Babayaga | Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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454 Ratings

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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Ratings: 454 |  Reviews: 192
Photo of ms11781
3.55/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

October 2010 Batch 2 on label on cap. 22oz bomber poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a solid black with a 1/2 finger tan head. Head dissipates quickly, leaving a thin, off white ring around the glass.

Nose smells strongly of dark fruit and black licorice. There is also a bit of roasted malt and an underlying sweetness. But the dark fruit and licorice are most prominent.

Taste follows the nose with a strong black licorice flavor leading the way. The dark fruit is less pronounced but the sweetness is more prominent. Like the nose, there is a hint of roasted malt. Finishes with slight warmth from some alcohol.

Medium/thick body with a medium carbonation. Mouthfeel makes it seems like a much bigger beer than a 7% ABV stout. Pretty smooth all the way through.

Pretty drinkable beer. Surprisingly big for a stout of it's size. Definitely a one and done buy very pleasant and enjoyable.

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Photo of Khazadum
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- HUGE bubbly collar, low retention light mocha froth. Couple flotillas of miniscule bubbles and a super mario star formation above the psuedo-inky darkness. Its got some ruby hints to it as well as a little crimson. Lacing is silk screen and strong at least.

S-- Roasted grains and a bit of acrid burnt ones to boot. Some pork smoke and charred wood grain aroma. The smoke is really nice, its subtle and carries itself well. Bit of fresh clean feeling coming off of it as well a sweet character.. almost malty sweet. the rosemary comes out very astringent and sharp.

T- Opens lactose sweetness, very milky and creamy. Following that is a hint of smoke and some pork bar B Q wood char. Middle has that delicious rosemary being very well balanced. The spice is perfectly placed and allows a clean finish to pop up.

M- Very clean, smooth, velvety, lingers, crisp middle with some sharp spikes of flavors. Clean finish is really interesting due to the spices peaking early.

D- Good beer. Not great, but good. It has some characteristics that can be improved. It could use with some balancing flavors in addition to what it has, but I like it. Really wish I shared this with some other BAs.

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Photo of mcallister
3.66/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottled November 2009.

Deep brown bordering on black and completely opaque. Foamy tan head with thin yet full lacing.

Tinny, dark fruity aromas, lactose with a sweet chocolatey aroma and some roast on the back end.

Roasty, very earthy middle, manure, tobacco, unripe black fruits, some sour cherry and prune. A bit of bitter cocoa and just kind of a weird tinny quality on the back end. Some type of unmalted barley flavor that is kind of offputting.

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Photo of Kendo
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled October 2010, Batch 2. Consumed on January 28, 2011.

A: Poured from the bomber into a pint glass. Body is black with a small light brown head. No lace left behind.

S: Roasted malt and fruity sweetness. Not real powerful in the nose.

T: First impression: reminds me more of a porter than a stout, as I get a sense of smoky malt and a touch of charcoal. After a couple sips I get roasted barley, some basic wood (wait, that doesn't sound right: "I'm gettin' wood drinkin' this beer!") and a touch of chocolate malt at the finish, which provides some offset/balance against what are otherwise bitter impressions. Not bad. Not great, but good. Different.

M: A bit too fizzy - carbonation is active. Call it about medium in heft.

D: Again, not bad. A tad bit too much smokiness and char for my stout-loving preferences, but given the ingredient mix, the brewer was obviously going for something different - and succeeded in that regard.

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Photo of BeerMusketeer
4.48/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally tried this, as I am getting more into dark beers and stouts and I LOVE Pretty Things. The beer is a dark black with a nice tan head that drops slowly. Smells of coffee, chocolate, and dark fruit I assocaite with Belgiam yeast. The taste is similar, but with surprising bitterness. A GREAT freakin' brew! Thanks, Dan!

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Photo of nhindian
4.31/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Received in the 'You Aint From Around Here?' BIF from apollokim, thanks Kim!

Poured into a Pretty Things Oversized Wine Glass, also extremely generously provided by Kim. You're the best!

Bottled in November 2009 (And vintage bottles? Insane).

A - Pours silky smooth out of the bottle and fills the glass with midnight black beer, but not as heavy-weight or syrupy as expected. Builds a creamy, 2-fingered, light tan head which contrasts nicely with the opaque body. Retention is great as it lasts for a good portion of the beer. One of the most outstanding things about this beer is the lacing. This beer doesn't have just sporadic lacing or intricate webs, but rather it completely covers a good 3/4ths of the glass (minus the side I'm drinking from) with an absolute curtain of lacing. It just sticks there and clings for dear life. Fantastic.

S - The smell is much more mild and subdued than I would've expected. There's a light roast from the malts, and some bittersweet chocolate, but it's muted and non-aggressive. Rather, the floral hops and spices take the forefront of the nose. It's unusual, considering the majority of stouts rely on the malts, but it works for this beer and is a nice change. Light and refreshing.

T - Much like in the nose, the taste is surprisingly not malt-forward at all. While the initial flavors are nice and bready, with the fresh roasted espresso notes, it transitions quickly and smoothly into the more floral side with the hops and rosemary. Interestingly this brings me back to the Stone/Victory/Dogfish Head Saison du BUFF, although not as excessively spiced (thankfully). The malts do bring a lasting sweetness, however, which carries into the finish, which is long and pleasantly balanced between the sweet and bitter characteristics.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately light with low carbonation. Leaves a nice coating in the mouth and the finish is long and enjoyable. Maybe would've preferred a bit more carbonation here. Very creamy and velvety smooth, it goes down easily.

D - Drinkability is high. I had no problem finishing a bomber of this, and the unconventional profile of this beer was a refreshing change to the palate in a period where I've had quite a few Porters / Stouts / RIS's / Imperial Stouts. The flavors really mesh well together, and the lighter mouthfeel makes it easily to drink and definitely changes what it could be paired with compared to more heavy and syrupy stouts.

However, this also makes it a bit hard to grade. If grading to the style, it certainly falls short of what 'traditional' stouts are, but as a beer itself, it's interesting and I really enjoyed it. Overall a great first impression for this brewery, and I have another bottle from this BIF that I am looking forward to, and from there I'll hopefully expand further!

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Photo of metter98
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color and poured with a finger high creamy tan head that faded away very quickly but left lacy patterns of bubbles on the surface.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of dark roasted malts, chocolate and coffee in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has a moderate amount of bitterness in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. The finish is quite dry.
D: The stout is quite easy to drink because it isn't very filling.

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Photo of GabrielM
4.6/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle shared as an extra from SteveFinny. Thanks again! Poured into a Bruery toulip.

A - pitch black in the middle, pitch brown near the top and edges. A nice, frothy head sits on top.

S - a ton of roasted malts, some vanilla, a bit of coffee and some dark fruits, maybe currants, with some molasses in the back.

T - same as nose - very malty and roasty, with a definite fruit presense, almost a raspberry tang, but not too strong. Very nice.

M - feels good!

D - a low enough ABV to enjoy a couple of these! Unfortunately, they aren't sold here and this is my only bottle :(

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Photo of robwestcott
3.88/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle October 2010, batch 2

poured cold from the bottle a dark cola black to a dogfish head signature glass with a full finger long lasting foamy light toffee colored head with good retention.

aroma of semi sweet chocolate, coffee and perhaps a bit of fig in the wayback.

bitter black coffee up front, in the middle and in the back. a bit of semisweet / cooking chocolate in the mix also. toasted nearing burnt malts. no dark fruits, the aroma was a tease.

medium bodied, low carbonation, creamy smooth, bitter - much more bitter than expected.

drinkable - yep.

I've got an '09 bottle I'll be sampling soon to compare - am wondering if the bitter will fade ?

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Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.73/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 1/10/2010. Bottle. Pours black with a thick chocolate colored head. Aroma of roasted malt, a slight smoke presence. Flavor of smoke, earthy hops, roasted malt, bitter chocolate. An interesting stout with a distinct woodsy/oaky/earthy presence and of course, nice smokey notes. Very tasty and super drinkable.

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Photo of scriabin
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with dark, rich color and creamy consistency. It's subtle yet appealing aroma are matched only by it's smooth flavor and mouth feel. Babayaga has a medium yet thick head. My only criticism is that Babayaga's hut moves around on three hen's legs, not four but this is a beer, not a fairy tale, although after finishing this fine stout you'll feel as if you've been transported in time!

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Photo of axeman9182
4.09/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

220z bomber, bottled October 2010, poured into my Duvel tulip.

Babayaga pours black, no hint of light even when directly backlit, yet it doesn't feel as dark as many larger stouts would pour. What was admittedly an overly harsh pour yields a mountain of rocky caramel colored foam, easily more than four fingers worth. The nose is fairly muted, but I can discern some chocolate and a little bit of rosemary. The flavor is much better, with a big blast of milk chocolate followed by a brief flourish of coffee kicking things off. The back end is an excellent blend of rosemary and a bit of smokiness. This is the first beer that I can really say just tastes like winter. The carbonation is pitch perfect, on the low end of the spectrum but still very lively. The beer's a little dry though for my taste, and I wish there was just a bit more heft behind it. This beer is another great offering from Pretty Things, one of my all time favorite winter brews. I only wish I had a fireplace, because I can't imagine a much better way to spend a frigid night like this than sitting in front of a roaring fire and sipping on some Babayaga

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Photo of jpmclaug
3.16/5  rDev -19.6%
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 MbpBugeye
3.35/5  rDev -14.8%
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 bum732
4.13/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

S: Dry roastiness, coffee, quite herbal, touch of belgian phenols, touch of fruity esters.

L: Big 1/2 inch light tan head, great retention, amazing lacing.

T: Roastiness with belgian phenols. Fairly sweet, touch of plastic. Medium low bitterness leads to dry roastiness, touch of char. Subtle herbalness persists.

M: Medium full body with medium carbonation that goes well with belgian phenols.

Interesting beer as usual from Pretty things. Fairly solid stout, got better as it warmed. Didn't detect all the components claimed on the bottle, but those that i did were subtle as they should be.

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Photo of BasementDweller
4.33/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I am over the moon about this brewery, and waited with great anticipation as this brew chilled in my fridge. Poured into a good stout glass at 55 degrees.

A big, creamy head jumped up immediately. I buried my nose in it and took in all the aromatic goodness. It smacked of charcoal, smoke and chocolate. A sip revealed the same, with a complex dryness that was just short of chalky.

A big body mid-palate gave way to a delicious, roasty bitter finish. Exactly how I wanted this beer to taste, and a perfect compliment to a nice grilled steak dinner.

It's not a style-bender like Jack D'Or was -- and certainly not as mind-blowing -- but if it's true that every great brewer has to produce a great export stout, then I suppose the Paquettes can be officially anointed as such. (As if there was any doubt.)

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Photo of TKEAnimal
3.63/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I poured this beer into a glass mug. The color was a very dark brown almost black with a tan color head that did not last very long.

The smell had a lot of different things going on that I could not pin point one thing more than the other. But the overall smell made me want to take a big long drink.

My first drink I tasted espresso and a hint of smoke.

The mouthfeel was good and was very drinkable.

Babayaga is a great drink and it is not your run of the mill stout. Would definitely recommend this beer to friends.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours thick and black, with a foamy brown head that does not last. No lacing.

Big french roast aroma, with some real charred elements here.

Dark roast coffee, with some smoky carbonized flavors. The sweetness in the malt peeks out, but the bitterness comes thru again. There is something herbal here, but not the rosemary. Maybe some bitter chocolate as well. Finish is long and pleasant.

Full bodied and well carbonated. Mouthcoating goodness cleared by bubbles. Good job.

Split this bottle and almost wish I didn't. Good balance, good complexity, and alcohol is well hidden. Very good.

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Photo of brewandbbq
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle.

Pours opaque black with a thin, tan head. A partial skim coat remained for the duration along with a few dots of lacing.

Aromatics lead off with bitter chocolate, coffee grounds, charred malt, light smoke, and a hint of nougat. A faint trace of Rosemary, way underneath..But only if you're looking for it.

Full bodied with a crisp yet lush mouthfeel. Tongue wrapping and grippy.

Bakers chocolate, espresso, and blackened barley start the palate. Clovey phenols cut through the dark and add a Belgian slant. Maybe a trace of spice and smoke, but barely if any.

Finishes with lingering choco-spiked-espresso-rubbed char and faint smoke.

I really like the idea of malt smoked over Rosemary, but it's just not coming through here. The base beer is pretty tasty though.

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Photo of TommyW
4.28/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Dark black body with a big tan head.

S- Lots of roasted and smokey aromas with a touch of sweetness present as well.

T- Follows the nose pretty well, the smokiness is not overpowering but noticeable along with some spice (maybe from the rye). Again, there is an herbal sweetness present that really balances the roasted flavors.

M- Medium body with a full fell.

D- A really unique and tasty spin on a stout.

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Photo of andrewinski1
3.78/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a White Birch chalice. Nice large head on this one during the pour. A good amount of lacing is there, but it's not very sticky.

Nice burnt aroma to this one. I don't pick up on the usual coffee aroma, but I don't get a nice anise scent. I do get a nice herbal aroma, but I can't quite pinpoint it. Very different than other stouts.

Very dry flavor. Nice hop presence balances out the malt flavor. Roasted bitterness is minimal for the style. There are a lot of unique flavors here, I wish I could pinpoint them all. The finish is also very dry.

Great drinkability on this one and a relatively light body. Yum.

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Photo of Bendurgin
3.74/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Andy for the bottle! Poured into a tulip. The beer appears very dark brown with just a thin layer of mocha head that fizzes away quickly. The aroma is mostly big dark malts for me with a bit of smoke and bits of dark chocolate and earthy aromas. The flavor mirrors the aroma pretty nicely, lots of barley and malt flavors with kind of a dirty finish. The best adjective I can think of for this one is rustic. The mouthfeel is rather silky with decent carbonation and a relatively light body. Good drinkablity and certainly unique to me.

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Photo of donkeyrunner
3.16/5  rDev -19.6%
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 yossarian14
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at The Independent last night. The release of the 2010 Babayaga. This was our first time at The Independent and certainly won't be our last. The atmoshere there last night made it all that more enjoyable. Russian Babayaga clips played silently on a loop while John Funke spun some 45's and sang along with headphones on, seemingly unaware of his surroundings. Surreal.

On to the beer...
Babayaga is a light-medium bodied stout. The smokiness is more present in this batch than the last but not overwhelmingly so. Not very sweet or bitter. Its an easy drinker, which I like, but not something I need to seek out. I guess I wish there were more to it. I wouldn't have noticed that the malts were smoked with rosemary or that there is a belgian yeast strain at work. I suppose another palate may have picked on these subtleties.

I am a fan of Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project. I try everything they brew. Seek there beers out if you can.
Their Saisons - Jack D'or and Fieldmouse's Farewell are delicious

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Photo of kkipple
3.4/5  rDev -13.5%
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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Babayaga from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
Beer rating: 3.93 out of 5 with 454 ratings
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