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Biere De Noël - Big Sky Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Biere De NoëlBiere De Noël

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

34 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 34
Hads: 70
Avg: 3.86
pDev: 21.76%
Wants: 7
Gots: 6 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company visit their website
Montana, United States

Style | ABV
Belgian Strong Dark Ale |  8.75% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: GClarkage on 05-22-2007

35 IBU
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 34 | Hads: 70
Photo of UCLABrewN84
3/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2012 vintage. Bottle # 1348/3240.

10% ABV per the label.

Pours a hazy 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 malt, dark fruit, and brown sugar aromas. Taste is much the same with dark fruit and super malty flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a low level of carbonation with an almost flat mouthfeel. Overall, this is an average beer that has some subdued aromas and muddled flavors that aren't being helped by the lack of carbonation.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

355ml bottle, 10.1% ABV, day 12 of the 2014 Craft Beer Advent calendar - now we're getting down to brass tacks for the Christmas beer goodness.

This beer pours a clear, medium bronzed amber hue, with one skinny finger of weakly foamy, bubbly, and generally fizzy beige head, which leaves but a few remote and isolated dots of lace around the glass as it quickly blows off.

It smells of sweet caramel malt, a touch of drier toffee, brown sugar, somewhat pungent dark fruit - yer typical figs, dates, and besotted raisins, with maybe a bit of saucy maraschino cherry as well - laid-back yeast, a touch of muddled seasonal confection spice, and a bristling, sort of nose-hair twitching, alcohol heat. The taste is doughy caramel malt, toffee pudding, slightly charred simple syrup, indistinct warming spices, a nice black fruitiness - dates, prunes, and plump raisins - ethereal Belgian yeast, and a bit of earthy, weedy hops, ones who inadvertently slipped into a big ol' vat o' booze.

The bubbles are pretty well understated, barely showing some frothy leg for our amusement, the body a heady medium-full weight, generally smooth and mildly creamy, the alcohol the only transgressor here, and it apparently has other things on its mind. It finishes on the sweet side, sure, but the various contributors are aligned in that certain old-world way, one which avoids any thoughts of scraping one's tongue.

A rather enjoyable ode to the Belgian BSDA greats - complex, fruity, and with a big whack of mostly undetectable booze - yup, that's what does it for me during Yuletide. Good on this brewery for reminding me why I enjoyed myself so much in their town a few years ago, even if it was summer at the time.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.04/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy, brown body with a fizzy, light beige head.

Smell: Aroma of concentrated burnt caramel cubes with a light, pleasant fruitiness, and an even light wisp of alcohol.

Taste: Sugary sweet maltiness with a very rich, satisfying caramel flavor. Light touch of dark fruits. A montage of spice, sour yeast, bitterness, and alcohol before arriving at the dry finish with a lingering scorched caramel flavor.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Well carbonated.

Drinkability: Now that's pretty good. Far, far better than the version I had last year. Way to turn it around, Big Sky.

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Photo of russpowell
3.79/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2012 batch pours an effervescent brown/crimson with a sliver of cream colored head. No head retention or lacing

S: Pears, raisins, brown sugar & apricots, cherries & a bit of Brandy

T: Rich figgy, jammy notes, a touch of cinnamon & brown sugar too up front, plus slightly boozey. A touch of candi sugar, leafy hops & whisper of maraschino cherry, a bit of boozey jammyness, more leafy hops & touch white grape as this warms. Finishes dry, & jammy with a bit of boozeyness

MF: Fairly smooth, noticeable carbonation, warming, a bit of stickiness as well

A super solid Belgian Dark, not sure what this was like young, but 8+ months of aging has done it proud, still a bit boozey for my tastes. I can see this holding up for at least 2 years

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Photo of superspak
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, 2012 vintage bottling. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy deep reddish brown color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of plum, pear, apple, fig, raisin, caramel, toast, brown sugar, light pepper, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good complexity and solid balance of fruity/earthy yeast and dark/bready malt notes; with solid strength. A bit too fruity in the aromas and lacking much malt depth and complexity. Taste of big raisin, plum, fig, date, apricot, caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light chocolate, light nuttiness, pepper, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light earthy yeast spicy finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, fig, date, apricot, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brown bread, light chocolate/nuttiness, herbal, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity and robustness of fruity/earthy yeast and dark/bready malt flavors; with a great malt/yeast balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Medium carbonation and medium-full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice Belgian strong dark ale. All around great balance, robustness, and complexity of fruity/earthy yeast and dark/bready malt flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. The aromas were a bit unbalanced, but the flavors were spot on with great complexity. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.06/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #1002 of 1800.

Dark plummish appearance, huge, copious cocoa/tanned head, intensively rockish and reeling...quite a performance.

Rosy nose at first sniff...fruity, malty, but rather quiet. Can't say too much about it. Don't want to say anything bad about it, either.

In the mouth, it floods and fills the palate...nice and malty. minor fruity feel. Little hops, some spice. Getting bigger as we go. Yummy. Plum, and fig, and bit of a portish flavor, too. Gets maltier, fruitier, spicier...
...this is something I'd adore as a draft offering from a local brewpub, or as an affordable 6-pack from a local brewery..but I won't be buying another $14 750 ml bottle.
Glad they're doing this, but I'm sure they can do it in 12 ouncers. I'd buy it by the case if they would.

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Photo of mothman
3.97/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage. Bottle 836 of 1800.

Poured into Town Hall chalice.

Color is murky caramel brown. Very hazy. Pours a fizzy tan head. Not very appealing.

Aroma: Dark malts, cherries. Very Belgium based. Raisins, yeast, chocolate, and caramel.

Taste: Lots of raisins and spices, cherries, big malt profile, caramel, and chocolate. It definitely fits the style of BSDA well.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth with a slight touch of heat. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends very malty and somewhat clean.

Overall, a nice winter beer. I definitely like it. Glad we get it here. A nice Belgian style beer brewed by an American brewery. I dig it.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.52/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

05/08/07- Growler fill at the Big Sky Brewery in Missoula, MT.

Presentation- Growler fill from the tap.

Appearance- Liquified caramel color. Lots of micro fine yeast sediment. 1/4 inch creamy head which settles at a fine rim. Light streaky lacing.

Smell- Lots of dark fruits in the nose with a large caramel malt character. Prunes, raisins and figs. Great nose.

Taste- The nose knows! Like a caramel smoothie with fruit. Caramello base with a roasted nutty flavor. Lots of prunes. plums, raisins, figs and dates. Liquid caramel fruitcake is what we have here.

Mouthfeel- Fuller mouthfeel with a creamy and silky texture. Really low carbonation. Almost cask like.

Drinkability- Another excellent output from Big Sky! Not sure of the abv because they wouldn't divulge it. 8.7% at max though by Montana law.

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Photo of tempest
4.3/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #834

Thanks to Alvey at Four Firkins for directing me to this fine brew. This immediately reminded me of St. Bernardus Abt 12. The appearance is a clear brown with a light tan head. The aroma has sweet vanilla, cherries and caramel candy. These all follow up in the flavor with the addition of small, but tasty spice and herb hops note, and almost tart blackberries and a very very slight licorice note. This is a very smooth drink, I had no problem splitting the 750 ml bottle with a friend. This is a very impressive dark Belgian. If it weren't for the label, I'd have no idea this was made in the states. It's rare to find American brewers who can't capture the rich and smooth characteristics of fine Belgian so well.

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Photo of Halcyondays
4.32/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle, I've been meaning to try this for a while, and as there was only one bottle remaining at Hi-Times today, I picked it up, assuming this is the 2008 Vintage, it's certainly no younger than 2009, No. 1298/1800, my main brew for Oscar Night 2011,

A: Pours a deep brown with a big, almost gushing white head but dies down quickly. Off-white head, good head retention, solid lace.

S: Beautiful heavy fig, Pedro Ximenez sherry, and brown sugar.

T: Fig heavy, the maltiness is full-flavoured and elegant. Lots of molasses, chocolate cherries, carob.

M: Full-bodied, smooth, soft carbonation, very easy on the palate for how big it is.

D: I never had it fresh, but clearly age hasn't hurt it. I was a little scared of the green bottle, but that hasn't caused a problem thankfully. This beer is great, if there are any bottles laying around pick them up; I would have loved to have this last Christmas. Just a shame I may never have this beer again.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gold Foil/Capped

Poured into a chalice a very nice amber color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice one-finger plus thick/creamy off-white head, with some nice thick/creamy sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, with some slight yeast note, very nice dark fruit notes, and some caramel. The taste is very nice, malty, with some yeast notes, figs, grapes, plums, raisins, with some caramel. Medium body. Very drinkable, Big Sky does a very good job with their 750ml bottles, highly recommend.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.47/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2012 bottling... ABV is up to 10%... Picked up tonight at Brewforia Meridian for a pricey $16ish on the way home after a long day at work... Bottle# 1816/3240

Poured into my slim tulip... Fairly clear dark walnut brew... short lasting head... no real lacing or cap.

Nose is nice.. fairly rich mix of dark toasty malt.. caramel.. Belgian qualities are a little light leaning toward golden raisin, lighter dried cherries, and some figgy notes.. Nothing is wrong, aromas just lean toward the lighter side.

Flavor is about the same... all nasal notes are amplified, but are still a bit light to be a great BSDA... also seems to be more sweet than should be.. not quite enough bitterness to balance..

Very low carbonation, especially for the style.. needs a lot more bubbles..

Decent brew as it stands... I wonder if more time in the bottle would help... right now, it is woefully undercarbonated and certainly too sweet.

I hoped to like this one more, but this year's Biere De Noel needs to be dialed down for 2013.

I feel bad about writing reviews when the best thing I can give props for is the aroma.. that is this case unfortunately.


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Photo of barleywinefiend
4.55/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 #141

A: Poured a deep cherry amberish color with good carbonation and a nice dirty white cap. Lots of carbonation on this as it was a gusher when I first popped it.

S: Major hints of dark fruits; figs, raisins. Caramel, chocolate cherries and faded cocoa

T: Figs, raisins, plums, candy sweetness, faded cocoa, mint and allspice. Caramel and toffee.

M: Big body, well carbonated, tasty

O: Excellent!

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Photo of LiquidAmber
3.89/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass. Pours a dark walnut amber with virtually no carbonation and a quick pour leaves only a slight ring around the glass. Aroma of dark and dark dried fruit, caramel malt, holiday spicing of cinnamon, cloves and vanilla, only a hint of Belgian spicing. Flavor follows aroma with caramel malt, rich dark dried fruit, lighter cherry and stone fruit, a deft touch of the same holiday spicing with a touch of Belgian yeast. Finishes with dark fruit, sligthly earthy and spicy. A relief after the pour, there is light carbonation to give a medium body and pleasant enough mouth feel. A nicely made holiday ale that is well balanced between malt, fruit and spicing. Needs a bit more carbonation, but maybe this was an anomalous bottle. I will still look for this next year.

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.1/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ML gold foil wrapped and capped bottle, no. 179 of 1800.

This pours a clear deep amber brown with...2/3 tannish foam, 1/3 liquid. It's way foamy and it wants to creep out of the bottle but I have my eye on it.

The smell has notes of yeast, some candy sugar and caramel malt sweetness, some bitterness, and light dark fruity tones. A very nice nose.

The taste is very interesting. A light candy sweetness is first thing I notice but it immediately follows with some caramel malt, hop bitterness, and yeast. I like. More sips in and there's some of the dark fruit I mentioned in the smell showing up, with some spicing, and 2nd pour shows a cloudy liquid. Lots of nice lacing and head retention is super good...oh and it's quite warming.

The mouthfeel is pretty light for the style, the carbonation is rather brisk, it finishes decidedly bitter with just a light kick of tartness.

Drinkability? For a 8.75% brew, it's pretty darned good. I like what's going on here so I'm not really that distracted by the abv.

Bottom line: This Big Sky brew is very tasty and I'm glad I got a chance to try it. If it was available locally, I'd buy more.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.45/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Regal burgandy tone. Thick fluffy head of almost pure white froth. Lace comes in thick sheets. Like this aroma. Nice spicing, from yeast and other? I get flashes of cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and pepper. Underneath all the spicing I get nice nuances of biscuity malt. Flavor is great. All that great spicing translates nicely to the palate. The cardamon and cinnamon. Great stuff. Belgian doughy yeastiness sets the foundation. Hops are in the background. Spices pepper the whole crime scene. Some fruity esters show up as well....green apple, pineapple and apricot. Great beer.

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Photo of ZAP
4.27/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Cherrywood colored...froth 1 inch tan head

S-Yeasty and doughy...cookie dough...almonds and hazelnuts...hint of caramel..

T-Sweeter cookie dough....almonds...some caramel...boozieness evident on finish adding spiciness and dryness.

M-Highly charged up at first...spritzy..champagne like at first....bit of a bitter alcohol dry finish and medium bodied...I expected full bodied from the aroma

D-A nice effort...definitely a sipper...great aroma...rest is close but not quite in the upper echelon.

BigHuge thanks to BigHugey for sharing this highly coveted and hard to find brew...

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Photo of hopdog
4/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle acquired in trade.

Poured a deeper amberish / orange color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of roastiness, toasted caramel, wood, and some dark fruits. Tastes of dark fruits, vanilla, lighter wood, spices, and toasted caramel.

Notes from 4/14/08

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Photo of yemenmocha
3.88/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with large bubbled white head.

Nose seems somewhat off to me. It has dark fruits, maybe a suggestion of vegetables or mushroom. I can't decide if this "funkiness" is supposed to be there or if I received a bad bottle.

The taste is fine, which leads me to think it is supposed to be this way. Sweet and sour with some fruit and a velvetty smooth texture. Carbonation rolls well at the end on the finish, and again a very smooth quality impresses well.

Only detracting feature is the somewhat funky nose.

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Photo of Crosling
3.16/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pros: Naturally carbonated giving a nice appearance to the ale. Caressing body is very nice.

Cons: Doesn't have much depth or concentration. It's not a complex ale, not a lot of definition, not much to describe.

While a beer of high quality, I feel the brewery could make some improvements on the recipe.

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Photo of hardy008
3.17/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bottle 3072 of 3240. 2012 Vintage.

Pours a crimson color with a one finger head after an aggressive pour. Has fair retention and spotty lacing. The aroma has figs, dates, cherries, and brown sugar.

Tastes sweet and somewhat boozy with figs, dates, cherries, and brown sugar. Two letdowns for me are the fact that the alcohol is not well hidden. and there is very little carbonation. While the carbonation is a mouth feel issue, it does decrease my enjoyment of this beer.

Medium bodied, and as previously mentioned, very little carbonation. Has an alcohol aftertaste. Overall, not very well made. The biggest of the 2 main problems is the lack of carbonation.If the carbonation was adequate, and the alcohol was properly hidden, this could be a nice beer.

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Photo of draheim
4.42/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750mL (#684 of 1800) into a snifter. Pours a deep ruby amber w/ a crackly 1-finger tan head, lively carbonation.

Aroma is dark fruits (figs, dates), vanilla, brown sugar, holiday spices, and booze. Really enticing aroma.

Taste follows nose. Lots of sticky chewy dried fruits, vanilla, toffee, and a warming touch of alcohol. Delicious. Reminds me more of a barley wine, but good is good.

Mouthfeel is smooth and a little sticky, but the carbonation keeps it crisp and light.

Overall, a really nice tasty warming sipper.

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Photo of yamar68
3.98/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage (10% ABV)

Bottle #2273 of 3240

Pours with a surprising amount of hazy nut brown clarity. A finger of foamy khaki carbonation leaves behind loads of thick, consistent lace. Quite pretty looking stuff.

Semisweet on the nose... clean, mellow brown sugar... faint fruit character, nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon, a touch of alcohol heat surfaces with a bit warmth.

Candied sugar and smooth Belgian spice on the palate. Molasses and/or bread pudding. Pretty tame which leads to a pretty impressive level of drinkability.

I prefer this to past vintages; balanced but maybe a little boring.

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Photo of scottoale
4.33/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle #540 of 1800. A green 750ml. champagne bottle with gold foil over the cap and neck and ABV is printed on the front label, it reads : Alc. 8.75%. It pours out a dark amber brown with a huge beige head of three fingers. The head eventually settles to a lasting 1/2" and leaves gobs of lace clinging to the glass. A very well carbonated and attractive brew.

The smell is sweet and dark fruity with some notes of yeast and alcohol as well. Smells right for the style.

The taste is even better than the aroma, with lots of caramel, prune, raisen, fig and a pleasant touch of alcohol in the finish. A nice balance as well with some hops contributing nice bitterness to the end, along with warmth from the alcohol.

Plenty of body and carbonation keep things full and lively from start to finish, along with the great taste make this special release a pleasure to drink. It reels you in for more after every sip. A great winter brew with a solid touch of Belgium...cheers to a fine Montana brew! A big thanks to travisd13 for making this brew possible for me to enjoy.

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Photo of SHODriver
3.93/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a deep mahogany hue with a slow to appear and quick to fade off white head that leaves a small collar around the edge of the snifter
S: smells of dark fruits, some spice and some caramel.
T: tastes of dark fruits, some spice, and caramel but a lot of dark fruit flavor throughout. swallow is more dark fruits and a bit of sweet cherry, caramel and a bit of spice and a bit of alcohol heat on the finish
M: very soft and delicate carbonation and a somewhat thin feeling mouthfeel for a beer of its heft, drying finish
O: it looks pretty good aside from the lack of a head and what I personally feel is undercarbonation. it isn't flat but it's probably about as close as you can get and still detect carbonation. flavors are solid, it has good complexity and the finish is almost perfect. I would have liked for the flavors to be a little bolder but the subtlety is nice

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Biere De Noël from Big Sky Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 34 ratings.