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Retribution - High Water Brewing

Not Rated.

Educational use only; do not reuse.

46 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 46
Hads: 104
Avg: 3.75
pDev: 13.6%
Wants: 3
Gots: 8 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
High Water Brewing visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: womencantsail on 02-05-2011

Retribution Imperial IPA is brewed for the true connoisseur of all things hoppy. We brew this beer with one theme, go big... or go home... Layers of bittering, finishing, and aroma hops all combine to result in a truely unique beer.

9.5% ABV 95 IBU
View: Beers (14) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 46 | Hads: 104
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

On tap at 38 Degrees in Alhambra, CA.

Pours a hazy honey orange with a foamy beige head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Thin rings of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, citrus zest, and pine aromas. Taste is much the same with a herbal flavor on the finish. There is a medium amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty but somewhat strong.

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Photo of largadeer
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I had to adjust my ratings because this beer has changed dramatically. First two batches were excellent beers, newer batches are decent but very different and much less impressive.

Original review:


Draft at Gourmet Haus Staudt.

Appearance: Pale burnished copper, brilliantly clear with a frothy white head that shows solid retention.

Aroma: This one takes a minute to open up, but it's got an amazing nose when it does. Heavy on the citrus fruits, namely tangerine and grapefruit, with undertones of peach and pineapple. Alcohol is present at a low level, buried beneath the hops.

Palate: Juicy, ripe tropical fruit flavors hit the palate first. Pineapple, grapefruit, a bit of peach. Malt is present at a pleasant level for a DIPA this big; it brings a light balancing sweetness that highlights the hop flavors without overwhelming them. There's an alcohol kick, but the beer is highly quaffable regardless. The finish is bitter and punchy, but ultimately clean. I'm happy to say that this beer exceeds any IPA Steve brewed with Valley. If there was a less noticeable alcohol on the palate, it would be an A+ beer.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.28/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: The beer pours amber, almost copper, with an off-white head.

S: Lots of sweetness on the nose. Brown sugar and caramel are the big ones, but there is a bit of bread in there too. Some piney hops and a bit of tropical fruit, some citrus as well. Not quite as hoppy as I would have hoped.

T: The story is pretty much the same on the palate. Very sweet with lots of toffee, brown sugar, and caramel. Some citrus, fruit, and pine notes with a moderate bitterness, but not enough to counteract the sweetness.

M: Medium to full in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: Really a let down. Far too sweet and not really even that great of hop flavors.

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Photo of DoubleJ
3.33/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

It comes in a 22 ounce bottle, and contrary to popular belief, the water used for this beer does not come from the waterfall depicted on the label. On to the beer:

The color has a hazy character and looks like a mix of brown and muddy orange. Spots and a few strings of lace stick around the glass. The aroma is missing some omph, but at least there are signs of life; a bite of grapefruit peel and brown sugar are among the highlgihts for a dissapointing nose.

Lemon rind and plenty of resin to be had at the first sip. As the introduction stage is over, spicy and citric alcohol breathes onto the stage. More bitter citrus arrives. The maltiness is there, but doesn't seem to do much work. A touch of orange towards the end lessens the strain of the bitterness. The beer has a medium full body, somewhat creamy, and with a pretty smooth carbonation, finishing brash with the bitter citrus.

While Retribütion Ale may not be as refined as more popular and "mainstream" Double IPA's such as Stone Ruination, this beer does have a few things going right. This one can get really bitter, so if that's you're style, this is one to get.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood I,

A: Pours a light orange with firm medium white head, leaving good lace.

S: Complex hop nose, with a lot of citrus and pineapple.

T: Classic pine and citrus mix. A fairly malty beer for a West Coast IPA. Light tropicality.

M: Medium-bodied, resiny, sticky, creamy at times with the soft frothy carbonation.

O: I haven't really been impressed so far with High Water and the high prices they carry. But this is a pretty darn good Double IPA. Worth a pickup.

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Photo of HopHead84
2.27/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2


Bomber opened by me and poured into a snifter. Thanks a lot.

A: Reddish orange with a substantial beige head that exhibits great retention. Lacing is everywhere.

S: This is malt heavy, with strong caramel and bread notes. The malt subjugates the hop profile, which consists of onion, pine, and grapefruit. Alcohol is evident in the aroma. Way too much malt, while the hops are feeble and muted. Bad.

T: Again, malt heavy. Caramel and bread coalesce with onion, pine, grapefruit, and booze. There's also a metallic note that is somewhat off-putting. Bitterness is at an upper moderate level and is astringent at times. Bad. It tastes like a 6 month old Double IPA.

M: Medium in body with moderate carbonation. Mouthfeel is sticky and dry.

Overall: Bad. I don't know what happened with this bottling run, but this is a pretty terrible Double IPA. The growler I had from the earlier batch was pretty good, so hopefully this recipe gets dialed in. My drain drank deep of this.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.43/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

No freshness info available. Served at 50F in to CBS Snifter.

A - Medium translucent orange with half a finger of cream coloured head that quickly receded to a few bubbles.

S - Pine, peppery/spicy and light citrus aromas up front with a bitterness that is not overwhelming but is definitely present. A sweet malt backbone is also present in the nose.

T - A massive, almost abrasive bitterness up front with pine, citrus and earthy/floral notes. There is also a big, sweet caramel malt backbone - bigger than I expected for a west coast DIPA, but it is necessary to cut through the massive hop bitterness. The finish is dry and puckering.

M - Medium body, slight carbonation. Nice tongue coating hop oils.

O - Delivers as advertised - a huge hop bomb but didn't come together perfectly. Got better as my tongue adjusted to it.

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Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This caramelly auburn colour is a classic look for an IPA, double or otherwise, one of those things that's always in fashion. It is perfectly clear, despite a deeper tone, and gives off coppery highlights when held against the afternoon sky. Its head, although it becomes rather decrepit and seemingly incapable of it, marks the glass with its own graffiti-like tags.

For die-hard 'hop heads' the combination of pale malts and "Jesus" is all that's necessary. It's actually preferred. So chances are some of them would be upset by the fact that some malt is actually perceived in this aroma, despite that it's an overwhelmingly stinky, pungent, grassy, resinous hop character that occupies 95% of the air around the glass.

Me, personally, I don't mind a little caramel malt to prop things up, although I'd prefer it play second fiddle to the hops' lead. That's kind of the story here: there's lots of toffee-tasting maltiness, enough to feel as though it sticks to the roof of your mouth, but earthy, herbal resins and candied citrusy hoppiness slice right through it all as if it were Zorro.

The hops' more citrusy flavours taste remarkably like grapefruit and passion-fruit - they taste like pine needles too although that's neither here nor there at the moment - and they imitate those fruits' sharp acidity. Here's where that bready caramel comes in handy - it keeps the finish from being too acidic and also soaks up a lot of the alcohol, which is still detectable but manageable. (It's the vine-y, plant-like notes that linger longest.)

Some breweries, in a well intended effort to make their IPA stronger only end up intensifying certain ills (such as upping the bittering hops without adjusting accordingly in the flavour, or upping the alcohol without adjusting for it accordingly in the maltiness). High Water avoided those pitfalls - they've gone big without going wrong. Indeed, this is a DIPA you can't go wrong trying, especially if you're looking for a more balanced (read: malty) offering.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.57/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber almost brown appearance, ever so slight ring of head to it with little lace accumulation. Aroma was nice and hoppy in the grapefruit realm.

Taste, just a weird aftertaste on this one, heavily bitter. I really wanted to like it, as I loved the brewer's work while at Valley, I loved the name, but alas, this one was a relative miss for me. Alcohol was up there on this one.

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Photo of illidurit
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap in sample size at the 2011 Bistro DIPA Fest. Pours a brownish gold color with a sticky off-white head. Perfumey hoppy aroma, lots of tropical fruits. Pineapple, orange, and grapefruit to be sure. Flavor is similar but with a big alcohol kick and some pale maltiness. There's also a strange bready brown malt note that I can't really put my finger on. This stuff is good but too boozy.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

532nd review on BA
Bottle to Tulip

App- A very dark orange with a nice one finger head. Spotted cling with some streaks and a bit of dots to cling. Color was quite clear as well

Smell- A bit citrusy which was a welcome deviant from the nose bashing pine/resiny DIPA. Had a bit of malts and a bit of hops as well.

Taste- It's not overdone. I was very happy to taste a DIPA, that didnt try to kill it. This was very balanced, tasteful and complex as well.

Mouth- Medium bodied and Medium carbonated with a citrusy malt punch.

Drink- A very tasty as mentioned above not overdone DIPA. It was well layered with some lush citrus and then some layers of caramel. I'd like to have this one again.

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Photo of flexabull
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright gold color, mostly clear, with a nice white head, and good lacing.

Aromas are resiny, orange, green, and floral. This has a pretty nice hoppy nose.

Taste is creamy, lightly sugary sweet, with some caramel, and light bready malts. Finish is dry, with some earthiness, tart and bitter citrus, and hints of alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel, is full, and pretty smooth.

Overall, a pretty solid DIPA. It's certainly more balanced, cleaned up, and refined than the bit off centered IPA from High Water. This is pretty good, I'd consider trying this one again. But I prefer others in the style.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.2/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a cloudy copper-orange color with a thin finger of frothy off-white head atop. The head fades down slowly leaving behind some nice lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of citrus hops and rich sweet caramel malts. There is also some herbal notes, some mint, and a touch of booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of strong grapefruit and herbal hops and lots of bitterness. There is also a bit of super sweet and rich caramel malts. Through the middle, more herbal hops come through with more bitterness as well as some booze flavor. The finish is a mix of herbal and citrus hops and bitterness, rich sweet malts, and some alcohol flavor that linger together.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. The beer feels a bit syrupy with some thick resiny feelings left on the tongue.

D - Very drinkable. Very much a hop-forward beer, and the hops flavor pretty much trumps everything else. The bitterness is nice and strong and does not seem to ever give up.

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Photo of arizcards
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber from the LaJolla Whole Foods in Mid-February for $7.99.

Beer poured a copper-orange color with a smallish white head that is leaving lacing behind.

Nose is a nice lemon and grapefruit medley that is still strong despite how old this brew is.

Taste is well balanced, big caramel malt backbone holds up pretty well to the lemon grapefruit hop assault.

Mouthfeel is moderately carbonated and pretty smooth.

Overall this is a pretty tasty brew and a good representation of the style. G

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Photo of brotherloco
3.66/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz Bomber. No apparent date, but it's a brand new beer so it can't be that old...

Pours a deep dark gold, a touch hazy. Finger of off-white foam. Fairly thick lacing.

Caramel apple aromas emerge. Some pear and orange too. Bready malt. Pretty mild.

Initial taste brings on mild citrusy fruit and sweet caramel malt. The hoppy bitterness doesn't emerge until late in the flavor. A real blossoming flowery bitterness in the finish. Finish is quite dry with an alcohol presence as well. Wow, bitterness really lingers on this one. Not too bad, a bit skewed from other DIPA's.

The body is on the lighter side of medium with good medium carbonation. Not much apparent alcohol until the finish. Pretty drinkable. Your enjoyment will be swayed by how super bitter you like your beer though.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.43/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap at Toronado. I remembered liking this far more than Hop Riot, so I got it again and was pleasantly surprised to see my memories affirmed.

A: Pours a lightly hazy orange-amber with a finger of off-white head that retains to the point where I get it from the grubby Toronado bartender's hands.

S: Bright: citrus notes dominate, and they are tempered by floral characteristics with a touch of mint. Great aromatics here. A nice caramel backbone gives the bouquet some character, and cuts through the vile stench of the Toronado itself.

T: Caramel malt is pronounced; this is fairly unusual out of the DIPAs I've been drinking lately, and it immediately commands attention. Grapefruit and orange flesh, lemon peel. A touch of passionfruit and peach. Quite vivid fruit flavors. The finish evokes a flavor of mint that is unusual; I think the only other beer that brings out this characteristic is Alpine's Nelson. Mild bitterness. Very nicely done.

M: A touch of booze brings the mouthfeel down. It's nicely sticky. Medium-bodied with moderate carbonation.

O: The standout of the two IPAs coming out of High Water right now. But it seems like every batch is different, so I'm not going out of my way to recommend this.

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Photo of jvillefan
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A deep golden yellow color with a two and a half finger head that lasts the entire length of the beer.

S: The smell is of fresh hops but is not that strong of an aroma. There are citrus undertones in the background.

T: It has a very better tastes in the beginning and has a sweetish finish. There are caramel and citrus tones as well.

M: The sharpness expected from the carbonation is not really there but the beer has excellent retention.

O: A solid IPA. If you like bitter IPAs you will like this.

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Photo of armock
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Helm's Ale House in Tracy, CA

A - Poured a copper color with a white head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is mostly of grapefruit and piney hops

T - Follows the nose with citrus and pine hops with a decent bit of malt getting trough

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

O - I enjoyed this DIPA quite a bit good hop flavors that weren't overdone which made it very easy to drink to me worth grabbing if you see it around

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Photo of brewandbbq
3.26/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle.

Pours dark copper with an inch-plus head of beige. A solid skim coat and short sheets of lacing throughout the glass.

Aromatics are heavy on the pine and grapefruit, but theres quite a bit of wet cardboard in there also. Dusty malt and stale pellets follow through.

Medium bodied with a crisp, tacky mouthfeel.

The palate starts off with a swipe of bitterness and a heft of malt. Aged pine sap and dried grapefruit rind follow through along with wet papper and cardboard.

Finishes with a lingering bitterness and stale hop pellets.

This beer is either old or was just never that good. The nose is faded and oxidized and most of whats left for the palate is bitterness and stale malt.

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Photo of BucannonXC5
4.26/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber (22-oz.) bottle into a pint glass. Color was dark caramel, more like copper. About a finger of head. Good lacing with sporadic bubbles that dissipated but still lasted for the duration of the pour. Sporadic film on the sides.

Smelled of citrus hops as you’d expect. Grapefruit seemed to lead the way. Kind of a sweet sugary smell, too.

First taste was a strong alcohol bite. Also some citrus notes, but not as much grapefruit as I thought. More lemon zest. Bitter aftertaste with that alcohol still coming through. Pretty smooth would with a good kick.

Medium body. Creamy texture. Average carbonation. Smooth finish.

Really enjoyed this beer, especially as it went down. It got better with each gulp. Smooth and crisp.

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Photo of bashiba
3.11/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured a deep clean amber color with a huge sticky off white head.

The smell is mild with a light toasty bit of grain and some mild juniper hop notes.

Starts of big and syrupy sweet with some biscuit notes. The hops take over in the finish with a nice even blast of juniper bitterness with a touch of mint. The hop bitterness is there, but the hop flavors are a bit lacking.

The mouthfeel is thick and oily, lots of resin leaving a long lasting bitter coating.

Nothing special here, just your average malt bomb trying to be balanced out with a ton of bitterness, not terrible but a long way from great.

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.84/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 9/23/11

Thanks to nickd717

Sunburst amber; medium-dark and faded around the edges. One finger head takes it's merry time dissipating. Retention is good. Impressive lace.

Notes of dry, dusty biscuit and caramel are prominent aromas. Interspersed there in are staccato hits of pine and a ghost note or two of citrus peel. Definitely tame on the hops. The abv is well-masked, though.

Tastes hoppier than it smells; with a sharp piney bitterness all the way through - not much depth in that respect. Solid malts, too - caramel and bread. A bit of alcohol warmth is noticeable; not bad, though. Tastes ok on the whole. A faint citrus layer emerges as it warms.

Medium-full body for the style. A bit slick as it warms up. Carbonation is a tad lower than moderate.

This one is decent enough, but it's too malt-forward and too tame on hops to set it apart from the top notch DIPAs around the country, let alone California.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.85/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap @ Library Alehouse; served in a 5oz taster glass.

A sort of burnt-orange liquid with great clarity and a snow white head which is thin but lasting. Paint/batter - like lacing coats the sides.

Sweet caramel aroma backed by a fresh citrus/herbal/resinous blast of hops.

Bitter melon, grapefruit, black pepper, and mint on the palate. Punishingly bitter with a drying earthy finish. Malt adds a touch of honey, while the alcohol gives a substantial kick as well. Pungent flavors, but abrasive profile overall.

Creamy, medium-bodied, warming (not quite hot), and moderately carbonated.

The spicy bitterness and alcohol force you to slip slowly; as a fan of the IPAs he brewed for Valley, I'm happy to see Steve back in action - but this beer is aptly named and makes me wonder what my palate ever did to deserve such a harsh revenge.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.16/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a deep orange (yet clean) pour with lots of visible carbonation down the center of the glass, 2 fingers of head that left behind a sloppy massive pile of lacing! no sign of the high abv in the scent, mostly grapefruit, citrus, caramel, slight hint of pine. piney/grapefruit and earthy bitterness up front.. quickly killed off by a sweet caramel-like malt profile. an earthy burnt tire-like bitterness builds up for the rest of the pour. this is an excellently balanced IPA, with a slight alcohol taste but nothing major (but still oh so subtle for 9.5%). medium body with moderate carbonation, creamy mouthfeel with a nice sticky resin left behind on the lips.

i see a lot of shitty ratings/reviews for this one. i'm guessing people got old bottles of it, so I can't blame them because it happens to me sometimes as well. i think those people with the low ratings should give a fresh bottle a try though and see the difference.

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Photo of beagle75
3.15/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.

A: Slightly hazy, medium amber color with over one finger of turmeric-tinted foam head. Scant lacing remains and a veritable forest of fine-bubbled streams rise in the column.

S: Pungent coniferous foliage and over-ripe pineapple suggest detectable hops as well as other estery contributions. A fine thread of whole milk blunts the hops a little, seeming out of place.

T: Begins off-dry, with soft malt that tastes of caramel and hop aromatics whose pine qualities are slightly artificial. Astringency develops early amidst fairly mild acidity. Flavors become drier and generally less potent in the middle before harsh and disjunct bitterness--aspirin-like--develops in the slightly boozy finish.

M: Medium viscosity, slightly syrupy on the palate showing some alcohol burn, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: Nothing if not consistent, High Water brewed what is truly the elder sibling to Hop Riot IPA. It struggles with continuity, transitioning between qualities clumsily. That said, it does yield somewhat greater appeal than its little brother, but appealing it is not.

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Retribution from High Water Brewing
84 out of 100 based on 46 ratings.