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

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Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown AleImprov (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale

Brewed by:
Cigar City Brewing
Florida, United States

Style: American Brown Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by tpd975 on 03-29-2009

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Reviews: 179 | Ratings: 366
Photo of Sammy
3.79/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Rattle 'n' Hum Cigar City event. Hoppy aroma. Dark colour, some lacing. Imperial brown ale, lots of hop, above average mouthfeel boosted by oats. Citrus taste, some roast, chocolate malts. Decent drinkability.
Had again in bottle 5 months later and it was funky, thick, smokey, spicy.
Had again 2.5 years later and had a good balance, thanks Peter.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.28/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Thick large tan head with lots of retention and tons of lacing on a dark amber/brown body.

S: lots of coffee, hops, with a grassy/floral and almost bourbon like note.

T: sweet rye and caramel malt to start, finishes with dark chocolate, oak and coffee notes.

M: moderate to high carbonation and medium to full body.

Overall: This one is very complex and very good, plain and simple.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.25/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

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Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ordered a bottle of this to split with a friend at the Tap and Table before it closed up. This beer poured out as a deep brown color with a creamy tan colored head on top. The smell of the beer was mild yet had some little pops of spice that filled the nose. Lots of roasted aromas too. The taste of the beer was roasted with an interesting amount of spicy rye and citrusy hops. There was a lot going on in this brew, it's hard to pin point specifics really but I found it to be a very neat beer. The mouthfeel was on the heavy side, thick and rich leaving a coating in the mouth for a bit. Overall I thought this beer was very good and would enjoy having it again one day.

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Photo of brentk56
4.45/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a muddy coffee color (as if just a touch of cream had been added to the cup) with a buoyant head that sheets the glass

Smell: Pithy bitterness dominates the aroma, but underneath are hints of brown bread, oats and almonds

Taste: Starts out either with a brown sugar, chocolate, oat and nut character or with a very bitter, spicy and pithy element that tingles on the tongue - with each sip I get alternating sensations, though by mid-palate, all of these flavors clearly come through; after the swallow, the spicy rye flavors are clearly dominant, along with the oatmeal and brown sugar to keep things in balance

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and prickly, with moderate to high carbonation

Drinkability: I cannot recall a more enigmatic beer - this one is like a chameleon, with each sip it changes its flavor profile

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Photo of Phyl21ca
3.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a cloudy deep brown color ale with a huge light brown color head with good retention and some good lacing. Aroma of strong grassy and earthy hops are mix with some rye malt. Taste is a somewhat unique mix between loads of rye malt with loads of grassy and earthy hops and a medium bitter finish. Body is quite full with limited filtration and great carbonation with no apparent alcohol. Not sure I would drink this on a regular basis but a very interesting experiment nonetheless.

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Photo of zeff80
2.46/5  rDev -34.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A - Poured out a fairly dark brown color with a thick, tan head of foam that had some good retention. Some lacing.

S - It smelled very malty and of some pine. There were some funky notes, too.

T - Something wasn't right here. The flavor was pretty messy with an odd funkiness and metallic taste. Hoppy bitterness plus tons of malty sweetness couldn't correct the other odd flavors.

M - It was crisp and sharp with a dry finish. A medium-bodied beer.

D - It just didn't taste right. I don't know if the funky flavor is intention. To me it seems they tried to do too much with a unique style.

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Photo of mothman
1.44/5  rDev -61.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Pours ¼ finger of fizzy light brown head. Color is a murky caramel brown.

Aroma: Rye, sourness, toasted nuts, tart flavors, and hops. Bad.

Taste: Rye, weedy hops, citrus, oaky. Booze shows. Something is off here. It has BO flavors.

Mouthfeel: Fizzy, spiced. Lighter bodied with a higher amount of carbonation. Ends dry.

Overall, this one isn't very good or it is infected. Not very good and not drinkable any bit. Drainpour.

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Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - One finger of light tan foam on top of an opaque, dark brown body. The head settles quickly and leaves moderate lace.

S - Velvety pine hops with spicy rye and some cloves.

T - Sweet rye and toasted malt up front. Moderately strong pine hops and brown sugar notes. The hops come out more towards the end with a spicy flavor and stronger bitterness. Lots of grapefruit and brown sugar in the finish.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a slightly dry finish.

D - Very aggressive, sugary malt and dark, spicy hops make for a robust, heavy beer that borders on barleywine territory. It is relatively well balanced, but the malt is kind of muddy. A more aromatic, fruity hop presence might help lift it off the palate in the finish.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into a pint glass. Thanks go to Ffej for sharing this one.

Pours a deep unfiltered brown in the glass, with 1 1/2 fingers of foamy light mocha head. Very robust retention here, leaving back a good bit of heavy sticky lacing. The aroma is floral and even a bit piney, with some earthy green citric tones and the bready spiciness of the rye really coming out strong. Some sweeter caramel malt notes ride along the back.

The taste is sharp with hop resins and fairly spicy overall in the mouth, while a deep tang of bread, caramel, and earthy citrus that does it's best to try and keep this on the sweeter side of the profile. Very spicy and dry finish on this, which isn't too surprising. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a good bit of sharpness to the carbonation up front but then definitely gets more bubbly and creamy towards the back of the swallow. And wow, I'm not really getting too much alcohol here at all for a 9% beer. I was actually quite shocked when I saw the ABV on here, as this definitely felt more like it was in the 6-7% range. Very impressive feel on this.

Another nicely done brew here from Cigar City, with the rye and hops complimenting each other well, while the alcohol content of this was hidden most impressively. I wouldn't hesitate to check this out again down the line.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.39/5  rDev -36.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Pours an opaque, dark brown body with a suspiciously tall, compacted, yellowish head.

Smell: Toffee-scented malts with additional hints of toast, citrus, nuts and rye grain are quashed by phenol-soaked work rags forced over my mouth and nose by an unseen assalant. What I hope was an unintentional funkiness is uncomplimentary to the rest of the brew.

Taste: Toasted nuts and toffee with a zip of spicy rye and hint of cocoa. Fruity citrus hop character with ample bitterness. Sadly, all this is lacerated by a voracious funkiness and once the stale, tart fruit, cobwebs, and bandages swiped from a first aid kit start rolling in, they don't roll out. Hard dryness and a continued phenolic fanfare on the finish you need to be sitting down for.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation. Soft mouthfeel from all of the rampant carbonation present.

Drinkability: Unfortunately, a real dud for me, but with all of the home runs they've hit, I can allow a shameful strike out. With enough improvising you're bound to let out some real sour notes.

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Photo of billab914
2.31/5  rDev -38.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

750ml bottle into my Bruery tulip. As I opened the bottle it started to gush a little which didn't seem like a good sign. As I poured it into the glass I got mostly foam at first. As it settled it was a dark, murky, caramel brown color. Once the head settled down it was a pretty good looking beer though with some great lacing on the glass as I drank it.

The aroma mixes a sweeter, malty flavor with some bitter, slightly citrusy hoppiness and a musty, tart, sourness. Interesting mix of flavors. I can't imagine the sharp, funkiness is intentional though .

The taste shows a lot of bitterness to it throughout the flavor. I get a citrus rind, hop bitterness mixing with some roasted, burnt flavors. Some of that musty sourness creeps into the flavor as well, especially in the finish. It's not awful, but the flavors just don't work well for me at all.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being high. Overall it was an interesting beer, but not a very good one. I'm hoping this isn't the way they intended it to taste, and I also hope I get to try it again sometime.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.65/5  rDev +24%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was really quite the enigma for me. I was not really sure what to make of it and it took the whole session for me to really figure it out. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 10/27/2009.

Rich dark brown pour, just menacing looking with a huge tan head that just towered over the top of the glass. Fading slowly it left behind tons of side glass lacing and a huge amount of spider like webs. Aroma was sweet and spicy at the same time. Notes of rye, brown sugar, molasses like touches and hints of coffee are all coming through very clearly. Each sip now seem to get a bit more complex then the one before it, really very well done here. Rich chocolate notes blending well now with huge malts and a touch of rye that are just fantastic. Light suagry finish with a touch of hops in the back, just enough to push it over the edge for me. ABV is very well hidden and had no issues at all with polishing this one off.

Overall this was very, very solid. Not really sure what style it fits into but it was soo damn good. I was very impressed here.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of tdm168
3.51/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jtd1969 for bringing this back from Florida.

Pours a very dark brown with little head. The nose is odd. There are faint oatmeal and butterscotch notes but mostly must and wet dog. Not very appetizing. The taste is caramel, faint rye, and faint hops up front with a rich roasted, chocolate malt in the finish as well as some faint alcohol esters. The flavor is rather complex and actually does change throughout the sip. The mouthfeel is crisp up front but smooths out and has a rich, medium body.

This is a solid brown ale. The nose threw me off, and I wasn't very excited to proceed but I'm glad I did. The flavor was solid and rather complex. Overall, a decent beer.

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

$13.99 for the bomber @ DeCicco's in Ardsley, NY. No freshness info offered.

Pours dark brown, mocha head, nice fine sheeting and respectable delicate and scattered lacing.

Dark grains, some rye and whisky noted on the nose.

Tasty brew, infused with noticable rye, dark sweet malts and more lite whisky. Gritty and drying hops come in late.

Moderate carbonation, decent mouthfeel. Nice robust winter sipper. Worth a try

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass, the beer is a hazy, almost opaque, deep, auburn-brown coloring with a massive, chunky, big bubbled, orange-tinted biege head. The head pours huge, and there is a minimal cascade with the pour while the head settles out. Aromas are strong rye, caramel sweetness, and a slightly toasted note. The beer's scent also has some slight citrus highlights, also. The beer has a wild blend of flavors, including a smooth, roasted coffee bitterness, tart grapefruit highlights, semi-sweet and dark caramel sugary flavors, and a heavy hopping at the end to pull it all together and dry it out. The beer has a bitter and tart aftertaste, including the hops and citrus notes, with a dry and crisp finish. Great blend of flavors and body that transmit this extremely unique beer.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to cyrusthepup for the brew.

750ml Bottle

Poured into a chalice a deep brown color, nice carbonation, very nice creamy three-finger tan head, with lots of thick/creamy sticky lacing and small islands left behind. The nose is malty, with some yeast notes, licorice, chocolate, toffee, slight citrus. The taste is sweet, malty, yeasty, with some licorice, chocolate/toffee, and some slight citrus notes, there is some funkyness going on with this brew. Medium body, the finish is slightly dry/bitter. The ABV is hidden very well. Drinkable, a tasty, but different brew, worth checking out.

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Photo of liamt07
2.36/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottle provided by Jason, 750ml into some tulips. Began to aggressively foam as soon as we popped the top. Not a good start.

Poured dark brown, with some deep red colours when held to the light. Massive light tan coloured head, sticky and lacy, fantastic retention nonetheless. And that's where the fun ended. Nose has some menthol, hops, light sourness and phenolic notes. Infection? Taste confirmed this I thought. Intense rye and oatmeal character, roast with overlying burnt bandaid and phenolic notes. Sourness present with this is unbearable. Medium thin-body, sour and completely unpleasant. We all ruled this a drain pour, signs of infection all around and just generally undrinkable. I'm sure this would've been nice on tap somewhere though!

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Photo of WesWes
4.17/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark brown color with a thick frothy off-white head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a killer hop nose that's full of citrus hop bitterness. It has a nice pale, crystal, and roasted malt scent as well as a spicy rye aroma. The rye spiciness compliments the citrus hop character. The taste is good. It has a solid malt bill that produces a dry roasted flavor as well as a spicy rye edge. It goes down smooth and easy with a dominating hop bitterness that resinates in the finish. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a terrific beer. I'm a sucker for rye IPAs anyways, but this one brings a more complex malt profile.

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Photo of Mora2000
3/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer opens with a huge pop and immediately starts gushing out the top. Something smells sour. This is not looking good.

The beer pours dark brown with a huge tan head that takes up most of the glass. This is definitely a bad bottle. The aroma is tart dark fruit. The flavor is rye with some dark malts, oak, smoke and quite a bit of tartness. Thick mouthfeel and low carbonation, despite having the huge head. I guess that is the infection that caused the huge head. Disappointing overall since I was really looking forward to this one.

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.15/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Purchased from the Brewery January 2011; Sampled 11 days later
A solid pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a three-finger thick, nicely browned, dark tan colored head. As the head subsides it leaves a nice amount of lacing on the sides of my glass, though it doesn't have the dense, staying power that would make it perfect, but near perfect is pretty damn good. The beer is a very dark, concentrated, amber-brown color that shows a bright, brilliantly hued (though not perfectly clear), rich ruby color when held up directly to the light. The beer smells thick with fruity, then resinous hops that are backed by supporting notes of caramelized malt and toasted whole grain. Super tropical fruit hop character of lychee, kumquat zest, sweetened hibiscus, amplified ruby red grapefruit juice (think Ocean Spray brand), honey drenched orange blossoms and super ripe tangelo that has been freshly juiced with the zest added are all quite noticeable. This is backed, distantly, by some supporting resionous notes that contribute hints of pine, maybe a suggestion of menthol and even a hint of herbal "hemp" oil. I wasn't expecting the nose of this beer to be so incredibly dominated by fruit leaning hop notes, but I really am enjoying it quite a bit. You wouldn't ever guess how dark this beer is from the nose unless you really, really dig around in it; after you do there is a touch of nuttiness as well as some spicy, toasted whole grain notes that peek through just a touch.

Fairly thick, and definitely viscous as it hits my tongue; you can feel the density of this thing as it clings to the palate after my first sip. A bitter, herbal and pine-like hop character does a good job of cutting through the viscosity in the lingering finish and helps to clear the palate up in anticipation of another sip. This has quite a bit of sweetness to it that accentuates and is accentuated by an aggressive, loud, fruity hop character that is dense with notes of candied kumquats, lychee syrup, Curacao orange zest, ruby red grapefruit, . The malt character from the brown ale does still play a secondary role to the hop flavors, but it is a lot more noticeable than it was in the nose; flavors of roast leaning coffee intermingle with and linger on the palate like the pine and bitter notes towards the finish (and in fact accentuates the bitterness a bit), there is a definite nutty note to this brew, and a really nicely spicy, almost rye-like (wait, I just checked and this does actually have rye in it, so I wasn't imagining it), dark grain character to it. Interestingly enough, after only a bit of time, the body of this beer seems significantly reduced; it still has some heft to it, but it is now not nearly as viscous and the density of this seems much reduced; this now seems to fit into the quaffability region of something like a Double IPA (even if it is still on the high end for that, at least for me (in that I prefer lighter bodied versions).

Both the touch of roast and to a lesser degree the spicy grain character accentuate the sharper, not quite harsh, herbal and bitter hop notes that dominate this beer; it is not enough to really detract from the beer, but it keeps this from being wonderfully integrated. I have yet to really find a dark malt leaning, super hoppy beer that doesn't do this and it has honestly made me think that if you want a really hop focused beer you should not add any dark / roasted leaning grain notes to it. Having said that, this beer definitely is quite tasty, definitely enjoyable and something I would happily drink again; it is just that the hop character would be so much brighter, smoother and well integrated without the roast grain notes (though I wouldn't mind seeing the spicy rye component staying on). In the end this is a fantastic beer that I can't quite help thinking is a bit Bi-polar in character.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

ditmier brought this over to inflatablechair's house over the weekend... Thanks to Eric and Sam... I had never heard of this brew.. and am glad to have had the chance to try it... poured into my small La Trappe glass.

Deep dark brown .. very cloudy .. lite tan head..

Aroma is hop centric .. spicy notes are very prevalent.. citric and some dark/toasty malts....

Flavor is tough for me... It just seems alll over the place... a shit-ton of stuff going on and never seems to gel. Fairly large bitterness in the front.. dark malty.. toasty... roasty... etc... the rye is there, but I could also be imagining things.... spicy and sorta slippery on the palate... a bit of nutty maltiness on later glasses... the body seems a bit light.. and carbonation is about right.

I could give this beer a bunch of points for "complexity"... but if I did, I would subtract for it being too much of "everything"... It seems like a good/great homebrewer just decided to go nuts and throw everything into the kettle...

Christ.. what next? use a fruity hefe yeast and ferment it warm with cigar boxes and indian reservation beef jerky? sometimes, too much is seriously, too much.

My moral.. I appreciate for sure the attempt.. but not the overall example.... Flavors and aromas need to mesh and compliment... Not this time.

Thanks Eric for the many pulls from the bottle.. but.. I am seriously hoping the CC brews in the cellar are better than this one.

Edit: Wow.. My review wasn't as bad as I expected... It probably should have been, but I don't want to poison the well for future reviews.

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Photo of John_M
4.03/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a solid, deep brown color with an impressive thick creamy head. There is very good head retention in this beer and plenty of sticky lacing all around. The nose in this beer is pretty interesting, with plenty of brown sugar, molasses, and some noticeable perfumy spicey hops. I should add that the rye aroma in this beer is also very pronounced. On the palate this beer is pretty delicious, with a considerable amount of flavor. Initially I get some moderately sweet brown sugar, chocolate and rye, but with the beer finishing on a dry, hoppy note. Very nice. Mouthfeel is pretty full, but not the least bit heavy. Drinkability is likewise pretty good, with the alcohol well disguised in this 9% beer.

This is a pretty solid beer, even if it has a bit more rye flavor then I really like. Nevertheless, this is an impressive, well made beer.

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Improv (Improvisación) Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale from Cigar City Brewing
3.75 out of 5 based on 366 ratings.
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