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Woolly Bugger | Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
89
very good
37 Reviews
THE BROS
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Woolly BuggerWoolly Bugger
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
British Columbia, Canada | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BDTyre on 01-03-2012

BEER STATS
Reviews:
37
Ratings:
96
Avg:
4.03
pDev:
11.41%
 
 
Wants:
11
Gots:
18
For Trade:
2
User Reviews
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Reviews: 37 | Ratings: 96
Photo of papat444
3.46/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

****December 2012 Vintage***

Thanks to FondueVoodoo for this one.

Poured from a 341ml. bottle.

Appearance: The body when held to the light looks blood red, ecru colored healthy head that recedes to leave a mound surrounded by a moat of sorts. Lacing slathered on the glass.

Smell: Rich and malty, earthy, alcoholic caramel if that means something to you.

Taste: Nothing at first which isn't normal but brown sugar, and caramel come finally. No complexity or depth, light flavor.

Mouthfeel: To its credit, alcohol is very well hidden. Very smooth.

Overall: Given the ABV and the style, i expected more depth which unfortunately i didn't get. Decent but there are much better representations of the style.

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Photo of Sammy
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

187 ml bottle from the brewery, seeing how it is after 2 years' release, 29th month of life. Poured a brownish body without any head. Looks and taste like rich malt, slightly boozy aroma and there is alcohol warming in the taste, with a bit of booze in the aftertaste. Certainly hits its style, more British in experience, the hops have integrated giving it an understated citrus taste, overpowered by toffee and some butterscotch.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.65/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Got this from Rutager a while back. Cheers!

From a bottle into a snifter
December 2012
IBU: 75
25 degrees Plato

APPEARANCE: Pours a 2 ½ finger, medium-thinner looking, fluffy, light tan head with great retention. Clear maroon red with medium levels of carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a full foam cap and leaves sticky lacing down the sides of the glass. A splotchy wisp remains leaving some decent lacing.

SMELL: Spicy yeast with cloves and alcohol on the nose. Toffee, a touch of chocolate and light red berries as well. Nice stuff.

TASTE: Toffee, spicy cloves and some alcohol up front. More flavor after the swallow with toffee, light chocolate, spicy yeast flavors, alcohol and some floral bitterness lingering after the swallow. Flavorful and well balanced between sweetness, bitterness and spicy qualities.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. A bit lighter on the palate but creamy enough, goes down smooth with a bit of a bite after the swallow and finishes a touch sticky. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: Pretty good stuff. The flavor actually reminds me a bit of a less bitter version of The Samurai. A little lighter and foamier for the style than I’d like, but enjoyable and complex for sure. Give this one a shot if you see it. Thanks again for the brews Rutager.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.66/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a deep cloudy copper color ale with a rather large foamy head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of dry caramelized sugars with light grainy cereal notes. Taste is dominated by load of dry caramelized residual sugars notes with some grainy cereal notes. Body is quite full with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Interesting take on the English-style barleywine but sadly feels a bit short on the complexity front.

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Photo of DaveBar
3.72/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Purchased at the LCBO at a discounted $4.50 for a 375ml bottle. Served at 4deg C in a tulip. 2013 edition

A- Opens well and pours a 1" light brown head that lasts for a few minutes until it films out. Very dark gold/brown color. Somewhat filtered but not clear

S- Caramel and toffee. Very sweet.

T- Sweet and sickly. Toffee and caramel present. Lots of hops here. Rye flavored. A hint of oak barrel at the very end.

M- Creamy but tart. Medium carbonation which is just right for this barley wine. Thick and rich

O- Nice brew. Had it but won't buy more. Don't get me wrong it's a nice blend just too thick and rich for me but that is the style.

Food Pairing

This nice brew went well with..... Beef lasagna with lots of noodles and tomato sauce

Enjoy

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Photo of hopsolutely
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Drinking this 2013 bottle fresh, thanks to its LCBO release. Definitely a "sipping beer", as befitting its >10% ABV.

Pours an oily chocolate coloured amber with limited head and no lacing. Low carbonation level on this beer despite the decent sounding seal when the bottle was uncapped. Malt forward aroma includes brandied plums with toffee and barrel notes. Not as much complexity as I'd expected from this brewery given the depth of Pothole Filler, so perhaps expectations were too high? Flavour has a nice bitterness in the finish that complements the alcohol heat. Barrel tannins and brandied fruits round out the body after the initial caramelized malt sweetness passes.

Very glad to have tried it, but also glad to have only purchased this one bottle.

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Photo of BGDrock
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: dark red/brown, almost opaque, like dark mahogany; full, dense, almond coloured head

Aroma: loads of dark dried fruit, mostly prunes, some raisin, cherry; touches of caramel, chocolate

Taste & Mouthfeel: getting those dried fruit flavours, but it's cut by alcohol and fairly intense hops that rapidly take over and make for a clean, dry finish (almost palate cleansing); prune flavour has the most breakthrough, but it's almost more about the hops, surprising and interesting; over time it balances out nicely, the bitter notes necessary to cut the syrupy sweetness and in the end providing a pleasing contrast of start vs. finish

Overall: great stuff, could have been overwhelming quickly, but well crafted to manage the strong flavours - which are really quite simple

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Photo of MasterSki
3.85/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle from Kump. Served in a Cantillon tulip. 2013 vintage.

A - Tan foam settles to a partial cap, thick collar, and a few stray specks of lace. Murky dark raisin-brown body.

S - Raisins, some definite spicy alcohol, toffee, burnt sugars, a bit of milk chocolate, fruity yeast esters. There's perhaps a faint hop note in the peripheral. Even though this is a year-old it's still pretty boozy.

T - Taste is a bit more mellow, with lots of toffee, red fruits, caramel, and a bit of spicy alcohol and hop bitterness in the finish. Pretty nice balance here, although it gets a tad too sweet by the end of the bottle.

M - Surprisingly active carbonation that seems a bit excessive for the style. Medium-full body with with a smooth, creamy, texture. Lingering stickiness on the palate.

D - Solid English barleywine. A bit rough in the aroma, but otherwise pretty enjoyable. A very style-accurate and competently brewed beer, but would be hard to pick out of a crowd.

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Photo of kevinlater
3.9/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

375ml bottle into snifter. 10.5% abv. 2013 vintage, enjoyed on july 21, 2014

a: a wildly opaque, deep mahogany-chestnut. two fingers of tan head that went away quickly

s: dominant brown sugar & toffee up front, with quite a bit of alcohol. but there are nice underlying aromas of raisins and grapefruit rind. hints of earthy notes

t: massive fish notes whack you in the face... just kidding. the label reads "contains barley and fish" though. big burnt brown sugar up front, then some earthy flavours, then raisins, then timid flashes of citrusy orange and grapefruit, then a really untamed but appropriate bitterness to balance the general sweetness of it all. minimal alcohol presence, surprisingly. finishes very dry. the fruit presence opens up slightly as the beer approaches room temperature

m: very full and thick mouthfeel. mild carbonation. excellent

o: not very complex, but this is still a very tasty beer

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Photo of jrenihan
3.91/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2013 vintage.

Beer is dark maroon in colour, with a large beige head. Good retention and lacing.

Nose is malty, with sweet bready scents. Caramel and some toffee. Also some grassy hop scents, but the malt is much stronger.

Taste is good. Again, a focus on malts. Caramel, toffee. Chewy and bready. Fairly sweet, but there is a toasted flavour that balances it, coupled with a grassy hop bitterness.

Full bodied, moderately carbonated. A bit astringent.

Overall, pretty good.

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Photo of canucklehead
3.94/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 version. Very fresh tasting BW with quite a few hops making their place in the mix. Very drinkable for such a young BW which makes me wonder how it will age in the cellar. The smoothness of the finish and the melding of the flavours can be seen as a plus at this stage in the development of the beer ( unlike some hot messes of other BWs when they are young). Nice to see it in a small 12oz bottle instead of the big 1 litre swingtops..

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Photo of tbeckett
3.96/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been a want of mine for a long time. 2013 Release.

A - Deep mahogany colour, deep reddy brown. Good carbonation coming up. One finger of thick beige head. Good lace rings and a half finger of retention.

S - Toffee, caramel, dark fruit, a little bit of sugar.

T - Caramel, dark fruit, sugar, sharp hop bite, some alcohol. Warms up with more dark fruit and caramel.

M - Good carbonation, full body, sharp finish.

O/D - This seems more like an American interpretation of the style. The hop/alcohol bite is a bit much for the style. Less dark fruit/caramel character is detected than would be expected. The harshness does mellow out after a while. It's a quality barleywine. With some age it will improve hopefully. Enjoyed it and drank it faster than something 10% should be.

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Photo of Bunman3
3.99/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a real winner in my books. First, it's named after one of my "go to" streamer flies. Second, the 2014 release bottle is extremely cool. Minimal head and lacing, but it is oh so rich in many other ways. There is lots of malt, dark fruit and a nice hoppy finish. The boozy afterglow kicks you happily in the cerebral cortex and make you dream of catching large trout from large rivers. It's a beautiful thing.

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Photo of Franck
4/5  rDev -0.7%

Aromas of sugar cane, roasted malt and alcohol.
Taste is strong. Brown sugar and torrefaction. Hops appear in final and bring a smooth exotic taste.
Bitterness is sweeth and bitter. Great bw. Well balanced, great roundness.

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Photo of biegaman
4/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Woolly Bugger - named after an artificial fly fishing lure - isn't the most appealing sounding name for a beer. Indeed, the ale itself is not only racked with sediment but is both lusterless (no shine or highlights) as well as listless (no bubbles or head). This thing won't catch you anything.

I know from already having drunk half of it that Woolly Bugger is a rich, malty, and nuanced beer - but I still don't get any of that from the aroma, even having allowed it to warm to room temperature. There's either not much of a bouquet or else my nose is stuffed up (which it isn't, I feel fine). The only things I sense are small quantities of toffee and dried fruits.

Most people I know prefer American renditions of the Barleywine style. Though brewed in the English tradition, Woolly Bugger is still likely to please most modern, North American palates given how much resiny, herbal flavour (plus 75 IBUs) they've managed to steep from the (somewhat unsexy) hop bill of Nugget, Fuggles, and Goldings. This has enough leafiness and 'raw green pellet' taste to conjure to mind images of rabbit food.

Of course, it also has - in even greater abundance - the maltiness to instill thoughts of nut brittle, rum cake, fruit cake, sticky toffee pudding, and all manner of English confections. All that caramelly grain combines with the esters and 10.5% alcohol to include a cinnamon-driven stewed apple/mulled cider and orange liqueur taste in the backdrop, something easily overlooked by all the sweet treats upfront. There's only moderate depth but absolute quaffability.

Just as Pumpkineater is a great fall-time treat and King Heffy is an ultimate summer quencher, Woolly Bugger is rich, malty, and satiating enough to remedy all the cold and darkness of a harsh winter (still its spiced rum cake notes and toffee-laced maltiness make it sumptuous enough to want to just chug back). While a candidate for no more than short-term cellaring, this is nonetheless something you want on-hand in case the snow starts falling or the power goes out.

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Photo of spinrsx
4.02/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

350ml Bottle from the Ottawa LCBO for $5.55 - 2013 edition

Appearance - Brown colour with a decent size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some nice lacing on the sides of the glass. The head lasted for close to 3-4 minutes before it began to dissipate.

Smell - Malts, caramel, dark fruits, chocolate

Taste & Mouth - There is an average amount of carbonation and I can taste caramel and malts mixed with quite a bit of hops. There is also some dark fruits, chocolate, and some roasted/burnt notes.

Overall - I don't drink my barleywines fresh very often so this one has a lot more bitterness than I was expecting. Still very tasty and satisfying. Maybe just a touch too sweet - if I could change 1 thing. Seems like a great beer to tuck away in the cellar. I will pick up a few more bottles.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.03/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: 1/2" tan coloured head that dissipated quickly over cloudy brown liquid.

S: Yeast, sweet toffee malt and an alcohol smell reminiscent of white wine.

T: Slightly bitter pine and citrus hop presence upfront with flavours of toffee, caramel and vanilla in the middle and an almost sweet children's cereal finish similar tasting to Captain Crunch.

M: Medium viscosity and a medium level of fine carbonation.

O: Those who dislike their barleywines sweet should steer clear of this one. However, for the rest of us this is actually quite drinkable.

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

2012 bottle.

Appearance. Pours a fairly clear, deep red-brown with half a finger of pale orangey-tan head.

Smell. Sweet caramel and butterscotch, a little bit of light fruits and berries and a drop of molasses.

Taste. Lots of toasted caramel malts, some dark berries, just a little herby hop bitterness and a hint of coffee. High alcohol is very well hidden.

Mouthfeel. Medium-full body with medium-low carbonation.

Overall. A very nice and mellow english barleywine. Great balance of subtle flavours. Will look forward to trying a vertical in a year or two.

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Photo of SebD
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance: It has a nice murky reddish/brown color to it. It has a nice creamy beige head that dies down moderately slow and leaves light lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of sweet caramel, toffee, brown sugar, sweet dark fruit (Raisins and plums), buiscuity malts and grassy hops.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has a some sweet caramel/toffee, brown sugar, dark fruit, a slight nuttiness, some bready/buiscuity malts and a light grassiness.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel. The body is just a touch thin.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by good flavors and aromas.

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Photo of BDTyre
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2011 release. This pours a mahogany-copper with a thick, creamy head. The head leaves definite rings around the glass.

Initial scent is rich malts, a bit of wine, light spice. But then there is this weird hoppy blast. It lasts briefly, and is then replaced by an almost nutty, brown ale scent.

Good, well balanced flavour. There is certainly some hoppiness, but it is quite light. The malts don't ruin this, and I can pick up chestnuts, wine, raisins, molasses, bread, yeast, light bitterness. This is 11% ABV and I can't even tell. The alcohol is extremely well hidden - a very, very faint suggestion on the back of a tongue.

Nice, smooth mouthfeel. Rich, but not overly thick. The alcohol is dangerously hidden. The small bottle size is a pleasant surprise (most BWs I've had are bombers), and I almost want a second one....

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

375 mL bottle from the LCBO. First beer from Howe Sound that wasn't a massive bottle. -25 outside, so a barleywine is just the ticket.

Poured into a tulip. Chocolate caramel, with a good sized head of off-white head that survives as a pretty impressive layer with loads of lacing. Great looking brew.

Nose is malt-forward, with notes of candied peach and cherry, brown sugar, toffee and red wine. Faint citrus hops.

Tasty barleywine indeed, with loads of malt, candied fruit and caramel sweetness, and a hoppy red-wine finish.

Lighter bodied than I'd expected. Tannin-like puckery quality, and mild carbonation.

Solid barleywine where the hops get some play towards the finish.

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Photo of Agent1
4.11/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I have always been impressed with Howe Sound. Simply put: they are easily one of my favorite breweries in Canada due to their experimental nature and quality brews.

Appearance - Impressive. Super shiny, creamy head. Almost a lemon meringue appearance. Glossy and sticky. Great head retention for a barley wine. Nice orange ruby brown color. Overall, quite nice.

Smell - Lots of northern hops on the nose. This is a slight turn off. Not bad, just spells a bit too much like an IPA versus a barley wine. A nice spicy toffee aroma, very typical of an English barley wine. Butterscotch, slight nuttiness, tropical fruit and brown sugar. Very rich. Alcohol cuts nicely.

Taste - Toffee, roasted marshmallow, caramel, butter, mango, almonds, wood (most likely from the barrel aging), bitter chocolate and northern hops (it lists nugget and I feel it may have been used a bit excessively). Slightly citrusy. More citrus than most barley wines (more along the lines of an IPA as far as hops go). Tangy. Lots of special B malt is noticeable. Chocolate malt, too. Very sweet and jammy, like red wine. Alcohol is nicely hidden given it's at 11% abv. Does not offend.

Mouthfeel - Full and thick. This is not the heaviest barley wine I've had, but it's still rather chewy and thick. You can feel this all over the mouth. Dark and rich. Syrupy and smooth. Nice carbonation and may be one of the standout features.

Overall - A nicely balanced, traditional Barley Wine done well. This may not be the best I've had in this style, but it is tasty and delicious, nonetheless. Personally, I would like to see one of two things:

1) Less boil time of hops, or less nugget hops added as a whole, or
2) A different variety of hops (maybe German or English hops instead of nugget)

I look forward to aging my other bottle and seeing how this develops over time. I most likely will wait at least another 6 years to try this again. Very solid attempt.

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Photo of peensteen
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep ruby red-brown colour, one finger of tan head, some lace. Smell is of rich caramel, toffee, lots of malty bread like notes, raisin, fruity with lots of red apple, fairly big flowery hops, finishes with berry. Taste is rich and malty, lots of toffee and caramel flavour, fruity, getting the apple from the nose, moderate bitterness, lightly sweet and only a trace of any alcohol, fruity hop aftertaste, understated citrus. Lightly carbonated, medium-full body. No complaints here, a satisfying barleywine that I will grab a couple more of to enjoy down the road.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.14/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Date: 03/15/2013
Type: 11.2oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2012
Glass: East End Tulip

Pours a brown mahogany in color w/ a 1/3 finger off-white head w/ medium amounts of lacing. Aromas of brown sugar, caramel, dark fruits, and a touch of cotton candy mixed w/ basement mustiness. The flavor was of brown sugar/caramel sweetness and dark fruits up front, followed by hop bite and basement mustiness, finishing w/ lingering tobacco. Medium bodied and lush w/ a bit more carbonation than I would like in an English Barley Wine. Pretty easy to drink at 11% as the ABV is very well hidden amongst the intense flavors.

Overall, I was very excited to sample this long-time want! In the end, due to the higher levels of carbonation this brew really blurs the lines between English Strong Ale and English Barley Wine, but the brew has great depth of flavor and did not disappoint. This brew should age nicely and hopefully the carbonation will die down a bit making it more true to the style.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.15/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

341ml bottle poured into tulip 22/4/12

A clear dark amber leaning towards a maroon glow, nice dense beige head's only a pinky's width but it stick around for a while leaving a few partial rings of lace

S nutty caramel is quite strong, a little candied cherry, molasses, herbal hops, and I don't know where the 11% is hiding

T tastes similar to the smell with some sweet bread and a slight earthy taste and hazelnut on the finish, still no booze at all, some hops but a malt bomb without doubt and that's working well for it

M thick syrupy goodness, sticky on the lips with mellow carbonation that gives it some life, zero heat is impressive for a fresh 11% BW

O another example of .25 being used if available, pretty solid stuff for a BW this young with a great feel, no booze detected and solid in all areas

thanks EskimoDave and chickenm as they both ended up sending me a bottle, a nice English BW and I'm stoked I have another bottle to age

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Woolly Bugger from Howe Sound Inn & Brewing Company
89 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.
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