Old Heathen Imperial Stout | Weyerbacher Brewing Co.

very good
1,653 Ratings
Old Heathen Imperial StoutOld Heathen Imperial Stout

Brewed by:
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Rich, velvety and deliciously complex, Old Heathen (8% ABV) is a truly distinctive stout. We use seven types of malt and two varieties of hops to bring forth this big brew. Quite robust and roasty on the palate, Old Heathen Imperial Stout has a wonderfully fruity nose and a moderately dry finish. The taste is highly complex. Perhaps you’ll even discern notes of espresso or chocolate.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 08-19-2001

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 1,653 |  Reviews: 831
Photo of adamette
2.77/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Live review. Poured from the 12 oz. brown bottle that I bought for $2.16 from Save-On Tobacco & Beverage in Mentor this past Wednesday into my gold rimmed Brewery Ommegang Westvleteren style goblet. No observed "best by" date.

A Actually dark brown head over a completely black body. I have always liked the look of these imposing, ultimately really cool Imperial Stouts. 4.5

S Dark roast malt of course but also a dark fruit smell of dates that I did not find as appealing. As far as beers in this style, the ones that I enjoy are the classic dark roasted malt darkness, not with the inclusion of this dark fruit smell. 2.5

T Sure enough, and disapointingly, the dark fruits (mainly dates) smell carried right over into the taste and the desired classic dark roast malt was not enough to make up for this undesirable taste in the beer. In fact, the dark fruit taste lingered well into the aftertaste. Come to think of it, it is similar to an anise or black licorice taste, something that I have never liked. I used to separate out all of the black jelly beans and give them to my brother Paul. Maybe he would like this beer. 2.5

M Rather basic for the style really. There is certainly a heaviness, a weight about this beer and the aftertaste lingers but it is really a standard feel. 3.0

D Just fine for the style which does not lend itself well to drinkability but the drinkability is driven down by that anise taste that is not to my liking. 3.0

Notes: Weyerbacher is one of my personal favorite breweries (I gave their Merry Monks a 4.9!) but this is not a good example of beers from this great brewery, unless you like that anise taste like my brother Paul.

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Photo of beerman207
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, very dark brown with little light coming in along with a good tan head leaving great lace behind

S: Chocolate, coffee, sweet malt

T: Chocolate and malt dominate

M: Very mild carbonation and very creamy

D: Very high - amazing beer as expected from Weyerbacher.

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Photo of mothman
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into bruery snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of tan head that fades down to a thick ring. Some slight splattered lace. Color is a dark carmel when held to the light, but black otherwise. Not very dark for an ris.

Aroma: Lots of dark dried fruits. Raisin, cherries, molasses, and licorice. Some dark roasted malts with chocolate. A little lighter aroma, but not bad.

Taste: Some roasted malts with tons of dried fruits again. Dark cherries, licorice, and raisins. Some chocolate with very light coffee notes. Decent, but nothing to special for a RIS.

Mouthfeel: Roasted, creamy, and crisp. A decent amount of carbonation in the mouth, but doesn't show in the glass. Medium to full bodied beer. Ends very roasted and dry.

Overall, a decent RIS for the price, but nothing to crazy good. I would drink it again, but nothing I would seek out. Decent drinkability.

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Photo of Jmoore50
3.67/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Go this is some black booty BIF, awesome.

The appearance is black with coffee edges. It pours a very bubbly half finger head that gets scared and hides under the covers. It leaves no lacing and it has medium alcoholic legs.

The smell is of coffee, dark fruit, caramel, sugar.

The taste is a earth, bitter coffee, chocolate. It is a bit thin which kills a lot of the overall experience. It is a bit sour, just a tiny percentage of it is just gives me a lactose sourness that reminds me of Black Albert. After notes are of dark malts.

The mouthfeel is thin, and over carbonated. Astringent, but not distracting. It is a good stout, nothing really Imperial about this other than the ABV.

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Photo of kegger22
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Weyerbacher Old Heathen Imperial Stout dark brown color with a half inch, light brown head that faded to a collar.

The aroma was sweet and lightly chocolate.

In the taste, bitterness stands out, like semi sweet chocolate. Roasted malt contributed to the bitter taste. As Old Heathen warms, I get an additional roasted coffee aroma and taste.

The mouth feel was full bodied with ample carbonation.

Drinkability was good with a decent flavor and a respectable, for a RIS, 8.00 ABV.

Not one of my favorite RIS, only so-so. With all the competition in the style, this would have to be in the bargain bin to sample again.

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Photo of Goldfish19
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

~ 12 oz bottle

Appearance: Black as night with a small brown head that quickly fades away.

Smell: Dark fruits and roasted malts.

Taste: A little sour. Roasted malts dominate up front, and it is followed up by dark fruits, coffee, and chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied.

Drinkability: At 8% ABV, it went down very smooth.

Overall, this is a solid RIS. I would definitely have this again. ~

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of rawthar
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into my Brooklyn goblet.

A- As dark as to be expected from a RIS, but more of a deep dark brown than a pure black. The head is particularly dark brown, a finger's worth that dissipates to film very quickly.

S- Some sweet malty notes and a bit of booze, very similar in characteristic to Weyerbacher's bourbon barrel beers like Blasphemy (In fact, Weyerbacher's Heresy is a bourbon barrel aged version of Old Heathen). No trace of the hops that usually accompany the Imperials.

M- I'm doing mouthfeel before taste because the tingling sensation this beer gives my lips and tongue at first sip dominates over the flavor. Thick and carbonated, this is a satisfying beer.

T- I picked up a hint of roast coffee flavor that wasn't present in the aroma. The alcohol is smoother in the mouth than in the nose, and I think there's a little bit of sweet fruit, maybe raisin, sneaking in with it in the back of the throat. Let it linger on your tongue to find those hidden hop traces. Some of my bigger gulps went down with slight suggestions of chocolate. The complexities of flavor are there, but very subtle...you really have to savor the drink to find them.

D- As much discipline as I exert on a Wednesday night to savor the subtleties of this one, a part of me feels like I could slam it back without too much regret (considering I've got five more behind it). Its drinkability benefits from the lack of a lingering aftertaste.

Overall, a very nice RIS, better gulped than sipped.

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Photo of jstilwell
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

THis beer gets a few extra points for being somewhat unique. Been drinking a lot of RIS lately, this one is easy to pick out. I seem to keep coming back to it. Pretty standard looking pour, real dark, not among the blackest as there is a brownish tint. Delicious looking milk chocolate/off white head disappears quickly, lacing remains. The nose on this is potent, the alcohol comes through but is blended with a cocoa/fruity/malty/spicy sweetness. Taste follows the nose. I understand this is a combo of 7 different malts and it produces a identifiable unique taste. I like this a lot, and would consider it a RIS Light. IT is somewhat sessionable if that term can be applied to this style. I will surely grab more of these.

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Photo of jzeilinger
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black and viscous like motor oil, no light is going through this beer. Has a very light, coffee colored head that dies down to a mild lacing across the top. Sticks to the side of the glass.

Smells of roasted malt, coffee, chocolate/cocoa, with mild traces of cream.

Taste is similar to the aroma: coffee, and roasted malt. There's also a little smokiness in the flavor that I didn't pick up in the smell. There's also a mildly bitter chocolate flavor underneath. Finishes with a bitter chocolate, roasted malt, and coffee flavor.

Mouthfeel has mild carbonation on the tongue, but overall, pretty smooth. Medium body and the alcohol is pretty well hidden. This isn't exactly robust which is what I've come to expect from Imperial Stouts, that being said, this falls a little short of that. However, it's still well brewed and an enjoyable sipper in a tulip glass while sitting at the computer, very drinkable.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.6/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Diving into the cellar because I'm still broke.. Been eying this 12oz for a while.. Got this a very long while ago from Vintage Cellars.. Poured into my Delrium goblet.

1 finger dark tan head.. went away quickly.. only spotty lace as the glass goes away..

Nose is comprised of only medium dark malts .. quite a bit of English fruitiness reminds me of sour cherries..

Flavor begins with a bang of coffee and bittersweet chocolate.. again, the sour cherries are pretty prevalent that combines with some slight acidic elements from the dark malts.. lingering cocoa.. descent body for the style.. carbonation seems spot-on..

Not sure what to think of this one.... The fruitiness reminds me of English Olde Ales.. It isn't infected, just maybe I let this one sit for too long.


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Photo of mullenite
2.57/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Glassware - Allagash Tulip

Appearance - Black color with a finger and a half tan head that sunk down quickly and doesn't really leave any lacing. Not very impressive to look at really.

Nose - Lots of chocolate and roasted malt in the nose along with some alcohol. Some roasted malt but mostly alcohol and chocolate.

Taste - Somewhat of an off-flavor on the first sip, and the second... kind of tastes of acetone. The finish is nice with a lot of roasted malt flavor but acetone up front kind of ruins it.

Mouthfeel - Astringent and kind of thin.

Overall - I can't imagine that this beer gains so much from being put in to a bourbon barrel and will have to revisit it down the road but it doesn't have any kind of depth or complexity. I'm sadly disappointed.

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Photo of MPLS
3.36/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer was one of the many single Weyerbacher beers that came into my possession from a $pendy trip to Hudson. Unsure as to how fresh this beer is, but I imagine it was brewed in 2009.

A: The beer has a burnt hazelnut color with a pale mocha head that had risen to 3 cm with an aggressive pour. Retention is decent and lacing is spotty.

S: Roasted malts, cocoa infused soy sauce, raisins, and some evidence of hops.

T: This beer is unfortunately not as good as the nose led me believe. The cocoa and anything related to chocolate isn't that prominent and seem to be replaced with some tongue numbing alcohol, @8%? The roasted malts have a change to shine through. Apart from numbing the finish there is some spice, smoked earth, and exaggerated dryness.

M: Medium bodied and I don't know if the taste is leading me to believe that it's thinner than it really is. High levels of carbonation give it a little creaminess.

D: This beer wasn't bad, but it lacked the big body and flavors I've come to expect from RIS's.

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Photo of bamadog
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review is from notes taken on 1/24/10 and poured from the bottle to a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a dark brown/near black and starts with a one finger head that is tan in color and fades to a thin and uneven looking skim; body is entirely opaque and leaves spotty lacing here and there as the drink dwindles down the glass; the body looks a little thick, but not as thick as other Imperials...

Smell: Defininte presence of some deep dark roasted malts with some bittersweet chocolate in there; a slightly grassy hoppy presence in the nose (that will prove momentarily to be absent in the taste); there's also an interesting creamy and dark berry like quality to the nose, very interesting...

Taste: Not very "Imperial" in the taste as it's not especially robust... but the flavors are solid enough; definitely that roasty coffee bean flavor along with the hints of the bittersweet chocolate; there's also that same creamy dark berry aspect in the back of the mouth as well that's in the nose - quite interesting and enjoyable, but the lack of "oomph" in the flavors do lower it just a bit.

Mouthfeel: Body is a little thin for an Imperial, but it's still quite creamy and has soft and smooth carbonation, which is a great quality and compliments this beer very well; the mouth has a pretty thin coating but it's consistent and all over and I feel the gums are a bit dry and the belly is left just a little warm.

Drinkability: Not too bad overall - while I do wish it was more robust in flavor and body, I definitely dig the smooth creamy mouthfeel even though it's not especially thick like I would expect; also, the ABV doesn't seem to hit me that hard for being 8%, so I really feel like I could get through a couple of these in a sitting and really enjoy them; another great offering from Weyerbacher.


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Photo of BigDank
3.74/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Matilda glass.

Pours black with a darker brown head with a short stay. Minor spotted lacing left around the glass. Sweet chocolate scent with a touch of coffee. Nothing outstanding really. Taste is decent but light in comparison to the really good imperial stouts. I like something you may possibly have to chew. This one is fairly mellow and light across the tongue. Medium carbonation. Maybe a hint of hoppiness? Drinkability is good as it's easy drinking and moderate ABV. Either way, easy to drink but not one of the best I've had. Definitely a good beer but I'm into much heavier stouts than this. For sure this beer is worth a try and I don't get it here so I'm not sure what they run but I would have to say, if it's moderately priced it's worth drinking regularly. Most beers from this brewery, as I've experienced, have been mediocre except for a couple. I would say though this beer is one of the better.

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Photo of CampusCrew
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance: deep dark black, nearly ebony,

smell: loaded coffee, and heavy chocolate aromas

taste: rich and slight chocolate roasted flavors but had a smooth rich taste, a little on the sweet side for my liking in RIS. there's alot of chocolate upfront, bitter backend

mouthfeel: thick, creamy, good carbonation/full bodied

drinkability: decent. Not the best RIS, but good

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Photo of DougBrew
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep, dark body, topped with a half inch of gorgeous golden brown head- loose, with moderately sized bubbles.
S - Maybe my nose isn't working today, but this beer didn't produce a largely noticeable aroma. Slight notes of chocolate and roasted coffee, but underwhelming.
T- Similar to the aroma, but more pronounced cocoa, coffee, and a slight smokiness, which is quite pleasant. Ends with a cooked, malty, sweetness that is appropriate to style, but it is not overpowering.
M - Surprisingly thin for an imperial stout, undoubtedly helped by the high level of carbonation.
D - Awesome. I don't think all "big" have to be challenging. On the contrary, this beer is quite accessible for seasoned enthusiasts as well as those who may not consider an Imperial their go to beer of choice.

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Photo of alkemy
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is black as night with a very thin tan head that vanished pretty quickly. Espreso, dark fruit (mainly plum), and chocolate. Espreso/strong coffee on the front end. Then comes the slight bitter chocolate taste mixed with a hint of prunes. You can even taste the hops in this one...great bitter finish is both clean and slightly dry. This is my favorite RIS I've had to date. It doesn't have that strong alcohol finish that I've noticed in others. There's alot of flavors and without the overpowering taste of alcohol you can really taste them Just a well balanced and fantastic tasting stout.

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Photo of irishking1977
4.11/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pitch black with a chocolate milk, two finger head. Head disappears quickly, leaving good lacing. Very impressed, so far.

S: Nothing really detected, except a faint bitter chocolate scent.

T: Wow, I was shocked at how good this one tasted. Some of Weyerbacher's brews were hit or miss; some weren't too refined and had alcohol at the front of the brew, other's were overly sweet. This one has a mildly sweet, bitter chocolate taste with a malt background and a dry finish. One of the better RIS I've had.

M: Chalky and nicely carbonated with an abrupt finish. As long as I'm not thinking about how the brew feels and concentrating on how it tastes, that is when a brewery has done a good job with the "mouthfeel" of the brew, IMHO.

D: Yes, this could be a reasonable session beer, or a beer to simply enjoy during the cold winter months.

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

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into pint glass. Dark, black in color, almost opaque with thin tan head. Slight retention with a bit of lacing. Chocolate and dark fruit notes. Tastes sweet upfront, hints of molasses, coffee and dark chocolate. A little alcohol bite in the finish. Full bodied with lighter carbonation.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.61/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured 12 oz bottle into NB globe.

A: pours thick and black, pretty typical for the style, decent amount of tan head that retains nicely, some lacing

S: front of nose is sweet, dark fruits- raisins and black cherries, molasses, some tobacco, roasted barley, smells a bit sweet. No hints of the abv on the nose.

T: the taste isn't as sweet as the nose indicates, more roast on the palate in the form of roasted barley, the molasses and dark fruit is still there. Not picking up anything in the hops or alcohol department. The flavor is pretty mellow for an imperial stout, nothing in your face, but it is nicely balanced.

MF: thick chewy body, low carbonation

D: this is a good introduction imperial stout. It has the body and appearance of some of the boldest imperial stouts, but the flavor is a bit subdued for the style. Lots of nice sweet notes followed by roasted notes. Pretty well balanced. 8.0% abv is non existent.

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Photo of grayburn
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a viscous black with a huge muddy head that fades a little too quickly, but leaves some nice soapy lacing.

The smell is roasted chocolate with just a touch of warming alcohol, my only complaint here is that the nose is a bit weak. I'd like to smell a little more burly machoness in an imperial stouts.

The taste is again dominated by some toasty roasty goodness. This buffering is balanced by some sweet chocolate, which lasts all the way to the finish. Nice and easy, nothing too powerful, I'm beginning to see a trend here, this beer isn't huge, it is a nice change from some of the massive stouts we see today. I can't believe I'm calling eight percent small, but I'm calling it that in a good way.

There is still a nice big body, luxurious in its creaminess. Mild carbonation is right on the spot here, makes for the easiest drinking imperial stout I have ever had. Definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Old Heathen
A: Pours a very dark brown/black, with a creamy dark tan coloured head. The head dies down within a couple minutes of the pour.

S: Roasted malt, bitter dark chocolate, a little caramel and dark fruit. Floral bittering hops meld with the bitterness from the darker malts. Tropical fruit nestled within.

T: Roasted malt comes up big right away, followed by a succession of dried fruit, layered caramel and dark chocolate Bitter citrus also works its way it. Aftertaste is roasted malt/chocolate, with a slightly bitter twang. The caramel layers, chocolate, and light citrus balance eachother very well as it warms.

M: A little thin and medium carbonation, not exaclty how I prefer this type of beer.

D: Too much roasted malt for my liking, and lacking in body. Other than that--a nice offering from Weyerbacher.

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Photo of babaracas
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nearly opaque dark brown with one finger khaki head, spotty lacing. Smell: toffee, brown sugar, background earthy hop, a little buttery. Taste: toffee, a little coffee, lightly roasted, buttery, background hop spiciness. Kind of an English interpretation with a touch of coffee. Mildly creamy, nicely carbonated. The alcohol doesn't make an appearance. Almost sessionable but not particularly complex or exciting.

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Photo of tattooedtolley
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a beautiful black with a tall creamy light brown head which dissipated quickly. Nose is big on the roasted malt with a sweet alcohol finish to it. Fairly mild aroma, seems like the 8% abv and the aroma indicates this is going to be a fairly mild impy stout. Taste is mainly roasted malt with a bit of oats. The bit of alcohol I was picking up in the nose is well hidden in the taste. I think the most shocking part of this beer is the mouthfeel. Normally if a beer has some crispness to it, I don't think much about the mouthfeel but this beer is like velvet. I've always wished there was some middle ground between co2 and nitro and whatever Weyerbacher did here, it happened to have some crispness but that velvety body, pretty cool. Drinkability is amazing, I'm not used to being able to easily drink an impy stout but this one might be the best I've had as far as drinkability.

Overall, real nice and quite surprising. In a style that is typically way too big and aggressive for most people this one seems like it could be approachable by anyone. Nicely done.

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Photo of Katahdin
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Not a typical Weyerbacher beer. It pours very thick, very black, almostt like a heavy motor oil. Definitely has the body of an Imperiqal Stout but is more creamy in the taste than most Imperial Stouts. Texture on the tongue is smooth with almost an aftertaste of roasted oatmeal. Drinks just as smooth and belies it's big beer charcteristics. Complex maltiness adds to the experience as it goes down. A wonderful beer for a cold winter night in front of a fire.

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Old Heathen Imperial Stout from Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 1,653 ratings.
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