Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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Foreign / Export Stout
3.95 | pDev: 10.13%
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Notes: Babayaga, our autumn seasonal beer, appears each year just as the winds begin to blow a little stronger and the nights bring Winter’s first frost. The beer is a 7% export-strength woodland stout. We found this beer in a cauldron in a tiny wooden cabin perched on chicken legs in the woods near the Volga River. The old lady inside, an ancient witch/wise-woman/baby-eater called Baba Yaga, let us try some. We liked it so much, she said we could brew it for all of you here back home, as long as we named it after her. And so we did! How could we not have: she’d have eaten us if we didn’t!

It took us a while to figure out the secrets to Baba Yaga’s recipe, but we think we’ve got it: We smoke some malt with rosemary, and we add a few other eerie embellishments that she’s making us keep hush-hush. We ferment with a mix of English and Belgian yeast strains. This beer should taste like Eastern European folklore, like woodland, streams, cold dark nights and woodsmoke. Enjoy it!

…And what’s over here? A poem about the eerie old woman and the beer she brought to us! Close your eyes, imagine yourself lost deep in the foggy thicket somewhere, and click the little linky below…
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Photo of DovGibor
3.97/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz pour. Pitch black with a small creamy brown head that lingers well.

Aroma is light toast. Little malt, no noticeable hops. Silky mouthfeel. Not as thick a mouthfeel as some stouts but decent. Flavor flavor is light toast with suggestion of coffee.

Nice beer; a good replacement for Guinness. But nothing outstanding.

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DovGibor from New York, Dec 13, 2015
Photo of Dolphinsmarlins1
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The aspect of this one that stands out is the smokey flavor. It isn't obnoxious, but it isn't a flavor I prefer in a beer. Nevertheless, it is a decent brew for the price. I was told that this style (Sylvan) is a unique and is a must try. I have tasted better, but I have also tasted worse.

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Dolphinsmarlins1 from Massachusetts, Nov 21, 2015
Photo of vfgccp
4.15/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Purchased in 2013, opened 2015

A - Deep cola black body with black cherry highlights. Medium khaki head with ok retention and lace.

S - Really nice, unique nose. Deliciously roasty with campfire smoke, sage, allspice, savory spice, onion powder (in a good way), and molasses.

T - Earthy, boozy, and surprisingly bitter with a woody smoke. Chard wood, coffee grinds, cream, caramel, strong herbal bitterness through the center, touch of vanilla, a sharp espresso acidity, and a pleasant dry wood smoke.

M - Medium-full body is par for the style.

O - Nice complexity with a pleasantly net-bitter balance. I'd say this is would be one of my niche personal favorites within the style.

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vfgccp from New York, Apr 03, 2015
Photo of woodychandler
3.79/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I am now committed to reducing, if not eradicating, my backlog of bottles and I have taken to enlisting aid in doing so. The real logjam comes in the form of bombers. Do not misunderstand me, I am capable of drinking the contents of a bomber by myself, but I am hesitant to do so. Bomb(er)s away!

A little backstory on this one: The bottleneck sticker reads"Bottled October 2011" and it was presented to me on my 47th birthday (25 Feb 2012) by my doppelganger clonsin, Jim Barnes, who was repping for Pretty Things at the time. Justin Chlan and I were now joined by one of my former mentors, Tom "Beek" Biechler on the porch.

From the bottle: "Good Time Artisinal Beers"; "Sylvan Stout".

After popping the cap, I gave everyone a generous pour. This created a finger of dense, deep-tan/light-brown head with good retention. Color was a deep, dark-brown (SRM = 44), allowing zero light penetration. Nose was really rich - molasses, anise, light charcoal, vanilla. Mouthfeel was surprisingly only medium. The taste was semi-sweet with flavors including dried dark fruits, dark chocolate and a little bit of smokiness. The finish was dry and smoky and we decided to go in a different direction for our next beer.

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woodychandler from Pennsylvania, Jul 13, 2014
Photo of jwchestnut
4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This is a dark, dark brown beer with a short white head. The nose is not as roasty or smokey as I would have thought it would but I liked it quite a bit. Some molasses, some smoke and a little licorice come through. The taste was similar with what started as a slight metallic aftertaste that faded as it warmed and gave some hints of anise, sage and rosemary at the back of the tongue. The chocolate smokiness and molasses also grew as it warmed. I enjoyed it more and more as it warmed. The mouthfeel was smooth, medium bodied. I always like a stout with a little more body than this one but it worked well. All in all, I really enjoyed this and would encourage anyone drinking it on tap to give it sometime.

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jwchestnut from Massachusetts, Mar 05, 2014
Photo of NiceTaps
4.54/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a stemmed tulip glass.

A- It pours nicely and looks good while pouring. So oil-spill dark brown that it's black in color with a dark British tan colored head, big and whipped 2-plus finger. Ample foamy lacing. Active bubbles to start that get lost in the darkness.

S- NOT a roasted malt and chocolate overload. Sure, there's some roasted malt but the beauty of its aroma is in the subtle blend of molasses, sweet and dark chocolates, hop spiciness, the right touch of alcohol, and black licorice. Light smokiness. A sublime combination.

T- The flavor profile follows the nose. It's mellow, not as intense as many stouts. The dark chocolate, dark malt and licorice are sweetened nicely by the molasses and spice.

M- Well carbonated with medium body. Tingles. Hearty enough, not quite chewy.

O- It must be the combination of 7.0 abv and 48 ibus that makes this a hit for me. Bold, not boozy. Balanced, not sugary or bitter. And, the aroma; mmm

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NiceTaps from New Jersey, Feb 28, 2014
Photo of Florida9
4.19/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled October 2011

A: Pours quite a bit thicker than I was expecting. Appears black in the glass, but dark brown on the pour. Forms a moderate sized, very creamy, dark tan colored head. Moderate lacing.

S: Aroma is heavily roasted malts, chocolate, and a touch of smoke.

T: Taste is similar, but is a bit more complex. Starts with a moderate sweetness mixed with milk chocolate flavors giving the impression of chocolate milk, but then it quickly turns smoky, almost burnt or acrid, but not overdone. Dark roasted malts and burnt coffee on the back end. Finish is a touch acidic (more like black coffee than acetic).

M: Full bodied. Very smooth. Voluptuous. Mild bitterness. Slightly acrid.

O: I've been sitting on this one for longer than I should have. Great balance of flavors. A very nice stout that I was expecting.

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Florida9 from Illinois, Dec 28, 2013
Photo of Fatehunter
3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Poured a thin tan head on a pitch black body.
The aroma is molasses, black licorice, coffee and roasted malt. Great blend.
Taste is licorice sweet at first, warm alcohol and roasted malt middle, finishes with a mild lemon bitterness. Nice profile.
The texture is thicker with a good fizz and overall moderate carbonation.
Nicely done.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
3.99/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled In: SEP 2013

A: Pours a near pitch black color with a fingers worth of head that quickly fizzles down to a very thin layer of bubbles

S: Nice and malty with a light Belgian influence. Some dark chocolate comes through along with dark fruits and light spices from the yeast

T: Starts off a bit more malt-forward with some lightly sweet dark chocolate and some roastiness. This is followed by the Belgian yeast which imparts some nice dark fruity notes and some spiciness. Finishes with a nice mix of the two as well as some char, smoke, and a light nuttiness

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation

O: A nice mid-Fall FES with a good mix of maltiness and yeast character. Easy to drink and can be found at a nice price. Kinda reminds me of Allagash Black. Seek some out

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Photo of Dope
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled Oct 2010, batch 2. Closing in on 3 years old.

A: Pours a deep, dark brown but not quite black. Large, effervescent light brown head. Good retention as the head slowly fades away. Minimal lacing, just some splotches here and there.

S: Mild roasted malt aroma. A bit charry and grainy. Pretty mellow (probably due to the age).

T: Stronger flavors, however. Some smoke up front with some sweet chocolate. Grainy and spicy in the middle. Definitely get some rosemary (unless it's my imagination) here. Finish is a little less sweet but with some bitter chocolate, char and sweet grains. A little bit dry in the lingering aftertaste.

M: Nice and smooth, mellow and medium bodied.

O: Nice FES. Not a ton of roasted malt character outside of the chocolate. Lots of sweet grains balances out the bitter smoke and roasted malt. Flavors are pretty well integrated and smooth, probably attributable to the age. This one has held up great. Tasty and unique FES.

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Dope from Massachusetts, Jul 19, 2013
Photo of HBBJ
4.51/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black, with a tinge of red. Opaque. Thick, brown, long-lasting head with copious lacing.

Smell: Big burst of chocolate, followed by coffee and burnt toffee. Malty with some yeast fruitiness.

Taste: Big, bold coffee-toffee flavor. Dark and roasted malt, with a touch of hop flavor. Long, chocolatey aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Heavy and creamy. Dry, with a bite from hop bittering.

Overall: Export-style, drier and stronger than many stouts. Outstanding. A world-class stout.

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HBBJ from Massachusetts, Jun 13, 2013
Photo of sleuthdog
3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to BobZ. Thanks Bob!

Pour: Very dark brown when held up to light. Not that light penetrates but seems to lighten up at the edges. Otherwise black with a half finger light brown head that recedes fast.

Smell: Big roast and char up front ranging from chocolate notes, burn sugar to smokey wood and coffee grounds.

Taste: The roast greets the palate first with a big smack of deep dark roasted malts. There is some chocolate mid palate with a touch of sweetness and some coffee. Finishes up with more char and smokiness that lingers way past the swallow.

Mouthfeel: Actually quite creamy almost like an oatmeal stout to me. Full side of medium with a rather high amount of carbonation.

Overall: For comparison sake this reminds me of Old Heathen by Weyerbacher. Not the same styles but drink similar to me. Though this one has a much more smoke presence. I don't usually like that in a beer but it works with this one and I'm enjoying sipping this.

Edit: Interesting to note I left the bottle out for about 15 minutes while I drank first glass and upon pouring the second glass the head was a huge at least 3 fingers worth and lacing became an obvious addition.

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sleuthdog from Illinois, Apr 09, 2013
Photo of SHODriver
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: pours black with zero light transmission with a tan head that retains well
S: smells of roast malt and chocolate with a hint of coffee
T: tastes of chocolate and coffee with a good bit of roastyness to it. slightly sweet but not overly so. swallow is intensely roasty with a bit more chocolate and coffee
M: full bodied with soft but slightly prickly carbonation. slightly drying finish
O: pretty good, not a lit going on but what it does it does very well. flavors are good and it is very to style. Pretty Things makes good beer and this is no exception.

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SHODriver from North Carolina, Mar 24, 2013
Photo of Daktyls
3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black in color with a half finger head that quickly dissipates to a fine patch of bubbles in the center of the beer.

S: Very light notes of chocolate and malt is all that I can really pick up here.

T: Notes of chocolate and malt are most readily apparent with some after notes of dark fruits and burnt caramel.

M: Very light amount of carbonation which does not overrun any of the subtle flavors of the beer.

O: Overall, quite tasty, the higher alcohol content is well hidden. This is not as chocolate-y as other foreign export stouts but still quite good.

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Daktyls from Massachusetts, Jan 19, 2013
Photo of mikem0487
4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an Ale glass

A-A thin foamed head around the perimeter of the glass. Head dissipated quickly. Poured a dark opaque black.

S-Roasted malts. Dark fruits, raisins and prunes. Very mild smokiness in the back end, very mild! Smells extremely appealing!

T-Like the smell get roasted malts with the dark fruits. That smokiness comes in the back and is left as the after taste. Not a big smoked malt fan so that does not sit well with me! Everything else about the taste is great!

M-Pretty high in the carbonation level which I dont mind. Quite creamy with a medium high body!

O-A good beer that I would like more if they did remove that smoked malt from the grain bill! Other than the smokiness and the weak apperance the beer is quite enjoyable!

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mikem0487 from Pennsylvania, Dec 31, 2012
Photo of Bouleboubier
3.39/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

(4 oz sample pour on tap at a bar in which I worked at the time)

Though tasted long ago, and tasted at least twice on different days, the overall impression and recollection of this remains... looks like a stout, smells like a stout, but the everlasting memory of this is an odd grassy, bitter, celery-like note (combo of smoke phenols and the rosemary?) pervading the core of each sip, humming a bit in the aftertaste, while the decidedly 'porter-like' burnt caramel malt rather than roasty flavors of the beer provided a weak counterpoint... remember lacking enthusiasm in emptying the glass each time ... also burned into mind is the manager of the hour, Eric, over the course of the week, strolling up to the end of the bar maybe a handful of times, gazing at the tap list and in an amused and mystified tone reciting its name "buh-bah-yuh-gah"

(original rating: 3.25 on 30 Dec 2012; reviewed from memory in full 27 Dec 2018)

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Bouleboubier from New Jersey, Dec 30, 2012
Photo of cvm4
3.82/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pretty black, nice tan head.

S - Roasted malts, coffee & dark chocolate.

T - Char & roasted malts, dark chocolate. About what you'd expect.

M - Medium with medium carbonation.

O - It delivers like a stout should. I'm sure it's top of its own class.

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cvm4 from Mississippi, Dec 29, 2012
Photo of Maxwell
4.12/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a proper stout black with a medium sized roasted tan head on top that quickly fizzles into a tight scrim that causes very thin droopy lacing. The body is impenetrable to the eye, sitting entirely opaque in the glass, but seems clear of sediment and haze. On the nose, the beer smells terrifically bizarre for the style. The slight roasted coffee and dark chocolate are there, but they play second fiddle to the beer’s dark fruit, quad-like smells of plums and raisin, and even a slight kiss of spicy alcohol. The beer tastes just as terrific, with light dark fruit notes on the beginning and aftertaste, but a strong roasted coffee stout flavor coming through in the middle. The beer begins with slight sour plum and raisin before opening into creamy roasted coffee and light dark chocolate notes, while sweet raisin and slight alcohol linger behind the roast and again show themselves strongly in the lingering aftertaste alongside the roasted coffee. The beer feels medium to medium heavy on the mouth, with a drying feeling in the face and sticky dry crackling on the tongue. Overall this is a terrific export stout with a Belgian yeast flair. I love the quad-like characters in the beer as they add a nice unique twist. This beer is a must try for stout fans, and another success from Pretty Things, as well as a go-to stout for me.

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Maxwell from Massachusetts, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of BEERchitect
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Grab me the baggie pants, cause this is a beer that drinks like a meal. Strongly malted and hearty enough to satisfy both the stomach and the sanity of those dark and dreary winter days.

It's strong black pour matches that of the winter mood. But a creamy mocha head brightens the mood as memories of hot cocoa start to come to mind. Like a thick blanket, the foam tucks in the beer and laces with intricate patters as the beer fades.

Aromas of burnt stuff is all over the beer's nose- burnt sugars, torched wood, burnt fruit, burnt coffee, burnt nuts- all that's missing is the heavy smoke elements that you'd expect from all these dry roast elements. A faint backbone of vanilla and cream burrows deep within the roast and carry with it a mildly ester and perfume note.

Although the flavors are heavily circulated around roast as well, it leads with a creamy starch and soothing malted milk taste. But then the strong roast coffee, burnt toast, seared wood embers, and cocoa come soaring in with aggressive burnt barley taste. Even the caramel sweetness seems scorched as it accompanies mild licorice, grape, and perfume taste.

Its full creamy texture is chocked full of char and dryness that hold onto its robust structure until very late in finish. Only then does the dryness of roast and warmth of alcohol prevail. This leaves room for coffee-like bitterness and roast astrincency to become noticed.

Of course there's the perfumy lavender notes that distinguish this "winter warmer" from an export stout that could come around any time of the year. But the spice aids in aroma but distracts in taste and texture. Added fruit esters and better supporting malt sweetness could have garnered better accolades. Keep in mind, this will be a fan favorite for those that prefer extreme roastiness in their stouts.

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BEERchitect from Kentucky, Dec 07, 2012
Photo of hooliganlife
3.55/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours dark cola, light cream head with a faint cocoa

very rich. lots of ripe fruit, some dark roast coffee.

very rich in flavor, some cherry and rosemary. lots of charred roasted malt, and dark chocolate bitterness.

light and airy but a nice amount of bite in the carbonation.

decent, interesting to say the least.

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hooliganlife from Missouri, Nov 14, 2012
Photo of argock
3.83/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a 13oz tulip at Sunset Grill and Tap (Boston, MA).

A: Black with brown-ruby edges and short 1/2-finger cap of head that recedes to leave copious lacing.

S: Smoky dark maltiness carries the aroma with some grape and fig dark fruitiness that provides a roast component to the nose as well

T: Solid flavor but nothing too special with some caramelly and slightly fruity figgy dark maltiness. The smokiness in the nose carries forward in the flavor, subtle but enhancing, with some mildly herbal hops. Bitterness is mild-to-moderate.

M: Fairly highly carbonated with medium body. Alcohol character is low.

O: A pretty good but not great stout with a light smoky quality.

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argock from Virginia, Nov 13, 2012
Photo of jondeelee
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Babayaga opens to a coffee-and-cream aroma, tinged with touches of tobacco and ash, and bearing slight remnants of chocolate and black malt. Caramel, molasses, and brown sugar add a sweet boost, joined by small whiffs of fig, vanilla, anise, black licorice, and white pepper. There’s also a thin thread of grapefruit and pine from the hops, though in no way does this interfere with the stout aromas. The nose is balanced heavily toward black notes, but is as a whole nicely balanced, with enough sugars present to make things palatable; this is definitely a novice-friendly stout. The nose does want for a bit more oomph, however, the low 7% ABV not coming across here as watery, but as simply meeker than expected, and the beer suffers somewhat from a lack of uniqueness.

On the tongue, the initial flavors are largely black coffee, tobacco, and ash, but these are joined quickly by a strong sugary rush of caramel, and brown sugar, and tinges of fig. Slight hints of black licorice and vanilla lurk in the background. Hops provide a surprisingly present grapefruit and lemon presence, lending a medium-strength citrus undertone. Late in the mouthful, as the sugars die off, the beer’s ashy characteristics move to full throttle, and the final flavors are largely black malt and charred grains, which last into the aftertaste and linger on the tongue for a while. Mouthfeel is an unexpectedly watery medium-light to medium, and carbonation is medium to medium-high, fizzing on the tongue like soda water.

Overall, this is a nice stout, and again one of the more novice-friendly ones on the market (as opposed to, say, an ash bomb), but suffers from a lack of pizzazz. The flavors here are nice, but light, and the watery mouthfeel doesn’t help. The fact that the beer’s latter notes are almost exclusively ash seems to point to a general dearth of sugars (thus the low ABV), and so while the initial flavors are good, they lack staying power.

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jondeelee from Massachusetts, Oct 24, 2012
Photo of ghengisflan
3.35/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - It poured a nice, opaque black with a quarter inch and rich tan head.
Smell - It's what I expect of a stout: mint, roasted barley, char, and chocolate.
Taste - As you'd expect, it tastes as it smells: minty, roasted, charred, chocolatey, and malty.
Mouthfeel - As smooth and rich as any.
Overall - A great stout, there's not much more to say. It's probably a better cold weather beer. No, it's definitely better in cold weather.

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ghengisflan from Pennsylvania, Oct 20, 2012
Photo of cosmicevan
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

picked up locally. had this one on tap at a BCTC festival a while back and loved it...looks like i haven't gotten around to posting that review yet? none-the-less, just came to town and picked up bottle. enjoyed from my pretty things wine glass.

a - brew poured a pewter black with a finger plus of beige tan head that slowly fizzled away leaving a thick ring on the surface and lots of clustered bubbled islands.

s - as soon as it was opened i could smell the beer. irish stoutiness. upon closer inspection lots of roast and char with a hint of bailey's and mint. fairly charred.

t - tastes just like it smells...char and bailey's cream. very mint chocolate chip with a good amount of roast.

m - the body is a bit over charred. i know that this one is classified on this site as an american stout, but the bottle says sylvan stout and honestly this is pretty to style for an export stout (edit: checked pretty things web site and they list it as an export stout - submitting correction)

o - overall, spot on export stout. really nice irish flavorings and good amount of char. easy drinker and definitely one of the winners in the pretty things lineup.

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cosmicevan from New York, Oct 19, 2012
Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of dry roasted malt with light residual sugar notes (maybe some lactose) and light smoked notes. Taste is a complex mix between some dry roasted malt with some light smoke notes and some light spicy malt notes. Body is quite full with light creamy texture and good carbonation. Well brewed with good level of complexity while retaining a good drinkability level.

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Phyl21ca from Quebec (Canada), Aug 20, 2012
Babayaga from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Beer rating: 88 out of 100 with 456 ratings