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

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110 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 110 | Ratings: 253
Photo of mdfb79
3.16/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From 06/25/11 notes. Picked this up at a store in NJ, but unsure of the vintage. The place has random Belgian vintages going back to 1991m so I'm guessing this is an older bottle. Poured from a 750ml bottle into my Bruery tulip.

a - Pours a cloudy dark amber color with one finger of fluffy white head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sweet fruit, bready malts, and cardboard. Seems like it may be a bit past its prime.

t - Tastes of sweet fruity malts, cardboard, msuty notes, bready malts. Again, past it's prime.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Pretty smooth and easy to drink.

o - A bit disappointing as it is definitely a shell of its former self; I'm guessing it is a pretty old bottle. Would like to have fresh sometime.

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Photo of crossovert
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle.

Upon uncorking it is a slow gusher. It pours a murky gold with a TON of sediment. It appears to be yeast particles. The head is ivory white and holds surprisingly well though it doesn't give much lacing.

This one has a definite must to it, along with Jolly Pumpkin's Lambicus Dexteris, this is one of the funkiest intentionally funky beers I have smelled. Candied vomit anyone? At any rate is smells both highly acidic and sweet and the same time with some funk to make it "primitive" so to speak.

The flavor is much less funky than the nose. It has a nice yeast blend in it though. It has a mild tartness and some definite bretty character. The hops are surprisingly noticeable adding a nice little bitter note. The malts are really noticeable here, they are very-honey graham cracker-like.

It is a nice ale with a lot of depth, but it is a bit sweet for my liking.

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Photo of mmmbeer
3.38/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750 mL Belgian bottle, with F0108 on the synthetic cork. Pours a lightly-chilled medium gold, with lots of carbonation and an inch of ivory head that leaves nice lacing. It has a strong aroma, with phenols, orange, pear, light hops, a bit of acidity, and some earthy/funky yeast notes. Tastes of oranges, pale malt, floral noble hops which impart a medium bitterness, and a touch of sweetness. This is all pierced by strongly phenolic yeast and an alcohol pungency. Light, a little tingly, dry with a long spicy finish. Drinks like a big and pungent saison, and it's a bit harsh when cold, but mellows a bit as it warms. An interesting beer for sure, but this could use a few more years in the cellar I think.

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Photo of radshoesbro
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured into a tripel karmeliet glass from a 750 ml bottle. Split this with my wife over a few pieces of pizza.

Smells of mixed fruits. Big papaya notes with pineapple and brett. This is very fruity smellinh, and quite appealing. No sour smells.

Taste is dry, but overwhelmingly so. Fruit characters dance on the tounge. Yet they are slightly muddled up and very difficult to pick out. A small bit of something almost crab apple tasting.

Mouthfeel is alright. there is a good deal of dry characters on the back of the throat.

Drinkable, but sort of heavy in the stomach.

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Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy golden-copper color with a two-finger bright white head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of light fruits - pears mostly with hints of bananas - with hints of tropical fruits, including papaya. Lurking in the background are pale malt aromas along with good amounts of funk. As the beer warms the funkiness from the brett intensifies but never overpowers the softer fruit aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells, although the brett has less of an influence on the flavor profile compared to the nose. Light and sweet malt flavors kick things off and are joined quickly by ripe pear flavors. Midway through the sip the fruit flavors are tempered by a mild dose of funkiness and even milder dose of leafy hop flavors that then carry through to a solidly bitter ending.

Mouhtfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with active carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I was impressed with this beer - a mild funk-bomb that I think would be a nice beer to introduce people to brett. Well worth a shot.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.73/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked this one up at Blue Max three or four months ago. Second De Proef beer of the week--this brewery really puts out some good stuff.

A: Pulled from the cellar, popped open, and thrown into a snifter. Pours a gorgeous clear-golden colour with a volumptious 1" slighty off-white head. Marks the sides as it dies down a bit. Looks great. Second pour is a bit more hazy, with some floaties--despite my efforts to decant it (or balance decanting with wasting as little as possible).

S: Funk, hay, barnyard. Lots of fruit--apple, pear, grape. Smells very acidic.

T: Funky, but not nearly as sour as I was expecting it to be. More of an acidic funk to it. Lighter fruits lead in, with a bit of hay/earthy barnyard flavour. Smooth for a beer of this style. Dry, not tart at all, or sour (like I was kind of expecting). Earthy/peppery flavour lingers on the tongue. Slightly chalky. Even more earthy with the second pour, with a slightly intensified tartness.

M: Light-to medium with high carbonation.

D: While good, this one had me wanting a little bit more. A solid wild beer, but not something I would drop the cash on again. A bit too earthy without a sour/tart element.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I had to pour VERY gently so as not to agitate the lees. Resulting color was a light golden-yellow with great clarity. Nose ranged, in pour, from light cider to horse-blanket with every variation in between to include light-cider, light-funk and aspirin, to a less-crisp cider. Very different. This is a beer to be shared with others. Do NOT drink this by itself. I started to notice tropical flavors - watermelon rind, mango, pineapple. Wow, was this wild! We got at least six different pours off a single bottle. The finish ranged from powdery aspirin, apple cider, melon rind to lemon zest. A great summer beer with a few friends.

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Photo of bronzeside
2.66/5  rDev -33.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a 750 of "Surly Bird" expecting the same type of tasteful yet adventurous experience I've had from the other De Proef Flemish Wild Ale products (Pig Nun, Spoon Whacker, etc.)

A little difficult to get the synthetic cork out--as I poured into a chalice, I found why-- pretty darn flat. Little to no head, like amber water.

Color a dark amber. Massive amounts of sediment as I reached the bottom of the bottle.

Smell was quite tart--before the first sip I braced myself for the sharp bite the Gueuze offerings I've tried--not there, though.

Nor did I catch the smooth dynamic barnyard flavors I expected. Yes, the grass, hay etc. were all there, but with a slightly off slightly sour bend.

Am really wondering, as many of the other reviewers noted a good head on the brew, if I did not get a bad bottle?

Hate to risk my money on another, though, as there are so many great (and consistient) Belgians out there.

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Photo of koopa
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Bottle purchased from Buyrite Liquors in South Plainfield NJ around October of 2008. Bottle has been kept in a cellared/temperature control environment until today. Cork is marked FP0108. Bottle opens with a loud pop and foams uncontrollably after I had stood it up for about 15 minutes prior to pouring. Must be the bottle refermenting.

Appearance: Hazy dirty orange with honey corners and a 2 finger frothy white crown that displays loads of renetion and lacing!

Smell: muted orange, bready malt, light whisps of barnyard, light candied quality, and a touch of mineral presence.

Taste: Bready malt and muted orange up front with hints of coriander and lemon rind rounding it out as the brett steals the stage in the finishing act.

Mouthfeel: About as creamy but not syrupy and substantial but not thick as you can get. Absolutely perfect. The year of extended bottle conditioning has done this brew justice.

Drinkability: Well put together flavors and a wonderful mouthfeel work for the drinkability of this brew. The undetectable 9% abv works against it.

A year of cellaring has muted this one out rather quickly. Its drinking like a 3 year old Unibroue already.

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Photo of gameface23
2.46/5  rDev -38.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: From a 750 mL bottle poured into a brandy snifter. It was straw colored, but had a bit more of an amber hue than I was expecting. Chunky yeast sediment was abundant.

S: Not much in the aroma. I was expecting at least a little wild tang, but there was none. I picked up grassy and vegetal notes with some hops.

T: Again, nothing in the tang department. Lackluster, with a bready blanket overshadowing everything else. Pretty bitter finish.

M: Decent. Medium-bodied.

D: I definitely wouldn't buy this again, especially at the price.

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Photo of Damian
4.03/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank from a 1 pt 9.4 fl oz bottle purchased at Bauer Wines and Spirits, Boston, MA
Served in a tulip

You have to love the Heironymous Bosch artwork on the bottle label. Even though the beer itself may not be classified as "wild", the packaging certainly is.

As for the beer, it poured a nearly clear, straw yellow color with a rocky, bubbly, bright white, one-finger head. On the second pour, large yeast particles clouded the liquid. Cascading rings of lacing coated the glass with every sip.

The aroma was musty and grassy. Country-ish with a distinct saaz hop quality. As the beer warmed, the mustiness intensified, becoming almost dank by the beer's end.

The taste was clean and crisp. Slightly sour and musty. Biscuity hops came through up front. Hay and lemon notes were noticeable in the center. Grassy, bittering hops appeared on the super dry, slightly funky and tart finish.

The mouthfeel was medium/lighter bodied with a crisp, sprightly effervescence. Smooth, slick and slightly creamy on the palate.

Drinkability was quite good. This is a light and refreshing yet flavorful beer that would make a perfect aperitif.

This is a interesting offering from De Proef. I only wish the funk/brett character were more pronounced.

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Photo of rpstevens
2.63/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a bottle into a tulip.

The beer looks promising to start, pale straw color with a thin white head that leaves a little lacing. Very active carbonation.

The smell is slightly funky and sour with nice notes of lemon and hay. There is a bit too much malt present in the nose for my taste though.

The bread and malt really take over the taste of the beer. There are some notes of hay, citrus, lemon, grass and there's a mild hop as well, but the bready undertone kind of ruins those flavors. The funk and sour from the nose are also not present in the flavor at all.

There is a slight alcohol burn and sweetness that are not very pleasant. The beer is well carbonated and very light-bodied, but the malty/bready flavor is unpleasant and the aftertaste is awkward and indescribable.

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Photo of jampics2
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle @ Buckeye Sour Tasting 2009. Wasn't a sour at all, but one of the many nice wild ales that were available. Overall, my favorite of the 3 we tried - the Pinhead, demon Fish, and this This was just more consistent, balanced, and appealing. Would try again!

A = Straw colored, nice amount of carbonation.

S = Smells like light malt and a serious case of the funks. This one had a bit less wild than the others in the nose. Horsehair and mustiness present.

T = Light, citrus then a bretty malt combo. Holds together well - neither flavor is distinct enough to conflict. Great aftertaste, far better than the other 2.

M = Light but a bit more to it than the others we tried. Seems good for the style.

D = Best of the three we tried. I would have another - not another 750ml, but another pour ;)

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Photo of chinabeergeek
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml bottle with synthetic cork printed with FPO100. poured into tulip. tasted in early april 2009

very mild gusher, but all the murky, lumpy yeast thus rises up and into the beer! golden straw color with amber tones. big fluffy white head fades slowly, leaving a meringue in the center, and gradually shrinks to a thin foamy layer. great lacing.

aroma: farmhouse and barn funkiness with overripe apple and pears. hint of white grape. grass and wet hay, then more leathery brett and barn funk. hint of spice and herbs with the gentle phenols. hint of orange peel.

taste: sweet, lightly toasted malts and fruity noes (pear, white grape, touch of citrus), meet with gentle acidity and moderate, hay-like hop bitterness, moving into light phenols, before moderate leather and barn funk, with with a pleasant sweetness to it all, and a off-dry finish with hints of leather and oak.

medium body, smooth, with flash of astringency and faint acidity in the finish. creamy consistency, helped along with the moderate carbonation.

i was apprehensive, after my experience with demon fish, but this is quite nice.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.13/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer has a light straw yellow body that is crystal clear but gains a bit of cloudiness with each pour. There is a thick white rocky head supported by a slow motion matrix of tiny bubbles gliding toward the surface. The head last for the full beer.

S- The clean smell has notes of smooth mellow barnyard characteristics with a faint natural fabric softener aroma that finishes with a wet straw green herbal quality. The aroma is just faint enough to be mysterious and keep me huffing the glass.

T- The pine bite is a surprise but it has a light white cheese rind note to it with a ice tea note to follow. There is a hop greenness to the finish that is not really bitter but more herbal or vegetable.

M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with a faint alcohol heat in the finish that added a nice depth to the beer.

D- This beer had pretty nice hops which was a shock but it had a nice support by some funk characteristics. The hops were not a typical hop flavor or aroma which was interesting as well and they did work well with the funk.

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Photo of bkett01
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Quick pour into a tulip glass creates a healthy foamy 3 finger powder white head. It dies away after about 5 minutes, leaving behind a sticky lacing on the glass. Smell is of wet hay, almost barnyard smelling, which (per the style) is a good thing.

Taste is crisp with a slight sourness that finishes smooth. Carbonation keeps it lively on the tongue and no flavors really dominate. I also detect pear and apple in the finish, which round out the mild sourness nicely.

This is a very drinkable wild ale that doesn't overdo it on the brett. If you see it, it's worth a try.

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Photo of largadeer
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks for sharing, Arne. Only finished about half of my notes on this one before I got distracted, so I'll keep this one brief.

Appearance: Golden and semi-clear with three fingers of pure white head. The head settles to a small disc but never disappears.

Smell: Big funky barnyard aroma with a bit of fruitiness noticeable underneath (lemon, pear). Floral, slightly medicinal. Complex and yeasty but not overwhelming. Really nice.

Taste & mouthfeel: Light fruitiness up-front, more on the citrus side and there's not much sweetness present. Slightly medicinal/phenolic mid-palate. The dry, grainy malt backbone is fairly prevalent but this one is more about the complex yeast character. Little bit earthy and rubbery in the finish, and very dry. Would not have guessed this is 9%, it's remarkably light and easy to drink.

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Photo of roadhouse
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Duvel glass.

Appears a golden in color with a three-quarter inch white head. It falls to a skim and leaves some spotty lacing.

Aroma has a sweetness most likely from candi sugar, with scents of ripe fruit, leathery brett funk, and tart green apple.

Taste has a spicy zing up front with some funky brett character. Doesn't really have much of a tart component as it did in the aroma. In the finish there is a slight honey-like sweetness that appears for a second before a slight amount of earthy hop character and lingering funk.

Mouthfeel is medium-light bodied, pretty smooth and creamy texture.

I thought this was pretty good but it lacked in overall complexity. I was hoping for more of a sour refreshing type drink.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

02/12/09- Purchased at Whole Foods in San Diego, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle, both caged and synthetic corked. Poured into my St. Bernardus chalice.

Appearance- A clouded darker golden colored pour. 3/4 inch head on initial pour. Light fluffy white head. Sparce spotty lace left behind.

Smell- Belgian candied sugar, deep sweet caramel malt. Tropical fruit notes, pears and peaches. Light hoppy nose as well.

Taste- Fruity pear flavored taste. Maybe even a bit of gauva in there. Hop bite is fairly heavy finishing with a sweet caramel malted flavor.

Mouthfeel- A tad foamy and well carbonated. Hoppy bitter aftertaste.

Drinkability- Overall a very good beer. Like the hopped up component. Not my favorite of the series, but better than some. Definite try if seen.

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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 Fatduck
3.98/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

My first Wild ale.

A - Pale, very pale, like a wheat beer. little to no head, but i poured very gently.

S - Smells like a barn, a wonderfully sour, house dung filled barn, brings me to Kentucky.

T - Sour, yet sweet, not like a lambic where its almost over powering, its controlled and well used. This beer is malty and sweet and sour all at the same time.

M - Lively and fresh, lots of carbonation, but not too much.

D - I could easily down the 750ml, but not sure if i could do more than that, its a strong beer, and its a very flavorful beer, but its god damn good.

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to aerozeppl for trading me this one.

Poured in a big wine glass at 58 F/ 14 C.

Hazy golden, thick white head, fine sticky lace.

Big fruity aroma pours out of the glass, stone fruits and apple, with moderate spicy tart leathery cheesy yeasty funk. Mild alpine herbs, clove, and salami. Complex, cohesive, and quite appealing.

Tastes fruity, along the lines of dried apricot and dried apple, and dry, with unmistakable but mild Brett, medium bitterness like green tea, herbs and dried lime peel, and some mild acidity. A savory note creeps in, somewhat like salami. Finishes very dry, with lingering dried fruit, green tea, and stone.

Well controlled fine carbonation, some minerality, and some mild astringency make for an enjoyable texture. Refreshingly dry and highly drinkable.

Great interesting beer.

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Photo of brentk56
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a cloudy light honey color with a prodigious head; swathes of lace run down the sides of the chalice

Smell: Smells like blue cheese; very peppery, with some balsa wood and tropical fruit

Taste: Opens bready, with a cheesy, horseblanket flavor, with some sour Brett that builds by mid-palate; underneath, there is the subtle blend of tropical fruit, including mango, apple, strawberry and starfruit; after the swallow, the flavors are joined by the balsa wood elements and a peppery finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with buoyant carbonation

Drinkability: This is an interesting brew,but I cannot say that I would approach it again as I think the horseblanket yeast element is too dominating

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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 IBUnit63
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From 750 into trusty Ommegang chalice.

Natural honey-colored body with thin, yeasty head. Body looks through thin head with mild rose tinge.

Mild cloves and faint sour brett at first. Only distant horse-blanket scent emerges with greater strength after a while. A little sweetness and lemon citrus.

This tastes like something I'd step in at the racetrack stables - now that's a horse blanket - yet it's enjoyable. Carbonation cuts the thickness. There's a little very dry grain - maybe unsalted, unbuttered popcorn...or that wheat puffs cereal your grandmother used to feed you in the 70s...or maybe a rice cake? In it's own funky way this is pretty damn good.

Powerful horse blanket strength with some yeast electricity and strong carbonation. The austerity is awkward yet really enjoyable.

For me, drinkability of this style is inherently a little tough but all in all this is a well-made effort that accomplishes its objectives. Great stuff.

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De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Surly Bird) from De Proefbrouwerij (bvba Andelot)
3.99 out of 5 based on 253 ratings.
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