The Concoction
Brooklyn Brewery

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Herb and Spice Beer
3.08 | pDev: 33.12%
Brooklyn Brewery
New York, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Notes: Ale with peated malt, lemon, ginger and honey. Inspired by The Penicillin cocktail.
Reviews: 79 | Ratings: 168 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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maddogruss from New Jersey

3.21/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

From notes back in 2011. Had on draft.

A: pours a cloudy, amber body with small white head, with pretty solid retention and lacing
S: coriander, lemon smell with hints of citrus smelling, grapefruit rind hops; combo of it all does make it smell like a band-aid
T: interesting, string herbal taste; coriander in the forefront; hints of ginger
M: medium bodied and fairly smooth; a little on the light side
D: ok mouthfeel and taste combo; decent drinking beer overall; interesting beer

Nov 22, 2020
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unklemike from New York

3.39/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

It has been awhile since I have had this. This was an interesting beer. Very piney with aspects that might lead to the conclusion of a possible Belgium yeast. Up front is s spicey alot of things going on here. Finishes with a pine maybe juniper berry Note.nNote. not bad to me. It's like the beer equivalent to chartreuse

May 10, 2015
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Crookdrain from New York

4.41/5  rDev +43.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a review from over a year ago, just getting to transferring my notes to the computer.

On tap at the Brooklyn Brewery and at the Double Windsor in Brooklyn.

A: Poured into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter with a fluffy white head and decent lacing. This thing doesn't look too remarkable, kind of ugly actually, but so was my prom date, so who cares?

S: This is where I fell in love with this beer. Unlike any other beer my nose has ever had the pleasure of meeting. Heavy, freshly grated ginger and peat-smoked malt creep deep into the nostrils, with some lemon leading the van from the back. This does not smell like a beer - it smells like a vibrant, aggressive cocktail that someone just threw into your face. Very upfront and bold - you're either going to love this, or ask the bartender for a completely different beer.

T: The nose forebode a heavy ginger and peat-smoke experience, and that's exactly what you get the instant this thing hits your mouth. Very aggressive spicing from Garrett - his intention was to create a beer based off the cocktail The Penicillin, and boy did he succeed. I'm not a big fan of cocktails, but I do love Scotch, and this thing will leave a peat-smoked flavor on your cheeks and tongue for probably the rest of the night. There's some lemon and a big ginger kick that doesn't really balance the smoke, but really just stops the thing from going into overdrive.

M: Carbonated well, medium thickness, but your mouth is definitely overwhelmed instantly by this thing. Alcohol hides well behind all that peat and ginger.

O: People either love or hate this beer. My friend wouldn't stand next to me when I drank one. It's definitely one of the tastiest, most unique, and most polarizing beers I've ever had the pleasure of trying. I wish Brooklyn would brew more off-the-wall beers inspired by cocktails - The Manhattan Project was good, but this was definitely one of the tastiest yet odd beers I've ever had.

Jun 04, 2013
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Jadjunk from Georgia

4.22/5  rDev +37%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On Tap at Taco Mac Decatur January 5, 2012. 16 Ounce Pour.

(Appearance) Beer pours a solid rusty copper with a thick foamy head of a white tone. Slightly hazy, with a meager level of small carbonation bubbles. Pretty nice. 4

(Smell) Very intriguing aroma. Aromas of mild smoke, spicy hops, nutmeg and dark fruits amongst a boozy charred rubber base. Very complex, quite potent. Well done balance. 4.5

(Taste) Wonderfully complex. Intense first sips; Mild smoke and molasses. Tastes of mild berry flavor and smoke on the finish. Finish is also a touch boozy and very sweet. All over, a tasty and interesting brew. 4

(Mouthfeel) Airy; very mild carbonation tingle, just enough to compliment the lighter aspects of this brew. It could be a touch more active, however. 4

(Overall) This is a very interesting brew and worth trying. There's tons of complexity and flavor, enough to stand this out from the other beers on the market. 4.5

Mar 20, 2012
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WhiteOak from Connecticut

3/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The summary of my notes from the barstool on this one were basically hops and spice.

A- Dark amber orange color with a minimal white head that quickly fades to ring.

S- Piney hops and herbaceous spices.

T- Fruity hops flavor and spice melange nearly obscure the light malt beneath.

Feb 02, 2012
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

3.17/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a medium to dark copper color with an anemic white lacing ring and a small amount of carbonation.

S - Coriander, lemons, spices, herbs, spearmint leaves, and juniper. Smells like an off-shoot Belgian ale which perhaps justifies the name of the beer.

T - Flavor is balanced and the malt is buried by the spices and herbs. There's a quick herbal tang up front that has a "zippy"/"twangy" character that lays below the surface in the form of ginger and lemons while the spices and herbs roll over the top. Mint, tea leaves, and juniper is the first thing that comes to mind...and that is "Holiday Beer".

M - Moderately light body with an aftertaste of lemons and ginger with gentle carbonation.

O - Personally, I would have been more excited about this beer had it been released closer to Christmas, just not cutting it for me. (*note* - even though this is being reviewed around Christmas, it was actually sampled on 9/14/ is being posted from my notes).

Dec 29, 2011
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ChainGangGuy from Georgia

1.99/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

16 ounce pint - $5.75 at Taco Mac in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Appearance: Served up a clouded, dirtied amber body with a ½ inch of off-white head and a multitude of effervescence streams along the sides of the glass.

Smell: Peated malt and toasted grains sprinkled with lemon juice and recklessly wrapped with a strange, medicinal scent of a phenol and liniment dosed rags being shoved in your face.

Taste: Smokey peat malt flecked with a few crumbs of sugar. Then, there enters a sharp, rubber-based baby bottle nipple phenolic note, conceivably coming from off the peat malt. A squirt of lemon, a sliver of pickled ginger, then some jagged florals before the bitterness enters. An ungraciously medicinal beer as your near the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Highly carbonated.

Overall: A demanding, conceptually interesting beer in need of a tweak or two, but, until then, one is more than enough for me, thanks.

Dec 27, 2011
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TheWhiskerReview from Tennessee

3.92/5  rDev +27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a pretty garnet-orange with a fluffy 1-finger white head leaving a nice bit of soapy lace.

The nose is crazy musty and medicinal- a subtle peaty blanket surrounds the apricot, lemon, honey and herbal tones. Concoction indeed, this smells like something I'd need if I were sick.

The medium-bodied palate is an incredibly frothy and creamy delivery of straight up cough drop flavors- like a honey-lemon Ricola complete with the sweetness which is meant to balance out the herbal/menthol tones (which is how the gingery freshness is translating for me) with a little syrupy apricot thrown in for good measure. The peatiness is tucked into it all very nicely, while the bitterness comes in surprisingly large, drying out the brew and bringing more suggestions of juniper and pine, while the honeyed malt gets a bit of intense (and vaguely harsh) spice box flavor on the finish- leaving a lingering juicy mandarin orange vibe.

The Concoction. Named after a cocktail called Penicillin. Smells like medicine. Tastes like medicine. It's kind of like the Stone Belgo Anise RIS, most people won't like it or have the capacity to appreciate it. But I'd order it again. Especially if I had a cold.

Dec 26, 2011
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corby112 from Pennsylvania

3.18/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Draft at The Farmers' Cabinet in Philadelphia.

Pours a dark golden orange color with a two finger, frothy wihite head that slowly fades into a lasting ring.  Splotches of soapy lacing left behind.

Herbal, spicy aroma with a ton of ginger and lemon peel along with some earthy funk and light frut.  Pale malt underneath.

Medium bodied with a slick, silky mouthfeel with hints of lavender and honey as well as some earthy funk, zesty spice and subtle buttery diaceytl.  Lots of ginger and zesty lemon along with some earthy grass and light fruit.  Really weird but decent.

Dec 25, 2011
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biboergosum from Canada (AB)

2.29/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A pint at Beer Revolution in downtown Calgary. Made with roasted hickory, orange rind, and marjoram, according to the pleasingly helpful barkeep. Thanks, Marcus!

This beer appears a cloudy, dark apricot amber colour, with one finger of thin wispy white head, which readily disappears, leaving but a low-slung ring of lace around the glass in the process. It smells, well it smells like Preparation H - the stuff my mom put on my booboos when I invariably wiped out as a kid - you don't forget that smell. The strong medicinal aroma thankfully gives way (mostly) to roasted malt, aged citrus, and a funky, herbal character. The taste is more of the same - toast, grainy malt, juicy orange flesh, and a large and in charge herbal, medicinal, um, dose, coating, remedy, you get the idea. The carbonation is on the tame side, the body medium weight, and a tad cloying, being so reminiscent of a Merck product. It finishes, sweet, I guess, the citrus and pharmacy herbaceousness still duking it out.

Good god - is this what marjoram tastes like? At least I now have a reminder to avoid it, lest future salads, mains, etc, remind me of skinned knees and lacerations due to youthful indiscretion. The elevated booze is well hidden, I'll grant, but at what cost?

Dec 23, 2011
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JerseyKirk from New Jersey

4.09/5  rDev +32.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap that the brewery.

A: amber colored. White 1 finger head.

S: piney, fruity, hoppy.

T: fruity, hoppy, lemon, citrus. bandaid? Could be a sign of infection.

M: full bodied.

O: Great no clue the style. Hid the alcohol really well.

Dec 22, 2011
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paulginva from Virginia

2.41/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

APPEARANCE: Poured from the tap into a snifter, this beer produced a fizzy off-white 1/2" head with thin head lacing that dissipated quickly. The body was a hazy amber color with no carbonation.

AROMA: A moderate aroma of honey and lemon, with light hints of spices and smoke. There was more than a whiff of some sort of medicinal scent. Not very appealing.

TASTE: Moderate honey, lemon, ginger and smoke with a light taste of grass, pepper, spices and alcohol. Even less appealing than the smell. This one is a stinker!

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body with an oily texture, no carbonation and thin body lacing that dissipates quickly. The initial flavor was lightly sweet with a tinge of bitterness. The short finish was lightly sour with only a hint of sweetness and left an aftertaste that reminded me of mouthwash.

DRINKABILITY: This was interesting to try once but I won't be having another. It was memorable in all the wrong ways. A very different brew; hard to pin down exactly. I appreciate what the brewmaster was trying to accomplish, I guess, but I'd suggest going back to the drawing board.

Dec 14, 2011
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wordemupg from Canada (AB)

3.15/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

on tap at Beer Revolution 04/12/11

A hazy golden orange with a short lived thumbs width of off white foam that leaves some random lace

S citric hops come out pretty strong with some lemon rind but a strange menthol smell

T minty with some more menthol, faint Buckley's cough syrup overpowers the hops

M medium bodied with well concealed booze but I feel like I just had a cough drop, very minty medicinal aftertaste

O this ones a little odd, not really sure what they were attempting with this one

its a strange concoction that I don't think I'd bother with again

Dec 14, 2011
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far333 from Connecticut

3.8/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Eli Cannon's. Murky orange color with a beige low head. Low aroma of ginger and phenols. Interesting rich and pungent flavor that is very unique as a whole, but able to be disassembled into its component parts as they travel across the palette. Ginger, citrus, phenols, grand marnier, orange rind, brown sugar, definitely retolant of an old-school cocktail. Even mouthfeel, tingly, crisp, warming. This is a unique and inventive beer, a style buster that pushes all kinds of envelopes. Hats off to Garrett.

Dec 07, 2011
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LadyOfMuchBeer from Texas

4.06/5  rDev +31.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at the Meddlesome Moth in Dallas, TX.

I started with a ounce taster, which truly did not do the beer justice, so as the barmaid suggested, ordered a full one.

Served in a tulip glass, came to me as a beautifully perfect pour, a creamy full inch of head and a hazy golden amber.

The nose has stages, citrusy hops, ginger, malts & caramel, medicinal funkiness like it was prepping for surgery. Betadine/sterilizer/metal. Hard to place what all those smells are, but if I were in an operating room, I am pretty sure the smell is one and the same.

The taste is citrusy, grapefruit, up front but before the hops can kick forth, the band-aids kick in. The flavor is very medicinal, just as the nose was. However, it has good spice and depth of flavor underneath and I actually really enjoyed drinking this. A different and wonderful experience. I would recommend giving a try if you get the chance.

Feels metallic and bitter on the mouth, which is an odd sensation, since you really don't get those flavors much.

I was pleasantly surprised, but I can understand why some can't get passed the medicinal quality. However, I knew what this was going in, so I knew to see it coming.

Nov 28, 2011
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TheManiacalOne from Rhode Island

2.93/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

On-tap 11/19/2011 at Dave’s Bar & Grill in Warwick, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark murky gold color, with a short white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains spices, caramelized malts, fruit and some hops.

T: The taste starts out with a strong ginger spice flavor up front. Then some citrus flavor comes in along with a decent hops presence. The malt character is hearty but not too heavy however there is not much balance as the flavors just don’t seem to fit together. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Not very tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, decent kick, this is a very aptly names beer as it tastes exactly like it is a concoction.

Nov 21, 2011
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NeroFiddled from Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev +36.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Just a C+ average for this beer so far...??? Are you kidding me? Are you all just taking the piss here? If this beer had been produced by Fantome in Belgium, or some other "hot" brewer in the U.S. (Stone maybe) or United Kingdom (BrewDog maybe) I'd think it would receive straight "A's"...

But with all of the above stated, I will note that it is a bit hard to put your finger on it, and that can be trying, and even confusing, but that's what makes it great! It's nice to find a beer that actually still stretches boundaries given the current berth of offerings on the market - and yet keeps it remarkably drinkable (within context).

Initially it's a touch smokey, and then it becomes more spicy and citrusy (think black pepper and ginger with a mist of lemon). But then, with the third and fourth and fifth sips, it softens a bit and the smokiness subsides: the spiciness remains but it takes on more character, and a bit more sweetness in the malt appears as well. However, following that, the smokiness returns along with a bit more herbal character and hoppy spice - keep in mind, the hops are always present to a certain extent in both the nose and the taste. It's kind of funky and interesting, with smoke and spice and citrus - and to a certain extent it's always changing yet somehow remaining the same. I'm not sure what the yeast is contributing to it; but I'm guessing that it's Belgian in origin, and probably supporting the whole thing in one form or another (some clove at least).

What we do know for sure is that this isn't simply a cookie-cutter beer; and that it's at once somehow straightforward and direct while still maintaining a host of subtle nuances. But it doesn't just drop it all on the plate for you (spice, citrus, smoke, sugar), it requires you to actually think about what you're tasting in a very focused manner - at least until you're ready to just let go and enjoy it for what it is.

So, overall, 'NICE! VERY NICE'! It's an engaging beer. It may be mainly about sweetish malt infused with spicy, smokey, peppery, and citrusy notes to it, but there's actually more depth if you care to look.

Nov 20, 2011
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gopens44 from Virginia

2.57/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A - Reddish yellow with a head that goes away pretty quick, leaving behind barely bubbles around the edge

S - I will give style points on it being odd on purpose with a menthol and allspice thing going on...

T - Bloody hell, what is that, band aids and allspice? Tart on the finish.

M - Oily, oily, blech....

O - Like I told the bartenders, I was impressed that Brooklyn. Tried something so off the wall, but the accolades stop there.

Oct 11, 2011
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champ103 from Texas

2.68/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

On tap at both the Gingerman and Flying Saucer in Houston, TX.

A: Pours a slightly hazy orange/yellow color. A two finger white head forms with good retention initially. That recedes to a ring, with some sticky lace.
S: Soapy, oily, medicinal hops. Some citrus and grassy hops. Not much else. I don't get any other spices or peat.
T: Again, basically soapy, oily, and medicinal hops. No peat or anything else. The medicinal quality actually makes this much more off putting than needs be.
M/D: This has a medium body and carbonation. It is soapy, oily, chalky, and powdery. Just kind of blah, and not something I want to come back to again.

This is an odd one, and not something I care to come back to. I love peat, but there is none here. Even if there was, I don't think it would mesh right with the soapy hops. A failed experiment, and not something I would recommend.

Oct 10, 2011
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bsp77 from Minnesota

2.88/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Serving glass: Poured from tap into small glass.

Appearance: Hazy honey gold with thick white head and light lacing.

Smell: Lemon, ginger, smoke and an odd medicinal cast.

Taste: Very medicinal, with ginger, peat and lemon. Interesting, odd and slightly unpleasant. Yet I keep sipping. Whatever.

Feel: Moderate carbonation, medium body, odd finish.

Overall: A strange but ultimately failed experiment. I really wanted to like this more.

Oct 09, 2011
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Heatwave33 from Florida

4.38/5  rDev +42.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from tap at the Coffee District into a Shipyard Pint glass.

Color: Light amber with a white head.

Smell: Wood, hop, smokey and sweet aromas. Intense and complex.

Taste: Wow! Very complex like the smell. A wood, hop, smoky sweet taste that hits every taste bud imaginable.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly smooth with great carbonation. Has a nice bite too!

Overall: This is definitely a love it or hate it brew. I loved the complex aroma and taste. My brother did not. It was too much for him to handle. A very interesting brew to drink to say the least. All BA's should at least sample this one. Cheers!

Oct 09, 2011
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Billolick from New York

2.49/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Growler filled at Yorktown Bev. Yorktown, NY


Thats the question that comes to mind after a glass or two of this one.

Pours clouded brownish amber, long lasting medium tan head. Leaves ample lace and a tiny bubble film.

Nose of earth, must, moldy mushrooms, ginger...ah so tasty...

Notes of more of the same, musty, earthy, ginger, forest floor, stale herbs, tea...

Not sure if I can consume much more of this and that question...why? comes again to mind....Not sure what the goal here is for Brooklyn, with so many crowd pleasing styles of beer to experiment with , they have gone way out there with this experiment...why?....about 1/2 of my growler ends up down the drain....

Sep 26, 2011
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Mora2000 from Texas

1.76/5  rDev -42.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

On tap at The Common Table. I knew I was in trouble when I tried to order a pint and the bartender refused to sell it to me until I had sampled the beer first. Always nice to see bartenders looking out for their customers' best interests.

The beer pours a light amber color with a white head. The aroma is not appetizing. I get a lot of ginger and peat malt as well as some pine from the hops. The flavor is not any better. I get a ton of peat malt as well as some ginger, lemons, toffee and smoke. There is also a strong medicinal and band-aid quality to the flavor. The alcohol is detectable. Medium mouthfeel and low carbonation.

From a flavor and aroma standpoint, this beer is a huge mess. None of the notes work well together and the 2 ounce sample I got was more than I could drink. This thing is offensive. The bartender saved me $7 which I am grateful for. That is the only good thing about this experience.

Sep 25, 2011
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SBXLII from New York

4.5/5  rDev +46.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had at the Brewery itself, early August. Unfortunately missed the Tonic before it, as the Brewmaster's selection.

Little-lighter-than-amber hue, not very noticeable ginger off the head, but not too hard to tell it's an herb brew. The twang of it all is nothing you're likely to encounter from many other places. Bulky head with a solid yeast finish. Enough of a fizz to avoid the annoyance of a sugary belgian. It's some achievement to have made this work, in as much as ginger is not usually in beers outside of the occasional winter and pumpkin ales, hence heavier in body and palate. Comparable to a Saison du Buff in its scope.

Had one after the next and can't understand the Cs and Fs reviewed below. Give it a chance!
Top-notch treat from a top-notch outfit, as always. Hats off to BK and hoping for a bottling.

Sep 24, 2011
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tzieser from New Jersey

1.03/5  rDev -66.6%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

review taken from notes. "enjoyed" at the pour farm in new bedford massachusetts. i was told this was a leftover from Brooklyn's tap takeover. i'm about to find out why.

a: pours an unassuming pale straw color with a thin white head. kind of looks like a under-carbonated wheat beer.

s: whoa, what is that? ginger ale-like aroma. a bunch of spices and that's it. not very special.

t: i am pleased to report that this is probably the worst tasting beer i have ever had. what started out as a candied ginger-like flavor becomes an abomination of epic proportions. ungodly, disgraceful and unfortunate flavors like rotten band-aids and 35 year old vick's vapo rub. fits the definition of a phenol-tainted beer. was the fermentation messed up or something or was this intentional? what a disaster.

m: pretty thin.

now i know why this is the beer leftover from the tap takeover. it is HORRIBLE. it's so bad i think everyone should try a sip at least once, to remember how bad beer can be and how grateful we should be to have good beer to drink. maybe i should have given it an A because it's just so ridiculously awful that you gotta have it? nah.

Sep 21, 2011
The Concoction from Brooklyn Brewery
Beer rating: 72 out of 100 with 168 ratings