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London Balling | Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

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BA SCORE
92
outstanding
51 Reviews
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London BallingLondon Balling
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Kentucky, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
English style barleywine brewed with Maris Otter pale, Aromatic and caramel malts, then balanced with English Nugget and Kent Goldings hops. Aged in Angel's Envy bourbon barrels for nearly 3 months.

Added by JDizzle on 03-01-2012

BEER STATS
Reviews:
51
Ratings:
336
Avg:
4.17
pDev:
19.18%
 
 
Wants:
44
Gots:
54
For Trade:
12
User Reviews
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Reviews: 51 | Ratings: 336
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to mrbubbler for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours a hazy dark honey orange with a foamy beige head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of wood bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with really nice bourbon barrel aged qualities all around.

Serving type: bottle.

 701 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -4.1%

Tightly woven booze spice with malt sweetness allows the Against the Grain brewers to flirt with the commingling of British and ale Kentucky creativity.

Dense and viscous to the eye, the rugged beer layers gently into the snifter with a cloudy tawny and rusty color. As its delicate creme swirls about the surface, the ale quickly reclaims its bubbles and renders into a brandy-like appearance. And those boozy comparisons get started while the rummy sweetness wraps around the tongue and its sultry fruit, spice and savory aromatics pull forth and fully saturate the olfactory senses.

The middle palate overwhelms with rich caramel, toffee and maple. Peps of buttery brown sugar and butterscotch offer succulents while a nutty cashew and candied pecan character counters with its own gentle earthiness. Herbal with tea and softly shaven woods, these become the hook for the introduction of charred oak, vanilla, caramel, cherrywood and unmistakable bourbon empowerment. All the while, estery influence of apple, cherry, plum, date and fig suggest fruitcake and spice cake.

Decadent in finish, the full-bodied taste and texture weighs on the tongue and saturates the tastebuds to utter completion with its piercing booze and understated carbonated lift. Its "barley liquor" character numbs the palate and seduces the taste with its boldly laced savory character. Enjoy much more as an after dinner aperitif rather than a drinkable or refresher of a beer.

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Photo of emerge077
3.92/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a brandy snifter at Green Lady.
Review from quick written notes.

The beer has a dark reddish brown color with a thin layer of white foam on the surface. After five minutes or so, it breaks to a thin surface veil with minimal spotty lace. Looks the part of a barrel-aged barleywine...

Sweet toffee, caramel, and vanilla in the aroma, sweet with some depth to it. Rich toffee flavor punctuated by an odd sweet candy note like gummy fruit. To be hyper specific: raspberry "Nordic Sweets Forest Berries" gummy candy ... strange. Could be the port sweetness coming through possibly. Smooth feel, rich and not overly cloying, but the candy note is ever present. Dry malty finish. Worth a try, though the flavors didn't really coalesce to me.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours hazy deep ruby red/brown color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big raisin, plum, cherry, date, apple, caramel, vanilla, toffee, toast, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, light coconut, herbal, and yeast/oaky earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great complexity and balance of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, cherry, date, apple, caramel, vanilla, toffee, toast, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, light coconut, herbal, and yeast/oaky earthiness. Fair amount of herbal hop bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, cherry, date, apple, caramel, vanilla, toffee, toast, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, light coconut, and yeast/oaky earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and earthy hop flavors; with a great bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an incredible English barleywine. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Brandon for sharing this enjoyed from the bottle chilled in a glass.

The color is amber with slight haze and full creamy khaki head. The smell is great -packed with bourbon aroma with slight vanilla and woody scent. The feel is very good with rich creamy texture with sweet middle and light boozy quality with slight spice and dry finish with moderate carbonation and warming alcohol.

The taste is great with a wonderful layered malt with bourbon enhancement that has a dried fruit quality with slight vinous woody tannin and slight spicy effect of elevated alcohol with nice sweetness level of dried fruit. This is a great tasting mix of bourbon and barleywine, very drinkable especially for a 12% beer. Thanks again Sarz

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter at Green Lady.

Must...resist...making...Clash...joke... Whew, that was harder than it should have been... Anyway, this stuff pours a clear garnet topped by a half-finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises sweet caramel, sweet toffee, light oak, light walnut, mild vanilla bean, and a hint of dark fruits in the background. Everything coalesces amiably around a thin core of mild booze. The taste brings in more of the same, with a bit of bourbon, a heightened sense of fruitiness, and some added sweetness from a buttercream character. Damn, this is some tasty shit! The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a very nice b-wine, possibly the best AtG has made (at least from the selection we've received here in Chicago thus far). Get some.

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Photo of russpowell
4.11/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Arkansas, no one will confuse their offerings as being geared towards the frugal beer shopper

Pours a Faint orange/caramel with 3 fingers of fluffy tan head. Stellar lacing & way above average head retention

S: Bourbon notes, oakyness, & plums, raisins

T: Oakyness, plums, molasses, brown sugar & caramel up front, a little booze warmth/cinnamon. Barrel comes through as this warms, some herbal & leafy hops as this warms, dryness as well, a touch of honey too. Finishes with honey bourbon, dryness, some leafy hops, a little tangerine & Bing Cherry

MF: Medium body at best, over-carbonated, smoothed out a bit once warm, turns a little creamy once room temperature

This might be a beer to age, way too carbonated right now. Not bad, but for this price this is a B- beer selling at A++ prices

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Photo of Tone
4.18/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a cloudy, brown color. 1/2 inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, liquor, wood, yeast, and slight dry hops. Fits the style of an English Barleywine. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of liquor, alcohol, sweet malt, slight hops, sight roasted malt, and slight wood. Overall, good appearance, aroma, body, blend, and complexity.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a tawny, dark-ish brown, with a small quarter inch head, and no lacing.

Smells like bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, and toffee. Classic boiler-plate bourbon barrel barleywine smell.

This is quite nice. It's really pretty hot, with some astringent booze, and lots of bourbon up front, followed by a big oak presence, some vanilla, and caramel and toffee. It's the classic bourbon barrel barleywine flavor, with a a bigger boozy bitterness than typical.

This is medium bodied, slightly thinner than I'd expect, with a low amount of carbonation, and a slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

This is quite tasty. It doesn't quite match up to the biggest barrel-aged barleywines that all the kids are talking about, but it's still very good.

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Photo of dar482
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a murky brown color with tons of red hues coming through.

On the aroma, the beer explodes of bourbon heat. It almost masks the caramel sweetness of the base, the hints of earthy and spicy hops.

On the flavor, the beer offers a bit more. Up front, caramel sweetness along with that sharp bourbon flavor throughout. Dark fruit with dates and plums, lots of raisins. A good amount of vanilla. Then onto an oaky drying flavor on the back end.

In the end, the light mouthfeel and heat detract from this beer, despite good flavors.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.41/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a hazy reddish/brown color with about an inch tan head that stuck around a little while. There's also a good amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like dark fruit (cherry, plum), bourbon, vanilla, caramel, oak, dark bread and a bit of herbalness. The taste is similar to the aroma, the brew tastes like bourbon, vanilla, oak, dark fruit (cherry, plum, raisins), caramel, earthiness, dark bread, molasses, toffee, and some nuttiness. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and coating with moderate carbonaton. I have to say this is a pretty good barleywine, I'd definitely buy this again the next time I see it. I think I bought this bottle on a prior trip to ATG, but I don't remember for sure.

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Photo of barczar
3.87/5  rDev -7.2%

Very boozy, sweet, treacle aroma, with toasted oak notes, and hints of raisins. Flavor reveals a very sweet backbone, with huge caramel tones, and a moderately bitter, oaky finish. Bourbon notes and vanilla add complexity. Dates dominate the profile. The oak in the finish provides nice balance. Should age well. I'd like more complex dark fruit character.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. No freshness date.

A- Pours a murky medium brown color with a 1/8 inch tan head that doesn't retain long before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and minimal surface foam. Not-so-resilient lacing.

S- Very medicinal in the nose with a strong booze aroma and big hits of oak. Mostly notes of band-aid with some brown sugar-like sweetness trying to come through.

T- Flavor makes the smell worthwhile with plenty of caramel sweetness. Toasty notes of dark bread and dark fruit with the oak interwoven in the profile making for layers of complexity. Alcohol is incredibly well concealed though there is a bit of booze in the finish.

M- Silky smooth with an alcohol bite that's just right. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Although the nose is a bit off-putting, this barleywine hits all the right notes otherwise as the barrel smooths out the rough edges and makes a beer that should probably be sipped slowly so very drinkable.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a snifter
(A)- Pours an amber caramel colored bronze. Some minimal white froth
(S)- Rich toffee and caramel meets some dry but boozy oak. Some bourbon sweetness met with soft and subtle woody vanilla
(T)- Big and rich oaky caramel with some vanilla forward heat. Finishes with some nice toasty toffee and bourbon barrel influences
(M)- Big on the booze, but some great sweet and rich flavors to balance it out
(O)- A really great barleywine. Barrel forward, but with a great supporting base. One of Against the Grain's best offerings so far

 564 characters

Photo of tigg924
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours hazy, orange-brown in color with1/2 inch head. Taste is toffee, raisin, caramel, vanilla, light oak and hoppiness towards the end. Sweet with slight bitterness at the end. Pretty incredible to find a beer with this much complexity in a can. While I prefer other English barleywines, this one is quite good.

 316 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
4.12/5  rDev -1.2%

Bottle from Hop City when I visited Atlanta. Pours murky brownish amber into my glass with a small yellow khaki head. Nice aroma of sweet fruits, figs, some bron sugar, toffee, vanilla, light booze, and some cardboardyness. Flavor is caramel and fruit, vanilla bourbon, oak, brown sugar. Nice. Medium plus bodied, booze heat, and carbonation that is medium plus (maybe a bit much for the style). Tastes better than it smells. Pretty good stuff with heavy barrel notes.

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Photo of mrfrancis
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a murky, ruddy amber with a creamy, lingering khaki head.

S: Aromas of caramel, toffee, dark bread, milk chocolate, toasted coconut, and woody spice dominate the nose.

T: Notes of caramel, toffee, dark bread, brown sugar, roasted nuts, milk chocolate, woody spices, toasted coconut, honey, praline, herbs, and mild citrus are present on the palate. The finish is punchy, rich, and syrupy with praline, herb, citrus, chocolate, honey, toasted coconut, and spice flavors underscored by mellow alcohol.

M: Full-bodied and decidedly off-dry. A bit sticky and syrupy in the mouth. Carbonation is very gentle and discreet. Alcohol presence is pronounced, but not fiery. An easy sipper.

O: This is a very nice English barleywine. Try it if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of Erik-P
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep amber/brown with a small amount of head that dissipates. First sip is definitely a punch in the face with big boozy sweet malty notes. Comes in quite hot, might be more mellow with a bit more time on it One is more then enough and at 12.5% would recommend sharing this one.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Nice rich color but a sadly depleted head. Nicely diverse nose of bourbon, pina colada, oranges, some dark fruit, light oak, fudge and caramel. The flavor is perhaps a touch subdued but delicious none the less. Sweet bourbon creme, toffee, caramel, bourbon whiskey, and dry oak wood meet the palate but it ends lightly fruity. This is very thin and the alcohol heat is not hidden but despite this flaw this is a great beer for a nice price.

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Photo of wedge
4.04/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

@ Ridgewood

Deep, dark chestnut brown under a low, but very sticky, bubbly head. Smooth, sticky dark malt aromas...raisin, wort-like smells, toffee, plum, cherry, and a fairly mellow barrel character with some vanilla creaminess. Smooth caramel, vanilla, oaky spice, dark fruit, black tea, light sherry, nuts, and cherry. Dry with a quick, tidy finish, not cloying in the slightest and the bourbon isn't boozy. Surprising hoppy bitterness in the finish. Heavy and smooth. Not too much barrel or sticky sweetness for its strength. Pretty nice.

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Photo of ZombiesAteMyDog
4.42/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a murky brown/orange. Small light brown head. Doesn't look thin, and has a nice syrupy quality too it without appearing too thick.

S - Smells well balanced; nothing seems to be overpowering. Vanilla, malt, bourbon, and a touch of hops. The oakiness from the bourbon plays well against the sweetness of the vanilla and fruit.

T - Aging in Angel's Envy bourbon barrels has done some very nice things to this brew. The oak is very clean and distinguishable. This brings all the best qualities from the bourbon out. Finishes slightly dry with a hop and alcohol burn, but not too strong (this is a 12.5%).

M - Alcohol is mostly well hidden. Carbonation has been lost since last night's growler fill, but it was originally not very high to begin with.

O - I've wanted to try a barrel-aged barleywine for a long time, and it was awesome to find this one right in my backyard. Even better, the guys running the place are passionate and doing it for the right reasons. A great brew that I highly recommend.

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Photo of TheBrewo
4.35/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This brew was served on tap at One-Eyed Betty’s in Ferndale, Michigan. It arrived in a generic stemmed tulip, showing a murky apricot coloring. It held a one and a half finger tall head of eggnog colored bubbles, showing nice retention into crystalline spider webs of lacing left around the glass. An intense haze cut clarity persistently, while no sediment was noted. Carbonation appeared to be light. The aroma gave notes of sourdough bread, thick ale yeastiness, and rye, pale, and amber malts, with sweeter caramel richness on the back as its grainy base. This was laid over with notes of authentic lemon juiciness, sharp booze that was only initially reminiscent of bourbon, soured wet oak, creeping moss, warm buttery diacetyls, airy sweetness of Vermont maple syrup, intense honey sugars, dryness of red wine grape skins without the fruitiness, and tannic leafy teas. With warmth came an enhancement of the booze to bring more burn, but of the harshest alcoholic cider. Our first impression was that that flavoring was beautifully warming, with sensational buttery representation of the barreling blending seamlessly with the base grain and sugars of the barleywine. As we sipped, the taste opened up with heavily fumy bourbon, rich roasty caramel and red maltiness, paper towel dryness, candied cane sugar, massive melted butters, steely metallics, big oaky depth, granite, and graphite. The middle came forward to meet, with a blend of cloying syrups of liquid caramel, tannic breakfast teas, mild cloven phenol, black pepper, citric and herbal hop bitters, deeper grainy roast of caramel and coffee maltiness, blackstrap molasses, and a shoe polish burn to transition us to the finish. The end followed with a final punch of big woody mossiness, with vanilla slick across its surface, with massively buttery diacetyls, spicy burn on bourbon, rich caramel sweetness, chalky yeast, cough syrup cherry depth, candied almonds, and butter-soaked doughnuts. The aftertaste breathed of heavy toffee stickiness, bitter oak barrel, musk and dust, echoing bourbon bite, massive vanilla bean, corn husk, ground lemon seed, burning sea salt, general rumbles of hollow chemical ethanol, and chalky English ale yeastiness. The body was full and chewy, while carbonation was higher, with a hearty, lingering prickle. Each sip afforded syrupy thick cream, slurp, smack, froth, glug, and pull to the finishing pop. The mouth was completely coated, with slow, eventual chalky bitterness. The abv was high, and it sipped appropriately.

Overall, the most enjoyable thing about this brew was the quality of the barreling throughout the flavoring. Top notch. The wood added undisputable authenticity of bourbon and heavy, heavy, heavy oakiness, both of which lent a balancing bitterness to the cloy of the malts and residual alcohol sugars. The nose and feel complement the taste well, comfortably marking this beer as a knockout. There are so many layers to the aroma, and it just becomes stickier and stickier with each passing moment. We also loved how it left your mouth both cleanly sweetened and dryly chalked, without offense from either the bitters of the cloy. This is a stellar English barleywine, and should be a foremost example, along with the likes of Artic Devil, of how to properly utilizing barreling.

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Photo of gillagorilla
4.02/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sample had at Max's during their Rare & Obscure Festival (from notes, 4/17/14)

A: Dark amber copper brown. Consistent head and lacing that is quite thick.

S: Sweet with some light roasts.

T: Nice even barrel flavors here. Prevalent whiskey but melds well with the rest of the beer. Quite warming. Light roast and slightly sweet with lots of barrel.

M: Smooth.

O: This was some good stuff and my first beer of the festival. Very good use of the barrel and not overpowering.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

All the folks bitching about the lack of hops here, please remember that this is an English barleywine and not the overly hopped American version we see most of the time... This is a great beer... Bourbon infused toffee in a snifter... Sweet and slightly boozy... The bourbon is big and bold and delicious... World class IMO....

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Photo of larryarms847
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky ruby brown with a finger of very light tan foam.

Vanilla, oak, toffee, molasses, and sweet sweet bourbon.

Strong caramel and toffee, vanilla, fruity hop bitterness, and tons of boozy bourbon.

Heavy bodied, medium carbonation, sweet, sticky, and some earthy bitterness.

Overall, while not rather pleasing in appearance, this is delicious.

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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
92 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.
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