Spotlight Series: Spröcketbier | Stone Brewing

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Spotlight Series: SpröcketbierSpotlight Series: Spröcketbier

Brewed by:
Stone Brewing
California, United States

Style: Kölsch

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.40%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
A black rye Kölsch-style ale, brewed by Stone Quality Assurance Supervisor Rick Blankemeier and Production Warehouse Lead Robbie Chandler.

Added by babaracas on 04-18-2014

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 125 | Ratings: 680
Photo of QueerBeer
2.83/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked this up on a sale yesterday out of curiosity. Pours much darker than I was expecting (although I was thinking more kolsch than rye going into it), with medium carbonation and foam that quickly dissipates. Nothing much impressed me about this except the idea. No surprising spiciness from the rye, no outstanding trademark kolsch-ness, nothing. Overall seemed pretty bland. Didn't check for a bottling date to closely, may have been old? Either way, won't be having again.

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Photo of bismarksays
2.98/5  rDev -22%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Not sure why they bothered calling this a kolsch...or a rye. It tastes a lot like Matt's Burning Rosids. Meaty,smoky, and perhaps a hint of figgy chocolate. No rye flavors and lacks the refreshing qualities of a kolsch.
stone, you do not have to release every beer that every employee thinks of. Your special beers are starting to stop being special.

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Photo of utfiero
3/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Color- near black. Huge thick cream coffee head.

Aroma- toasted rye bread. A strange, smokey, meaty brew

Taste- mildly smokey, gentle black brew. Hops and pecans make a slight appearance in the mid-body, fishing charred but slightly hoppy. Would pair well with BBQ.

Overall, this is one of the more lackluster brews from Stone.

Poured from 650 ml bottle into a Liefmans Goudenband glass (my preferred all purpose beer tasting glass). Tasted on 5/23/14 and 6/22/14. Purchased at Costco in Austin.

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Photo of HalfFull
3.03/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A black rye kolsch. Now that is a good one. Me chief black white clear cloudy day night!

Style aside, what is this beer? Pours deep brown/black with some ruby highlights and sports a thin and yet resilient cap of mocha foam. Aroma of light roasted malts and a touch of rye, but then not really. More rye evident in the flavor however. Offers a delicate hop presence amid a simple yeast character. At times this beer offers character similar to a Belgian Dubbel in context and at times it offers virtually nothing at all.

Light bodied and easy drinking. Still too much of a stray cat to confer much love.

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Photo of rapayn01
3.26/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Looks and tastes like a porter. Freshness date was too smudged to read, but I see that it has supposedly been retired. Tastes carbonated but has very little head. Odd.

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Photo of mactrail
3.27/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

Dark amber-brown with an exemplary head in the narrow Kölsch glass. Plenty of suds in the mouthfeel. Starts out sweet, grainy and tangy. The bitter hoppiness is not far behind. The rye taste is quite distinctive. The resiny richness goes well with the charred malt. Some burnt sugar with the rich malt, but the aftertaste is on the dry side.

The bitterness becomes tiresome Brewer's notes say this is made with Magnum and Hersbrucker hops. Some aromatics with a piney, fruity smell. This is quite interesting but gets harder to drink after a while. When it warms up I find it undrinkable.

This is nothing like a Kölsch, and I don't get why a rather specific historic style should be used as a catch-all category, like American Black Ale, where this would fit with the whacky recipe. But this is so strongly rye flavored, why do we have a Rye Beer category if it's not used for stuff like this? From the 22 oz bottle purchased at Trader Joes.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.31/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a stange glass. sure why not? Uh ok a black rye kolsch... sure.

Thick classic black IPA head, thick light coffee with swiss cheese like retention and easily four fingers tall. Body even in a thin stange is truly dark hints towards a very deep brown with some red edges. Looks aggressive but sure ain't looking like no Kolsch that's for sure.

Surprisingly with all the variety of ingredients on this, there's virtually no aroma off first pour. Mild roast and hint of sweet char. A strange tobacco and fruit sweetness slightly on the end which is quite unique but it's very buried, making it harder to even describe. Much of it getting larger as the beer settles and warms.

Palate provides a mish mash of oddities. Spiced malt quality finish with a big dryness and some wet roasted grain character. Watery backbone, even for a Kolsch. Muted leaf and mild aromatic hop bent with a bit of lingering mint. Not much discernable malt quality going on obviously.

This comes off like a very watered down porter, and it has no Kolsch character that I can discern, so it just comes off as just a light drinkable roasty beer, with an odd hop quality that doesn't match to style. It's clash of flavors and feel just doesn't draw me in, nothing seems to compliment, and while not offensive and easy drinkable this is not a beer I would drink again.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.33/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"Black rye Kolsch." Okay...reviewed as a Kolsch. Expectations are low given the description and brewery.

BOTTLE: 1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass with appealing label design (Stone's marketing is fantastic, as always) and branded pry-off pressure cap acquired at an H-E-B in Austin, TX, and served cold into a Cantillon gueuze glass (it's the closest glassware to a stange I have).

5.4% ABV per the label. Bottled 03/28/14. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 2.5 fingers wide. Completely wrong for the style, but outside style conventions it's quite appealing: the creamy full rich tan colour head boasts a smooth, even consistency and a shiny soft complexion. Looks supple. Retention is excellent - ~10+ minutes. Light inconsistent lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

BODY: Awful for the style. It's more of a schwarzbier appearance - a weak cola-black colour which is dull rather than shiny and sleek. Couldn't be less traditional.

Overall, I like the head but not the body. This is terrible for a kolsch, but when you consider they're pushing conventions it's not bad. Unique for a kolsch in all the wrong ways.

AROMA: Dry rye, rye bread, and a trace of rye's signature subtle spice. Bland schwarz malts. Pumpernickel. Faint herbal notes - maybe a hint of evergreen? Bland muted coffee. A muted hint of burnt malt. Maybe a kiss of caramel? I'm stretching here because the aroma is quite light and insipid, evoking little unless you really search.

Seems like an above average schwarzbier aroma. It's awful if you're judging it by kolsch standards - it doesn't seem refreshing or light at all. I detect no hop character - which is a surprising (but welcome) absence given the brewery responsible. Style conventions aside, the faint coffee is nice. Maybe there's a dab of cream in there too? Maybe even marshmallow? Or maybe the aroma is so tame, light, and bland that it's a blank slate upon which I can project my hopes.

No overt alcohol or off-notes are detectable. I'd call the aroma innocuous.

TASTE: Hm. I actually do find some kolsch character in there - the crisp helles malt backbone, the effortless drinkability, the minimal hop character - and much to my shock, the "dark" elements are well-integrated with notable subtlety. That said, it still comes off muted and tame. It's quite a reticent flavour profile for the style. I do like the extreme subtlety of the caramel, burnt schwarz malts, coffee, cream, and hazelnut. But must it be so unevocative and neutral? Traditional Kolschbiere could be called plain, but they're forward and open; this flavour profile feels closed-off and noncommital to its constituent notes.

Still, the balance is surprising; I'm having trouble believing Stone (at least Stone's main brewers) brewed this. Ah - then I check the label and realize that (like almost all Stone beers I actually like) - they didn't brew this, at least not alone. It was a homebrewer's recipe; no wonder. Maybe they should replace the regular brewmasters with the two cats responsible for this.

In any case, it's a nice unique take on a Kolsch, and while I do find it muted and a bit bland, I'm impressed by how well it brings dark ingredients into a traditionally light beer style without any obvious conflict. Could this homebrewer make a black IPA, please?

Depth of flavour couldn't be more shallow. Brief flavour duration. Light flavour intensity.

It's a cohesive well put together beer, but doesn't quite feel like a gestalt whole.

TEXTURE: Slightly creamy, which plays well against the slight dryness and coarseness brought about by the burnt character. It's refreshing in spite of an early second act drag on the palate. Aptly soft. Light to medium-bodied, with apt thickness. Has a fuller heavier presence on the palate than a Kolsch should, but I suppose it's forgivable.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, or harsh. I do find it a bit rough and scratchy, which does hold the drinkability back.

Overall presence on the palate is decent. This texture does a fine job at complementing the taste, but doesn't elevate the beer.

OVERALL: A unique schwarzbier-esque approach to a Kolsch. While it's not a success per se, it's far better executed than I would have guessed (especially given Stone's involvement). I'd like to see the homebrewer(s) behind this branch out and put out their own brews. Drinkable and enjoyable, but far from world-class. Worth trying if you're curious, but don't expect a good Kolsch. Just a nice hybridized experimental beer that drinks easy while delivering the dark flavours of bigger brews. I tip my hat to the brewer responsible; nice effort. I'll polish off the bomber with ease.


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Photo of jhartley
3.48/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle; bottled on 03/20/2014.
Jet black body with a creamy light tan head, which dissipated fairly quickly. Leaves minimal lacing in the glass.
Not much I can pick up on the aroma other than some of the rye and grains.
Taste is dominated by the rye and finishes fairly dry. Very easy drinker would match perfectly with a hot summer day, even for a dark beer.
Overall this is a very tasty beer, not fantastic but very well done.

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Photo of Tone
3.49/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a black color. 1/2 inch head of a tan color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of roasted malt, sweet malt, dark citrus, slight spice, dry hop, hint of pepper, and hint of rye. This is a well balanced and well blended beer, but I don't believe it fits the category of a Kolsch. Mouth feel is sharp and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of roasted malt, sweet malt, spice, hint of rye, dry hops, and a hint of floral hops. Overall, great appearance, good aroma, body, and blend. No complaints about this beer, except for it being a poor representation of a Kolsch. The low score is due to rating the beer under Kolsch style characteristics.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Bottle: Poured a black color ale with a large off-white foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma consists of roasted malt with dry bitter notes with some citrus hoppy notes also noticeable. Taste is also dominated by dry bitter roasted malt notes with some light spicy rye notes with some hoppy citrus notes. Body is a bit light with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Not bad but not great either and not sure I could have said this was a Kolsch had it not been mentioned on the label.

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Photo of Atlas1
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

First time using the weird new rating system. Seems a bit more subjective and open to random reviews, but whatever. Change is the only constant...

First of all, I like the bottle design. Pours a deep dark brown with reddish-orange hues at the edges when held up to light. The nose is musty, malty, earthy and herbal. Nice enough, but nothing fancy. The taste is sweet and tangy up front and notes of dark cherry. Dry finish.

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the dark rye kolsch style of beers, if such a thing exists outside of this one, but it's not a bad outing. While it's not overly impressive, it's tasty enough. And while it's not exactly a summer refresher, as far kolsches go, it's not bad on a hot 100-degree summer Texas day if you're hankering for a dark beer. You could do worse. The rye suggests it would be better to imbibe in the summer or fall, but whatever. Good on Stone for trying this one.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Ok, I get the "black" and I get the "Rye" and I understand that these robust flavors play out on a delicate malt backbone, but where's the "Kolsch"?

As the ale pours a dark brown hue, its clarity is deep and mysterious with no haze in sight. Very Porter-like, its head gathers on the beer light espresso creme. Its retention is light and fingerling as the beer trails with each sip.

High coffee aromas open up and reveal a nutty, roasty and burnt toast scent. With an underlying wafer-thin sweetness, light notions of caramel and brown sugar come to mind, but in the burnt carbon way that roasted marshmallows suggest.

Tasting the high roast flavor, any notion of "kolsch" is left in the recesses of the palate and the beer tramples forward to a cocoa-laden, burnt toast, walnut and coffee-like taste. Its middle dissolves such sweetness as the ale trends drier and drier until only the taste of burnt embers and roasted sugars remain. Finishing bitter with roast, a lingering campfire whimsy remains in echoes.

Medium-light in body, the Kolsh is lost and the roasty underpinnings define its texture at once. Powdery and somewhat ashy, its dryness ensures an exposed warmth of carbon and astringency that is buffered with just enough sweetness to support its dry roastiness.

I love this beer as an "imperial": Schwarz bier or as a dry Porter. Those identifiable flavors are alive and well, but I contend, where's the Kolsch component?

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Photo of JRed
3.52/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Opaque in body with misty khaki head. Aroma dark chocolate, ash, earth, coffee beans. Tastes of dark chocolate nibs, coffee, some earth, a little burnt meat and cola aftertaste. Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Interesting flavor profile that shows restraint. Refreshing in a morning coffee way.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Quique for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark crimson-brown with a foamy beige head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, rye, herb, and char aromas. Taste is much the same with char, herb, and rye flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is quite roasty and has an interesting herb presence.

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle.

A: Pours completely opaque black that allows not light to pierce through it. Head is an inch and a half of mocha color that retains very well. Leaves behind a fair amount of lacing.

S: Aromas of dark roasted malts, cocoa, and rye initially. Then toffee, dark fruits, and a subtle burnt mahogany aroma. Finishes with earthy smells, smoke, and a slight alcohol note.

T: Dark roasted malts, dark roast coffee, cocoa, and a distinct smokiness up front, in the middle, subtle flavors of dark fruit, toffee, and smoked wood. Finishes with flavors of rye, and earthy hops, with a slight black pepper spice and cocoa aftertaste.

M: Light to medium in body, with a moderate level of carbonation. Smooth with a slick finish.

O: A enjoyable brew that I wish I had a fresher bottle of. I enjoyed it but can't help but feel like it was lacking something. It's sad I found this in our discount section and didn't see it when it was fresh. But all that aside I did like what they did with this one a nice easy drinking black Kolsch that I would recommend if they decide to brew it again.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.56/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


22 purchased the COOP a week or so ago.. Poured tonight into my CC teku.. Thin light tan head.. wispy lacing.. not much to talk about.

Nose shows plenty of dark malt/sorta chalky maltiness... dry.. rye comes in with warmth, but calling this anything resembling a Kolsch is just idiotic.

Flavor shows dry dark burnt malt/coffee elements.. If I concentrate, there might be some yeasty fruitiness... but I am pretty sure I am wrong.

Light/medium body.. good bubble..

No doubt, this is a One-and-Done for me... Few Stone's are worth writing about anymore.. I'm sure I will continue, but I am gonna try to scale things down.


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Photo of allengarvin
3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a standard pint glass, this is an opaque very dark brown with a thin tan head. The nose is very faint: just some lightly toasty black patent scent. Nice taste, but I don't get anything more than dark, lightly roasted malt, maybe with a little toffee. Blind tasting, I'd just call it a stout, and move on. It's not bad, but a "black rye kolsch"? Sounds gmimicky.

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Photo of Beer4Baltimore
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottled on x/25/2014
aggressive pour into a nonic

A - black beer with a big creamy head that fades to a lacy finger height of lingering head
S - coffee, chocolate, rye
T - just like the smell, no surprises here
M - medium body and slightly creamy like a watery stout
O - it tastes good but what the hell is it? Not a Kolsch. I'd drink it again but cannot think of it as a Kolsch.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Served on tap in a chalice glass

Appearance – The beer is served a nearly pitch black color with a one finger head of off white foam. The head has a moderate level of retention fading slowly to leave some streaky lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is heaviest of a darker roasted malt smell mixed with some char and chocolate, bringing both a slightly burnt but somewhat sweet aroma to the nose. Along with these aromas are other malty smells of rye mixed with a little bit of a pine hop smell.

Taste – The taste begins with a nice roasted malt flavor mixed with a rather decent sum of a char and a light cocoa flavor. It begins rather dry with it gaining a little bit of sweetness as the flavor advances with some caramel and chocolate coming to the tongue. These sweeter flavors are later dampened as flavors of a light rye bread and some charcoal and smoke come to the tongue toward the end. In the end, with all the flavor transitions that had occurred on the tongue, one is left with a mostly dry and somewhat roasty and charred flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is rather light with a carbonation level that is rather high. Fairly good for the easy drinking feel of the brew, but a little weak for the smoky, darker, and rye flavors, so overall just OK.

Overall – A decently charred and toasty tasting brew with a lighter palate and easy drinking feel. A pretty nice kolsh.

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Photo of wvsabbath
3.61/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Serving Type - 22oz bottle

Appearance - Dark brown/tan with a nice 2 inch foamy thick head. Lots of sticky lacing.

Smell - Roasted malts, chocolate, a faint grassy, hop profile. Toasty crisp malts along with a spiced backbone.

Taste - Starts off with bitter hops, bready malts, some roasty notes along with some rye. Spices add a little peppery flavor. Chocolate with some cocoa and a nut flavor comes out at the finish. Drinks much like a porter.

Mouthfeel - Malts with some spices with some bitter fruits coat the tongue. Palate picks up more malts, spices and a chocolate note. Aftertaste is malty, bitter and a little sweet.

Overall - Decent, much like a waterdown porter with the roasty malts and chocolate. A little light and rather easy on the mouth. Seems like a black rye kolsch is just a fancy title to sell this beer.

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Photo of Barnoloid
3.62/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

As dark as pumpernickel bread with a similar rye aroma. The smokiness and rye notes dominate up front here. This is an interesting beer, has a mealy mouthfeel. Almost like drinking a reuben sandwich. Enjoyable but would likely not seek out again unless pairing with food.

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Photo of smcolw
3.62/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Described to me by the bartender as a Black Kölsch. I'm not sure if such a thing is possible, but here it is, near black where only the faintest of light passes. Good, lasting head with excellent blanketing lace.

Smells like watered down coffee. Certainly the black patent and chocolate malts predominate the nose.

Similar in body and taste to a watery stout. This is a thin dark beer with ample carbonation. The flavor is of burnt toast and little else. A bit two dimensional for my tastes. Although Kölsch is typically low hopped, this beer is begging to have some peppery spice to the tongue.

Interesting, but for me, a miss.

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Photo of avalon07
3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from a bottle to a cylinder glass. Had a dark brown color and a thick consistency. There was an inch and a half, foamy, fairly long-lasting, tan-colored head. Good lacing. Needless to say, this doesn't look like your typical kolsch.

S: A slightly different (and subdued) aroma of chocolate, malt, a little caramel, and light hops.

T: Like the aroma, the taste had a good deal of chocolate, a little bit of hops, rye, some caramel, and malt. The flavor wasn't like any kolsch I've tried before. This wasn't a bad thing, but it was a little thin and watery for my taste.

M: A well-carbonated beer with a somewhat thin finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is definitely an experiment of a beer. It has its good points, but doesn't come off altogether.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Pours a deep cola color with a tight, mocha head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of roasted notes with a touch of rye.

Tastes of the roasted notes with some rye and some earthy bitterness. Roasted notes lead off with chocolate, coffee, and toffee. Some brown sugar sweetness and dark fruits come in with a bit of rye spiciness. Earthy hops come in to round out the profile.

Mouthfeel is medium with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is interesting, but not worth the price ($9.04 for 22oz). It should also not be classified as a kolsch

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Spotlight Series: Spröcketbier from Stone Brewing
3.82 out of 5 based on 680 ratings.
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