Bourbon Barrel Porter - AleWerks Brewing Company

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Bourbon Barrel PorterBourbon Barrel Porter

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513 Ratings
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Ratings: 513
Reviews: 154
rAvg: 4.27
pDev: 8.67%
Wants: 155
Gots: 117 | FT: 14
Brewed by:
AleWerks Brewing Company visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  9.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerSox on 08-03-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 513 | Reviews: 154
Reviews by BourbonDork:
More User Reviews:
Photo of RacerX5k
5/5  rDev +17.1%

My favorite beer. So damn complex and drinkable, huge aroma and flavor. As good as any beer I've ever had. Caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, dark northwest cherries, freshly picked blackberries, chocolate, vanilla, coconut, butterscotch, oak, and bourbon. Yea I said all that. One bottle I swear tasted a little coffee even. Beyond smooth, and drinks much bigger than the listed 9%. Must be some damn good barrels, and the base beer is also amazing. Reasonably priced and overall perfect every time. Yes, perfect.

Photo of newk340
4.25/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

split with hu5om (who received this as an extra in a trade) in guiness glasses.

A: inky black pour with hints of brown, with a thin ring of tan foam around the edges.

S: exceptionally smoky, a slight bourbon burn as a mild after-aroma.

T: front heavy smoke flavors, nearly overwhelming the faint bourbon aftertaste that is noticeable as it slides down the throat. also a mixture of caramel, toffee, and vanilla lost in the abundant smokiness.

MF/D: quick sizzle of carbonation that fizzles on the tongue for a smooth swallow. tastes eerily similar to a stout, but isnt that what an imperial porter should be? leaves a subtle tingling sensation as it warms.

Photo of HopticalDeployment
4.16/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Completely stunning. From start to finish, it is remarkable.

Photo of boatshoes
4.32/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked this and a few others up at the Grape and Gourmet in VA Beach while doing an art show with my folks. Great shop too by the way!

Appearance- Pours an opaque black out of the bottle. Very aggressive pour yields about an eighth inch of creamy brown head that shortly turns into a patchy sheet but otherwise sticks around. Mild amounts of lacing left as well while I drink.

Smell- Nose primarily consists of notes of roasted malt, along with lots of wood, vanilla, and bourbon integrated in a big way. Most all of the smells I expect from a good bourbon barrel beer.

Taste- Palate very similar in its emphasis on vanilla and wood right off the bat. Backed up and rounded out with more roasted malt notes, but I also get a lot of dark chocolate flavors coming through here as well. Big but well rounded.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel is substantial and creamy and drinkability is very solid for the style. I didn't have any trouble polishing off the remainder of my beer.

Overall, a very solid BB porter. I thought this was a vast improvement over Williamsburg Alewerk's base porter. Worth a try if you can get this beer.

Photo of doremite
4/5  rDev -6.3%

Nice bourbon presence with a deeper porter mouthfeel to help balance it out a bit. Slightly hot but not over powering. Makes me curious about the base beer as this is a fantastic BA Porter. First from Alewerks for me. Def bourbon forward but worth trying if you trend toward more bourbon heavy BA beers.

Photo of asabreed
4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber into a Brooklyn tulip, between four friends on my balcony. One of the "Last Hurrah" bottles of the night, as my wife and I are moving to New York in exactly one week from Virginia.

As an aside, about two months ago I took a trip with my wife to Williamsburg. Old Williamsburg. And after we were done, we went to the shop, the place in the industrial park, and the guy who was there said it wasn't ready yet. It didn't have the labels. And yet so quickly, here it is. A taste would've been nice, especially from someone who's such a supporter, but alas.

Apparently this is the Rapadou sans caramelized sugar and in bourbon barrels for two months. Two months? Seems a little short to me. We'll see.

Appearance: Expected opaque. Nice mocha head and decent retention. So many of these dark beers end up being exactly the same that I keep yearning for the retention of something like Black Albert after having that. So many the same. This one's good, and like so many others, no different. Can't wait to get this rating over a good eventually.

Smell: Toasted creamy marshmallow, dark fruits, soft chocolate, a bit of coffee, and earthy woodiness. Balanced and good.

Taste: Marshmallow, mild bourbon, caramel, vanilla. Good through and through, but only two months? This should've been at least six, seemingly. Not enough time to soak up the bourbon and wood nuances. This could've been dynamite.

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous. Frighteningly close to cloying, and yet not so.

Drinkability: Worth it. I like WBA a lot. This one makes me happy to say so. And yet I think it could've been one of those mindblowing brews if it would've been in the barrels a bit longer. This is coming from someone who doesn't know about the logistics, but I feel like it could've reached some awesome places with that time and care. Still, it's worth it, and I like it, and I'll continue to spend the cash on WBA, if I can find it again since I'm moving to New York in a week. If this is my last one, though, I'm cool with that too.

Photo of Metalmonk
4.08/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 release, # 1730 (of how many? Don't know.)

Pours a golden-tan head, like a marshmallow toasted just right. Color is an extremely dark brown, edging into total blackness. Head doesn't stick around very long, which could mean higher alcohol. Leaves lots of lace splats and strings and splotches on the glass.

The aroma indeed offers a pretty big alcohol bite, although that could also be the very forward bourbon smell playing tricks. Although there's a little bit of roasted grain pushing through, this is basically a bourbon-dominant nose. As advertised, and good, but would be great to have the rest of the beer show itself. Maybe the flavor?

Oh yeah, no problem there. A big mass of gooey melted chocolate is what comes to mind first, while the whiskey and wood props it up and adds depth. It's like dunking a chocolate cake donut into a vat of chocolate fudge frosting then chasing it with a shot of fine bourbon...while sitting in a newly built log cabin (smell that wood!). What needs to happen in a beer like this is balance, and this totally achieves that. Dessert/sweet spice comes through subtly and carries into the finish. The alcohol is present but hardly overbearing. I'm guessing 8-9% range here.

Mouth is creamy and maybe even a little sticky, but never too thick. Does very well by the flavors, matching them nicely. Very smooth.

This is a big-flavored beer, and because the nature of the flavor includes pretty assertive sweet/chocolate, wood and bourbon/alcohol characteristics, it may be a little too bold to consider extremely drinkable, but I'm drinking it and liking it very much. On a hot summer day no less. One of this always-improving brewery's best so far...

Photo of Sammy
3.82/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Radek's bottle, thanks for sharing. A good porter, 2009 edition. A tad of smoke, clear bourbon taste that is showcased well, some coconut, some cocoa. Middling mouthfeel, a llittle creamy. Bubbly head on dark body, spidery lace. Bottle 1251 out of 2009.

Photo of dafizzif
4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 - 1815 Bomber poured into a pint glass.

Look- Very, very dark brown, with ruby highlights and loads of tan head. Lots of lacing down the glass. Pretty but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Smell- Lots of delicious bourbon and some chocolates. A bit of vanilla and cream as well. Not very complex, but it is fairly alluring.

Taste- One word: heavenly. Loads of chocolate at first, just like the Alewerks Washington's Porter, but after the initial taste, there is a complex melding of lighter chocolates, bourbon, and a bit of vanilla. Finishes with some hoppy and coffee bitterness with some spiciness from the alcohol. Unlike many beers I have had, the booziness really compliments the other flavors instead of taking away from them.

Mouthfeel- Full body with not a lot of carbonation. Kind of creamy and very mouth coating. Goes down smooth which is dangerous with the ABV (I can already feel it and I am not even half done).

Overall- Another new favorite from the Alewerks. Certainly a treat. I would recommend you buy this for a special occasion (I personally just finished my summer finals) or as a gift for that special beer/bourbon lover in your life.

Photo of zaphodchak
4.32/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 - bottle 1317

Finger of tannish creamy head, good retention, opaque dark brown body. Laces decently.

Smell is rich milk chocolate and a hint of fresh coconut.

Holy cow this is good. I'm heavily reminded of New Holland Dragon's Milk in a good way, but it's different. Where to begin: there's a bit of hops at the beginning, followed by a wave of milk chocolate, a bit of the coconut, and some vanilla bourbon warmth. On the finish, a trace of bitter coffee and another bit of balancing hops, faintly biscuity. Powerful and balanced, not in the sense of neutralizing, but in the sense of being both bitter and sweet. Not under-hopped, but as a person who doesn't love hops, I don't frankly mind.

Rich mouthfeel, not distracting, finely textured.

"Bourbon barrel porter" can mean a lot of a things-- in this case, it means something awesome. I really need to start taking Williamsburg Alewerks more seriously-- after Grand Illumination and this-- I'm impressed.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.09/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Sam and Russ for this one. 22oz. bomber into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Pours a 1.5 finger rich mocha head with good retention. Beer is opaque and pitch black. Lacing is layered and sticky. Very nice.

Nose is chocolate, molasses, lactose, fudge and bourbon. There's a bit of an off ethanol smell that lingers in the back a bit. Aromatic.

Opens chocolate, roasted malt, fudge, and molasses. Some smoke and bourbon in the middle. More molasses with notes of liquorice and a touch of leather at the end. Finishes sweet and syrupy with the same aftertaste. Really good. The flavors are appropriate and they complement each other very well.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Oily and slick in the mouth and goes down with a touch of heat but very smooth overall. Finishes messy with a lingering, sticky sweet aftertaste. Perfect.

Another winner from Williamsberg Alewerks and easily one of the best porters I've had to date (though this drinks more like an Imperial Stout). Definitely worth seeking out.

Photo of dirtylou
4.32/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, consumed halloween afternoon on a cold and windy day


appearance: served in an unmarked chalice, very dark cola-mahogany body, creamy tan head with thin lacing

smell: espresso, smooth bourbon, creamy caramel and milk chocolate, oak, char, very dark malts

taste: i think the porter is the best base beer for a bourbon barrel aged offering - this one is just as good as any i have had, less maybe 1 or 2 of the earlier tyranena releases. this one has a huge chewy body - the bourbon hits first and last, with chewy caramel chocolate, charred malts, and espresso in the middle. both porters i've had from williamsburg have been great but i havent been moved by the rest of their lineup

mouthfeel: thick heavy body, bitter bourbon kick

drinkability: heavy but tasty

Photo of ebby82
4.03/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma- vanilla, bourbon, wood

Appearance- Dark as night, minimal head, a significant lacing.

Taste- upfront alcohol, but also a smokiness, oakey, hints of vanilla. The aftertaste is actually quite good, the smokiness is evident in the aftertaste, while the initial taste is a touch boozy.

Mouthfeel- Intense, maybe a bit too much alcohol upfront, thick, but not quite as thick as a stout. Otherwise, it tasted similar to a RIS.

I could not and would not drink more than one of these, but this is a good beer, and I'm interested to know what it will taste like in a year or so. This was also my first exposure to bourbon barreled beers of any type. I liked it so much that I tried the KBS soon thereafter, and I actually enjoyed the Porter more. The bourbon taste was definitely evident, but it wasn't as overpowering as KBS.

Photo of StoutItOutLoud
4.35/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22-oz bottle served to chalice. Acquired in trade back in September 2013. 7-2013 bottling date, consumed 5-24-14.

dark brown appearance, minimal head, but the lacing's decent

typical porter aromas at work, with very faint oak barrel undertones (understandably, the latter are more prominent as the beer warms). dark chocolate; toasted coconut (much more prominent with warmth and swirling); caramel; vanilla notes

the opening salvo's oak and bourbon, but then, even cold, there's a delicious dulce de leche sweet caramel, with toasted coconut to boot. the alcohol's noticeable, but not off-putting

the mouthfeel's not the thickest, but this is a porter, so I wasn't expecting sticky sweet. lingering caramel on the tongue though

I'd yet to have a truly enjoyable bourbon barrel porter . . . until now. This demonstrates what a good barrel can do. I dig the toasty, roasty coconut sweetness. Alcohol + Mounds. Yum. Want another.

Photo of nickd717
4.17/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber via trade thanks to billab914.

Pours darkest brown with a small quickly fading tan head and some decent lacing.

Aroma is good for a bourbon -bal aged porter, and that's saying something. Bourbon, oak, roast, chocolate, and coffee. Maybe some vanilla or earth.

Flavor is also awesome. Rich dark chocolate with roast and coffee as well as great barrel notes of vanilla, oak, and bourbon.

Very nice slick mouthfeel with medium-full body and low carbonation.

A really solid -bal aged beer overall. Better than expected.

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.92/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black body with a bit of transparency at the edges. Small khaki head and a very thin collar.

Smell - Bourbon is strong. Oak behind it. Vanilla rounds it out. Some milk chocolate and roast.

Taste - Bourbon is equally strong. Dark chocolate. Coffee roasted malts. Oaky finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Impressive. Great bourbon flavor that works well with the beer.

Photo of beerloverofbham
4.39/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ksurkin for this one. Shared this 22 oz. bottle with a friend in some stout-esque glasses. Pours very rich and very dark--darker than I expected, even for something that's been sitting in a Virginia Gentleman bourbon barrel for a while. Smells strongly of bourbon, oak, and toffee. Initially, I taste dark chocolate, coffee, plums and dark cherries, and later, vanilla, caramel. Very rich, with a lot of layers--the flavor of the bourbon is included in there but is only one part of a complex profile. Velvety.

Photo of hophugger
3.5/5  rDev -18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Deep chocolate brown that doesn't want to let any light through. Aroma is very strong bourbon and not much else. Taste is, well......bourbon, with a beer back. The bourbon is strong and takes away from the actual porter flavor, too much bourbon. I do agree, though, that this a is a good beer, but I wish the bourbon is less. A nice alcohol burn on this one and a bourbon lover's dream !!

Photo of hippityhops85
3.47/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a chilled bomber into my Victory snifter. Label says 2011 - 4297. Purchased from Whole Foods for like $7 I think. You'll basically get me to buy anything that says bourbon barrel on it.

Pours a midnight black with a tan/mocha head that dissipates quickly down leaving only a thin layer on top of the brew. It leaves spotty lacing.

The nose has tons of vanilla on the front. There is a slight chocolate tone to the beer but there's also a really nice, dull dark fruit aroma. Kinda happy about that. Definitely not one-noted.

The taste is literally like chewing on vanilla beans but not in a bad way. The beer totally coats your entire mouth. There is a definite alcohol presence on the back end which distracts from the beer a bit. Lots of milk chocolate, tons of vanilla, not too bourbon-y.

This beer has a HUGE mouthfeel. It is super, super thick. I'd like to have seen a little more carbonation out of it... there seems to be virtually none.

Overall the nose was the best part of this beer. I think it may do well with some time to let the vanilla flavors tame down a bit and let the more "stout" characteristics come out. Overall, not a bad beer but probably won't go out of my way again for it.

Photo of akorsak
4.2/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle 2010 - 1817, from Grape and Gourmet. Poured into a tulip.

A: The porter is a fully black color; even at the narrower base, the color remains black. An off-white, egg-shell head of three fingers on pour left patches of lace all around the glass.

S: Sweet bourbon, chocolate and warmly toasted malts greet me on first sniff. The bourbon strives, and comes close, to completely dominating the ale. Luckily balance prevails and the roasted porter side gets a turn in the spotlight.

T: Lots of porter, the first sip is teeming with dark roasted flavors. Burnt toast and chocolate, coffee along for the ride, all set the acrid table. The bourbon, strongest midsip, packs all the right flavors. Vanilla is prominent, as is the woody oaken taste. The bourbon, though, is quick to disappear back into the body of the porter. The light bourbon and ample porter showcases the ale with just enough barrel to keep me happy.

M: The mouthfeel is porter-centric, lots of roasted malts and chocolate flavors. The bourbon, mid-sip, is a light break in the action.

D: The ale doesn't feel like 9%. It does, though, nicely combine the base beer and the barrel. I've really been impressed by Williamburg Alewerks' offering lately; they're knockin' 'em out of the park.

Photo of philbe311
4.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Edition #4295

A - A finger's worth of slightly slanted lush thick khaki colored head... Modest at best retention gives way to a full rich lacing and a slight creamy collar... The color is an inky aubergine... Still with no discernible carbonation...

S - The warm booziness of the bourbon barrels is first to great the nose... Beneath the surface lies a refined sweetness... Milk chocolate... Caramel... Also some very faint notes of coffee and roasted malts... Very nice...

T - True to the nose... The bourbon barrel aging is ate the forefront, but never overpowering... The rest of the flavors compliment one another perfectly and create wonderful layers of complexity... Milk chocolate... Roasted malt... Coffee... Raisins... Marshmallow... Caramel... Each sip yields something familiar, but something new as well...

M - Medium to full bodied... As sleek and as smooth as they come... A bit chewy... Very light carbonation... A slight boozy dryness lingers on the finish...

D - Another outstanding offering from Williamsburg Alewerks... Any barrel aged offering of theirs that I have tried has been stellar and this is no exception... Highly recommended and I only wish I had easier access to their offerings...

Photo of n2185
4.02/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours dark brown with half a finger of khaki head that fades into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: roasted malts with sweet chocolate notes at first. Vanilla, oak, and bourbon follow, though they're a little muted.

T: loads of bourbon on the palate with oak, vanilla, and some caramel flavors. There are slight roasted malt characters as well with a decent alcohol burn.

M: medium-thick body with medium body, this beer has a pretty lively carbonation for the style. It's like a soda, almost.

O: a good beer overall. Very bourbony, though somehow not too boozy. Simple, but good.

Photo of BeerSox
4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into nonic.

Pours pitch black with a one finger head that settles to a razor thin even cap, with sticky lacing.

The aroma is very rich, with plenty of black coffee and cocoa. Some brown sugar is in there as well. Dark fruit sits in the background.

Robust malts, giving a creamy coffee flavor, with some hints of milk chocolate. The overall flavor is very sweet. A little bit of vanilla is in the background from the bourbon barrel, but slowly works to the foreground as the beer warms. The label says there are toffee, and I agree, so let's go with it. Full bodied.

The bottle says nothing about %ABV, but it states it's an Imperial Porter. Apparently this is the barrel aged version of the Rapadou Porter (9%). A very good and drinkable beer.

Photo of smakawhat
3.49/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Limited Release 2011 - 5132.

Out of the bottle she pours chestnut brown, but hits the glass and doesn't quite suds up. Barely a one finger cocoa brown head manages to form, but settles into a thick 3 millimeter sized puck for a bit, then gives a solid obvious nice collar. Body color is dark garnet red and dark walnut brown, but the beer when poured looks a little flat.

Nose is rich and huge. Classic bourbon aging character of thick rich sweet cream. Some vanilla, but one giant creamy sweet bomb. I am rather enjoying that, even if it is a little one dimensional.

A light body porter taste indeed, but doesn't seem to go well with barrel aging. The palate hits with a real light feel, good for a porter, not so much good for the sense of the big nose you expected. Malt flavors come with a light char, and almost a fruity yeast quality. Light texture continues on swallow but there is some strange carbonation on this which is kind of hot and sting the middle of my palate after awhile. Slow warming stomach quality as your gut fills up. After sometime there is a distinct aftertaste, and it took me awhile but I know exactly what it feels and tastes like. It feels like mud, literally dirt and soil on the rooftop of my palate, swishing around in a thick sensation, and then drying out on my tongue with an arid dustbowl dirt sensation and bringing some carbon roast character with it as well.

Overall you get the impression of something really robust is coming but it doesn't happen. Rich malt textures and tastes don't come out, it's sort of a mismatch between two great ideas but they just don't seem to work that well when put together (at least for this beer). I get a rich thick nose, and then a light drink, with robust character, and a drying powdery feel afterwards. It's drinkable, interesting, certainly passable, but perhaps I don't think a real good marriage. It is taking me some time to think if I really would get into this idea of barrel aging a porter, because there is no question in my mind the brewery was doing everything right here. But I guess I am just not a fan of a barrel aged porter (or at least not this one). I don't think this works. Still like the brewery though, keep on going there and thanks for making this and I am glad I tried it.

4.19/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Format: Bomber
Glassware: Tulip
Batch #: 2011 - 0844
Sampled: 23JUN12

[A] Pours with a small, semi-dense half finger high head, medium-light brown in color. Below average retention leaves a bubbly collar behind. The body is nearly black, rather opaque, but very dark brown edges can be seen when the glass is tilted. Random patterns of lace.

[S] The nose is exceptional. Clean bourbon with lightly charred oak and vanilla in the background. Medium roast coffee scent plus notes of chocolate syrup, caramel and brown sugar. Well layered

[T] The flavor follows the nose closely but a little less intricate. The bourbon, coffee, and chocolate stand out and there is light astringency on the backend. Caramel is a bit more prevalent. Slight warmth after the swallow with lingering notes of bourbon.

[M] Starts creamy and thick, then the carbonation sets in a bit early and thins out the last 2/3rds of the mouthfeel. Fine, tingling, overly-present bubbles seem to detract from the flavor

[O] Very nice beer overall. Williamsburg AleWerks has shown a lot of potential recently and has been putting out more and more beer that is worth seeking out. I have no problem recommending this beer to beer aficionados...or Coffeehouse Stout or Bitter Valentine, plus others. Keep doing your thing WAW.

3.5, 4.5, 4, 3, 4

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Bourbon Barrel Porter from AleWerks Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 513 ratings.