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Babayaga - Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

191 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 191
Hads: 447
Avg: 3.92
pDev: 10.2%
Wants: 60
Gots: 52 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project visit their website
Massachusetts, United States

Style | ABV
Foreign / Export Stout |  7.00% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: m1ked on 11-10-2009

Babayaga, our autumn seasonal beer, appears each year just as the winds begin to blow a little stronger and the nights bring Winter’s first frost. The beer is a 7% export-strength woodland stout. We found this beer in a cauldron in a tiny wooden cabin perched on chicken legs in the woods near the Volga River. The old lady inside, an ancient witch/wise-woman/baby-eater called Baba Yaga, let us try some. We liked it so much, she said we could brew it for all of you here back home, as long as we named it after her. And so we did! How could we not have: she’d have eaten us if we didn’t!

It took us a while to figure out the secrets to Baba Yaga’s recipe, but we think we’ve got it: We smoke some malt with rosemary, and we add a few other eerie embellishments that she’s making us keep hush-hush. We ferment with a mix of English and Belgian yeast strains. This beer should taste like Eastern European folklore, like woodland, streams, cold dark nights and woodsmoke. Enjoy it!

…And what’s over here? A poem about the eerie old woman and the beer she brought to us! Close your eyes, imagine yourself lost deep in the foggy thicket somewhere, and click the little linky below…
View: Beers (17) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 191 | Hads: 447
Photo of sleuthdog
3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to BobZ. Thanks Bob!

Pour: Very dark brown when held up to light. Not that light penetrates but seems to lighten up at the edges. Otherwise black with a half finger light brown head that recedes fast.

Smell: Big roast and char up front ranging from chocolate notes, burn sugar to smokey wood and coffee grounds.

Taste: The roast greets the palate first with a big smack of deep dark roasted malts. There is some chocolate mid palate with a touch of sweetness and some coffee. Finishes up with more char and smokiness that lingers way past the swallow.

Mouthfeel: Actually quite creamy almost like an oatmeal stout to me. Full side of medium with a rather high amount of carbonation.

Overall: For comparison sake this reminds me of Old Heathen by Weyerbacher. Not the same styles but drink similar to me. Though this one has a much more smoke presence. I don't usually like that in a beer but it works with this one and I'm enjoying sipping this.

Edit: Interesting to note I left the bottle out for about 15 minutes while I drank first glass and upon pouring the second glass the head was a huge at least 3 fingers worth and lacing became an obvious addition.

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Photo of SHODriver
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours black with zero light transmission with a tan head that retains well
S: smells of roast malt and chocolate with a hint of coffee
T: tastes of chocolate and coffee with a good bit of roastyness to it. slightly sweet but not overly so. swallow is intensely roasty with a bit more chocolate and coffee
M: full bodied with soft but slightly prickly carbonation. slightly drying finish
O: pretty good, not a lit going on but what it does it does very well. flavors are good and it is very to style. Pretty Things makes good beer and this is no exception.

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Photo of Daktyls
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black in color with a half finger head that quickly dissipates to a fine patch of bubbles in the center of the beer.

S: Very light notes of chocolate and malt is all that I can really pick up here.

T: Notes of chocolate and malt are most readily apparent with some after notes of dark fruits and burnt caramel.

M: Very light amount of carbonation which does not overrun any of the subtle flavors of the beer.

O: Overall, quite tasty, the higher alcohol content is well hidden. This is not as chocolate-y as other foreign export stouts but still quite good.

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Photo of mikem0487
4.11/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Ale glass

A-A thin foamed head around the perimeter of the glass. Head dissipated quickly. Poured a dark opaque black.

S-Roasted malts. Dark fruits, raisins and prunes. Very mild smokiness in the back end, very mild! Smells extremely appealing!

T-Like the smell get roasted malts with the dark fruits. That smokiness comes in the back and is left as the after taste. Not a big smoked malt fan so that does not sit well with me! Everything else about the taste is great!

M-Pretty high in the carbonation level which I dont mind. Quite creamy with a medium high body!

O-A good beer that I would like more if they did remove that smoked malt from the grain bill! Other than the smokiness and the weak apperance the beer is quite enjoyable!

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Photo of cvm4
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pretty black, nice tan head.

S - Roasted malts, coffee & dark chocolate.

T - Char & roasted malts, dark chocolate. About what you'd expect.

M - Medium with medium carbonation.

O - It delivers like a stout should. I'm sure it's top of its own class.

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Photo of Maxwell
4.12/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a proper stout black with a medium sized roasted tan head on top that quickly fizzles into a tight scrim that causes very thin droopy lacing. The body is impenetrable to the eye, sitting entirely opaque in the glass, but seems clear of sediment and haze. On the nose, the beer smells terrifically bizarre for the style. The slight roasted coffee and dark chocolate are there, but they play second fiddle to the beer’s dark fruit, quad-like smells of plums and raisin, and even a slight kiss of spicy alcohol. The beer tastes just as terrific, with light dark fruit notes on the beginning and aftertaste, but a strong roasted coffee stout flavor coming through in the middle. The beer begins with slight sour plum and raisin before opening into creamy roasted coffee and light dark chocolate notes, while sweet raisin and slight alcohol linger behind the roast and again show themselves strongly in the lingering aftertaste alongside the roasted coffee. The beer feels medium to medium heavy on the mouth, with a drying feeling in the face and sticky dry crackling on the tongue. Overall this is a terrific export stout with a Belgian yeast flair. I love the quad-like characters in the beer as they add a nice unique twist. This beer is a must try for stout fans, and another success from Pretty Things, as well as a go-to stout for me.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Grab me the baggie pants, cause this is a beer that drinks like a meal. Strongly malted and hearty enough to satisfy both the stomach and the sanity of those dark and dreary winter days.

It's strong black pour matches that of the winter mood. But a creamy mocha head brightens the mood as memories of hot cocoa start to come to mind. Like a thick blanket, the foam tucks in the beer and laces with intricate patters as the beer fades.

Aromas of burnt stuff is all over the beer's nose- burnt sugars, torched wood, burnt fruit, burnt coffee, burnt nuts- all that's missing is the heavy smoke elements that you'd expect from all these dry roast elements. A faint backbone of vanilla and cream burrows deep within the roast and carry with it a mildly ester and perfume note.

Although the flavors are heavily circulated around roast as well, it leads with a creamy starch and soothing malted milk taste. But then the strong roast coffee, burnt toast, seared wood embers, and cocoa come soaring in with aggressive burnt barley taste. Even the caramel sweetness seems scorched as it accompanies mild licorice, grape, and perfume taste.

Its full creamy texture is chocked full of char and dryness that hold onto its robust structure until very late in finish. Only then does the dryness of roast and warmth of alcohol prevail. This leaves room for coffee-like bitterness and roast astrincency to become noticed.

Of course there's the perfumy lavender notes that distinguish this "winter warmer" from an export stout that could come around any time of the year. But the spice aids in aroma but distracts in taste and texture. Added fruit esters and better supporting malt sweetness could have garnered better accolades. Keep in mind, this will be a fan favorite for those that prefer extreme roastiness in their stouts.

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Photo of hooliganlife
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours dark cola, light cream head with a faint cocoa

very rich. lots of ripe fruit, some dark roast coffee.

very rich in flavor, some cherry and rosemary. lots of charred roasted malt, and dark chocolate bitterness.

light and airy but a nice amount of bite in the carbonation.

decent, interesting to say the least.

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Photo of argock
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a 13oz tulip at Sunset Grill and Tap (Boston, MA).

A: Black with brown-ruby edges and short 1/2-finger cap of head that recedes to leave copious lacing.

S: Smoky dark maltiness carries the aroma with some grape and fig dark fruitiness that provides a roast component to the nose as well

T: Solid flavor but nothing too special with some caramelly and slightly fruity figgy dark maltiness. The smokiness in the nose carries forward in the flavor, subtle but enhancing, with some mildly herbal hops. Bitterness is mild-to-moderate.

M: Fairly highly carbonated with medium body. Alcohol character is low.

O: A pretty good but not great stout with a light smoky quality.

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Photo of jondeelee
3.9/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Babayaga opens to a coffee-and-cream aroma, tinged with touches of tobacco and ash, and bearing slight remnants of chocolate and black malt. Caramel, molasses, and brown sugar add a sweet boost, joined by small whiffs of fig, vanilla, anise, black licorice, and white pepper. There’s also a thin thread of grapefruit and pine from the hops, though in no way does this interfere with the stout aromas. The nose is balanced heavily toward black notes, but is as a whole nicely balanced, with enough sugars present to make things palatable; this is definitely a novice-friendly stout. The nose does want for a bit more oomph, however, the low 7% ABV not coming across here as watery, but as simply meeker than expected, and the beer suffers somewhat from a lack of uniqueness.

On the tongue, the initial flavors are largely black coffee, tobacco, and ash, but these are joined quickly by a strong sugary rush of caramel, and brown sugar, and tinges of fig. Slight hints of black licorice and vanilla lurk in the background. Hops provide a surprisingly present grapefruit and lemon presence, lending a medium-strength citrus undertone. Late in the mouthful, as the sugars die off, the beer’s ashy characteristics move to full throttle, and the final flavors are largely black malt and charred grains, which last into the aftertaste and linger on the tongue for a while. Mouthfeel is an unexpectedly watery medium-light to medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, fizzing on the tongue like soda water.

Overall, this is a nice stout, and again one of the more novice-friendly ones on the market (as opposed to, say, an ash bomb), but suffers from a lack of pizzazz. The flavors here are nice, but light, and the watery mouthfeel doesn’t help. The fact that the beer’s latter notes are almost exclusively ash seems to point to a general dearth of sugars (thus the low ABV), and so while the initial flavors are good, they lack staying power.

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Photo of ghengisflan
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - It poured a nice, opaque black with a quarter inch and rich tan head.
Smell - It's what I expect of a stout: mint, roasted barley, char, and chocolate.
Taste - As you'd expect, it tastes as it smells: minty, roasted, charred, chocolatey, and malty.
Mouthfeel - As smooth and rich as any.
Overall - A great stout, there's not much more to say. It's probably a better cold weather beer. No, it's definitely better in cold weather.

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Photo of cosmicevan
3.95/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

picked up locally. had this one on tap at a BCTC festival a while back and loved it...looks like i haven't gotten around to posting that review yet? none-the-less, just came to town and picked up bottle. enjoyed from my pretty things wine glass.

a - brew poured a pewter black with a finger plus of beige tan head that slowly fizzled away leaving a thick ring on the surface and lots of clustered bubbled islands.

s - as soon as it was opened i could smell the beer. irish stoutiness. upon closer inspection lots of roast and char with a hint of bailey's and mint. fairly charred.

t - tastes just like it smells...char and bailey's cream. very mint chocolate chip with a good amount of roast.

m - the body is a bit over charred. i know that this one is classified on this site as an american stout, but the bottle says sylvan stout and honestly this is pretty to style for an export stout (edit: checked pretty things web site and they list it as an export stout - submitting correction)

o - overall, spot on export stout. really nice irish flavorings and good amount of char. easy drinker and definitely one of the winners in the pretty things lineup.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of dry roasted malt with light residual sugar notes (maybe some lactose) and light smoked notes. Taste is a complex mix between some dry roasted malt with some light smoke notes and some light spicy malt notes. Body is quite full with light creamy texture and good carbonation. Well brewed with good level of complexity while retaining a good drinkability level.

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Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The last Pretty Things beer sitting in my fridge; sad day. Ah well, from what I’ve had from them before, this one is sure to be a good one.

Brewed nine months before the date of this tasting (“BOTTLED OCT 2011” on the sticker over the cap; love that idea).

A: This stout pours incredibly thick for 7% ABV: pitch black with a brown head of light bubbles. The foam dissipates quickly into just a slight discoloration on top of the body, leaving only a few strings of lace. Note: a more aggressive pour toward the end of the bottle leads to a nice, creamy brown head. Gotta love that bottle-conditioning.

S: Strangely fruity-smelling, almost like a sour: hints of lactic acid, rosemary, and Belgian yeast play a significant role. Still, the main players are chocolate malt, with toffee, fig, smoke, and vanilla on a solid base of bready graininess – very biscuity with hints of rye. It all comes together in a rather British way, which is not uncommon for this brewer, I’ve found.

T: Now this in an interesting stout. It starts with mild dark fruit flavors and traces of natural sugar, building gradually to the smoky tone of the malts. From there on in, it’s basically all biscuit and barrel: wet oak, tobacco, cocoa powder, pecan, oat, and a heap of fresh-baked bread. Not a ton of vanillin seeping through from the oak-aging, but definitely enough to mix up the palate. A light sprucing of spicy, herbal hops comes through along the back end, along with Belgian notes of esters, rosemary, and prunes. By the finish, it’s almost a Belgian Strong Dark Ale; very nice. Herbal dryness mixed with a bit of funky and metallic character commands a light aftertaste.

M: Light to medium-bodied; lots of drinkability here. Comes off as foamy, almost, which is very nice for a beer this dark.

O: Nothing short of trendsetting! A stout with both Belgian and British influences: who would have guessed that it would have worked? It just goes to show what a great brewer can do with the right ingredients. I’m not sure what I paid for this, but I’ll take another bottle, please.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.08/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 11/2009 and somehow got lost until tonight. Pours a solid dark brown with faint garnet highlights when held to light and a fluffy tan meringue head that sticks lots of lace on the way down. Smells of roast and lots of caramel dark sugars and dark fruits. Spicy earthy aromas remind me of wood and ginger. The flavor is kind of a cross between a stout and a Belgian strong dark ale. The roasty caramel and chocolate flavors meet some spicy and earthy flavor reminiscent of some dark Belgians. Nice sugary fruity flavor. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet bubbly mouthfeel. This probably wasn't the best candidate for aging, but it worked just the same, its a very nice beer

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into a Barrington Brewery pint glass.

A: Black as night with root beer-rounded edges beneath a dense, creamy, two-finger head of light beige foam.

S: Lots of different roasted malt aromas ranging from the chocolaty to the herbal and more smokey scents. There's a bit of fruity and grassy hops thrown in the mix as well.

T: Seemingly light and brisk malts hit the palate first with the tart pull of rye and velvety smooth sweetness of oats. Bitter, charcoal and chocolate notes take hold, imparting some coffee-like, herbal hop bitterness before washing down with a spicy, smokey and slick hop resin.

M: Medium-full bodied stout overall, but one that initially drinks lighter than the ABV or malt bill would have you believe.

O: This was a very interesting and fulfilling stout from the gypsy brewers at Pretty Things. The 7% ABV and variety of malts kept this stout drinking sturdy and the traditional hop additions kept it distinctly American. However, the British and Belgian yeast strains really made for some interesting, fruity, tart and spicy flavors that might have gone unnoticed with a house yeast. I'd certainly grab it again.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.71/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Bottled October 2011.

A: Thick, creamy mocha-colored head. Darkest chestnut brown. Completely opaque.

S: Light and...lagery? A bit of bright fruit or Belgian yeast, with subtle milk chocolate undertones.

T: Hm. Not as good as I'd expected. It reminds me of a Scottish ale (or a less hopped Luckie Ales Export Stout). Light and fluffy, with a subtly-flavored maintaste that might be considered fleeting, but isn't quite. Raisins, apricot, and spices like nutmeg, fennel, or cinnamon that are a bit like a dubbel and sometimes trend savory. Interesting. Roasted malt adds a bit of smack, but is quite understated.

M: Smooth, mostly, with a slinky, unassuming body.

O: Points for flair, but even though it's fascinating, it always seems like it doesn't quite make it. So close to the mark, but it never quite finds its way there. Still worth trying and perhaps better fresh.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a very dark black with just a touch of brown and a half finger of frothy chocolate colored head. The head fades down at a normal pace leaving behind some light lace.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted dark chocolate malts with some smoke, coffee, and a bit of dark fruit sweetness.

T - Starts out with some roasted dark chocolate malts with a bit of vanilla and smoke. Through the middle, some stronger smoke comes through with some coffee and light dark fruit sweetness. The finish is a mix of roasted chocolate and coffee, smoke, and just a touch of dark fruit.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a dry and roasty finish.

D - Very drinkable. Really nice Stout. The balance is spot on here with a great mix of chocolate, coffee, and a touch of dark fruit sweetness.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.17/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, bottled October 2011. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours dark brown/black with about an inch tan head. Head retention and lacing are both decent. The aroma is nice, it smells like chocolate, roasted malt, smoke, and some dark fruit and coffee. Taste is similar to the aroma, it tastes like chocolate, roasted malt, dark fruit, molasses, smoke, wood, and a bit of licorice. Nice mix between the sweet and bitter flavors. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's creamy and very smooth with moderate carbonation. I like this brew, too bad I can't get it here in Ohio. I'll probably buy this again the next time I come across it. $7.99 a bomber.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Kind of surprised to see new stuff from Pretty Things all the way out on the west coast. A nice, pleasant, hearty and rustic stout. Mildly smoky and seems a touch of spicy on there as well. It's a good winter stout. Even though there are parts of it that stand out in their own ways, it strikes me as well balanced.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.2/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Black Raven pint glass. Pours a very dark brown, appearing black. Nice fine brown head with decent retention and good lacing. Mild aroma of toasted and dark malt with an interesting faint estery fruit component. Unusual flavor dominated by dark malt, but complex, earthy with unidentifiable fruit flavors. Finish is a touch sour, reminiscent of rye (which is listed as an ingredient) mixed with spicy toasted malt and coffee. Unusual combination of flavors, but this one works for me. Medium bodied with a touch of creaminess. These guys push the envelope but seem to pull it off. I would get this again if it was available in my state.

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Photo of Lordquackingstic
4.01/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled October 2011

A: Pours onyx black with two and a half fingers of a woody brown head. Spectacular lacing.

S: Toasted malts, dark chocolate, weak coffee. A tad on the weak side.

T: Way more appealing than the nose. Nice and toasty malt flavor, a little bit of smokiness, little bit of dark chocolate. There's a flavor here I've never tasted before and I can't put my finger on what it reminds me of, but it's a very pleasant taste. Almost like a dry woodiness. Very nice.

M: Dry and full.

O: This was a very nice stout. I definitely get the "woodland" feel while drinking it. Wish Pretty Things made six packs, I'd buy this year round. Kudos to you Pretty Things!

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Photo of jbertsch
4.42/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pitch black with a modest yet sufficient head. Smells of charcoal, peat moss, and woodsy earth. As it warms and I swirl it in my glass, I notice notes of banana along side Belgian-like yeast. The taste is a nice change of pace for a stout as it's not just the usual chocolate and coffee notes. I get notes of smoky woods, a little licorice, slight fruit notes, and a little herbiness thats a nice surprise. Tihis all swims in a pool of roasty toasty notes. Mouthfeel is a little slick but still mainly creamy.

Overall I'm surprised more people don't love this stout. It's unique with great layers of flavor that range from woods, herbs, and fruit with an underlining roastiness that runs across everything.

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Photo of Murrhey
3.57/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Shared a bottle with Kojevergas.

A- Finger width mocha head. Quick evaporating retention.

S- Dark malts and subtle chocolate with definite smokiness.

T- Dark roasted malts, very toasty tastes.

M- Heavy bodied, medium carb.

O- Weird beer. Like it, don't love it.

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Photo of arizcards
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber at Whole Foods in LaJolla in late February for $9.49. Bottled in October 2011.

Beer poured dark brown with a huge brown head upon the initial pour.

Nose has hints of molasses and smoke.

Taste initially was a hint of rye. Smoke, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, and maybe coriander.

Mouthfeel was light to medium bodied and not overly smooth.

Overall this is a good beer and there are some interesting tastes in this brew but it is lacking some things that would make it world class. Recommended to stout lovers to try.

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Babayaga from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
88 out of 100 based on 191 ratings.