Black Horse Ale

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Juli Jane
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2006/12/14 21:45:25 (permalink)

Black Horse Ale

I attended SUNY at Brockport back in the early 70s. One of my Rugby-playing friends introduced me to "Black Horse Ale". I was told it was a Canadian beer. I only had it a few times, but have never forgotten it (and I'm not a big beer drinker). A question? Is it still in production, and if so, is it still distributed in the states? Any info. would be appreciated! Thanks!
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    Cakes
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/14 22:22:16 (permalink)
    Try google.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/14 22:22:58 (permalink)
    I remember Black Horse Ale. I believe it was from Molson, a Canadian brewer. I don't know if it exists anymore.
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    Juli Jane
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/14 22:23:39 (permalink)
    Thanks, "DC". I tried "Googling" first and didn't come up with anything. I'll keep trying, though.
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    Juli Jane
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/14 22:25:31 (permalink)
    Michael, I looked up the Molson website and Black Horse wasn't listed. A few websites mentioned Black Horse was only available in Newfoundland, where it is brewed.
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    Poverty Pete
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/14 22:27:34 (permalink)
    Back in the 70's, Black Horse Ale was produced by Genesee in Rochester, New York. Much later, a brewery in Northwest Canada made a beer by the same name. I don't believe there is any connection between the two, and have no idea whether it's now available in the US. I think Genesee stopped production in the mid 90's, but could be wrong about that.
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    Mosca
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 08:11:27 (permalink)
    Back in the day before every town had its own microbrew or brewpub, or at least access to tose products, Black Horse was considered a pretty good American style ale. I'm not sure it would cut it today.


    Tom
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    Poverty Pete
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 08:42:00 (permalink)
    Mosca, I concur with your conclusion. There were several others considered a cut above, including 12 Horse and Chesterfield from Pa., and two or three from Wisconsin. The only brew I can think of that could have competed against the great beers of today was Ballantine's India Pale Ale, during the time it was made in New Jersey. When production moved to Fort Wayne, In., the quality dropped significantly.
    By and large, in the world of beer, this is the golden age.
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    jesskidden
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 09:22:29 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Juli Jane

    I attended SUNY at Brockport back in the early 70s. One of my Rugby-playing friends introduced me to "Black Horse Ale". I was told it was a Canadian beer. I only had it a few times, but have never forgotten it (and I'm not a big beer drinker). A question? Is it still in production, and if so, is it still distributed in the states? Any info. would be appreciated! Thanks!


    Black Horse Ale was a Canadian brand (Dawes- bought by Carling) that was eventually contract-brewed in the US, at several different breweries. (Not unusual at the time- brands like Red Cap Ale, Rainier, Lucky, Black Label, etc., also were brewed on both sides of the border).

    IIRC, the tiny western NY brewery Fred Koch originally had the rights, but the brand was also brewed by a Lawrence, Massachusetts brewery (can't recall the name now) and by Champale (Iroquis Brands) in Trenton, NJ. They all used a similar label. In the early 80's, Koch was bought by the UK brewery Vaux and a number of interesting beers were coming out of Dunkirk, NY- including a revived Black Horse Ale and Jubilee Porter.

    When the brewery closed (mid-80's?), Genesee bought the brands but eventually dropped most of them, save for the flagship, Koch Anniversary Beer which is Genny's (now High Falls) economy cheapie beer. I can't recall a Genesee-brewed Black Horse Ale (I do remember wondering if they'd just combine the two ale brands they owned and just call it "12 Black Horse Ale" ) but I'd guess the Black Horse Ale you were drinking in the early 70's in Binghamton was coming from Koch in Dunkirk, NY. I lived in the Finger Lakes area in the late 70's-early 80's and that's what was on the shelves up there.
    #9
    rebeltruce
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 10:07:44 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Poverty Pete

    Back in the 70's, Black Horse Ale was produced by Genesee in Rochester, New York. Much later, a brewery in Northwest Canada made a beer by the same name. I don't believe there is any connection between the two, and have no idea whether it's now available in the US. I think Genesee stopped production in the mid 90's, but could be wrong about that.


    Pete, I believe Genesee's ale was called Twelve Horse Ale. They also made Genny Cream Ale.
    #10
    Poverty Pete
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 11:05:01 (permalink)
    I could have some details wrong, but I'm still thinking that at one point, Genesee was producing both 12 horse and black horse. I can't be certain, though. It's been a few beers.
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    jesskidden
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 11:30:39 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Poverty Pete

    I could have some details wrong, but I'm still thinking that at one point, Genesee was producing both 12 horse and black horse. I can't be certain, though. It's been a few beers.


    Yes, I think they did, too (note that in my post I only said I couldn't recall the Genny-brewed BH)- but, if they did, it was in all probably AFTER they'd purchased the brands of Koch from Vaux- around 1985.

    12 Horse Ale was a brand that Genesee was always tinkering with- the recipe'd change from an amber, almost UK style ale (albiet a very "light" version) to an imitation Canadian golden ale- the packaging & label would change constantly, etc.

    When I lived in upstate NY outside of Canton in the mid-70's, I had a beer retailer license and used to buy 12 Horse Ale for my own use in deposit bottles that came in regular Genesee Beer "shells" (i.e., heavy, reusable cardboard case).
    #12
    jesskidden
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 12:06:49 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jesskidden

    quote:
    Originally posted by Poverty Pete

    I could have some details wrong, but I'm still thinking that at one point, Genesee was producing both 12 horse and black horse. I can't be certain, though. It's been a few beers.


    Yes, I think they did, too (note that in my post I only said I couldn't recall the Genny-brewed BH)- but, if they did, it was in all probably AFTER they'd purchased the brands of Koch from Vaux- around 1985.



    After a bit of Googlin', not only did Genesee brew Black Horse Ale at the same time they were making 12 Horse Ale, the two beers took Gold and Silver in the 1988 GABF "Golden/Blonde Ale" catagory.

    http://www.beertown.org/events/gabf/88winners.htm
    #13
    BakersBoy
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 13:29:50 (permalink)
    Here you go:

    http://www.taverntrove.com/breweries/507.asp

    Western New York had a ton of local breweries from Matt's to Utica Club to Iroquis. I am partial to Koch's (pronounced Cook's) because I grew up in Dunkirk and graduated with Bill (Wil) Koch. The building still stands but it is now the food bank for the area.

    BB
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    Scorereader
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 15:33:07 (permalink)
    I definately remember Genny's Black Horse Ale in the wee-early 90's while a student at Potsdam College - and buying it at Wegman's. (I also used to drink Michael Shea's) That was also the time when Saranac Black Forrest was still called Prior's Dark and Miller began testing their "reserve" line of beers in Syracuse and Potsdam.
    After the pacific nw microbrews slammed through NYS (like Pete's Wicked et al) Matt's Brewing made Prior's Dark a part of their long running and growing Saranac Line, Sam Adam's swept through from the east, Miller forgoed their "reserve" line and Genny dropped a few of their "microbrew" lines. While a ton of micro-brew restaurants flourished, it seemd that the corporate giants from the P-NW and East were winning in the bottled beer department in CNY.
    In 1995, Middle Ages Brewing revived Syracuse's old brewing past from pre-prohibition, but aside from some microbrew pubs, has remained the sole micro-brewery in Syracuse. But recently, a new wave of beers from NY's Southern Tier region (Southern Tier and Ithaca Brewing for example) has once again found NYS microbrews back in force on retail floors. And it's a hell of a lot better than the old Genny microbrew style beers. Not to mention some small breweries in the Fingerlakes, which as we all know, is already an area known for its wine.

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    Poverty Pete
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 15:40:12 (permalink)
    I had totally forgotten about Prior Double Dark. I used to think that was a pretty decent brew.
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    jesskidden
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 15:56:31 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Scorereader

    That was also the time when Saranac Black Forrest was still called Prior's Dark



    Ah, that was good stuff...

    Prior Dark (aka Prior Double Dark) was a brand that Matts picked up at some point from Schmidt's of Phila. (most of whose other brands were bought by Heileman), which had in turn acquired the beer when they purchased Scheidt Brewery of Norristown, PA. A very interesting story, the Prior beers, both light and dark, were originally contract-brewed for a Czech beer importer when exports became hard to get in the US due to World War II (Prior was a product of a brewery in Pilsen eventually bought by Pilsner Urquell). Or so the legend goes.

    Eventually the "light" (in color) beer was dropped (altho' I remember it still being around in the late 1970's), but the dark became well-known and well-respected- and the price reflected it. Michael Jackson, in his first Pocket Guide to Beer (1982), gave it 4 stars- in the USA only Anchor Steam was rated higher- and called it "the most distinctive dark beer in the US".

    I recall some Prior Dark draught in the Finger Lakes but left the area in the mid-80's. Did Matts ever bottle it?
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    Scorereader
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 16:40:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jesskidden

    quote:
    Originally posted by Scorereader

    That was also the time when Saranac Black Forrest was still called Prior's Dark



    Ah, that was good stuff...

    Prior Dark (aka Prior Double Dark) was a brand that Matts picked up at some point from Schmidt's of Phila. (most of whose other brands were bought by Heileman), which had in turn acquired the beer when they purchased Scheidt Brewery of Norristown, PA. A very interesting story, the Prior beers, both light and dark, were originally contract-brewed for a Czech beer importer when exports became hard to get in the US due to World War II (Prior was a product of a brewery in Pilsen eventually bought by Pilsner Urquell). Or so the legend goes.

    Eventually the "light" (in color) beer was dropped (altho' I remember it still being around in the late 1970's), but the dark became well-known and well-respected- and the price reflected it. Michael Jackson, in his first Pocket Guide to Beer (1982), gave it 4 stars- in the USA only Anchor Steam was rated higher- and called it "the most distinctive dark beer in the US".

    I recall some Prior Dark draught in the Finger Lakes but left the area in the mid-80's. Did Matts ever bottle it?


    I only saw and had Prior's (Double) Dark in a bar on draught. And it was cheap. Then again, the bar was called Hungry Charlie's (or familarly knowns as "Chuck's")and was an SU college bar. I might have paid $4 a pitcher. Whic amounted to ~$2, since Wednesday's were two-for-one pitchers. They also had Prior's in a few of Syracuse's West-side bars. But, I guess $4 was "expensive," consider a pitcher of bud was $2.50. Which meant $1.25 on Weds.

    I always wondered if there was actually ever a "light." I never knew it. Only the Dark. thanks for the backround.
    #18
    Scorereader
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2006/12/15 16:46:50 (permalink)
    BTW -this thread is another example of why we need a separate Beverages Forum.
    too much good info that is relegated to the Misc. Forum.
    (My offer to moderate is an open offer.)

    ~Although, there are those who could argue that beer is a food related item - considering some beers provide as much yeast as bread.
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    Whobe
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2008/03/11 00:29:51 (permalink)
    I too have been seeking info on the chances of finding BH for an old friend who has fond memories of dringing BH but cannot longer find it on the local market. Since he is 86 yrs I thought I would suprise him and google BH. No luck. What is the next best and closest in taste to BH?
    #20
    Poverty Pete
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2008/03/11 04:35:08 (permalink)
    The closest thing I can think of would be Shiner Bock. It's not a dead ringer, but it's available.
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    QFan
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2008/03/11 19:16:15 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by jesskidden

    quote:
    Originally posted by Scorereader

    That was also the time when Saranac Black Forrest was still called Prior's Dark



    Ah, that was good stuff...

    Prior Dark (aka Prior Double Dark) was a brand that Matts picked up at some point from Schmidt's of Phila. (most of whose other brands were bought by Heileman), which had in turn acquired the beer when they purchased Scheidt Brewery of Norristown, PA. A very interesting story, the Prior beers, both light and dark, were originally contract-brewed for a Czech beer importer when exports became hard to get in the US due to World War II (Prior was a product of a brewery in Pilsen eventually bought by Pilsner Urquell). Or so the legend goes.

    Eventually the "light" (in color) beer was dropped (altho' I remember it still being around in the late 1970's), but the dark became well-known and well-respected- and the price reflected it. Michael Jackson, in his first Pocket Guide to Beer (1982), gave it 4 stars- in the USA only Anchor Steam was rated higher- and called it "the most distinctive dark beer in the US".

    I recall some Prior Dark draught in the Finger Lakes but left the area in the mid-80's. Did Matts ever bottle it?


    During the time Prior Double Dark was being brewed by Schmidt's, it also became the contract recipe for the house ale at the famous McSorley's Ale House--the oldest continuous bar still operating in NYC. McSorley's had historically used an ale recipe brewed by Rhengold until that famous New York brewery finally folded (in the late 70's or early 80's I believe).

    QFan
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    #22
    jesskidden
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2008/03/12 07:13:34 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Whobe

    I too have been seeking info on the chances of finding BH for an old friend who has fond memories of dringing BH but cannot longer find it on the local market. Since he is 86 yrs I thought I would suprise him and google BH. No luck. What is the next best and closest in taste to BH?


    Black Horse Ale was a Canadian-style "golden ale", with a bit more hop presence than found in the big Canadian ales of today that are commonly exported to the US. (In fact, I was surprised to see that Molson's Golden isn't even an ale anymore. Is there even a Labatt Ale in the US anymore?) One of the last US ales of that sort is Ballantine Ale, tho' it is much changed over the years, it might be the "closest" thing around. (It's brewed in Ohio, by Miller for the label's owner, Pabst- I don't know if it's distributed there, however.)

    "Beer taste memory" is an elusive thing- lot's of things wrapped up in it (mostly nostalgia- for another era) that have little or nothing to do with the beer itself. *IF* there was a Black Horse Ale still on the market, the likely response your friend might have after tasting it is "It's OK, but it's not the same". Hey, very few things are. And, in the case of beer, recipes are "adjusted" for current customer tastes, hops styles and barley & yeast strains change to the point that there's few beers an 86 year old drank as a youth that would be the same (despite what the brewers' ad agency say)- even Budweiser (to take the classic example of a beer that trades on it's long US heritage) wouldn't really taste the "same" as it did 60 years ago.

    BUT, your friend's in luck- there a renaissance of good local beer in the US, so try to find a "pale ale" from a local brewer. It might not be "Black Horse Ale" (or bring back the memories it would) but it just may be a better beer.




    #23
    jesskidden
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2008/03/12 07:27:31 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by QFan

    quote:
    Originally posted by jesskidden

    quote:
    Originally posted by Scorereader

    That was also the time when Saranac Black Forrest was still called Prior's Dark



    Ah, that was good stuff...

    Prior Dark (aka Prior Double Dark) was a brand that Matts picked up at some point from Schmidt's of Phila.


    During the time Prior Double Dark was being brewed by Schmidt's, it also became the contract recipe for the house ale at the famous McSorley's Ale House--the oldest continuous bar still operating in NYC. McSorley's had historically used an ale recipe brewed by Rhengold until that famous New York brewery finally folded (in the late 70's or early 80's I believe).



    Yeah, keeping straight the brewers of the different McSorley beers over the years is a difficult one. The bottled version and the draught at the bar itself sometimes had different brewers and IIRC there were times when the "regular" and "dark" were coming from two different companies. (It's not helped by the McSorley's Bar website that, for later years is somewhat deceptive.) I'm pretty certain that, reluctantly, they told me the dark was a product of The Lion my first visit circa 1977, when the "light" (colored) ale was still a Rheingold product. Pretty sure Matts was involved at some point, too (maybe during the period they made Prior Dark?).

    I was just thinking about the current bottled version (which is *nothing* like the classic ale made by Rheingold) and if it may hold the record for a currently marketed label for the number of brewers (post-Prohibition) who owned/made it:

    Fidelio > Rheingold > Ortlieb > Schmidt's > Heileman > Stroh > Pabst (which has used the City-Lacrosse and The Lion breweries to contract brew it).


    #24
    metro23
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    RE: Black Horse Ale 2012/04/09 18:52:33 (permalink)
    So I did some research because another friend of mine in the USA was also interested in Finding Black Horse Ale.
    I phoned Molson/Coors Canada. They said the only brewery in Canada that is producing it is in Newfoundland.
    The brewery is called St. John's Brewery. I don't know if they only sell locally, but it seems that way.
    I didn't call the brewery. Next time i'm in in Newfoundland I will look around. 
    Molson/Coors said that it is the original recipe. They don't share the ingredients because they don't want
    their competitor to have the recipe. 
     
     
    Whobe

    I too have been seeking info on the chances of finding BH for an old friend who has fond memories of dringing BH but cannot longer find it on the local market. Since he is 86 yrs I thought I would suprise him and google BH. No luck. What is the next best and closest in taste to BH?


    #25
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