Go to the website of England’s Black Sheep Brewery and you won’t find any references to Monty Python’s Holy Grail Black Knight’s Reserve. Suspicion points to it being the brewery’s flagship beer, Riggwelter, simply sold under a different name. This seems reasonable, considering both are labeled as dark Yorkshire 1 ales and both carry an ABV of 5.7 percent.

Black Sheep Monty Python’s Holy Grail Black Knight’s Reserve bottle

In any case, like the original Holy Grail Ale, the naming of the Black Knight’s Reserve variety references the title and characters of the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Based on the popularity of that particular enterprise, some would surely buy the beer for the novelty alone, but I imagine anyone drinking it is going to want to like the beer as well as the bottle label.

To that end, I’ll say that Black Knight’s Reserve does have some complexity to it. It’s an earthy brew, with elements of caramel, brown sugar and roasted nuts, not to mention a fleeting hint of dark fruit that lingers in the background. Even so, strange as it may sound, Black Knight’s Reserve is almost too sweet one minute and too bitter the next. It’s not like that throughout the drinking experience, but rather something that’s variable depending on the beer’s current temperature.

Stylistically, I would say Black Knight’s Reserve is kind of a mash-up of two different types of beer. It’s dark and malty like an English brown ale with a finish like that of an English bitter. The flavor profile could even suggest an English strong ale, but the overall intensity isn’t really enough to qualify for that characterization.

Black Sheep Monty Python’s Holy Grail Black Knight’s Reserve

Still, it’s reasonably good beer with a fairly easy-drinking way about it. And, while it does have a little bit of an “import” quality in both the aroma and taste, Black Knight’s Reserve is a far better beer than I expected, based on other unsatisfying pop culture tie-ins I’ve tried in the past. Then again, if the beer is really just the brewery’s lead product in disguise, then I’m not sure that conclusion should come as much of a surprise.

Black Sheep Monty Python's Holy Grail Black Knight's Reserve
BREWERY: Black Sheep Brewery
LOCATION: Masham, U.K.
STYLE: Dark Yorkshire Ale
ABV: 5.7 percent
IBU: n/a
AVAILABLE IN: 16.9-ounce bottles
If you're one to drink traditional English brown ales, but wonder what one might be like with a more potent bitterness, then Black Knight's Reserve may be just what you're looking for. As mentioned above, though, there seems to be a sweet spot in terms of serving temperature, so I'd suggest trusting the words on the label that say to "serve cool."
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