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Vanilla Noir | Prairie Artisan Ales

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Vanilla NoirVanilla Noir

Brewed by:
Prairie Artisan Ales
Oklahoma, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial Stout Aged in Oak Whiskey Barrels with Vanilla Beans

Added by HopsMatt on 12-11-2013

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Reviews: 96 | Ratings: 753
Photo of carrionricardo
1/5  rDev -75.6%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

INFECTION CITY. THIS ONE WAS A VANILLA BOMB WHEN I FIRST HAD IT BUT 3 month later metal,funky,highly carbonated in all it's glory INFECTION!!!
Smells of wet penny's
Appearance was black with a huge head very over carbed
Taste was terrible,like a 20year old Hershey kiss wrapped in cast iron
Overall just want to get the word out.

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Photo of nc41
1.12/5  rDev -72.7%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

The worst craft offering I've ever had. Bmc stuff is bland this was just bad. Worst nose on any beer I've ever had, tasted medicinal more than anything. Really a drain pour of a beer with no redeeming values. Mediocre would be a huge leap. Vanilla? Where?

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Photo of Wayne17
2/5  rDev -51.2%

Appearance - Dark Brown, not much of a head to speak of
Smell - Vanilla for sure, metal, brett, dark roasted malts, hint of bourbon
Taste - Metallic, funky, hint of vanilla
Mouthfeel - Thin for a stout but I don't mind that, medium carbonation
Overall - Had 2 bottles and once on tap and every time it smelled and tasted strongly of brettanomyces. I'm sure that was not intended and it really distracted me from trying to pin point any other flavors really. I hope they attempt this one again so that I might get to experience the brewers intended beer. Until then I can only rate based on my experience (x3).

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Photo of mothman
2.03/5  rDev -50.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 1 | overall: 2

Tan head with some lace. Color is black.

Flavor profile: Fairly roasted. Has a burnt like tar flavor. Reminds me of Mikeller black hole beers which all suck. Vanilla is no where to be found. The barrel flavors are very faint because of all the flavors that I don't like in this beer. Cigar smoke in the aftertaste. Just not enjoyable.

Moutfeel: Roasted and burnt. Full bodied.

Overall, I don't like this beer at all. The worst prairie beer I have had yet.

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Photo of HouHopHead
2.47/5  rDev -39.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served in a snifter and allowed to warm for 5 to 10 minutes

A - Almost black with a mocha head

S - The vanilla is overwhelming, almost like vanilla extract. Did not get much bourbon in the nose

T - Again, the vanilla dominates, can not really tell it was barrel aged

M - A little thin for a RIS.

O - I could not get beyond the strong vanilla nose and taste. I know vanilla is in the name of the beer, but for me, it should be a subtle addition and complement the malt and barrel components. It did drink smooth, the ABV is quite masked overall.

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Photo of Rifugium
2.9/5  rDev -29.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

Bottle poured into a purple-logo Prairie bell tulip. Room temperature. Dark brown-black color, topped with a foamy tan head that receded to a thick ringlet, lacing the glass; some floaties in suspension, possibly vanilla "seeds"? After breathing for a while, there was a good amount of vanilla in the aroma, sweet, with undertones of roasty malts, and something vaguely herbal. The taste was kind of a let-down. Roasty malts up front, raw cocoa bitterness, vegetal, earthy, fusel alcohol, vanilla bean as a distant afterthought, somewhat drowned out by the roast, bitterness, and booze. Also a slight sour milk component that seemed to indicate it was on the way to infection. Regardless, it was way too bitter for a stout. Mouthfeel was boozy and somewhat thinned out, drying; body was medium. Overall okay, but nothing special.

Don't ask what I traded for this one...I should've known better.

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Photo of mbmiche
3.09/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Infected unfortunately. Still some vanilla and decent base. Mildly sour with a dark bitter aftertaste. Probably really solid if you get a good one!

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Photo of ThickNStout
3.11/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Silver wax capped 12oz bottle from BeerMeDuffMan (thanks man!). No bottle/batch date but I believe this was a late 2013 release. Served in a Burnt Hickory snifter.

It may be worth mentioning that there was a significant amount of rust on the cap and I fear it was also brown rust sediment that I wiped from the mouth of the bottle. Pours plack with a finger and a half dark khaki head that fades pretty quickly. Almost no lace.

Overall a good aroma. Vanilla, slight oak barrel, roast and a faint "offness".

Flavors seem inconsistent. They come in waves, not all of them positive. Bitter burnt roast, slightly off barrel funk, vanilla bean, cocoa, semi sour dark fruit, charred coffee grounds and a little alcohol. I never detected any flavors that I would call whiskey. Admittedly there is very little perceivable booze and an authentic, pleasing vanilla but the lack of whiskey character, near over-bearing bitterness of the burnt roast and (worst of all) the notes of sour barrel funk keep this from coming close to what I think it could/should be.

Chalky, medium full feel with mild carbonation. Bitter, slight funk and mild vanilla aftertaste.

While I applaud the authentic vanilla flavor, which is what I was most looking forward to, this was a fail. No hint of whisky, overly bitter and an unfortunate semi sour funk that really detracted fromy enjoyment. A missed opportunity by Prairie and a real shame.

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Photo of Nostrajonus
3.2/5  rDev -22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Not going to review in detail, something is wrong. I have had this on tap at both Mcnellies and Republic prior to this experience with a bottle of Vanilla Noir; both times, it was fucking awesome. I don't know if this a bad batch or if something went fowl during the bottling process, but something is not right. There is a peculiar sour taste that was not present in the kegged offering, and a funky carbonation that is all bad. The beer looks great, the beer smells great, but the beer tastes very poor. I will come back and give this beer a 5/5 once i can get a hold of a bottle that is untainted. Prairie makes exceptional brews and I expect better from them.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.24/5  rDev -21%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

375 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Black with some transparency. Small khaki head.

Smell - Tons of vanilla. Milk chocolate. A little bit of barrel, but not a ton.

Taste - Vanilla right up front. Dark chocolate. Oaky. There's a sharp, almost green pepper flavor. Off-putting.

Mouthfeel - Well carbonated. Medium body.

Overall - The aftertaste isn't pleasant, but it does smell incredible.

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Photo of gcamparone
3.41/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Prairie Dino Glass.

Pours a deep brown, opaque body with a chocolate colored head that reduces slowly and leaves nice retention and lacing.

The aromas definitely indicate infection, lacto, funk, sour grapes, some coffee and chocolate.

On the tongue.. well, it's infected. If this were a sour stout I'd rate it as such, but tonight I was expecting a rich, vanilla forward imperial stout. Instead I got tart cherries, funk, leather, coffee, chocolate, no vanilla.

Mouthfeel is thin, which I'm assuming is due to infection. Medium carbonation.

Honestly this wouldn't have been a terrible American Wild or sour stout, but that wasn't the original intention and there's really no vanilla or heavy stout character here.

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Photo of cjoc83
3.49/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle with grey wax recieved in a trade from my man Jon in Texas. Thanks a bunch dude!

A - Pours jet black with a light to moderate viscosity into my Ommegang tulip. Light pour brings about a hefty 3 finger mocha colored head that doesn't stick around long and leaves no lace as expected. Appears over-carbonated and a bit thin.

S - The nose seems kind of muted... Definitely big vanilla notes front and center, with some roasted malt, cocoa powder, slight chocolate. The whiskey and barrel character is there, but you have to dig for it. Hmm.

T - Some slightly bitter coffee and big vanilla sweetness hit the tongue first, giving way to roasted malts, brown sugar, and powdery cocoa before finishing off with more vanilla, and some slight whiskey and charred oak. Nicely balanced, but the flavors are a bit subdued, they don't pop like you would expect in an imperial stout to. I was expecting more from a barrel aged stout, especially one with such a high rating.

M - Creamy, a bit over-carbonated though. A little thin for the 11.5 abv. On the upside it's quite easy drinking. Alcohol is well masked.

O - Nice stuff, but not without some glaring flaws. I would have liked more barrel character and the mouthfeel left a lot to be desired. Vanilla notes are great, and it's well balanced, but there's definitely room for improvement. A nice quaff but not worth the $8 price tag. Hopefully Coffee Noir is a bit better.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.5/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with appealing label art and grey wax-ed over pry-off pressure cap acquired at a local TX bottle shop and served into an Avery stem-tulip in me low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are sky high as I loved Prairie Noir and my opinion of Prairie/Krebs as a brewery keeps rising and rising. Reviewed as an imperial stout because the label clearly identifies it as such. 11.5% ABV according to the bottle. Distributed by the Shelton Bastards.

Served chilled and allowed to come to room temperature over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of nice khaki colour. Nice thickness and creaminess. Has a smooth even complexion and a fairly full and somewhat soft consistency. Head retention is average (but pretty good for the high ABV) - about 4 minutes. Great even lacing coats the sides of the glass as the head recedes, but little sticks and holds.

Body colour is a predictable opaque solid black - almost a jet black. No floating yeast particles are visible. Appears well-carbonated.

Overall, it's an appealing appearance for the style and I'm looking forward to the first sip, but it's far from unique or special and I've certainly seen better. There are no obvious flaws.

Sm: Oak tannins and strange whiskey dominate the aroma. The whiskey doesn't seem very high quality, and doesn't have much spiciness or evocative character. Cream, dark malts, chocolate malts, and maybe light caramel. I strain to find vanilla bean and barely can; it's quite restrained and reticent - to the aroma's detriment. In any case, it's a nicely sweet if fairly timid aroma which suggests a silky full-flavoured brew. I'm absolutely looking forward to the first sip, though I do wish the aroma were a bit more evocative and compelling. I search for roasted barley - a favourite note in stouts - and can't find it.

No yeast character, overt alcohol, hop profile, or off-notes are detectable. Aroma is of below average strength.

Mf: Nicely smooth up front, bordering on silky - but it soon switches to an unbecoming coarseness which comes off a bit rough on the palate. Well-carbonated. A bit dry - strangely so for a vanilla imperial stout. Has a surprisingly light presence on the palate; I'd even go so far as to say it lacks sufficient body and isn't thick or heavy enough. Could be creamier and softer.

Not gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, oily, or harsh.

Overall, the texture isn't an ideal complement to the taste, and there's ample room for improvement.

T: Chocolate, chocolate malts, cream, light caramel sweetness, and dark malts comprise the bulk of the flavour profile. The notes which should be best - the vanilla, oak, and whiskey - are the most faint. The vanilla is way too reticent, though that note does seem to arise from genuine vanilla bean - not some vanillicin extract or from bourbon. I don't find any whiskey spice, but I do pick up on a low quality whiskey taste. I really have to dig to find the oak, and when I do I'm underwhelmed - this is not the toasty rich oak wood character I hoped for. Overall, I'm not sure the barrel notes are necessarily an improvement on the base beer, and they hardly come through at all which is frustrating. Ideally, barrel aging is used to coax out/complement the subtleties and nuances of the base flavour profile, but that isn't happening here. I also don't find much roast/roasted barley, which is personally disappointing.

For an imperial stout - let alone a barrel aged vanilla imperial stout - this is rather simple and lacks intricacy. There's some subtlety here, sure, but the flavours feel closed off and unevocative. Lacks (relative) complexity and nuance as a result. Below average depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour.

That said, it does have a nice balance to it, and the sweetness is just right.

Dr: This is an extremely drinkable imperial stout for its high ABV, and while I'm enjoying it, I'm not loving it. Frankly, I think the regular Noir is a lot better. I think they used the barrel aging and vanilla bean components more as marketing ploys than well-executed alterations to the already great base brew. When you make the beer worse using more expensive methods, you know you've failed. I'll easily kill this bottle alone and I'm enjoying every sip, but I honestly wouldn't buy it again unless a source I trust identified a substantial quality increase from batch to batch. This is pretty good stuff, but isn't Prairie's strongest work. I expected a lot better given how good regular Noir is. I wouldn't recommend this to friends or trade partners per se at this price point, but it's nice stuff.

High B-

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Photo of champ103
3.53/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A: Pours an opaque black color. A massive khaki head rises to well over two fingers. The foam gently recedes to a ring that sticks throughout. Lacing coats the glass all the way down.
S: Vanilla beans, light roast, light barrel, light everything but a big vanilla sweetness. A bit of a soapy aroma which seems odd and out of place.
T: Again, big vanilla sweetness. Which is nice. Though that overpowers everything else. A bit of roast, and a slick and oily soapy flavor.
M/D: A full, slick and soapy body with higher carbonation than I would like for the style. Maybe even a bit thin. How can an 11.5 ABV stout be on the thin side? The alcohol presents is not particularly intense. Really, and easy sipper for such a big beer.

A nice stout, but nothing all that special. Especially considering the many other superb offerings Prairie makes. A little one sided, and almost boring. Which is unusual for this brewery. No infection issues for me, not sure if that was just a rumor or if there is any teeth to that. Not bad, but overall, meh.

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Photo of CaptCleveland
3.78/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into Hoppin' Frog snifter. A big thanks to frenchblood21!

Opaque, black elixir, thick two-finger mocha head, lacing all over the place.

The first whiff gets you huge barrel and not much else. Further olfactory inspection reveals mild vanilla, subtle char and sweet malt.

The barrel predominates, not much whiskey, but just wood. Sweet malt and vanilla. A bit of a mess.

Over carbonated with medium-light body; sticky.

A bit disappointing when compared to their other selections. A nice extra, tho.

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Photo of Florida9
3.8/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: Fully opaque black in color. Forms a very large, bubbly, deep, dark tan colored head. Pretty good retention, as it eventually falls to a thick crema-like head. Some moderate lacing.

S: Aroma is different. A good different, but different none-the-less. First hit is the whiskey barrel. Whiskey and wood. Then there is a vinous quality, much like red wine. Coffee, dark malts, mild sweetness and a hint of vanilla.

T: The taste starts off much like the aroma. Whiskey dominates the flavor over everything else. Unfortunately, the whiskey has a harshness to it and is not at all smooth. Some dark malts and burnt coffee. Reminiscent of an Irish Coffee. Some very light vanilla notes. Alcoholic.

M: Full bodied, but feels quite a bit thinner than it should. Alcoholic heat. Mild bitterness. Harsh, scratchy, and rough around the edges.

O: Well this is an interesting beer if nothing else. Certainly not the world class beer I was expecting, but it is an interesting blend of flavors. Unfortunately the whiskey is harsh and abrasive - exactly how you don't want whiskey to be - which translates to a beer than was likely smoother and more cohesive before it hit the barrel than when is came out.

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Photo of kingston2
3.83/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not bad but not up to par with PB and BB. A bit thin and a bit astringent. Not as big a mouthfeel as the others. Vanilla which usually wins me over in these stouts misses the mark jus a bit in this one. Don't think it was infected but just seemed off a bit.

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Photo of Pete_IV
3.84/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I know to not rate beers that are really not at their premium but this infected vanilla is quite tasty. I could only imagine a clean bottle. A little funk makes this heavy stout quite smooth

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Photo of tpgraham
3.85/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally got around to opening one of these up. No sign of infection or rust on the inner cap. Only aroma from the bottle is vanilla.

A - Pours opaque black, as expected. A thin tan head that recedes fairly quickly. Pure darkness.

S - Mostly vanilla with a hint of oak barrel (no bourbon) and a touch of roastiness.

T - Vanilla leads the way on this one. Finishes with a little bit of roasted flavor and oak. Nice, but nothing compared to their other offerings. Small amount of bitterness on the side of the tongue.

M - Thinner than expected considering the style. I would put it at medium. I am surprised by the carbonation that finishes and the heat in the throat.

O - A solid offering but I will always take Coffee Noir or Bomb! over this.

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Photo of inlimbo77
3.86/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz, silver wax
Deschutes TEKU

A: pours a deep brown but glass is black. Lots of carbonation. Two full fingers of light tan head. Sticks around a while. Lacing sheeting.

S: lots of sweet vanilla malt, almost milk shake like. Really masks any true bourbon heat. Smells delicious. Light roast.

T: bitter chocolate. Don't know if it's infection, or just odd metallic flavors. Vanilla bean is there underneath it all. More booze than from the nose. Lingers on the back of the palate and throat. Vanilla bean on the tongue for a while.

M: full bodied. Creamy mouthfeel.

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Photo of zac16125
3.88/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Prairie Vanilla Noir
12oz bottle into a snifter
no bottling dates

Thanks to Narthax for sending this one over via trade

A: Pours opaque black with 1.5 fingers width of tan colored head which has good retention and leaves lots of lacing.

S: Coffee, milk chocolate, a nutty character, and lots of vanilla. Barrel notes are fairly subtle but are present with a whiskey booze aroma, and I also get some vinous dark fruit notes. Really like the big vanilla character here.

T: Chocolate, roasty, lots of vanilla. Barrel notes with oak and an almost harsh whiskey character. Some bitterness.

M/D: Full bodied, moderate carbonation, ABV well restrained but overall a bit harsh which limits drinkability.

O: Overall, not bad but a bit disappointing. Worth a try though.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.94/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to mrbubbler for sharing this one at GRG1313's tasting.

Pours an almost opaque super dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, cocoa, and vanilla bean aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa and vanilla flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a nice vanilla presence all around.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color ale with a large brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of vanilla and roasted malt notes with some light coffee notes and bourbon. Taste is also dominated by roasted malt notes with plenty of coffee and vanilla with nice bourbon finish. Body is full with nice rich creamy body with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Smooth drinking with plenty of complexity but I still think I prefer the chiles in the original version.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Shared by Sasha - thanks.

Silver/grey wax on a 12 ounce bottle.

A: Pours black with a solid 1" tan head which fades slowly and leaves a few spots of lace.

N: Whiskey, vanilla, roast, oaky.

T: Boozy, oaky, roasty, whiskey with vanilla. Slightly sweet.

M: Full body and medium carbonation. Rich, roasty, vanilla and whiskey soaked finish.

O: If you like your whiskey a little bit sweet with vanilla, then this is for you. Not for me.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.03/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours out black. Chocolate milk colored head. Stout base is redolent of chocolate and coffee aromas. The nose hints at vanilla, and has a pronounced bourbon barrel character. The flavor has big roasted malts, although I don't get an outright coffee flavor or chocolate. Vanilla comes out more in the flavor than in the smell. Bourbon barrel gives a bit of sour-ish heavy oak. Mouthfeel is full, smooth, and creamy. This is solid, but I'm not crazy about the barrel and vanilla combo on this one.

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Vanilla Noir from Prairie Artisan Ales
4.1 out of 5 based on 753 ratings.
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