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Illustration Ale | East End Brewing Company

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Illustration AleIllustration Ale

Brewed by:
East End Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.40%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DavoleBomb on 07-03-2010

For Trade:
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Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 51
Photo of Tucquan
3.86/5  rDev -5.2%

Had this on 2014-08-30 in Columbia, PA

A - Dark, mildly hazy ruby-brown with a 3-finger tan head that fades to 1-finger pretty quickly and light-moderate lace.

S - Latte, fig, strawberry, floral.

T - Medium roasted malt, grape skins, prunes, earthy spice, touch of sour milk, light chocolate. Alcohol is evident but not overpowering.

M - Light-medium body and light carbonation.

O - Not the greatest flavor profile for my tastes but my wife rates this quite a bit higher than me. She really enjoyed the dark fruits and commented on it not being sweet, and well-balanced. Since I respect her opinion quite a bit, my rating is .35 higher than my initial rating.

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Photo of thecheapies
4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Dark mahogany brown. Very dark, really. Overpour leaves no room for head.

Winey dark fruits, concord grape, plum, Madeira, roasty malts, and hints of peaberry coffee. Awesome nose. Very unique. Lots of fruit and dark trench aromas.

Heavy phenols with lots of dark fruit. Plum, red grape, roastiness, coffee, medicinal notes, clove, raisin, and candi sugar; all here in the flavor profile. Good warming heat with herbal hop bitterness and twangy abbey yeast. Great Belgian strong dark.

Has good mouthswish. Carbonation is very much alive. The body has a light stickiness, but it proves to be lighter than imagined.

Superb. Illustration, without the illustration, on draft.

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Photo of BeerImmediately
4.06/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Have had this intriguing 1L flip-top bottle in the cellar for at least 2 years now... so about time I broke it out.

Pours with a short, slightly fizzy tan head over a deep cola-colored body. Head fades to thin film/ring pretty quickly.

Even with a congested nose, the aromas are long and strong. Lots of deep, dark fruits, tobacco, yeast, cocoa, cinnamon, and some black licorice.

Flavors are huge, without being overpowering. Rich dark fruit includes cherry, plum, raisin, and chocolate, but the fruit quality is a bit tangy, which cuts through and dominates the sweet characters. Seems Quad-like. Mouthfeel is pretty soft, with very little carbonation present... actually seems a bit light for the ABV.

Fun beer, fun label. Nicely done.

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

Serving Type - 33.8 oz flip top bottle

Appearance - Dark brown/tan with a huge 3+ inch head and lots of foamy lacing,

Smell - Cherry, belgian yeast, spcies, plum, rasin, caramel, some brown sugar, and a mix of hops and malts.

Taste - Huge cherry and apple flavor kicks this brew off. Lots of yeast and spices, mixed with some booze. Caramel and rasin add more sweetness. Has a bubblegum taste and feel with each drink. Some hops and a little chocolate also comes out at the end.

Mouthfeel - Lots of fruty flavor. Tounge gets alot of fruits, yeast and alcohol. Malts and spices come in and coat mouth well. Palette gets plenty of fruits and more hops, along with spices and some chocolate. Aftertaste is bold and dry.

Overall - Really fantastic beer, glad it was bottled, would recommend this for all strong ale, chimay and like wise trappist ales for sure. This can stand up to them all. Easy to enjoy only a slit bit too much booze comes out but certainly doesnt hurt it. Top notch ale!

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Photo of chadmoe1
4.92/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on 2/17/12 and shared with my wife and some good friends.

A -- Dark Brown, big 3" light brown head, lots of nice lacing stuck to the glass

S -- Roasty, caramelized, toffee malts, spicy, fig/currant/raisin notes; maybe a bit of chocolate flavors

T -- Chocolate and roasted malt flavors mix with figs and raisins...flavors intermingle with a nice lingering aftertaste

M -- Medium carbonation, smooth and a bit thick

O -- Amazing beer. Very complex in my opinion. Aroma and taste are an outstanding mix of chocolate/toffee and fig/raisin/currant flavors that pop out at different points during smelling and tasting. It was actually difficult to characterize the taste because of the how the two distinct flavors jump out. Hope to pick up another one and age.

1L Bottle, RR snifter. These bottles had five different label artwork styles and this one was done by Jason Lex. Really cool dinosaur drinking a beer, with an old man in a rowboat in his belly, drinking the beer the dinosaur is chugging. Not sure what it means, but it looks cool, considering Pittsburgh's association with dinosaurs and Carnegie.

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Photo of spdyfire83
4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

119th Review
1L bottle to snifter

From notes. Thanks to Florida9 for contributing this to our tasting.

A: Deep mahogany. Half (off white) fingernail head on medium pour.

S: Raisin, fig, and plum with caramelized brown sugar, roasted malt, and hint of spice.

T: Reminds me of Raisin Bran cereal, but in a good way. Very roasted with dark fruits and caramel sweetness coming through.

M: Full bodied with soft/medium carbonation.

O: This beer is a very nice autumn beer, I think. The depth and complexity are nice and it should be enjoyed when the seasons are changing. I'm not a huge fan of this particular style, but this beer was very well done.

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Photo of meatyard
3.57/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly murky, dark brown with minimal head and no lace.

The smell is dark fruits and a bit of cherry.

The taste is stronger attributes of the dark fruits, especially raisin, prune and cherry.

Mouthfeel is, definitely, thin with sparse carbonation.

Overall: I think it's been too long in the bottle for some parts, otherwise, it's a pretty tasty beer.

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Photo of iadler
4.02/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Florida9 for bringing this to the tasting. One of the coolest labels and bottles I've seen. Poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a dark brown with a small head that leaves tiny spots of lacing

S- Dark fruits including plumb, black cherry, fig, raisins, brown sugar, roasted and caramel malt and some earthiness.

T- Caramel and roasted malt with fig, bakers chocolate, black cherry, plumb and caramelized raisins.

M- Medium carbonation and body that is very smooth with the alcohol being hidden very well.

O- This was a very enjoyable belgian dark ale. Well-balanced and the age made this beer very smooth.

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Photo of Florida9
4.27/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark brown, but still slightly translucent. Forms a thin tan head that quickly reduces down to a thin surface coating.

S: Smells strongly of raisin, toffee, and cough syrup (in an oddly pleasant way). Pungent. Aromas of figs and molasses develop as it warms.

T: More raisins and lots of dark fruits. Figs, light molasses, brown sugar. Malty, with a fruity sweetness to it. Port wine and even some light notes of tobacco. The flavor is quite unique.

M: Medium bodied with appropriate carbonation. Very smooth, almost velvety.

O: A very good and quite complex beer that appears to have aged rather well. Quite flavorful with a superior complexity. This one turned out far better than I expected it to be.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to DavoleBomb for sending me this one in a trade long past! Served from swing-top bottle into a Green Man snifter. Poured a massively dark brown with a minimal light tan head. Maintained decent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, dark fruit, alcohol, and caramel. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark fruit, banana, roasted malt, plum, and bread. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. This one had really held up quite well sitting in my cellar for this length of time. There was no sign of the 9.4% ABV at all which was nice. It really mellowed out and made all of the subtle flavors come forward rather than being muted. Definitely worth trying if you have a bottle of this one still in your cellar as it is drinking pretty good currently.

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Photo of KAP1356
3.92/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Shared with kecarl7 at Kite and Key in Philadelphia. Poured from a 1L into a chalice...

A - Poured a really dark brown, dark amber color with some purple highlights. A .5 finger tan head forms and quickly recedes to a film of the same color.

S - Loads of dark fruits (dates, raisins, figs, some prune) right off the bat. Cherries are also detected. Belgian yeast along with clovesd and some peppery spice.

T - Cherries come out some more here with the rest of the dark fruits behind it. Slightly funky and slightly tart. Belgian yeast and some nice light spice rounds things out nicely.

M - Lighter to medium bodied beer with a nice creamy texture while still having a solid amount of carbonation.

O - Really enjoyed this one. The flavors were all there and Scott seemed to really nail the style here. Well done. Aside from Gratitude and Toaster, this might be one of my favorite offerings from him.

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Photo of jale
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Chris for this tasty beer.

A: Pours a murky brown with a huge tan head.

S: Prunes, raisins and dark fruits. Liquor like aromas along with wine. Roasted malt.

T: Sweet dark fruits upfront moving into roasted malt and some burnt sugar.

M: Medium body with great carbonation.

O: So much going on here. A tad sweet but I really enjoyed this. Widh I had more.

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Photo of joepais
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Much thanks to an awesome BA who sent me one being that it is my favorite style. I wasn't disappointed the1 liter swing top was split between friends into snifters we were greeted with a slight white head that faded fast leaving a small ring of bubbles around the glass. The body was a classic dark brown to black. The aroma of a farm house yeast was the first thing I noticed then I got some sweet dark fruit and caramel came thru. Flavor wise I thought this brew was quite interesting a sweet dark farmhouse I thought it was very reminiscent of a red wine flavor wise. The mouthfeel was a tad light for me I wished for more body. To me it was light and fizzy. Don't get me wrong it worked but not true to my expatiations of the style.
Overall I like the brew but not a strong dark in any way. It really was more like a hybrid to me.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to Bartrash for this brew.

1L Swingtop

Poured into a chalice a nice browninsh color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy off-white head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is very nice, malty, sweet, with some very nice figs, raisins, plums notes, licorice, and caramel. The taste if very nice malty, with tons of dark fruits, sweet, licorice, with some spice notes, and caramel. Medium body. Very Drinkable, this is an awesome brew, glad to have gotten a chance to try it, recommended. Thanks Pete!

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Photo of koopa
3.97/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle received as a gift from Stigs thanks a lot!

Appearance: Pours a dark brown to black. The crown is one finger, khaki, with minimal retention and lace.

Smell: Nice sweet dark malt and spice notes from the farmhouse yeast. Chocolate, a hint of soy sauce, dark fruit, and caramel.

Taste: Chocolate covered dark fruit (plums and prunes predominantly) with belgian kandi sugar.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, a touch under carbonated and oily.

Drinkability: Goes down fairly easily but the mouthfeel and flavor profile hold it back.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to Jwiss22

Pours a hazy dark brown color with a small fizzy off light tan head.

Scent of caramel, sugar, a hint of yeast, sweet dark fruit, earth, and molasses. A very good scent with no presence of alcohol.

Taste of sweet dark fruit, molasses, soda, maple syrup, sugar, oats, caramel, and some yeast in the finish. Very sweet initially, but balanced and with no real detection of alcohol, and finishing somewhat dry with a nice yeast flavor; an excellent beer.

Mouthfeel is medium-heavy bodied and somewhat oily with a satisfying level of carbonation.

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Photo of dpnelson1978
3.89/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1L bottle into glass snifter.

A: Hazy deep brown body with a small tight head that quickly gives way to a thin creamy head. No lacing.

S: Sweet molasses, and raisin. Free of hops. Really nice solid profile.

T: Tons of sweet molasses, and raisin over a caramel backbone. Slightly boozy but again very solid. Could use more nuance, but I can't really complain.

M: Medium body with low to medium carbonation and a ton of residual sugar.

D: One liter bottle? No problem! This goes down easy for such a potent offering.

O: My first taste of East End is an impressive one. The beer isn't cheap, but is worth every penny.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.11/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Thanks to DavoleBomb for this bottle!

More breweries need to go with these huge swingtop bottles. The brew inside pours a dark mahogany, highlighted with bright garnet, topped by about a finger of tan foam. The nose comprises solvent, cherry brandy, maple syrup, oak, figs, and buttery pound cake. The taste holds notes of tart black cherries, cloves, blood orange, chocolate, tart fig (as I told a closeby friend of mine, that may be the first time those two words have gone together in my head), plums, almonds, brown sugar, and Belgian yeast. Whoa. The body is a light heavy, with a light carbonation and an almost chewy feel. Overall, a very nice BSDA that kinda surprised me with its great complexity of flavor and its subsequent enjoyment.

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Photo of Vdubb86
4.02/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a pint glass

Thanks to TMoney2591 for sharing this with the group as part of our Northwoods Man's Weekend. This gem pours a nice dark plum color with beams of red when held up to light. Dark tan head. The nose comprises of cherry, maple, bourbon and clove. There is a candy taste to all of this and it's rather pleasant in my opinion. The taste slightly differs from the nose. The palate comprises of clove and cocoa with a bready yeast flavor when combined almost reminds of an oddly seasoned banana bread. Other flavors found within are cherry, plum and fig. It's a nicely carbonated brew. The booze seems hidden in the flavor to me, but that doesn't mean it's not there. It's a little intense to be drinking often but it's quite nice in the small sample size that we were all given. Definitely a solid brew!

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Photo of Kegatron
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1.5 Liter swing top bottle into several glasses.

Pours a clear ruby, topped with a soft foamy covering of light off-white head. This retains with a thin frothy layer that flares up to about a solid ¼ finger when swirled, throwing some good looking spotty lacing up on the sides of the glass. The aroma smells of dark fruit (cherries are really coming out), bread, sugars, yeasty spice, and some light herbal smelling earth character in the back. Gentle warmth gives this a touch of thickness in the nose.

The taste has LOT of fruit flavor going on with it, with (once again) cherry tartness taking center stage but I'm also getting some darker notes of fig and black currant as well. This is tempered by the sweetness of malts, with sugary bread and candied caramel in particular doing a good job here. The finish on this actually has a good bit of toasty and smokey textures going on with it, while some yeasty notes of earth and spice linger on the lips as well. The mouthfeel is fuller bodied, with soft smooth creaminess to it, while some slickness and beef run underneath the feel. Pretty darn easy sipper as well here for the size but I'm still glad that I had a few others to help share the bottle with.

Really interesting Belgian Dark here, with a ton of yeasty character doing a lot of different things at times. That dark tart cherry flavor really drives this though and is so strong that it actually threatens to override some of the other nuances. All in all, I found this a very enjoyable effort from East End.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Date: 07/24/2010 @ CDC Release
Vintage: 2010
Type: 1.5 Liter Swingtop Bottle
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

Brew poured a brown mahoghany in color w/ a 1/2 finger cream head that left medium amounts of lacing. The nose was of toffee, caramel, and dark fruits. Taste was of the same, toffee, caramel, dark fruits, and a touch of booze. Mouthfeel was medium bodied and pretty rich. I could drink this beer pretty easily in volume, but the ABV would surely catch up w/ me.

Overall, nice brew once again from East End! Grab one of these or six if you like the different cartoonist's labels as much as I do.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
4.42/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

East End Illustration Ale has a ruby-brown body with a one and a half fingers of off-white head. The retention is very good, but very little lacing is left behind.

The aroma is good and pretty complex. Lots of cherry, some currants and perhaps a little bit of fig. Phenols come through with a bit of a peppery character. A hint of funky-tartness, which is pleasantly surprising. A pretty big, dark malt profile comes through also.

Illustration Ale's flavor has even more going on than the aroma, and I like it. The two biggest flavors are the fruit esthers from the yeast and the sweetness from the malt profile. The fruity flavors are loaded with notes of cherry, some currant and even a bit of lighter fruits (maybe some peach?). The fruit tastes like it was candied and dipped into rum, giving a sweet and savory character to the beer. The malt adds a bunch of sweetness, but it isn't overpowering. Two things balance out the fruit and sweetness: the phenolic flavors and a light tartness. First there is a bit of a yeasty, funky flavor that is even a bit tart; I dig this part of Illustration Ale. I really like Dark Belgians that have some sour bite to them. The phenols come out most toward the end of the beer, adding some clove and peppery flavors. The finish is surprisingly dry and crisp with a hint of warmth.

The body has a good amount of heft to it, making it just a bit creamy, but with a good bit of carbonation.

I like most things that East End produces, but Illustration Ale might be my favorite Belgian style beer from East End so far. The alcohol is hidden really well also. I might cellar a bottle of this to see what happens to it.

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Photo of Stigs
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from 1L bottle into Chimay chalice(s)

A - agressive pour yields a quarter inch of loose frothy Frosty colored foam, quickly falls to a thin film and ring. the beer is very dark brown/ruby colored and significantly hazy.

S - begins with some sweet ripened dark fruits...notably figs and plums. more sweetness abound with dark chocolate and banana. faint ash, tobacco, and cloves add bitterness and spice for balance.

T - sweetness again right off the bat before a swift bite of tobacco and subtle smoke. figs and ever so slightly tart black cherries bring the sweets up a notch again, joined by molasses and a somewhat biting alcohol burn that lingers. other light notes of toffee, belgian yeast, and cloves add another dimension. very complex, one of those beers where you can "guide" the flavors along your tastebuds with different results each time.

M - body is on the lighter side with subtle carbonation. starts creamy then turns chewy from all the sweetness. mild alcohol burn at the back of the throat. leaves the mouth feeling sticky.

D - rich and complex, ABV is certainly noticeable but this is hard to put down after every sip. not a style i am normally fond of but two of us had no problems doing a number on this large bottle.

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Photo of Jwale73
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Thirstybird for bringing this back from his Mid-West trip. One litre swing-top bottle that pours a purplish-brown with a loose, half-inch, tan-colored head that quickly dissipates into a soapy skim - no lacing. Nose smells very quad-like - grapes, malt and bubblegum. Taste follows nose, with the addition of black licorice, anise and an herbal quality, with some acidity at the finish. Mouthfeel is medium-light, with a slightly creamy carbonation and a semi-dry finish. This beer falls somewhere between a Belgian Strong Dark and a Quadrupel. It's pleasant, easy-drinking and has a well-hidden abv. Well worth your time if you have the opportunity to try this one.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.42/5  rDev -16%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-pours a dark murky mahogony red color with very little light tan head.

S-notes of hay, dark ripe fruits, cherries and plums, belgian yeast, clove and peppery spice, notes of alcohol.

T-lots of sweet ripe cherries with just a hint of rum, hint of hay and funk, belgian yeast flavors, nice light spice to balance it out.

M-smooth on the palate, slightly syrupy and slick on the back of the throat, lacking carb to balance.

D-pretty tasty and no flaws, good flavor profile that works very well together. nothing really stands out but tasty.

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Illustration Ale from East End Brewing Company
4.07 out of 5 based on 51 ratings.
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