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Pilgrim's Dole | New Holland Brewing Company

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very good
360 Reviews
Pilgrim's DolePilgrim's Dole

Brewed by:
New Holland Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

Style: Wheatwine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Summer

Notes / Commercial Description:
A barleywine-style ale made with 50% wheat malt (a wheatwine) aged in bourbon barrels.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 12-19-2003

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Reviews: 360 | Ratings: 808
Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, 2014 vintage bottling. Pours fairly crystal clear deep ruby red color with a small dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of caramel, molasses, brown sugar, toast, toffee, raisin, fig, date, vanilla, bourbon, oak, light pepper, and oak/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/bready malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. Light amount of booziness in the aromas, but not a bad thing. Taste of huge caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toast, toffee, raisin, fig, date, vanilla, bourbon, oak, light pepper, and oak/toasted earthiness. Light earthy oak/spicy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toast, toffee, raisin, fig, date, vanilla, bourbon, oak, light pepper, and oak/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity and robustness of dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and moderate dark fruit flavors; with an awesome malt/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and very full bodied; with a very creamy and fairly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warming present after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding barrel aged wheatwine style! All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and moderate dark fruit flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of bozodogbreath
4.4/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage poured into a Founders snifter.

A: A ruby red wine-like coloring. Dark enough that I cannot see through the glass. 4.5

S: Sweet, bourbon-y smell. Burnt sugar/molasses. Slight spicy note. 4.5

T: Caramel, bourbon, vanilla, complex and delicious. 4.5

M: Soft, full, mild alcohol bite. 4.0

O: A very satisfying brew. I will be spending more time with Pilgrim's Dole this winter than I have in the past.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.31/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle into a small snifter. The pour is deep, dark amber in color, very clear, and practically uncarbonated (common for barrel-aged beers). Very pleasant nose on this one. Lots of bready malt, rich bourbon, sweet vanilla, and toasted oak.

Medium-full body with an intensely sweet flavor. Lots of sugary treacle toffee notes up front and a good solid thump of bourbon at mid-palate. The bourbon intensifies towards the back of the palate and generates considerable alcohol warmth and boozy notes for the finish. It's not at all unpleasant as the booziness is tempered by a soft, gooey feel and sweet vanilla and oaky flavors. You definitely get that 12\%ABV on the finish, but the burn is welcome.

I've had one other bourbon barrel aged wheat wine and this one is noticeably superior to that one. It has many of the same characteristics as Founders Backwoods Bastard, but the bready notes are dialed down and the wheat imparts a softer feel and a faint hint of tartness. The next time I strike out trying to get Backwoods Bastard, I'll pick up this instead and be just fine. One of the beer guys at the bottle shop where I frequent made the comment that if this stuff had a Three Floyds label on the bottle, people would do crazy things to get it. He might be right about that.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.51/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Funky Buddha Brewery snifter. Back label says Vintage 2014.

A- Pours a rubyish dark amber color with a 1/4 inch tan head that retains decently before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and some wispy sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves small specs behind.

S- A lot of vanilla-y wood tones emanating from the glass. Very nice and without hardly any alcohol fume which is impressive.

T- Whoa, that is smooth. The barrel comes right through but only all the good parts, displaying the vanilla and oak in a beautiful context. How is this 12% ABV? The wheat sets the stage for all the other flavors to shine and there's a caramel sweetness intertwined throughout.

M- Creamy and soft with medium-low carbonation and a fullish body. Damn near perfect.

O- This is just amazing. So dangerously drinkable and enticingly delicious. I'm going to be seeking out a lot more Barrel-aged wheatwines after this.

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Photo of WesMantooth
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

$14 for a 4 pack of 12 oz. bottles.

Center poured into a teku glass. Small head disappears quickly. A very dark amber with a wine look to it.

Smells like caramel, toffee, vanilla, and a hint of bourbon.

A lot more bourbon in the taste, but nowhere near overpowering. Also get some vanilla, toffee, caramel, maybe honey. Not too sweet, but I think it does finish a hair hot, tart, and bitter. While it defiantly has english barleywine characteristics, it also drinks a lot like a barrel aged scotch ale a bit with the rich feel and malt. It doesn't scream 12% by any means, but still a sipper.

This is an excellent beer. Will be buying more.

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Photo of Gryphon69
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle 2014

A- Deep Amber in color, very small head that falls to a thin coating. Light lacing that quickly slides down the sides. Lots of very small bubbles up the sides of the glass.

S- Caramel and lots of it, malt, vanilla, honey, light molasses and brown sugars.

T- Malty, lots more bourbon than the nose, caramel sweet, finishs with some light alcohol burn.

M- Medium, slick, slightly fizzy with some alcohol burn.

O- I think its pretty good, not one your gonna slam down unless your a shot person. Looks real good, smells good and tastes good. Solid BA ale imo.

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Photo of jhartley
3.91/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a poco grande style glass. Vintage 2014.

Pours a crisp clear brown with barely a 1/2 fingers worth of head, dissipated quickly.

Smells of sweet malts, some vanilla and bourbon.

Starts out with a sweet barleywine sweetness (still not a fan of that), followed with some alcohol heat and then finished with a ginger like tingle on the tongue and that fills the mouth.

Finishes clean for a bourbon barrel aged beer it's not overly heavy, but that alcohol is definitely there and it's not a beer you can chug down; it's a sipper.

Overall I was surprised at how much I did like this beer, not overwhelmed but definitely not underwhelmed. Not a beer I would search out again in the future, however glad I was able to taste it. If barleywines are your thing, especially barrel aged ones, then you must try this out.

This was a gift from fellow BA jzeilinger, thanks again bro.

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Photo of n2185
3.51/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a clear copper with a finger of light tan head that fades into a thin ring with no lacing.

S: Lots of caramel and vanilla on the nose with honey, oak, and bourbon following through.

T: Caramel, vanilla, burnt sugar, a bit of honey and oak, and a fair amount of bourbon. The finish is sweet and boozy.

M: Medium-thick body with low carbonation, this beer is sticky sweet and slick while avoiding being watery.

O: A solid beer, overall. Not terribly complex and a little too boozy, but still good.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: Pours a mostly clear medium reddish brown in color with light to moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass slowly and moderate amounts of dark amber highlights. The beer has a quarter finger tall foamy light tan head that reduces to a mottled thin film covering the majority of the surface of the beer and a medium thick ring at the edges of the glass. Very light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate aromas of toffee and caramel sweetness from the malts and some light hints of vanilla, bourbon, and oak.

T: Upfront there are moderate to strong flavors of sweet dark malts with moderate amounts of toffee and caramel sweetness. There are light amounts of vanilla with moderate amounts of oak and stronger bourbon notes. Hints of alcohol in the finish.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Moderate amounts of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: Might be the first barrel-aged wheatwine that I have tried and it worked really well, somewhat tempering the sweetness of wheatwines and adding to the complexity of the flavors. Enjoyable and definitely a good sipping beer. Alcohol is present but not overpowering.

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Photo of Smokesnotes
4.46/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: nice deep amber color, no head

S: fantastic. Bourbon & vanilla

T: strong vanilla up front. Wheat wine comes through in the middle, slight bitter end. Hides the 12% pretty well.

M: starts heavy then a tingle

O: really good. A surprise to just find on the shelf never hearing of it before. Highly recommend trying it of you like bourbon barrel aged beers. And who doesn't.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.94/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Can't remember who I need to thank for this one, though I think it's bertram...

A. Pours a deep, clear, dark copper color. A half finger of beautiful, consistent, light tan head pops up. Head retention is solid at a quarter finger with decent lacing.

S. Expressive caramel and treacle notes. Stone fruits of cherry and roasted fig. Toffee and subtle notes of chocolate around the edges. Barrel presence is there, but it takes on more of a brandy or sherry note...not a bourbon blast at all. This smells warm and inviting, like a freshly baked caramel tart.

T. Huge malt up front, with chocolate, caramel, and loads of toffee. A subtle nuttiness in the flavor profile also. Fairly substantial brandy/sherry flavors with a soft, buttery backbone. A big, thick malt base...like biting into a husk of pumpernickel. Finish is rather tannic and boozy, with a big dry blast of alcohol on the back end, which I assume is the bourbon barrel.

M. Low carbonation and absolutely packed with the aforementioned flavors, but it falters on the finish, which is too dry, too tannic, too boozy. Doesn't completely ruin the experience, but it certainly detracts from what came before.

O. This is an impressive barrel-aged wheat wine. The malt bill here is complex and hearty, a fantastic showcase of different malt flavors. In fact, everything is really top notch until the finish...this bottle has at least a year on it and the finish is still way too boozy and hot. It fails to stick the landing, but that doesn't diminish the fact that this is a strong wheat wine regardless. Pilgrim's Dole is, however, the rare instance where barrel aging diminished as opposed to improved the beer.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.14/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25


Very clean yet exceptionally striking in its ruby complexion it poured with a stiff khaki head that had nice retention.

The nose is somewhat tempered but after some exploration the aromas begin to become much stronger. The wheat malt graininess is very evident along with chocolate, toffee, vanilla, caramel, oak, sweet bourbon, tea leaf and raisin.

The flavor is full of butterscotch, toffee, Werthers candies, brownie, light chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and the woodsy oakiness of the barrel.

The feel is full, somewhat thick with a bit of alcohol heat.

I actually went into this a bit skeptical but it served very well as an after dinner dessert and an over all great beer.

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Photo of Davepoolesque
4.06/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2013. Light in body, caramel in color with little to no head. Huge vanilla smell in the front, caramel sweetness, toffee, bourbon and burnt sugar. Basically tasted like a BBA English Barleywine, except maybe a little less sweet. Slightly under carbonated, took a little away from the taste. Really well done wheatwine that I was happy to drink, but would have loved to have had this aged. I think 2 years would do wonders for this beer.

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Photo of richj1970
4.24/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz bottle into taster glass.

A: Medium to dark brown at first, but has not some red tones when held to the light. A smallish one finger head and minimal lacing.

S: Bourbon, caramel, vanilla, biscuits, banana, and a bit of spice.

T: This one has a nice sweetness up front. Big caramel and toffee notes combined with a ready quality. A little bourbon bite at the end.

M: Thick and a bit of a syrup quality, but not coingly sweet. A little light on the carbonation but not unexpected for a barrel aged brew with 12% ABV.

O: Probably my first wheat wine, but I enjoyed it completely. Reminds me a bit of Backwoods Bastard or North Coast Old Stock.

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Photo of barczar
4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 vintage.

Pours a brilliant deep brown that shines as ruby when held to the light. The frothy khaki head lingers.

Bourbon, vanilla, raisins, prunes, and figs erupt from the glass. There's a hint of dark cherry, along with molasses. Awesome! A metallic note surfaces late, putting a damper on aroma.

Flavor reveals a sweet, deeply caramelized malt backbone, with raisins, dates, and bourbon notes throughout. The finish is oaky and slightly dry. Very boozy, but the esters counter nicely. Hints of chocolate and nuts emerge in the aftertaste. A vinous note and hop bitterness surface late.

Body is a touch full, with fairly low carbonation. Alcohol warmth is substantial.

I've had this in the past, but it's been a while. Very complex beer. Of course, it's pretty hot, but great esters and bourbon character. May need to age a bottle.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.48/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown in color with just a faint trace of white foam barely covering any of the top of the beer. Faint aroma of pale wheat is present. Brussels lacing. The body is somewhat thick,but is much less formidible than the Founders Sweet Repute I had just finished. The taste is dark wheat and fades very quickly. This is an easy going Wheatwine if there is such a thing.

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Photo of HardTarget
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Murky deep brown glass drops the short flash of a head without much pretense. I may see a trace of the alcoholic vapor drifting off of it.

Smell: Heady alcohol on a firmly toasted grain base. Comes across as a bit like a Belgian Quad with a candy sugar beet fuel source.

Taste: Hot. Jet fuel alcohol blazes quickly, there is a lot of grain left over after the yeast topped out, so there is a residual sweetness, with a dark fruit jam flash before everything burns away.

Mouthfeel: Numbing, black crisp dry, viscous.

Overall: I may have jumped the gun with this one. It seems an excellent candidate for aging I'll get a large water back and nurse this through the night and enjoy, but I'm worried about having it near an open flame.

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Photo of krustster
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

At first glance it appears dark brown, but once held up to the light it turns out to be a very deep and completely clear red, almost like a garnet. Medium size sticky head that fades to a thin creamy layer which sticks around for a long time, lots of greasy lacing around the glass. Very pretty and somewhat mysterious looking.

Smell is thick with booze, caramel, some bourbon, rich glazed pastry/pie, and an almost banana-like scent. Super sweet nose, really kind of intimidating, maybe a bit too heavy on the sweetness/booze.

The taste is actually more complex and balanced than the super-sweet scent lets on. The booze is quite a bit lower in the actual taste, and the bourbon barrel comes out a lot better. There's more of the caramel, syrup, dessert quality, but it's balanced out with huge, bready malt flavor and lingering bitterness on the finish. The sweetness is still very powerful. In fact when I reviewed Sweet Repute I compared it to this beer, and upon tasting Pilgrim's Dole again I believe it's a bit sweeter than that one. It's RIGHT on the edge of being too sweet, cloying.... but the bitterness and bread taste keep it in check just enough. Very, very precariously balanced.

Palate is super thick, syrupy, coating, all that. I'd expect nothing less from a beer of this nature. As with the taste, it's inching towards the line that separates "big" from "gross" but manages to stop just short. Last time I had this I remembered a lot more alcohol heat which was mildly sickening combined with the sweetness, but tonight it's very low, especially for a 12 percenter. As with other similar beers it seems that letting it warm up calms it significantly. I would imagine it was too cold before. In fact right now, as I drain the glass, I'm finding that the last few sips are actually the best so far. I would recommend serving this at close to room temp as the flavors open up and the palate becomes much more welcoming.

Overall, at $10 a four pack (I feel like this was a pricing mistake by the store I got it from but who knows) this is a steal. It's no Backwoods Bastard, and technically it's not even the same style, but the taste and characteristics are quite similar. If this is more readily available to you, or if you just haven't given it a shot yet, please go for it. It's a huge, sweet, complicated beast for what may as well be a bargain basement price.

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Photo of Pizzawingsbeer
4.8/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

An incredible Bourbon Barrel aged barlerwine. The flavor of bananas and some yeast bread are over powering but the cloying "collapsing mouthfeel "when you are swallowing a huge beer. It is definitely the best barley wine I have ever had. I am going to assume I didn't get the bourbon aged. My keg is yeast and barley and mush and stuff! It is awfully good though.


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Photo of SerialTicker
3.99/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on-tap at Hop Cat... $3 for a tulip during Happy Hour? What a steal. I didn't order this one myself, but had a few sips of it... a few very memorable sips.

Appearance: A ruby sort of color with a surprising little head on it with some patchy lacing. Looks good, but not the beer's greatest attribute.

Smell: Phew! Bourbon and vanilla. Caramel. Wow, that is potent. Dark fruits, perhaps, but the bourbon, vanilla, and caramel are most prominent, for sure.

Taste/feel: Backwoods Bastard, in a sense... but this is a bit more harsh with the alcohol/not quite as smooth. Pretty significant bourbon character with a pretty hot finish. Vanilla, caramel, and dark fruits throughout the sip. This is actually a pretty excellent beer, though it definitely could have used a bit more time in the barrel, yet a bit less of a bourbon character. Needs some mellowing. Not as well crafted as Backwoods in my opinion, but still pretty awesome. Obviously, being different styles, this beer does have a VERY slight tartness to it.. by slight, I mean slight. It's not like the other Wheatwines I've had before for the most part, but then again, those weren't poured into a bourbon barrel.

I don't generally jump up and down about New Holland, but they impressed me quite a lot with this one.

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Photo of stortore
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 12 ounce bottle into a snifter.

Pours a nice looking garnet color, with a small head, some cling. Smell brings malt, caramel, brown sugar, bourbon, cherries. Kind of get some strawberry after it's warmed. Taste is a little malt forward, with a good amount of cherries. Also bourbon, more than expected for the age, caramel, vanilla, oak, brown sugar. A little boozy. Solid body, pretty smooth, nice level of carbonation.

Really good beer, and this bottle has held up pretty well for at least two years. Good depth of flavor, really effectively barrel aged. One you should try, if you can.

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Photo of Beerlover
4.55/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

acquired this on my hunt for bourbon county, was recommended by the friendly knowledgable staff at haskells, thanks Tim! I haven't really been a big fan of new Holland before, there beers being too sweet or nothing special, lets see if this can break those low expectations
A: clear amber brown in color with a half inch thick off white head, looks mediumly carbonated .
S: smells sweet but not overly sweet, getting some brown sugar/raisiny with a malty backbone doesn't smell too much like a wheat beer
T: this is awesome!!! definitely going back for a four pack! I wonder how old this is cuz I bet im drinking it at its peak, wow this stuff has some complexity... all the aromas come out in the taste in perfect balance, sweet but not overly by any means and I think this is helped by the booziness, noticeable but far from what I would guess 12% taste more like 8 to 9, and no burn at all. wow again
O.A.: I might have to try the offereings I've had from these guys again just based on this, at least the dragons milk....

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Photo of JamesMN
3.89/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

No intelligible date on the bottle but I don't worry about that with this style of beer. Likely this years release.

Appearance: A deep chestnut brown with hints of mahogany and superb clarity. Thin cap of light tan suds.

Aroma: Toasted caramel, raisins, figs, and other dried fruits. There isn't really much alcohol in the nose but there is an underlying liqueur presence.

Taste: Like drinking liquid caramel mixed with all the flavor of trail mix and bourbon. Pilgrim's Dole starts with a burst of thick caramel malt that slowly lends drunken raisin, vanilla, and oak to the flavor. The finish is leaves a light alcohol burn that rekindles the other flavors in the aftertaste and adds some surprising hop bitterness. At 12% ABV its among the strongest beers I've had and it shows in the flavor.

Mouthfeel: More than full it body, it's one of the thickest beers I've ever had. Like drinking a milkshake, which is to say it has low carbonation and below average drinkability. But such things come with the territory. Though I couldn't detect the wheat in the flavor it may be what is allowing for such a smooth mouthfeel.

Final Thoughts: Wow what a big beer. I'm no stranger to barleywines and big ABVs but Pilgrim's Dole really takes the cake for being like, well… drinking a cake. Definitely a sipper, which is good because it allows the flavors to develop as it warms. Nice use of bourbon barrels. This one is only for the serious beer geek. You have been warned. Would I drink it again? Yes, I imagine it ages quite nicely as well.

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Photo of DrDemento456
3.81/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A - Ow f yeah! Syrup thick with a solid 1/2 inch of head. Beer itself is clear deep ruby red brown and the head has a nice mocha tint.
S - Vanilla and toffee sweetness. Has some vegital notes but mostly smooth bourbon in moist wood.
T - Bourbon is there not very strong smooth then I get a harsh woody vegital tone that taste like burnt ash. The finish is again sweet. Revisit is about the same very bitter herbal taste which kind of kills the bourbon tone. Maybe wheat? ABV is well hidden which is nice.
M - Smooth and thick with a well hidden ABV.

Overall I am not sure what to think maybe they should have just bourbon barreled the whole beer? The finish product seems good but it could be better...

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Photo of QuentinCall
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

It's like the first time you ate scuppernongs or sauteed veal brains. And you sat staring at them, even while understanding their relation to more familiar foodstuffs, trying to quantify or appropriately grasp their dynamic, utterly post-modern approach to your concepts of consumption. While it is a jarring, enlightening experience, at some point though, you are obliged to simply be grateful for the paradigm shift and carry on addressing your new discovery.

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Pilgrim's Dole from New Holland Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 808 ratings.
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