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Northwind Imperial Stout - Two Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

406 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 406
Hads: 880
Avg: 3.77
pDev: 17.77%
Wants: 27
Gots: 67 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Two Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  9.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-14-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 406 | Hads: 880
Photo of mmcave
3.18/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Purchased at Sams and cracked at a time when I was. Chilled a little under cellar and then thrown under warm water to expedite the process. Used a tumbler, the color is dark coffee black, with half inch tan nougat color head, with expectable lacing. Smells slight fruit esters which I did not expect in a RIS, but this is not necessarily unwelcome. There is some toffee, coffee, grape-ness. The taste is decent, but I feel like its lacking in several key areas namely strength, body and focus. Where I was expecting these things I got a couple other interesting things like some fruit and maybe some extra chocolate or coffee than usual, but these things to me do not make up the lack of the other stuff. This is not a bad RIS, but after tasting the good stuff "storm king", stuff like this is far less tasty. I for sure will not buy this again, but if it comes to you for free try it and you'll better understand the good stuff.

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Photo of scott
4.45/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

When I initially had this, it hadn't reached the market yet, and I couldn't wait for it to get there. This a highly recommended offering. A smooth and well-balanced drinker, this maintains a nice coffee/chocolate backbone with nice notes of vanilla & oak. Dark and heady. I can sum this up with one word. Excellent. Pricey, though.

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Photo of --Dom--
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Even with a good hard pour, not much head. Less than 1 finger, brown, dissipates quickly. I'm less interested in that than the taste thought, this beer tastes great. Pours a dark brown, nearly black. This is a thick beer.

Smells of roasted malt, slightly burnt aroma, slight coffee aroma as well.

For me, the mouthfeel of this beer is perfect. It doesn't feel too heavy, or too carbonated. Pretty much spot on. Every flavor is there in balance. I taste the roasted malts, hint of coffee, hint of chocolate. Just sweet enough, not too sweet. You really wouldn't guess the high gravity unless you already knew. The alcohol rides along the palate with all the other flavors very well. The finish is great, no biting aftertaste of any kind.

This beer is very strong, but very drinkable. I could definitely have 2 in a night. It isn't perfect, but it's close. I do not consider myself a stout guy, but I really do like this beer a lot. It isn't perfect but it is very good. Well done once again Two Brothers. Well done.

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3.82/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

On the pour this produces a moderately sized, quite dark brown head. The head does not last long at all before it completely vanishes. This is bordering on black, but not quite.
The aroma brings back two memories: Little Debbie fudge brownies, and gas station coffee that's been on the burner for hours.
THis initially hits my tongue with a cocoa sweet chocolate flavor. This soon puts on the left turn signal and merges in with dark, bitter chocolate, which has the right-of-way. Then a robust coffee flavor shows up. Reminds me of some jamaican coffee a couple honeymooners brought me as a souvenir once. Blue Mountain? I like. At the end there is a slight sugary glance. When I swallow this, though, is when i taste some rust, some lime, and some non-oxidized metallic component. Kind of bizarre, but it doesn't destroy the experience. Doesn't help, but i can get over it.
This is a little bit empty in the mouth. By that, I mean that it doesn't have the CO2, grit, and viscosity that I look for in an imperial stout. At times this seems wet and watery, but not watered down.
This is a pretty good beer overall, with a couple things that could be improved upon to make it kick ass.
For me it just barely fits in the imperial stout category. If it were classified as an American stout, the scores'd be a bit higher.

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Photo of codsmith
4.17/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours jet-black with a very slight amount of creamy tan head. Doesn't really lace the glass

S: Has a nice sweet coffee, chocolate & roasted malt aroma. Very smooth and well balanced.

T: The taste is a lot like the aroma. Very smooth and creamy on the palette. There is a slight amount of roasted bitterness hitting at the end. Very well balanced

M: Moderate mouthfeel, carbonation is in the correct level.

O: My favorite Two Brothers beer and I've had it all ways (cask, draft & bottle), but always a very good and well balanced imperial stout.

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Photo of zjungleist
3.2/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nearly black in color, slightly brown, but poured almost zero head. The smell is basically burnt, but it's hard to tell since it is so very faint. The flavor proved to be more of an eye opener, with some fairly intense burnt malt flavors, but that's about all. Not much coffee, chocolate, but those flavors grow as I drink. The hops are there in the background, but nothing to write home about. The mouth feel is pretty thin, thinner than I expected. The carbonation is low, but it cuts through the thin beer like a knife. At least it's not syrupy. The 8.5% (as listed on my bottle) is masked well, though. Unfortunately, I am just not all that impressed with this beer, and as I recall, I was not impressed by my last one from Two Brothers. It seems like they cut too many corners to achieve the style.

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Photo of joekfsu
3.86/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle. Pours black, nearly opaque. Almost no head, beige, quickly diminishing. Light fruity aroma, maybe cherry or cranberry. Malt flavor up front, ends on bitter chocolate. Light aftertaste of bitter chocolate. Light to medium body, almost no carbonation. Alcohol hidden well. Very drinkable, but more so for the imperial stout drinker than others.

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Photo of Willytee3
3.94/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a dark chocolate black with a touch of red highlight. A thin mocca color head emerges and builds slowly after the pour. Nice thick ring forms with bubbly island film and spotty lace.
Smells of coco chocolate malts with a touch of dry oak and cheese.
Tastes of rich roasted malts with a barley a touch of stovepipe and good malted sweetness. Balanced by a nice hop bitter and hint of anise. A bit of lemon rind and espresso with a bitter chocolate finish.
Nice full body with good palate coating flavors, a bit thin on carbonation.
Overall a tad sweet and chocolaty balanced by a nice hop bitter but is still a tad sweet for me.
A very nice imperial with almost no alcohol showing.

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Photo of schellsbeer
4.55/5  rDev +20.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Side note....a crazy beer store in town is selling this stuff for 6.49 a 6 pack. I have 2 1/2 cases of this aging. Man...are they dumb.

After taking a break from reviewing, I decided that it was time again and what a beer to start with.

Two Brothers Brewing is quickly becoming one of my favorites. These two guys do things right....period.

I love a thick stout and this one didn't disappoint. It has everything a top notch stout should have.

A - Black as fricking night. Very impressive! Oil and thick. Excellent.

S - Very good. Upon warming, the burnt malt and coffee notes become more evident.

T - One of the best stouts I have had. Period. Excellent. Burnt. Bitter. Thick. Caramel. Chocolate. Yeah....this is a guy stout and not one for babies. WOW.

M - Thick and delicious. Like maple syrup or molasses. Oil on the tongue. Wonderful....I could drink these all day.

D - High compared to other RIS because it only has 7.5% alcohol. Much lower than most RIS out there. Top Notch stout. I WILL be purchasing more of these.

Thanks guys...I am becoming a big fan.

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Photo of bearrunner44
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- As black as midnight. A hard pour produced about a centimeter of creamy, caramel-colored foam. The retention is good; a faint ring of head remained throughout consumption.

Smell- Rich, sweet malt aroma backed by a touch of grassy hops. Roasted cocoa beans. Alcohol scents float inconspicuously underneath it all.

Taste & Mouthfeel- Smooth and fairly rich; the smoothness is oatmeal-like. Carbonation is appropriately subdued. The malt flavor is sweet, milky, and caramel-like at first, almost cloyingly so. It becomes more dry towards the finish, though. The hops also become more prominent. They're leafy and herbal, and the overall taste of the finish is earthy and slightly bitter. The alcohol is hidden pretty well; it tastes like a 5-6.00 ABV, not 7.5.

Verdict- The richness and body you would expect from an Imperial stout is here, even if it's not the most complex one on the market.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - amazing. It was the typical color or an RIS with just a tiny hint of ruby on the fringes when held in front of a light with a stiff, slowly fading 2.5cm head.

S - dark chocolate (or maybe semi-sweet) and roasted barley. There may have been something else going on here, but i have a sinus infection, so my smell is slightly off.

T - okay, it's definitely dark chocolate followed by a small hop flavor. After a few drinks, a coffee taste is noticeable, as well as a smokiness or burnt barley flavor.

M - perfect carbonation. It's thick and really, really creamy. It's probably the best mouthfeel/texture I've ever had in a bottled RIS.

D - Pretty good. The abv is low and beer isn't quite as filling as other RISs.

Eh, this is a pretty good RIS. If you're new to the style, I'd recommend trying it just so you can prep yourself for the flavor overload of other RISs. It's one to try, but I'm not crazy about it.

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Photo of shanblur
3.22/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. No date present on the bottle.

A - Pours opaque black with a minimal tan head which fades quickly to a minimal ring with very light lacing.

S - Roasted malts predominate with muted chocolate and coffee aromas

T - Roasted malts with a hint of smoke. A nice chocolate and espresso flavor as well. Minimal hop presence detected on the finish.

M - Dense with a light carbonation

This is a nice beer. I have had both better and worse. I would not go out of my way to have another one.

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Photo of diabecktic
3.91/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Despite a hard, controlled pour, this beer literally exploded all over me; there were easily ~4 fingers of head which kept flowing over the lip of the glass into which I poured it. After a while, the thick, foamy light-brown head settled at ~2 fingers. The beer itself is almost pitch black, but it's really more of a ruby-dark brown mix. Lacing is excellent.

The major notes of the nose are a heavily roasted malt and smoked chocolate. Overall, it's kind of an "earthy" scent.

I find this beer fairly sweet, but not directly on account of the chocolate. The notes of barley and chocolate are heavily roasted/smoked, but the flavor still seems rather sugary. Sweetness isn't particularly overpowering, as it resembles something which might be found in a dark fruit (plum, perhaps). I detect minimal hopiness, so there isn't too much bitterness of which to speak.

This is a very thick beer, so I assume that a copious amount of sugar was present in the malt. As such, I rate the body as heavy. At 9.1% the alcohol is well hidden, but it seems to dry out my mouth towards the end of each sip (though only ever-so-slightly). This is definitely a beer which you want to consume slowly.

I can't speak much to the complexity or balance of this beer. Personally, I find it a bit sweet for my liking, but I do enjoy the presence of the "darker" sweetness. The characteristic smokiness is also present, but it's not too overpowering. I have a feeling that this style is really more of an acquired taste; however, this shouldn't stop you from trying it.

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Photo of waldowin
3.03/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours an inky black, but thin. The decent dark brown head forms quickly, and fades almost as quickly.

Smells of coffee and figs, pretty simple but not unpleasant.

Taste is of roast, coffee, and a hint of figs. Not very strong, but the alcohol is nonexistant in the taste.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for what I expected, and slightly acidic. Not a very smooth drinker.

The harsh flavors and the thin body, combined with the higher ABV of this beer means one bottle is almost more than I'd want.

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Photo of manahansf
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with ruby red highlights. Topped with a thin creamy brown tan head which has great retention and sticks to the top of the brew and the glass. Warming sherry like arioma with subtle hints of fresh dark fruits. Sweet malty drink with a vinous quality and sweet fruity flavor. The finish is slow and lingers a bit too long. A little bit of cloying sweetness lingers with a soft warming sensation.

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Photo of faernt
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I bought this as part of a trade. I drink Imperial Stouts often and all year so another to the collecton is always welcome. I lost Old Rasputin for a year over distribution issues and am always on the lookout for a worthy Imperial.

Northwind looks like an Imperial when it's poured. It's dark and somewhat oily as it goes into the glass. It smells brown (mostly coffee). The taste is pleasant but not surprising. I ask myself if I'd had too many Imperial Stouts (no). I ask myself when was the last time I'd been surprised by an Imperial Stout (a few months ago with some 2002 Rogue). This one just isn't surprising. It tastes more like an Irish Stout with a little attitude. It's a little dry and the flavor is not that complex. It's actually a good one flavor (two....a little sweet dark chocolate) beer but not the beguilingly complex brew I look for in this style. Second thought leads me to compare it more to an Oatmeal Stout than to a dry Irish Stout.

I find this to be a food beer more than a beer I'll drink alone. I'll drink it with Chorizo flavored fajitas and Chicken Mole. It's a good beer but not to my expectation of style.

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Photo of crayphish
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The brew pours a light canceling jet black liquid. Liquid is notably thick with a thin dark beige head. Nominal lacing. Smell is roasted malts with coffee and chocolate making their presence known. Some tartness is noted. Taste is chocolate coffee with a sweet raisin note over a faint hop bitterness. Not overly complex, but extremely balanced. Mouthfeel is fairly full due to the thickness of the beer. Does not finish as clean as one would like. The heaviness of this beer hurts its drinkability. Though it was still enjoyable.

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Photo of negroobserver
2.9/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

North-Wind Imperial Stout
45 IBU, 9.1% ABV
12 oz Bottle

Poured into a large Brandy snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black color. Very small cream colored head, which dissipates quickly and leaves behind a thin foamy rim on the edge of the glass.

S: Smells smoky. Has a very mild malty and chocolatey aroma at the back end. A very faint sweet licorice or vanilla like aroma. No dominant scents here, but I like that the vanilla aroma is almost hidden. This is my third bottle and this is the first time I've noticed it. Interesting, but disappointing that the last few weren't at the same level as this bottle.

T: Mostly flat and tasteless. Dark roasted malts. There is a smoky chalky taste which lingers in the mouth. Slight sour and hoppy quality.

M: The beer has some depth, but not the kind of rich texture that you would expect from an Imperial class beer. It doesn't coat the glass or the mouth in the way that an Imperial Stout should. At best, it has the depth and texture of a standard stout. At 9.1% ABV, I can't smell or taste the alcohol in the beer, which makes me question the validity of the company's claims regarding the ABV content. Or it could be that this is one of the better crafted beers on the market in that respect. Who knows?

Overall, I had great hopes for this beer and was hoping that this was a rare exception to the pricy Imperial Stouts that one finds on the market. Sadly, I feel like I was duped by the company into buying an inferior product which appears to be very misleading in its claims.


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Photo of StinkyFishBoys
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Northwind wintertime release is equivalent to when you have a hot bod in the bed and you're almost positive you're out of ween rubs, but you look anyway, and you find a crumpled up foil square with no tares. A good bold imperial stout by Two Dudes and it comes in 6's!

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Photo of Northsider
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Two Brothers Tap House.

I'm not usually a fan on Imperial Stouts but this one wasn't bad. The flavor masked the alcohol nicely, which many RISs don't do. Color was almost pitch black with nice tan head. Smelled of roasted malts. The taste was almost smokey, not chocolaty or of coffee like my experience with most stouts.

Overall this seemed like a great desert beer, not something I would drink quickly, but rather something I could nurse with a full stomach.

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Photo of rembrant
4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look Classic stout, oilcan black,ample froth,lacing clings well.

Scent Rosted Malts Dark Chocolate, slight fruity hops.

taste Up front,a surprise,fudge Brownie with raisins. Then it quickly returns to being a Stout,and the raisin shifts a bit to a subtle Port Wine as the choco shifts to Espresso. I enjoy how some of these big old Stouts play the Malt/Hops lag into a way to transform flavors

This,relatively, has a kinder,sweeter note than a lot of Imperial Stouts,despite the bitter-sour hop finish.

I've been exploring quite a few Stouts the last couple of weeks and,no question,Stout variants are where Brewers like to play a lot of tricks. This has several elements and they shift. It's a mystery tour of flavors with that undertone of Port and espresso quite interesting.

it goes well with Provolone or Prawns or Naked Women. Some of my favorite other flavors.

Mouth Yep Lots That hops posing as Port lingers,good viscosity....even the froth is tasty I can't pinpoint carbonation as a distinct prickle,but it's not flat at all. Nice.

Drinkable I'm not sure of the ABV and Imp Stouts are large but I'm feeling like a better man having had one,so,I figure one more and I'm nearly perfect.

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Photo of mecummins
3.29/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A- poured a dark dark brown color. Very rich looking. Produced a 1 & 1/2 finger dark tan head. The foam dissipated very quickly, however, leaving a thin film to cover the beer. Bits of lacing here and there, but nothing really exciting.

S- dark chocolate, coffee and some roasted malts. There was a sweetness there as well.

T- sort of disappointing at first. The taste did not live up to the aroma at all. There was a harsh alcohol taste on the front note, followed by the bitterness of the chocolate & coffee. As it warmed though, it grew a bit sweeter and better balanced. I enjoyed it a lot more after it sat out for 20 minutes or so.

M- very lush and rich mouthfeel. It had a chewy quality to it. Medium finish

O- it was a decent stout that I'd drink again, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

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Photo of dgfair
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle poured into Great Lakes snifter.

A - Pours an opaque oily, jet black color with a very thin head that dissipates almost instantly and leaves no lacing on the glass.

S - Heavy cocoa upfront balanced with a little bit of malty sweetness and light roasted coffee. A little thin in smell, and I would love to have the scents hit a little harder.

T - Sweet, powdered cocoa with a little bit of roasty coffee and roasty malt. A slight taste of alcohol at the swallow, but not overpowering...just enough to let you know it's there. Flavor becomes a little more biscuity as it warms also.

M - Not bad, kinda thin for an impy stout, but the carbonation is perfect. Also, the balance between dry and oily is very, very nice.

D - This is probably the easiest drinking RIS I've had. The thin body and not overly complex taste make this one go down quick and smooth. I certainly like this, but it's almost more like an imperial porter than an imperial stout.

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Photo of MattBrooks
4.65/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I found out after trying this fantastic brew that it regularly comes in six packs as the next in a series of seasonals, but the brewery couldn't get the six-pack holders made in time, so they put it in a 22oz bottle this year. This beer pours brownish-black with a beautiful cascade and complimentary colored head. It smells the way a cup of coffee would had that cup been made by Hershey's. Yum! The only flaw in the whole beer is the mouthfeel, it could have been a little bit heavier for my taste. Some Russian Imperials can come off way too bitter or way to chocolate-y, not this one. It has great balance throughout and it's not too hard to put down a few bombers, even if it is 7.5%.

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Photo of optiontwo
4.35/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. poured into Unibroue tulip glass

Appearance: Black with a one inch somewhat tan head that was only conjured with a vigorous pour.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee, tobacco, caramel, and nuts. Plenty going on here, can't wait to taste.

Taste: Reminds of dark chocolate covered nuts, almonds maybe. There's a definite roasted flavor to everything that's in there. Other flavors include smoky coffee, dark fruit, and even cherries perhaps. The finish is clean with a perfect amount of hop bite.

Mouthfeel: Wonderful for an imperial stout. Carbonation and viscosity are both spot on.

Drinkability: Surprisingly high. I'm impressed that Two Brothers has made an imperial stout that tastes and feels like an imperial but is only 7.5% ABV. If you're looking for a nice full bodied stout to drink for a whole night, this is it.

Overall: I love it. I'll definitely be picking this one up again to have my friends try. Once again, very impressed with what Two Brothers has done here but I'm usually impressed with what they do.

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Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 406 ratings.