Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale | Fremont Brewing Company

179 Reviews
Bourbon Abominable Winter AleBourbon Abominable Winter Ale

Brewed by:
Fremont Brewing Company
Washington, United States

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Lovingly referred to by Fremonters as the B-BOMB, this bourbon barrel-aged edition of our winter ale has a warming spicy aroma and rich carmelly notes of bourbon, wood and vanilla added to dark roasty chocolatey malt flavors and subtle hopping.

Down & Dirty: 2-Row, Crystal-120, Munich, Roast Barley, Carafa-2 & Chocolate malts with Columbus, Willamette & US Goldings hops.

Aged in 15 year-old American oak whiskey barrels. Blend of 24 and 12 month-old bourbon aged Abominable Ale.

Added by olympuszymurgus on 01-15-2010

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Reviews: 179 | Ratings: 1,061
Photo of stevoj
4/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saturday night bottle share. Can courtesy of Syndicate. As if Abominable wasn't good enough, along come the BA variant. Extra smooth texture, hints of bourbon flash through the rich stout base. Nice well rounded brew made better with some bourbon barrel ageing.

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Photo of floridadrift
4.6/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Almost black with brown hues, light cinnamon lacing
S: Figs, dates, prunes, burnt sugars
T: Semi-sweet, figs, burnt sugars, roasted malt, cherries, vanilla, caramel
F: Not thin, not thick, perfect for the style and barrel-aging
O: I was pleasantly surprised by this one, incredible Strong Ale.

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Photo of barczar
4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Big fudgy cocoa and vanilla dominate the aroma, along with caramel and oak.

Flavor is dominated by bourbon, big vanilla and caramel, with a roasty finish.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.42/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015 Bottle

Thanks to @rutager for picking up.

A: Pours a deep black coffee colour with medium tan coloured head which slowly dissipates leaving a thin layer.

S: Old weathered leather, cherries, buttery round smell of oak, sweet malts, almonds and a light peaty smokiness. Reminiscent of panaforte with dried dark fruits and alcohol esters.

T: Sweet dried cherries, raisins and other dark fruits together with milk chocolate notes. Slowly morphs into leather, bitter chocolates and wood. Finishes with wet charred oak, old leather, and warming bourbon esters.

M: Thick, smooth viscous, round and coating. Completely envelops the mouth and then finishes with a warming bourbon ester note.

O: Mix of bourbon, oak, old weathered leather, dark fruits and chocolate gives the feeling of reading an old great novel by the fire while sipping bourbon. Smooth, brooding and just a hint of alcohol that caps off an amazing brew.

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Photo of RichD
4.91/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage. Once I finally got through the wax, I poured this into a tulip glass.

L: Pours a deep, impenetrable black with a 2 finger sized khaki colored head. As the head disappears into a ring around my glass I am left looking at a reddish brown ring tint around the edges. I can tell that this isn't a stout, and I can also tell that this is going to be something special.

S: Massive oak and vanilla notes come through almost instantly upon pouring. There's some toffee and caramel that are completed with a bit of chocolate. I also catch a faint hint of alcohol. This is not surprising seeing that this is 14%.

T: Oh my! I don't know if I've ever tasted a more potent bourbon profile in a beer. The oak and vanilla are so prominent here and they really play well with the other flavors. I catch some tobacco, caramel and some chocolate. The tobacco flavor comes through at first with some bitterness and then the vanilla, caramel and chocolate take over and add a crazy amount of sweetness.

F: There is no way that this beer is 14%. At first I wanted to say that this beer is medium bodied, but the chewiness that I get after each sip indicates that this is indeed a big beer. There's a nice hint of bitterness, but the barrel and sweetness is what makes this beer something special.

Overall: This is my first beer from Fremont, but it hopefully won't be my last. This is truly a special beer. I can tell that there was some serious care that went into making this beer. 15 year old barrels and a blend of 1 year old and 2 year old beer adds a potent depth of flavor to this beer that is truly remarkable. The only beer that I've had that is anything similar to this is Bourbon County Barleywine. This beer is better than that. I imagine this is what King Henry tastes like. Truly amazing. I hope I can get my hands on some of the variants.

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Photo of raynmoon
4.82/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2015 vintage, the newest batch

Pours an almost black, with some red coming through. It has tan foam that is sticking around and looks great.

The smell is whiskey, oak, dark fruits: raisins and plums, and some vanilla. A touch of heat coming through. Fairly strong aroma.

The flavor follows with a strong amount of burnt/ caramelized sugar, dark fruits and whiskey. On the back end I get a strong, savory chocolate flavor, almost like an earthy, dark chocolate.

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Photo of dleigh
4.66/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had a bottle of the '14 that I've been cellaring for a year (long story involving not having enough luggage space to take it on a plane with me, so I had to leave it in my folks' wine cellar). Haven't tried it fresh, which I regret, but I guess there's always next year.

Dark brown with lots of head (especially for a big beer like this). Fantastic smell--bourbon, caramel, char, dark fruits. Creamy, char-y taste with some bourbon vanilla notes. Noticeable alcohol warmth. Really creamy mouthfeel. A little hoppy bitterness to balance it out too? Really quite nice. Hard to place what's so great about this beer--it's like a great blend of charred and hoppy bitterness with some bourbon vanilla thrown in. Great for a cold winter evening.

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Photo of Cthulhusquid
4.84/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Poured into a Chuck's Hop Shop taster. Opaque black body, thin white-brown head.

Smell : Bourbon, vanilla, brown suger, caramelized suger, and notes of coffee and coconut.

Taste : Same as smell, but more apparent.

Feel : Very smooth and creamy. Low carbonation, full bodied. A small alcohol bite, but also warming.

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Photo of wumpshire
5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Truly lives up to the hype. Bought from the brewery itself, and couldn't wait to age it. I am sure aging would smooth it out, but as is its truly the best winter ale I have ever had. The bourbon is there, the bitterness...basically tastes like bourbon, chocolate and coffee in beer form. I suggest letting it warm up, tastes better that way. Well done Fremont! I use to work up the street at Marketime Foods so I'm proud to see a local brewery take the gold in a winter beer.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.93/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich brown and black pour, 1/2" head, brown. Aroma was a mix of bourbon done mildly, caramel smoothness.

Taste was pretty mild, held alcohol well, didn't drop pungent amounts of anything, be it chocolate or bourbon. The base beer wasn't overly thick or thin. Sweetness is in check. Average amount of vanilla. Very good. Not quite elite tier, but why chase a regional beer from across the country when this is adequate enough if its in good supply.

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Photo of kemoarps
4.39/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is the current year's vintage (2015). Can't believe I've never actually reviewed this one before.
4.25/4.5/4.5/4/4.25 (4.39)

Dusty black beauty with a creamy creamy dark khaki brown head.

Impressively next to no alcohol on the nose, it's coffee and oak and vanilla and bars of dark chocolate and dried fruit.

Once again, 14% is folded in to a dangerous degree, I would guess several percentage points lower in a blind questioning. Again, I am reminded of those overpriced chocolate bars with dried/candied fruit in them that my dad likes to get for my mom. Aside from chocolate and dried dark fruit, there is an oakiness and a boozy sweet finish. I explored the downside of BA beers in the beer I drank last night, but this one likewise avoids that finishing alcohol note I always associate with too much sour mash. Kudos.

Not quite as thick as I remembered/hoped, but smoothe and creamy. Carbonation is fine pinpricks and allow the various flavours to come in waves. Alcohol presents on the finish as warmth, but not heat, if that makes sense. Finish is sticky sweet and bitter and it's a filling brew.
I've had this on tap every year since... I don't know the last three or four years anyway, and I've got bottles going back at least as far sitting and waiting for a vertical to put me horizontal, so I can't believe that this is the first time I've sat down to review it. This is an incredible brew, and I am excited (and slightly worried) that I now live mere blocks from the brewery. Huzzah!

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Photo of mactrail
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the 22 oz bottle, 2014 Vintage, purchased at Chuck's 85th St Market. Never mind the price, it's a massive brew of world-class intensity. Just have a little bitty glass once in a while to remind you of optimism and the good things in life.

Very dark brown with a gorgeous pile of thick beige foam, lasting long and sticking to the small Pilsener glass. Sweet with malt, that covers the flavor spectrum from light through caramel, burnt sugar, dark roast, and hints of blackened barley. The hoppy bitterness serves to balance nicely, leaving an aftertaste of bitterish licorice.

Deep aroma of Bourbon with a buttery note. Flavors of dark raisins soaked in rum. This is not overly thick or sticky, but its sweetness is buoyed up by the clouds of carbonation. Some sharp notes like dried tart figs. Delicious with a whirl of flavors ending in some vanilla and the woody bitter tang.

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Photo of Zaximus
4.23/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 Vintage

L- Dark, dark brown. Not black to me but close. Totally opaque. Nice thin head with very little lacing.

S- Caramel, dark fruit, bourbon. Not quite as pronounced as I thought it would be but maybe the year has mellowed it a bit.

T- Caramel, vanilla, dark fruit, raisin, licorice and bourbon. Starts off just a hair sweet but very nice. Moderately hoppy finish.

M- My favorite aspect. Exceptionally creamy. Just perfect. And the alcohol is extreme well hidden. Really, really nice.

O- I liked aspects but the nose was a bit underwhelming and I was not a big fan of the hoppy finish. Still a very nice brew.

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Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If I ever developed a drinking problem it would be because of this beer! Fortunately I'm not wealthy enough to purchase an endless supply. This is the model of a well ballanced BBA. Only occasionally is there a little more heat than wished for. I recommend an additional year of aging for true nirvana.

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Photo of mr-jj
4.19/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Hmm, can't believe I haven't rated this before. This was a 2014 bottle poured into a snifter.

Color is black with a thin khaki head. Smell is anise, bourbon, raisins, and vanilla - lots of booze. Flavor has a lot of complexity - bourbon, oak, dark fruit, vanilla. Mouthfeel is medium/full with moderate carbonation. Very creamy. Overall, a very good BA beer.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.39/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into an oversized tulip. 2014 vintage.

All I can ask for in a beer's appearance. Chewy, frothy, substantial, dark oatmeal, dark khaki head. Black body that veers light in color. 5

Smells of aged oak, spicy bourbon, booze, vanilla, raisin, dark fruit. A bit too boozy and bourbon dominated for my liking. 4

Ahhhh, but this flavor. Tobacco, oak, rich vanilla, bourbon, dark chocolate, dark fruit, oatmeal, hell, oatmeal cookie, brown sugar, molasses. Really spectacular flavors here, although at times they can be overwhelmed by booze. 4.5

For an oatmeal stout, the body here is thin. The flavors don't suffer from it, but it's cause for wonder at how good this good be with more fullness. Great viscosity to the body though and it has creamy moments, when not interrupted by boozy heat, that are excellent. I'm fluctuating between a 4 and a 4.25 here, and I'm feeling generous. 4.25

Damn this is drinking delicious. I wasn't nearly as wowed by the coffee and cinnamon version. This trumps that one.

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Photo of BeerSamurai34
4.49/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one is really special. Tons and tons of bourbon on both the nose and taste, but it isn't overpowering at all. Really well balanced and full of chocolate and vanilla notes with a caramel like finish.

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Photo of superspak
4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2013 vintage. Pours dense pitch black color with a small dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, molasses, toffee, raisin, plum, fig, cherry, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, leather, light licorice, and roast/oak earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, molasses, toffee, raisin, plum, fig, cherry, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, leather, light licorice, and roast/oak earthiness. Light amount of roasted bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness; with lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, molasses, toffee, raisin, plum, fig, cherry, vanilla, bourbon, toasted oak, leather, and roast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitterness/sweetness and oak spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and very full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and fairly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an absolutely incredible barrel aged strong ale! All around fantastic balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roasted malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly amazing offering as expected.

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Photo of MakeMineADoubleJack
4.69/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage. Pours like a thin, dark brown syrup. A nose packed with sweet bourbon, cacao, raisins, dried figs, and coffee. Such a sweet, decadent brew. Not a super thick mouthfeel despite its creaminess. I thought this beer was just outstanding. Up there with Firestone's Anniversary brews.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.08/5  rDev -30%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

BOTTLE: 1 pint 6 fl oz. Nice yellow-khaki label art. Red wax-ed over pry-off crown cap. Brown glass.

11% ABV. 2014 vintage.

Expectations are high seeing as this is currently the #2 rated beer in all of Washington state. Served cold into an Avery snifter and allowed to come to temperature over the course of consumption. Reviewed live as a bourbon aged winter ale per the label; I guess that translates into the catch-all "American strong ale" category on this website.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: About 2.5cm wide. Khaki colour with a great shining complexion. No lacing sticks to the sides of the glass. Supple and creamy with an aptly thick consistency. Even and robust. Retention is above average for the high ABV - about 4 minutes.

BODY: Opaque solid black. Not an ink or jet black. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears well-carbonated. Not unique or special looking.

AROMA: Heavy sweetness from molasses, dark malts, schwarz malts, caramel, chocolate malts, caramelized sugars, and crystal malts. Bourbon does make an appearance, but it's shallow in character, bringing only traces of bourbon-soaked wood to the table; no vanilla, no coconut, no whiskey spice, no rich white oak, no barrel sugars. I also don't pick up on the leather promised by the label, nor is there any coffee character or actual chocolate/cacao nibs (as is/are distinctive from mere chocolate malt).

Aromatic intensity is mild, but above average. There's some noticeable alcohol warmth, but it's not a boozy aroma. No hops, yeast, or off-notes are detectable.

TASTE: Definitely sweet, with the chocolate malt emphasis supported by notes of black strap molasses, heavy caramelized sugars, sticky crystal malt, black/schwarz malts, dark malts, and bourbon. The bourbon barrel presence is unimpressive but contributory, bringing notes of generic bourbon and barrel sugars, but no coconut, genuine vanilla, rich white oak wood, or toastiness. I think I find a hint of marshmallow?

The barrel doesn't melt seamlessly into the base, but it also doesn't eclipse the base beer. Those hoping for really vivid or deep notes of bourbon are best off searching elsewhere, but there are some decent elements at play here. It isn't balanced; I think it tries to juggle too many different notes and just ends up a soppy mess. The Frankenstein conglomerate of disparate flavours lends its build a messy vibe, and none of the notes bring much depth of flavour or nuance to the table.

To its credit, there's nothing off-style in play like overt hoppiness, off-flavours, or obvious yeast presence, but this leaves a lot to be desired. The label's promises of leather and coffee go unfulfilled, and the beer as a whole never tastes gestalt - though there is fair cohesion here.

Average flavour duration and intensity.

TEXTURE: Smooth, wet, warm (from alcohol presence), unrefreshing, thick, viscous, and slightly syrupy, with a sticky presence on the palate. To style, it's full bodied - but goes a bit overboard, bringing too much heft and weight to a beer whose shallow straightforward flavours don't demand it. It's just too heavy and filling. More of a delicate, creamy, silky, velvety, and soft mouthfeel would be ideal. Carbonation is off, to boot.

Not oily, gushed, astringent, harsh, rough, or scratchy.

Fails to elevate the beer as a whole. There's not a harmony of texture and taste.

OVERALL: If this is truly Washington's second best beer, I'm in no hurry to book a beer trip to Seattle. Surprisingly shallow and reticent - especially for a bourbon barrel aged beer - Bourbon BA Abominable lacks the intricacy, subtlety, and depth of flavour of superior beers in the style, and fails to deliver on the promises of its label and category. Those hoping for either a bourbon bomb or a tasty winter ale will be underwhelmed. And if you're thinking of drinking this alone, reconsider - I wish I had three friends on hand to help finish it. It's got all of the problematic characteristics of a winter ale - the heft, the filling full body, the alcohol warmth - but few of the benefits, and none of the deep bold flavours.

There's not much here for the discerning drinker, but hey - maybe I shouldn't have aged it? I'd give Fremont the benefit of the doubt if the label didn't encourage aging up to 5 years...

C+ (3.08)

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Photo of gibgink
4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Share with friends. Poured 3-4 oz tastes 2-3 times. Pours dark brown/black with good carbination throughout. Smells of subdued bourbon. There is a pleasant sweet bourbon taste, with notes of vanilla and toffee. Would highly recommend picking up.

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.7/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Bottle
A: Pours a rich, dark chocolate color with a one finger khaki colored head that settles pretty quickly.

S: Nearly perfect. Tons of rich dark chocolate, chocolate cake, brownie and bourbon barrel. Charred oak, toffee, honey, a bit of raisin and maybe just a bit of day old coffee ground.

T: This beer doesn't play fair. Just envelops your tongue with sweet chocolate and bourbon flavors that just pop in your mouth. Milk chocolate, fudge, caramel, the slightest bit of harshness from the bourbon, toffee and pure Milk Duds on the finish. The mouthfeel started a touch light for me, but as the beer warms, it seems to toughen up and it really holds up all the flavors well without becoming syrupy at all. One of the best beers I've ever had.

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Photo of rogerdandy
4.75/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a great beer. Not as good as its big brother coffee and cinnamon abominable but still really fucking good. It's super hard to brew really well done barley wine but Fremont is on to something with the Abominable line.

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Photo of BeerBrose
4.04/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Dark Black with a tan leathery head, light lacing.

Smell: Big booze, spices like cinnamon and clove maybe even some licorice. Sweet sugar.

Taste: Sweet caramel, cinnamon, licorice and coffee. Lots of noticeable booze and bourbon. Nice balance through the myriad of flavors.

Feel: Heavy malt body with little carbonation, but just enough to float the flavors around your mouth. Sticky.

Overall: Very good beer and great representation of the style.

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Photo of ramay86
4.11/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage:

As dark a beer as you could imagine with a stubborn, creamy khaki head.

Bourbon is very evident on the nose, but the beer beneath reminds me very much of Before the Dawn - roast, vinousness, molasses, chocolate. Nice.

Lots of the same flavors come through on the palate - some spice and brown sugar, chocolate, some dry sweetness, definite bourbon... kind of an odd finish. Nothing off-putting about it. I can't say it's like anything I've tried before.

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Bourbon Abominable Winter Ale from Fremont Brewing Company
4.4 out of 5 based on 1,061 ratings.
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