Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale
Cigar City Brewing

Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown AleImprov (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale
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Brown Ale - American
Ranked #281
Ranked #25,628
3.82 | pDev: 15.45%
Cigar City Brewing
Florida, United States
Very Good
Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown AleImprov (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale
Notes: What you have here is an Oatmeal Rye India-style Brown Ale. Now you might be thinking oatmeal, rye, brown ale, India-style; isn’t that a lot to be going on in just one beer? Well yes, it is. But that is the point. Layers. Flavor elements building on and playing off of preceding elements, like a building wave; a growing crescendum of taste bud temptation; a wall of sound expressed through flavor and channeled toward your mouth. This beer isn’t for everyone. In many ways it is more than just a little weird. It certainly doesn’t fit easily into any category. It isn’t a brown ale, not just a brown ale anyway. It certainly isn’t an IPA. Calling it a rye beer would be selling it way short. In the spirit of all great things that are conceived in the moment, but perfected through passionate repetition it started life as an improvisation and grew from there. And it might not be for you. But if the thought of big spicy rye notes, a wallop of a hop punch, multitudinous layers of caramel, sweet malt and a respectable balancing gravity sound intriguing then you might want to wing it and give Improv a try.

60 IBU
Reviews: 179 | Ratings: 366 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of pat61
pat61 from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Brilliant deep chestnut under a 3” lightly tan tinted foam cap that mounds up over the rim of the glass and produces thick clumps opf lace. Smell: Rich malt spice from the rye and oats, some roast. Taste: Spicy grain, an underlying malt sweetness, cardamom, and faint caramel notes. Finishes with alcoholic warming and bitter chocolate, some astringency and a dash of hops. Mouthfeel: Above average carbonation that has a little bite to it. The body is medium full with a little slickness.

Mar 22, 2015
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rlee1390 from Indiana

4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A-Black in the glass, three finger off white head with lacing.

S-Rye spiceness, coffee, roasted malt and caramel.

T-Starts with mainly rye the caramel and coffee (seems slightly faded), strong malt presence with enough hops in the finish to balance it out.

M-Medium bodied, creamy but over carbonated.

O-Lots of different flavors, but they worked well together, a solid beer from CCB.

Sep 25, 2013
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aMILESupreme from Florida

4.43/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: dark a little brown. Looks like lighter oatmeal stout.

S: Malts, oatmeal, booze.

T: this is a strange beer but I loved it. I had it over the holidays so it was a perfect winter warmer for me. Really grew in complexity as it warmed up.

M: thick, stout like.

O: really like this beer despite the average rating. Definitely continue seeking this beer out

Aug 19, 2013
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stephenjmoore from Maryland

3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark brown, slightly darker than cola. Foamy tan bubbles stay on top of the body. A couple of floaters mixed in too.

S- Oatmeal, spicy rye malts, some roasted malt, big rye bread, slight hint of nuttiness.

T- Lots of rye presence, caramel malts, roasted malts, oatmeal, nuttiness, lots of potent spicy hops too.

M- Full-bodied, very rich, medium carbonation, earthy aftertaste.

O- Intersting beer with lots of layers. Big on the rye.

Jul 25, 2013
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Bosoxfan20 from Missouri

4.36/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had to get this one based on the Cigar City description. Very interested to see how they could make this smorgasbord profile work.

A- Mahogany brown with light fluffy, khaki head of about 1 finger. Avg lacing and retention for the style. Beautiful color

S- A little bit of everything- chocolate, citrus hops, resinous hops, brown sugar, charred but not quite burn caramel, smoke, mocha, and black pepper. My taste buds have received the olfactory message and are curious for what's in store....

T- Follows nose. It's as if I'm on a rollercoaster in a dark tunnel- a lot of twists and turns, I don't know what's coming next, but I find myself really enjoying it! A great mix of all the smells led off by a sweet malt, then a dose of hops along with the huge spice of the rye. It's complex and well done. Dark fruits even seem to find there way in the mix. Toasted oats and caramel. Almost seems like it has a barrel aged flavor to it, or some kind of phenols. Maybe the rye again? works.

M- Spicy dry finish. Full body with fair drinkability. Nice carbonation for the style.

O- A ton going on here...and somehow it seems to work. One of my favorite rye beers. Gave it a little bump in overall rating because of the uniqueness and how it finds a nice continuity among the many bold elements. Would probably be in the "Specialty" category if in a BJCP tasting event

No bottled on date that I could find

$10.49 for 750 ml

May 21, 2013
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bylerteck from Canada (ON)

4.06/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the brewpub. From notes.

A - Poured dark brown with reddish tints. One finger beige head and good carbonation. Spotty lace and a film of retention.

S - Rich maltiness with dark fruits and nuttiness. Fruity hops and light rye. Lovely aroma.

T - Rye came out more. Rich maltiness again, some citrus towards the finish.

M - Nice bitterness, good carbonation, full body.

O/D - A nice strong, hoppy rye. The rye was restrained, which I like. Nice balance with no alcohol to speak of in the flavour. Good.

Apr 21, 2013
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macrosmatic from Florida

4.26/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from notes. Had on-tap at CCB tasting room. Served in a snifter glass.

A: Dark reddish brown with a 1/2 finger tan head of large bubbles. Low visible carbonation.

S: Roasty, toasty rich bready malts over some hops (citrus/lemon and grass).

T: Sweet bready roasted malts with big grainy rye flavors, plus the citrus, spicy and pine hops. There is significant roasty coffee noticeable on the exhale. Sticky sweet malt balanced with the hop bitterness at the end.

M: Heavier body than expected, chewy mouthfeel, moderate carbonation sensation. The alcohol is somewhat noticeable, but not overly so for this high of an ABV.

O: Interesting, and much more complex than the vast majority of non-spiced brown ales. Enjoyable and recommended.

Apr 15, 2013
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BMMillsy from Florida

3.84/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2013 Improv. Pours super dark brown from the bottle with some ruby edges. Very small off white head. Smell is big spicy rye, vegetal hops, and some toffee-biscut-caramel. Thick mouthfeel up front that lightens as it goes down. Low carbonation. Spicy rye takes over with a sweet malt finish. Was hoping for a bit more sweetness, given the carbonation but overall a well done rye.

Apr 13, 2013
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wyatt13 from Illinois

3.86/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

My Dad picked this up from Cigar City after we toured the brewery. Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a Cigar City snifter.

A - Pours a very dark reddish-brown that borders on opaque. There's a half finger of off-white head that dissipates rather quickly. Minimal lacing.

S - Caramel dominates the smell, with brown sugar there as well. Some hops poke their head in if I really stick my nostrils in there.

T - Sweet and malty up front, with the roast characteristics of a milder brown ale. The finish is the really interesting part though -- slightly bready & boozy, with a spicy aftertaste that really lingers long past the swallow. I'm assuming this is the rye shining through.

M - Rather thin mouthfeel that leaves some residual sweetness in the mouth. A bit dry, which encourages additional sipping.

O - A very unique beer that seems to be the collision of several styles. In my opinion, this beer is on the level of the phrase "jack of all trades, but master of none." There are some complex & intriguing things going on here, but it doesn't all come together. If you've ever been to an improv comedy show, you understand the irony of this beer's name.

Mar 26, 2013
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biga7346 from Michigan

3.52/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A - Viscous, turbid brownish, mahogany, caramel, huge coning tannish head, lots of lacing.

N - Pie cherries, sugar, biscuity, licorice, some alcohol and phenols, dried fruit, maroschino cherries, fruit juice, toast points and strangely enough - kahlua liqueur.

T/M - Chewiness throughout, some rye bread in the finish, thinner than I expected, bakers chocolate, coffee beans, freshly baked bread, chocolate wafers, carraway seed and black licorice; it's grainy, chewy, dense; nice texture throughout.

D - Lot of this to blanket the palate in a 750ml bottle, pleasant drinking imperial brown ale, would be great with dessert like chocolate mousse.

Mar 23, 2013
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Holmes698 from Pennsylvania

1.27/5  rDev -66.8%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

This beer was just terrible. The color was real nice, but that is about it. It was way over carbonated and tasted sour like spoiled lunch meat mixed with Brett. Pretty sure this was a bottle that was infected or something. I hope this was not the intended carbonation, aroma and taste. Every other beer I've had from Cigar City has been outstanding...not this one.

Nov 29, 2012
Photo of dcs1548
dcs1548 from Virginia

4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Small to medium foam head, dark brown color and rye and toasted smell. Quite hoppy, with a very present rye taste. Subtle rich caramel taste. Has a nice bitter finish. Hard to rate because it's such a unique beer with quite a few flavors at once, not too many similar beers to compare it to. A very good beer, though.

Sep 01, 2012
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KajII from North Carolina

3.87/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

[Sugggested Glassware: Shaker Glass]

The pour was a rich dark brown with a large (2-3 finger) light brown frothy head that lasted a little while, eventually receding down to a heavy film with a large collar and excellent sticky spotty lacing.

The aroma was of a toasted cereal malt, pine hops and an earthy yeast with notes of rye, oats, coffee, dark chocolate, caramel and a slight nutty presence.

The taste was very malty with a slight caramel sweetness and a hint of chocolate and oats early on, progressing into a nice hoppy flavor with notes of coffee and rye towards the end. The flavor lasted an average time proceeding the swallow with a pronounced piney rye taste left lying on the taste buds.

Mouthfeel was medium in body with a dry creamy texture and a medium carbonation.

Overall a great job on the blending of flavors that created a smooth, bold taste and an awesome drinkability, which did a fantastic job of hiding the high ABV...

Aug 23, 2012
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inlimbo77 from Delaware

3.38/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle, 4/12 bottle date
Unmarked snifter

A: Pours a dirty brown color. Hazy and cloudy. Light tan head. Some lacing sheeting.

S: Some spicy hop notes. Bready rye malts come in there after that. Maybe some mild chocolate hints as well as coffee?

T: Don't remember much of the flavor of this one, just that I wasn't completely blown away by it. It was a fairly predictable brown ale with a touch more hops and some spice from the rye malt. Don't know if getting it a little fresher would have helped, so eventually I'll have to try a newer bottle.

M: Medium to full bodied.

O: C+

Aug 08, 2012
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Arithmeticus from Maryland

3.89/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Poured chilled in ale glass at the White House.

A: dark brown (bit of red); good carbonation; little head, not much lacing
S: arresting sweet boozy smell; earthy, coffee on the back end
T: roasted barley, rye on the back end; very bitter and hoppy
M: thick and syrupy; I consider this a detriment, despite my colleague's opinion

A very fine closer for the evening; good for brooding

Jul 13, 2012
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Huhzubendah from District of Columbia

4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On draft at Churchkey in D.C.

The beer appears a russet brown hue with a quarter inch of tan head. Aromas include malt, light fruit, a touch of roast, breads / grains. Nice flavor. Well balanced and tasty. I like the flavor a little better than the aroma. Lightly sweet throughout. Subtle chocolate tones and a pleasant bready character. A solid brew from Cigar City.

Jul 04, 2012
Photo of ehammond1

2.75/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, DSho!

Murky brown with a small light brown head that leaves spots down the glass. Unspectacular though appropriate.

A somewhat spicy aroma for a brown brown ale, with a hint of sweetness, and floral hop character.

An unbalanced, strange brown ale, with floral hops and rye flavors not balancing all too well with the bready malt. This is also quite bitter for a brown ale.

Medium bodied with moderate to high carbonation.

I didn't particularly care for this beer. There's simply too much going on here without adding complexity or being all that tasty. Fail.

Jun 27, 2012
Photo of sukwonee
sukwonee from Washington

3.06/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Dark brown with one finger head, good amount of lacing. Looks good.

S: Hops... chocolate... caramel malt... odd...
some spice too?

T: Yuck... It's chocolate-y at first, then followed by some spicy rye flavour, followed by oatmeal like consistency feel (I know I am rating taste, but can't help noticing this)... hoppy bitterness... not good... it's really really weird

M: Mouthfeel is good... but the question is, what the hell am I drinking? It's smooth and has oatmeal stout consistency. Alcohol is not detected much.

O: I won't seek for this again. It's definitely unique, but not my cup of tea for sure.

Jun 16, 2012
Photo of 4balance

4.23/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 pint 9.4 oz bottle thanks to DSho (great BA)

Pours a deep dark brown with an inch of khaki head with really good sticky lacing throughout.

Aroma is rye, hops, oats and malt.

Taste is amazing! A plethora of flavor, rye, hops, deep dark roasted caramel malts, oats, chocolate, coffee and spices.

Mouthfeel has average carbonation, drying bitter finish along with some malts that linger.

Overall an amazing brew, tons of really complex flavors. Mighty tasty; recommended.

Jun 10, 2012
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BARFLYB from Pennsylvania

4.12/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On Tap at Prohibition Taproom for their Cigar City/Funky Buddah event for Philly Beer Week 2012. This beer week was the year of the brown ale variation, I had so many.

Right off the bat without knowing anything about this beer I smelled oatmeal. It was real rich. Ok, starting from the top, the beer was a very dark shoe polish brown with some bubbles on the top, not much lace, none at all actually. Smell is oatmeal as stated above. It is rich with some caramel and rye alt backing with some earthy hop aroma. Maybe some cocco with warming. Rich malt profile throughout without overkill. Taste is pretty nice, I get a lot of flavor. Not knowing the age of the keg, I have to say it is at least drinking well. Tastes include some nut flavor with oatmeal, rye malt flavor, some dark fruit appeal, mild hop intrusion and some baked bread. It comes together nicely. Although Browns are not my thing, Florida seems to pump out some nice big versions of them. Heres to hoping more sees it's way up to Philly on a more annual basis, besides the maduro.

Jun 09, 2012
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ThePorterSorter from Oregon

4.11/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dull brown pour with a creamy tan head that holds strong despite its looks thick and stagnant with its dense body and heavy sediment. The nose is a weak jumbling of favors that are rather hard to decipher. There is a definite booziness and spice, but it's not pronounced. However, the taste is an intense chocolate milkiness with a nice complimentary spiciness from the rye and hops. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth and drinkable with great balance between the intense flavors. It's definitely a big beer that I'd expect from ccb, but it's quite drinkable at the same time. Very tasty and would probably be great in white oak.

Jun 08, 2012
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.25/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to ehammond1 for sharing this at DarthKostrizer's tasting.

Bottled 3/2012.

Pours a murky brown with a khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, rye, brown sugar, and some herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a pretty harsh level of bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer some some harsh flavors going on.

Jun 03, 2012
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nitro0292 from New York

3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bomber that I picked up at the brewery. Sitting in the fridge for about a month.

Solid black color, just off white head that sticks around for a long time and leaves plenty of lacing. Traces of deep, dark mahogany when held up to the light. Good clarity.

Smell is stout-lie balanced with some hops, but not strong enough to stand out.

There is a definite rye character in the taste, mostly upfront with that characteristic flavor of slight sourness. Malty taste comes in the middle with a bitter and dry finish. The rye adds a very unique character with the stout qualities. Hops come in the end to add some earthy and pine flavors. A little bit too much going on, I'm not sure why they added rye.

Mouthfeel is smooth, to be expected given the oats. Light carbonation makes the sour and bitter notes palatable.

There is no "3.75", so I gave it a 4. It is not a bad beer, and I really want to like it, because it is well made and the quality shows. I'm not sure the rye really adds to this beer. I think no rye and another ounce of dry hops would get 'er done perfectly.

May 28, 2012
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Florida9 from Illinois

2.88/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Fairly translucent and thin shade of dark mahogany brown. Slight haze is noticeable. Forms a good inch or so of foamy light tan head that reduces down to a thick surface coating. Virtually no lacing.

S: This beer has some age on it, but, surprisingly, the hops are still there. Lots of citrus, floral, and orange with notes of wood, caramel, and just a faint hint of tartness.

T: The taste just isn't right. Starts off with a light toffee sweetness, there is a bit of light citrus and a little floral quality. Then it turns rather woody with a light, but somewhat annoying, unpleasant, and out-of-place sourness. Finishes with a dry bitterness.

M: Medium bodied, but feels quite light in the mouth. Medium carbonation. Mild to moderate bitterness.

O: This one is a tough one to drink and its either starting to show an infection or just isn't very good. However, since several of the other reviews are quite similar to mine, I'm going to have to conclude it's the latter.

May 09, 2012
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BrownNut from Florida

4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served 50-ish degrees in a nonic. No freshness date. I wonder how old mine is. My label, which uses an old-style typewriter font, doesn't match the label on their site in April 2012, which uses a sort of Papyrus font.

Beware. Despite having sat perfectly still for days, this baby was an instant foamer and stayed superheady in the glass. Other reviews show I'm far from the only one. I had to pour and wait and pour and wait three long waits for the head to dissipate before I could get the glass full. Did the same thing with each refill as I tried to get through the rest of the bomber. That's some seriously persistent foam.

A - Cloudy reddish brown right away despite a careful pour. Foamy head for days - it made wonderful topographical forms as it slowly slowly dissipated. Crazy lacing. I'm talking about fat chunks of sea foam adhering to the side of the glass and not going anywhere.

S - Sweet rum raisiny, a little yeast. Once you get past the head, you smell a bit more malt, which increases as it warms. It becomes really pleasant and comforting to smell as you take a pull off of it. I swear there's almost the briny warm smell of the ocean in that whiff.

T - Good and strange. Right away a mild bitter note makes itself known, more like char/roast bitter than hops bitter though, and at a level that is interesting and distinctive rather than overbearing or distracting. That's as India as it gets before the aftertaste in my opinion, which isn't very India at all. And I don't get the pine or citrus notes that the brewer and some other reviewers get. But that bitterness overlaps with what's behind it - a kind of clean, antiseptic sweet taste that echoes the rum raisin in the aroma (the bridge is rum/alcohol to alcohol/antiseptic). That overlaps with a peaty note, phenolic like an Islay single malt scotch, veering into band-aid territory (Laphraoig lovers take note). I think that's actually the rye that's doing that. It doesn't quite remind me of rye whiskey but is maybe a phenolic cousin. At the end of the chain, overlapping with the band-aids, is a mild bitterness that's closer to hop bitterness, and spice notes on the warm, mildly boozy exhale and burps. Guess that's the rye again. Further down in the glass, those charry/peaty notes are still present, but a little more malty sweetness comes out with that briny note in the aroma. Comforting. I give it a 4.5 on taste not for deliciousness, but for interestingness and uniqueness.

M - Just a hint of sting and tingle. A bit of viscosity left behind on the roof of the mouth - that may be the only thing that suggests it's an oatmeal stout - which then converts into an mildly astringent hop dryness which sticks with you after you've finished.

O - The reason I keep exploring beers is to find interesting ones. This one totally hits that mark. It's unusual and memorable. Working your way through a bomber is kind of a journey. I had to rewrite this part of the review because initially I said I was glad I tried it but would not likely buy it again, mainly because I'm not a big fan of phenol-y/band-aid-y Islay malt notes, but would be happy if you served it to me at your house so we could talk about it. But now at the bottom of the glass I've changed my mind. I want to take this journey again! It's not something you'd drink every day, but it's such an interesting thing that it wants to be a special occasion brew. It defines an evening. This brewery continues to impress.

Apr 11, 2012
Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale from Cigar City Brewing
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 366 ratings