The Ballad Of Minnie Quay
Clown Shoes

The Ballad Of Minnie QuayThe Ballad Of Minnie Quay
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Old Ale
4.27 | pDev: 6.32%
Clown Shoes
Massachusetts, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
The Ballad Of Minnie QuayThe Ballad Of Minnie Quay
Notes: Aged in Port and Whiskey Barrels.
Reviews: 28 | Ratings: 73 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Treyliff
Treyliff from West Virginia

4.03/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter
Bottled 2/18/15

A- pours a clear deep amber color with a one-finger foamy off- white head that reduces to leave nothing behind

S- plenty of port barrel on the nose gives aromas of dark grape, black cherries, even some raspberry jam and blueberry. Undertones of brown sugar, leather, caramel apple and oaky bourbon that adds a hint of vanilla

T- jammy fruit notes follow the nose up front with flavors of raspberry, dark grape and blackberry. Mid-palate brings out malty sweet notes of brown sugar and caramel. The finish continues with the jammy notes before giving way to a hint of oaky bourbon

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel that finishes warming and slightly creamy

O- the port barrel takes center stage on this one, with tons of dark fruits throughout

Oct 20, 2020
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stortore from Illinois

3.96/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 3/23/19, had 2/8/20. The 2019 version was aged in brandy barrels.

Pours a mostly clear orange, with only a brief flash of a head and some foamy lacing. Aromas of brandy, grapes, malt, some oak, light plums and toffee, a hint of orange. Has a spicy aroma. The flavor follows the nose- brandy, grapes, malt, light plums and caramel, light oak, a spicy taste. Some alcohol warming. Mostly smooth, a good medium body, well carbonated.

The brandy barrels are very good, the base is pretty solid, but nothing about this really stands out. A lighter take on the style, but it works. Enjoyable.

Apr 07, 2020
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jlindros from Massachusetts

4.18/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a lighter but semi thick fizzy bubbly head with medium retention, decent lacing, hazy but semi clear copper iced-tea like color

Nose mildly sweet brown ale like, a bit of toasted sweet brown malts, no caramel or toffee, mild soft aged malt like character, with a hint of dark fruits, plenty of barrel, some mild vanilla and toasted oak, some candied apple-plum like wine fruit characters, and a little liquor note, as it warms more fig and nutty notes like a good old ale

Taste fair sweet toasted like candy malt, a little biscuity toffee, mild caramel, toasted like malts, with a fair amount of candy sugar like sweetness, mild soft aged malt like character and maybe a touch of oxidation, not super sweet and very light alcohol, a bit of barrel with toasted oak and vanilla notes, with more mild fruits, a little candied apple-plum wine again, touch of liquor, fair vanilla, fig jam and a little nutty as well, more caramel flavor with mild sweetness, and a touch of hop bitterness, drier finish but a little sticky, a touch of alcohol warmth

Mouth is medium to a bit fuller bod, carb on the lighter side, lower but mild alcohol

Overall not bad, pretty good, not incredible but nice base old ale, decent barrel characters with decent oak, mild brandy, wish the barrel and aged effect was a bit more

Oct 07, 2019
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LifesAnesthesia from Virginia

4.41/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L - Copper/amber with a decent amount of clarity and a light tan head that dissipates quickly leaving behind no real lacing to speak of.
S - Sweet brandy, some oak, and sweet, rich malt, but otherwise the nose is somewhat mellow.
T - Follows the nose: sweet malt and brandy up front and throughout, hints of oak and wood, raisin, dark fruits, vanilla, some caramel, honey, brown sugar, some piney hops in the background - but very faint.
F - Medium bodied with a moderate to high amount of carbonation. Crisp, somewhat sticky.
O - A really complex, but wonderful old ale.

Aug 24, 2019
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teromous from Virginia

4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The front label says "2019"
On the neck in yellow print: "PKG 088 03/35/19 11: 18"
From the neckerchief: "Alc. 10.5% by Volume"

Appearance: The beer has a tea appearance with various shades of brown and gold in a slightly hazy glass. The head is short and white which fades quickly to a thin frothy ring.

Aroma: There is a note of buttery caramel along with a woody aroma of bourbon and raw alcohol.

Taste: Caramel lathers the tongue and pinches it with this cherry-like flavor mixed with wet wood and plum. It tastes just like the flavor that surrounds the pit of a plum. It is very hard to describe why this flavor is so perfect but it is perfect. It has this outer corona of sweet caramel flavor and this rich fruity interior. It is perfect.

Mouthfeel: It has a medium-full body with a buttery finish. It feels very luxurious on the palate. There is a bit of heat and a slightly high carbonation but otherwise it feels great. Neither of these two things detract from the beer overall.

Overall: This is one of those beers you really want to keep on your radar if you enjoy a good quality English Ale; especially a higher ABV one that might cross over into either the Old Ale or Barleywine realm. This has an overabundance of flavor. It is highly enjoyable and I highly recommend it. I would love to enjoy this again.

Jun 01, 2019
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russpowell from Arkansas

3.92/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2018 Bottle aged in Brany Barrels, pours a murky ice tea color with a sliver of tan head. Zero head retention & lacing

S: Faint jammyness, a little boozeyness when warmer

T: Follows the nose, dryness, a little leafy hop & vanilla up front. Honey notes mix with, figs & pear, plus dryness& some orange slice as this warms. Finishes dry with figs, honey, plus woody & leafy hops, plus some leather notes

MF: Medium body, near still carbonation

A nice offering, not great which is more what I expect from these guys barrel aged offerings. Drinkable enough

Jan 20, 2019
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Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.43/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 22 oz bomber and enjoyed in a snifter. This might fine old ale
pours a rugged brown tinged amber peach color with a nice head of
off white khaki foam that settles to a thick ring, thin subtle layer,
and showcases some nice sudsy lacing. Nose of grapes, bourbon,
candy sugars, hints of leather, raisins, and touches of orchard fruits
with herbal and floral hop notes. Flavors nail it out of the park. Golden
raisins dance with mulled peaches and bask in fortified grape laden oak with
hints of mild sweet bourbon coming to the middle of the taste with oaken
notes and mild vanilla. A moderately strong herbal and piney hop blast
give balance to the sweetness with a subtle lingering hop that finally
gives up the ghost to the sweet but not cloying onslaught. Excellent mouth
feel with low carbonation, medium body, and a lightly coating and moderately
warming boozy finish.

An outlandishly delicious old ale that is worthy of the Clown Shoes moniker.

Excellent-----barley wine and strong ale lovers----take note.

This one ROCKS!

Jun 15, 2018
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.36/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a murky copper with a thin off white head. Light soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is red wine, raisins, candied sugar and whiskey barrel.

T - The taste is cherry, apple, raisin, brown sugar, caramel malts, red wine with a nice whiskey bite in the finish.

M - Full bodied with low carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a sticky dry finish.

O - This is an excellent barrel aged old ale. The flavors are on the sweet side and leave wanting another drink.

Dec 31, 2016
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Casey3236 from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Ballad of Minnie Quay. Surprised by the color. Looks like a barleywine with nice reddish hues. I get caramel apple on the nose. Taste is apple cider and whiskey. Finishes with a little leather and wood.

Dec 07, 2016
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darktronica from Indiana

4.4/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Here goes, another state-specific Clown Shoes release that's exceptional and shamefully limited in its original distribution. From February 2015, The Ballad of Minnie Quay pours on the ruby side of copper, with half a finger of head that leaves a light ring around the rim of my swagtastic Clown Shoes snifter. There's a bit of oxidation on the nose, in the form of blood orange, plum, tannins, and fruitcake. Lots of classic old ale notes here, on the acidic end of the range, thanks to the port barrel tannins and age--strong malt on the finish, preceded by black cherry, dark plums, and suggestions of orange and clove, reminiscent of a hot spiced cider.

The port takes center stage; I'm not getting much whiskey at all. That said, there isn't a ton of barrel character in any case. The mouthfeel is full and smooth. I didn't have an opportunity to try this when it was fresh, but in comparison to Clown Shoes' typical adventures in Boozy Barrel Land, this must have either spent less time in the whiskey barrels than usual or it's calmed down considerably in the bottle.

Nov 23, 2016
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justinp444 from Michigan

4.94/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

No date but bought it back in march 2015. Poured into a pint glass it has a hazy brown body with a thing slice of brown beige head. Smell of apple, cherry, whiskey, vanilla, leather, cinnamon, plum, brandy, brown sugar, orange, caramel, and a bit of toffee. Taste is lots of cherry, apple, vanilla, cinnamon, caramel, little bit of red wine, brown sugar, plum, bit of orange, brandy, whiskey on the end, lots of toffee, a little bit of earth, leather, and overall tastes like bread pudding with a glass of wine. A fantastic old ale that's barrel aging let it become a alternative desert beer if you want something malty sweet and nice but without chocolate and heavy fruit flavors.

Aug 30, 2016
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jp32 from Michigan

4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours copper in color. Not much head retention. Big aromas of red wine with subtle accents of bourbon, sweet malts, and brown sugar or some other sugar product.

Flavor is sticky sweet candied malts and it's mouthfeel is extremely smooth. but with barely enough carbonation. Some dark fruit in the middle but finishes with flavors of port wine and plums.

It's a sweet, smooth, tasty beer. Very sugary, but tasty.

Jul 10, 2016
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Donco from Pennsylvania

4.53/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle dated 2/18/15. Poured into my trusty Stone tulip glass.
Been wanting to try this for quite a while. Finally decided to crack this bottle which I drank over two different nights.
Look: Russet color
Smell: Lots of plums and dark fruit.
Taste: Wonderful full flavor of dark fruit, port and a bit of spice all well blended with a great old ale. Malty and mellow...a terrific sipper.
Overall: This Michigan-only release just reinforces Clown Shoes successful way of barrel aging big beers in innovative ways. Great job! Highly recommended if you can find a bottle.

May 11, 2016
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GOBLIN from Ohio

4.3/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The whisky barrels are subtle . . . Port barrels are really on showcase here. This beer has a nice sweetness to it highlighted by the oaky qualities and port barrels. Vanilla, raisins, figs and plum flavors are dominant. Very smooth feel to this beer with a sticky residue on the lips. I was expecting this to be a boozy beer but it's not ! Glad I grabbed this when I got the chance. Some beers are worthing chasing . . . Just not too hard.

Mar 13, 2016
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JebBeerFish from New Hampshire

4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is an interesting beer. Aroma is of mild raisins, maybe some vanilla way way back. Whiskey not detectable to me in the nose. Flavor is above average sweetness, but far from being cloying. Port is dominant but not overly dominant in the taste. Very plummy. I could not detect any Whiskey in the taste. I'm glad I had the beer, but I don't think I would seek it out. If you like some vinous qualities in your beer, you might really enjoy.

Feb 28, 2016
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K-Dog from Michigan

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

Been holding on to this for about a year and decided to drink for the nfl conference championship games. Great golden copperish red look. Smell was of whisky and vanilla and tastes the same. One of the better old ales I have had. Well done. Too bad it's a one time release only.

Jan 25, 2016
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SaisonRichBiere from Michigan

4.15/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours orange/amber with minimal head. Smells of stone fruit, oak, vanilla, whiskey, Brandy. Taste is creamy caramel, light gingerbread, vanilla, oak, with hints of burnt orange peel and molasses. Overall very smooth and soft texture. Great brew.

Nov 22, 2015
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Vogie from Michigan

3.73/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Interesting combination of barrels. You do get the sweet caramel flavor from the port mixed with some toffee and vanilla from the whiskey barrels. Alcohol is well hidden. Perhaps the mouthfeel is too light for this style. Drinks like a port wine. A well crafted brew to sip and savor.

Aug 17, 2015
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Monkeyknife from Missouri

4.34/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle a dark ruby red with with two fingers of ivory head. Light sheets of lacing left behind with this one.

Aroma of port barrels upfront along with whiskey, light raisin and red wine.

As with the aroma, the port barrel dominates upfront along with the whiskey, raisin and red wine notes. The 11% abv is well hidden.

Medium bodied and quite sticky.

I really liked this barrel-aged old ale from Clown Shoes and I'm really not much of a fan of old ales in general.

Jul 16, 2015
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Brolo75 from California

4.37/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bomber poured into a snifter

A: Dark amber, no head, nice carbonation, cloudy, not much lacing.

A: Whisky, oak barrel, caramel malts, smells really hot, vanilla, toffee aromas, smells really good.

T: Whiskey, oak, caramel, vanilla, toffee, very complex, lots of alcohol, very hot.

M: More than medium mouthfeel, not big, no carbonation, very hot.

O: Very impressed, really good, I think this would probably get better with age as I would like to have this with less heat on it, but otherwise, a solid beer from Clown Shoes.

Jun 13, 2015
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ThickNStout from Georgia

4.34/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle from IAmJacksHopTongue (thanks for feeding my Clown Shoes addiction!). Bottled 2/18/15. Served in a Clown Shoes snifter.

Pours a hazy, opaque burgundy with a little more than a finger ecrue head. The bubbles quickly recede to a tiny halo, leaving very little in the way of lacing.

Sweet nose of port, whiskey, caramel, honey, oak, vague wet hay and a hint of berries.

This showcases a good bit of barrel flavor right up front. Rye whiskey, port, raspberries, burnt caramel, toffee, dark fruits, simple syrup, vanilla, honey, faint apples, traces of hay-like grain and a healthy dollop of booze. The port and whiskey blend reminds me of brandy. The base beer seems to have difficulty shining through those barrels but the end result is delicious nonetheless.

Body is a semi-oily, medium full with soft carbonation. The aftertaste of spirit-doused berries, caramel and oak lingers on the palate.

Clown Shoes really knows how to do these small batch, state-specific releases. I really enjoyed the interplay between the port and whiskey barrels. Quite glad I had the opportunity to try this.

May 18, 2015
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superspak from Ohio

4.35/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 2/18/2015. Pours hazy deep ruby red color with a 1-2 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a good amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, vanilla, raisin, plum, fig, date, red wine, bourbon, oak, coconut, light leather, light herbal, and oak/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and oak barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, vanilla, butterscotch, raisin, plum, fig, date, red wine, bourbon, oak, coconut, light leather, light herbal, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light tannic tartness and oak/bourbon spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, vanilla, butterscotch, raisin, plum. fig, date, red wine, bourbon, coconut, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt, fruit yeast, and bourbon barrel flavors; with an awesome malt/yeast/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an incredible barrel aged old ale style! All around awesome robustness, complexity, and balance of dark/bready malt, fruity yeast, and oak barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

May 05, 2015
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StoutHunter from Michigan

4.38/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked up a bottle of Clown Shoes The Ballad Of Minnie Quay last month at The Lager Mill. I'm a big fan of Clown Shoes and I'm excited to mark my 1300th beer review with this Michigan only release, so lets see how it goes. 2015 Vintage. Poured from a brown 22oz bottle into a teku.

A- The label is awesome, it's really well done and it goes great with the name and it's eye catching. It poured a.nice red brown color that took on more of a red color when held to the light with a finger and half of creamy off white head/ almost tan that died down to a thin ring that stayed till the end and it left some nice patchy rings of lacing behind. This is a very nice looking Old Ale, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a higher amount of medium sweetness that has a brown sugar aspect with a nice dark fruit aroma being the first to show up and it has a nice raisin and somewhat port wine aroma that go right into some big caramel, light toffee and light butterscotch aromas. Up next comes some whiskey and barrel aromas imparting some light whiskey, oak and vanilla aroma with a little more dark fruits showing up towards the end with a light boozy aroma in the background. This beer has a really nice aroma, it's pretty complex and all the different aspects work well with each other.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a higher amount brown sugar and slightly molasses like sweetness with that same nice dark fruit aspect showing up with raisins still sticking out the most, but this time it's just slightly lighter. Up next comes those nice caramel, toffee and butterscotch flavors that show up just a little more than they did in the aroma and there a noticeable sweet boozy flavor and sweet malts showing up in the background. Towards the end comes the barrels which impart some nice flavors, I taste the whiskey barrels the most, but also get just enough wine flavors to know it's from the port barrels. On the finish there's no bitterness with some boozy sweetness and it had nice caramel, dark fruit and barrel like flavors in the aftertaste. This is a very good tasting beer, it's complex and decadent, I really like it.

M- Fairly smooth, a little cloying sticky, rich, the alcohol was noticeable, creamy and not too crisp with a full body and lower amount of carbonation. For the most part the mouthfeel worked well with this beer, but I with it was a little less cloying and sticky.

Overall I thought this was a very nice beer and I thought it was a very nice example of the style, it had all the aspects that I was looking for in this beer with no single aspect being too bold or overpowering and they all worked well with each other to make for one tasty and decadent beer. It had nice drinkability, for as strong and sweet as it is I still drink it fairly fast and I think I would be able to take out a full bottle, but right now I'm happy with one glass. What I like the most about this beer is the complexity, there's a lot going on and it all works well with each other. What I liked the least about this beer was the sweetness, it would be prefect if it was toned down just a notch. I would for sure buy this beer again if I see another bottle on the shelf, I wouldn't hesitate at all and I wish I had another bottle for the cellar so I could see how it changes over time. I highly recommend this beer if you like strong barrel aged beers, it's just about as good as barrel aged Old Ales get. All in all I really enjoyed this beer, it would be perfect in the winter time on a very cold night since it's just nicely warming, rich and decadent. I have major respect for Clown Shoes for making this beer, to make a special beer specifically for one of the states that they ship to is awesome and a very forward thinking idea and by taking some local folklore and twisting it all together for a beer is just a genius idea and when the beer turn out to be this good it's even better. Let this be a wake up call to all the Michigan Brewers, this out of state brewery just dropped a Barrel Aged Old Ale just for Michigan and it's better than any barrel aged Old Ale that I've had that was made in Michigan, I think it's time for the Michigan brewers to step their game up when it comes to this style, Clown Shoes Crushed it. So far it's up there as one of my favorite Clown Shoes beer and it's the best example of the style I've had. Awesome job guys, it blows my mind how you guys can consistently crank out world class beers, keep that up, I love it.

May 03, 2015
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docoman from Michigan

4.62/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Was able to try this at Brown Iron Brewhouse along with some others from Clown Shoes and this was great! Glad to have bottle of it and really wanted to try it before cracking open the open I have. One of the smoothest Old Ales I've had, well done.

Apr 09, 2015
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masterofsparks from Ohio

3.35/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Extremely sweet and very boozy. Not surprising for an 11% beer, but I've had higher alcohol examples of the style that are much less harsh and sweet than this.

Mar 27, 2015
The Ballad Of Minnie Quay from Clown Shoes
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 73 ratings