Hand & Seal
Brooklyn Brewery

Hand & SealHand & Seal
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English Barleywine
4.32 | pDev: 7.87%
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Hand & SealHand & Seal
Notes: In the 20th season of his reign, the year Anno Brooklynius 26, our Brewmaster brought forth a new wonderment for the People. Barleywine-style ale, once the exclusive drink of British nobility, would be produced anew in Brooklyn. Linking together their twin brewhouses, the Brooklyn brewing team toiled a great many hours to create the most robust beer they had ever produced. Then it was set to rest for months in casks of Bourbon oak, and finally refermented in the bottle.

The result is one of the richest, tastiest beers to ever emerge from our brewery. The deep flavors of floor-malted Maris Otter barley shine through the layers of vanilla, coconut, toast and floral notes given by aging in Four Roses bourbon wood. Hand & Seal is complex without being perfumey, subtly sweet without becoming cloying. Its naturally gentle carbonation suits a contemplative drink. The size of the bottle connotes a spirit of generosity, for it is an ale to be shared with friends and family.
Reviews: 77 | Ratings: 360 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Harrison8
4.29/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark burgundy-brown with less than a finger of khaki foam. Head retention is modest at best. Aroma is toffee, raisins, caramel, molasses and earthy, toasty, nutty malts. Huge depth to the aroma, that opens up lightly sweet and is curtailed - just slightly - but a little bourbon heat at the back. For the most part, the heat has faded from this 2014 vintage. Flavor profile is raisins, toffee, dark and stone fruits, caramel, molasses and brown sugar with roasty, toasty, nutty, earthy malts. Bourbon adds just a little swell of heat at the finish, but it's just big enough to cleanse the tongue of lingering sugary notes. Mouth feel is a touch thin with a medium-thin consistency. Texture is smooth and almost glass-like, which is to say, without much apparent texture at all. Overall, big and smooth. It doesn't taste like 13%+ at all, which is crazy. Aged extremely well.

Served at brewery. 2014 vintage. 13.3% abv.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.43/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a murky reddish brown with thin off white head. Light soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is caramel, plums, raisins and bourbon.

T - The taste is caramel, brown sugar, plums, raisins, figs, vanilla and bourbon.

M - Medium body with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a soft dry finish.

O - This is an awesome BBA Barleywine. Please bring this back.

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Photo of hman43
4.41/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Look: It pours cooper with an off white head. Head retention is low. It is slightly cloudy.

Smell: Strong malt with toast and caramel. There are moderately low bourbon and wood elements. There are low dark fruits in the nose as well.

Taste: The flavors are very strong with malt. The malt are loaded with toast, caramel and treacle. The bourbon and wood are moderate. There are low levels of dark fruit. The dark fruit is mostly plums and raisins. There is very low vanilla.

Feel: It is thick and chewy. It has smooth alcohol warming.

Overall, this is a great English barleywine with plenty of flavor and excellent warming.

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Photo of jimmyd3
4.49/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From nose to tongue this blew me away. Really blossomed as it warmed. Smooth, sweet, malty with just a hint of vanilla. Loved this so much I flew to NY and bought 6 at the brewery to take back to Michigan for future enjoyment. Wish they would brew this one again!

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Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a muddy brown like the Mississippi wen the water is up with a caramel colored head.

Fig, raisin, toffee, plumb, bourbon, and sweet bread in the nose.

Taste follows nose in a sweet smooth complex symphony of flavor.

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Photo of BillRoth
4.43/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Blend #2 (BQE Q3 2014) ... just opened (2018). Aged well and came across as a very well crafted bottled conditioned BW. Barrel brought the extra vanilla and coconut as promised. Smooth as hoped. Enjoyed that barrel didn't depress the base BW too much. Caramel and nougat maltiness still rose to surface from this English style BW. Garrett and company do it again. Well done.

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Photo of Boccu
4.24/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014. Pours mahogany in color. With a light brown head. Very light Lacing. Aroma Carmel, toffee and raisins. Taste follows the nose with vanilla, dark fruit, coconut with a light alcohol burn. Very sweet. Very nice barely wine.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle was poured into a chalice.

Appearance: A minimal head was poured that reduced to nothing quickly. Expected after a two year wait in the bottle. It is a copper color with great clarity and vision of some tiny tiny bubbles coming up through the glass.

Smell: Caramel, toffee, raisins, vanilla, a little coconut, sweetness, and nice mellow alcohol.

Taste: Caramel and toffee sweetness, raisins, dark fruits, slight coconut, vanilla, mellow warm alcohol, and super smooth. Delicious and tasty. A little dry and light bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Super smooth, full bodied, sweet, low carbonation, nice warm alcohol, a little dry, and light light bitterness.

Overall: After a two year wait, it was time to enjoy this beer. I have to say to say it was well worth it. Yummy and delicious and wish I had another bottle. Or hope that the brewery makes more.

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Photo of CoreyC
4.8/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

9/14 bottling so aged 2 years
A - red/brown/orange color with a quickly dissipating head
S - wonderful complex sweetness with the barrel coming through nicely
T - about as good as it gets - sweet smooth and balanced
M - nice and sticky
O - one of the best beers I've ever had - I was saving it for a special occasion and the Badgers beating LSU in the season opener was the perfect occasion!

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.72/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured a murky reddish brown from the bottle (Q3 2014) into a snifter. With time it turned into a clear dark ruby red colored pour.
Heavenly aroma; lots of candy, brown sugar, molasses, caramel, delicate barrel notes, some vanilla and dark fruits.
This is a malt bomb, start to finish. Sweet, but not cloyingly sweet. Very well balanced and for a 13.3% brew, the alcohol is very well hidden.
A well-made and well-aged brew. One of Brooklyns finest efforts, cheers!

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Photo of Jadjunk
4.09/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

"In the 20th year of his reign, our Brewmaster brought forth a new wonderment for the people. Barleywine-style ale, an old and once exclusive drink of the British nobility, would be produced anew in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn brewing team toiled to create a complex liquid with the rich flavors of floor-malted barley shining through layers of vanilla, coconut and floral notes provided by aging in casks of bourbon oak, culminating in 100% bottle refermentation." Brewed in the style of an English Barleywine aged in Bourbon Barrels, available in limited run 750ml. bottles.

Poured from a 750ml. bottle to a snifter glass.

(Appearance) Pours a fizzy foam head of a buttercream tone over a lightly hazy red caramel body with moderate carbonation. Retention is average and there is no visible lacing. 3.75

(Smell) Aroma indicative of a barleywine-style ale, rich, caramelized syrups, toasted bread grain malts, viscous dark fruit syrup notes, with a welcome touch of tartness. The bourbon character also makes a graceful impact, bringing smooth oak tannins, trace vanilla and delicate bourbon character. Potency is moderate. 4

(Taste) The flavor largely follows the nose. Rich, toasted malt syrups and sugars generate a sweet, thick and viscous profile, with undercurrents of dark fruit sugars and spicy grain ethanol. Additionally welcome is the impact of the bourbon barrel aging, bringing an appropriate and complimentary level of tannins and booze, detectable enough to stand out amongst the beer but is not overbearing. Finishes dry and smooth with a trail of rich dark fruit viscosity and alcohol. Very solid. 4.25

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, moderately syrupy, smooth, lightly chewy, medium dry. Carbonation is light, generating a medium frothiness and a lightly crisp finish. Body is medium+ for the style, shy of heavy overall. Balance is nearly even sweetness to tannins, fruit tanginess and grain alcohol. Alcohol presence is moderate, and there are no off characters worthy of mention. 4

(Overall) Finally, I'm glad to have experienced a quality 750ml. bottle from this brewery. A solid English Barleywine with lots of richness, depth and body to it, pushed to the next level by a respectable bourbon impact. Nicely balanced, very filling and bold. It's been a while since "Monster" graced our shelves as an affordable Barleywine option, but I think this is a clear step above with no real discernible flaws. Regardless, it's arguably a questionable value at $20 per 750ml. bottle, but a much better beer overall than the previous two entries, so I am much less frustrated with this purchase in particular, and would recommend this beer, if perhaps for a special occasion. 4

Brooklyn Brewery's
Hand & Seal: A Barleywine Style Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels

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Photo of ONUMello
4.16/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a pint glass
A:Hazy brown
S: Raisin, caramel, molasses, vanilla, bourbon
T: Matches the nose. Lots of raisin, brandied cherry and all sorts of varieties of caramelized sugar with some vanilla and bourbon to finish
M: Full-bodied, sweet, a bit of alcohol but fits the style
O: This is a big beer, a bit sweeter than I'd prefer but well made & tasty overall

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Photo of stakem
4.39/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml corked and caged poured into a matching Brooklyn snifter. The brew appears brown in color with a khaki head.

It smells of caramelized sugar: caramel, toffee, vanilla and bourbon. Absolutely decadent.

This tastes of bourbon than sweet caramel, toffee, maple, coconut and vanilla.

The feel on this is medium in body with moderate carbonation. Wow what a sleeper, a delicious sweet sipper of a beer that if the price wasnt so high, id get a case of. Delicious.

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Photo of hardy008
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours light cloudy brown color with a small beige head which fades quickly, leaving spotty lacing. the aroma has toffee, Bourbon, dark fruit, and some citrus.

Very sweet taste with toffee, caramel, Bourbon, dark fruit, oranges, oak, and vanilla. There is some alcohol taste, but not too much to be able to enjoy this beer.

Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation. Has a sticky sweet aftertaste.

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Photo of 3-Ball
4.85/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

One of my all time favorite beers, finally getting around to reviewing it.
L: Poured into a Olde Hickory Omega Point Snifter - Pours a Caramel like brown, no head at all with very minimal lacing
S: Bourbon, toffee, dark fruit
T: Caramel, bourbon, toffee, some dark fruit
F: medium body, sweet syrup like feel, really hides the 13.3%
O: Such a delicious, and complex BBA English Barleywine. I can't get enough of this beer.

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Photo of dacrza1
4.54/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

DATE TASTED: December 31, 2015... GLASSWARE: Duvel tulip...OCCASION: the nightcap for 2015...this will bridge the two years nicely... APPEARANCE: nearly pitch brown--when swirled, glimpses of light do make their way through; head is an off-white halo that holds throughout the drinking...lacing is sporadic but leaves firework-like dots on the glass as it drains... AROMA: immediate, powerful vanilla and coconut meld with the earnest whiskey; secondary aromas of chocolate and toasted malts, phenol and wine-like grapes... PALATE: full-bodied, warming bourbon smoothness--this one elicits a shock to the teeth, a collar to the throat, and a lasting, thick Imperial stout-like consistency--epic...TASTE: coconut, vanilla,and bourbon--what a winning combination... follow this up with chocolate, licorice, toasted bread malts, slight citrus and more alcohol, and the beer takes over the senses... what a BIG profile to digest, with maple and toffee, but a meal in itself... OVERALL: a 2014 Christmas gift from Jer, I cellared it specifically for this night, knowing that a year might do a great beer an even better turn--brilliant, articulated profile and impactful tangibility...if it were not a gift, it would still be worth the money, though H&S would be a difficult habit to keep up...

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.55/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

750ml bottle poured into a snifter.

A: Deep chestnut brown with some ruby hues. Great clarity. Cream-colored head holds at half inch in height. Spotty lacing.

S: Rich notes of bread pudding, molasses, caramel, toffee. Rummy. Brown bread. Booze-soaked raisins and stewed plums. Barrel notes of sweet bourbon, chocolate-caramel chews, and light whiffs of oaky vanillins. Soft earthy tones too. Mouth-watering.

T: Big residual sweetness. Molasses, thick and chewy caramel, maple. Toffee. Brown bread. Stewed plums. Rum raisin. Crust. Earthy hop notes are smoothed over by the rich malt character. Barrel flavors are initially stifled by the sheer size of the barleywine, but they slowly start to come forward and gradually build on the back end. Sweet bourbon emerges from the complementary malt flavors. Toasty oak. Peppery. Drying oak takes the edge off of the sweetness just a hair going into the finish. The ending is a happy one, with bourbon, oak, and malty sweetness living out the rest of their days in harmony together.

M: Thick and rich with some sticky and syrupy malt textures thanks to the abundance of residual sugars. So soft and creamy, like when a fine chocolate melts in your mouth. Alcohol has a soothing and gentle presence and brings a lot of warmth. Carbonation is very fine and pricks about the tip of the tongue.

O: This is one of the better barleywines I've had in a good long while. It's a gargantuan beer, but its demeanor is so gentle and good-natured that you never fully realize its strength. It warms, soothes, and relaxes you to your very core. This is the perfect fireside sipper to enjoy in the dead of winter.

The cheese pairing here is obvious- find yourself a big Stilton.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from cork and cage bottle into snifter. This is a hazy ale and its color is variegated, ranging from a deep brown at the bottom of the glass to a yellow-orange at the top, with a rather thin, milk-white, head and lacing. It rather resembles apple cider. The smell is inviting with abundant caramel, toffee, and sweet malt and some subdued pear. The taste is strongly caramel, balanced by a refreshing fruitiness, and finishing with a nice brown sugar. As the glass warmed, I tasted the vanilla I had smelled, as well as some maple. The bourbon blends very nicely with the other flavors and is by no means overpowering. There's also a slight hoppiness in the aftertaste. This is a full-bodied, chewy ale with moderate carbonation. The high ABV of 13.3% is not nearly as noticeable as I thought it would be but it still packs a wallop. Expect to sip on this one. Overall, this is a vine English Barleywine and I'm sorry it was only brewed once. I should have bought it when it was easier to find!

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Photo of Damian
4.24/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 1 pint, 9.4 fluid oz corked and caged bottle purchased at Whole Foods Market, New York, NY
Blend #1
Served in a snifter

Deep, dark, crimson-amber appearance. Moderately hazy. A flimsy, frothy, cream colored film of bubbles topped the liquid, but it quickly dissolved to a thin halo. Streaks of lacing trickled along the glass. As the beer warmed, the chill haze dropped to reveal a nearly clear body. On the second pour, the liquid turned more of a murky chestnut hue.

The aroma was sweet and very malty. Loads of toffee, caramel and brown sugar. Somewhat bready. Slightly fruity, with the fruity notes being rather generic. Really pleasant but not super complex. The nose became punchier with time. Bourbon notes really comes forth. For a 13.3% ABV beer, however, the alcohol was shockingly subdued.

The flavor profile featured more of the same characteristics as the nose but was even sweeter and more robust. Uber malty on the front end. Lots of toffee and caramel. Brown sugar also came through strong. Maple was apparent as well. Bourbon notes played a big role. Vanilla was quite noticeable. A hint of earthy hop bitterness appeared in the finish. Like in the nose, the alcohol was remarkably well hidden. As the beer warmed, a touch of booze came forth.

The mouthfeel was creamy, frothy and smooth. Medium bodied for the style. Somewhat syrupy but perhaps a touch thinner than anticipated. Buy the end of the session, the liquid left a sticky film on my lips.

Although Hand & Seal may not be the most groundbreaking or complex barrel-aged barleywine, it was really tasty and enjoyable nonetheless. At $23 a bottle, however, I probably would not splurge on this again.

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Photo of ryanhooks81
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into pint glass. Smells sweet. Vanilla. Tastes like vanilla, raisins, caramel. Medium bodied. Med carbonation. Delicious beer from Brooklyn, as usual.

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Photo of brentk56
3.84/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours chestnut brown with a modest head that fades to a ringlet and archipelago; strands and dots of lacing hang around

Smell: Caramel, orange, Bourbon, golden raisins, vanilla and spice cake

Taste: Herbal orange flavors jut forward with caramel, golden raisin and spice cake elements building; in the middle, the Bourbon and vanilla take over; the finish has considerable burn

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; considerable warmth in the gullet

Overall: Went into this with high hopes given Garrett Oliver's history with English beer and the strong reviews; unfortunately, while this is a big flavored barleywine I didn't care for the dominance of the herbal orange aspect

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Photo of OrangeMen
4.52/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2014 Vintage
1 year since bottling

Appears- Pours a burgundy color, creamy off white head that dissipates, nice lacing.

Aromas- Sweeeeet bourbon, tons of dry oak...tons. Herbal spiciness that really comes forward. Layers of caramel, vanilla, its like a charred creaminess. Toastiness, fruitiness, berries, cherries, raisins, dates.

Taste- Again, just a wave of bourbon and herbal spice, tons of dry oaky barrel. Vanilla and caramel, toasty malts. Lot more fruitiness on the taste than in the aroma, more cherries, more berries and raisin.

Feel- Its sticky, its sweet, its creamy, its full bodied.

Overall- Great job by Brooklyn on this one, while i dont think all their quarterly expirament beers are world class....this one definetly is. In terms of barrel aged barleywines it can go along side any of the best of them. This one is well worth the $20+ price tag

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.47/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml caged and corked bottle, Blend #2. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a murky reddish/brown color with about an inch light tan head that fizzled away quickly. There's a small amount of lacing. I like the aroma, the brew smells like toffee, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, oak and a bit of dark fruit. The taste is pretty similar to the aroma, with lots of toffee, caramel, dark fruit (raisins, figs), brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, and woody flavors. It's a good sweet and malty brew! Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's syrupy and coating with a moderate amount of carbonation. At 13.3% ABV, I was expecting it to be boozier but the alcohol was hidden well for the most part. I thought it was a pretty good barleywine overall, I liked it a lot! $20.99 a bottle.

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Photo of polloenfuego
4.43/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: A cloudy rusty brown with a fingers worth of head that broke leaving some fine lacing to the end. 4.25

S: Well, there is no doubt that this is aged in bourbon barrels. The bourbon is dominant on the nose, while I also picked up vanilla, and toffee/caramel notes. Faint oak comes in on the end. 4.25

T: A bourbon barrel-aged English barleywine? Yes please. As with the nose, the bourbon elements are all up at the front. One gets the bourbon, vanilla and toffee first, then the dark fruits and typical sweetness of an English barleywine coming in close after. Decadent. 4.5

M: Smooth and oh so silky. There is no sense that you are drinking a beer with a 13% ABV, the booze is hidden very well. Low carbonation and though the sweetness comes through more as it warms, the smooth doesn't dissipate. 4.5

O: I am impressed. The barrel and the base work together so well and the drinker is left with an amazing beer that is one hell of a sipper. I only wish I had more in the cellar. 4.5

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Photo of AndrewMichael
4.35/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 mL corked bottle from December 2014. Smooth for the abv, hint of booziness, but right on point for the style as a bourbon barrel aged barleywine.

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Hand & Seal from Brooklyn Brewery
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 360 ratings