Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) | Southern Tier Brewing Company

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Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)
1,526 Ratings
Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale)

Brewed by:
Southern Tier Brewing Company
New York, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ClockworkOrange on 01-12-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 1,526 |  Reviews: 616
Photo of bobhits
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Deep reddish brown pour, turning black in the glass and giving way to a huge creamy thick head. Some of the best head I've seen....well not a long time. This glass is going to be smothered by lacing.

Citrus, American hop notes, clean yet oily aromas. There is malt here, but it's light, subtle, and way in the back.

Citrus hops dominated this beer, but they don't reach that level of biting the tongue for an IPA. There's a very neutral malt character that dominates the time on the tongue, but the finish is all citrus grape fruit hops. There's a touch of alcohol, a bit solvent like. The malt has perhaps a touch of molasses or maybe my eyes are doing the tasting for me. There's a bit of dry bread, not toasted per say but lets say lightly toasted to the point it's just dried out.

Well carbonated and the alcohol doesn't take on much impact in the mouth. There is a decent amount of weight and body here, some oils but not over the top.

Call this an adjustment, but well the sum of the parts are greater than the final product. Good? Sure, but there's just something here that doesn't work.

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Photo of FanofHefe
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap in a Southern Tier tulip. Big two-finger tan head that leaves nice lacing down the glass. The body is black, but not pitch black like thick stout. Still, no light coming through.

Interesting aroma. A mix of piney hops and roasted malt. A more unusual combination than I expected.

The flavors step it up a notch. In addition to the hops and malt you get chocolate, and a hint of coffee. Nice bitter hop aftertaste that works well, with a decent sweet malty, chocolately balance.

The mouthfeel is a little thin, but, of course, more like an IPA than a stout. Overall, a very enjoyable brew.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

American-style black ales or 'Cascadian' ales seem to be graining steam. Iniquity is part of this schizophrenic scene with an intensely hopped flavor and nearly black cast.

The pour brings a dark, dark brown color that approached black. An onyx-like sheen atests to the odd clarity of both dark ales and dry-hopped beers. A creamy (remarkably light) tan head rests on the beer in rather dense fashion and holds firm through the session without demanding too much thought. A good look, even for a small stout.

Aromas are in vast contrast to the impressions given to the eye. Resiny hop character resemble pine, grapefruit pith, and herbal grasses; not the caramel rich or heavy toast aroma that are usually associated with darker, heavier beers. Light malt character emmit with subtle toast and malted barley.

Flavors again are right out of Stone's playbook: Sharp pine flavors along with fresh cut grass, sappy bitterness, and citrus peels give an aggressive hop overtone to the beer. Light and crisp malt flavors struggle to offset the bitterness with the faintest flavor of burnt molasass and dry toast. There's little else that make any impact to the beer- hops, light toasty, and a slightly solventy alcohol taste.

Malty rich and creamy with the first sip, but the carbonation soon gives way to a toasty-dry, alcoholic warmth, and piney bite in the throat. A big transition for a big beer- again much like an ipa.

It's difficult to get past the notion of ipa's being black and offering the acrid dryness of burnt toast; it becomes hard to tell where the hop bitterness ends and the burnt toast bitterness begins- but again, that's all part of the fun. Kinda reminds me when the green ketchup came out; then, the psychological game was too much to accept. We'll see about black pale ales.

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Photo of obrendano
4.85/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

a new find thanks to my new beer guru Steve from 7 Courts Liquors in Perry Hall, MD

A - great bottle design, as usual. poured into a pint glass, beer is dark black, thick, with a sticky light tan head, even darker than most stouts. head leaves nice rings with each sip/gulp

S - huge sweet hit of sweet sugary smell, some roasted coffee and bread tones, can notice some fruity cherry as well hidden in the mix

T - an absolute bomb of complex and balanced dark malts, perfect hop job, a large brush of milky chocolate and an ever so slight brush of alcohol. this is fabulous. eating some light bread while you drink brings out even more of the chocolate flavors

M - super duper smooth, full bodied, and sticky. pretty much as good as it gets for me

D - I'm so glad to have found this. Iniquity very quickly shot to the top of my favorites/go to list with just one bomber. I will add also, this went absolutely perfectly with some Indian naan dipped in a medium hot curry sauce

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Photo of busterthecat
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into oversized stemmed ale glass

A- Pours a very dark reddish hue. A nice dense 1/4" khaki head sits and lingers for a bit. creamy lacing.

S- A solid dose of roasted and chocolate malts. Some clean floral and piney hops peak through. Medium robustness of aroma. Smells creamy.

T- Good burst upfront of mostly piney hops with some pepper/ spice. Bitterness is a good level. The hops give way to the solid body of roasted & choc malt. Chocolate is more subdued then in aroma. The hops linger through entire taste.

M- A medium-big bodied brew. Bitterness is well dialed in, sits on palate but doesn't block any of the other flavors. Finish sticks to back of mouth and lingers well.

D/O- No alc heat. A very solid brew all around. Southern Tier really pulled off a good ABA. Will be getting this again.

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Photo of greenmonstah
3.95/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into Ommegang tulip.

A - Pours a dark brown with a half a finger of tan head. Head lacing is nice.

S - Smell is mildly hoppy (piney) with a fair amount of black malt. It has an aroma that I can always pickup in dark ST beers that I can never really place - like a semi bitter chocolate? Definitely has some bitter chocolate to it.

T - Bitter up front, hoppy pine. Has some chocolate and black malt flavors. Later becomes very sweet, with a deeply sweet and resinous finish. Could use a bit more hop emphasis, but I love the malt base.

M - Medium to full body with some active carbonation. Wet throughout, but with a slightly drier finish.

D - Easy to drink and tasty. No alcohol taste. Drinks like a 6-7%, not a 9% Not going to buy it again, but it was pretty good.

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Photo of stewart124
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deep ruby red to almost black with a thin but sustaining head.

Nose is full of red grapefruit and a spicy tone.

Very viscious and oily. The black malts adds quite a character and all the bottle bosts is dehusked black malt and pale malt. Whoa! The brewers did a great job building such a malt character from 2 malts. Delicious! I could get used to this. Some alcohol hot notes but this is easy to drink.

Hops blend well to add a very bitter backbone without taking away from the malts. Lots of citrus and pine that finishes with a ton of resin. Not astringent at all.

I almost get some milk chocolate in the finish but then pine and citrus take hold. Quite good to say the least but I expect this from Southern Tier.

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Photo of titosupertramp
3.91/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to DIM for the opportunity to try this. Didn't realize this was so hop forward or I would've drank it sooner.

A: Pretty dark...appears black, but when the glass is tilted to the side and held to light, the outer edges are soda colored. Thinish,bi-colored head, tan and with off-white highlights. Receds and leaves cap with big bubbles around the edges.

S: Bready, licorice, citrus and spicy hops...something sweet here..brown sugar..candi sugar. When the beer warms, there's a slight alcohol burn.

T: Follows the nose pretty closely. The hops are a little more aggressive when the beer is cold. As the beer warms, the licorice becomes more evident. An herbal flavor is present as well. Bitter finish. Pretty interest flavor.

M: Full bodied and dry. No real alcohol burn.

D: Iniquity is the type of beer that makes rating drinkability difficult. This is a tasty and enjoyable beer, but it sits heavy and is for sure a sipper.

Thanks Dan..this is a good one.

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Photo of phishgator
3.03/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured into Draak goblet. Dark black/brown with slightly tan head, only two fingers. The aroma is of candi fruit, spicy hops, and roasted licorice. The taste starts with a earthy dose of bitterness from the hops. There is a roasted malt sweetness; a flavor of root beer without the large amount of carbonation. Low carbonation. The body is full. Not their best offering.

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Photo of bnes09
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown, just a couple shades away from pitch black. Completely opaque with a thin head. Descent retention though.

Dark roasted aromas as well as spicy hops.

Hops and roasted malt are both distinct in the flavor. Hops are citric and floral. Some coffee and a little almond roasted character. Bold and complex.

Medium to slightly fuller body. Moderately carbonated. Fairly dry finish.

An interesting brew. I like the flavor combinations.

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Photo of gnemesis
4.8/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from bomber into snifter on 10/25/10.
This ale pours dark brown, almost black. Nice creamy, brown head, that stays for a bit then recedes leaving some nice lace.
The scent on this one is amazing! Roasted malts, a bit of coffee, some brown sugar or caramel, maybe a tad sweet chocolate. Add to that some herbal and citrus hop character.
Wow! The taste doesn't disappoint! It follows the scent to a "T" but the hops come out more in the finish and dance softly on the tongue. I get a slight bit of booze warmth but this is Northern Michigan and October so this is good and welcome... plus at 9% it understandable not a detractor.
The medium/full body and medium carbonation play well together. Beer becomes slightly more sweet and a bit thicker as it warms.
This is an excellent offering from Southern Tier- my favorite from them by far. This style has been on my radar for months now and is becoming my favorite. It has something for everyone that enjoys a big beer.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.61/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Another bottle in my latest trade with russpowell. Thanks Russ!

Imperial Black Ale? Whoah.

A very dark brown colour in the glass, it comes complete with a 2 finger head of off white foam and lots of sticky lacing.

The smell is a mix of grapefruit, roasted and some chocolate malt, and a pretty big amount of bready malt.

Taste wise, maybe too much of a bready note, some grapefruit hoppiness, wish there was more, a nice roasted malt flavour, a mix of sweet and dark chocolate, and quite a bit of alcohol. Lots and lots of warming after the swallow. A good tasting brew overall but there's too much emphasis on one flavour and not enough on the others, at least to my palate.

Medium body and carbonation, it certainly has a good mouth feel to it.

Drinkability? It's easy enough to drink despite the beer being on the boozy side; for the style, it doesn't match up all that well with the few others I've tried though none of the others had "Imperial" in their name. Okay, I'm thoroughly confused by this beer and I'll make no excuses...

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Photo of Duff27
3.04/5  rDev -26.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours black with a two-fingered medium mocha head. Above average head retention and a lot of lacing.

S- Raisins. Licorice?

T- Not too much hops detected, but a slight spiciness. Almost has a bock feel to it.

M- Medium mouthfeel as far as carbonation. Syrupy.

D/O- Nothing terribly wrong with this beer, but overall I just didn't care for the flavor too much. Southern Tier is usually hit or miss with me and I'd have to mark this a miss.

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Photo of JohnnyChicago
4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Split a 22oz bomber; poured into a conical pint.

A: Very nearly black. A bit of brown highlights and a two finger off-white head.

S: Spicy hops and a rich roasted coffee bean aroma.

T: Taste is such a shock from the look of it. There's syrupy sweet brown sugar and coffee with a strong bitterness and spicy hop backbone.

D: For such a big beer it goes down pretty easily. Alcohol is hidden, but the flavours are so intense you can't drink it too fast.

Overall: Incredibly unique and flavourful brew. This is pretty much Unearthly with the addition of roasted malts. A must try for any hophead or fan of original beers.

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Photo of turnstile
4.62/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Very dark brown, near black; highlights range from copper to chestnut. A coarse, bubbly head forms and retains as a thin surface covering. Soapy ring around the edge of the glass with great lacing.

Smell: Ultra-complex; sweet milk chocolate note dominates along with a strong coffee-like roastiness. Smoky with a hint of citrus and spice.

Taste: The faint smokiness of the aroma appears up front on the palate with bittersweet chocolate and roasty coffee notes soon following. Vanilla rounds out and mellows the heartier flavor notes. Finishes with a rum-like flavor.

Mouthfeel: Heavy on the tongue with very, very smooth carbonation yielding an exceptionally creamy texure. Slick finish.

Drinkability: Like its anithesis, the Unearthly, it's absurdly drinkable. Sip after sip, it goes down like milk.

Overall, I'm unbelievably impressed by what Souther Tier has crafted here.

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Photo of jsh420
4.23/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

pours dark dark brown with a 1 finger tan head that left some spotted lacing

smells of floral hops and some dark malt

taste is a great mix of citrus/floral bitter hops and semi sweet caramel chocolate malt - leaves an ashy chocolate aftertaste

mouthfeel - medium body with good carbonation that is crisp smooth and creamy

drinkability is very good - even @9%abv i had no problems taking down the entire bomber and could have cracked open another if i had bought one

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Photo of mwthomas
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass

A: Black, with some hints of brown if you look at it in the light. It has a thin, beige head.

S: Roasted, chocolate malts are nicely complemented by the strong hop aroma, which is reminiscent of dark fruits/licorice.

T: Highly complex. The roasted malts and hop oils balance perfectly with a sweetness which could be overpowering otherwise. Like the aroma, the sweet flavors remind me of dark fruits and licorice.

M: Smooth with medium carbonation.

D: Great. Definitely heavy, but light enough to enjoy a few in a session.

Overall: This is a perfect introduction to the style and one of my favorites. It perfectly blends the hop profile of an IPA with the complex roasts of a darker style.

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Photo of mjsheehan08
4.39/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This one came to me thanks to a great trader, rhong187. Thanks Rich!

Highlights of deep brown and ruby shoot out of the bottom of my pint glass as this nearly opaque beer settles in the glass. A light mocha head fizzles to a capping layer of lace that is pretty spotty. Lacing in long and lasting. 

Nose is very dry and hop centric, earthly leaves, slight pine and citrus are the primary notes in the aroma. 

A really creamy taste that has mild bite in the front that brings back that earthy smell from the nose. There is a relatively strong malt backbone, that is bready and just a touch of caramel. Finishes with a really present expresso that lingers a while. Mild alcohol heat, but not enough to take  away from the enjoyment of the taste. Hops have a pretty strong presence through, and there kinda spicy. 

Thick and creamy, really a great feel that I wasn't expecting with the hop bite of this cascadian. Really a great beer and matches up with some of the best in the style. 

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Photo of krazyboi
4.28/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a 32 oz. glass mug.

A: A black beer with dark brown around the edges. Forms a cream colored frothy head that recedes slowly.
S: Chocolate with a bit of coffee. some vanilla hints.
T: Mellow chocolate and coffee hits the mouth first. A mixture of hoppy bitterness comes in at the end. A slight alcoholic kick stays in the mouth.
M: Very creamy and smooth. Fairly thick in the mouth.
D: Wonderful beer. Quite strong. Definitely a beer I would want to enjoy time and time again. Try it!

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Photo of alkemy
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

From the bomber...

A - Without direct light, it looks black. Lighting yields a clear dark ruby color. Maybe a finger of rich tan head that left fairly quickly.

S - Lots of dark fruits and alcohol in the aroma. This smells pretty boozy to me. Quite a few scents present here...figs, raisins, caramel, burnt sugar, oranges, some pine, and a bit of ash.

T - To me, the hops are more potent in the taste...just a hoppy overtone to the entire taste. Mostly roasted malts, chocolate, and caramel. The dark fruits present in the scent are fairly muted. Alcohol also seems lessened here as opposed to the aroma. Finishes with a bitter chocolate aftertaste.

M - A bit of stickiness in the mouth. Creamy with medium body and carbonation.

D - There's a syrupy sweetness that isn't really noticeable with any singular drink, but builds and really weighs you down towards the end of the bottle.

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Photo of warnerry
4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours dark brown with a reddish hue, with 1 finge of head; head dissipated pretty quickly, leaving a small amount of lacing behind.

S - A bit of licorice, sweet malts and a bit of hops; a faint aroma of bubblegum.

T - Some citrusy and floral hops up front, quickly balanced by some rich, slightly roasted, slightly sweet malts; interesting flavor combination to say the least.

M - Somewhat creamy mouthfeel, medium bodied. Leaves a slightly bitter taste on the tongue.

D - Probably no more than a bomber, as the sweetness, though subtle at first, starts to catch up with you. Still, a pretty easy drinking beer with a an interesting and pleasant flavor profile.

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Photo of emooze
4.53/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: 22oz bomber pours a dark, deep but not opaque brown. Almost no head whatsoever

S: Raisins, chocolate and possibly cherry.

T: More of the fruit that was in the smell slowly followed by the chocolate from the roasted malt. Slight hint of hops on the tail end.

M/D: Appropriately thick for a beer this dark but not quite as heavy as the 'imperial' moniker would lead you to believe. Easily finished the bottle.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.55/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review adapted from notes taken in November, 2009

Poured into a snifter

Appearance: Black with some hints of brown, a beautiful tan head

Smell: Complex - burnt, dark chocolate malts, some sweetness, citrusy and resiny hops - kind of reminds me of toasted bread... except with lots of hops

Taste: Borderline perfect - loads of hop oils, sweet malts balanced by dark, roasted and burnt malts - the amount of flavor the hops impart is insane considering the intensity of the malts - a little sweet at times, but otherwise ridiculously balanced

Mouthfeel: Incredible - creamy and full bodied despite the harshness of the hops - some kind of alchemy must be involved here

Overall: This was my first Black IPA / India Dark Ale / American Black Ale (whatever), and it remains one of my favorites. It is incredible. I love what Southern Tier does with dark beers.

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Photo of Frosty80
3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Color: pours clear, medium brown with golden hue. sits very deep, dark garnet with brown highlights. one-finger tan head that dissipates after couple moments leaving behind some good lacing

Smell: the otherwise medium-high aromas of piney, fruity hops are muddled by the presence of toasted and chocolate malt and a tinge of dark fruit. behind it all is some fruity yeast esters and light alcohol

Taste: very dark. dark fruit notes meld in with the fruity character of the hops in great balance. very light flavors of toasted malt, with just a hint of roast, and chocolate. bitterness is light throughout but comes through more in the finish with the help of some charred malt.

Mouthfeel: medium body with medium carbonation

Notes: seems like the hops could have been stronger despite the negating factor of the darker malts and fruitiness. still a delicious brew

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.15/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black IPA, Cascadian Dark Ale, American Black Ale? I don't know what to call em, breweries can't decide how they are suppose to taste. I have my opinions but the bottom line is, if it tastes good I will drink it.

Iniquity is a Black Ale that is nearly black. When held to the light you realize you are dealing with a very deep brown color with ruby highlights throughout. Two finger french vanilla colored head sits atop. The head fades rather quickly leaving an admirable amount of lacing clinging to the glass.

Citrus and soft roasted aroma meld together up front. Chocolate coffee and dark fruit flavors are set just behind. If you want to call this an American Black Ale I am cool with that, it is not Black IPA though.

Smooth roasted malt, chocolate are accompanied by a healthy dose of hops as the beer rolls onto the tongue. The flavor is really centered around a dark chocolate and citrus flavor, a rather pleasant combination. A decent amount of caramel can be picked up but is not over done.

Medium to full bodied, the texture is very smooth and rather creamy. The carbonation is on the lower side but I am finding that to be very appropriate for the style. The finish is a bit long, with such a new style it is hard to say what is appropriate but I can say that this seem to be what I expect.

If you drink Iniquity as a beer without a style it is great. Trying to decide what style it should be and if it fits takes away from the enjoyment. Very enjoyable beer, one I wish could find its way to six packs so I could enjoy it more often.

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Iniquity (Imperial Black Ale) from Southern Tier Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 1,526 ratings
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