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Colossus | DuClaw Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
DuClaw Brewing Company
Maryland, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 17.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed in 2006, 2011, and again in 2014 to push the limits of our own skills and imagination, Colossus is dark amber in color and full-bodied with a perceptively sweet flavor profile accented by notes of apple, and a surprisingly tame alcohol presence on the palate in light of its staggering 17.3% abv. This astounding alcohol content is achieved through fermentation alone; no alcohol is introduced at packaging nor it distilled. Multiple grains are used in conjunction with three different yeast strains to produce a beer that simply defies classification… and most laws of nature. One sip of this behemoth brew and you’ll agree: Sometimes size does matter!

2011 Batch - 21.92% ABV
2014 Batch - 17.3% ABV

Added by Kegatron on 04-01-2009

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Reviews: 60 | Ratings: 204
Photo of jeffdillon
5/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Loved it, had several large pours from the tap at the local "my favorite" beer store, then took a 4 pack home. Sweet, fruits, caramel, great feel. i may have given it a little less than 5 but reading the reviews by reviewers that obviously thought they were buying a different style of beer pissed me off! I bought this beer because I WANTED a sweet, sticky, strong drink, just like this! I was a treat. Cheers Du Claw, thank you.

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Photo of quirkzoo
4.94/5  rDev +33.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewed blind with several other BA's as part of Blind BIF 7

4 - Appearance is bright orange with almost no head (as is to be expected[wrapping gave warning that it was 15%+) pours really thick despite the clarity.

5 - Smell is amazing. Tons of sweet fruits, lots of fig at first and as it warms a little it gets even sweeter, honeyed apricots, honeysuckle just a lovely smell, really reminds me of a very good dessert wine. Almost no alcohol on the nose which is surprising.

5 - Taste is equally amazing. More sweet fruits, nice light caramel/honey sweetness, not much bitterness, very sweet but not cloying. Alcohol is very well hidden, most of us agree that it tastes like 11%. Perhaps the longest finish of a beer I have ever had it just sticks to the inside of your mouth.

5 - Mouthfeel is perfect for a big beer like this. Big and bold flavors but it doesn't overwhelm your palate, just enough carbonation to give a good cleanse and leave you wanting more.

5 - Overall this is an amazing beer, I have never had anything like it. The consensus is barleywine but it is much fruitier than any barleywine I have ever had. Another BA at the tasting, ucsbmullet commented that he thought it had some age, he guessed about two years. My first guess was a vintage big bottle of DFH Olde School Barleywine but the bottle isn't the right shape and it had an un-branded cap so I am going with my first instinct which is the only 15%+ beer from MD (where Oline73 is from) and that is DuClaw Colossus.

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Photo of Lukafer
4.77/5  rDev +28.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I got a couple bottle in a trade from Worldwidestout, and cracked one open at a tasting, review from notes:

Pours a medium red/amber color, with a decent amount of carb, I wasn't really expecting much. Smells are sweet malts, slight apple, some clove and other spices. BAM! This beer is awesome, liquid French toast, in an extremly good way! I was not expecting it to be this damn good, there's some cinnamon, vanilla, a lot going on here. Mouthfeel is chewy, very pleasant. The drinkability is incredibly surprising given the abv of this beast. I think this beer might have been the show stealer at our tasting, as no one knew what to expect. So good!

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Photo of hdofu
4.67/5  rDev +25.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A whopper of a beer this is. The biggest I've had from duclaws and undeniably huge. Pours an attractive marmalade brown color with a thin orange tan head. Smell is like marmalade as well. Taste starts out like marmalade but breaks down into cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves finally goin to a thin trace of malts. Considering the strength it has this beer is a rather gentle giant not revealing its huge abv in its taste (I barely noticed any burn). The drinkability of this beer is almost scary but luckily it's huge price and low availability inhibits drinking alot of it

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.54/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Gradient of red through amber, no head, no lace, some legs.

Nose is lovely fruit punch-type fruit, not in a bad way.

Beer is dangerously sweet, tropical. Notes of pineapple, apricots. Tastes a bit like a mixed drink, but not too boozy. Kinda like the Samichlaus Helles. Some apple and cinnamon as well,a s promised on the bottle.

Thinnish mouthfeel but it sticks with you, almost syrupy glycerin.

Impressive, and not what I was expecting, but I don't know what I was expecting... Sweet, but not malty. Almost like mead.

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Photo of ckollias
4.5/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this draft beer out of a small snifter glass at Duclaw in Bowie, MD.

A: Mahogany – amber ale with a small white wispy lace that quickly disappears.

S: Wow - strong fruity aroma – like a barley wine but stronger.

T: Smooth rich ale with a strong fruity background and generous sweetness. Carmel, spices, cinnamon and syrup are all present. Alcohol is dominant but balanced nicely by the sweetness so it is not too overpowering.

M: Full body and light carbonation

O: This is a sipping beer @ 21 % alcohol by volume. It is strong and robust and amazing! Wow – That is all I can say.

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Photo of fear025
4.47/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 5

Aroma:Hot alcohol, raisins, dark fruits.

Appearance:Amber in color, with nearly no head.

Taste:Really sweet, apples, brown sugar, apple strudel, honey.

Mouthfeel:Medium to thick body.

Drinkability:This is an amazingly drinkable, well balanced, high ABV beer.

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Photo of cdmillard
4.41/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a deep caramel color. Head? None to be found, but not unexpected. Thick and syrupy looking.

S- Incredibly sweet, with some booziness. Maybe dark fruits and honey. Hard to nail down, but very sweet.

T- Sweet. Much like the nose, dark fruits and honey. Someone mentioned candy apples with cinnamon. Might not be too far off. Not nearly as hot as one would expect at 21% ABV. Don't misunderstand me...the alcohol is definitely there, but I have had beers with much lower ABV that were much hotter. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so the sweetness doesn't bother me, but I don;t know that I could drink it routinely.

M- Syrupy with no carbonation. This is my least favorite aspect of this beer. A little too thick for me.

O- Overall, I like it. It's tasty and just a pleasant beer to drink. I'm sharing the bottle with my sons, because I think it would be a mistake to try to kill it alone. Enjoyable, but not for you if you don;t like sweetness.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
4.36/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The beer comes forth from the bottle with little froth, nor bubble, until at last a thin ring of tiny bubbles forms and wraps the snifter. The ring of head stays there the duration, beckoning.

Aroma of cinnamon, masking 17.3% ABV commanded by the 2014 batch. Alcohol is not in the aroma so much as malty sweetness and spice. And a spiced ale this ale is.

The flavor has cinnamon, brown sugar, molasses and just a hint of heat. Others have likened the taste to a spiced (cinnamon) liquor and I second that notion. Smooth, vanilla like elements cinnamon sugar and slight fruitiness. Quite nice, unbelievably smooth.

Full, velvety smooth body, drinks like a scotch on the rocks. Slight tempered burn. This is extreme beer, gone extremely right.

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Photo of dragonWhale
4.33/5  rDev +16.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Year+ old bottle, courtesy of randomdanger, I do believe. Been wondering a long time when this would get drank, and with my dear brew partner in town for a few days, this would prove to be that time.
Dark amber, the littlest head, quaking to nothingness under the weight of its own body. Booze, caramel oranges and cinnamon all up in this nose. The alcohol is not exceptionally solventy. Seems like it may almost be entirely ethanol without those crazy organic compounds. Time in the bottle has done this well. Good craftmanship, too.
Syrupy, but not sickly sweet. Boozy without intense heat. Cinnamon and a bit of citrus give support. Not overly complex, but exceptionally drinkable for the ABV. Not a mess like 120. Not too hot like World Wide Stout. Haven't had Utopias, but I imagine its something like this only a little better.
Good work DuClaw..I'm proud of you.

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Photo of Khazadum
4.32/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Really has trouble generating and maintaining a head here. The coloration is deep caramel with apple cider nature. No collar, very very minimal bubble-age.

S- Super sweet, apples, bit of sulfur nature that I welcome, some spicing. Cinnamon for sure. Is that honey remnants I smell? Little bit of funk going on in the back end, like hay and saddlebag.

T- BLAM! Apples, caramel, cranberry, fruits, peaches. Some dark fruits help blend it out. Definitely has a honey sweetness on the finish and finishes out tangentially bitter. Just a few spots here and there. Delightfully placed.

M- Full bodied, bit creamy, definitely got a nice heat to it. Nothing near what a 20+% beer should be though. This is insanely drinkable. Like, holy shit if I'm not careful I'm gonna be on my face drunk. Not as syrupy as a huge stout or barleywine, so the heat doesn't hide as well, but I've had hotter 9-10% beers than this. Flavors are sticky, but not too long lasting. Very well put together, and it doesn't have anything disjointed I can complain about.

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Photo of beermantimmie
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a liter bottle into a tulip glass.

Smell: hints of Apples, pears, cinnamon, nutmeg, oranges.

Taste: Sugary sweet! Apple pie tasting!

Appearence: Rose colored to a dark red.

Be careful when drinking as you wouldn't know by tasting that it is 22%.

I had this at a temp. of abour 50 degrees. This became very overpowering to drink after a while and I choose to cut it with a hoppier beer to take out the sugar taste. I wasn't impressed with the price! $35/bottle! I could by 4 120 minute IPA from Dogfish head for that price and still have the same ABV content. It's worth having once though. I didn't get a chance to warm it to 105 degrees like the bottle recommends to taste the warm apple pie effect. This bottle if sipped will accomodate two people without a problem, so get someone to split the cost with you. This is also available at Wine World beer and spirits in the fridge to the left of the walk in door on the top shelf. Enjoy!

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Photo of Chaney
4.3/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on tap at the Bowie location while gathering some swag for a beer trade.

"Size does matter!"

A: Almost clear, but not quite, orange-amber color, with a mild bit of sticky lacing. More head than I expected for a beer this strong, but still insignificant overall.

S: Intense sugar bomb, but still intriguing and very surprisingly fragrant. Ultra-ripe banana, more than a tinge of honey, attached to a big malt backbone.

T: You gotta be kidding me? This is about as smooth as it gets for a brew that clocks in at 21.92% The honey takes center stage, but it also had a sort of "Mallow creme" taste (and aftertaste) that I personally found sublime. Cloying, but I'll bet dollars for donuts that that was the brewers' intention!

M: Sticky, uber sweet, and with a slight prickle that subbed as carbonation. Not much lacing, but the mouth coat was substantial.

O: Really nice! To be honest, I had never had any desire to try this beer due to its price and it's gimmicky nature. However, I'm glad I did! This is twice as good as DFH's high octane brews such as: World Wide Stout, Raison D'Extra, and Olde School... for starters.

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Photo of Pencible
4.27/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: This poured a nearly opaque light mahogany with bit of white head.
S: It smelled like sweet apple and honey and caramel, with some cinnamon wheat bread and alcohol.
T: It tasted like apple cinnamon and sweet honey, with a little caramel and wheat bread and white grapes. The aftertaste was sweet and lasting, with some alcohol warming.
M: It was thick any syrupy with some carbonation. Huge thick body.
D: This was a very nicely brewed beer, given the alcohol level. Scent and taste weren't too over the top. But the body was like sludge and the alcohol was obvious, so it must be sipped. Could probably age forever, but nice now. Bold and complex, and great to contemplate. Recommended.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a dark brown w/ a red tinge to it. A sliver of a cocoa head, which quickly disappears to mere bubbles around the edges. Decent carbonation, and almost no lacing.

S- Whoa.. This smells like it's name- impossibly big smells. I'm really starting to wonder what I'm getting myself into here. Malt, fruits, rum, alcohol, plus a lot of other fringe smells I can't identify. Not overpowering though, and somewhat balanced considering the ABV...

T- Wow. The flavor just explodes in your mouth, with different things cycling to the forefront for 5 seconds. Long slow alcohol burn that I can feel all the way to my stomach. Not overpowering burn though. This beer is really tasty, and fairly smooth considering the almost 22% ABV. Definitely a sipper though. Nice work DuClaw.

M- Feels like taking a shot of 151 w/ fruit juice. Doesn't taste like that, but the alcohol presence is similar in the feel department.

O- Really nice beer by DuClaw- and totally lives up to its name. This is a beer to be sipped, savored, respected, and probably shared. I enjoyed this one, and if you like big, bold beers, you will too. Just remember the ABV, or you might end up on the floor!

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Photo of chaz01
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bought this a year ago and let it aged. Served in the glassware that comes with Sam Adams Utopia. As an added plus, the bottle was had been previously opened and resealed with the special plug that's attached to the bottle. Carbonation keeps well even after several weeks.

A: Deep Amber & Brow color. Still had a nice little head and even some lacing.

S: Bready, malty characteristics with a pleasant rum aroma.

T: Wonderful sweet malty taste with notes of dark fruits -- plums, raisins, dates, currants and even an orange taste. Very complex and constantly changing in the mouth.

M: Very thick and syrupy -- practically chewable.

D: What would you expect with a 20%+ beer? This is a sipping beer, to be savored and enjoyed at the end of the evening -- much like a fine port or sherry.

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Photo of tigg924
4.19/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage. Pours clear, orange-yellow in color, with minimal head. Taste is cinnamon, vanilla, cherry, coconut, toasted malt, and big alcohol heat. Complex and tasty. Very heavy bodied with next to no carbonation. I would get this one again.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
4.13/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 vintage poured from bottle into a snifter glass

Appearance – The beer pours nice golden color with a two finger head of a white thick foam. The head fades fast at first, but then settles at one finger height where it has a good level of persistence. The beer has a rather thick look upon pouring as the carbonation bubbles seem to struggle to stream up through the body of the beer. Eventually the head does fade leaving a lighter level of foamy lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma of the beer is very bready overall with other aromas of caramel and toffee and some aromas of fruits with white grape, pear, and apricot all there. Along with these aromas comes a decent showing of spice, with cinnamon and nutmeg being the foremost. As may be expected for a beer of 17.3 % that was only aged for a bit of time, a decently boozy and warming rum aroma is there as well, producing a rather nice and warming and actually rather palatable aroma overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a doughty and very sweet taste with notes of toffee, caramel, and fruit flavors of an apricot, pear, and peach flavor. While not too boozy or spiced upfront, both do quickly come to the tongue with the spice gaining a moderate level of intensity to the end, while the boozy get moderatly hot and potent. The spice flavors are largest of a nutmeg and allspice upfront, but move heavier in cinnamon toward the end. All the white some other fruit flavors of grape and plum join the flavor profile brining even more sweetness to the brew. As stated prior, the alcohol gains intensity toward the end with it bringing a nice warming rum flavor to the tongue. With a little bit of a more herbal and earthy hop taste coming at the very end of the taste profile, one is left with a warming sweet and boozy (but not as boozy as may be expected for a 17.3 % abv. brew) taste to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the thicker and creamier side with a carbonation level that is on the lower side, as may have been expected for a brew of its potency. For the sweet and warming tastes of the brew it was rather appropriate, keeping this one a slow sipper as it should be.

Overall – I was actually quite surprised. I was expecting something a bit boozier in nature, but the sweetness and doughtiness of the beer really nicely balanced the rummy booziness of the beer and made it very palatable. For such a big beer this one was rather well done.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle thanks to Kegatron.

Pours a cloudy mahogany color with a short white head.

Scent of fruit, sugars, cinnamon, and a hint of spicy alcohol. Surprisingly tame for the strength. Not overly sweet or overly boozy, I like it.

Taste of maple syrup, cinnamon, sugar, caramel and a little alcohol. I was kind of expecting a boozy mess, but this turned out to be a nice surprise, I would definitely drink this again.

Mouthfeel is medium heavy bodied and sticky as fuck, wonderful.

The drinkability is very high for a beer of this strength.

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Photo of John_M
4.09/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the lovely Arundel Mills Mall DuClaw location. Served in a 6 ounce brandy snifter.

The beer pours a slightly hazy, brownish amber color with good head retention and little or no lacing. The nose is enticing, as I pick up brown sugar, calvados apple brandy, vanilla, maraschino cherry and light chocolate. The flavor profile generally replicates the nose, but this beer is so sweet and boozy, it really drowns out all the other flavors. On the other hand, the alcohol is very well integrated into the flavor profile, as this beer is not at all hot or tiring on the palate. Obviously, this beer is very rich and a bit heavy/weighty on the palate, but thats to be expected in a beer with this kind of abv.

An interesting beer, but it took me over a half hour just to drink my 6 ounce serving (my cheeks were starting to warm half way through). In small portions, this would make a nice after dinner drink or liquer. Not sure what I would ever do with an entire bomber of this stuff.

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Photo of alleykatking
4.07/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Thanks Luke (Lukafer) for busting this bottle out!

A- Pours a amber copper color. Tiny white head comes and goes right away. No real lacing on the glass which is understandable with the high ABV.

S- Although the alcohol is very apparent in the beer it wasn't the only thing you could smell in the beer. Nice cinnamon aroma from the get go. Green apple notes come and go with a light bready backbone. Sweetness is a big quality to the nose with some honey notes as well.

T- This beer I figured would be a boozy mess..and to my surprise it wasn't. A nice sweet bready malt to start off this beer. Slight spicing notes with the cinnamon in the front end. Maple syrup sweetness in the middle and a little caramel malt as well. Backing is alcohol which is to be expected but it is very sugary sweet overall. This beer tastes like liquid french toast (which was said by Lukafer as we drank this).

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation was low but expected with this beer. Sweetness was all that was left on the palate. Sweet alcohol in the aftertaste. Flavor was very good for the ABV. Sticky feeling in the mouth and stays around for such a long time after the sip. Heavy drying on the palate.

D- This beer despite being such a huge ABV is very drinkable. I think this beer is flying under the radar so you should seek out pronto before it blows up. I know I'll be looking out for some more soon.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.07/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draft at the brewpub....beer is interesting and probably the best example of a high alcohol beer hiding its alcohol. Seriously.

Beer is amber with a mild haze, small head, no lacing, low carbonation.

Aroma is sweet and smells a little like apples, the beer has this fruitiness to it but there is close to no alcohol in the nose.

Beer is thin and super sweet, reminds me of apple brandy. Shockingly not boozy, very sweet, not bitter, mildly dry finish. I'd wager to say I'd have this again. Illogical, very smooth for a beer of this strength. Shocking really.

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Photo of clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Since I have a sweet tooth I was dying to try this and glad I splurged 30 bones (live a little)...poured a reddish copper with small head that died quick and left tiny lace running down my snifter. A boozy aroma of malts as I pick up hints of roasted but mostly some caramel, syrup/molasses and/or sugary goodness, cinnamom and spicy pepper and a touch of chocolate, and for some reason I'm getting a touch of fruit like cherry (the label says apple but it smells/taste like cherry to me). Taste is more of the same as this is an intense brew yet for all its thick, sticky, syrupy, malty goodness I feel that it is surprisingly smooth and easy to drink. Real sweet as the caramel, cinnamon, touches of chocolate, and cherry-like fruit (although w/ label saying apple one could say this beer resembles a strong apple brandy), but also a dry edge as the spices and cinnnamon come into play. I also get a minor citrusy hop bite on the backend, which gives the slightly boozy and warming finish a little crisp snap. This beer was great to sip on and it took me a long time to sip and I think i had a minor buzz but it was worth the price as the sweetness doesn't get grating and kept going down easy and the warming enhanced the sweetness but the beer doesn't get too boozy.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jjfoodie for sharing this bottle. I believe this was the second release because it came in a 22 ounce bottle.

The beer pours a reddish-orange color with an off-white head. The aroma is very sweet with a lot of dark fruit, light tartness, caramel and brandy notes.

The flavor is similar. There is a ton of sweetness in this beer. There are also some dark cherries and brown sugar in the flavor, as well as a lot of alcohol. Even though the alcohol is extremely noticeable, I still think it is somewhat well hidden for a beer of this strength.

Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation. Glad I got to try this one.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad to have shared this with myself at my nightly tastings in my living room with my wife and my cat.

now this is the definition of a massive beer!!

Poured a deep dark brown, with a big head that fadeed to nothing. Some nice lace down the glass, lots of activity left in the film on top, looks good. Smell was so complex it is even hard to describe. Everytime you went near it you smelled something different. Bready tones the first time, spiceness the second, alchol, some fruitness, a bit of the hops, it offeres a variety in every sense of the word. the taste is big, thick, full of alcohol, which is not even remotely hidden here. Lots of dark fruits and berries can be found in here if you look. Grassy tones, apricot, pear, very complex and lots of flavors seem to be battling each other. Almost tastes like a cross between an american and belgian strong due to al the complex things going on in here

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Colossus from DuClaw Brewing Company
3.71 out of 5 based on 204 ratings.
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