Dark Horse Brewing Co.
Marshall, MI

Style: Amber Ale
ABV: 5.5%
Dark Horse Brewing Company, out of Marshall, Michigan is one of those breweries with a bit of a cult-like following among the beer geeks. They’ve managed to infuse a good amount of creativity into styles that may otherwise fall into the “same ol’, same ol’” categories that sometimes plague small brewers. You know, there are those places that settle for American Ale 1056 yeast in all their beers and brew a “Pale,” “Red” and “Porter/Stout” that all taste strangely alike.
Well, you won’t find that sort of conformity from these guys.
I spent an afternoon yesterday with a few pints of their Amber Ale. The only thing generic about this beer was the name. Served unfiltered, the draft pours with a traditional deep, cloudy copper color, but opens up immediately with a funky yeast nose that almost hints at a Belgian strain or the essence of a homebrew. The body is full, sweet and rolls back into a spicy, but clean hoppy bite. Nearly every sip brought out something different, a spice here and hint of fruit there.
While it does have a little bit of kick, you don’t feel like you’re drinking a strong ale as the blend of flavors and aromas balance nicely and the fullness covers up any heat from the alcohol. It’s a very satisfying brew and interesting enough to find new layers as you pair it up with an appetizer or meal.
Dark Horse’s brews are available in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota. While the Amber Ale is probably the tamest of their year-round offerings, any of their brews are worth checking out if you can find it in your area.
I’d wavered between three and four mugs on this one, but by my third pint, I was convinced this was a four. While it’s certainly not a “profile” amber ale, the lack of conformity is an asset as this Amber Ale is distinctive and memorable for all the right reasons.