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Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter - Karbach Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Aged HellfighterBourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

53 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 53
Hads: 402
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 30.3%
Wants: 144
Gots: 120 | FT: 12
Brewed by:
Karbach Brewing Co. visit their website
Texas, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.80% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BgThang on 06-05-2012

F.U.N. Series 003 (Apr 2012) aged in barrels from Heaven Hill Distillery which included: Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, and Old Fitzgerald

F.U.N. Series 005 (May 2013) aged in barrels from Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, and Old Fitzgerald

F.U.N. Series 007 (Nov. 2013) aged in barrels from Makers Mark and Four Roses
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter Alström Bros
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Reviews: 53 | Hads: 402
Photo of nathanmiller
3.24/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

BBH has, at this point, undergone so many releases, and, as is the case in any barrel aged beer, each release has been different. However, I have to say the inconsistencies in this case have at times been so extreme, it's a detriment. I first had their experimental batch at the Monsters of Beer festival in 2012, and have been fortunate enough to try most batches since. The review below is an "averaging" of reviews, taking into consideration the good batches and the less-so batches.

The color is wonderful, the head is medium-dark, nice with light retention. The aroma is rather one-note, the major failing of every batch, almost entirely barrel and bourbon. The taste, when good, is very good - bourbon, chocolate, just light hints of barrel, toffee, and coffee. Unfortunately, like nearly every Houston dark beer, the body is thinner than desired.

Overall, BBH can be a great beer. At its height, it certainly was. Unfortunately it can also be a rather mediocre beer, and that seems to be the case often.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.32/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Ah, the current 11th highest rated Southwest beer. Fun Series 007. 1 litre swing-top growler filled at The Growler Room and served into a stem-tulip at low altitude in Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given its current ratings, but I wasn't too impressed with the base. Reviewed as an imperial porter.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Swingtop yields a healthy pop upon removal, indicating adequate carbonation.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of gorgeous supply complexion and nice smooth even consistency. It's got a great khaki colour to it and has ample creaminess and thickness. Appears soft. Head retention is pretty good - about 4-5 minutes. Nice even lacing sticks to the sides of the glass when you tilt it, but doesn't really hold.

Body colour is a predictable opaque solid black - a darker black than the base beer, to be sure - but still not quite a jet black per se. No floating yeast particles/sediment is visible.

Overall, it's about what you'd expect from an imperial porter. It's not unique or special, but is certainly appealing. There are no obvious flaws here.

Sm: The bourbon notes are prominent, eclipsing the aromatics of the base. It's pretty vanilla-forward, with oak taking a backseat. It isn't the toasted oak wood I crave in a great bourbon beer, but it's oak alright. If I search, I find the dark malt sweetness of the base , but it's faint. I do find cream, caramel, chocolate (malt), and perhaps marshmallow. I don't find the lactose sugar notes or brown sugar I noticed in the base beer.

Overall, vanilla is dominant. It's a pleasant if timid aroma of below average strength. Rarely are imperial porters so tame.

No yeast character or alcohol is detectable. I also have trouble identifying any sort of hop profile. It's certainly more on the sweet end than the bitter end.

T: The bourbon overwhelms the base beer, supplanting it almost entirely. Sure, you've got the dark malt/chocolate malt sweetness of the base propping up the bourbon barrel notes, but for the most part the base has been eclipsed by the barrel. I like to see better integration of barrel notes into beer; ideally the barrel should complement nuances already present in the base beer and coax out more complexity, subtlety, and depth of flavour, but that isn't the case here. This is just an insipid imperial porter drowned in bourbon.

But don't get me wrong; the bourbon notes are spot-on. Wonderful vanilla is dominant, with some backing oak present as well. (Though as abovementioned, it's not the toasted oak you'd find in a more sophisticated brew like Backwoods Bastard).

Marshmallow, cream, caramel, maybe toffee. I'm getting a hint of sassafras and cola nut - maybe because I know to look for them having experienced them in the base.

As it warms, I pick up an identifiably English character - I think from the yeast. I love that element, and wish it was more pronounced.

No hops, or alcohol is/are identifiable. It's certainly sweet, but not cloying.

This isn't a complex, subtle, deep, intricate, or nuanced imperial porter. Nor is it much of a porter. Has some nice bourbon notes - I just wish it offered more in terms of the base beer. I do like it, but I'm unconvinced it's deserving of its ranking as the #11 Southwest beer. Average duration/intensity of flavour.

Mf: Sticky. Silky. Smooth and wet. Nicely full-bodied and thick. The texture is strong enough to support the flavour profile, but I don't know that it really coaxes much out of it; there isn't a perfect marriage of texture to taste here but it gets the job done and doesn't distract. Decent presence on the palate. A bit overcarbonated.

Has warmth on the backend which manifests mainly as a pleasing sensation in the stomach.

Decent execution. The stand-out for me is the light softness of it.

Dr: You've got to start with a more flavorful base to really execute a bourbon barrel aged imperial porter right. This brew pales in comparison to superior beers in its class, but it's a nice dark brew that will satisfy fans of bourbon in their beer. I might nab it on-draught if I have the opportunity, but I wouldn't jump at the chance to buy it again for home consumption. Hides its alcohol nicely and I find it pretty drinkable for what should be a sipper. I'll have no trouble killing the litre I purchased.

Drinks best from a snifter.



1 finger wide head is smooth, soft, and luscious. Opaque black colour.

Sm: Overly bourbony, overwhelming the base. Cream, vanilla, dark malts.

T/Mf: Creamy, with a bourbon-forward profile that overwhelms the base beer entirely. Vanilla. Not balanced in terms of barrel/base, but balanced overall.

O: A sipper, sure, but nevertheless enjoyable. Probably Karbach's best work, but that isn't saying much. Far from world-class.

Low B-

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Photo of maximum12
3.53/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to drummermattie02 for a 'trade' that involved him sending me a couple of Karbach bottles & me sending him...something. On Monday. Seemed like a good idea, still does. 22 oz. bottle split with my wife.

Pour is the dark black of a porter (a 10.8% porter, yowza). Digging deep, but I'm not getting much off the surface of the beer nose-wise. Faint vanilla, sweet malts.

Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter takes a bit of time to grow on me; definitely a beer that needs a bit of cuddling to warm up. It's defined by a double-entendre of vanilla fudge right up front - & who doesn't love that? Bourbon nip is slow to show, just a peek of the goodies in the middle. Roast arrives, & it's nice & strong. Lots of sweet malt on the downside of the hill. The strong point might be the smoothness, this is creamy & lovely.

Clocks in around good. There's something odd about the beer; it doesn't quite meet my expectations about how a barrel-aged porter should taste, & I'm not sure why. Nonetheless, looking forward to my second Karbach beer.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Tieman for sharing this one at jmgrub's tasting.

2013 vintage. F.U. N. Series 007.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, bourbon, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of woody 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 with an earthy wood and bourbon presence.

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Photo of dar482
3.91/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The flavor on this beer has a frontal assault of vanilla, bourbon, roasted malt, and chocolate. However, the mid palate drops off quickly into a huge hop presence. Instead of an expected sweet chocolate and vanilla on the back, there's a hop flavor of earthy and herbal. It hits the palate aggressively and is something that does not occur in other barrel aged brews.

In the end, quite disappointing from what I expected.

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Photo of BgThang
3.95/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to canadianghetto for bringing this up from houston growler style.

The carbonation was little low on this, maybe due to the fact it was a growler.
The color is dark, not as a ris but definitely an imerial porter. dark with brownish notes.

THe smell was woody, bourbon, sweetness.

The motuhfell was thinner than I expected, but had a nice heat presence from the burbon.

THe taste was very similar to older viscosity with out the mega burbon overload OV has. It was a nice roasty, toffee, flavor with burbon backing it up. not over done.

Overall this is a descent beer for a young brewery whom continues to gain popularity.

Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of mattLummus
3.99/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good, interesting Porter. Nice head with a semi-sweet aroma. Body is pretty heavy for a Porter, which I enjoy. Taste is semi-sweet at first, with a bitter aftertaste, and you can taste the barrel age in the finish. Solid beer with unique notes, although it can be a bit rich.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours beautiful black-brown with a one-finger khaki head that lasts very nice soapy lacing throughout. Aromas of light bourbon undertones, sweet and roasted malt, some cherry wood and coffee. Dark chocolate, wood, sweet malts, some coffee, and light esters are detected in the flavor along with the occasional showing of Makers Mark and Four Roses which doesn’t seem to mesh quite well. Medium mouthfeel. Quite a quaffable beer for the package punched brew. Not entirely sure if the Makers Mark complemented the Four Roses barrel quite well enough which hurt the overall score very slightly. Glad to have tried this from Karbach and look forward to trying out more of their F.U.N. series down the road.

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Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1st pour from the keg at the petrol station.

Snifter. Tan head color is black.

A fair amount of roast with a nice dose of oak and bourbon. Vanilla and lots of chocolate. Fairly sweet. Lots of malts.

Very smooth and creamy. Full bodied but ends a little dry.

Overall, not BCS good, but still pretty solid and tasty. I'd give it a try!

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Photo of frenchblood21
4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from bottle into KBS goblet. Date of review is 8/9/14.

Appearance- HUGE light brown head! Slowly creeps down into the glass. The liquid is black but not pitch black. Fantastic looking beverage.

Smell- Big boozy bourbon fills my nose right away. I get chocolate, roasted malt and honey too. Vanilla is there too, but I get no coffee, which the description on the bottle said I would.

Taste- Bourbon and chocolate blow you away. Now I get the coffee and vanilla and it's wonderful. Surprisingly, there is still quite a hoppy presence too. Roasted malt pops up for a second at the very end.

Mouthfeel- Thick, deep and awesome. Again, a surprising amount of hops coat the tongue and linger a while. Chocolate flavor just won't go away.

Overall- Really solid offering from a brewery I had never heard of. This is how barrel-aged beers are supposed to taste.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nearly black in color with soft carbonation. Intense vanilla and wood notes with a mild booziness. A nice roasted malt aroma, dark chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Just a bit of caramel sweetness. The flavor is quite nice with a nice chocolate, caramel, and roast combination along with the intense barrel flavors of bourbon, wood, and vanilla. Still a touch boozy, but enjoyable.

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Photo of EgadBananas
4.11/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: dark brown throughout, light brown two finger head, meager retention.

Aroma: bourbon, oak, roast, burnt toast, milk chocolate, espresso beans, Subtle alcohol.

Taste: bittersweet cocoa, powdered sugar, oak, vanilla, caramel, light coffee roast, bourbon notes, tobacco.

***Has a good feel and body, nice melding flavors and a prett solid balance, all things considered. Well done and well rounded.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.11/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

they tell me this is the best texas has to offer, and after a careful drinking of this stuff, I still have to give a nod of the cap to jester kings better beers, but this is downright impressive. it pours a chalky black color with an inch of dense off white foam that leaves sexy lacing all along the glass. the nose is bourbon heavy, really intense warming alcohols and some gentle sweetness. I like that its a porter not a stout, the English ale yeast is evident, and the malts just aren't quite as big, which gives this a degree of drinkability for this time of year. its got a lot of character in the grains, maybe even some rye in here, but more than anything I taste a gentle chocolate roast and some patient vanilla that doesn't really open up until the finish. alcohol isn't quite hot, but its very resonant in the finish. I like that its not too sweet, and finishes a little dry. full body but not brutal. a wonderful example of the style, and a beer I will look forward to drinking again. a nice introduction to karbach, ill have to find some more of their stuff.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Growler from Whole Foods in Houston.

The beer pours a dark brown to black color with a few small brown bubbles, but no real head. The aroma is heavy on the brown sugar and vanilla, with a hint of whiskey thrown in. The flavor has a lot of wood and whiskey notes, as well as a good dose of maple. The molasses and vanilla notes are also present. I get a little chocolate and roasted malt in the flavor, but this beer is all about the whiskey barrel aging. Medium to thick mouthfeel and low carbonation. Delicious.

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Photo of ilikebeer03
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

original rating 4

opened 9/11/15. purchased Jan. 2013.

A: pours black with a thick khaki head.

S:wonderful soft ntoes of bourbon and vanilla. chocolate. sweet roasted malts.

T: vanilla, bourbon, caramel, chocolate, oak. roasted malt. slight alcohol burn

M: smooth, but a little thin. maybe not for a porter, but for an imperial porter...

O: delicious

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Photo of superspak
4.2/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got in a trade with icetrauma. 22 ounce bottle into tulip glass; No. 005, bottled in May 2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a 2 finger dense dark tan head with great retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with some light streaming carbonation. Aromas of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, brown sugar, toast, vanilla, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, light char, light coffee, and roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, light char, toast, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, clove, oak, bourbon, light coffee, and roasted earthiness. Light roast/barrel bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, roasted malt, cocoa, toast, toffee, vanilla, clove, oak, brown sugar, light char, light coffee, and roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great malt/barrel flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very creamy and moderately slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a highly excellent barrel aged porter! All around great complexity and balance of dark/roasted malt and barrel flavors; and quite smooth to sip on for the high ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of puck1225
4.21/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap into a snifter. Very dark, thin head, nice lacing. Dark fruit, caramel, and chocolate. Some coffee. Very enjoyable for the last beer of the evening.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.23/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

thanks to egrace84 for the share.

poured into tulip glass.

reviewed from notes taken 1/17/13.

Appearance: dark brown to light black bodied beer with 1 finger of medium brown head.

Smell: a splash of bourbon, vanilla and chocolate.

Taste: bourbon and fudge. a hint of bitter dark chocolate. vanilla and oak in the finish. Simple and effective.

Mouthfeel: low end of a medium bodied beer with low end of moderate carbonation levels. Its a touch thin, but nothing distracting. Fairly smooth drinker.

Overall: Nice to see some good beer coming from Texas! Solid on all aspects of the beer just wish it was a little full feel on the beer.

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Photo of OneEye78
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage poured from a bomber into a snifter. Dark black with an almost white head. Smell was primarily bourbon, vanilla and oak. Taste lead by coffee, with brown sugar, vanilla and bourbon heat. Mellowed as it warmed, with more sweetness and chocolate tones. A very solid BBA porter, interested to try it with some age.

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Photo of mhksuccess
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This review is for the 005
Pour from a bottle into Bruery snifter
pretty dark pour
smell is very nice roasty and bourbon flavors
pretty complex taste dominated by the bourbon barrel which are very nice
mouthfeel is solid not too thick or thin pretty much just how it suppose to be
get a little vanilla come thru on the back end and heavy barrel
overall this is a solid outing would get again or try some of the other in this series

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Photo of Jason
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz brown bomber

Nearly pitch black, tight tan lacing does a great job staying together as well as sticking to the glass. Fresh barrel booze, wood, roasted grain, dried dark fruit, vanilla, coffee grounds and rose water pummel the nose. Extremely smooth, lots of wood, creamy full body, boozy from both the barrel and its own strength. Burnt raisins, vanilla, peppery alcohol, espresso, unsweetened dark chocolate, black berries, roasty finish.

A lot of fun sipping this one, the barrel aged character is very bold though the beer is just big enough to stay balanced. The brewers intention was met here, worth the hunt to find a bottle or two.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle of the FUN 005 vintage pours a rich, opaque black color with a rich cap of brown head. Nice retention and lacing...pretty much perfection on the appearance.

Nose is light bourbon, woody coconut and pineapple...not sure where the tropical fruit is coming from, but it is interesting and something I dont remember smelling in the FUN 003 and tap BBHF.

Taste has a nice compliment of coconut woodiness and what I imagine a 20% ABV pineapple bourbon liqueur would taste like. There has certainly been some negativity on the bottled versions of BBHF compared to the tap version, but this one is very satisfying. There is some definite underlying hops and it tastes nothing like the base beer (thankfully). Mouthfeel is silky and would fare well even as a stout. I just love the coconut/chocolate/vanilla interplay...Almond Joy anyone?!

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Photo of DocJitsu
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours an opaque, dark, somewhat muddy brown with an average sized rootbeer colored head. A lot of sorghum, bourbon, and caramelized creme brulee on the nose. It has a mouthfeel that is pretty full and expansive, but not viscous. A bit of scorched smokiness blends well with sorghum, oak, and bourbon. There's quite a bit of hop bitterness for the style, but it is not overwhelming. It's a good sipper.

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Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

005 on draft

Black pour that isn't totally opaque with a thick tan head.

Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, roast, dark fruits, and wood.

Flavors come through nicer on the tongue. Bourbon booze, raisins, vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel. Gets a little sticky sweet.

Smooth medium body. Slightly tingling carb.

Had the 007 and this and both are great.

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Photo of benclimbs
4.26/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours deep chocolate black with a great look.

Nose is tons of vanilla/bourbon and deep cocoa and chocolate notes, along with some deep dark dried fruit.

Taste is classic for a big bourbon barrel aged stout - tons of oaky whiskey like character in the background mixed with all the good stuff that you want.

Solid beer, thanks Wes!

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter from Karbach Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.