Retribution | DuClaw Brewing Company

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RetributionRetribution
BA SCORE
4.12/5
Exceptional
RetributionRetribution
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
DuClaw Brewing Company
Maryland, United States
duclaw.com

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A full-bodied, Single Barrel Bourbon-aged Imperial Stout with rich aromas of espresso and dark chocolate, and smooth roasted malt flavor. Aged for 6 months inside charred Kentucky white oak bourbon barrels to add the natural vanilla and caramelized sugar flavors of the bourbon soaked wood to the beer. Each bottle run is drawn from a single barrel, making each batch a unique drinking experience. ABV from 10.5% to 11.5%.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#4,357
Reviews:
89
Ratings:
483
pDev:
10.44%
 
 
Wants:
79
Gots:
120
Trade:
10
 
User Reviews & Ratings
Reviews: 89 | Ratings: 483
Photo of thebeers
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Garnet-tinted black with a moderate cola-colored head. Sweet bourbon and milk chocolate in the nose. Great creamed coffee, chocolate, oak and heavy bourbon in the taste, with a moderate alcohol kick at the end. Creamy mouthfeel with good carbonation. Nice. This is a three year old keg, and the coffee and bourbon are both still very strong. Can't imagine what this was like in 2013.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.19/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Nice dose of bourbon, bourbonesque cream and alcohol. Mid palate shows Creamy chocolate, vanilla, coconut, dark fruit and cherry cordial. Drinks a little thinner than I like with low alcohol heat.

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Photo of Kegatron
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ the DuClaw Brewing Co. Arundel Mills Mall location on 10/13/11 during the release party. Served in a shaker glass.

This is a first of what is planned to be multiple single barrel-aged releases of this beer. While their Brewer’s Blog indicates that the first bottling of this will be from Heaven Hill bourbon barrels, I’m not sure if this debut draft version was from those particular barrels or from another. I’m sure that future entries of this will have to broken down per their barrel type as more versions are released. For now I’ve merely added this as “Retribution”.

Pours a pitch black in the glass, topped with a thin and frothy covering of darker colored mocha head. This retains with some rich and creamy edges that basically stays that way during the entire duration of the glass and leaving back a robust cascade of spotty lace and brown oils down the sides. The aroma is SWEET. Cocoa, molasses, vanilla, alcohol. Just a ton of dark stickiness here in the nose with not much in the way of sharp notes of roast or hops showing themselves, as they seem to be well integrated into that overall thick sweetness. Burnt tannic wood notes and light spice hang on the edges and yes, there is a bit of stiff warmth at times to. It doesn’t impact the nose too much though, as the overall boldness of the flavors keep it in check for the most part.

The taste is once again, VERY sweet up front, with notes of thick chocolate, caramelized sugars, and a hefty dose of vanilla. This has a ton of sweet gooey deliciousness to it and much like the nose, the majority of any roast and hop character here as been very well integrated, with just some overall “dark” character and light green accents being all that I’m picking up anymore. The bourbon kicks in towards the backend of the profile, with a woody charred warmth that finishes this burnt and spicy with a touch of lingering sugars. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a huge mouth-filling sharpness that fills the palate up with those flavors. Luckily, this then gets more creamy and slick feeling along the back that lends this some needed smoothness in the mouth. The alcohol content is handled very well here, with it adding a beefy warmth and extra boldness to the profiles, and much like the aroma did, that hefty sweetness soaks up any excess heat that this is giving off.

I’ve been drinking DuClaw beers for a while now and this has got to be probably the single most impressive beer that I’ve had from them so far. While this was border line overly sweet at times, it was more of a product of the barrel used than anything and I found that the integration of the flavors here and overall time spent in the barrel was very well done. It’s awesome that they are going to be releasing different barrel variations of this in bottles. It’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

New Year's Eve 2013. Thanks to cdmillard for the opportunity to try this one. 22oz. bottle served in a tulip. Date in barrel: 03/21/2012; Date out of barrel: 09/21/2012. Barrel no. 09 of 15. Pours an opaque black with a loose, quarter-inch, khaki-colored head the quickly recedes into a bubbly band around the shoulders and an oily slick across the center. No lacing on this one. Nose expresses booze, molasses, vanilla notes, chocolate and ethanol towards the back. Taste consistent with nose, but much bolder. Flavors are very distinct and ethanol is much more apparent at the finish and lingers between quaffs. I also get a dark fruit quality that wasn't as clearly suggested by the nose. Mouthfeel is medium in body, perhaps a little thin for the style with an assertive carbonation, a slightly oily texture and some residual heat between quaffs. Wow - I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and can't believe some of the negative reviews. Definitely intend on trading for some more in the future.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a jet black with a tightly knit halo of tan head that sticks loosely to the glass as I sip. The nose is a bit of chocolate, toasted sugars, minimal booze, and some grain. The taste is smooth and chocolatey with a subtle hint of bourbon caramel in the finish. This stout has a world class mouthfeel- smooth, rounded, lightly spiced, full bodied, and has a slightly astringent booziness in the finish. Great beer and definitely a worthy release from duclaw and I'm excited to try the variant at a later date.

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Photo of argock
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22oz brown bomber into a clear glass snifter. Bottled on 9/23/2013 on label. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Very dark brown with 1-finger of quickly receding light brown head with minimal lacing.

S: Beautiful aroma of vanilla, light coconut, dark chocolate, black coffee, and roasted malt with a nice dose of burnt and medium caramel. The barrel notes really complement the base stout well.

T: The flavor is not quite up to the high bar of the aroma, but it is no big lagger as the sweetish caramel and chocolate notes really mesh well with the vanilla, coconut, and light oak tannin notes. The dark chocolate and espresso in the nose are there and add complexity. It is a pretty sweet BA imperial stout, but it has enough bitterness from the roasted malt, coffee, and dark chocolate components to pull it off. It does have a touch of tobacco character bordering on ashiness with warming. The alcohol is pretty well hidden.

M: The body is too light for the style and doesn't work too well with the sweet nature of this beer. THe carbonation is low as it should be for the style.

O: If this beer had more body, it would be a killer BA imperial stout, but it is for those who enjoy the sweeter version of the style.

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Photo of Gosox8787
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Presentation: 22 oz. bottle chilled and poured into a Cigar City tulip glass. Bottled on date of 9/21/2012 from Barrel # 12.

Appearance: Dark brown to black in color. Medium brown head that recedes into a nice thin layer of lacing. Leaves a nice sticky lacing around the glass.

Aroma: Cocoa powder, rich milk chocolate and some really strong bourbon tones. Lots of burn from the bourbon. Really nice coffee and caramel tones as well. Some nice vanilla is present as well. As this warms, the bourbon really comes through, both with the sweetness and moreso with the alcohol heat.

Taste: Roasted coffee beans, cocoa nibs, and some strong bourbon heat. As the bourbon heat fades, some really nice caramel, milk chocolate and vanilla bean tones really start to shine through. There's also a surprisingly black pepper tones that counters the sweetness with a bit of burn. The bourbon tones are still not completely integrated into the beer and sometimes the bourbon overwhelms the beer instead of completely integrating into it.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and sticky. Plenty of body. Creamy throughout.

Overall, a really tasty, sweet bourbon barrel stout. My biggest complaint is that I don't feel the bourbon completely integrates into the base beer and sometimes it comes off like a shot of bourbon in an imperial stout. I like the counter of the char of the barrel that gives almost a black pepper quality to counter the sweetness. Definitely enjoyed this and would have it again.

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Photo of scottfrie
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into snifter. Thanks for the bottle, Josh. Bottled 10/14/2013.

A: Pours a deep dark brown with a finger of very dense and soft looking head that slowly faded into a fuzzy and lasting film. Spotty lace was left down the glass.
S: Bourbon dominates the nose with hints of anise, caramel, and vanilla. The nose isn’t hot, but the bourbon pretty much dominates everything.
T: Tons of bourbon barrel up front with thick and creamy flavors of chocolate, anise, fudge, spicy oak, and a touch of vanilla in the finish. The finish has hints of toasted marshmallow and caramel, and the aftertaste is full of spicy bourbon barrel, anise, and slight leather and honey. I get nuances of molasses and coffee throughout.
M: Thick body with a heavy and chewy mouthfeel. The booze isn’t hot, but there is a strong bourbon barrel presence. Carbonation is creamy and smooth. Alcohol is noticeable but not hot.
O: I’m very surprised how much bourbon flavor there is with almost two years of age on it. Fairly complex overall, and definitely dangerous drinkable. Not the world’s best, but definitely worth checking out. Thanks again StormKing47.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22oz, Bottled 9/21/13
5oz mini snifter

A: Pours out a deep reddish brown. After having all 3 Speedways before this, it's certainly thinner than them. Not a ton if carbonation. Not a lot of lacing, but still a good looking stout.

S: Cocoa puffs. Vanilla. Oak. Definitely nice bourbon character coming through on the nose. Seems likes it's meshed in there nicely.

T: Dark chocolate bitterness on the tip of the tongue. Then that integrates nicely with the vanilla from the barreling in the mid-palate, giving you a sort of cocoa puff like flavor (delicious though). Taste a hind of charred wood and roasted malts along with that deep chocolate flavor. Dry finish with lingering barrel character.

M: Full bodied.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

With a sultry and ominous taste, DuClaw's stab at the Impeiral Stout is shrouded in a cloak of bourbon for intense warmth, wood spice and the thin caramel and vanilla tones that round out the roast and introduce a beautiful dessert-like taste.

Simply black in its appearance, the ale is completely opaque. As it settles into the glass, a slow rise of espresso-like creme floats the beer for a short time before the froth disintegrates and the ale trends brandy-like with its creep of legging.

Boozy to the nose, the unmistakable scent of bourbon springs to life with caramel, vanilla, charred oak and an almost vinous wine-like tone. But that is the wrapping for the dense espresso, bitter chocolate, walnut and heavy char that lies within.

Rich with chocolate covered espresso beans, the ale tastes sweet and roasty. Brownie batter and fresh ground coffee is the central flavor with bitter walnuts and chocolate awash on the palate. Savory and salty tastes bleed into the taste of charred fruit, spicy oak, and sweet bourbon to round out the taste.

Absolute fullness on the palate, the beer is creamy, lush and velvety up front, but as the alcohol sets in, the beer is thinned for drinkability as the carbonation is ushered aside and the sweetness dries slightly. High warmth and a numbing prickle provides lasting aftertaste and texture.

Retribution is a forcefully bourbon infused Stout that pulls no punches. Its whisky effects aren't subtle or nuanced. They make every bit as much impact on the palate as the massive Stout does.

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Photo of Pencible
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Barrel 20 of 20.

A: This poured a nearly opaque black, with some tan head.
S: It smelled like dark chocolate and coffee and licorice and brown sugar, with some oak and toasted oats and honey wheat bread.
T: It tasted like very sweet brown sugar and honey wheat bread and raisin, with some mocha and oak and toasted oats and vanilla. It had a lasting sweet aftertaste that was clean.
M: It was very thick and viscous with some carbonation. Huge body.
D: This was a nice bourbon stout, with very sweet scent and taste. It had amazing body with pretty well hidden alcohol, so it was fairly easy to drink. It could probably age well, but it was nice fresh too. Not the best example of the style, with less bourbon character and more sweetness than most. But it was still really enjoyable.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.22/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a snifter, the beer is a thick, oily, jet black coloring with a low profile, foamy, tan head that quickly settles out into a halo. Aromas of bittersweet baker's chocolate, bitter and roasted espresso, hints of wood and char, vanilla highlights from the booze, and earthy undertones. Flavors are extremely rich and heavy, with a blast of bittersweet dark chocolate forward, followed by a heavy hand of dark roasted coffee/espresso. Very well balanced. The highlights provide a significant layering and a ton of nuances, including rich vanilla, boozy warmth, char notes, and molasses. Extremely robust and full bodied. The aftertaste is all the rich and sweet blending together perfectly, including some caramel, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and booze. There's a pretty solid booze warmth building as I go, too. The finish is smooth, layered, and velvety. Fantastic beer!

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Photo of bum732
4.23/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

S: Bold bourbon with strong coffee notes. Sweet oak, some cherry, vanilla.

L: Thick, black as night. Tan head that dissipates quickly.

T: Sweet chocolate-like malt with lots of bourbon sweetness. Alcohol-like bitterness with some bitter coffee-notes. Finishes with some rich chocolate along with some alcohol. Some earthy cocoa as it warms.

M: Medium full bodied, somewhat chewy. Alcohol definitely present, but not too overwhelming. Medium low carbonation.

Really solid, similar profile to BCBS, but a touch sweeter and boozier. Heavy on the chocolate and bourbon sweetness.

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Photo of metter98
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a half finger high dark beige head.
S: Moderate aromas of bourbon are present in the nose along with notes of brown sugar.
T: The taste follows the smell but has stronger flavors of bourbon and brown sugar.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer has lots of flavors of bourbon and sweetness from the brown sugar. It's tough to picture how strong the beer is because any traces of alcohol are very well hidden.

Serving type: can

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Photo of atone315
4.24/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014 vintage, thrown in barrels on 3-28 and bottled on 9-1. Definitely not a sweet beer, this was still a perfect brew for an after dinner desert. The roastiness was outstanding, usually that's lost in beers that are barrel aged....speaking of which, 6 mos was perfect match for this one. Just enough boozy kick to let you know it's there, but not so much that it overpowers the base beer. I was searching for this one for awhile, glad I got to try it.

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Photo of uvachief
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bomber. Bottled on less than a month ago after barrel aging for 6 months. Pours dark deep chocolate brown almost black. 2 full fingers off lingering head. Aromas of espresso, dark chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and roasted malts. Tastes just like it smells. Delicious thick and heavy. Very boozy with burn going down. More vanilla and bourbon in the after taste. Incredibly high ABV but goes down without fighting back too much. Could probably mellow more if I let it age around 6 months or longer. Strong espresso, chocolate and bourbon favors. Full bodied. Not for the casual craft beer drinker. Hard core imperial stout. Love it.

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Photo of Jlabs
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a teku glass via bottle

Color is a mahogany brown

Smell is all bourbon

Taste is a more subdued bourbon with faint chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch ..decent alcohol burn here but its doesnt distract much

Low carbonation

Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy

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Photo of Antoine
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%

As a fan of black coffee and chocolate, this beer was very satisfying. You can taste the notes of both.

Getting a pint of it is rather expensive as far as beers go. I'd rather use the money on 300mL of hard liquor. BUT if you don't mind forking over the extra dough, go ahead and enjoy this imperial stout

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Photo of philbe311
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Date in Barrel - 03/21/2012
Date out of Barrel - 09/21/2012
Barrel # 4 of 15

I've been sitting on this one for a little wile...

A - A razor thin head of dark khaki slightly creamy frothiness rises to about a half fingers worth before quickly dissipating... It leaves a splotchy lacing and thin collar... The color is a completely opaque sleek dark mahogany brown... Completely still with no discernible carbonation...

S - The aroma is both rich and robust... The initial volley is equal parts Kentucky white oak bourbon barrels and vanilla... Buried a bit further beneath the surface is a rich layer of caramel, toffee and brown sugar... A bit of lactose sweetness as well... Perhaps a faint whiff of chocolate... Last is a faint layer of roasted malts... Nice balance and good complexity...

T - Very nice mix of stout components to start... Lightly roasted malt... Chocolate notes... Vanilla... Some faint brown sugar notes... The booziness is present, but not overwhelming... It's a very nice complimentary component of the overall flavor profile... Each sip starts slightly sweet and then the barrel aging emerges and intensifies slightly on the finish... Each sip is rather pleasant and shows subtle new nuances...

M - Teeters between the fuller side of medium bodied and the thinner side of full bodied... Sleek and silky smooth... A bit chewy... Little or no carbonation, but that is likely my fault from letting it sit for so long... Even and consistent... Rather pleasant... A very slight bit of boozy warmth emerges on the deep finish...

D - An outstanding barrel-aged Stout... It hides the 11.5% ABV rather well... DuClaw is a very under the radar brewery that deserves some more accolades... If they keep making beers like this, they'll get what they deserve... Excellent all the way around... No complaints... Very nice beer... Try it if you can find it...

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Photo of tigg924
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Taste is bourbon, oak, molasses, vanilla, and a bit of raisin. Very tasty and smooth. One of the better bourbon imperial stouts that I have had in a while. I will get this again.

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Photo of gr0g
4.3/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 release that spent six months in the barrel, bottled on 9/23/2013. Pitch black in color with a creamy, khaki-colored head. The sticky foam leaves sparse, tattered lacing. Cherry-vanilla infused cocoa dominates the aroma. There's little else going on, including fusel alcohol. It's a one-note aroma but it's very nice.

Flavor is plenty sweet initially, but then hop bitterness and/or roast astringency arrives and provides balance. Oaky cherry and vanilla flavors. Tinge of alcohol on the finish. Some harshness from the carbonation persists, but the mouthfeel softens over time.

Got this bottle as a birthday gift and was pleasantly surprised. This is a very well-done barrel-aged stout.

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Photo of cmq103
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A well done bourbon barrel aged imperial stout. This reminds me of the Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout with a bourbon twist. A thick, slow sipping powerful stout meant to enjoy over time. Duclaw did well with this one. I'd definitely buy again, perfect for a cold winter night.

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Photo of stevoj
4.31/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Bel Air location. Initially comes off a bit thin, but aroma and taste more than make up for it. Lots of vanilla, molasses, wood accents, slightly smoky. Slippery mouth feel, after burn halfway down the gullet.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.33/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

4/22/18 barrel date, 10/22/18 canning date...

Pours dark into black in an over-sized snifter, with a finger plus of dark foam on top... This is the type of bourbon barrel stout I like - not too sweet, more bittersweet than syrup-sweet, with aromas of coffee, cocoa, and roasted malt - and a dry bitter char on the finish... The bourbon and barrel impressions are gracefully-handled - not boozy or hot, but very subtle and refined... A very well-executed ale...

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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark with a light tan head. Head stays around with not a whole lot of lacing.

S- Bourbon right off the bat, I could smell it before I started pouring. Dark malts come through as well along with some light chocolate.

T- Chocolate malt and bourbon come through during the entire taste. Very good blend as neither dominates the other.

M- Syrupy with almost no carbonation coming through. Definitely a sipper, but expected for the style.

O- Very good barrell aged imperial stout. The flavors all combine to make an extremely complex beer that is very enjoyable. I have one more bottle and will probably age it for about a year to let it mellow slightly.

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Retribution from DuClaw Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.12 out of 5 with 483 ratings