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Imperial IPA | Garrison Brewing Company

123 Reviews
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Imperial IPAImperial IPA

Brewed by:
Garrison Brewing Company
Nova Scotia, Canada | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Launched and enthusiastically received at the first annual Halifax Seaport Beer Fest in August 2007, this ale has quickly become known as the hoppiest beer in Atlantic Canada! Unfiltered Imperial I.P.A. is a robust, full-bodied and complex brew in the Double IPA style. An intensely fruity aroma combines nicely with a malty caramel backbone, clear hop bitterness and lingering citrusy finish. This beer is for the true hophead!

81 IBU

This beer was previously known as Garrison Imperial Pale Ale.

Added by MMansfield on 08-11-2007

User Reviews
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Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 218
Photo of
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - honey-orange in colour with a thin head that dissipates to a persistent cap.

Smell - The aroma is a wonderful belnd of hops and malt featuring caramel, biscuit, pineapple, grapefruit, and pine.

Taste - The taste is heavy on hops, as one would expect with an imperial IPA. Upfront its malty and fruity, but the hops are right behind bringing a really intense bitterness. The finish is a bit biscuity, with a lingering bitterness. I could do with a little more hop flavour and less bitter punch, but this is still a very good IIPA.

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Photo of bryehn
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy marmalade-like orange colour with hints of copper and a fair amount of suspended sediment. The head is light beige in colour and very frothy. It has good retention and leave a healthy amount of lace behind as it settles.

The aroma has a malt-forward caramel character balanced by a mild grapefruit-like citrus tone. I also get a ripened cherry note and one of freshly cut grains.

The taste finds a nice balance between sweet caramel and bitter grapefruit or orange peel citrus. A dark chocolate flavour pokes through as it passes the tongue and the bitterness really kicks in during the finish.

The beer is full-bodied with a nice pop on the tongue despite a rather low carbonation. The long-lasting collar and sediment create a creamy sensation as it goes down. The aftertaste is dry and bitter with a lingering citrus character and a subtle strawberry or cherry fruitiness.

If I were to strictly review Garrison Imperial IPA as a Double/Imperial IPA, my opinion would be far less favourable because of its relatively low ABV and light character. It's more in line with "single" offerings like Southern Tier IPA or Red Racer IPA. That said, this is an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable beer that is one of the best Canadian-brewed IPAs and one that I snap up any time I see it.

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Photo of GabesAles
4.7/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: very nice looking brew - typical orange IPA color, some haze (which i like)

Smell: you can smell this as your pouring it! lots of nose

Taste: very tasty brew that will most likely make your face cringe (in a good way). Being as it's an imperial IPA, that is exactly what i expected. Loved the flavor of both malts and hop.

Mouthfeel: It's there, nice mouth coating sensation

Overall: Quality brew, would buy this again any day.

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Photo of mmmbeer
3.5/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

500 mL brown bottle with no freshness date. Pours a chill-hazed toasted gold, with medium carbonation and a thin tan cap that retains well. Smells of biscuity and caramelly malts, piney/citric hops, a few esters and a hint of pleasing diacetyl. Lots and lots of juicy hops on the palate, with piney/herbal notes, sharp white grapefruit and a strong bitter linger on top of a smooth, moderately-carbonated body. Not much malt, but there is a light sweetness. Tasty enough; raw and hoppy, but it isn't quite balanced right.

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Photo of Stocean1
4.23/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - poured a big off white three finger head with great retention and plenty sticky patchy lacing - a deep amber orange colour

S - sweet malt and citrus hops - grapefruit and grass

T - a beautiful balance of barley malt with a strong citrus hops - grapefuit and papaya - oranges - grass and pine - a pepper note in the bitter finish - bravo

M - medium body with plenty of carbonation - still smooth for a brew with this much bitterness

O - A very nice Imperial IPA that is really well balanced - I will definitely grab another box of this stuff

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Photo of jrenihan
3.53/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle date appears to be July 3, 2011, which means it took just over two months to get to Ontario and make it through the LCBO labs. The joys of regulation...

Pours a dark amber orange with an enormous amount of frothy off-white head. Mild lacing, good retention.

Pleasant smell of citrus (grapefruit) and caramel malt. Pleasant but neither strong nor remarkable. A bit muted.

Taste is bitter with some caramel malt. A bit of grapefruity citrus but it is not particularly strong. Some pleasant flavours as the beer sits in my mouth for a little while and more becomes apparent. Finish, however, is bitter without much else happening.

Full bodied, and quite carbonated. Somewhat irritating to me. Pretty creamy feel. Pretty good once the carbonation dies down.

Overall, this beer has some good qualities, but I was somewhat disappointed. I found the bitterness was not fully accompanied by other flavours- seemed to be bitter for bitters sake. This was particularly so in the finish. Whereas there are some nice flavours balancing the bitterness for awhile, the finish is simplistic and not particularly enjoyable. I prefer this to Garrison's Hop Yard, but do not think it is a great DIPA.

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Photo of sholland119
3.61/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked this one up at Premier Wine & Spirits in Halifax.

A-Pours a hazy orange amber with a fluffy off white head and great sticky lacing.

S-Malty with very light hoppiness.

T-Nice bitterness hits you right away. Earthy and citric, lots of grapefruit rind. Not very balanced but very tasty.

M-Medium bodied, a bit slick.

O-Pretty nice. Low ABV for an imperial IPA so more drinkable, Nicely bitter.


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Photo of hopsolutely
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A lot more flavour than expected from a 7% ABV, although the alcohol burn is also suggestive of something boozier. The lingering bitter finish is almost overpowering, but as I enjoy that dimension of IIPA's, I would still recommend trying this particular one.

Beautiful almost iridescent amber with the unfiltered sediment unnoticeable until the bottom of the bottle. One of the clearest unfiltered beers I have enjoyed. Aroma is very malt-forward, with caramelized and fruit notes. The flavour is pleasantly sweet and malty, followed by a truly bitter finish. Not certain where this sits in IBU, but it is pronounced.

However, I would still consider this a well-balanced and enjoyable representative of the American Double style. Look forward to any future Garrison offerings in Ontario!

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Photo of Jeffo
3/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Got this one in a trade with cjbmcdon. Thanks for sending this one out east for me man!

From a 500ml bottle into a snifter.
Drunk right after the Black IPA

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, medium thin looking, off-white head with good retention. Head slowly fades to a good film cap and ring. A clear burnt orange in color with no carbonation evident. A thick ring remains until the end leaving some dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Milder nose of pale malts, toffee, some melon notes and some nice floral aromas. Nice enough, but simply too mute to be noticeable.

TASTE: Pale malts, toffee, and a good amount of floral hops through the middle. A blast of bitter hop and pine flavors crash through after the swallow, which wasn’t really expected. Big and lingering aftertaste with piles of hop bitterness and a touch of pine that tries to give it some flavor. Started out nice, but became bitter just for the sake of being bitter.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Semi creamy on the palate, goes down fine and finishes slightly dry on the palate.

OVERALL: An interesting brew, much like their Black IPA. The flavors start out nice and enjoyable, but after the swallow, it becomes overly bitter without any real flavor to match. It’s almost bitter for the sake of being bitter. While these two brews weren’t highlights for me, they have definitely gotten me interested in what else this brewery can do. Thanks again for sending this brew my way cjbmcdon!

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Photo of evlu1441
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a nice looking beer. A finger of fluffy tan head sits on top of a pale, hazy amber brew.

The aroma is mainly fresh hops, with a hint of black pepper. There is a nice caramel malty background too.

The flavour is . The hop aroma is more restrained compared to some west coast IIPAs, though it is still quite intense. The hoppyness if balanced by a nice and slightly sweet malty backbone.

Overall, not the most exciting IIPA I've had, but a very solid example of the style.

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Photo of peensteen
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle from mmurphy525

Hazy deep amber colour, 2 fingers of white head, sticky and dense, lots of lace left behind. Smell is very hoppy, soft citrus, grapefruit, pine is present as well but more so in the background wrapped up with a soft malty backbone. Taste is bursting with hops, pine is at the forefront while citrus takes the background role, malty, very well balanced, grapefruit and tangerine present as well. Full body, good weight, fairly oily, medium carbonation. Very solid brew, have had this a few times before but never as fresh as this bottle, more of a big IPA than a IIPA but its still really good.

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Photo of Hornet2003
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark copper, amber colour. Cloudy at the bottom of the bottle due to hop flakes. Decent (1/4 inch on pour) head.

Smell: Very fruity and malty. I'm thinking this is more of an Imperial English IPA. Dates, prunes and raisins (almost Old Ale-ish), but with a huge, citrusy hop aroma.

Taste: Much like the aroma, this beer has a lot of dark fruitiness, as well as an intense piney hoppiness. Really amazingly strong flavours on all fronts.

Mouthfeel: Malt gives a great biscuity sweetness while the hops provide a huge punch of bitterness. Good carbonation!

Overall: Let this one warm up a bit to at least cellar temp. (10 degrees C ~50 degrees F). So smooth and creamy while poking your tongue with bitterness. This beer is even more impressive given the (relatively) low ABV for an Imperial IPA. 7% with such great flavours/mouthfeel makes this a sipper that won't get you wrecked. Big props to Garrison!

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Photo of Rijtjeshuis
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in snifter.

LOOK (4/5) Pours a strong orange color - more than many other IIPAs I've had. The brew was fairly cloudy (I believe it is unfiltered). This opaquity sets of the color really well. The head was great! It was bone white and very creamy. It lasted for a long time, reduced to a substantial cap and left good lacing.

SMELL (4.5/5) The nose is dominated by hops. The malts are more of a bread/grain - not a huge amount of sweetness is given off, though, and the overall impression is dry. The use of different hops produces some real complexity here - this falls into the resiny/piney spectrum with does of citrus, grapefruit, and grassy dry-hops in there. A bit of hard water, I think, gives a bit of an extra zing.

TASTE (4/5) The flavor is pretty much featuring the same players as the nose. The balance is a bit more hoppy, though. The balance between the hop flavor and the bitterness of the hops is spot on - both were intense, though.

FEEL (4/5) The body is medium-full and the carbonation is medium (a bit more than, for instance, Tree Brewing's IIPA). This makes for a fluffy feel. Really nice

DRINK (4/5) Good for sipping, but way too intense to be a session beer. I really like that the hop flavor was in good balance with the bitterness!

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Photo of funkengruven
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This bottle has been living in my cellar for the past year and I figured it was time to open it and see what it was like.

Served at cellar temperature (approximately 8 degrees C.)

Poured into a standard pint glass, looks good, reddish amber with a slightly tan head that holds itself quite well. Smell is very hoppy, some underlying malts in there but it's almost all hops. First sip threw me off, it was ridiculously bitter and honestly not all that enjoyable. However as I went through it I began to enjoy it a little more. Some maltyness shows itself in the aftertaste but the hops are really aggressive.

This somewhat reminded me a bit of DFH 90 Minute but with a much smoother finish.

Definitely a must have if you like heavily hopped ales.

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Photo of Rutager
4.62/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance. Pours a hazy, deep amber with a finger of sticky yellow head that leaves some lacing.

Smell. Caramel, lemon, pink grapefruit, papaya, grass and pine. Smells really good.

Taste. Sweet caramel grains and building, citrus grassy bitter hops. A little marzipan in the lasting, bitter floral, citrus, pine finish.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with smooth medium carbonation.

Overall. A really great dipa. Alcohol well hidden, but lower than I would have expected for such a rich beer. Enjoyed this one.

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Photo of joemcgrath27
4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - hazy orange copper, two fingers of tan head retained very well with lots of sticky lacing
S - lemon and pine, sweet caramel, earthy and light spiciness
T - earthy hops of front along with caramel sweet malt, moves to lemon citrus hops and cedar, light spicy hop character to finish
M - medium body, malty richness is almost creamy, balanced well by the hop bitterness creeping in on the finish
O - pleasant hop flavours are well balanced by the sweet rich malt, and that's always a bonus with an imperial, the mix of earthy and lemon hop flavours works very well, very sessionable at 7%

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Photo of andrenaline
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy golden orange, finger of head with solid retention and fantastic lacing.

S - Sweet caramel and lemon citrus hops off the top, with a touch of earthiness, followed by some pine and cedar notes.

T - The caramel hits you off the top, but is quickly overtaken by some very bitter citrus hops. Probably one of the bitterest IIPA's I've had to date for sure, though the malt does attempt to balance it out.

M - No complaints here. Even though it came across bitter, it did not finish overly dry, and was smooth going down.

O - Overall a very tasty, though bitter, IIPA. A hop heads delight and definitely something unique in the realm of DIPA's. Highly recommended and a quality Canadian take on the style.

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Photo of LazyL
3.68/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Spree92 on the other coast for another beer trade. Pours a typical IPA dark orange but very hazy due to being unfiltered and perhaps the UPS travel. The head is large and has a fluffy soft camel tone. The nose is good, but not great. I really love an IPA that blows your nose off. It has nice soft buttery citrus notes, a touch of honey and an appealing freshness. The taste is not overwhelming. I get a bit of grapefruit, some mellon and a pine sap sort of bitterness. Is it a bit salty on the finish? I like the bitterness but could use a bit more flavour up front. The hops dont jump out at you. The mouthfeel is sort of oily and the bitter finish lingers on the tongue. The retention is really good and the now thin cap has left its trail right to the bottom of the glass.

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Photo of Dawkfan
3.33/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A- The pour into my tulip glass is a hazy amber orange. Some sediment is visible, which doesn't bother me. Hefty off white head, excellent retention and some patchy lacing.

S- The smell has a lot of sugary sweetness to it. A good dose of tropical fruits and floral hops, the malt coming through as it warms.

T- Wasn't expecting this one to be this bitter given the strong sweetness in the aroma. Hop bitterness throughout, mainly piney. The sweetness comes in near the finish, but is washed away with more hop bite in the aftertaste.

M- Resinous mouthfeel, medium-full body, creamy & rich. Best part of this beer.

D- I like hop bombs , but this one was just a little to much for me. Seemed unbalanced even for a DIPA.

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Photo of spree92
3.83/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml Bottle poured into a stein. A cloudy, red copper color that had a huge, bubbly head. Great retention and and an almost perfect lacing pattern. Just smellin' a lot of hops and some citrus. The taste is a bit lower because I feel as though it just tastes like a boozy IPA. The bitterness isn't very strong. Like most, the flavor hangs around for a while and seeps into the taste buds. Could I drink this all the time, sure. I may very well.

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Photo of BasementBer
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

As a practicing hophead and living in a place where range of beer selection is hard to come by, particularly of those brewed and worth brewing in Canada, I look forward to giving this unfamiliar brewery/ale a go.

A: Twofingers of foamy head with medium-tight creamy bubbles. Nice amber hue. Great lacing consistency, as should be expected from the level of bitter resins in the style. Light sediment in the bottle as expected from an unfiltered Ale.

S: Mmm, Hops. Nothin like the smell of fresh hops. A full robust citrusy aroma.

T: A surprising hop choice for the bittering. Didn't expect it, more like a saaz or hallertauer bittering hope rather than what would be used in an American IPA. Perhaps, Garrison see's itself in the European tradition.

M: Good carbonation and bitter mouth-feel as expected from an imperial style. Great lingering contribution provided by the range of bitterness.

D: Not overly powerful as some Imperial IPAs, and yet still more of a savoring IPA that is meant to be gradually enjoyed.

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Photo of marty21
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy deep orange with at least 2 fingers worth of creamy head. Settles to a chunky cap and leaves thick walls of lace all over the snifter.

S: Lot's of piney and citrus hops with a bit of caramel malt.

T: Caramel malt that with more hops and a very nice bitter finish.

M: Medium carbonation with a medium body. One if the easiest drinking Imperial IPAs I've ever had.

D: The MLCC just brought in two Garrison beers and if this is any indication I hope they start sending more. I enjoyed this beer from start to finish and before I could even realize it was gone. I'll be buying this one while I wait for Half Pints Humulous Ludicrous.

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Photo of Digimaika2
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This isn't as fresh as I would like (miraculously survived on my shelf unnoticed for about 3-4 months now), but here it goes.

A: Hazy orange to go with a thick marshmallow head. Very good retention and ample lacing.

S: Bready malt dominates with grapefruit and lemon in the background. Also picking up a medicinal/banana like aroma (malts?).

T: Sweet malt flavour upfront with a grapefruit aftertaste that lingers. Not as much hoppiness as I was expecting, but might have to chalk that one up to ageing. Bitterness is evident.

M: Full mouthfeel with a pleasant thickness to it. Very nice. Slight Carbonation.

D: Very drinkable. Although I will make sure to drink my next one when it is fresher. The bready and mellow grapefruit taste makes this beer quite appealing.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.72/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 500 ml brown bottle. Pours out a hazy marmalade hue, tall massive billowing spongy white head with excellent retention. Small yet thick patches of lacing.

Rich bready malt on the nose with a background of mild citrus hops, with predominant orange notes.

Rich chewy bready malt up front in the flavour, also some caramel character, with a serious presence of bittering hops, while some sharp pine works its way out of it all towards the finish. Some white grapefruit pith atringency leeches out in the aftertaste

Full-bodied mouthfeel but on the lower end of that scale, low carbonation and silky smooth. If only all DIPA's had this calibre of mouthfeel.

This has its moments, the mouthfeel is great, however the hop profile within the flavour simply comes across too aggressively one-dimensional, there's far too much bittering character without much development of actual flavour making it almost akin to chewing on a pine bough without the sharp edges. Malt is great, just needs more diversity with hop treatment.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.15/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

500ml bottle, nice olive drab label, to go with the brewery's overall military theme.

This beer pours a hazy, dark, but somehow bright copper hue, with three fingers of thick, foamy, and billowy off-white head, which settles evenly, leaving some random swaths of chunky, sudsy lace around the glass.

It smells of abundantly sweet and floral citrus - grapefruit and orange, with some further tropical fruitiness (kiwi, mostly) - zippy pine resin, all underlain by a spicy, bready caramel malt. The taste is big on the bitter, astringent pine needles up front, definitely more of a one trick pony than in the aroma, as the malt is also far less sweet that I was led to believe - caramelized, sure, but it also seems much more biscuity, and cracker-like, with a mild nondescript spiciness. A good job is achieved as well in alcohol subterfuge - damned if I can find any such astringencies.

The carbonation is average in its tingling and challenging frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight, generally smooth, and somewhat creamy. It finishes with a hoppy resurgence, the muted citrus and free-flowing pine back for more - the lingering malt need not apply.

I can see why this has won Canadian brewing awards - it is big, brash, and unapologetic - that British influence, so endemic in its cross-country brethren, is squashed into a small corner here. I do like this very much - so why does the size of our broad nation seem so overly evident to me right now? And in another small case of apophenia - Sloan just came up on the stereo randometer: "She told me to 'loosen up' on the way to the L.C." Perfect.

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Imperial IPA from Garrison Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 123 ratings.