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Sheephead Ale | Brau Brothers Brewing Co. LLC

76 Reviews
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Sheephead AleSheephead Ale

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

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by morimech on 03-26-2009

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Reviews: 76 | Ratings: 187
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves."

--Bertrand de Jouvenel

Candied apricot with butter rum colored borders. Polished topaz would work as well since the beer has a gemstone-like glow when backlit with sunshine. The ecru colored lid looks fantastic and is no stranger to the laying down of lace. This is a hearty looking pale ale.

Brau Brothers says that this formerly seasonal (now year-round) brew is their hoppiest yet. The nose says that they aren't lying. It's moderately toasted malty and features a pretty impressive amount of American hops, at least one of which almost certainly starts with the letter 'C'.

SheepHead Ale is tasty stuff, which is something of a surprise. I've had almost everything these guys have bottled so far and consider only Ring Neck Braun to be worthy craft beer. Maybe the brothers Brau are getting the hang of things up there in Lucan, MN.

This APA reminds me, in some respects, of Three Floyds Alpha King. Same general idea, and not nearly as good, but tasty and drinkable all the same. Relevent differences are that SheepHead favors toasted-earthy malt over caramel malt, favors orange peel over grapefruit peel, and is about half as hoppy. Okay, maybe two-thirds. Alpha King is a beautiful buzzsaw-like beast when fresh.

The mouthfeel doesn't quite keep pace, especially given the slightly higher than usual ABV. It's silky smooth enough, but becomes a little loosey-goosey as the finish approaches. A ridiculous amount of lace makes the next highest appearance score an easy call.

In the end, SheepHead Ale is at least as good as Ring Neck Braun... and possibly better. The brewery made a wise decision in making this hopilicious ale a year-round release. Whoever decided to distribute it to Iowa was pretty smart too. And earns my thanks.

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Photo of Blakaeris
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours brilliant orange a mild soapy head that slowly dissipates to a thin ring.

Aroma is toasty caramel malt and subdued citrus hop.

Taste is Similar to the nose. Plenty of toasted, grainy caramel malt. Hints of dry musty notes. A touch of bread crust. Hops offer balance with earthy and grapefruit bitterness that creates a spicy hop finish.

Mouthfeel is chewy, medium bodied.

An APA with very balanced malt in addition to the hops. A nice session beer, certainly worth a try.

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Photo of indiapaleale
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Sheephead Ale pours an orangey brown color with some reddish hues. Its topped with soapy, foamy head that leaves some lacing on the sides but looks fairly loose in structure.

The aroma is a combination of malty sweetness and citrus. There is a good deal of fresh hops coming from this pour, more than I expected. Their is also a bit of a sharp almost astringent smell to this as well. Based on the high ABV, it could be a little of that alcohol coming out.

Wow, that is some bitter stuff. Instantly tongue drying and definitely leaning a lot towards the hops and away from the malts. I'd say its fairly unbalanced with lots of lemon pucker going on. Its got a bit of powdered sugar sweetness that does its best to balance things out but its a tough battle. This one finishes with sharp, warming alcohol presence.

Personally, I don't mind a hop heavy beer and this one definitely leans that way. This is definitely a beer that I'd categorize as an American IPA due to its high hop content and its high ABV.

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Photo of maximum12
2.57/5  rDev -30.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Picked up a single of this recently at Blue Max, in my quest to find a Brau brew that I'm fond of. C'mon guys, I'm willing, convert me! Let's hope this is the one.

Well, the pour is promising, gorgeous amber brew with a nice ring of foam. Damn. The label mentioned bitter twice, & I don't think it was kidding. Like a mix of bitter, ass-kicking roses, hops & pollen. Original, haven't had a nose like that in my bus before.

Well. This had some promise. The bitterness of the hops up front is nice, unbalanced & aggressive for a hop-head like me. Then comes the Brau aftertaste. Honestly, I don't know what it is. The water? Yeast strains? Contamination? But the sub-taste is unpleasantness underneath this promising start. It's musty, moldy, blech.

Dammit. This seems like a pretty doggone good beer. But I won't be able to finish it. The aftertaste simply doesn't agree with me.

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Photo of Ragingbull
4.28/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Amber in color with a nice foamy head with very good retention. The foam is a sort of off white perhaps muslin or a canvas. Very faint prickle. A picturesque beer. Nice nose of malt and hops with the hops sort of laying on top of the malt. I believe I can pick out the cascade hops, but there is more to it than that. Nice attack of hops that gives way to a tasty malt flavor with just a bit of cracked grain. Lots of great flavors. There are floral hops flavors, caramel malts and some nice grains. The grains are pronounced in a good way, which is saying something as I usually prefer my grains more muted. This is well crafted as it is a bitter beer with a wonderful malt flavor that finishes it off. I have really been missing out, as I haven't had that many Brau Bros. Beers. I hated the first two that I tried and it took about a year after each to try another. No joke. This one is finally a winner and in a big way. Well done, and oh, I am sorry for not trusting Brau Bros. more.

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Photo of shadow1961
3.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Brau Brother's Sheep Head Ale pours a couple of stiff fingers of foam over a cloudy deep orange brew. Carbonation is pretty low, and the nose is spicy pine and citrus hops. The flavor is sweet malt up front with notes of honey balanced by brisk sharp hops- I'm tasting grass and pine needles. Mouthfeel starts round and drys out because of the hopping. When I first had this I could have sworn it was an India Pale Ale but was surprised to see it listed as a Pale Ale on the Beer Advocate website. Could be I was thrown off by all that hop aroma from the dry-hopping mentioned on the label. One of their better special edition brews, I would put it just under Brau's outstanding Ring Neck Ale. Worth a first and second look for sure!

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Photo of ckeegan04
4.1/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Bright orangish brown with a thick, foamy light khaki head. Lots of lacing left behind and very good head retention. Lots of actvie carbonation bubbles quickly rising to the top as well.

S - Excellent mix of malt and hops in the nose. Lots of grassy and citrusy hop notes dominate. A little grapefruit and lemon. The malts are primarily caramel and a little biscuity. Excellent mix of aromas.

T - The malts are much stronger in the taste than they were in the nose. Lots of caramel and a sweet biscuity taste as well. Hops are present and provide a nicecitrus and grassy balance. Bitterness is mild but lingers. An excellent example of a pale ale, but I was expecting a little more hoppiness from the label.

M/D - Medium bodied with some resinous aftertaste to it. Carbonation is very good and drinkability is high.

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Photo of Viggo
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle, extra in IP trade with deleriumfest at DLD.

Pours a cloudy dark orange/amber, some light reddish highlighting, pretty thick off white head forms, tight bubbles, slowly settles to a thin ring around the glass, a few lace spots but not much. Smell is alright, quite malty, very biscuity, some caramel sweetness, floral hops, a bit of grapefruit and orange peel, a touch yeasty, not a whole lot of complexity but decent enough. Taste is similar, very bready and dry up front, some toast/biscuit, light caramel sweetness comes through more in the middle, alcohol, some floral and citrus hopping, quite dry, but again solid though lacking in flavour. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, pretty nice in that department, medium to high carbonation, a bit much for the style, but pretty drinkable considering the ABV. Reminds me a bit of a not as good Hop Devil with the flavour profile. Thanks Brandon!

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Photo of ETM
3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a straight amber color into a hefeweizen glass. Looks very nice... Lacing is all over the place. ABV is over the "Iowa limit" if that is really enforced.
Smells like a good APA; there is the typical bitterness, citrus , but then some toasty chocolate malt coming through... it is unexpected and a bit hidden. Not as aromatic as my favorite PAs.
This really is tasty beer, but it is lacking some liveliness, like it was made from somewhat old ingredients or something. It may be that the dark roast flavors muddy and mellow up the citrus bite. The sweetness and hopiness and alcoholiness are enough for me to forgive though. It says that the beer is dry-hopped and I believe... The toastiness of the malts works quite well.
The carbonation seems to increase as it warms. No complaints about the mouthfeel of this beer.
Having this beer ice-cold is a good option on a hot day. I'm drinking 3.

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Photo of garymuchow
4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Initially a nice fresh hop aroma of mild grassiness, light floral and citrus. This is followed by a pleasing sweet (crystal?) malt. Nice.
Very clear darker amber with golds, copper, brown. Dense close to white head of 1/2 inch. Adequate lacing.
Initially flavor starts like an IPA with full hop flavor and full bitterness. Again a repeat with with malt flavors with a nice sharp clean malt flavor. Mild nut flavor.
Carbonation lends a likable fullness and helps make body moderate. Soft fine bubbles that i like.
Overall a nice drinking full, but not excessively hopped ale.

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.03/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A--Nice copper color with an off white head that rose a full finger in my 16 oz. snifter. Solid lacing was left on the glass.

S--Mostly hops...orange peel, lemon, floral

T--Taste is a nice balance between bready malts and bitter earthy hops. Good flavor for an APA....enough balance to attract everyone and enough flavor to make the hop heads happy.

M--Medium bodied but definitely full enough for the style

D--Nice easy to drink ale here although with this high ABV I would rather have something a little "bigger" tasting. If this was 5-6% I would give it a 4.5

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.57/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Hazy golden brown with a clean, one finger white white head. Lot's of active carb in the Sam Adams sensory glass. Lacing looks pretty good and the head has some definite longevity to it.

S: Mix of floral and citrus, tending towards citrus, perhaps grapefruit. Some slight malty undertones but very much just the hops.

T: Bitter, cutting bitter rather than smooth. A little boozy even. I don't taste the citrusy hops from the nose, this is more floral. Still no malt and it leaves a dry aftertaste in my mouth.

M: Dry, as I said, but crisp and a little refreshing. Maybe if it was really really ice cold it would be better, but it's pretty cold now and just ok.

D: Ok, with the right food it would be better, but I'm not that into it.

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Photo of brewdoc75
4.07/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on cask once and it was great. Its a bonus to find it in bottles now.

A: Beautiful light amber color. A strong off-white head with prevalent lace along the sides.

S: Plenty of hops in the nose with some citrus, definite fruitiness, and some earthiness from the hops. Really complex in regards to aroma. Faint maltiness present.

T: Fruitiness and light caramel maltiness from the malts. This trends to a flavorful citrus and earthy hop flavor profile. The hops present in the nose aren't nearly complex in the flavor, but are still there. The bitterness is toned down which makes this beer pretty easy to drink. Really quite flavorful.

M: Medium bodied. Maybe a tad bit too heavy to be sessionable, but pretty solid nevertheless.

D: This is a really good beer. The hop aroma really stands out. I wish the complexity stood out in the flavor a tad more. A definite must have from this brewery. Highly recommended.

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Photo of CHSLBrew
3.09/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Coincidentally, my boss was going to be playing sheephead with some friends tonight.

A-Quite clear amber brew. Tannish head reduced slowly, leaving a thin, at times sparse bubble layer.

S-Butterscotch. Toffee malts. A resiny, bright hoppiness comes in and out, perhaps a bit too faint.

T-Bright hoppiness, spicy and earthy with a hint of resinous goodness. Hearty biscuit malt, with a nuance of toast, provides a solid base, with a bit of butterscotch detracting from the otherwise clean flavor. Bitterness adds a pleasing balance to the brew.

M-Drab, medium-bodied beer. Carbonation is enjoyable and appropriate.

D-Decent. A slightly hoppy sessionable brew, to be sure. I once had this brew on cask, which I thought was better than from the bottle.

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Photo of katan
3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint

A - Pours an amber to copper color. Little hazing. Amazing head retention - pearly white and at least a cm in height.

S - Dominated by a floral hop bouquet of citrus and grapefruit. A light nutty malt note is hiding in there as well.

T - Starts off with a nutty sweet malt flavor - almost seems Christmas ale like in a way. Bitterness does build to a balance mid-stream, but I never get the outright hoppy notes that I expected from the nose. Just a small hint of earthy hops comes through right before the aftertaste. Finishes with a bitter bite and a bit more of that nutty roasted malt.

M - Moderate to thick body - certainly an area where this beer shines. Carbonation builds a backbone that supports the hefty malt bill - giving a creamy and clinging mouthfeel.

D - Moderately drinkable - uknown what the abv is and the flavors work fairly well.

Not sure if this is the toned down "Iowa" version of the beer, but if it is, I'd like to compare it against the real thing. Perhaps the real thing is more able to bring through the flavors as originally intended by the brewer. Although, I would have to say that if it is better, it is only improving on a solid beer.

Reminds me very much of a DFH 60.

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Photo of tempest
3.4/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Picked up a single at Princeton Liquors. Eh, this is disappointing and I keep hoping the Brau Brothers will kick up their beer from decent to a beer really worth talking about. This just tastes like a hoppy amber, but not that hoppy. The malts are dark bread crust with a hint of cocoa and the hops are a plain citrus punch. The hops dominate the aroma, thought that's not to say any of the flavors are that great. OK so the hops are pleasant and the malt has a little depth, but there's nothing that stands out here. Meh to this beer.

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Photo of bsp77
3.94/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Nonic Imperial Pint.

Appearance: Pours an orange amber with a very large head. Lots of lacing.

Smell: Citrus and pine hops with some toasted malt.

Taste: Begins with a very nice balance of strong citrus/pine hop taste (but not too much bitterness) and semi-sweet toasted malts, then suddenly turns very dry and bitter towards the finish.

Feel: Very smooth and dry. Medium body and carbonation.

Drinkability: Exceedingly drinkable due to the smooth body and great balance.

I personally don't see the confusion regarding the style of this beer. It seems to be very much an American IPA, albeit in the Torpedo "Extra" IPA direction based on the higher alcohol, smooth body and more balanced malt.

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Photo of Buebie
2.79/5  rDev -24.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a brown long kneck 12 oz bottle into an oversized snifter. The head forms an inch of white foam, leaving behind thick lace drapes. A thin color of retention is left behind as well.
The color is a pale hazey amber.

Aroma is of solvent alcahol, which is not desireable, pine and malty sweetness.

The beer itself is thin and watery with an abundance of carbonation. Some hop bittering, also some off flavors here.
Very dsipleased with the mouthfeel. Its one sided with carbonation and hops, lots of watery thin feel. Its almost like drinking air that has been sparayed with arosal of a hop flavor.

For an american pale ale I would expect alot more from a beer. I'd give it a well hopped pilsner profile before apa.

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Photo of ZAP
4.19/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Orange/amber...leaves a nice lace on glass as I drink

S-Great aroma...tons of toasted malts...also some candied toffee ...I guess that is what toffee is :)...some caramel notes too...very sweet aroma and a fresh hoppiness complements perfectly...great smelling beer.

T-Where the nose is malt forward, the taste is more balanced...some good hopping to this...a citrus like grapefruit rind bitterness is evident..but it mingles nicely with the great malt backbone..

M-Medium bodied....seems sessionable but still loaded with flavor.

D-I really like this...top notch beer....Doesn't really fit a style....a cross between an ESB and Red Ale in my opinion..I definitely would buy again...right up there with Ringneck as my favorite from this brewery....no off notes at all....

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Photo of drdr48
3.88/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

7.7% at 88 IBUs is what it was listed at.
Served at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in st Paul, I believe it was standard tap not Cask serving but I am not positive.
Very nicely balanced beer, hoppy but done so with what I guess was a low Co-humulone hop.
I thoroughly enjoyed this beer it had a nice creamy, light chocolate finish that is very unique for an IPA.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.33/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lightly hazed, deep ambercolor, big,boisterous, creamy-toned head. Long lasting, lace leaving.

Soft, hoppy aroma, gentle citricnotes...Cascade?Pungent pineapple, prickly pine, lemon rind. Lovely stuff. Just gorgeous.

Hoppy, spicy smack on the palate, then mellow, but never gone. Same flavors felt in the nose return on the tongue, mixed with lush, tasty caramel & pale malt. Medium bodied, great texture, long, hoppy finish, and terrifically refreshing.

A very interesting brew, the hoppiest yet from the Brothers. Wheat malt, too, eh?
It comes through, and aids the drinkability, yet the flavor and hop profile doesn't suffer.

Great brew, Bros! I'll be back for more!

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Photo of KarlHungus
4.45/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a cloudy burnt orange color. The head is two inches in height, and recedes into a thick cap of lacing that leaves foam all over the glass. The aroma is of citrus, grapefruit, pine resin, and some nice floral notes. This is a very aromatic APA. The taste leans more toward the pine and floral aspects with a firm lingering bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with lively carbonation, and a velvety texture. Overall, this is a very good beer on the border between APA and IPA. I really like that the hop bill seems to consist of more the just Centennial and Cascade. I like those hops, but it seems that every brewer is using nothing but them in their hoppy beers. Sheep Head is a refreshing change, and I would love to see it take the place of Brau Brother's regular APA.

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Photo of mothman
3.62/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into New Belgium Globe Glass.

I honestly don't think this is a APA. I'll explain in my review.

Pours a 1 finger slightly tan head. Good retention, slightly splattered lacing. Color is a dark golden copper.

Aroma has an amazing floral/pine hops, like an IPA. Some musk to it as well as sweet sugar malts.

Taste very weird as compared the the smell. Doesn't taste like an IPA. The smell is a lot better. Carmel and floral hops. Reminds me of an ESB, not a pale ale. There is also alcohol in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is refreshingly bitter. Very smooth going down. Leaves a mouth full of hops.

Overall, I thought it was an IPA from the smell, then I tasted it and didn't think it fit the style, thought about it and figured it could be an ESB, not an APA. Hard to rate this beer, because I do not know what the real style is.

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Photo of Mdog
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Clear amber, good head and lacing.

Smell: Caramel, a little citrus.

Taste: Pretty balanced pale ale, caramel sweetness and a mix of earthy bitter hops.

Drinkability: Could be a session if I wasn't looking for bitterness.

I thought this was a balanced pale ale, not exactly the bitter monster described on the label. Not a lot of citrus bitterness, more earthy to my palate. A pretty good beer.

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Photo of ThePeskyDingo
4.15/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Been waiting to try this for a couple weeks now, my friend DerrickBerg came over, and we thought it was a perfect time to try it out.

With a decently aggressive pour it yielded a 1.5 finger off white head which dissipated at a medium to slow rate, but never fully dissipates. Clear caramel-amber in color with a good amount of carbonation coming up. Lots of lacing, a full wall of bubbles are left on my glass side.

Smells very nice. I smell malt, hops, and subtle citrus notes in the background.

Taste consists a lot of malts, with a bitter hop background. The malt taste settles into a slightly roasted malt aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is good. Medium carbonation, medium bodied.

Easy to drink, very tasty, and well balanced.

Overall a really good beer. The label is misleading, not quite as hoppy and bitter as it claims, but that doesn't deter from how good it is. I recomend this beer!

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Sheephead Ale from Brau Brothers Brewing Co. LLC
83 out of 100 based on 76 ratings.
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