Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series) | Smuttynose Brewing Company

very good
355 Reviews
Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series)Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series)

Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.60%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
First brewed in England, these potent, malty monsters were frequently aged before being put into small bottles and sold as strong beers or even medicinal tonics. The American version has been blown up with more alcohol, larger bottles and more hops.

Smuttynose Barleywine straddles these two branches of the barleywine tree. When you taste it, you’ll notice deep, rich caramel malt flavors, balanced with hop bitterness. Fruity hop flavors act as a garnish for its amped-up but classic flavor. For a more refined experience, tuck a few bottles away for a year or two. The alcohol will mellow and the hop aromas will fade into the background, leaving the luscious malt to shine on its own.

65 IBU

2007 - 11.4%
2009 - 11.1%

Added by UncleJimbo on 02-04-1999

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Reviews: 355 | Ratings: 605
Photo of woosterbill
3.56/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage on-tap at Delaney's into a goblet.

A: Deep, clear chestnut body under a finger of tight, creamy tan foam. Good retention and lacing. Very nice indeed.

S: Smells both old and hoppy somehow. Some toffee malt and alcohol are also present alongside the fruity hops and a decent dose of sherry. Weird, but ok.

T: Bittersweet + boozy, but quite taste. Hops and sherry up front; hops, caramel, maple, and major booze thereafter. Still big, hot, and bitter even after four years. Enjoyable, but disappointing (since I was expecting a decidedly smoother, more nuanced experience from such an old barleywine).

M: Medium body, moderate carbonation. A little thinner than I'd like, but not bad.

O: This beer was enjoyable, but disappointing, since I was expecting a decidedly smoother, more nuanced experience from such an old barleywine. If I get a chance to try it on tap fresh I'll certainly give it a shot, as I have to imagine that the intense hoppiness must be pretty terrific before age gets in the way.


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Photo of drtth
3.71/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a large snifter glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically. This is from the 2009 bottling.

Appearance: As poured the beer is a rich hazed cherry wood color with a light tan ¾” head that has several different sized bubbles. The head recedes slowly but noticeably. As the head recedes and with sipping there are rings and legs of lacing sticking to the sides of the glass. Even when the head recedes to an island and a ring of foam there is still lacing being left.

Smell: The aroma is mostly grapefruit zest layered over a nice supporting malt base that is full of caramel. While it smells like an American style barleywine it is a bit lacking in complexity.

Taste: The flavors are much as predicted by the nose and even at this age the grapefruit zest from the hops also has some nice bitterness to counterbalance the sweetness from the caramel in the malt. The alcohol is not really noticeable except through its warming effects. Again the flavors have a nice clean balance but are lacking in complexity.

Mouthfeel: The mouth feel is medium bodied with adequate persistent carbonation. The finish is on the long side of medium and begins with a bit of malt sweetness that is quickly replaced by the grapefruit zest and light bitterness. This become dry and the bitterness is pervasive in the back of the mouth and throat.

Drinkability and Overall Impression: A nicely sippable and drinkable barleywine, and my overall impression is that this is a good workmanlike barleywine that is worth sampling at least once. However, that said, I won’t go out of my way to have it again. While I certainly would not recommend avoiding this beer there are other American style barleywines that come in 12 oz bottles that I’ll choose in preference.

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Photo of snpub540
3.55/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bomber into an oversized red wine glass. Pours a murky brown with some ruby highlights. Off white head is very small and barely leaves any lacing on the glass.

Smell is composed of some nice nuttiness and some yeasty bread notes with some fruity esters.

Flavors is mostly malty upfront and it mirrors the aroma with bready and nutty being most intense. Some piney hop flavor and a mineral dryness in the finish as well as a lot of heat in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is thick. Its a good beer but its missing some complexity. I think some time will turn this into something special.

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Photo of flexabull
3.16/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle courtesy of andrewski1, thanks again!

Pours a bright dark amber color with a small white head and decent lacing.

Aromas are odd. Lots of pine needles, light fruits, some citrus, and an odd an unpleasant celery note. This doesn't smell like a barley wine.

Taste is better than the smell. Hints of fruits, light nuttiness, and faint creamy sweetness. Finish is mineral like and bitter, with some warm alcohol.

Mouthfeel is pretty good, decent body and carbonation.

Overall, this comes off to me as a miss. The maltiness is really lacking, and the taste ends up being more like a middle of the road double IPA instead of a barley wine. Not a bad beer, but not a real good one either.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.28/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a pure amber color with a lasting collar, light lacing.
Aroma is a mixture of warming alcohol and caramel butterscotch, some light spiced notes.
Flavors are rich malts cut through with a alcohol warmth that has a touch of solvent like heat, goes a hair to far for most, but if you like heat then it will be a positive addition to this glass. The hops additions blend with the caramel malts but can be picked out as flavors of pine, tastes like some big C hops.
Mouthfeel is on the thinner side of medium, a little more attenuated and less sticky then most barleywines around.

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Photo of shawnsmith1
4.05/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

"Bottle Conditioned in 2009"

A: pours deep amber into tulip. Modest tan head leaves decent lace.

S: Brown sugar, layered with toffee, and fresh caramel. Later, yeasty like sourdough in the proof box.

T: Follows nose, with the slightest hint of alcohol. Cayenne laced butterscotch evolves into burnt caramel. Tobacco and leather. Assertively bitter finish.

M: Full bodied, but the high carbonation level dials it back.

O: An interesting barleywine. Good pairing with a cheese plate and toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.67/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to mjtiernan for sending me this one!

2011 vintage.

Pours a murky brown color with a 1 inch light tan head that settles to a thin film. Random small spots and streaks of lace dot the glass on the drink down. Lots of sediments floating around in this one. Smell is of biscuit-like malt and some citrus zest. Kind of a weak smell overall on this one. Taste is better with some malt, brown sugar, and citrus zest hops on the finish. Mild bitterness lingers on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a somewhat thick and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good barleywine but nothing too amazing going on.

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Photo of SawDog505
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into 13oz tulip. Bottle around 8 months old. Pours a nice orange -red. Lovely sticky white head, around a a inch & half. Lacing hangs the whole beer. Smell is hard candy, citrus hops, and bready malt. Taste all those things, stronger with grassy flavor & some booze. Mouthfeel is on the big side, but not over the top. I love this beer right now, this is the best it has tasted to me ever. Great value also.

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Photo of devinoconnor
4.47/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very memorable brew. I had this beer over a week ago, and I can still taste it. Calling it a "Big Beer Series" is very deserving.

The smell will immediately hit you. It's sugary, and yeasty, smells like bread that's getting ready to rise. Very complex, and fun.

Taste is sweet, again very sugary, a little sour. Minimal hoppiness. For all the sugar and yeast, it's still very smooth.

Very delicious beer, perfect as an after dinner drink.

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Photo of danmcg62
4.62/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Poured into a snifter from a 22 oz. bottle. Pours an orangey red color with no real head to speak of (possibly due to the way I poured it). Nice looking barleywine.

S-Fruity smell up front, specifically raisins and grapes, figs and other fruit come in as well. Very nice smell, complex and interesting stuff.

T-Wow! What a mouthful of flavor. Super malty, bananas and figs are around too. Mild alcohol and a bit hoppy in the after taste. The hops are lingering in my mouth even after I have swallowed. Great stuff right here.

M-Thick and creamy. A bit spicy due to the hops.

O-Love this beer. Great stuff from Smuttynose. Complex and pretty drinkable for a Barleywine.

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Photo of bbeerman
4.45/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 22oz bomber I am nearly done with. Poured into a tulip-style pint glass.

Beautiful light mahogany color. Next to the light, there are hues of amber; in the shadows or darkness, a deep brown caramel color comes forth.

Delightful scent. Very fruit in the nose, but not so in the taste (which I greatly appreciate). Makes you want to dive right in.

Delicious. Perhaps the best barleywine I have had to date. Truly exceptional and a treat to enjoy more than once. Drink this beer - you won't be disappointed.

A bit to bitter on the back end for me, hence just a 4.0 on mouthfeel. Otherwise, very smooth for a barleywine.

Love this ale and my only regret is that I didn't try it sooner.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.6/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From 07/27/11 notes. Had on tap at Rustico in Arlington, VA at their Smuttynose event. 2011 vintage served in a tulip and sampled side by side with the 2010 vintage of their Wheatwine.

s - Pours a hazy orange color with one inch of off white head and moderate carbonation evident. Not quite as dark as the whitewine, but looks good.

s - Smells of caramel malts, dark fruits, bready malts, and light alcohol. Not as sweet as the wheatwine and a little more alcohol, but still pretty good.

t - Taste is a bit harsher than the wheatwine. Tastes of alcohol, dark fruits, and caramel malts. Way too much alcohol; prett hot fresh.

m - Thick, full body and moderate carbonation, with a good amount of alcohol warmth. Too hot right now.

o - Overall this is a decent beer, but needs some time. I feel like this one could age very well, as my only real complaint was the heat and alcohol in the taste. Would like to get a bottle and sit on it for a year or two and see what happens. I preferred the wheatwine, though to be fair it had an extra year of aging on it.

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Photo of beergod1
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep amber orange pour with a thin line of foam. Aroma is very sweet and caramely with an intense fruity character as well. There is a bit of cherry and sweet citrusy hops with the malts. Alcohol Warming seems to intensify the fruit, and sweetness. The flavor is nice, but not as well balanced as the aroma might suggest. A little "thin" for a Barleywine, but it tastes good. I wonder what a little age would do for this one?

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Photo of glid02
4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Brick Store.

Pours a deep, dark copper color with a tan head that leaves decent lacing.

Smells of robust caramel malts with good amounts of toffee. Also present are slight hints of pine hops.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Moderately sweet caramel malts up front are joined quickly by mild amounts of pine hops. Midway through the flavor profile sweetens a bit with the addition of heavy toffee and butterscotch flavors, carrying through to a mildly bitter ending. Mouthfeel is good, with smooth carbonation.

Overall I thought this beer was a bit too sweet and lacked the complexity to be in the upper tier of barleywines, but it’s another solid beer from the Big Beer series. Worth a shot.

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Photo of Gambrinus1184
3.92/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22-ounce bomber into a Saranac pint glass.

A: Bright, reddish amber color with a two-finger head of dense, ivory carbonation holds nicely and leaves excellent sheets of sticky lacing. Suspended yeast and sediment clearly visible through the slightly cloudy brew.

S: Extremely fresh and fruity with hints of alcohol and floral esters. Berries, apples, raisins and citrus fruits are picked up in the nose. Lush and inviting.

T: Rich, sweet caramel malts cover the tongue with a fruity complex of cherry, citrus, raisin and tart, floral flavors before getting whacked with some bitterly resinous hops. Finishes with a hint of booze and sticky sweetness dried out slightly with a spicy hop presence.

M: Full-bodied, lush and enjoyable with a little something unfiltered to chew on.

O: A summer treat indeed, this strong American barleywine was great on its own and would pair nicely with a variety of nutty and funky cheeses, I'm sure. A raspberry or chocolate dessert might pair well also and take some of the edge out of that 10% ABV with some natural sweetness.

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Photo of ggilman
4.55/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber (Bottle Conditioned in 2011) poured into a Sebago Brewing Co. Tulip glass.

Beautiful hazy burnt orange/mahogany body, with a thin swirling head that settles to a wisp. Straight vanilla extract and alcohol in the nose. Smells like Scotch. Sweet and malty initially with a sharp alcohol sting to the tongue. This might be what carbonated scotch would taste like. Slick, oily & syrupy mouthfeel. Coats the entire palate, sweetish, and coarse. Bites into your mouth. Not overly sweet at all, some sugars linger, but overall finishes dry. Vanilla cookies and cocoa powder. Powdery malt finish. Maybe a little hard wood and smoke. This would be a winter warmer, but I'm enjoying it in July!

Tried to have my wife share this with me over dinner, after a couple sips she poured it into my glass. She liked it, but felt the 10% came raging through. I'm a little punchy after the bomber.

Exceptional. The best barleywine I've ever had!

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Photo of Gehrig
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hazy amber body with ruby trim, topped by two heavily carbonated fingers of tan foam; a little too foamy a start for me, but it quickly settles down. Good aromas, plenty of the advertised hops--especially the Cascade and Simcoe for a floral, citrusy smell--but ample chocolate malt as well.

The taste is good and the body nice, but not what I would characterize as full. The hops don't emerge as much I expected, and despite the label's advertisement and the tease of the smell. In particular, this barleywine lacks the hop grit and resiny texture as much as a bolder hop taste. Also, while the malt backbone is sturdy and full of dark chocolate and caramel flavor, this could surely use a bit more malt complexity. It would do well with some coffee flavor, and some molasses. It's good, and what flavors are present are pleasant, but this could certainly be fuller and more complex.

As I mentioned, the mouthfeel is a bit underwhelming, especially for a big beer. It feels a tad thin without the richer hop texture. On the whole, this is a good, enjoyable barleywine. Yet Old Ruffian from Great Divide, or Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot, this ain't. It is fine and solid, but not in the upper echelon of barleywines.

Well worth trying, and good.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
"Bottle conditioned in:" 2011 notched, no info.

A - A tall but almost meaningless pour leaves the brew with a short-lived effervescent fizz and a tiny bone head that disappears to nothing almost instantly. Beautifully clear and burnt amber, the brew itself looks good.

S - Abounding fruity esters create a perfumy nose to this potent brew quickly followed by bold, fragrant hops. Exotic mango and citrus reminds of Simcoe and Citra while a good malt profile keeps balance almost DIPA-ish.

T - Thankfully this is much maltier in flavor, this barleywine is very unusual...but in a good way. Notes of solvent alcohol poke out but it's incredibly complex altogether. Toasted wheat bread and sweet caramel are stronger and aide in balancing the large citrus hop flavor. Fruity esters combine with the citrus and exotic fruit for an interesting finish.

M - It wouldn't seem it from appearance, but this brew is pretty heavily carbonated. That contributes to it feeling more medium than full in body. The finish is pretty bitter too. Balanced in flavor but also DIPA-like in feel.

O - Smuttynose could get away with labeling this overly-hopped Barleywine a Double IPA and no one would be the wise. I like it, but it's definitely a little hoppier than I like my barleywines. More malt isn't necessary though, it just needs to be cut back on hops. It'll take a while to drink this one. Thankfully it should remain ok as it warms up.

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Photo of DrinkingDrake
4.17/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A cloudy red/orange color with only a small amount of head that leaves quickly. Big, lightly roasted, malty nose with a tropical citrus aroma. The alcohol content is present but balanced with the large malt and hop character. The taste is a big spice bread malt with a huge hop flavor. A spicy mild citrus and orange finish. The finish is bitter but smoothed out by a bite of alcohol.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
4.13/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle conditioned in 2011 notched on the label.

The color is really nice. Its a glowing strawberry red. I was able to coax a nice, off white head. Good lacing, but the head only last about halfway through the snifter.

The aroma is sweet, fruity and both malty and hoppy. Its a strong aroma, but perhaps not as deep and robust as some barleywines. Lots of caramel creates a base on which citrus and berries stand. Things are sugary and candied until you reach the pine bitterness.

Everything is in great balance here. Caramel is not overpowering. It allows the sweetened citrus and berries to come out. The finish is nailed in place by a bitter pine and citrus rind hoppy finish. Alcohol is only slightly apparent, which works very well for this beer.

On the pour it looked pretty thick. And indeed it is thick on the palate, but not overly so. The carbonation keeps it moving, but stays away from prickliness. A long finish is comprised of oily pine and bitter citrus rind.

At $5.99 a bottle this stuff is excellent value. This is how I like a barleywine. Decent balance, with only a moderate hoppy bitterness to the finish. It allows both the malt and hops have their time to shine. I'll be buying this again, I'm sure.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.15/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Date: 05/16/2011
Type: 22oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2004
Glass: Tulip

Pours a deep brown mahoghany/tobacco in color w/ a 1/3 finger white head, that dissipates quickly and produces little to no lacing. Aromas of dark fruits, caramel, toffee, earthiness, tobacco, and mustiness. The taste is of sweet dark fruits up front, leading into toffee/caramel, and finishing w/ solid hop bitterness, tobacco, and leather. Medium bodied and lush. Pretty drinkable, not real boozy, but it warms you and you know it's definately there.

Overall, I don't care for this beer fresh, but 7yrs. in the cellar have made this a totally different beer.

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Photo of jmdrpi
3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, notched to indicate the vintage of 2011.

appears a rusty orange brown, with 1/2" cream colored head. decent lacing. aroma a combination of hops and sweet malt.

taste has a moderate hop bite, but balanced with malt and a touch of fruity tang. no booze taste. medium body, lower carbonation. fairly smooth.

overall, solid example of the style, and easier to drink than I expected.

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Photo of meatyard
3.65/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2007 vintage. Thanks to AltBock for this gift.

Pours a deep, hazed, reddish amber with a 1-finger, off-white head that hangs around while leaving decent lace.

The smell is a vibrant malt aroma, no hops and a hint of alcohol.

The taste is a very fine malt flavor, nothing resembling hops (this is 4 years old), and is nicely warming with the 10%ABV.

Mouthfeel is medium, at best, with moderate carbonation and on the dry side.

Overall: This, at 4 years old, is a very pleasant, easy drinking barleywine. This sits in the range of very good but not great BWs though I personally prefer a BW with some residual hop profile.

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Photo of Pencible
3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a nearly clear copper with a little light tan head.
S: It smelled like candied apricot and caramel and bright citrus, with a little toffee and milk chocolate and banana.
T: It tasted like orange and apricot and candied grapefruit, with sweet caramel and toffee and a bit of spice. It had a lasting clean and bitter aftertaste, with some alcohol warming.
M: It was slightly thick with moderate carbonation. A bit light.
D: This had a very nice bright scent and taste, similar to Old Ruffian. Body was a bit weak, and alcohol was definitely noticeable, so it needed to be sipped. Some age would really help mellow and improve this, as long as it doesn't thin too much more in the cellar. Very nice drink.

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from my notes.

A: Orange/copper colored liquid. Translucent. White foam head.

S: Some bitter hops—not at West Coast levels, but a healthy amount. Semi-sweet malt in the background.

T: Crisp crystal sugar and malts at first, bitter hops and alcohol as I swallow. Some light fruit—maybe white grape. Very good and doesn't taste too strong, despite the high ABV.

M: Full bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Hardly sticky and a slight coat. Impressive.

O: In terms of drinkability, this beer ranks high. Overall, it is equally impressive. Worth seeking out or trading for. I need to cellar some of this to see how it ages. This is a another Smutty triumph.

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Smuttynose Barleywine Style Ale (Big Beer Series) from Smuttynose Brewing Company
3.97 out of 5 based on 605 ratings.
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