Juniper Black Ale (JBA) - Beer Camp #16 (Best Of Beer Camp) | Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

very good
534 Ratings
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Juniper Black Ale (JBA) - Beer Camp #16 (Best Of Beer Camp)Juniper Black Ale (JBA) - Beer Camp #16 (Best Of Beer Camp)

Brewed by:
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by jeffthecheff on 01-14-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 534 |  Reviews: 369
Photo of MrVonzipper
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark rootbeer color then Black in glass with the brown around the edges when held to light. Solid foamy light tan head with good lacing throughout the beer.

Dark malt up front on the nose, to a solid hop character with mild piney notes. Small hint of chocolate.

Full bodied flavor with good balance. Deep dark maltiness up front transitioning to the subtle hop character then a coffee flavor finish with a increasingly bitter aftertaste that isn't the most pleasant.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, that's creamy with low carbonation and a tad chewy.

Overall it's a good beer. It'd beer a great beer if it wasn't for the bitter aftertaste that doesn't make you instantly want another sip. The bigining and middle are fantastic. Can't wait to try more from the SN Beer Camp.

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Photo of animalchin
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours a pitch black oily body with a very light tan head that retains for a good portion of time.

S - Sweet esters mixed with a coarse malty aromatic backbone upfront, followed by more earth-like features. Also picking up the pine-based sharpness of juniper.

T - Roasted and fruit-like malty characteristics at first that turns into more chocolate and bitter coffee traits. A lot more dryer overall in the taste than initially expected, but it is still a bold beer.

M - A bit thin/watery for a black ale; feels very unrefined and broken apart.

O - Been waiting to try this since hearing about the Beer Camp release. Definitely a creative take on the style, but it seems to fall short in terms of experimentation. However, I really enjoy this for what it is in itself. Hopefully SN picks this up as a regular brew in the future.

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Photo of pburland23
3.08/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Part of the SN Beer Camp Variety Pack.

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my Great Divide Brussels glass.

Beer pours a dark black. Opaque and looks like a cup of thick coffee. About a finger and a half of light khaki head. Decent lacing and moderate head retention.

Smell is dominated by roasted malts and burnt sugar. There is some hops bitterness by not much.

Taste doesn't do it for me. There is roasted malt up front followed by some intense bitterness and some alcohol burn. Everything just tastes muddled and out of balance. There's also a funky earthy, mineral aftertaste. Yuck.

Mouthfeel is on the high end of medium. The carbonation is light doesn't add much but doesn't detract either. Previously mentioned alcohol burn hinders the drinkability for me.

Overall, a total miss for me. Have enjoyed the Beer Camp variety pack so far, but this is my least favorite by far.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 5/24/11
*From notes

A: Dark brownie batter brown with a huge three finger head on a good pour. Lovely lacing follows.

S: Elderberries, charry toast and black vine fruit. The nose is really fantastic.

T: Black cherry, boysenberry and rich, dark, chewy malt. It's slightly smokey, with a touch of raspberry tart on the finish.

M: Reasonably thick and viscous, though it's not Ten-FIDY. The carbonation could use some taming, but it doesn't hurt the overall presentation of the beer.

O: Sierra-Nevada's Beer Camp Juniper Ale may be the best of the bunch. It's strikingly different and really tasty. I hope they consider bottling this in sixers or bombers, as I'd love to share this with friends, family and my customers on a consistant basis.

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Photo of Mit
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

a- Black as night. With a nice lasting head.

s- Slight juniper smell, roasted malts

t- Earthy, coffee notes, dark chocolate....slightly bitter...very refreshing and filling.

m- Very thick in keeping with the ABV.

O- Overall this is a great rep of the style. I'm not a huge stout/porter fan but i would have this again in a heart beat.

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Photo of Shaw
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black as a stout with a light brown head.

Light aroma of roasted malt with hints of juniper berries.

The taste is big on roasted malt flavors of coffee, molasses and chocolate. It's bitter, but just so. I'm not really sure I can taste the juniper, the roasted malts seem to be too strong. This isn't a criticism, though, because it still tastes quite good.

Creamy body that's almost like a milkshake. Excellent.

This is one of the best from the Beer Camp 12-pack. Seek those packs out while there still around, they are well worth it, even at $20.

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Photo of BobCS
4.15/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark brown but clear, beige head

S: juniper with coffee and roasted malt in the background.

T: resinous juniper flavor up front and fairly complex herbal and roasted/chocolate malt backing it up. Finish is mildly bitter and piney resinous.

M: medium body, moderate carbonation, and a bit warm especially in the finish.

O: very enjoyable, complex but balanced, there is a lot going on and the interaction between pine/roast/bitterness changes a lot as it warms in the glass.

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Photo of Seanibus
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

An odd little offering from the Beer Camp lineup. Not bad, perhaps more refreshing that I had anticipated.

Pours a deep black with a fluffy tan head that leaves nice lacing. The aroma is strong and roasted, with coffee and chocolate and a hint of the juniper. The flavor is coffeelike, with molasses, burnt brown sugar, and a deep woody bitterness with a surprising pine top-note that I take to be the hops, which are otherwise lost behind the scorched malt. There is an additional surprise in the form of a milky sweetness on the finish, like a burned creme brule or an iced coffee made with a fantastically overroasted bean. The mouthfeel is fairly clingy and slick.

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Photo of blackie
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

a: deep ebony brown in color, topped with a layer of khaki head, average retention

s: the nose features dark roasted barley char with a strong presence of dark pine resin hops, some deep burnt sugars, cocoa bean and molasses, big and brash with loads of pungent hops and a body to match - dig it

m: carbonation lively on the tongue, around moderate, body medium with a little fullness

t: quite tasty - lots of rich roast - charred barley, molasses, burnt sugars, cocoa bean, full pine and resin flavors, powerfully high acid hops put out a bitterness that starts mid-palate and grows late into the finish, lots of burnt sugar and roast flavors lingering long

o: kinda picky about black IPAs, but this one I can get down with, hefty on both the malt and hop sides of the equation, but avoiding the roasty clash found in some examples of the style

picked up as part of the beer camp mix pack

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Photo of jgreenearrow
3.18/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours an opaque deep brown, virtually black color. A creamy light tan head formed at the top of the pours. Some minor lacing on the sides of the glass.

S: A sweet brown sugar smell bursts into the nostrils and dominates the nose. Some burnt malt and slight hop notes are present as well. The nose is not very complex.

T: Some sweetness at the onset of the sip followed by burnt malt in the middle. There is some bitterness in the finish with a lingering mossy earth flavor that is slightly off putting.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation and moderate viscosity.

Overall, this is an okay beer. Not sure what the juniper berries are really doing for the beer other than potentially adding the slightly off putting earthy flavor in the finish. The beer isn't tremendously balanced and not as complex as I would have guessed.

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Photo of KTCamm
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours dark black with tan white foam. Settles out in the middle leaving foam ridges on the side. Grassy pine smell. Oily. Undercurrent of sweet malt. Taste is smooth and creamy with a light bitter hop close. Bittering grows as beer warms. Pine underlies. Solid beer.

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Photo of musicforairports
4.03/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque black, with a 1.5-finger head and a toooon of lacing.

Smells of burnt, roasted malt and some pine.

Tastes is robust dark malt--roasted coffee and mild chocolate flavors--and a strong layer of pine that is either hops, the juniper, or both. I'm not entirely sure what juniper is supposed to taste like. But, either way, the malts are dominant here.

Mouthfeel is medium-full. Creamy, not very carbonated.

If you told me this was a hoppy Russian Imperial Stout, I'd believe you. I wouldn't call this a black IPA, but I don't think that's what it's trying to be. It's a good, strong black beer with a noticeable hop/juniper presence.

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Photo of Morey
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black in color. Some dark brown hues can be see around the edges if you hold it up to a bright enough light. Nice light brown/tan head which is sticking around quite well and leaving behind some pretty good lacing to boot.

Smells a bit more hoppy than a lot of the other black Ipa's that I've had. The typical roasty notes are also present in the aroma.

Nice bitterness from the hops up front. As the hops slowly fade, the roasted flavors start to make themselves known. The hops manage to hang on enough to stay on the palate right through the finish.

I'd say the mouthfeel is sitting right around medium for the style with a moderate and appropriate carbonation level.

This is a really nice Black Ipa overall. A bit more in the way of hops than most others that I've tried, which is fine by me.

Morey's Bottom Line: Not a beer that you'll want to waste on one of your BMC's drinking buddies. This is for true BA's all the way. Cheers!

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Photo of Star80
3.7/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a dark "black" mahogany color with a thick tan head. Lots of lacing around the glass. Smells roasty like espresso, some liquorice and dark ripen fruits, intermingling with resinous hops. Hmm, reminds me a lot of a Russian Imperial Stout in the nose, and ahh, in the taste. So much malts and resinous hops that while I think this beer is very delicious, I am losing those piney Cascade hops and JUNIPER berries. Isn't that what this is was supposed to be about? I took a nice whiff of the bottle when I cracked it open and I got that! But now that I've poured it, it doesn't quite all come together in the same way I was hoping for....too much rich dark malt, and just too much sweet alcohol (which I would consider I slight criticism of the whole series) overpowers some of the nuances of the beer. If this was a Russian Imperial Stout I would say this hit the mark all the way, but it isn't, wasn't, was.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.33/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head shaped pint glass.

My third experience from the Beer Camp pack. It pours a dark black-brown topped by a finger of dirty off-white foam. Garnet highlights show up along the edges, but just barely. The nose comprises burnt toffee, light roasted malts, cocoa, pine sap, and some strong grapefruit peel. The taste runs along similar lines, but the pine and grapefruit take center stage here on the tongue. Unfortunately, they get a little rowdy and push out a good portion of the "darker" flavors, which try to hang on for dear life, weak and partially muted. Everything's pretty sideways, baby. Not that great. The body is a stolidly light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a dry-ish finish. Overall, an almost nice CDA (yeah, I'm starting to prefer that old name), but the clashing flavors on the tongue (as opposed to cooperative ones) keep this from any sort of heights in my book.

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Photo of nickfl
4.42/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with one finger of medium brown head, topping off an opaque, black body. The foam recedes fairly quickly and leaves average lace in its wake.

S - Light roasted notes, followed quickly by fresh, pungent aromas of lemon, ginger, and juniper.

T - Roasted grain and lemon zest up front with some toffee and dry caramel. More dry, roasted notes with spicy hops and juniper in the middle. Some more lemon and ginger spice notes come out in the finish with strong bitterness, smoke, and bittersweet chocolate. The juniper lingers in the finish and creates some gin notes that hang on the palate.

M - Medium-light body, moderate carbonation, and a dry finish.

D - A juniper black ale sounded like a strange combination and I didn't necessarily expect much from this beer, but I was blown away by how well it actually worked. The juniper is readily apparent in the aroma with notes of lemon and ginger that work surprisingly well with the roasted character. This oddly enjoyable combination remains strong in the flavor profile as the juniper keeps the beer bright and drinkable in a way that I would not normally associate with the base beer style. I am a big fan of Gin and grapefruit juice, so I tend to enjoy most beers with juniper in them, but this is a surprising and particularly enjoyable combination.

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Photo of Vonerichs
3.58/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, almost black color with persistant tan had and a lot of lacing.

Smell is charred malt, molasses, and pine hops.

The taste is pedominantly burnt molasses. It does carry some floral and pine hops, but it's much more malty than anything else. The aftertaste is musty.

Mouthfeel is rich, yet crisp. Good carbonation.

It's a good beer, but one that blurs styles while not doing any great.

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Photo of nrbw23
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a black color with a nice foamy tan head. Head has great retention, is long lasting and leaves some nice thick rings of lace on the glass.

S- Smell is roasted malt, caramel, molasses, and floral and piney hops in the background. Picking up a sweet smell from the berry as well.

T- This brew reminds me of a black IPA, but only different of course. A nice amount of hops with sweetness from the berry. A bit of roasted malts and toffee.

M- Medium in body and carbonation.

O- Pretty solid brew here. A good balance between hops/malts and sweetness/bitterness. Very nice and well done.

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Photo of prototypic
3.93/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Juniper Black Ale pours a dark chocolate fudge color. It looks onyx, but it’s not opaque. Backlighting reveals nice burgundy highlights. It’s topped with an attractive tan head that stands two fingers tall. It’s quite slow to recede, and leaves a nice, sticky web of lace clinging to the glass.

The nose isn’t all that strong, but smells pretty good nonetheless. Dark malts kick things off. I’m getting dark chocolate, light roasted malts, and a bit of a charred or burnt flavor that’s reminiscent of espresso. Some hoppy notes are present, but they’re not all that strong. Smell mostly floral. There’s a light piney and spicy scent. Perhaps the pine and spicy notes are attributable to juniper berries. Tough to tell. Alcohol is blended well.

The flavor is a notch above the nose. It is malty up front. Bittersweet, dark chocolate and some roasted malts seem to be the base. It does have a light charred or burnt flavor that does taste like espresso or roasted coffee. It’s secondary, but adds a nice flavor to the mix. It is piney and a little spicy. I suspect that’s the juniper berries coming through. There might be some light, floral hoppy notes. They add a light bitter kick. Alcohol is not noticeable at all. Good stuff.

Juniper Black Ale has a medium body that’s very creamy and smooth. Carbonation feels light and soft. I'm extremely impressed with the feel. This is really easy drinking stuff. I could easily tackle a couple of these.

Sierra Nevada did a nice job with this first collection of bottled Beer Camp brews. Juniper Black Ale isn’t my favorite of the bunch, but is a very solid, intriguing beer. The juniper berries are obviously responsible for the interesting spicy, piney flavor. The nose could use a little more muscle, but it’s quite strong in all other aspects. Easy recommendation.

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Photo of drinkiusmaximus
4.05/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Pours a deep brown with reddish tints, on top sits a three fingers width head that is light tan and darkens slightly at it nears the beer. Plenty of retention and loads of lacing.

S- In a word Big. smells heavily bitter with a health dose of roastiness. Pine and citrus notes abound and maybe a little of the berry stands out but there is definitely something that stands out from your normal black ale.

T- Follows the nose with a lingering ashiness.

M- Medium leaning to the full with a nice creaminess.

D- Overall this beer is very good Nothing that says I rank with the best but there are no flaws either.


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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.2/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have to say, I find this to be a pretty nice beer. I'm a fan of juniper, and I think it's flavors go well with the roasted malt and the hops here. A nice little package taken all together. pours very dark brown, approaching black with a quite creamy offwhite head that is perhaps a little this but also leaves some nice lacing. Juniper, some graininess, and roasty notes on the nose. The taste starts with some firm malt and then progresses into some nice bitterness, atouch of cream, some roastiness, and then growing herbal notes with juniper at the forefront. Bitter throughout, but in an herbal, appetizing way. Clean mouthfeel, perhaps a litle creamy, not chewy or sticky at all- which nicely supports the beer, a dryer style in my mind nicely exhibits the juniper notes. Well done in my opinio- I'd buy more of this on its own.

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Photo of DrJay
3.83/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Very dark, only slightly opaque at the edges showing a deep brown colour - otherwise the beer is black. Fine mocha cap, lots of fine, spotty lacing. The aroma was mild, malty with some dark malt notes, slightly burnt with some bittersweet chocolate, pine resin became apparent as it warmed. I enjoyed the flavour more. It had a bitter chocolate and cocoa character that cut through from beginning to end, more piney hops mid-palate and in the finish, and some juniper fruitiness towards the end. Medium bodied, moderate carbonation, slight astringency. Juniper isn't one of my favourites to add to a beer, but I liked the balance in this brew. I thought it worked well with the pine and dark malts.

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Photo of micromaniac129
4.62/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a somewhat thick chestnut brown colored brew. Difficult to determine carbonation.
On top sits a nice 1 in foamy mousse like foamy head. Lingers and dissapates slowly similar to the way foamy head fades in a wheat beer. Lots of fine lacing.

Aroma, I get a nice complex malt backbone with plenty of roasted, no, burnt malts.
I can not tell you what juniper berries smell like but there is a nice underlying resinous to the aroma.

Flavor is awesome with a great roasted burnt malt flavor. The juniper berries I'm sure are playing nicely with the pallette as well as the hops who tease with some hop flavor and bitterness towards the end.

Not overly heavy as it looks. Sweet and spritzy and sprite.

This is a fun beer to drink both in sight smell and taste. If I was Sierra Nevada I would release this again as a winter or Christmas ale. I think it would be a winner.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks so much to abru17 for this part of a mixed six BeerCamp brew -#16 is my 2nd to try ever!

Poured chilled from the 12oz into a willybecker.

This is a very opaque black ale as I do a real-time review -murky, yet fits the description of a 'black ale' with a think light beige cap and head retains well. The lace sticks in a ring. The smell is woody, not sure I would guess juniper if you told me in a blind tasting, but it is piney with a nice sweet mellow malty molasses type aroma and light coffee with a hint of alcohol. The feel is lightly yeasty and slightly roasted with a moderately creamy body. There is a subtle bitterness level with a nice element of woody resins under the high carbonation which presents a slight tannic element in the feel.

I enjoy this roasty/piney blend with a slight accent of acidity, however it gets slightly obtrusive in the middle with the bitter juniper deciding to take over the malt and yeast flavors with only a hint of chocolate malt hanging in to combat the woody gin-effect of the juniper in this stout. You can call it a winter warmer but after the beer camp is over the beer lives on and as I taste it in mid-june in a humid hot Pennsylvania day I wonder if this is supposed to be an American Stout with juniper flavor or a true Winter Warmer? Either way it is a decent attempt to merge the two and it fulfils what is promised, yet I still wish it could be more balanced -like a juniper stout or India black ale w/ juniper not Juniper black ale. I guess it was not intended for me, but I still appreciate it for what it is.
I have to give this a second review same format bottle, but different experience. I am thinking it is probably just me - my sense of smell or the food I ate it with I dunno. I think it was excellent with green curry! I upped the scores of feel to 4 smell to 4.5 and taste from 3.5 to 4 because I get more juniper in the taste and aroma with some nice piney hop accents. The malt seems to be full, but not as roasty as a stout which makes me wonder about the weather if it may have affected the overall experience. I appreciate this take on the style with the juniper making the winter warmer style make more sense and it still fits the cascadian dark or black IPA category I suppose. I think this beer is just one of those that I have to been in the mood for possibly.

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

Serving: bottle poured into a pint glass

A: Almost black with nearly tan head. Decent lacing all the way down the glass

S: I smelled hints of dark chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts.

T: Nice and bittersweet. I tasted hints of dark chocolate and coffee. There is a distinct pine note from the juniper berries used in the brewing process. There is an ever-so-slight hint of gin in the aftertaste, but that is not surprising since juniper berries are the main ingredient in gin.

M: Smooth and velvety. Nicely carbonated.

O: I really like this beer. It's an ale that is borderline stout. I could easily drink way too many of these in a night.

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Juniper Black Ale (JBA) - Beer Camp #16 (Best Of Beer Camp) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3.93 out of 5 based on 534 ratings.
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