Colossus | DuClaw Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
DuClaw Brewing Company
Maryland, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 20.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewed 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. 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!

2006 Batch - 20.0% ABV
2011 Batch - 21.92% ABV
2014 Batch - 17.3% ABV
2015 Batch - 21.0% ABV
2018 Batch - 20.0% ABV

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 64 | Ratings: 214
Photo of zaphodchak
4.54/5  rDev +21.1%
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 Pencible
4.27/5  rDev +13.9%
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 Khazadum
4.32/5  rDev +15.2%
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 clayrock81
4.05/5  rDev +8%
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 Viciousknishs
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a granet color with a finger of off white head. Retention is actually amazing for the alchohol content.

S- aromas of baked golden apples with cinnamon. Big malty aromas with a spicy phenolic alchohol on the finish.

T- sweet candied apple and spice with a dominate cinnamon note. Spicey balanced alchohol in the middle. Finishes with a malty caramel, powdery sugar and booze warmth long into the aftertaste.

MF- sticky sugary mouthfeel with a medium body and low carbonation.

D- split a 22 with at least 4 friends and you'll be good any more and your done son.

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Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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 joefuzz
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into 2 snifters.

Pours a medium red completely see through with minimal head.

Smells strongly of alcohol which is slighty expected with a big honey presence.

Taste is mostly fruity figs and rasins with a great sweet honey aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is pretty thin easy drinking with low carbonation.

Overall pretty good sipper not something you can have a whole lot of.

Thanks dyan for the hookup

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Photo of maximum12
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to yourefragile for providing this bottle in a springtime trade. Of course, this is one I just thought I should try given, you know, the mildly high ABV. Most of these I've had turned out not to be gimmicks, but just good brews. Here's to hoping the trend holds. Split with my wife, thank goodness.

Luckily, I don't have to go to work tomorrow (or for the foreseeable future!). Pours flat & cold as a pre-freeze Minnesota lake in November. Same color, too, a dark clear orange, zero head. Smell is subtle. Alcohol, cinnamon, bit of apple & orange jelly. All faint.

Colossus is sweet enough to cause my kids upstairs. Sweet runs riot, then breaks into the arms depot & redoubles the mayhem. Within that are a wellspring of treats: candied apples, sugar-rolled oranges, maple syrup fortified with brown sugar, caramel squares, cinnamon. All followed up with another atomic blast of rolling boiled sugar. Surprisingly, this is a gentle, easy-tempered brew that wouldn't even be stopped at a checkpoint for having alcohol on its breath - it deserves a Nobel for hiding it. The definition of syrupy, this is thick as grade B molasses & almost as carbonated.

I'm going to be sipping this one for a couple of hours. Either that, or be asleep someplace between here & bed. Damn. Good beer that could easily be split 4 or 5 ways.

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Photo of BlackWednesday
3.37/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber-clear amber color w/a mohogany tint & no head. Sweet raisin aroma. Very sweet flavors of raisins, toffee, caramel, & some faint candied sugar. Amazingly, the alcohol is not overpowering, but it has quite the warming property to it. A definite sipper, very sweet, almost like a mead or aptiff. Great after dinner drink, but you aren’t gonna drink too much of this. I think it will age well, we’ll see. Long sweet finish.

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Photo of oline73
3.86/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on-tap at the pints and pancakes even at T-bonz. Poured into a Colossus snifter. They had maple syrup made with Colossus at the event.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy reddish amber with very small bubbles. This beer clings to the glass. There is a layer of off white head that goes away.

Smell: Very sweet. Notes of dark fruit and cherries. Definitely picking up some of the alcohol in the nose.

Taste: Follows closely from the smell. Really sweet with hints of dark fruit, caramel, maple, and cherry. I'm picking in the alcohol, but it's actually really well balanced given the incredibly high abv. The finish is a bit bitter, which only fit alright with the rest of the beer.

Mouthfeel: Body is on the thick side. This one sticks to your mouth. The carbonation is mild and the finish is extra dry.

Overall: Really smooth considering the abv. I think this one was better than the last batch.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.2/5  rDev +12%
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 mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +6.7%
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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Photo of Chaney
4.3/5  rDev +14.7%
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 drabmuh
4.07/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draft at the 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 John_M
4.09/5  rDev +9.1%
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 ckollias
4.5/5  rDev +20%
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 stakem
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Deuane for sharing this monster at a recent tasting. Talk about bad decisions? Seriously who puts a 20+% abv brew into a 1 liter swingtop wax dipped bottle... And what type of gathering does it take to whip something like this out? Donno but we should do it more often!

Poured into a mini snifter, this brew appears a clear amber orange color with a white cap that fades quickly holding tight around the edge of the glass. Some spotty lace makes it's way along the walls of the glass and sticks. When swirled, translucent legs droop down the glassware.

The smell of this brew is sweet caramel malt that is quite candy-like somewhat reminiscent of candied apples. It has some toasty grain scents that get mixed with a scent of molasses and some spiced aspect like nutmeg. More sniffs reveal some brown sugar suggestions and a bit more fruity alcohol.

The taste of this brew is sweet, very sweet but it needs to be to combat the amount of alcohol that's included. There is a persistent flavor that suggests oxidation with a faint cardboard character but it isn't distracting. The main flavor profile here is candied, molasses and a spicy sort of brown sugar. After the initial shock and awe of sweetness, this brew offers a drying bitterness that is somewhat herbal and had an aftertaste that is lightly smoky like a burnt molasses.

This is a full bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. For the huge abv, it was very approachable and I would certainly drink it again. During the tasting of this brew Deuane made the comment that this tastes like the beer version of Boilo... Honestly, I can't disagree with that. Spot on with that comment Deuane, thanks again for sharing!

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.72/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at an Oktoberfest event in MD. Wow. Pours mahogany with a small tan head. Aroma is of fruit, honey, wheat, and spice. There is not much alcohol in the aroma, which is surprising. Taste is of very dry honey, dark fruit especially raisins, and wheat. Lingering taste of sugary, dark fruit. The alcohol is well masked, but you definitely know it is there. It doesn't creep up on you, in facerapes you for the entire beer. Mouthfeel is sticky, but drinks easy. The drinkability given the amount of alcohol is frightening.

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Photo of emerge077
3.95/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Joe for breaking out this brainbuster... Review from notes.

Ominously large liter bottle with yellow wax, as pictured here. Poured placidly into a small snifter, bright vibrant orange with high clarity. A loose ring of bubbles cluster on the surface.

Aroma was sweet and fruity... plum, apple, slight spiciness in the background. No real hint of alcohol, just fruit syrup sweetness, and little else.

Sticky sweet fruit cocktail of plum, pear, and apple. Malt? Nope. Syrupy body, and rather sweet, which effectively masks the alcohol. Surprisingly drinkable. A 22% booze bomb is the perfect way to end a night, just be sure to split the bottle 8 ways or more... thanks Joe!

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Photo of hdofu
4.67/5  rDev +24.5%
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 dragonWhale
4.33/5  rDev +15.5%
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 kkipple
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The hits keep coming here at Casa Rosen, and here comes a Colossus thanks to UncleJedi. Good grief, 21%? Do we need this at only 10:30 at night? Guess we do! Onwards!

A. Syrupy... no head or bubbles of any kind; not surprisingly. Leggy as a leggy beast with legs. Clear and orange with red highlights.

S. Okay... this is the most imperial Wit beer of all time. The bottle claims coriander, orange peel and cinnamon, and by gum, you can smell all that in the beer. It's quite sweet, with a a big sugary nose that is suspiciously free of alcohol heat.

T. Wow... I was skeered going into this, expecting another hot mess like 120 minute, but this is shockingly mellow. Yes, mellow. You know there is booze here, and you can taste it... but as for heat, it's virtually not. Flavor is super sweet and sticky, with a pleasing spicy orange-wit cinnamon flavor that reminds me of rum spiced apple cider. It's good... albeit a sipper. In fact, as I continue to drink this, it grows on me. This is massive, and good.

M / D. Sticky, rich, syrup. Intensely sweet. A dessert. Gently warming, slightly bitter in the finish after the waves of sweet pass over. A few ounces is all you need, but it's not tiresome as much as hefty.

Colossus has been, according to the DuClaw website, verified by the Siebel Institute to 21% abv. Hard to believe, and yet... I buy it. I would buy it, too, if I could. The cleanest, most devilishly smooth ultra-high ABV beer I've had to date. Colossus is also the tastiest 20%+ beer I've had that's not called Utopias.

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Photo of fear025
4.47/5  rDev +19.2%
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 trafordboy
1.72/5  rDev -54.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Yikes! Not what I expected at all. Tastes like corn syrup with maple flavor added. If Aunt Jemima brewed a beer I imagine this is what I think it would taste like. The beer has good carbonation and a nice look to it but there is way too much unfermented sugar left in this beast. The reason the alcohol is hidden so well is because of the sugar. I don't have a problem with sweet beers either...this one just missed the mark for me.

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Photo of Lukafer
4.77/5  rDev +27.2%
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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Colossus from DuClaw Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.75 out of 5 with 214 ratings