Babayaga | Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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Brewed by:
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Massachusetts, United States

Style: Foreign / Export Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
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…

Added by m1ked on 11-10-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 192 | Ratings: 454
Photo of vacax
3.08/5  rDev -21.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours black with a smallish tan head. Aroma is malty, roasty, phenolic. Tastes of roasted malts, awkwardly tart, peppery with a sort of Belgian phenolic character and dry finish. Body feels properly full though carbonation is a bit overdone. I'm not a fan of this one much.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.09/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Bobby for sharing this one.

A: The pour is a deep dark brown, essentially black, with a fluffy tan head.

S: The nose is not all that appealing nor intense. Some roasted malt, coffee, and perhaps a touch of plastic.

T: There isn't too much in the flavor either, but it doesn't quite have that plastic sensation. The only real flavors are some roast and mildly sweet malt.

M: The mouthfeel is thrown off a bit by an intense carbonation, which is nearly to the point of annoyance.

D: This wasn't a particularly good beer, and another let down from Pretty Things.

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Photo of gfreed
3.11/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Ruby-dark with a giant mahogany-colored head that lasted forever and appeared to become denser as it compacted. There's an astringency in the aroma that competes with cocoa powder, a slight smell of oranges and a bit of coffee. There's a heavy dose of alcohol as well. The taste begins with a flat slathering of hot-chocolate mix, followed by cocoa and then some smokey roastiness that fades as the orangish hops take over at the tail end. The whole thing is rather odd, and the alcohol-- make that booze-- tops it off with too much muscle. The hops were nice; they're a bit like those used in a good UK stout. Here, they were clubbed to death by the chocolate and the alcohol.

As with all the other beer I've had from PT, this one contains many good components but everything fails to come together as a whole. If they cut out some of the alcohol and backed off the chocolate taste, this could be a good bottle of stout. As it is now, it gave me a headache.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.11/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Chilled bottle into a glass. Courtesy of nickd717. Thanks, Nick.

A: Pours a dark, translucent mahogany body. Light tan cap with great retention. Some lace is left behind.

S: Smoke / ham. Roast, milk chocolate (slightly lactic), anise.

T: Same. It's really ham-like. Rauchstout? Anyway, it follows up with roast, a slightly lactic twinge that gives the impression of milk chocolate, and small amounts of anise. A pretty solid flavor that is undermined by the smoked malt.

M: Light-medium body; about what I'd expect for a regular stout. But decent flavor. Amply carbed, maybe too much.

D: Meh.

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Photo of jpmclaug
3.16/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured from the bottle into a pint glass. Thank you portia99 for sending this wanted extra

A - Black body with a brown head resting on top

S - Biggest thing I am picking up is the belgian yeast used. Dark fruit is present but not much more that I would expect from an american stout.

T - Similar to the aroma. Belgian yeasty flavors, dark fruit, some smokiness. Some of the typical dark malt flavor found in stouts but not much

M - medium to heavy body, fair amount of carbonation

D - Drinkable for sure but I just don't care for what belgian yeast does to stouts. Not up my alley but not an offensive beer. Worth trying for sure but I wouldn't seek this one out again.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.16/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours dark brown, looks opaque black. Lumpy, clay colored head. Superb retention throws up a wall of lace through which hardly any glass peeks. Good stuff.

Aroma is ash and sweet, smokey bacon grease. Some dark caramel wandering hither and thither. Moderately sweet, smokey bacon follows through in the taste department. Not rauchbier levels but prominent. Slick mouthfeel.

Judging by the reviews from last year, batch 1 used to have more roast flavors. I'd like them back.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.18/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle from nov. 2009. drank from a taster glass.

A- this one pours out a mostly black colored body. only a small amount of red highlights can be seen when held up to the light. a large coffee colored head forms on top and sticks around for a while. small rings of lacing are left behind.

S- after the initial rush of roasted malt that reminds me this is a stout i get sweet smelling chocolate and a bit of coffee. nothing really spectacular here or out of the ordinary.

T- the taste is overly sweet for me. that comes on more strongly than the roasted malts. theres a smokiness in here that seems out of place. slight coffee taste on the finish.

M- too thin for the style. creamy and well carbonated.

D- meh. my overall impression is that this was just ok. there are several locally available options that i would go for before this. however, i will continue to seek out beers from this brewery.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.26/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1 pint 6 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a Weizen glass in low altitude Orange, California. Expectations are average. Reviewed live. This is me first beer from the brewery.

A: Pours a one finger head of appealing tan colour, incredible cream lacing, great thickness, and good retention (~ 5 minutes). Colour is a nontransparent solid black.

Sm: Caramel, cream, nuts, and chocolate. A mild strength aroma.

T: Chocolate and cream and the most pleasant flavours in the build. Hints of caramelized malt. It's not as complex as I hoped, but it's pleasant and enjoyable. Bland and a bit boring, all things considered. Well balanced.

Mf: Smooth, wet, and a bit creamy. A touch too thin, but it's forgivable.

Dr: Quite drinkable, but also boring and unremarkable.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.26/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into a Närke tulip glass.

The beer is black, even in the light, with a light tan head, good retention and lacing...The aroma is super light no chocolate or coffee, just a very fresh overall sense, hops and grass, strange, doesn't get you excited...The taste is so bland, its utterly boring. Light hops is about all you get, no chocolate, light feel.

This beer should be skipped, no need to pursue. I don't have the best palate but Hans the Närke owner-brewer agreed with me and we moved on, so I'm comfortable in my score.

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Photo of bishopdc0
3.28/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Poured into my Allagash tulip

The beer is black with a dark tan head. The head is thick and fluffy with loads of small bubbles.

The aroma is roasted malts sweet and hints of coffee and a slight creaminess.

The taste is an American stout. The beer is very creamy at first with a smooth mouth. A slight bit of carbonation hits the top of the mouth. A roasted and creaminess linger and hints of roasted malts.... ehh at first the mouth feel was good enough to shadow the taste. nothing special about the favor average craft stout.

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Photo of rudylaw
3.28/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque black with a nice mocha head.

Tons of smoke in the nose... previous reviews mention campfire and that's spot on. Toasted malts, chocolate and overripe cherries.

Tons of smoky malt, dark, bitter chocolate and prunes in the taste. Mouthfeel is very thin with high carbonation. This is interesting but not for me.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
3.31/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks out to cmurren25 for sending this one in a recent BIF. I have been looking forward to a chance to try a Pretty Things creation. 22 oz bomber pours a very dark brown color with a tantalizing mountain of light brown foam. Awesome retention and superb lacing. This is a great looking beer.

Nose is bready and a little bit fruity to go along with the requisite chocolate and marshmallow sweetness. Pretty light nose, but it is pretty interesting and unique....almost like a Belgian stout.

Alot of licorice flavors here with a healthy dose of yeasty esters. Medium fruits like strawberries and cantaloupe make their way to the parade in the middle and is followed up by a decent amount of roast and hop bitterness. Not a very sweet beer, especially for a stout. Mouthfeel could use a tad more heft and creaminess. Alcohol is plenty noticeable and I would not mind some more chocolate and a little sweetness. Not bad, but I dont like it as much as I wanted to.

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Photo of mikey711
3.33/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Almost pitch black with just a hint of light able to seep through at the bottom of the glass. The head retained quite well and sat at about an inch thick.

S: Hints of molasess and ginger. Not too much roastiness which was strange.

T: The ginger and spices are pretty prevalent, and it lacks the bitterness and roastiness that I am accustomed to in a stout. There is a toffee in the flavor and a strange chocolate flavor, but the spices turn me off a little. As it warmed up though it got a bit smokier which I greatly enjoyed

M: A bit thin for a stout. The flavors are pretty rich but spice heavy. There is no roughness though.

D: It is a nice beer to try, especially if you are in the mood for something a little different. It is a bit more of a winter warmer in my opinion and worth trying once, but this is not my favorite from Pretty things

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Blind#3 is a dark beer with a small, sticky head. Reviewed totally blind with out knowing brewery, beer or style.

S- Weak smell. It has me thinking Baltic porter. There is an almost tart smell o acidic black coffee. Its by no means a sour though. There us some smoke and dark chocolate with plenty of roast.

T- Taste is big on very dry roasted malts, dark chocolate and black coffee acidity. There is plenty of dark fruits and berries.

M- Quite dry, prickly carbonation, which is too high for a stout but could work for some porters.

D- This isn't a super huge beer but its no slouch. I'm thinking some big porter or a medium sized stout. But I like it

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Photo of ghengisflan
3.35/5  rDev -14.5%
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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Photo of ZeroSignal
3.38/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle dated Oct 2011 poured into a DFH Snifter

A - Pitch black pour with a finger's worth of mocha colored head. Retention is decent, settling to the edges and leaving a loose lace.

S - Chocolate malts and a light tinge of alcohol in the nose; something kind of herbal as well...can't quite put my finger on it.

T&M - Smooth and a little bit creamy feeling. Nice, chocolate malt punch. Higher hop presence than a typical stout, with some of that herbal bitterness from the nose making itself known and matches well with the bitter chocolate notes. Light smokey tang in the finish.

O - Officially the first beer with a smoked component that I have enjoyed. Chocolate malt abounds, so if you're into that, this one is a sure winner. One I would revisit.

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Photo of GeezLynn
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

“Bottled Oct 2011”

A: Blacker than a midnight Trojan with a thick tan head.
S: Smell is sweet, a bit bready, some licorice…not all that roasted. Something else, rye?
T: Strange bitter tart combination to begin with. Notice some baker’s chocolate and coffee, along with burnt toast. Bitterness is overly aggressive. Finish is lengthy and biting.
M: Body is moderately thick but heavy carbonation gives it somewhat of an airy feel.

Enjoyed the previous Pretty Things beers I’ve tried, but this was a slight disappointment. Unique like the others, but was a bit harsh and not all that cohesive.

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Photo of kkipple
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pretty bottle from November 2009 - nearly a year old now - and here thanks to the stalwart Jlindros. Shoulda got to this a lot sooner...

A. Pours a heavy dense Schwarzwald-black with a tight, small bubbled head that is quite dark and lasts long. Sylvan, indeed!

S. Slight smoky sweet dark malt here, roasty-toasty, a hint of undefined esters from the yeast, dry with a pleasing hint of anise and what seems to be a vinous, woody note. Strange and flighty, as Pretty Things beers are wont to be - it's just not normal at all and lends itself to exploration.

T. Sadly the taste isn't up to par here, but that of course may be my fault for drinking an 11 month old stout... what we have here is a very dry and bitter (chocolate malt) stout with a long char finish, although there are oddities sprouting all 'round: smoke, spice, that tannic-lactic sourness again (not pleasant), nuts and just a hint of cool sweetness in the finish. It's quirky, and while it almost works, the questionable sour off note casts doubt - perhaps a slight infection in the works? Not sure. I do not get any of the advertised rosemary, alas.

M / D. Creamy, although not thick - suspect the Belgian yeast at work here. The oats work well and lend full-slickness. High carbonation, vaguely nitro. The finish is long burnt grain and there is that sour-bitter note that rings harsh. Slightly warming.

Babayaga, right now, is yet another almost-there beer from Pretty Things. It's quite interesting, but I feel like with a few tweaks and smoothing out this could be much better. I love this brewery because everything they make is off-kilter and a delight to drink, but much like some young forest-dwelling critter, it'll take a few years for this Pretty Things to grow to the fullness of its being. Keep your eyes on this little brewery.

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Photo of DaveHS
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to beerman 777 for this.

A: Black with a khaki colored head. Moderate lacing.

S: Sweet, a touch of lactose. Some roasted malts and banana.

T: Sweet, slightly cloying. Very rich. A mouthful of roasted malts, rye, and licorice. There is some kind of burnt flavor in here. I can't quite place it, but it's not pleasant.

M:More carbonated than your average stout. Medium to full bodied and mouth coating.

D: I wouldn't revisit this, but it was interesting to try.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours black with two fingers of head that settle to a thin persistent layer.

Smell is wood and a bit of sweet metallic/cherry aroma, some milk chocolate, floral hoppiness, and marshmallow.

Taste has a bit of an off putting metallic oaky note up front. Underneath is a lightly roasted malt profile and some earthy hops. Not really much of interest here.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation levels. Overall this beer was passable, but not something I would go back to. Without the metallic notes it would have been pleasing but still simple.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle into cervoise. Cap labeled Oct 2010 - Batch 2

A - Pours a nice deep brownish black with a very nice fluffy brown head. Decent lacing and retention

S - Bitter chocolate, molasses, toffee and some spices I can't quite put my finger (or nose ;) on.

T - Lots of roasted coffee grounds and bitter chocolate. The hop bitterness was a bit more prevalent than I expected. Some spices (cinnamon?) and dark currants as well.

M - A bit thin and unorganized. Not too bad, just average

O - A decent stout, very middle of the road. I thought it was good and I'd have it again, just wouldn't go out of my way to get it.

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Photo of THECPJ
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: dark brown almost black with a 1 finger mocha head

smell: roast, little smoke, also some coffee and chocolate

taste: roast, malts, coffee, and chocolate, dry bitter finish

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium to full body,

overall: usually enjoy most beers from pretty things. this one is a little lost for me. The characteristics of this beer did not stand out as well as I had hoped. Still enjoyed it but it wasn't great.


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Photo of yourefragile
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bottle, bottled Nov. 2009, poured into a snifter.

Deep chestnut brown color with a light fluffy tan head. Fades to a thick ring of bubbles with a few streaks of lacing. Aroma is slightly astringent and bittersweet. Charred roast malt, chocolate and slightly nutty. Overall very rich and varied aroma. Flavor and body sort of reminds me of an oatmeal stout, but flavors are richer and, I don't know, the word rustic is coming to mind, but I just might have the artwork stuck in my head. There is a strong charred, roasted malt body supporting a blend of earthy, dark chocolate, toasted malt, dark fruits, and smokiness. Body is medium full but seems over carbonated and overly fluffy on the palate. The finish is astringent and slightly off, with a potent charred, earthy medicinal flavor. Very robust and rich throughout, with a surprising amount of alcohol warming and burn for such a low ABV. Lots of interesting flavors, but overall I don't really enjoy the combination or the way they complement (or dont) each other. Regardless, a very unique stout worth seeking out for at least once.

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Photo of photomike
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep translucent brown with a towering tan head. Impeccable retention and lacing. Really just about perfect looking.

The aroma, however, is not quite as impressive. Somewhat herbal nose with light roastiness. Smells actually somewhat like a Belgian dubbel. Someone below mentions that this beer is brewed with rosemary, and that makes a bit of sense.

Taste is pretty interesting as well, although it is at least partially masked and distracted from by an unreasonably light body and unreasonably strong carbonation. Lightly sweet at first, this beer gets crazy dry as it finishes. Slightly roasty and somewhat herbal, there is an earthy hop character that pervades. A touch of apple fruitiness. Quite bitter on the finish.

Man, the mouthfeel on this one is pretty far off. Very light in body with an incredible amount of carbonation. Astringent bitterness. Not my favorite.

All negatives aside, this is a very interesting and unique beer. Paired with the lack of an alcoholic bite and the ease with which this beer goes down, this is a very drinkable beer.

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Photo of micromaniac129
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours rich and silky into the glass with a deep deep brown color. A small foamy head was produced the color of mocha. Some spotty lacing.
Aroma is of rich dark malts but is weak.
A desent tasting beer with a good roasted malt taste.
Feels heavy on the palette and smooth and has a dry bitter finish.
I'd didn't really pick up any rosemary or other stuff in the beer. There was an off taste like metallic maybe that's it either way it was off putting to me.

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Babayaga from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
3.92 out of 5 based on 454 ratings.
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