Five | Surly Brewing Company

very good
137 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
In the Surly brewhouse, brewing our Anniversary beers mean one thing: forget what ya know and try something different. In honor of FIVE glorious years we bring you a 100% Brettanomyces fermented dark ale aged in red wine barrels. Flavors of sour cherry, tobacco, oak and classic "brett" barnyard funk balanced by dark Munich malt chewiness. Enjoy immediately or age at cellar temperature for a couple years.

Added by sarro on 08-23-2011

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 137 | Ratings: 507
Photo of Arbitrator
1.87/5  rDev -52.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by beddachedda and later by ramnuts (twice). Thanks, guys.

A: Pours an opaque, maroon body with a finger of tan foam that retains well.

S: Slightly sulfurous, fart-like, shitty (literally... smells like poop). After that fades a bit, I'm able to pick up some dark fruits, perhaps currants or berries, along with a pronounced vinegar sourness.

T: A bit of a letdown against the impressively poopy nose. I was hoping to taste the shit connoisseur's feast, but instead, I pick up a mild, muddled acetic sourness painted with currant tartness and little else. An unremarkable flavor in this day and age, after almost half a decade of outstanding American wilds, many of which are distributed widely.

M: A mild burn in the finish; it could stand to have a cleaner flavor profile. The sourness is well defined, but not pronounced. The beer has some residual sweetness to it.

O: Out of three bottles opened, including two at massive tastings, I have not seen a single bottle finished. I'm not sure I understand the current score of the beer.

The best part of this beer was peeling off the wax for my collection. It's really quite a nice wax, you see. It's a glittery green, the high-quality stuff that was obviously dipped at a lower temperature so it's more viscous and has a thicker consistency than the cheap shit at higher temperatures. It forms a nice coat. Took about 5 seconds to slice through and peel off, because the material has good tensile strength. When you mess with cheap wax, it flakes off and it can take 10 minutes to get it all off, and even then I've left some on the bottle. So I'm really impressed by the quality of the wax used here. It shows a loving attention to detail and a deep respect for craft wax aficionados like myself.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
2.22/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 1.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.25

Brown, ruddy, turbid pour, yields zero head. Swamp water. Rotten eggs and dark fruit aroma.

A 2 on the 1-10 sour scale, lot of vinegar/acetic acid notes, brown malt, wet wood and other assorted dark fruits. Like, did they fuck a quad up and call it a wild ale? A little bit of leather, funk, ashtray.

Total fail of a beer.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
2.42/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Pours a muddled brownish red burgandy, but a little darker than that description. No head. Aroma was weird. Sulpher and figs.

Taste was mildly sour and associated with vinegar, raisins, currants, figs, wood, but still muddled and less than impressive. Tartness is just muddled with all the other stuff. Gritty at times. Rarely has something I've had contained so much of a vinegary presence. This was like that recent bad Veritas but with carbonation (although still not as good as even Veritas 09).

More like an unintentional mild sour stout or something else, some roastiness and chocolate (very little) came through in the mouthfeel. What a conundrum this beer is. And don't forget, it also has a taste of Fonzie's jacket.

Cool bottle design. Other than that, don't believe the hype. I loves me some Surly and MPLS Town Hall, but come on homers, not everything is great from them, and this one is far from it.

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Photo of nrbw23
2.51/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Broke this one out for the Super Bowl party I had split this one amoungest fellow BA's and good friends.

A- Pours a deep dark brownish red color with a very thin head. Quite a bit of chunks in this one too.

S- Picking up a ton of cherries here for sure. A touch of vinegar, very wine like, and some funk.

T- Nothing crazy sour, but I'm not a huge fan of anything sour. Tart cherries, red wine like, green apples, and light brunt sugar.

M- Pretty light in body and carbonation.

O- There is no way I could drink this whole bottle by myself. I'll sit on the other one I have for a while....

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.52/5  rDev -36%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Super Bowl Sunday 2012. A-B flute.

Shared by nrbw23. Thanks, Brad!

Brown in color. Loose head of bubbles. Thin retention.

Dark fruit aromas; vinous and such. There is some brett funk, but it's heavy on the wine - grapes and cherry. Vinegar. The feel is weird - thin/thick feel with appropriate carbonation. Tastes much more bretty and oaky. Lots of dank basement and dark funk. Tart, but not out of control.

Better as it warms. A bit bitter, but there are some interesting things going on.

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Photo of hardy008
2.53/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours dark brown with ruby highlights and more than one finger of creamy tan head which disappears quickly. The aroma has tart cherries and grapes, vinegar, oak, Brettanomyces, and a whiff of tobacco.

Does not taste as sour as I expected or hoped, but does have a bit of tartness. Unfortunately, I don't think the base beer is any good at all. I can taste tart cherries and grapes, oak, and some funk from the Brettanomyces. Does not mesh well.

Light to medium bodied with average carbonation. The alcohol is well hidden, and this beer finishes dry. Not one of Surly's better anniversary beers.

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Photo of silentnoiz
2.73/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

A - dark red with a small head

S - sour cherries and oak, some vinegar

T - sour cheries, oak and red wine vinegar

M - fairly lively up front then thins out from the middle to the back

O - I'm not a fan of sours, but this is certainly interesting.

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Photo of iLovehops23
3/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark fruit, roasted malt, and chocolate in the aroma with just the faintest bit of vinegar/sour character. The fruit consists of charred cherries and perhaps raisins. Interesting, though not particularly pronounced, vibrant, or aromatic.

The flavor is an interesting combination of roasted malt, dark chocolate, raisin, cherry, and a mild sourness underneath it all. While all that sounds good on paper, the flavors don't truly combine for all that pleasurable of a drinking experience. The roast and chocolate are dominant and the flavors are very muddied. I would prefer less roast and chocolate and more fruit and sour.

Thin to medium bodied with somewhat low carbonation.

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Photo of duece27
3/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to jackieth for the generous sharing

Thick reddish brown oil pours from the vessel
Head - minimal
Nose - rainier cherry flambé and musk. A wild combination
Taste - yep cherry again followed by a dry weird finish

Much better than I imagined and yet still not the best of the lot.
I look forward to Surly 6-50 poured at the new brewery.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.05/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

750ml bottle shared between 2 large tulips. Poured mahogany with a reddish hue at the edges of the glass, nice tan head that fizzled to a foam atop the ale. Aromas were red wine, cherry/fruity. Tastes were very tart and acidic: sour cherry, red wine vinegar, pungent grape, red wine, brett, and more brett. Mouth-feel was well carbonated and medium bodied. Overall, I really wanted to like this Surly offering, but was left disappointed. I think expectations set this up to fail for me. I think I was expecting and hoping for more of a port wine dessert-like ale, but it ended up reminding me of a red wine gone bad with the strong acidity and vinegar-like qualities. I've had limited experience with this style, but my prior experiences were better and more enjoyable. Surly is one of my favorite breweries, but this one let me down.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.09/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Well here we go. 1 @ 750 ML of Surly's Fifth anniversary no-holds barred speciality. Shared the bottle with four friends.

Cool screen-printed artwork bottle with a flecked-green wax sealed top. Poured into my brother's finest Ravenscroft balloons. So here is a semi-transparent mahogany liquid with a finger of cafe-tan head that dissipates leaving a ring of lace. Impressive chunks of yeast sediment line the bottom of my own glass as I tipped the bottle to get every last drop of the $25 beer.

Aromatic sour cherries and un-ripe plum comprise the main body of the nose, dig deep and there's tobacco and something musty I can't quite place.

Flavor is quite sour up-front but not bracingly tart with strong notes of cassis, cherry pits and prune juice, backed with subtle elements of funk reminiscent of dry-aged Gruyere. Acidic, mildly drying and astringent into the finish.

Body seems light but well-carbonated.

Overall. I have another bottle. I hope it ages gracefully.

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Photo of largadeer
3.11/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks, Cam.

Appearance: Opaque black with faintly translucent brown edges, very stout-like in appearance. The head recedes quickly.

Smell: Very vinous and barrel forward. Currants, raisins, balsamic vinegar, a little dark malt. Soft leathery notes from the brett, though the funk is fairly reserved with this bottle. Previous bottles I tried seemed a bit more acetic and bretty; not the case with this one.

Palate: Tart and extremely vinous, with lighter notes of roasted malt and sweet balsamic vinegar. Sourness is moderate - I'd be very surprised if this is in fact 100% brett fermentation. The acidity implies that there was some bacteria at work. Currants and raisins come to mind again. It's a rather dry beer, but the body has a decent amount of heft; about appropriate for the ABV. The finish leaves some leathery, almost tobacco-like flavors along with a touch of oak.

Overall: Very middle of the road. Nothing particularly bad about it. Sort of tastes like a mediocre version of Consecration.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.13/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottle (2011)

Thanks for sharing, womencantsail!

Dark brown with just the fainest of ruby edges. Thin khaki colored head. Spots of lacing left down the glass.

Dark fruit, roasted malt, and chocolate in the aroma with just the faintest bit of vinegar/sour character. The fruit consists of charred cherries and perhaps raisins. Interesting, though not particularly pronounced, vibrant, or aromatic.

The flavor is an interesting combination of roasted malt, dark chocolate, raisin, cherry, and a mild sourness underneath it all. While all that sounds good on paper, the flavors don't truly combine for all that pleasurable of a drinking experience. The roast and chocolate are dominant and the flavors are very muddied. I would prefer less roast and chocolate and more fruit and sour.

Thin to medium bodied with somewhat low carbonation.

A fair enough stab at the style, though not a particularly enjoyable drinking experience. An interesting and unique sour, but nothing very special.

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Photo of SmartyPints
3.14/5  rDev -20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from 22oz bottle.

A- Poured a darker brown with some light amberish hues to it when the light hit it. Two finger beige head shows decent retention. Sticky web lace all over the sides of the glass when I drink this one.

S- I get a lot of darker fruit on the nose right off the get go which I didnt' expect. Some light sour cherry notes right around the middle with vinegar as well. The vinegar notes last toward the end which blends with a light oak aroma and settle alcohol notes. Not as sour in the aroma as I thought it was going to be.

T- The malts come out first which are like caramel and bready. Light sour cherry notes follow this before I get a vinegar flavor that lingers lightly throughout the rest of the beer. The backend is where I pick up some light oak notes along with more cherry and a hint of vanilla. The alcohol is very subdued in the ending and finishes well with the vinegar toward the ending.

M- Light-medium mouthfeel. Carbonation could have been a little higher as it seemed a little flat to me. Vinegar, caramel malts, and light cherry are left on the palate. Aftertaste is hints of barrel, light alcohol warmth, and lingering vinegar sourness. Flavors were put together well just a tad underpar for my liking in the style. No off flavors were present when drinking although with the vinegar lingering it would be hard to tell otherwise. Heavy drying on the palate with each sip.

O- This was a good first attempt for Surly into this style. I can respect them doing this but the aroma and flavor were just kind of average to me. More sourness could have come out in both categories and it would have made it stand out among other sours.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.15/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a waxed bottle into a Hennepin tulip

A- pours lack with a one finger tan head...that's a little odd looking for a sour. Decent carbonation, and real dark. Huh...

S- aroma is of light cherries, wood, and a little funk. Tannins are high in this one. Not bad

T- the taste is largely of vinegar, with some funk. Also getting some tobacco coming through. I don't get much of the base beer, but I do get a lot of the barrel....very disappointing

M- thin body, part for the course

O- I expected a lot more from a brewery from Surly, but this one is a whiff IMO

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Photo of Phocion
3.15/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review #200, conveniently coinciding with the Five Release Party at Republic 7 Corners in Minneapolis.

Served on-tap into a short "pint" glass with absolutely no head. Dark brownish-mahogany color body with moderate lacing.

Aroma was of dark cherries, raisins, and a bit of earthiness. Kind of a "funky" smell that reminds me of a red wine and nothing at all like any other sours I've tried.

Flavor is tartness, dark fruits, and very earthy (nice way of saying it tasted like dirt).

Mouthfeel is somewhat chewy and very sticky. Extremely dry, which was nice, but that's about it.

Let me qualify this review. I love sours, no matter their origin. I'm also aware that on this site, Surly could do a Bud Light clone that would probably rate a B-, and I am even somewhat of a fanboy. But I did not like this beer. If you want to try Surly Five, but can't find it, just save your money and get a cheap $5 bottle of merlot, that's what it tasted like to me.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.19/5  rDev -19%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The wax was pretty tough but I was tougher...

It looks to be a pitch black, the pour gave me about an inch of off white foam, with plenty of lacing. After a few minutes, the foam and lacing are gone.

The smell is of vinegar and sour cherries and reminds me of what a NB La Folie smells like. A little bit of the Brett also peeks through after a lot of sniffing.

When I take my first sip, I kind of expect an explosion of flavour on my palate but that's not what I get. I get sour cherries and vinegar, a hint of what Brett brings to the taste buds, but the overall flavours, imho, taste like, well, an American Wild Ale that's been held on too long and is past its prime. Very dull and uninspiring. Dang it.

Light bodied with a minimal level of carbonation, the mouthfeel isn't very good at all and though it is easy to drink, I have no desire to seek another bottle out. This is just plain disappointing; an unusual statement from me regarding Surly Brewing beers...

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Photo of TheDudeRules
3.2/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On tap in a 8oz glass.

Pours a burgundy color liquid. Similar to wine. No head. No nothing. Smell is of grape skins and brett. Taste is right in line with smell. Not very tart. Rather bland for the type. Not my style of beer, but this is rather boring. I really love the sore throat feeling it gives me after I finish my sip.

Rather terrible.

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Photo of brystmar
3.37/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Jon!

Brown-black body pours zero head or lace. Aroma is very mild and disappoints; some sour fruit, mild roast, tiny bit of funk. Meh.

Tart and acetic up front. Roast fades in favor of some fruitiness. Acetic once again. Not too much going on here, honestly. A good attempt at a sour; hope they continue the testing.

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Photo of MasterSki
3.39/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Chris (spycow). Serve in a Surly Darkness glass.

A - A finger of tan foam settles to a thick collar, some patches of bubbles, and a few spots of lace. Opaque dark brown body.

S - Hmm...the taste has some intense funk to it, but it's unfortunately of the baby diaper, vomit, sweat, and medicinal variety. It mingles with vinous and sour cherry notes and roasted malts, and a mild amount of oak. I could swear there is other souring bacteria in addition to the brett.

T - Taste is more vinous, with tart grapes and other dark fruits, balsamic, and light chocolate. The stomach acid and slightly rancid note in the aroma is thankfully gone, but what's left is a pretty tame funky dark ale.

M - Medium-bodied with plenty of heft to support the listed 8.2% ABV. Lower carbonation, lightly tannic texture, no obvious alcohol, and a slightly dry finish.

D - Other than the puke-evoking aroma, this is a solid dark wild. For a first major attempt it's passable, but Surly has a long way to go to compete with the top tier of American wild ales. I'd try this again in a few months to see how it develops, but I probably wouldn't pay $17 for it again.

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Photo of tewaris
3.4/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

That wax was a really really really dumb idea. Just a pain in the ass, nothing else. The bottles looks horrendous anyway, so there goes the "classy presentation" part.

Poured into a wine glass. The beer is deep garnet colored with a good clarity. Initially a light brown colored head of moderate size formed, but it fell soon into a persistent ring. The aroma is quite funky, if not sufficiently strong: street dog just back from the sewer, soft oak, and generally sour (acetic). Other notes? I'll put them under the red wine umbrella, about which I don't know anything!

The sour notes in the taste are stronger than I expected. The impression I got from the forums was that this beer was more about the Brettnomyces and not about the tartness. Having tasted it earlier and today, I think that it is sufficiently sour, but of course not intensely so. The mouthfeel, however, is flawed in my opinion. For a beer that tastes as tannic as this one when warm, the body has to be bigger. The red wine notes really come through with temperature. Generally dark and tart, Five delivers what it promises; but is it great? Hardly so.

For a brewery that makes beers like Furious and Darkness, yeah, Five is bit of a letdown. For a first effort, it's pretty good. I sincerely wish Surly the best with their next sour.

4, 4, 3, 2, 4

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Photo of spdyfire83
3.43/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

139th Review
Bottle to snifter

From notes. I opened this bottle at bspringer's birthday celebration. An epic night for sure to celebrate his golden day of birth!

A: Dark tint of brown. Single (java) fingernail head on gentle pour.

S: Smells like vinegar (not in a good way though). Oak, dark cherry, currants, brown sugar, and old apples.

T: Taste a bit better than it smells, but very leathery. Sweet up front and sour towards the back. Currants, oak, wine barrels, and candied sugar, but all of this is overpowered by vinegar which makes it taste a bit off.

M: Medium bodied with light carbonation.

O: A respectable effort from a great brewery, but I'd like their to be more complexity here. This beer dies quickly and there is no backbone to me. Maybe it needs some age, but I guess only time will tell.

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Photo of alpinebryant
3.48/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Pours a healthy tan head a deep dark brown that you cannot see through.

S: Aroma of extremely tart cherries, wine barrels and funk

T: Starts off very tart, hitting like lemony puckering sourness on the tongue. Soon turning into a more wine like flavor, as the carbonation dies out, I felt this beer die. Unfortunately a large part of the flavor is dependent upon carbonation. After a few seconds in your mouth you just have a flat beer with not a whole lot of flavor. Perhaps it is tastebud overload on tartness, but I do not have a whole bunch of other flavors on this one. I get a bit of toffee and some figs with tartness really.

M: Very light in body, high in carbonatin.

O: This was a nice beer to try, I just think it could have been more complex. It is not by any means a bad american wild ale, it just doesnt have a lot of depth in my opinion.

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Photo of morimech
3.49/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Sort of a Flanders Oud Bruin type of beer, at least in a couple of areas. Pours a brown color and appears black in my tulip. A small head forms and quickly disappears. Not much lacing is left on the glass.

Aroma of white wine vinegar and wine barrels. Definate wine charactor with hints of cherries. Just a light aroma of brett funkiness.

Flavor is moderately tart with low brett funkiness. Very vinous with lactic acidity. Notes of oak and leather. If you like tart without the bretty charactor, this beer may be for you. Just the faintest hint of brett funk in the finish. Alcohol is not detectable.

The body is larger than what ones finds in sours. It is also not that well carbonated. I would of like more bubbles to liven the palate.

I think I would take Monk's Cafe over this. I would not buy another bottle especially at Surly prices. Did not live up to the hype. Maybe their next sour will be more impressive.

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Photo of mothman
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a beige head. Leaves a little bit of lace. Color is a dark caramel bronw.

Aroma: Brett funk and a little sourness. Not too sour. Cherries and oak. Medicinal. Malts and spices.

Tastes: Caramel and bready malts. Medicinal bretty funk. Oaky. Cherries and vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Kind of tart, kind of funky. Lighter bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends clean.

Overall, it's an okay wild. Nothing to amazing. Somewhat drinkable, but nothing to go crazy over. Above average.

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Five from Surly Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 507 ratings.
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