Sheephead Ale | Brau Brothers Brewing Co. LLC

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Sheephead AleSheephead Ale
201 Ratings
Sheephead AleSheephead Ale

Brewed by:
Brau Brothers Brewing Co. LLC
Minnesota, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Sheephead is a bitter card game. It deserves a bitter beer. Brewed with loads of caramel malt and too many cascade hops, this crimson colored ale straddles the line between a malty amber and tongue bruising IPA.

Added by morimech on 03-26-2009

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 201 |  Reviews: 80
Photo of jsprain1
3.23/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours a reddish amber with a one finger offwhite head that leaves about five little wisps of lacing.
S- Not as hoppy on the nose as the style suggests, as well as the bottle. There is a floral and slightly pithy note, but it's primarily biscuit and caramel malt.
T- The hops come through even less so here. There is a bit of that floral, slightly citrus, note in the finish. But the hops are overwhelmed by a toasted malt, caramel note. It also leans pretty heavily on the sugary side.
M- Full bodied for an IPA. Sugary at times, with a bit of astringentness in the finish.
O- At 7.7 and as much malt as went in this, it's almost like a IIPA but without enough hop flavor to make it a regular IPA. It's an ok beer, but it just doesn't seem to have a firm direction with where it wants to go.

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Photo of beagle75
3.41/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a nonic glass.

A: Clear, light amber color with less than one finger of off-white foam head. Heavy lacing remains on the glass.

S: Husky caramelized grain and carbon dioxide are both prominent, with some weak vinous fruit and earthy herbaceous plant stems also detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with malt that tastes surprisingly brown and roasty, despite the beer's pale appearance. Mild dark citrus fruit follows, but is never really able to move ahead of the intensely toasty malt presence. Acidity is moderate but restrained into the middle, where a flash of precocious bitterness flares then drops off. A whiff of butterscotch is detected late, seemingly spurred on by the savory malt. Bitterness returns at the back-end, tasting mild and herbaceous, then finishing clean.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, wet and slightly acidic on the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D/O: This IPA is a fair contribution to the style that manages to distinguish itself not just by being malt-forward, but by presenting particularly robust roasted malt. The smell lacks the distinctive qualities of the favorable flavor, landing this beer in the position of being short of exceptional but still drinkable and food-friendly.

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Photo of Florida9
3.3/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep copper in color. Very clear. Forms about an inch of off-white head. Decent retention and lots of lacing.

S: Lots of caramel malt. Some citrus hops and a faint tinge of pine.

T: Starts off with an appreciable earthy hop bitterness. Some pine. A little citrus. But really the malt dominates on this one - lots of caramel malt. Some burnt toast on the finish.

M: Heavier side of medium with appropriate carbonation. Moderate bitterness.

O: A decent beer, but more like a Red Ale than an IPA.

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Photo of DaCheesehead
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour from a 12 oz bottle. Deep red ale, crystal clear, with one finger of off white head. Aroma of sweet malts, caramel, flora hops. Taste follows the aroma - the swallow starts with sweet malts and traslates to a fine complex hoppiness, ending iwth a pleasant bitterness and dry finish. Hops are flora with overtones of spice, citrus, and pine. I didn’t know the style before looking here, but guessed pale ale, so it seems true to me, but the maltiness may also suggest a hopped a red ale. Either way it is a fine fine brew and one that I’ll be getting again. It may be a winter seaosnal but I’m quaffing it on a 96 degree day and loving every drop.

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Photo of enfield249
3.85/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Dark amber in color, two fingers of off-white foam.

S - Biscuit malt, roasty malts, slight medicinal hop aroma.

T- Same as the smell. A strong biscuit malt flavor, almost like like the bottom of an over cooked biscuit. A little bit of hops, but not much for an IPA.

M - I get a lot more of the hop feeling vs. flavor here. Slightly astringent.

Overall, I like this beer pretty good, it just tastes more like a big pale ale.

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Photo of budgood1
3.75/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

pours out a russet/mahogany colour with an ample off white head. bits of lace. clean aroma of complex malts, layered in nature and presenting itself with cocoa, butterscotch and berries....sort of flowery and sweet with wisps of smoke somewhere. intriguing. the taste of this ale follows suit with clean flavours of peat and toasted really is a roasty, toasty affair with enough spicy hoppiness to match up. the well attentuated malt aspect doesn't need a lot of hop counterbalance but it seems the hops are there to add a resinous spice aspect and not a whole lot of bitterness, although it IS bitter. it finishes extremely dry with quite an alcohol gut punch. big bodied, and for an ale this has quite the clean and crisp mouthfeel, sort of like a bock beer...hard to explain or pinpoint. it has a nice drinkability, for i'm enjoying trying to pick what the hell i'm tasting with every sip.

DISCLAIMER: i've had some REALLY bad beers from brau brothers in the past and it's been quite some time before i finally decided to purchase another one of their products. that said...

overall this is an interesting and unique ale. an IPA? maybe along the lines of black IPA? it has too many bock characteristics and that grain alcohol gut punch is a bit much. this blurs the line of style a winter warmer/x-mas ale sort of brew with a slight belgian flair. in fact i'm becoming more convinced that this would be a great winter beer and not something i would want in the summer, even though i am reviewing this in the peak of summer at the beginning of a heat wave.

i liked it.

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Photo of rundocrun
4.17/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A - Pours a very deep dark copper color. Almost brown, but still crystal clear. A finger of white head forms and stays around for quite some time. Minimal lacing on the glass.

S - Lemony citrus and sweet carmely malt predominate. Mild, earthy and piney notes also present but not as noticeable. I get the impression that this beer will have just as big of a malt presence as hops. Let's see if the taste proves that right...

T - I sure was! Lots of rich dark malts give this unique IPA a good balance of chocolate and caramel flavor that compliments the bitter and mildly acidic notes from the hops quite well. Don't get me wrong, this is still one for the hop heads too. A strong hop bitterness takes over the flavor profile in the middle and mingles with the malt through to the finish leaving the tongue actually a little numb (something I've found to happen with particular IPA's I've tried.

M - Medium body. Thicker than most IPA's I've tried. I'd dare say this fits squarely in between an "average" IPA and an "average" DIPA as far as mouthfeel goes. Good bright carbonation. Dry finish.

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Photo of EricCioe
3.82/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a Macallan 18-esque deep amber with a one finger eggshell head that dies to a thin cap leaving spotty lace. On the nose there is a big malt presence, mostly earthy caramel, with some pine and smoke (?) further down. It's definitely an interesting nose, much more balanced towards non-bitter aromas than I'd have guessed, but good. In the mouth there is a combination of toasted, earthy malt, and pine. It's an IPA of a rotting forest floor rather than a citrus grove, a nice change of pace among IPAs, and fitting that this comes from the southern reaches of the great boreal forest. The body is a bit sticky for my tastes, medium and with a nice finish but simply not sitting all that well for me.

Overall, this is a fine IPA, a nice change from the tyranny of the citrus bomb. My interest in this brewery is piqued, now.

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Photo of rsdaugherty
3.32/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle into pint glass
A - Brown amber with no head at all, slightly hazy 3
S - toasted malts and florals dominate; semi-sweet chocolate and coffee notes as well 3.5
T - Lots of toasted malts and hops, caramel, florals and hop bitterness 3.5
M - Medium body with a milky mouthfeel 3
O - A unique tasting brew IMO, not a beer that I would classify as an IPA... the malt load here is quite significant. Noteworthy, but otherwise average 3

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Photo of ChopperSmith
3.8/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of six varieties in a Brau Brothers Brewing sampler 12-pack.

Poured from a 12 oz. brown long neck bottle into a standard clear pint glass.

Appearance: Clear deep amber/copper color with a one-finger tan foam head that laced nicely.

Smell: Very floral citrus and pine hops with some toasted malt.

Taste: A nice hops bite up front with bitter pine and grapefruit flavors, then the sweet malts kick in and smooth out the finish. Well balanced for a hoppy IPA.

Feel: Medium-body, very smooth and dry. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Very drinkable and well balanced, a good ABV and a great hop presence. Very easy to session with.

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Photo of Wasatch
3.7/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes out to luxbwin for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear golden amber color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy off-white head, with some sticky lacing left behind. The nose is slightly hoppy, malty, with some slight citrus. The taste is hoppy, very nice malt note, with some citrus. Medium Body, with a nice dry/bitter finish. This is a tasty brew, glad to have gotten a chance to try it.

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Photo of Snow81
3.47/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Light Amber hazy

Head: Very small white head

Smell: Deep malty citric with a light grassiness

Taste: A Bitter Hop hits then a overwhelming malt then a deep citric layers the palate with a small grassy note that lingers

Weight: Medium on the body with the carbonation on the high side

Finish: Grassy malts with a dark citric lingering on the palate

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Photo of TheDudeRules
2.41/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Bought a 6 pack from my local bottle shop. I was eager to try this offering out.

Pours a copper red with a thick foam head. Lacing lasts after the foam dies down.

Smells a bit of citrus hops but the malt dominates.

The hop presence is there,but quickly steps aside for malt and plenty of it. Really that is all I could taste. Wish I could be more subjective but this offering left me flat.

Moderate carbonation and easy on the tongue.

As I said I was excited to try this. Sadly I was disappointed. For a beer close to 8% it really didn't come across like that. If this was your taste palate it seemed like you could down several with no problem. I drank two just to make sure I felt the same about the first one. I was looking for some hops and maybe a little bite or hopefully a lot. Really not my style but worth a shot. Oh well.

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Photo of sprucetip
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at a restaurant I where I did not have high expectations for beer, and this one looked the most interesting.

Clear, and the dirty copper color of an old penny. Hardly pale, but that is unimportant. Had a finger of fairly dense white foam on top, and left thick lacing for the duration, and even after it was gone.

Got some centennial, I think, piny/grapefruit up front. I could always find some of this, but it was harder to find later. Other than the hops, all I really got was a very mild whiff of heat, and some black tea type of grainy aroma.

Again the black tea flavor, but stronger than in the nose. The hops are present, but not as assertive as I hoped or would have liked them to be. The hop flavor was citrus and pine, and the bitterness was on the low end of medium. Later the malty sweetness was more prominent, and it was pretty well balanced. It left me wondering what was the cause of the pronounced black tea flavor.

Plenty of carbonation, even a wee little bit of tingling. Very pleasant medium body, almost creamy, with a quick, clean finish and just a hint of lingering bitterness.

Not an aggressively hopped IPA, but a balanced and smooth one. Definitely more IPA than APA, even without considering its girth. It's a good beer, but not one that I would seek out. For the venue where the "micro-brew/import" list includes Stella, Blue Moon, Heineken, Corona, Fat Tire and a few others that are less than exciting, it was a good find and quite enjoyable.

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Photo of Greggy
3.13/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A- Pours a creamy 1 finger white/light tan head. The color is orange to almost copper red. A very slight amount of yeast is in suspension.

S- Very bready on the nose with a good hit of citric hop notes. I get almost a tangerine note.

T- Starts out with a big malty notes, with some intertwined hoppiness. I get a good amount of raisin which is slightly out of place.

M- Alcohol can definitely be felt on the finish. No doubt.

D- Overall... not bad/not great. This really screams homebrew to me.

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Photo of dpnelson1978
3.79/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle into glass pint.

$8.99 / 6-pk.

A: Bright copper body topped with a tight one finger head that quickly dissipates leaving light lacing, and only a modest ring of cover. I expect much more lacing from an IPA.

S: Piny hop aroma dominates with hints of lemon citrus.and a strong malt presence. Well balanced.

T: More malt forward than the nose would suggest, but again strong citrus and pine hops make an appearance. Aftertaste is subdued, and the overall quality of the beer is very well balanced between malt and hops.

M: Light body with high carbonation and a crisp finish. No oily hop residue on the tongue.

D: Very drinkable IPA and approachable to a wide audience. This one goes down easy and doesn't have an overpowering aftertaste.

O: Brau Brothers always seems to deliver. I have yet to have a bad beer from the brewery.

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Photo of scoobybrew
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - slightly hazy orange/amber color with a thick head and nice lacing

S - malty with biscuit and some coarse hop scents

T - sweet malt at first that leads to citrus-like hop flavors with a moderately strong bitter hop finish that lingers a bit, yeasty esters are also present, but are restrained; the malt has some depth with a slight bit of chocolate to it - unusual in an American IPA.

M - medium to full body with moderate carbonation

D - This is an interesting take on the American IPA style with some intriguing qualities. It's certainly not a west-coast-IPA. The hops are somewhat coarse though but the malt does an adequate job balancing the bitterness and has some depth to it. In fact, the chocolate flavors in the malt somewhat reminds me of an 'American ESB' for what it's worth. (Do I dare bring up the Black IPA moniker?)

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Photo of GeezLynn
4.02/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz single from Cellars Roseville

A: Light brown cider color with a thin, rapidly dissipating white head.

S: Lots of toasted brown malts with west coast hops. I think there's even a little chocolate malt and the smell is actually pretty similar to a hopped up nut brown. Not much in the way of your standard IPA characteristics.

T: Ahh, flavor is more in line with what I expected out of what BA labels an IPA (bottle label does not specify). Nice NW hops pack a good resiny pine punch that melds well with a light, toasty malt base. A few more sips bring some grapefruit and pepper. Just the right amount of sweetness. Finish is medium in length and ends with plenty of bitterness.

M: Crisp, medium to light-bodied with moderate carbonation. Alcohol contributes enough bite that any more carbonation would probably be overkill.

Initially the smell had me not knowing what to expect. But this turned out to be a nice hoppy ale somewhere between an IPA and APA. Could definitely enjoy a few of these in one sitting and will look for it again. Well done.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.56/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A robust IPA that straddles the fences of American IPA's, English IPA's and Amber Ales.

The pour delivers a strong amber-copper color with a very mild haze. The beer carries a glowing appearance. Great head formation, retention, and lacing give a very favorable appearance to the beer.

Toast, pine, and caramel immediately come to mind with the first sip. Resiny, spicy, and richly malty; the beer takes tone of strongly hopped English Ales. Fruity esters (much like the flavor of young Old Ales) further emphasize the point.

Malt flavors start with caramel, then grow into toffee like sweetness, and finish with a toasty or bread crust flavor- this gives a Strong Ale taste if not for the aggressive hop additions. Pine resins, strong bitterness, and heavy spice shys away from the classic citrus character of American hoppy ales and toward the more earthy English varieties. Moderately fruity throughout with yeasty, biscuity goodness.

The sweetness also ushers in a sugary weight, giving a fuller and richer flavor as if lower attenuated character prevails. hop bitterness and alcohol attempts to dry the beer in the finish, but it holds on to a lot of residual sweetness and weight going deep into the finish and aftertaste.

While a tasty beer, I cannot decide if it borrows what's best of these styles or if the beer is seriously confused. Better melding of flavor and lightening of body could have helped me make up my mind.

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Photo of jjanega08
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A= The pour is a little brown for an IPA but the head is amazing. Really nice thick creamy off white head with great retention and lacing.

S= This is a pretty balanced IPA by smell. There is a lot of caramel malt in it. It almost smells like it may have a little too much age on it but I can't tell because there are no dates on the bottles. The hops are mostly citrus in it. Not much pine or fruit.

T= The taste again is a really balanced beer but not the IPA I expect. Really has a jelly or jam sort of taste to it with caramel malt and a citrus orange hop character. Again I pull into question the age of the bottle. This isn't a bad APA by any means but not an IPA.

M= A pretty good mouth for an IPA. Nice and low on the carbonation with a lasting finish.

D= The date of this beer comes into question here. The beer is still good but by no means an IPA or even a hop bomb. Ther beer has a great maltyness to it but not the hop bite I want.

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Photo of herman77
3.71/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Brilliant golden orange with a very thick off white head. Very hazy. Tons of spider web lacing left from the ginormous head.

S: Malty sweetness and fresh citrus hops, not too fragrant though.

T: Toasted earthy/musty sweet malt and citrus hops. Nice smooth sweet and ever so slight bitter hop finish. A little musty again in the finish. Warming alcohol taste is also present, not offensive at all though. A lot sweeter and not as hoppy as I thought.... I wonder if this has some age on it? Still good though.

M/D: Medium body. Very velvety smooth. Seems like there is not much carbonation, but its definitely there. Drinkability is pretty good. I could have a few in a row.

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Photo of Goliath
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a lightly hazed copper color, though I believe it to be chill haze. There is a half inch slightly yellowed head on the poor that lingers with decent retention leaving nothing behind.

The aroma is decent. There's a light piney hop aroma followed by a raw grain malt that also seems to have an iced tea and rye like quality all at the same time.

The taste is decent as well. There is again a light hop profile with a bit of a piney/earthy feel that is accompanied by a nice malt bill. There seems to be some raw grain and a rye like character again. Anyone know if there's any rye in this thing? Hmm, I just read the bottle and it makes no mention to rye. Guess I need to get my palate checked.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a nice dose of fine bubbled carbonation.

Drinkability is fairly high. I think this is a really solid beer, and I'm not entirely sure it should be listed as a Pale Ale. Perhaps American IPA would be a little more appropriate. All the same, I dig the flavor profile and I'm suprised to see this thing listed at 7.7% ABV. The alcohol is well incorporated into the beer making for a really enjoyable drinking experience.

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Photo of nickd717
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle as an extra in a trade with deliriumfest on BA.

Pours a hazy golden-copper color with a one-finger white head.

Aroma is really nice - lots of tropical fruits (pineapple, mango) and orange, somewhat hoppy, along with sweet caramel malt.

Flavor is also good but not quite as smooth as I hoped from the aroma. Tropical fruits are in there, pineapple mostly, as well as orange and grapefruit. Sweet caramel malt and pale malt balance, along with some noticeable booze (wow, this is 7.7% I see now!).

Medium-bodied and just a little boozy for the style with average carbonation and some hop oils.

Good drinkability. Overall a pretty solid almost imperial pale ale.

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Photo of mjryan
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clocking in at a skull cracking 7.7% ABV this is one hell of an American Pale Ale. Sure, whatever, just dont tell the BJCP. Fresh Sheephead is a thing of beauty, as most well crafted uber hoppy IPAs? are. Sweet orange hop aromas mingle with an interesting and unexpected, but not unwelcome toasted/biscuit malt character. Flavour delivers much of the same with a touch of caramel and butterscotch. Medium bodied with a dry, bitter finish. Good and maybe even great!

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Photo of jera1350
4.32/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the brewery.

Golden brown color with a fluffy tan head on top.

Huge and bright citrus comes from all of the hops in this one. Sweet caramel rears its head as well.

This is balanced, but contains huge citric hops with lots of orange and loads of caramel malt. It's satisfying for any hop head or malt head. The hops are so fresh and tasty, it's crazy. Nice bit of complexity to it.

Smooth feel, about medium bodied. Good clean finish.

Really drinkable beer. Lots of flavor going on and the alcohol is well hidden. Really refreshing and satisfying. My favorite beer from Brau and it will now thankfully be year round.

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Sheephead Ale from Brau Brothers Brewing Co. LLC
Beer rating: 3.66 out of 5 with 201 ratings