Once Upon A Time 1901 KK | Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

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Once Upon A Time 1901 KKOnce Upon A Time 1901 KK

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

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.80%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
English Strong / Old Ale, or thereabouts.

Added by EPICAC on 10-12-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 148 |  Reviews: 98
Photo of Pahn
4.56/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle into a wine glass.

Appearance: Free pour yields a two inch, frothy tan head that dissipates slowly leaving solid lacing walls. Pours a solid black and leaves spots, streaks, and walls of lacing. Looks serious.

Smell: Smells serious too... wow, they put a lot of hops in, didn't they? Great, somewhat citrusy, floral, hop dominant aroma with a sugary cupcake backbone supporting it. Some mild and pleasant booziness comes out with warmth, emphasizing some of the spicier hop aromas. While not dank, it smells as hop-forward as the silliest of west coast American DIPAs.

Taste: Whoa. Giant hops. I can't find the IBUs anywhere online (probably because the information isn't normally that useful for consumers anyway...), but I would be unsurprised if I learned that this was hitting 100~ IBU. Heavy hop bitterness tamed by the sweet caramel & cookie dough like malt.

The bitterness is all hops, no roast; it's not like a stout. I doubt they used any roasted malt at all. The closest analogues I can find to this beer are Ithaca's Cascazilla (turned up to 11), or Stone's Arrogant Bastard or Double Bastard, but no pineapple / grapefruit hops, just tons and tons of Goldings.

The flavor is very sweet, very bitter, with a mild heat running through it. The masterful balance of bold flavors yields another Stone comparison for me, because only Stone consistently turns the boldness up so high with such perfected balance.

Despite its boldness and balance, it's not simplistic. With warmth the flavor develops some beautiful molasses notes, some savory tang, more chocolate and decadent pastry-like malt flavors, and constantly changing (but forefronted and balanced) hop flavors. It would not be hard to convince me to give this beer a 5 for taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, but silky smooth (despite the enormous hop bitterness!). Mild but sufficient carbonation. Semi-dry, long, satisfying finish. Can't imagine improving the feel.

Overall: If people were drinking like this in 1901, good for them. This Burton style needs to come back, and this beer needs to be brewed by Pretty Things again. I love the mix of intense hops, sweet and complex English brown ale malt, medium body, and lack of any roast, smoke, or wood flavors. Unique, and full of character and flavor.

Drinking this beer puts me in mind of when I first had Fantôme Saison, and felt like the brewers were giving me a real gift. Very well done, Pretty Things.

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Photo of BranfordBound
3.91/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle with no known freshness date into a DFH shaped pint.

Pours inky colored with a two finger tan head. OK Lacing and head is tough to form sometimes.

Mild aroma of roasted malts and a touch of sweetness.

Fairly complex taste here. Starts bready with the roasted malt, then, if the beer is warm, very sweet, chocolate and ripe fruits. Finally, it finishes very charred like charcoal with a pronounced earthy hop note.

Higher end of medium bodied, no alcohol apparent.

Once again, I find myself finishing the bomber after quite some time. There are some metallic notes when cold and the charred and hop note get to be a little much in the end, but still an awesome brew.

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Photo of Kendo
3.7/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured into a pint glass. Body is black with a small tan head. Some lace left behind.

S: Nice hoppiness, which was surprising - herbal and leafy hops over a solid malt foundation. Some char or charcoal as well.

T: First impression: roasted barley malt and charcoal. Some fruity sweetness underneath that at times seems grape-like. Finishes with a drying bitterness and lingering char.

M: Carbonation is active, body is medium in heft.

D: Only OK -- too much charred bitterness for me to love this one.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty solid black color with a good sized tan head that slowly recedes and sticks itself to the glass. Smells of earthy spicy hops up front. Slight mineral twinge in there as well as some sweet toffee. Taste is sweet with a touch of alcohol at the onset but that sweetness is quickly overrun with an herbal, earthy bitterness that survives throughout most of the tasting range. Some butterscotch drops by for a second then there is some chocolaty sweet roast that tries to find a voice. Leaves a long lingering tea/hop bitterness in the finish. Full body, resinous and creamy mouthfeel, crisp carbonation. This one is different for sure, the more I drank the better I thought it was. Decent brew, probably not something I would drink often, but nice to have tried it.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.08/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a hommel bier tulip. Special thanks to jayli for this nice little surprise!

A: Pours a very, very dark brown. This would be black if it weren't for some lighter brown tints at the top and edges. The head never gets more that 1 1/2 fingers thick, but is quite creamy/pillowy and leaves a lot of lace stuck to the glass.

S: My first impression was that this smelled very woody. Burnt malt, smoke, bitter dark chocolate, and then the hops kick in big time with a decidedly herbal and piney aroma.

T: Much like above. I also picked up a bit of cherries drizzled in fudge, anise, milk chocolate, cocoa, molassas, and dark bread before the pine sap hops completely took over.

M: Starts off pretty large. Semi-sweet for an instant before quickly turning dry, herbal, prickly, and spicy during the long middle and very long finish. A really nice peppery zing on the tongue during the finish.

D: A very nice drinker. The flavor profile of the hops wore a little thin by the end of the bottle but thankfully there was a lot else going on here.

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Photo of BenjieK
4.25/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Black at first but red and brown on closer inspection around the edges in the light

S: Coffee, roast, oak, dark fruits.

T: A blast of piney hops. Don't taste as much dark malt as I thought I would, but has some milk chocolate.

M: Lighter than expected but nice and silky

D: Very. a really great dark beer.

I am really enjoying trying the ABA's, Black IPA's, dark beers, etc. This one was unique and delicious.

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Photo of philbe311
3.88/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A very intense looking brew... Three fingers worth of rich creamy full dark brown colored head... Stellar retention... A very deep dark crimson red color teetering on dark brown... A wee bit of light leaks in around the edges of the glass... Still from a distance... Upon closer examination there are some small mixed paced carbonation bubbles deep within... Some lacing clings to the glass as the session proceeds...

S - Dark breads... Cocoa powder... A touch of licorice... A hint of strawberries... Dark cherries... Raisins... A touch of vanilla... Some woody notes... A complex and challenging aroma...

T - A surprising piney hop bitterness to start things off... This is followed by a parade of complex flavors in rapid succession... Bitter espresso... Wood... Tart strawberries... A bit of alcoholic heat... Licorice... The bitterness grows sharper on the finish...

M - Medium bodied... Sturdy... Starts mildly lush but finishes quite dry... Good carbonation that is a bit on the aggressive side...

D - A interesting sipper that is loaded with complexity and proves challenging for even the most advanced of palettes... I grew to appreciate Dan and Pretty Things with each brew I try...

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Photo of YouSkeete
3.42/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Very dark brown, black appearance. Dark tan head fades into moderate lacing quickly.

S: Whoa. Lots of rich bittersweet and dark chocolates, pumpernickel, old oak, vanilla beans, hops. Malted barley is big in the aroma.

T: Supremely bitter hops immediately take over the entire flavor in the initial sip. Through the gargantuan hop flavor there are notes of vanilla, maple, chocolate, burnt coffee, and rye and pumpernickel bread. A complex flavor which hardly grew at all on me through the whole bottle.

M: Bitter as a millionaires Ex-wife who didn't sign the prenup. Sweet and sticky, medium body, medium to high carb.

D: I admit it gets better after every sip, but the hops are too abrasive for my personal taste.

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Photo of jbertsch
4.4/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance is black with a billowly khaki-colored head that sticks, laces, and hangs out until the end.

Aroma provides plenty of malt in the realm of pumpernickel bread. Plenty of farmhouse-funky hops gives this a bitterswet sense.

I taste bittersweet coffee malt upfront that's a bit more sweet in the middle of the palate. Non-citrous fruit notes can be found uderneath it all. Bitter finish.

Enough carbonation is there but this is definitely smooth and silky. Drinkabilty is nice at a slow pace.

I really enjoyed this one! Drinks like a smoother black IPA.

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Photo of BeerResearcher
3.86/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz dark brown bottle. No Freshness date, although the legend on the label suggests cellaring.
Pint glass.
It pours a very deep dark smoky cola color with a firm and rocky tannish head and loads of lacing.
The smell is a little here and there. Burnt rye toast, grapefruit zest, coffee and bread dough is followed by a slightly astringent camphor and witchhazel fuminess.
I like the overall flavor mix, although it reminds me of several homebrews I have sampled over the years. The citrusy and metallic hops are surprisingly up front. A resinous hop taste is always present, yet mild. Burnt sugar and rye crackers tastes follow and some warming alcohol is in the finish.
The mouthfeel is a tad raspy though not enough to keep me from taking some large gulps now and then.
Interesting brew!

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.37/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, back story of the brew is explained on the label.

appears black, with khaki tan colored head. good head retention and a little lacing.

if you blindfolded me, it'd say IPA. but a pleasant hop aroma. not too piney or too citrusy.

very unique tasting. it's hoppy, but also has the dry roasted malt flavor of an irish stout or english porter. very well balanced though. lower carbonation, smooth and creamy.

definitely hard to categorize, but its quite good. and easy to drink.

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Photo of micmillon18
3.97/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into an oversized wine glass. Looking forward to this one as it will be my first "old ale."

A - Jet black. Small thin copper head sits a top the beer for quite awhile. Medium amount of laing. Looks very much like motor oil, both in terms of color and consistency.

S - Roasted barley but not overly prevalent. sweet smells. Maple sugar, caramel, banana maybe? Floral, hoppy and herbal scents.

T - Roasted barley, nuts, dark toffee are the bigger flavors. Copper, metallic, very earthy. Lots of malty goodness. very hoppy; pale and bitter at the end. the nuts flavor finishes strong especially in the after taste.

M - Chewy, taste lingers. Not overly smooth but balanced. Alcohol is light, surprising considering this is a old ale.

D - Quite pleased with my first experience with an old ale. There was no problem finishing the bottle. I'd buy again, might even sit one down for awhile.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.53/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz. bottle served in my ST tulip. Pours the color and clarity of cola with a half inch, loose, mocha-colored head. Head eventually settles into a thin band around the edges and a soapy skim across the surface. A few spots and thin slashes of lacing are revealed during the tasting. Subdued aromas suggest a roasted character and chocolate malt. There's also a slightly metallic presence in the mix. Taste consistent with nose; however, there is a slightly acrid and burnt quality with a bitter hops presence that follows on a malty backbone. There's also some alcohol in the mix. Finish culminates in a lingering bitterness between quaffs. Mouthfeel is medium-light with an assertive carbonation and a light alcohol burn. An interesting beer with a multi-layered complexity; however, best shared amongst two or three. Definitely a beer that has cellaring potential in my opinion. I might need to pick up a bottle to sit on for a couple additional years before re-evaluating.

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Photo of BDTyre
3.78/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Interesting take on an English Strong Ale. Nice beer but I think this leans more towards the Cascadian Dark.

Very dark with a creamy, milky head. Rich slightly vinous malty scent. For some reason, the nose gives me the idea of a cool mintyness (thought it is in no way minty). Mild bitter chocolate to it. Low hop presence.

Hops really come through in the taste, enough to make this into a Cascadian Dark Ale. Chocolatey, fresh yeasty bready malts and a very strong, but well-blended hop profile. It comes across as a weird blend between a strong ale a porter and an IPA. Very interesting, perhaps a beer that really defies fitting into one style.

A little bit smooth at first but then the carbonation picks up as it goes down. A little bit off-balanced and uneven.

A nice beer, and a very interesting one. Not quite sure what to call this one.

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Photo of tigg924
3.73/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: 1/4 inch head, opaque, black in color

Smell: roasted malt and chocolate--not overly complex

Taste: roasted malt, charred wood, coffee, and citrus hops at the end

Mouthfeel: sweet start with a very bitter finish, medium body, moderate carbonation

Drinkability: An interesting brew that I would seek out again. This tastes borderline Black IPA. The beer is super dry but the flavors come together nicely.

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4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Bomber to pint glass. $10.00 for the bottle.

From the website: "...the second installment of our "Once Upon a Time" historical beer series we have once again teamed up with historian Ron Pattinson of Amsterdam to recreate a beer from Britain's past."

A: A foamy/frothy head of 2 fingers with a color something like 'Red Cedar Meets Mocha.' The head deposits a sticky sheet of lace throughout its slow demise. An everlasting film remains. The body is pitch black with absolutely no clarity. Lacing from the body continues to impress. Two-thirds of the glass is coated with 100% contiguous sheets which, when dry, resemble the pointillism of a Seurat painting. I am amazed at the appearance...but not surprised; Pretty Things consistently produces excellent looking brews.

S & T: Dark malts are roasty and present strong aromas and flavors of chocolate, cereal and bread crust. Bramling Cross and Kent Goldings hops are heavy and contribute notes that are both grassy and herbal. There is a corresponding leafy yeastiness to the nose. Light scents of cardboard are detectable. The mildest fruity component is noticeably on the palate as the beer nears room temperature. The same warming also increases the already high level of bitterness. Lightly sour. Finishes dry, acrid and heavily bitter.

M: Medium body with a very minerally, gritty texture. The carbonation is fizzy and of average intensity. Light alcoholic warmth comes from the belly up.

D: This beer has great flavor and has been a pleasure to drink but long term enjoyment is nearly impossible given the dryness and lingering bitterness of this recreated old world brew.

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Photo of flexabull
4.03/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of gnosis, thanks again!

Interesting beer.

Pours a deep dark black color with a very nice tan head.

Aromas are of dark cherries, cocoa, and earth hops.

Taste starts out crisp, with creamy malt sweetness, and dark cherry notes. Cocoa and dark coffee flavors then take over, while the finish provides a nice earth hop bite.

Mouthfeel is good, full with nice carbonation.

Drinkability is also good. This is a tasty, unique, and interesting beer. I'd happily drink this again sometime...

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Photo of stonermouse
3.9/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip.

Pours a deep, cola-like brown with a light brown, fairly steady head. Good looking brew.

The aroma is strong, with a solid bite of roasted malt. I struggle to seek out some hops, but nothing gets there.

The flavor is superbly complex, but almost to the point of distraction. I'm still enjoying teasing out the flavors, though. The malts have a toasted coffee flavor, and there's a hint of freshly-cut wood. Almost like I'm cutting 2X4s as I drink it. Not gross, just interesting. The hops don't present until the back end, and leave a generic hop dryness in the aftertaste. I'm not sure that it adds much to the brew, but I enjoyed it.

Mouthfeel is just about perfect for the flavors. Each sip is fairly dense, but then clean and dry upon swallowing. Interesting.

Drinkability is decent, but I could see how someone might not have the patience for everything that's going on here. I'd like to give it another shot or two, but not at the price I paid for it. I'd recommend trying it nontheless.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
3.08/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

wn to my last Blind Beer A- 4 Pours out porter looking with a dark cola coloration. It collects in the bowl of my Duvel glass much darker. The head unabashedly leaves light tan lacing S- 3.5 this smell is interesting, and I'm having a hard time describing it. Its not smoke, ash and roast with a dessert like aroma. Caramel? Vanilla? Chocolate? All three? There is some buttery diacytl as well T- 3 Damn roasty, nearly too roasty. Dry black cocoa with a hop kick at the end. Butter is throughout too M- 3 Dry, dry, dry. Long lingering roasty bitterness. Its pretty aggressive and invasive D- 2.5 Low drinkability for me. Its just SOOO burnt With the level of diacetyl here I'm thinking this is a stout with a problem or perhaps some English beer The reveal: Another Pretty Thing! And a want at that. November 15th 1901 KK. Very interesting, its listed as an Old Ale

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Photo of Reagan1984
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, a lot darker than I had imagined. Like a dark brown leather jacket. Thick fluffy tan head with excellent retention. You can slowly see gravity take it's toll on the head as it settles down. Lots of clinging lacing remains.

Aroma is far hoppier than I had expected. A touch green, also a background of thick musty malt.

Tastes like a charcoal laced Cascadian Ale. Lots of pine hop notes mix with an ash like dark roasted grain flavor. ** I just read the label and the flavor makes a lot more sense now. Certainly seems to have achieved the goal described. What's funny is that despite the unexpected pine hop flavors it actually finishes smoothly (but bitter) in your mouth. I'm thinking this is a good call for a cold December day.

Almost oily and slightly less than silky. A bit too thin to be called silky in my book but not too thin for what the goal was here. Subtle prickle of carbonation.

Pretty nice beer. One that grows on me as I enjoy the glass.

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Photo of Bmoyer0301
3.68/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


Served in a standard pint glass. Pours very dark brown almost black but not quite there. There is no haze or chunks floating around which is always a plus. A one finger thick dark mocha colored head that hung around for the whole pint. As I give a quick swirl the viscosity pretty standard, not light but definitely not heavy.


Whoa, hop bomb alert...huge nose of pine, citrus and earthy moss. There are decent amounts of roast complimented by a kiss of sweetness. It could be the glassware but I am also pulling out some soapy aromas. In the finish there is toasty biscuits and absolutely no heat alcohol.


Old Ale? I would put my money on a black IPA here. Very bright pine presence almost like drinking your Christmas tree water base. Some earthy tones followed by coffee, cocoa and black tea. A little astringent on the finish once you can get past the heat alcohol.


Not bad, It took me a little bit to sip this one down because it got pretty bitter at some points but another solid beer from pretty things. Worth a shot

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.06/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown/black color with a huge fluffy tan head, fades really slow, leaves a decent cap on top and some patchy lacing in its path down.

Smell is immediately hoppy, but after that you get a strange sweetness, molasses most likely, which blends in rather nicely with the large roasted malt presence.

Taste reminds me of either a hoppy porter or a black IPA, an old ale this does not taste like, the hops aren't as noticeable on the tongue as they were in the nose but they still demand respect, the roasted malt provides a solid backbone and finishes with a nice bitterness that doesn't overstay its welcome, good body to it thanks to the carbonation which is active but not sharp, lends itself to a decent creaminess when not too active, alcohol is hardly present in the taste which is rather surprising for an "old ale".

This beer, as it says on the label, confounds "expectations". I'm sure it did back in the day, but now it'd be considered a black IPA (regardless of the brewer's own expectations).

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Photo of ColForbinBC
2.83/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter

An aggressive pours yields a chestnut brown body with a bubbly/foamy dark tan colored cap. Sheets of lace coat the sides.

Sweet citrus rind, fresh grass, licorice, molasses, toffee, cocoa powder and a good amount of roasted dark malt. Not a bad smeller, but just a little all over the place for me. I like my old ales less hoppy and more boozy.

Citrus rind hits the palate first with cocoa powder quickly in tow. Molasses and toffee through the middle before a quick burst of grapefruit and a heavy rush of carbonation that was definitely unwelcome. The aftertaste was bitter grapefruit, metal, and soap all wrapped up in that huge rush of carbonation.

Medium body and overly carbonated. This guy would sit much better with me if the carbonation wasn't so high.

Granted the flavors and aromas as a whole are good, this just did not work for me. I gave it the whole bottle to win me over, but it was largely below average.

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Photo of paco1029384756
3.83/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to jlindros.

Pours nearly black with two fingers of fine tan head with good retention.

Scent of sugar, sweet hops, a hint of alcohol, molasses, and tar. More pungent than the alcohol content would suggest, but this is a somewhat strange and wholly unique scent.

Taste of molasses, sugar, anise, tar, a hint of peppermint, bitter hops, and very mild alcohol. It's a little overbearing with the sweetness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, slick and had a sharp bite of carbonation.

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Photo of twelvsies
4/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another throwback beer from Pretty Things, but this one is along the lines of a black IPA, a "new" style... I see what they did there...

Pours looking like a porter - robust head, dark brown hue, hefty, lacing. Aroma is nice and malty, bits of cocoa, roasty, and some citrusy hop vibe. Yum - there are more hops on the palate than suggested in the nose, as this is a pretty malty brew overall. More hops in the finish, less in-your-face and west coasty, and the perfect bitterness and bone dry finish to top off a nice and charred, roasty, robust dark ale. PT seems to excel at utilizing bitterness in beers, and this is a good example of a nice hoppy beer that isn't an IPA necessarily. Smooth and floaty mouthfeel, soft. A unique beer as expected, and I'm glad to see more beers like this surfacing. Cheers.

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Once Upon A Time 1901 KK from Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project
3.85 out of 5 based on 148 ratings.
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