me for very long

82/100 Black Ale

Night Time

night timeWell, when you start with an uninspired name for your beer and a super ugly label, you set the bar kind of low.  Fortunately Lagunitas has a good track record as far as the actual beer goes, but I like to start a journey on a high note.  The giant, lacey head that Night Time sports is long-lasting and frothy, so things are looking up.  The bouquet is definitely hop-forward with both piney and floral notes.  The rich malt makes its presence known by fortifying Night Time with a full, smooth body and roasty demeanor.  There’s a bit of a twang to it in the finish (fortified with Cascades hops and 7.9% ABV) and a hint of toffee or butterscotch in the exhale.  A good way to end the journey.  Night Time is a good American Black Ale.

85/100 black ale

Reserve Special Black Ale

reserve specialReserve Special Black Bier Ale from Dark Horse Brewing Company, Marshall, MI, is absolutely opaque, with an ample dark mahogany head that collapses to a thin layer in a few minutes.  There’s a whiff of alcohol right off the bat, and roasted coffee, caramel, light wood smoke round out the bouquet, ending in a light tang.  There’s a lot of coffee in the taste, with a creamy texture and long lasting bitterness in the finish.  Too long for me, but not enough to make it unenjoyable.  I will say that it is a little much for me.  It’s a big beer and I’m a small guy.  I would recommend this for a cool autumn evening spent by the fireplace with some nice blue cheese, a fresh baguette and some Cannonball Adderley.

Summit Black Ale

Image courtesy of Summit Brewing Co.

Yes, Summit Black Ale is really black, and the head looks like the surface of the moon, the lacing like the Himalayas.  An impressive start!  The bouquet is robust, roasty and hoppy, creamy and coffeelike, with a hint of yeast.  The taste follows the bouquet, but with a touch off earthiness and some green grass.  The finish is expectedly bitter.  I don’t see myself craving another one down the line (which is good, as this is a limited release), but as this may be the only Black Ale I’ve tried, I’d have to give Summit Black Ale a “not bad” rating.