Victory At Sea - High West Barrel-Aged
Ballast Point Brewing Company

Victory At Sea - High West Barrel-AgedVictory At Sea - High West Barrel-Aged
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Porter - Imperial
Ranked #19
Ranked #803
4.32 | pDev: 6.48%
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States
Victory At Sea - High West Barrel-AgedVictory At Sea - High West Barrel-Aged
Notes: We partnered with our friends at High West® Distillery to create a barrel-aged version of Ballast Point Victory at Sea, our award-winning Imperial Porter with cold-steeped coffee and vanilla. From a blend of Ballast Point Victory at Sea aged in High West’s own bourbon & rye whiskey oak casks, new layers of complexity emerge with notes of soft caramel and smoky oak over a dark chocolate and roasted almond body. High West crafts delicious and distinctive whiskeys to honor the American West, making it the perfect pairing with our signature San Diego-born porter.
Reviews: 243 | Ratings: 764 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by BobbyOlson:
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BobbyOlson from Michigan

4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

May 11, 2019
More User Reviews:
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justintcoons from Pennsylvania

4.68/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
Vintage 2017.

Near black. No light penetration. 1 finger of brown head.

Sweet bourbon, rye, vanilla, caramel, chocolate fudge, dark chocolate, coffee, cherry, and oak.

Dark chocolate, chocolate fudge, and cherry cordial. Espresso, caramel, and tobacco. Smooth bourbon and rye presence. Vanilla and oak is well blended throughout.

Full bodied, creamy, smooth, and warming.

Simply fantastic! And at $15 / 4 pack?? Bourbon County can kiss my ass.

Dec 08, 2017
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

My what a whisky barrel can do for beer. But instead of the typical imperial stout, the brewers at Ballast Point age their famous imperial baltic porter in both bourbon and rye whisky barrels from High West craft distillers in order to let the barrel complexities stand tall against a slightly softer base beer.

Easily mistaken for stout, the dark ale pours nearly black and truly opaque. As a creamy espresso creme mounts the rim, the nose is robust with a deep and earthen perfume of whisky, coffee, cocoa and nuttiness. Sweet to the early palate, the flavors of molasses, sorghum and caramel prop up the sharper malt flavors of coffee and chocolate.

The malt and oak flavors settle onto the middle palate with a deep and saturating masculine sweetness. Burnt toffee, scorched molasses, turkish roast coffee, baker's chocolate and black walnut invite the softer and spicier taste of vanilla, coconut, marzipan and wood spices. The sharpness of rye whisky provides a boozy balance to the lingering sweetness and allows a robust bitterness from coffee and hops to grip the gullet firmly.

Full in body, the porter's texture is creamy, malty and heated as the beer trails into a long, charred and smoky aftertaste while leaving the earthen grit of rye and wood in its wake.

Jan 17, 2018
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russpowell from Arkansas

4.28/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very effervescent ebony with 2+ fingers mocha colored head. Good lacing & head retention

S: Chocolate, vanilla, boozey notes once warm, a little plum

T: Follows the nose with mocha & coconut mixed, pretty much a liquid mounds bar, along with dryness up front. Mocha, barrel dryness, a touch of boozey vanilla, more coconut & just a little Whisky once warm & just a little peppery Rye kick. Finishes with Whisky barrel dryness/;ight boozeyness, vanilla, a little more coconut & coffee in minute amounts

MF: Medium body, warming booze presence & low carbonation. Carbonation picks up as it warms

Much to love about this, not perfect, but not far from it. I will pick some more up if lucky enough to find it

Jan 28, 2018
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

this is really phenomenal, a great use of barrels to enhance an already fantastic brew, this is one of the best they make, and with the high west barrels, its really next level, even more whiskey and wood forward than the large format bourbon barrel aged edition they have previously released. they use bourbon and rye barrels apparently, and the earthy spice of the rye helps cut some of the sweetness for me thats strong in both the base beer and the whiskey, its a cool dark side to the sweeter, richer, corny and vanilla heavy bourbon. i get molasses and maple notes along with the sweet oak and the bitter char, strong coffee notes, and a definite overdose of vanilla, but as desserty as it is, the vanilla is real and appealing to me, natural despite being intense. deep bitter cocoa, dark chocolate, rich caramel and vanilla and cream soda, and really god whiskey, very mature, all super well integrated, just fabulously flavorful and refined, leagues better than most of these in overall quality, and still showcasing the base beer, its not all the high west barrels. i had this side by side with a number of other notable barrel aged stouts, and this one really stood out! world class example of the style, maybe the best beer ive had from ballast point...

Feb 18, 2018
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4DAloveofSTOUT from Illinois

4.52/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: black bodied beer with khaki colored head. The head on the porter pours out tall when at room temperature and has good head retention. Sticky lacing coats the side of the glass. Booze legs present after each sip. Gentle swirl will bring back a thick cap of head even after the head dies down.

Aroma: Huge rye whiskey notes and oak notes; this porter is very barrel forward in the best possible way. Layers of sweet/rich vanilla, bakers cocoa / dark chocolates, & medium roast coffee. The spicy rye whiskey brings all the flavors together yet still remains the stronger aroma over the adjuncts used in this brew. This nose is to die for. I never thought that Victory at Sea could smell this good!

Flavor Profile: Spicy, rich, sweet, and light bitterness all work nicely to balance the many complex layers. The beer starts off with the perfect amount of rye whiskey; plus a fantastic milk chocolate and vanilla richness that is just the right amount of sweetness. The rye also adds a cinnamon and spicy pepper flavor profile to the brew which adds a lot of character and depth to the beer. A hint of lightly roasted coffee is present as well. Earthy oak permeates every sip tying all flavors together nicely. The finish is all about milk chocolates and rye whiskey which is a great combo.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Slight yet appropriate booze level that is intensified by the spiciness of rye whiskey barrels. It is easy to drink this 12% porter and think that the abv is less than the listed abv.

Overall: If you really enjoy great rye whiskey aged dark beer this is an extremely affordable and well executed barrel aged / blended porter with adjuncts. $14.99 a 4 pack! This is the best work that Ballast Point has done with any beer that I have drank from them. The barrel program of Ballast Point is really showing some serious skill with this beer. Highly recommended.

Dec 05, 2017
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formerpo from Rhode Island

4.95/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

WOW, I happened upon this one by accident in RI. I must say that it is the best barrel aged I have ever had. Job well done fellas. I will purchase more if any left.
Seriously, 12%???
I can’t tell it is sooo smooth

Feb 15, 2018
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brentk56 from North Carolina

4.48/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: A hard pour builds two fingers of tan head with the espresso colored liquid underneath; leggy lacing abounds

Smell: The Rye barrel treatment makes a statement with the coffee quite pronounced, as well; chocolate, caramel, vanilla and, to a lesser extent, Bourbon are also noted

Taste: Dark chocolate, caramel and coffee, in the forefront, with the Rye taking over the mid-palate; after the swallow, the Rye remains pronounced but there are some sweeter Bourbon and vanilla tones in the mix; nicely balanced in the finish; a hint of almond in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full bodied (but could be fuller) with moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: This is a real treat for Rye lovers but the blend of all the flavors really come together; I suspect this will be outstanding in a year's time

Dec 09, 2017
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Dark brown and almost pitch black with the pour. Thick toffee creamy colored lacing.

S - Toasted caramel, toffee, Bourbon, vanilla.

T - Toasted toffee/caramel, bourbon, vanilla, some spiciness, and lingering bourbon with very light chocolate.

M - Big and full bodied with a silky texture and light warming in the back of the throat.

O - Pretty impressive.

Jun 06, 2018
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metter98 from New York

4.24/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short tan colored head.
S: Moderate aromas of bourbon, chocolate and vanilla are present in the nose.
T: The taste follows the smell and has stronger flavors of vanilla with additional hints of coffee. The vanilla lingers into the finish.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer does a very good job at integrating the bourbon from the barrel aging with the base beer as the High West doesn't overpower the underlying porter.

Note: 2017 vintage

Serving type: bottle

Jan 02, 2018
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Hyptochrons from Massachusetts

4.36/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2017 version, enjoying this more than i originally did fresh

a beautiful looking beer, pours out a dark brown color with a khaki-tan head

on nose is hot chocolate powder, vanilla, hint of caramel, some spirit but overall not boozy on the nose. there is also a very mild roast in the background, coffee has fallen off perhaps but still lends a really pleasant slightly bitter roastyness dancing around. very enticing smell!

chocolate, caramel, hint of vanilla, oak, and bourbon all very strong on the palate. again a very mild earthy roast in the background. blending together really nicely actually, and the spirit flavor is excellent. i assume a bourbon drinker would enjoy this. the obvious drawback is the body, it drinks somewhat smooth, but definitely lacking in texture - medium minus body. overall it works, and the bourbon flavors are excellent, could be a great BA stout if it had the thick velvety texture to accentuate the flavor profile. still very enjoyable!

Jan 11, 2019
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EMH73 from New York

4.29/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours jet black with a ring of dark tan head that left little lacing. Smells and tastes of coffee, dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, molasses and a hint of coconut in the taste. Medium to full bodied, creamy mouth feel, lightly carbonated.

Feb 10, 2018
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StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.58/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle

Pours pitch black with a dense creamy dark tan foam head. Smells like sweet creamy marshmallowy vanilla, caramel, toffee, smooth bourbon, rye whiskey, spice, oak barrel, chocolate, coffee, toasted bready malts, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Tastes like boozy vanilla, caramel, toffee, bourbon, rye whiskey, spice, oak barrel, dark chocolate, bitter coffee, roasty toasted malts, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Feels medium-light bodied, creamy smooth with moderate carbonation. Overall a nice whiskey barrel aged imperial porter with coffee and vanilla.

Jan 04, 2018
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jlindros from Massachusetts

4.03/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This should be a good one, 2017 vintage.

Pours a darker fizzy bubbly almost 1 finger head that fades at a med pace, a little lacing, pitch black beer.

nose loads of vanilla, some dark chocolate, cocoa, a bit of roasted coffee, spicy rye whiskey in the background with a little toasted oak barrel, big fudgey vanilla chocolate candy, little caramel

Taste brings loads more vanilla and chocolate again, dark choc, cocoa, a little fudgey, raw vanilla bean, mild whiskey a bit of spicy rye but a bit lighter and comes wth a tingly alcohol, little caramel and biscuity cookie and touch of roasted coffee beans, faint toasted oak barrel and baking spices, little bitter spicy hop esp late. Mild sticky finish, some hot alcohol, sticky dark chocolate vanilla candy lingering.

Mouth is fuller bod, sticky, some hot alcohol, decent fizzy carb

Overall great base beer although maybe a bit too overboard on the vanilla and not enough coffee, and def not enough of the rye whiskey or barrel in general, really wish that came out more, but otherwise a nice enjoyable beer.

Mar 12, 2018
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q33jeff from New Jersey

3.83/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


On tap at cornerstone.

LOOK: Dark black, tan head.
AROMA: Peanut butter and vanilla .
TASTE: hot whiskey wise. Coffee and char finish.
FEEL: Medium to full body. Appropriate for a porter. minor carbonation. barrel leaves some astringency.

Definitely Needs some age....will revisit with bottles and re-rate in 6-12 months.


Dec 22, 2017
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Ahypercube from California

4.81/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Officially the best Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout I have had in over a year. BCBS is probably better, but the only bottle I've had was a 2013 vintage, back in early fall of '14, so it's been too long to really compare. Completely unsurprisingly, it reminds me most of the High West Barrel-Aged Imperial Coffee Stout produced by Lagunitas from last year, as it is nearly the same beverage, although considerably more expensive.

L: Black body. Darer than the Lagunitas equivalent. Same color as FBS, but a thicker viscosity. Just a half-centimeter film of cappuccino colored foam forms, and a ring around the surface lingers for quite a while. What lacing there is sticks like superglue.

S: Incredible. Vanilla and coconut lead into milk chocolate, molasses, honey, roast coffee, sea salt caramel, fudge, oak, tobacco, anise, licorice, whiskey and black pepper. Very botanical. A bit of a sharp edge like eucalyptus on the finish as well as a bit of peppery spiciness. Alcohol is detectable, but well-buried. So rich, so sweet, so roasty, so delicious.

T: The vanilla hits hard and fast with a milk chocolate foundation, which blends with molasses, then coffee, and each of the four linger to the finish. Fudge, anise, licorice, and charcoal follow, and a noteworthy measure of boozy rye whiskey wraps it up. Somehow this stout gets away with being sweeter than average without seeming overwhelmingly so. However, I remember thinking Victory at Sea tasted like a tiramisu cake in a bottle, and I think the vanilla is what allows it to seem so obnoxiously sweet, but not over-the-top.

F: Super balanced. A bit on the cloying side, but really not that bad. For a viscous and sticky barrel aged stout, there is a surprisingly dry feel and a crispness to the finish that I did not expect. Likely has to do with being pretty well-carbonated for a BA Stout.

O: Smells better than and is almost as delicious as Lagunitas' High-Westified Imperial Stout. Great deal for this too, at $12.50 for a four-pack. Not quite a steal like the Lagunitas, but a very reasonable price, indeed.

Feb 13, 2018
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Roguer from Georgia

4.17/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a very large head (~ 2 1/4 fingers) with excellent retention and lacing.

Aroma is a satisfying blend of the base beer and bourbon: chocolate, coffee, vanilla, oak, and bourbon. The bourbon influence isn't huge in this beer on the nose.

Flavor follows, carrying more of the bourbon along for the ride. As VaS is already an adjunct-heavy brew, the bourbon slides in and out of contention for primacy among the other flavors. At times, mash and coconut start to emerge from the chocolate-coffee swirl, at other times fading into the background. It's an overall satisfying blend, if a bit chaotic and confused. A bit of spice and heat, especially on the finish, rather unique to the rye whiskey influence.

Thick and smooth. A bit boozy on the finish, but very approachable for 12% ABV.

Dec 20, 2017
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wmartin from North Carolina

3.5/5  rDev -19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a 2018 bottle, drunk within a couple months of bottling.

Was actually disappointed by this beer, which was good, but not great. Most forward flavor was vanilla, with barrel and porter also evident. I just didn't find it complex, or a particularly compelling balance of anything. Memory is of ordinary vanilla flavor. Loved the label, though, which may be the main reason I picked-up a bottle. Liquid within did not seem to match the greatness of the label.

Nov 24, 2018
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Jugs_McGhee from Louisiana

3.65/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

BOTTLE: Nabbed as part of a 4 pack at a beer store in Austin, TX for $15.49 USD plus tax. 2017 vintage. 12 fl oz format. Brown glass. Branded pry-off crown cap. Sleek blue and black label design.

"Imperial porter with coffee & vanilla flavors ahed in High West bourbon & rye barrels." 12% ABV.

HEAD: ~2-3cm in height. Khaki-tan colour. Creamy, frothy, thick, and enticing. Has a soft appearance. ~7 minute retention.

BODY: Solid opaque black colour. No yeast/lees are visible within.

Appears aptly carbonated. Not unique or special within the style, but certainly true to form and inviting.

AROMA: Vanilla bean, barrel vanillin, barrel sugars, cold brew coffee, dark malt sweetness, chocolate/chocolate malts, creamy notes, maybe coconut, and bourbon-soaked oak.

I'm not detecting any spicy rye, barrel heat, overt hoppy notes, or overt yeasty notes.

Aromatic intensity is high. Suggests a complex yet balanced imperial porter that enhances the original base beer with bourbon, intensifying the vanilla but not delivering much in terms of rye whiskey.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Rich vanilla bean melts seamlessly into bourbon barrel vanillin, emphasizing vanilla in this rich yet complex imperial stout. Cold brew-redolent coffee injects some subtle bitterness, helping balance out the chocolate/chocolate malt sweetness and dark malt core. Barrel sugars are also present.

I think it's balanced but it does tend towards the sweet side, and I suspect that will make this a bit of a chore to drink after 8oz.

Smooth, wet, full-bodied, heavy, slightly syrupy, aptly carbonated, and unrefreshing. Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, harsh, astringent, rough, or scratchy. Its 12% ABV is present in terms of subtle alcohol warmth, but it doesn't hold the beer back in spite of making it quite the sipper; this isn't a brew you could chug.

OVERALL: It's tough to set yourself apart in the imperial porter category, but Ballast Point again succeeds with this barrel aged version of the classic base beer. I'm not sure I'd pay the premium to have this over the base beer regularly, but it's a lovely barrel aged imperial porter and is well worth trying at least once. I'll enjoy savoring the 4 pack I nabbed, and It's worth the hefty pricetag. With other breweries chasing the cash-grab 22oz format instead of sticking to a sensible 12oz or less format, it's tempting to view Constellation's acquisition of Ballast Point favorably.

If anything holds it back, it's its obvious rich dessert beer status which really inhibits its drinkability.


Dec 17, 2017
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mschrei from Illinois

4.64/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Outstanding. 2017 batch. Dark, tanning edges, not much in the way of carb/lacing. Smell is roasty coffee and malt, sweet vanilla (perhaps too sweet), mild boozy barrel presence. Taste is divine-mellow roast and a much more subtle vanilla presence with a smooth barrel burn. Easy drinker for a high abv, really thickens and rounds out as it warms. Very sad this is my last one, but I'm thinking this is the prime time to drink it.

Jul 28, 2018
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AmeriCanadian from Tennessee

4.08/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Not digging this year's offering as much as last year's barrel-aged VaS. Last year the aromas and flavors were nearly perfect in terms of their harmony. This year's offering falls a little flat and just doesn't taste, to me, like an improvement on the base beer. Don't know if it's the rye that's simply not gelling well with the vanilla and coffee, or something else at play. Perhaps my expectations were just too high based on last year's stellar BA VaS product.

Dec 06, 2017
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HorseheadsHophead from New York

4.67/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Looks pitch black, topped by a creamy tan head. Surprisingly long retention, a thin film remains and leaves spotty lacing.

Smells like vanilla, bourbon, toasted coconut, caramel, fudge, dark chocolate, brown sugar, toasted oak.

Tastes of vanilla, bourbon, caramel, brown sugar, chocolate syrup, dark chocolate, toasted coconut.

Feels smooth, oily, moderately carbonated. Finishes lightly sweet but balances out.

Feb 01, 2018
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jwat from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jul 04, 2018
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NeilSilber1 from California

4.85/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Exceptional dark beauty with large fluffy head and dark color with strong notes of coffee, vanilla, dark sweet chocolate, bourbon and rye. Amazing but deadly at 12%.

Jan 01, 2018
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brentusaurus from California

4.23/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dec 25, 2017
Victory At Sea - High West Barrel-Aged from Ballast Point Brewing Company
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 764 ratings