Wolverine State Brewing Company

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Lager - European Strong
Ranked #1
Ranked #6,171
4.07 | pDev: 10.32%
Wolverine State Brewing Company
Michigan, United States
Very Good
Notes: Imperial dark lager aged in bourbon barrels.
Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 155 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of micada
micada from New York

4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of @Blutz as a trade extra: 2017 Wolverine State Massacre BBA Imperial Dark Lager. Never heard of the brewery or the brew, so totally new to me. 12 oz bottle nicely wax-sealed. Poured cellar temp assertively to an IPA-ish wide-mouth glass. Half-inch head comes out as an oddity, much like the Dark Soul I had some time ago, in that it has a creamy mocha tan color that looks like it belongs on an oatmeal stout instead of a lager. Color is dark, translucent burnt mahogany. Nose has a very prominent bourbon aroma, sweet caramel, and some winter spiciness.

First sips are surprising and marvelous! The bourbon is strong, the main profile is oozy dark caramel, with an ending hit of a cinnamon-esque flavor. It reminds me of a nice barleywine in some respects. Mouthfeel is full, decadent, with carbonation on the finish that clears the way for a long-lasting linger of all the flavors. Boozy aroma and flavor that matches the ABV, but no burn and no warming...much too easy to drink like it’s an 8%er, but this is clocking in over 14%. As it warms, more stone fruit flavors like plum/prune come to the mid and rear of the swallow.

It’s totally delicious! Three years has done it justice.

Dec 07, 2020
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stevoj from Idaho

4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle at share.Muddy brown pour with a small beige head. Seemingly like a stout, roast malts and chocolate filter up first, followed by some brown sugar and bourbon. Taste is more roast, boozy and a bit more stout-ish than a dopplebock, but still great.

Jun 14, 2020
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Buck89 from Tennessee

4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a pint glass. A nice dark chestnut color, fairly clear and with a modest tan head. Vanilla and bourbon dominated the first sniff, and a closer inspection brought roasted grain notes like caramel and cherry. The taste followed. The barrel was there but supported the caramel and cherry notes. Full bodied but this did not feel like a 14+% ABV beer. Slightly boozy and hot on the finish but this was well done. I was impressed with the rich malty notes, as this stayed true to a Doppelbock despite the heft. Well done and recommended for a big beer.

Jan 19, 2020
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beersampler6 from Michigan

4.16/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very nice, rich, hearty bock from a solid local brewery. No date printed on bottle. Pours a thicker honeyed rust brown color with just a little off-white head and very minimal scant lingering lacing. Smells of brown sugar, raisin, fig, malt, caramel, vanilla and faint hops. Tastes similarly, strong sipper for sure but still the very high ABV was a little deceivingly hidden. Good depth and complexity. Smooth slightly sticky mouthfeel with decent carbonation. A solid beer for its style.

Jan 08, 2020
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.52/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Jan 2021 Review
2020 vintage poured into a chalice

Similar to previous reviews except this is fresher. A bit more alcohol bite, less head and lacing than last years review. But, still really tasty any worth trying. Overall, going to knock look, taste, feel down a notch each.

Review Dec 15 2019
2017 vintage, poured into a tulip glass.

Overall: essentially the same as the Jul 2018 review. This is really good. Reminds me more of a barleywine than a lager but great no matter the name. This was my last 2017 but I think I’ve got some 2018 and need to find some 2019. Absolutely worth trying/buying if you see it.

Updated review Jul 26 2018.
Pour: 2017 vintage, so about 9 months old. 12oz bottle. Poured into a pint glass. Beautiful mahagony color with light coming through on the edges. 1-2 finger tan head that dissaptes into clouds and a nice ring with small amounts of lacing. Really attractive.

Nose: lots going on here. Caramel, molasses, dark chocolate, raisins and brandied dark fruits dominate. As label notes, sweet bourbon and malt also present.

Taste: definitely follows the nose but maybe even more molasses and bourbon on the front end. Definite chocolate, dark fruit as well. Some hoppy bitterness on the backend keeps the sweetness well balanced. 14.5% ABV is well hidden. Alcohol is there but really well balanced.
Not sure why I didn’t like this as much the first time but suspect aging has helped mellow the alcohol bite into a soft embrace (lol). I really like this.

Mouthfeel: fair amount of carbonation but still a thick, viscous, syrupy feel. That’s right up my alley. Bitterness on the backend lingers a bit but quickly clears. Maybe the lagering gives it a clean finish? Really have no idea why I ranked this relatively low the first time. Maybe the carbonation has mellowed?

Overall: I really like this. A BBA lager is unusual but this is absolutely worth trying. Again, aging seems to have improved it in my opinion but maybe I just didn’t appreciate it the first time. Or, just in a great beer mood tonight!?! After thinking I would not buy again, I will seek out he 2018 vintage when available. One 2017 left that I will save for a meaningful Wolverine victory, hopefully, this fall.

Original review ratings from around Oct or Nov 2017. Look 4 smell 4.25 taste 3.5 feel 3 overall 3.75. I recall not really liking it a lot. Too in your face.

Dec 16, 2019
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oberon from North Carolina

4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a half liter stein a deep mahogany color with a thinner off white head that was quick to fade.Bourbon and toasty oak mixed with brown sugar in the nose,yeah it's sweet but so inviting.Bourbon infused bark fruits and brown sugar on the palate,sweet but crazy drinkable for such a big sweet beer.It is quite a sweet thick beer but if you know that going in it's quite satisfying and warming.

Oct 03, 2019
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Shanex from France

4.57/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of Superspak

The label mention an imperial dark lager and BA says it’s a German doppelbock.

Poured into a Guinness Pint, poured a dark color with a brownish thin head.

Smells and taste are strong on Bourbon, caramel and some red fruits. Very drinkable considering a heavy abv of 14,2%.

Overall an excellent beer, Michigan has once again nailed it. Cheers!

Sep 26, 2019
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dd53grif from Michigan

4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with a foamy tan head that lasts quite a while. Aroma is alcohol with some chocolate. Taste is bourbon first, then the chocolate comes through. Good mouth feel; smooth and very warming.

Jul 04, 2019
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JBowenGeorgia from Georgia

4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a soda black complete with two fingers of tan head.
Smell is predominantly bourbon, burnt sugars, vanilla.
Lots of bourbon up front, roasted malts, caramel, some dark fruits.
Medium bodied with good carb levels. A bit hot, alcohol definitely present.
Overall I wouldn't have thought lager if I hadn't read the label. Pretty tasty!

Apr 15, 2019
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TreyIsWilson from Michigan

4.03/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A - Pours dak brown with a one finger tan head. Light amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is carmel, toffee, raisins, vanilla and bourbon.

T - The taste is dark chocolate, raisins, plums, molasses, vanilla, charred oak and bourbon.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a smooth hot finish.

O - This is a big boozy beer. Flavors are rich and agressive. Definetly a slow sipper.

Apr 04, 2019
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darktronica from Indiana

4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

I guess this is way above the average rating for Massacre, but I was blown away by this beer upon taking a trip to Wolverine State on my first visit to Ann Arbor. That was back in early November, but I was impressed enough to seek out a few 4-packs from a local grocer before coming home. My impression was that the brewery is hoping to redefine lagers for a new-school craft audience, and while some of their experimental concoctions were too oddball for my tastes (I can go without a pumpkin spice lager, thanks), this is straightforward in its madness. It's just a 14.3% ABV dark lager aged in bourbon barrels. Not sure how they got it so high in ABV, but I'm not questioning it.

The pour is thick and black, with a half-finger of fast-dissipating head from an aggressive pour. Low carbonation on the palate. Scuppernong grape, malted milkshakes, chocolate tootsie rolls, root beer, and bitter hop character all rolled up into an aggressive, boozy snifter. I really dig it.

Jan 21, 2019
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CanConPhilly from Pennsylvania

4.12/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L - trace head atop a cola black body.

S - bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar.

T - lots of barrel. Oak, vanilla, dark fruit, char, booze. Low bitterness. Moderate sweetness. Moderate booziness.

F - medium body with low carb.

O - would never have guessed this was originally a lager. Quite boozy. But that barrel is hella tasty.

Dec 09, 2018
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kemoarps from Washington

4.19/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 edition. @FlintB sent it along as part of NBS BIF#007. Poured into my Lopez Island pokal-ish.

Clean looking deep deep brown that's garnet red in the thinner corners. Nice little brown head that settles in to a reasonably consistent cover and sticks around leaving lacing along the lanes as the lager leaves the glass.

Big and boozy and dark on the nose. Bourbon spice with thick heavy oak and some chocolate and fig as it warms up.

Rich sweet cocoa leads the charge here with alcohol burn being the next contestant up to bat. Almost some raisins as well and smoothe darkness.

Body is silky smoothe if a bit thin, with fine pinpricks of carbonation. Incredibly smoothe, but very hot as well.

This is a really interesting and really tasty brew. Very sweet and decadent, but silky smoothe with the lightness of silk as well. My biggest complaint is just that it is still incredibly hot, and the alcohol can be a little bit overwhelming at times. Would love to see what this could be like with a couple of years on it to mellow a touch.

Do I feel guilty drinking Wolverine State Massacre the day after Michigan got... massacred in the national title game? Eh, not really. Am I enjoying the beverage in the glass? Absolutely. Thanks Brian for sending it along!!

Apr 03, 2018
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breakingbland from Michigan

4.14/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours as an essentially completely opaque brown/black. There is a bit of foam on the surface but this quickly devolves into a tiny ring of bubbles around the edge. The aroma is typical of bourbon barrel aged beers: sweet, vanilla and oak. The taste is similar but with less vanilla and oak. The aftertaste is nice but I can't really identify it: sweet, a bit sour with a slight astringency. The beer feels thick in the mouth but not overly so. The carbonation is appropriate. There is no alcoholic hotness in spite of the 14.5% ABV as stated on the label.

Overall, I like this one a lot. I might get some more of these and cellar them to see how it matures. (The above review is of the 2017 batch.)

Dec 08, 2017
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BenHoppy from Michigan

3.59/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tastes of chocolate with some molasses and stale whiskey or perhaps cheap whiskey barrels or both. It wasn't too bad 3 forths of the way but last few sips were a bit harsh. Though at 14.5% I guess that's expected. This beer looked a bit like pop and was really fizzy but had to remember it was a barrel aged lager and not a stout. So was sort've hard to judge on this one being my first barrel aged lager but do believe it needs a few tweaks. Then again maybe with some age on it the smoothness will occur and it'll be more flavorful. Still not a bad beer.

Nov 30, 2017
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MIBeerGeek from Michigan

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very drinkable for a bigger beer. I have a few 16’s cellared so I decided to crack one.

This “lager” is definitely worth trying a time or two.

Nov 23, 2017
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maximum12 from Minnesota

3.21/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to the docoman for this beer, an extra in an excellent trade for many, many Michigan beers. My first barrel-aged lager. Not sure if I should be excited or revolted. 12 oz. can with thick red wax.

The wax, while thick, is easier to remove than anticipated, though I had to get my special tool. I have no idea where this tool comes from, but it has a handle like a screwdriver & a sharp, nasty point. Looks like it was created to kill Walking Dead. The beer is dark, like in the name, Smells like barrel-aged prune juice. I don’t like prune juice.

Massacre exceeds my minimalist expectations. Still too much prune - I’m feeling my bowels move as soon as the liquid hits my lips. Prunes, raisins, black grapes, meat candy bars. Fainter are vanilla from the barrel, pinot, leather rolled in brown sugar. The finish is more prunes. Great mouthfeel, but with the colon-moving taste, I’m glad I split this with my wife.

A lager only in the loosest sense of the word, like an imperial session stout, this is odd, somewhat tasty, & veers from the norms violently. Pretty good beer.

May 21, 2017
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Raime from Greenland

4.66/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was actually a gift from my father who has been a craft drinker for over thirty years. Of course not in the same depth that I am. He grabbed one of these at a bar one night and said it reminded him of a rochefort 10. After reading the label, I'm starting to think he may be a touch insane considering nothing on this bottle seems like it would be reminiscent of the former brew. An imperial dark bourban barrel aged...lager? Lmfao. Alright we'll see about that. Should also note that this is my first beer out of this brewery. Lets do it.

From the 12oz bottle is pours a penetrable black with a finger and a half of mocha colored head. Body looks more cola like than depth driven. Light can be seen through the other end depending on the wattage. Minimal lace on a finished glass

Smell open up with a butterscotch and caramel covered nutty goodness. Oak and bourbon are all apparent BUT I hides the alcohol well IE no nose hairs shall be synged upon a heavy and hard whiff. Smells like a welly perfected scotch ale almost.

Taste follows the noise which I am beyond thankful for. The butterscotch nuts with a smack of caramel are all over this profile. Definitely nothing like the rochefort 10 he had mentioned. Big bourbon levels with just a touch of oak upon the finish.

Feel is a bit thin...HOWEVER this is NOT categorized as a scotch ale for whatever reason so I'll rate it to style. Thin to lower level medium with a high level of creaminess. Swallows easy and the alcoholic bite as it sits upon the tongue is perfectly executed and just enough. Actually a fantastic body style wise.

Overall this is a world the fuck this is classified as with all the flavor and a perfectly hidden booze level, AND a thin enough body for quick and easy sipping minus all the heft that comes along with the typical of the style. A euro strong lager is what this is classed as? Lol. Beyond that. Lovely, lovely, lovely 13% brew that I want to see more of. Try this.

Eat it. Drink it. Best " lager " ever. And if we're being real, best scotch ale ever. Easy bodied, tasty as all get out with a kick that'll knock you on your ass. Dare I say...quaffable?

Mar 10, 2017
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hoptheology from South Dakota

3.24/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3


Initially pours a nutty brown that forms into a mahogany colored body. Very small fingernail of head that forms and sticks.

Aroma is extremely barrel forward, almost scotch-like. Oak, plums, currants, whiskey.

Flavor is basically all barrel. Some harsh astringency, with more oak, a burnt scotch flavor, and faint maple on the finish. It's so harsh and astringent that it's hard to make follow-up sips. The burn in the gut isn't helping matters, either.

Hot, boozy, and dry. Like chugging a distilled liquor.

Overall, if you like booze and barrel, this is your beer. But just be aware - there's nothing else to supplement it. Yes, lagers can be good, and especially aged lagers - but Wolverine, take some notes from August Schell in this arena. I couldn't finish it.

Feb 27, 2017
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StoutHunter from Michigan

4.04/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I picked up a bottle of Wolverine State's Massacre for $4,29 at The Lager Mill. I've been meaning to try this one for a while and I'm interested to see what it's all about, so lets see how it goes. 2016 Vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz waxed bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks nice, it has a nice design to it and it's a little eye catching. It poured a dark brown color that takes on more of a mahogany color when held to the light with half a fingers worth of creamy and slightly darker tan head that died down to a thick bubbly ring that eventually faded away and it left a little bit of patchy and spotty lacing behind. This is a good looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a lower amount of high sweetness with the bourbon barrels being the first to show up and they impart some nice bourbon, oak and light vanilla aromas that are followed by a big caramel aroma with a little bit of a butterscotch, buttery and light toffee liker aroma in the background. Up next comes the malts which impart some caramel malt, toasted malt, sweet malt, light bready, slight dark fruit and candied like aromas showing up towards the end. This beer has a very nice aroma, it's complex and all the aspects work well together.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma, it's slightly lighter and it starts off with a lower amount of high sweetness with the bourbon barrels still being the first to show up, they are a little lighter than they were in the aroma, but they impart all the same aspects. Up next comes the alcohol which is noticeable and a little warming and it goes into the malts which impart all the same aspects that they did in the aroma along with those caramel, toffee and butterscotch aspects which come through just about as much as they do in the aroma. Towards the end comes a light amount of dark fruits with no single fruit sticking out the most just like it did in the aroma. On the finish there's a slightly higher amount of medium bitterness followed by a little more warming alcohol and some sweetness with a bitter, caramel, sweet malt and toffee like aftertaste. This is a good tasting beer, but it would be even better if it had a little less bitterness.

M- Fairly smooth, slightly booxy, a little warming, a little cloying, a little sticky, a little viscous, full bodied with a lower amount of medium carbonation, The mouthfeel is pretty nice and it works well with this beer.

Overall I thought this was a good beer and a good example of the style, wolverine really pushed the boundaries with the lager yeast with this beer and it really shows, but it comes together to make for a good and unique beer. This beer had nice drinkability, one would be my limit, anymore than that and it might start to wear on me. What I like the most about this beer is the aroma and how well the different aspects work together, those are the highlights to me. What I like the least about this beer is the bitterness, I think it would be better if that aspect was toned down. I would buy this beer again when looking for a strong and unique Lager and I would recommend it to anyone looking for the same. All in all I was happy with this beer, it didn't blow my mind or anything, but it was unique and I found it to be a little memorable. It's the best beer I've had from this brewery and it's a good example of the style. Good job guys, this is a tasty and unique beer, keep it up.

Dec 06, 2016
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WesMantooth from Ohio

4.36/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This one pours a dark brown, fairly viscous, with a small amount of light tan foam.

It smells like bourbon, oak, molasses, dark fig like fruit, and syrupy with a lot of caramel malts.

It smelled great. Tastes even better. Carmalized brown sugar and malted grains, bourbon, lots of oak, molasses, a bit of figs/raisin, and just a hint of chocolate.

It is thick and chewy, a bit syrupy and velvety smooth. A Bourbon County like body.

This beer features plenty of barrel character and strikes me as a doppel bock in a lot of ways. Maybe a little thicker than it is supposed to be, but I thought it was phenomenal.

Nov 27, 2016
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Immortale25 from North Carolina

4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Wicked Weed snifter. Label says either the brewery was founded in 2014 or this is two years old.

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with a 1/4 inch tan head that doesn't retain long before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and a large center patch of sheer surface foam. Resilient lacing leaves small clots behind.

S- Nice bourbon aroma with notes of vanilla, brown sugar and some dark roasted malt.

T- Again, really pleasant bourbon character with some oaky tones. So super smooth for the ABV which could be the result of the lager base since it drinks so clean. Notes of milk chocolate, dark fruit and a bit of smoke. There's also a surprising amount of hop presence that works well within the flavor construct. Woody aftertaste.

M- Slick feel with medium-low carbonation and a medium body.

O- I'm very pleasantly surprised with how lovely this beer is. A BBA dark lager isn't the first thing I'd reach for, but this has great bourbon presence, is dangerously drinkable and all the flavors are well integrated.

Oct 25, 2016
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Durge from Connecticut

4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured vigorously into a tulip glass at room temperature this 13% ABV beauty shows a solid black-brown color with a two finger layer of foam on top that quickly settles to a bare surface with no trace of lace to follow.
The aroma is a solid sweet prune malt with a hint of booze.
The flavor delivers a woodsy licorice-molasses blend with a hint of raspberry-cherry sweetness that is a powerful pleaser. There is warming booziness that gives a very subtle nod to the bourbon barrel aging but it does not overwhelm the intense flavors.
The body is thick and viscous with no discernible signs of carbonation in this 2015 bottle purchased in November at the brewery. The fig and prune flavors seem to take over as you finish with a slight seaweed saltiness that's neat. It packs a punch but is a quality brew that is a great sipper.

Mar 24, 2016
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stortore from Illinois

4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle into a flute glass. 2015 edition, 13.0% on the label. Cheers to the 2.5% increase.

Pours near black, very opaque. One- finger creamy foam head with a gentle pour, a little foamy lacing. Smells of malt, bourbon, caramel, raisins, some oak and vanilla, a little chocolate and bread. Smells terrific. Taste also leads with malt and bourbon, more vanilla and oak than the nose, raisins, caramel, bread, some chocolate. Not sweet, not bitter. Just really good. Smooth, somewhat creamy, well carbonated, taste lingers.

Wow, this is really good. Anyone that had the prior years, needs to try the 2015. So flavorful. Raises the bar on BBA lagers, for sure.

Feb 17, 2016
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justinp444 from Michigan

4.34/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

2015, 13% abv. Poured into a tulip glass it has a 2 and a half inch thick head of light beige and a black body (nice lacing). Smell of roasted malts, maple syrup, vanilla, lots of chocolate, and heavy bourbon. Taste is heavy bourbon, vanilla, bread-y malt, a good amount of oak, slight chocolate, small amount of alcohol, and a lager yeast aftertaste. Mouth feel is creamy and full and the body is full as well with just enough carbonation. A very nice BA dark lager, it's packed with a ton of bourbon and strong flavors making it less complex but still very good with a creamy rich mouth feel that doesn't make it any less drinkable.

Dec 11, 2015
Massacre from Wolverine State Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 155 ratings