Barrel Select Black
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.

Barrel Select BlackBarrel Select Black
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American Wild Ale
Ranked #385
Ranked #3,585
4.18 | pDev: 6.94%
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
New York, United States
Barrel Select BlackBarrel Select Black
Notes: A Belgian-style black ale aged in Italian oak tanks. Wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria have ripened it into a tart, oaky, uniquely tangy and drinkable sour ale.
Reviews: 26 | Ratings: 100 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of SLeffler27
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Contrary to its name, this one is clear, deep-to-bright copper. The light chestnut head is very long lasting, creamy and beige. The head holds at one inch before suddenly settling to a half inch and leaving a thick coat of lace on the wall of an Infinium flute glass. Tiny, lazy carbonation appears randomly.

The nose is quite sour, with a wet leather background. Musky oak and funk carry throughout, while very sweet cherries and currants punctuate. Warmth brings out cranberries and a bit of red wine vinegar.

Tartness and sourness are well controlled, especially given the nose. Sweetness, while high, is clearly a secondary factor. Cranberry juice pairs well with oak and a hint of maraschino cherry. Acidity is also strong late in each sip. A long, acidic finish is very similar to the drying flavor of cranberry juice.

The body is medium to full, with a hard, smooth texture. Alcohol is as expected. Carbonation is fine, with a soft, yet prominent, touch.

Barrel Select Black is more akin to an Old Braun. After reading other reviews, I am left wondering if this is the same beer. For what it's worth, my bottle was aged several years. I imagine this would pair well with a peppery cheese.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 . 7 fl oz poured into Wicked Weed *(pre purchase) tulip glass, a dark brownish/black with a thin rim of lace. Sour, oak, pear on the aroma. The taste is in line, with nothing overpowering. Melds well when it warms. Mouthfeel is medium, carbonation medium. A great rep of a sour brown ale.

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Photo of connecticutpoet
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – Clear, reddish-brown body with a three finger head that left lots of lacing.

Aroma – Sour, berries and plums, pretty tangy.

Taste – Sour, tannins, a little fruity, some malt under the sourness, long sour aftertaste

Mouthfeel – Quite puckering but good.

Overall – A very very good sour ale. High price point though.

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Photo of VoxRationis
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served on tap at the Captain Lawrence Brewery.
A: Pours a dark brown color with a small tan head, virtually no retention past the pour, an soapy lacing.
S: Presents with a floral and funky bouquet with emergent aroma of vanilla/oak, ultimately displaying my roasty chocolate and coffee, as it warmed.
T: Tart. Quite distinct from nose. Flavors of molasses, raisin and fig. Lactic acid taste evident.
M: Medium bodied with light carbonation.
O: This is really a well constructed and distinctive, American Sour.

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Photo of brentk56
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Arrives the color of molasses, with no head whatsoever

Smell: Funky and oaky, with caramel, prune and lactic tones

Taste: Caramel and lactic prune, up front, with developing funk and oak tones in the middle; vinegary and funky in the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body but zero carbonation

Overall: Rather clunky, I am afraid, with the flavors not blending well at all; the mouthfeel was disappointing, too

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Photo of Stevedore
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle from 2011. Poured into a snifter 11/19/2014.

A- Dark purple-brown body. Not particularly appealing in appearance. Minimal white head, no lacing. [3.75]

S- Lactic acid, grape juice, oak. Minimal funk. Smells quite sour, but with a nice sweet grape-like backbone to it. This nose has a nice balance to it despite plenty of acidity. [4]

F- Mouth-puckering lactic acidity mixed in with grape juice-like sweetness, some oak, a little bit of must, and even less funk. A bit of lemon and citrus as well. This is not particularly funky, but it is quite sour, which is a nice change of pace. [4.25]

M- Medium bodied, very drinkable despite being so sour. Good carbonation. Finish is lactic acid mixed in with a bit of grape sweetness. [4]

O- Nice sourness that isn't overwhelming like Side Project sours. And a nice grape sweetness balances it out. Pleasantly surprised with this one. [4]

Final score: 4.10

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Photo of MCain04
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle split with a buddy and poured into snifter glasses. Cellar temp.

Pours a dark dark amber and has minimal fizzy tan head with quick dissipation and rimming, no lacing.

Smell is funky and fruity. Sour cherries, lactate, white grapes, dark fruits.

Taste is heavy on the lactic acid with sour cherries up front. Sour white grapes. Funky and dry. Not overly sweet. A bit of cardboard on the back end.

Mouth is medium, very dry, sticky, a little watery, moderate carbonation and fairly smooth.

Overall a decent and enjoyable sour but not one I'd seek out again.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.88/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Chris (spycow). Served in a Hill Farmstead tulip at Jason's place.

A - White foam settles to wisps, partial collar, and minimal lacing. Body is quite black; this beer delivers!

S - Lots of oak, vinegar, cassis, and some lightly musky funk as well. Somewhat harsh, rough, and acidic, although some of that might be alcohol that I'm misinterpreting.

T - The taste is better, with less aggressive oak, and much better-hidden alcohol. A nice mix of dark berries, light vanilla, still some oak, and some cherry vinegar.

M - Dry, medium body, lower carbonation, moderate acidity. Alcohol is very well-hidden, as I didn't realize this was anywhere close to 10%. Could use a bit more spritz, but otherwise pretty solid.

D - The smell is rough, but once you get past it the taste is surprisingly enjoyable. I've never totally loved Captain Lawrence sours, and this beer is pretty consistent with my past experiences. Nice to try, but not something I'd actively seek out again.

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Photo of claspada
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very very dark brown color with some reddish hues. Smallish khaki brown colored head that immediately dissipates leaving some decent spotty lacing.

Aromas begin with sour cherries and super tart berries, I was not expecting that from the appearance. Some light earthy and oakiness emerge as well. As it warms you get the nice subtle sour dark black cherries and maybe some other dark fruits.

The tastes begin with the same punch in the face of dark cherry sourness coupled with some lesser sweeter black raspberry fruitiness. There is also some malt to be deciphered here but not exponentially more or less than the aroma. Hints of earthiness and oak with notes of a fruit infused balsamic vinegar poke out as well.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with medium to higher carbonation (for a 10% beer). Finish is super dry with mouth-puckering amounts of sour and tartness.

Overall I did not enjoy this as much as Mother Barrel as this was a bit more vinegar-forward and dark fruity compared to the roast flavors I enjoyed in Mother Barrel. Still good, just not as spectacular and I don't see this aging well (like pretty much every high ABV American Wild).

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.52/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to bmanning for grabbing this bottle for me. Served in a Captain Lawrence cervoise. Pours a very dark brown with a short off-white head that bubbles up and falls fairly quickly without leaving too much lacing behind. The nos carries some light notes of cherry and roast underneath a moderate lactic presence. Touch of oak. Flavor has a good mixture of fruit, acid, and background malt. Light-medium body with good carbonation. Medium level of acidity. Quite easy to drink. Nice.

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Photo of andrewinski1
3.41/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to ineedabeerhere for this! Poured into a chalice. The color is dark brown with ruby hues. There is a thick medium tan head.

The aroma has a bit if vinegar and tart cherry notes. There is some slight brown sugar and cinnamon notes.

The taste has a bit of milky sweetness before the tartness hits. This is an oude bruin vinegary tartness.

This is medium bodied. There is soft, fluffy carbonation.

The only thing really holding this back for me is personal preference. The dark sours aren't my favorite, but I enjoyed this one more the more I sipped it.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle split with oglmcdgl in some glasses.

Barrel Select Black is not totally black, very dark brown in color with a small amount of dark tan bubbles that grace the top for a few. Some minimal suds on the glass. Pours out dirty and looks to have a nice body on it. The scent really jumps out with tart berries and oak. Some vinegar and acidic nature. Blackberries and some roasted quality. Would not surprise me if some of CL's porters were in one of the barrels. Taste is nice and tart and layered. Berries are up front, oak is dominant, some vanilla seeps through, red wine taste, vinegar, porter essence. Tart cherry, blackberry, etc. Feel is at about medium with a subtle carb and an acidic finish with slight vinegar, yet not at flanders red levels. This was a great beer, a nice mix of flavors and possibly one of the better dark sours I have had. The only drawback is the 10% is in the mix a bit.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A big thanks goes out to the BA who sent this to me as an extra gift in a recent box! Shared this one during our Labor Day tasting! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured dark brown with a half finger tan head that subsided to a minimal amount slowly. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, sour, tart, dark fruit, funk, fruit, and leather. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark fruit, sour, tart, wood, and fruit. It had a light feel on the palate with high carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. This was a pretty well balanced brew that kept my palate intrigued throughout the glass. Each sip brought a nice rush of sour and tart with just enough fruit to make it stand out from some of the rest I have had. If you have not had the chance to try this one, you definitely need to take the time to do so.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.35/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

375 mL bottle poured into a snifter. Same label as Mother Barrel. The bottle date has been wiped off of this one. Awesome system, Captain Lawrence.

Appearance - Murkier than Mother Barrel. Wispy surface. Dark reddish body.

Smell - Much less sour notes than Mother Barrel. Caramel malt comes out more. Still acetic, though.

Taste - Less sour tasting, too. Acidic, but not overly sour. Malty and less fruit. Less vinegar, too, which is nice. Bitter finish.

Mouthfeel - Creamy. Maltier and heavier. Not so sour, but the sourness it has isn't good.

Overall - Not a great sour. The flavors just aren't exciting. Decent, I guess.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

4/12, 375ml
Deschutes tulip

A: Pours a dark deep reddish color. Looks like an extremely dark flemish red. The carbonation is faint.

S: Leather. Cocoa. Funk. Vanilla. Cherry pie filling.

T: Lots of lacto: cherry pie filling. Then you get some vanilla. Also some of that cocoa that you smelled. Tart cherries in the mid palate. Really enjoyed this. It's pretty well done.

M: light to medium.

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Photo of SpdKilz
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A huge thanks to Dan (DSlim71) and jbuddle for this beer. Cheers!

Appearance – Pours a dark black into my LadyFace snifter with almost no head (after a careful pour by my brother-in-law). Slight lacing is left on the sides.

Smell – Oak, barnyard funk, vinegar, cherries, must, and slight sweetness.

Taste – Wow, quite nice. Big dark sour fruits, a nice oak characteristic, slight vanilla, roasted malts, grapes and cherries, and sweet malts.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, lower carbonation, has a nice jaw puckering effect.

Overall – A very solid beer and glad I have one more in the cellar. Would love to see what ages does to this. A very nice “black” sour.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle poured into a Cantillon tulip. Shared with schen9303.

Pours pitch black with a cream mocha head with moderate retention. Lacing is stringy and spotty with little stick. Decent.

Nose is tart red fruit, roasted malt, and soured cocoa.Some creaminess in the back blends everything together. Nose is a little muddled but nicely aromatic.

Opens tart coffee, cocoa, and chocolate. Some sweetness. Tart red fruit really comes in towards the end. Puckering red fruit finish with a woody, tart, fruity finish. Nice.

Light to medium bodied with ample carbonation. Lively and prickly in the mouth and goes down slick and puckering. Messy finish with a dry aftertaste. As it should be. Surprisingly lively.

Surprising that this is 10% as it drink very easy. A complex beer that gets a bit muddled here and there but for a dark sour, this is pretty nice. Worth trying.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a small cream colored head that turn into bubbles around the rim of the glass. Scent is amazing...such a good smelling beer. A bit of red wine vinegar with a ton of oak and sour grape aroma. Hits of roastiness with a solid sour aroma that is oh so inviting. Taste is immediately tart with lovely red grape and cherry flavors. Very oaky, which I love with a bit of vanilla and some roasted malt flavor. The oak profile in this beer it tremendous and gets better with each sip. Alcohol content not very present until you start feeling a bit of a warming sensation on the lips and throat. Some vinegar, and a bit of chocolate in the finish. Mouthfeel is full bodied, and slightly puckering. Rich. Drinkability is high, even though this is one sipper of an American wild ale. Overall, this is my fourth CL beer, and I absolute love this brewery. They sure know what to do with oak barrels and sour beers!

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Photo of yourefragile
3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

375 mL bottle shared by Ben.

As the beer pours it has a pretty clear purplish mahogany hue that settles in a darker garnett brown with light purple tinges against light and a creamy, light tan head. Some legs and dots of lace with a thin film and small bubbly collar. Immediately upon popping the cap a potent vinegar sourness hits the aroma and as the beer warms the nose becomes slightly oak, red grape, light vanilla, fruity and vinegary with a potent rubbing alcohol finish. Flavor immediately hits on the Rosso barrels and vinous red grapes with the Nor'Easter underlying with rich malt and sweet fruit. As the beer warms, more fruit emerges from the vinegar and oaky prevalence. Thicker side of medium body with light, fine carbonation. Fairly dry and oaky finish. Much, much better than Barrel Select Cherry and Raspberry, not quite Rosso, but drinking nicely fresh. The fruit flavor is already fairly mild so aging this long term doesn't seem like a great idea.

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Photo of portia99
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375ml bottle courtesy of hoppymcgee. Thanks Greg! Poured into a Lost Abbey stemmed glass. Hoping to resurrect the good name of Captain Lawrence tonight after a less than satisfactory experience with a Little Linda's Liquid earlier tonight.

A - As it was being poured I noticed some brownish/reddish/mahogany tones, but once in the glass black is a pretty good descriptor of the color of this beer. A finger cap of dark tan and somewhat fizzy foam lingers briefly before falling to a thin surface cap and a densely bubbled low collar around the edge of the glass. As the beer disappears and the light penetrates it more, this definitely has a solid brown body to it - rich, caramel brown.

S - Sour up front, a bit vinegary, woody, astringent, a bit of caramel, burnt sugar, oaky, very low funk, earthy, dark fruits.

T - Sour up front with an emphasis on a vinegary sourness. Lots of cherries behind the vinegar and a dry and almost nutty flavor. Earthy, very woody, traces of bitterness (maybe burnt or dark roasted malts causing this), some blackberries and/or boysenberries especially towards the swallow. Funk comes on as the beer warms a bit adding a barnyardy presence and some sweaty socks. Quite complex...and there is something else there I can't place...and its driving me crazy trying to come up with it.

M - Lightish body with a mid-level carbonation. Mid-level sourness/tartness, just a touch puckering...more mouth watering than anything. Starts vinegary and falls off to a smooth caramelly, nutty and fruity flavor that really tames the sourness on the finish.

O - Pretty impressive sour. Complex with really enough sourness to make the mouth water but not overpowering...allows the multitude of other flavors to come thru very well. Quite drinkable and satisfying...a little bit difficult for me to not quaff this a bit. Very satisfying and difficult to take slowly.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.36/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, whartontallboy!

A very dark crimson and dark brown, but definitely not black. There isn't a lot of visible carbonation and the head is small, quickly fading, and light brown in color. It leaves the glass oily on the way down.

The aroma is complex, evolving, and immensely enjoyable. There's big, stinging sour character immediately, along with a good amount of barrel, and dark fruit--cherries? currants? There's also a bit of roast character rounding things out nicely.

The flavor is just as nice as the aroma, with a big, full sour character from sip to swallow, lots dark cherry and/or black currant fruit, nuts, and mild roast. This comes together really nicely.

Medium bodied with low carbonation.

This reminds me of a 1- to 2-year-old bottle of Russian River's Consecration, and that's a very, very good thing.

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Photo of Billolick
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12.7 ounce green bottle, purchased at the source a week or so ago, $15. Allowed to warm up quite a bit before opening.

Pours a deep and very dark shade of brown, dark mocha head, of just a bit more then a film. Leaves a moderate collar and some spots of high lace.

As soon as the bottle was opened, the nose of musty and vinegary sournes sprang forth. Notes of vinegar, forest floor, and again mustyness.

Carbonation is spot on, soft and pleasing to the senses.

Under the initial moderate sour punch, some dark chocolate malts can be tasted. Also a pronounced wood/smoke note. Super dry and sour/tart throughout.

Loved it. Worth seeking out if you enjoy complex, big and quite sour beeers. A nice treat.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour sampled at mrbubbler's tasting.

Pours a murky dark brown with a tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of sour cherries and berries along with some funky aromas. Taste is the same with a mouth puckering finish. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good wild ale with some nice aromas and flavors.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.59/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks to GuisseppeFranco for lending a hand in acquiring this one. enjoyed from my capt lawrence tulip.

a - popped the bottle, filled my glass, brew poured black (as advertised) with a frothy grey white head that dissipated leaving a thin layer of head that hung out, swirling the tulip brought it back to life.

s - as soon as i opened the bottle the sourness filled the air. upon closer inspection a wonderful oak sweetness. it is rosso sourness, really well balanced and wonderful. there is an undertone of nor easter, but really in the background, this is a classic captain lawrence sour - sweet tarts and smarties to the T.

t - wow, that really is wonderful. the sourness is strong, but the base beer tames it back giving it a fullness and a red wine in the background. essentially the taste is smarties and sweet tarts on a nice not dry cabernet. very tasty.

m - the mouth is a bit odd. the sourness thins it out, but the base beer is rich and full. not dry at all. really a huge step up from nor easter. the feel is sort of halfway between watery and medium bodied.

o - overall, right before i cracked this, i had heard that it was the sleeper of the series and i think that is pretty spot on. barrel select 1 was amazing, but this one puts the cherry and raspberry to shame...and probably tops the batch 1 by having a really nice (not dry) red wine vibe. the oak tames things, but the sourness is pretty spot on. cheers to scott and the capt lawrence crew. these guys seem to really understand sour beers. thumbs up. looking forward to drinking more of these.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 02/04/12 notes. Had from a bottle a few times up at EBF in the day session in Boston, MA.

a - Pours a very dark mahogany brown, with an inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sour dark fruits, roasted malts, nuts, fruity malts, toasted malts. Not overly sour but pretty nice.

t - Tastes of sour dark fruits, tart fruity malts, vinegar, roasted and toasted malts, nuts. Much more sour then the nose, really nice.

m - Medium body and moderate to high carbonation. Acedic.

o - Overall this is my least favorite of the 4 Barrel Select's, but it's still a good beer. The taste is nice and sour, though the nose and taste are a little muddled. Wouldn't bend over backwards to get this but worth checking out if it isn't too hard to find.

EDIT: 10/15/12.

Have had this another 2 times since it's release, most recently on 10/13/12. Not quite as much vinegar as it had fresh, and most roasty notes, but still nice. Sour fruit is there, though not overpowering.

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Barrel Select Black from Captain Lawrence Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 100 ratings