De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Surly Bird) | De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)

very good
258 Ratings
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De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Surly Bird)De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Surly Bird)

Brewed by:
De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 06-14-2005

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Ratings: 258 |  Reviews: 111
Photo of ensign11
5/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of pigpen892
5/5  rDev +25.3%

Photo of Metalmonk
4.92/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Caged corked gives a MASSIVE >pop!!!< upon release.

Pours a hazy apricot juice color with a multitude of bubbles rushing to a soapy, large, extremely well-retained head. Sticky lace strata up and down glass.

The smell is divine. Horse-saddle leather, complete with sweat and all, balanced by rich fruit essences (pear, apple, plum, peach). Fragrant, dirty, earthy, sweet, pungent, and assertive. Pure excellence.

Compared to the Pig Nun version of this one, the Surly Bird seems to be more bitter, obviously a higher hops quotient than the Pig Nun. Otherwise it's just as expected. Fruit and yeast, beauty and beast, battling for control, both coming in first. Well-balanced, complex with nutmeg/coriander spices coming to mind, hiding the high alcohol well, and delivering a flavor that puts the yeast out front in the best way. Finish is dry and sour. A good match for what comes before it. A springy, buoyant, bubbly mouthfeel brings out the exotic sides of the flavor even further.

9% ABV be damned: this is highly drinkable. Seems right for all seasons, and could go with a variety of foods (though I prefer this one as its own stand-alone meal). I wish I could make this my everyday beer. Availability and good-sense dictate otherwise, but man, what a fantastic liquid.

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Photo of Sephiroth
4.85/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Recieved in trade from AlexJ. Thanks, man. Into a tulip it goes, the yeast staying at the bottom of the bottle. I swirled the bottle as soon as I made some room. The body is a cloudy golden yellow, with seemingly endless creamy looking foam. The aroma invites me to jump in. Funky, sweet and sour yeast. Earthiness.

The taste is complex and refreshing, no hint of the 9%ABV. Yeast driven light fruit, maybe kiwi-strawberry. A slightly sour, but definitely tart flavor comes next. Finishes crisp and clean, with a faint bitterness on the tongue. I am trying so hard not to guzzle.

Mouthfeel is of carbonated silk. Drinkability is a five. If you are't extremely disciplined, you'll have a bottle drained in half an hour, tops.

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Photo of twelvsies
4.82/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Is this any different from the Pig Nun version? I don't get it. I'm assuming the different labels mean slightly different versions, but I'm not sure. Had this one the other night at the Public House. Tasted pretty damn similar, and pretty damn amazing. This could be my new favorite beer, or perhaps just an affair from my first obsession, which would be Fantome. I'm not going to get too into it, because I feel like it is almost identical to the other version Pig Nun, which I already reviewed. But, it's incredibly floral, fruity, and slightly tart, yet still keeping an excellent light and airy dry mouthfeel. So good. So drinkable. So unique. I've check out a few other beers by this brewery (De Proef), and this guy, apparently a mad scientist/brewer, knows the deal. I have a bottle of the Spoon Whacker in the fridge which I plan on drinking later, and hopefully that will help me figure out if these beers are different or not. [Or, if you're one of those nice people who knows what they're talking about, maybe you'll beer mail me and clear this one up for me.] Either way, regardless of the painting on the label, this is up there with the best of the best in my opinion. Go get surly.

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Photo of goochpunch
4.77/5  rDev +19.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a slightly chill-hazed bronzed honey with a whipped egg white head that leaves beautiful lace of varying sized bubbles. Nose reminds me a lot of a French dry cider. Lots of apple (of course), mango, peach, apricot, pear, spiciness (in alcohol, hops, and yeast), and a definite funk that gives off hints of petting zoo and fungi. Flavor starts off with bright fruit juices with an accompanying acidity. The acidity drops off a bit in the middle, allowing a fungal brett character to show itself more. Hops come in the finish bringing lots of spiciness and some herbal tones as well as a solid bitterness that meshes well with the acidity and brett characteristics. Finishes dry. Mouthfeel is very light bodied and spritzy. Drinkability is really high. Excellent beer. Reminds me of a bigger version of Orval. Goes incredibly well with mole verde.

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Photo of slayer3604
4.69/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-FIZZY YELLOW BEER ;). Deliberately poured hard to see what this mother was capable of, and the head ripped up the side of the glass. Very nice 3 finger head that fell under a finger in under 2 minutes. nice. I gave it a 4 because the color is 'nice' but nothing special.

S- Funky straw smells, citrus, i can tell this is going to be a little spicy, and there is a sweet honey like flavour in the background that i like very much.

T- A rush of flavor including straw, funk, lemon zest, and a nice carpet of malt backbone, on top of a luxuriously smooth body.

M- Light, slightly refreshing, despite the boom of alcoholic perfume in the finish.

D- I'd drink this all day if i was rich.

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Photo of merlin48
4.67/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

NOTE: Beware of cork! After removing wire cage, cork begins moving to the top of the 750ml bottle right before your eyes. This magical presentation resulted in a small indentation in my living room wall. Please be careful!
Appearance: Served at cellar temperature into a St Bernardus goblet, the body is a slightly hazed, golden amber. Vigorous carbonation is so prevalent as to be a bit scary. Large and puffy offwhite head has forever retention and settles into a custard meringue at the top of the goblet. Wow! Nice looking.

Aroma: Fruity and musty aromas drench the room as soon as the cork explodes out of the bottle. Overripe peaches, fresh pineapple, watermelon rinds rotting in the garden compost pile, wet wool blanket, musty sleeping bag from twenty years ago, damp hay, freshly dug dandelions, a bouquet of spring flowers, and more funky, fruity, and floral/herbal notes than I can bring myself to envision. Lots going on here, to say the least.

Mouthfeel: Lively effervescent carbonation and a light medium to medium body. Mouthfeel is the most pedestrian character here.

Taste: Whew! So many layers of flavors here that it's difficult to begin a description. First, the 9% abv is nowhere to be found, until I try to type this review. A fruity character comes and goes at random intervals, strawberries, white grapes, pineapple, kiwi fruit, and melon. Hop bitterness is also random, with an assertive dry grassiness. Yeastiness is, by turns, chalky, musty, earthy, and very funky. Maltiness is bready at times, powdery on occasion. Break a twig off the nearest hardwood tree and chew on it for several seconds, and you will get a hint of the woodsy funk going on here. Vague spices come and go, as well. Finishes bittersweet, with a lasting funky hop bitterness. This is one wild ale!

Drinkability: This is the most exciting bottle of beer I've ever sampled. An excellent journey that is long and strange. Enjoy!

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Photo of MarioM
4.66/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

750 ml poured into RR stemmed glass.

A: Darkish yellow, huge white head with great lacing and carbonation. Large boubbles on the base and small smooth boubbles on top towards the center, and lingering for a while. This foam ain't going nowhears.

S: fruity funkiness with some minor tropical news but not much. Slight brettiness but more fruit and funk than the delicate pineapple character coming hrough. Damn though, hella interesting smelling and super excited at this point. It's almost like a super pungent cheese you can't wait to pop in your mouth and just enjoy and embrace the funk.

T: actually mutch more subtle than I would expect at the beginning. The middle has some good funk and ends with that same funkiness lingering with a good sweetness and malt character. Balance is really pleasant, fruit, Brett funk and bitterness are all spot on, damn hella goodness. I get some tropical fruits but not mutch, just enough to get you interested and make things complicated... Also slight musty and also get that traditional Brett horse blanket funk to the mix, really nice... Oh man, too mutch to mutch to contemplate on a single sitting. This brew has errthing going for it. Funky yet drinkable and balanced, YUM

M: Smooth, light and refreshing at the start then finishes dry and you start to get that booziness which remind you that this aints no traditional far worker saison/farmhouse but more of a drunks/lazy farmers' drank. Which would be my choice of drink. Carbonation is on the medium to high side and very traditional to the style.

O: Overall a must have, must buy when seen brew. There's one left at my local bottle shop and I'm now worris that some one else might go and buy this great brew. Definitely one of my new favorite saisons/farmhouse ales fo sho. A must buy if seen locally.

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Photo of rye726
4.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a hazy medium tan with a silky beige head. Has a huge complex nose. There is lots of damp, musky banyard funk, manure, tart fruits, spicy herbs with faint sweet candy malts.

The taste does not quite have the same undulation found in the aroma. It seems to be missing the tart tropical fruit component. It is quite good however. Bitter earthy flavors with some good oaky funk. The body is full yet crisp and refreshing. A fine brew indeed.

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Photo of EPICAC
4.63/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

purchased a 750 mL bottle of this at Downtown Wine & Spirits and served it in one of my Duvel tulip glasses.

Appearance: The cork hit the ceiling when I opened the bottle. Since the yeast is a compact layer on the bottom of the bottle this pours a brilliant, clear golden. The thick, white head fades slowly leaving patches of thick lace.

Smell: Medicinal phenols, Brett aromas, as well as some nice fruitiness, especially sour apples.

Taste: Fruitiness upfront including bananas, sour apples, which are present through the center before they meet a peppery and alcoholic spice. The finish is very strong on the Brett. There's some phenolic character as well as a nice persistent bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, high carbonation with some warming alcohol and a dry finish.

Drinkability: Crisp and very flavorful.

Overall: Very interesting. Fruity with a good dose of Brett.

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Photo of ikenney87
4.62/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber bottle. No date shown. Purchased in ND.

This has to be my favorite wild ale. However, this is the only version of Flemish Primitive that I can get my hands on; would love to try the rest of them.

In my experience, you have to let the ale warm up a bit, and swirl it around to release the carbonation, in order to get the best characteristics. I taste and smell lots of brettanomyces, including leather and some musty tropical fruits. There are both dry hay and fresh grass sensations. Like many wild ales, I pick up an undertone of what I can only describe as green olive or green olive juice. All of these smells and flavors are on a foundation of either Kix or Honeycomb cereal. I can't determine if this is caused primarily by the malt bill or if it is a combination of malt, hops, and yeast.
Even though the beer is amazing to drink, my favorite part is smelling the inside of my glass after taking the last sip. This is what dreams are made of, kids.

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Photo of ssato27
4.61/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Carefully poured, the "surly bird" delivers a clear yellow-gold body beneath a huge head of rocky bright-white foam. Effervescent bubbles can be seen rising quickly beneath; and the head retention is excellent. Add thick rings of sticky, foamy lace and you've got an impressive looking beer in front of you!

The nose superbly displays Brettanomyces characteristics (mineralish, leathery, acidic, musty, barnyard, definite "horseblanket") over a lightly sweet and fruity, candyish malt.

In the mouth it's light bodied, effervescent, and tingly on the tongue.

Sweet and fruity (berries, cherry, apple, orange), tangy, and candyish malt greets you up front, followed by some wet-hayand its earthy and mineral-like side. It's solid bitterness slices through at mid-palate, and some leafy and grassy - almost minty - hop flavors appear in the stunningly dry, dusty finish. A spritz of lemon rounds it out, and leaves it quite drinkable!

Kind of like a Duvel gone astray, this is very similar to the "Pig Nun", and one of the more accessible of the Flemish Primitive line; yet it still maintains a great Brettanomyces presence like the "Spoon Whacker'; and is, perhaps, the most drinkable of the lot. Superb!!!

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Photo of Budlum
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This ale pours with loads of carbonation that provides copious amounts of foamy, white head. Head retention is excellent to say the least as it never leaves. The body is a glowing, golden yellow. Very attractive.

The aromas of this brew are immediately floral, loaded with iris and hyacynthe. A smooth spice of cinnamon and allspice provide some warmth. Sweet aromas of brown sugar, butter and maple syrup balance the strong spiciness. The wild yeast is well represented by a funky smell at the end of each sniff.

Flavors of apricots and blood oranges start this tasty ale. The real qualities of this beer are in the hoppy and spicy flavors. Hops are very nicely presented throughout each sip. The spice characteristics consist of black pepper, curry, coriander, allspice and cumen. The spice flavors are endless as far as descriptions go and well balanced by sweet malty flavors and the persistent hops. Alcohol warms the mouth and stomach after each sip. Incredibly unique.

Mouthfeel is deliciously viscous and perfectly carbonated. A pleasure to sip.

Drinkability is nothing short of perfect. The price and availability makes this a tough choice for a daily beer. Overall, this is delicious and supremely quaffable.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Presentation: Full sized 750ml brown glass Belgium bottle that has a silver cage and black cap restraining its cork. The plain cork only has the code “FP 3 54 e” on it. The main label has the striking 16th Century Gothic art from Hieronymus Bosch. Stark, shocking and symbolic…the Surly Bird label has almost no information on it…adding yet more of a mysterious quality to this strange range of brews from De Proefbrouwerij. Listed at 9% ABV. Cost $9.99.

Appearance: Darkish golden pour has a hazed shredded marmalade golden sunset body like the Pig Nun. Humungous white head rises and rolls ever upwards like the mushroom cloud from an Atomic bomb. Settles to reveal a thick creamy cap which fills my Duvel glass to capacity. The head collapses very slowly to reveal a crusty lacing and a craggy surface. Softly dissolved fine tuned carbonation supports a solid conditioning. Superb presentation!

Smell: This one reminds me of that back-of-the-neck hair-raising experience I had when I first took the deep breath from my first ever Orval. Gorgeous funky Brett character, acidic dry hops, fruity and yet ever-so-delicately sweet. Light horseblanket, but nothing striking, flashes of alcohol and a reflective Cider Apple sharpness.

Taste: Wild Earthy tones run through this organic rural farmyard. Lots of Brettanomyces in this one, in fact several strains are used I believe, the depth of character and fruity bitterness in this one is a little bit more complex in nature from that which I recall in the Pig Nun. Bold bitterness and lots of fruity flavors slickly licks the edges of the horseblanket and yeasty crab apples.

Mouthfeel: Resplendent body, soft, smooth and yet impressively complicated. The texture is unforgettable – luxurious and a sheer pleasure to imbibe.

Drinkability: Exceptionally palatable and supremely brewed. If you have ever had the pleasure of sampling a range of aged Orvals and enjoyed them, then you will love the Surly Bird, it exhibits all the complexity of those Trappist monsters. Edit - References are often made to Duvel in Reviews here I note, this confuses me and is a misplaced reference for Surly Bird is nothing of the sort; this one is a Brother, quite literally, of the Trappist Orval.

Overall: Very little is actually known about the life of Hieronymus Bosch, strange given the striking nature of his paintings. Not much more is known about this brew either except that it is another variant of the Primitive Wild Ale which has 45 IBU’s and extra finishing hops. Striking stuff though!

Highly Recommended.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

My addiction to wild ales grows.

750 caged and corked.

A: Slightly hazy golden copper color. Minimal head. Spotty lacing.

S: Not as powerful a horse blanket as other edition in this series. Make no mistake this is a funkhouse. Some apples and other assorted harvest

T: Starts of with a slight sweetness then goes into the barn and stays there. Hell yes. Is this what being a beer geek ends in? Besides the farm it is a nice belgian pale behind it but the funk really dominated but it is not as strong as some of the other flemish primitive ales.

M: Nice medium body. Low carbonation in my bottle but that worked.

D: So drinkable. No hint of the 9%. Glad these made it into the area so I can always get my wild ale fix.

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Photo of fdig23
4.57/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Station Taproom in Downingtown.

Appearance: Bright shimmering golden color with a small fluffy white head

Nose: Nothing at first, but after a few swirls a very vibrant nose of apple juice, over-ripe pear, and wet basement funk came through.

Taste: Immediately apple juice comes to mind, followed by a funky baked apple, wet moldy concrete basement flavor. Finishes with a hint of amaretto and piney hops.

Mouthfeel: Light and slick with decent carbonation, nothing too exciting here.

Overall: Great wild ale with some of the underlying belgian golden ale characteristics still shining through the wild yeasts. The funk is definitely there but its perfectly in balance and never overwhelming. Very quaff-able for both a wild fermented and a 9% abv brew.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer poured into the chalice crystal clear pale golden straw with a huge white frothy head which was large bubbled and lasted well to slowly lace the glass as it retreated back to the surface. The cork tried to oust itself from the bottle over time as the bottle sat warming with the bail removed.

The aroma was earthy with an acidic bite. The farmhouse Belgian yeast was present in grand fashion with and estery profile and a dose of Brett. A light citrus aroma emerged as the head fell back.

The flavor was very interesting and complex. Was predicting a sour acidity and that was not the case at all. The flavor was fruity with a light citrus and a nice earthy hop presence which was nicely bittered and kept the malt at bay. There was a light Belgian yeast spice that included a peppery flavor and a Brett yeast character which was complex and well done.

The finish was dry with a lasting light peppery and earthy hop flavor and a light citrus very plesantly into the aftertaste. The body was medium and creamy with the carbonation level. A great beer!

750 ml corked and bailed bottle purchase at Sam's in Durham, NC. Looked for this beast for months and finally it shows up all over NC. Will wonders never cease! 45 IBU according to Shelon Bros site and extra finishing hops.

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Photo of numenor1
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First wild ale i've had.

Pours a hazy golen orange with a towering rocky head, laces in clumps an never fully disappears. Quite beautiful. Smells metallic, mineraly and with an unmistakable smack of banana pudding. Initially candy sweet estery fruits, banana, passionfruit, starfruit, with an undertone of acidic sourness. Then beautiful earthy spicy bitterness slowly wipes everything away. Ponderous. Mouthfeel is medium light, with effervescent carbonation. Very drinkable. Magnificent.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A satisfyingly loud POP! greeted my ears on cork extraction and was soon followed by the entry of this gorgeous beer into its glassy confines. Surly Bird is yeast-riddled brilliant gold with multiple streams of sparking bubbles hurrying up to a wonderful looking crown of ivory colored foam that is softly sticky, impossibly rocky and deposits thick ropes of lace on the upper reaches of the glass.

To the best of my knowledge, I haven't yet had a beer that contains Brettanomyces. I have had a few that smelled like this one though, so I could be wrong. Bring on the barnyard funk! It isn't hard for me to imagine that I didn't like this sort of aroma the first time that I smelled it, but all that really matters is that I love it now. The usual scents of malt and hops are barely detectable. Beer like this is all about the sour, spicy, off the wall, funktastic yeast.

Whoa, that first mouthful was a real doozy. *Wild* ale is right. This one is going to be a strap yourselves in, hold on tight, keep your eyes wide open, rollicking ride on the funkadelic train to funksville. I wish I could think of more ways to say funk because this is one of the funkiest beers that I've ever had and I funkin' love it.

Thankfully, the 800 lb. gorilla that is the yeast strain doesn't feel a need to crush everything within reach. There's still a fantastic malt-hop stew underneath it all. The semi-sweet blonde maltiness lays down a solid foundation and I can even appreciate the noble elegance of a considerable quantity of peppery, spicy, grassy hops.

There's a huge amount of depth and complexity here. I'm glad that I have 750 ml to become better acquainted with each one of the fascinating facets of funky fabulousness. The intense, sour tanginess of each mouthful is something to behold and dovetails perfectly with the crisp, snappy, ultimately dry finish. I like a little mellow alcohol flavor in my BSPAs... and that is just what De Proef has provided.

The mouthfeel is well within the bounds of the style, although it favors the lighter end of the spectrum. It still manages to be lightly, lushly silky and is an absolute pleasure in the mouth. I don't usually love generously carbonated beer, but this one wouldn't work nearly as well if the bubbles were reined in. The mouth party that is the flavor needs a suitably jazzy mouthfeel.

From the bizarre Hieronymous Bosch painting depicted on the bottle to the beer contained within that bottle, the Surly Bird version of the De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale series is quality personified. I can't wait to drink Pig Nun, Spoon Whacker, et al. The fact that they could all be this good boogles the mind.

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Photo of valkyre65
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of nickhiller
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of manaconn
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

Photo of tommy5
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%

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De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Surly Bird) from De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)
3.99 out of 5 based on 258 ratings.
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