Northwind Imperial Stout | Two Brothers Brewing Company

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411 Reviews
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Northwind Imperial StoutNorthwind Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Two Brothers Brewing Company
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Dark delights like this were once shipped to the imperial court of Russia. With a firm, roasty maltiness balanced against a generous helping of hops, Northwind can stand up to the worst its namesake can dish out! Enjoy it by a roaring fire.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-14-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
411
Ratings:
927
Avg:
3.77
pDev:
18.04%
 
 
Wants:
30
Gots:
84
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 411 | Ratings: 927
Photo of bearrunner44
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance- As black as midnight. A hard pour produced about a centimeter of creamy, caramel-colored foam. The retention is good; a faint ring of head remained throughout consumption.

Smell- Rich, sweet malt aroma backed by a touch of grassy hops. Roasted cocoa beans. Alcohol scents float inconspicuously underneath it all.

Taste & Mouthfeel- Smooth and fairly rich; the smoothness is oatmeal-like. Carbonation is appropriately subdued. The malt flavor is sweet, milky, and caramel-like at first, almost cloyingly so. It becomes more dry towards the finish, though. The hops also become more prominent. They're leafy and herbal, and the overall taste of the finish is earthy and slightly bitter. The alcohol is hidden pretty well; it tastes like a 5-6.00 ABV, not 7.5.

Verdict- The richness and body you would expect from an Imperial stout is here, even if it's not the most complex one on the market.

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Photo of bowersdm
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - amazing. It was the typical color or an RIS with just a tiny hint of ruby on the fringes when held in front of a light with a stiff, slowly fading 2.5cm head.

S - dark chocolate (or maybe semi-sweet) and roasted barley. There may have been something else going on here, but i have a sinus infection, so my smell is slightly off.

T - okay, it's definitely dark chocolate followed by a small hop flavor. After a few drinks, a coffee taste is noticeable, as well as a smokiness or burnt barley flavor.

M - perfect carbonation. It's thick and really, really creamy. It's probably the best mouthfeel/texture I've ever had in a bottled RIS.

D - Pretty good. The abv is low and beer isn't quite as filling as other RISs.

Eh, this is a pretty good RIS. If you're new to the style, I'd recommend trying it just so you can prep yourself for the flavor overload of other RISs. It's one to try, but I'm not crazy about it.

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Photo of shanblur
3.22/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. No date present on the bottle.

A - Pours opaque black with a minimal tan head which fades quickly to a minimal ring with very light lacing.

S - Roasted malts predominate with muted chocolate and coffee aromas

T - Roasted malts with a hint of smoke. A nice chocolate and espresso flavor as well. Minimal hop presence detected on the finish.

M - Dense with a light carbonation

This is a nice beer. I have had both better and worse. I would not go out of my way to have another one.

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Photo of diabecktic
3.91/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance:
Despite a hard, controlled pour, this beer literally exploded all over me; there were easily ~4 fingers of head which kept flowing over the lip of the glass into which I poured it. After a while, the thick, foamy light-brown head settled at ~2 fingers. The beer itself is almost pitch black, but it's really more of a ruby-dark brown mix. Lacing is excellent.

Smell:
The major notes of the nose are a heavily roasted malt and smoked chocolate. Overall, it's kind of an "earthy" scent.

Taste:
I find this beer fairly sweet, but not directly on account of the chocolate. The notes of barley and chocolate are heavily roasted/smoked, but the flavor still seems rather sugary. Sweetness isn't particularly overpowering, as it resembles something which might be found in a dark fruit (plum, perhaps). I detect minimal hopiness, so there isn't too much bitterness of which to speak.

Mouthfeel:
This is a very thick beer, so I assume that a copious amount of sugar was present in the malt. As such, I rate the body as heavy. At 9.1% the alcohol is well hidden, but it seems to dry out my mouth towards the end of each sip (though only ever-so-slightly). This is definitely a beer which you want to consume slowly.

Overall:
I can't speak much to the complexity or balance of this beer. Personally, I find it a bit sweet for my liking, but I do enjoy the presence of the "darker" sweetness. The characteristic smokiness is also present, but it's not too overpowering. I have a feeling that this style is really more of an acquired taste; however, this shouldn't stop you from trying it.

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Photo of waldowin
3.03/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours an inky black, but thin. The decent dark brown head forms quickly, and fades almost as quickly.

Smells of coffee and figs, pretty simple but not unpleasant.

Taste is of roast, coffee, and a hint of figs. Not very strong, but the alcohol is nonexistant in the taste.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin for what I expected, and slightly acidic. Not a very smooth drinker.

The harsh flavors and the thin body, combined with the higher ABV of this beer means one bottle is almost more than I'd want.

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, lot # 0155. Pours very dark brown, with a khaki head that doesn't stick around long. Aroma of coffee, with a some chocolate and a bit of booze. Medium body. Some malt, sweetness, and perhaps a bit of hops in the flavor. Russian imperial stouts are perhaps my favorite style; this one does nothing to stand out from the others, but it does seem to be well balanced. And, as this is one of the least expensive Russian imperial stouts I have found, it's not a bad beer for the price. I hope to buy a few more to cellar and see how it is with another year or two on it.

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Photo of manahansf
3.98/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque black with ruby red highlights. Topped with a thin creamy brown tan head which has great retention and sticks to the top of the brew and the glass. Warming sherry like arioma with subtle hints of fresh dark fruits. Sweet malty drink with a vinous quality and sweet fruity flavor. The finish is slow and lingers a bit too long. A little bit of cloying sweetness lingers with a soft warming sensation.

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Photo of faernt
3.58/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I bought this as part of a trade. I drink Imperial Stouts often and all year so another to the collecton is always welcome. I lost Old Rasputin for a year over distribution issues and am always on the lookout for a worthy Imperial.

Northwind looks like an Imperial when it's poured. It's dark and somewhat oily as it goes into the glass. It smells brown (mostly coffee). The taste is pleasant but not surprising. I ask myself if I'd had too many Imperial Stouts (no). I ask myself when was the last time I'd been surprised by an Imperial Stout (a few months ago with some 2002 Rogue). This one just isn't surprising. It tastes more like an Irish Stout with a little attitude. It's a little dry and the flavor is not that complex. It's actually a good one flavor (two....a little sweet dark chocolate) beer but not the beguilingly complex brew I look for in this style. Second thought leads me to compare it more to an Oatmeal Stout than to a dry Irish Stout.

I find this to be a food beer more than a beer I'll drink alone. I'll drink it with Chorizo flavored fajitas and Chicken Mole. It's a good beer but not to my expectation of style.

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Photo of crayphish
3.97/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The brew pours a light canceling jet black liquid. Liquid is notably thick with a thin dark beige head. Nominal lacing. Smell is roasted malts with coffee and chocolate making their presence known. Some tartness is noted. Taste is chocolate coffee with a sweet raisin note over a faint hop bitterness. Not overly complex, but extremely balanced. Mouthfeel is fairly full due to the thickness of the beer. Does not finish as clean as one would like. The heaviness of this beer hurts its drinkability. Though it was still enjoyable.

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Photo of negroobserver
2.9/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

North-Wind Imperial Stout
45 IBU, 9.1% ABV
12 oz Bottle

Poured into a large Brandy snifter.

A: Pours a dark brown, almost black color. Very small cream colored head, which dissipates quickly and leaves behind a thin foamy rim on the edge of the glass.

S: Smells smoky. Has a very mild malty and chocolatey aroma at the back end. A very faint sweet licorice or vanilla like aroma. No dominant scents here, but I like that the vanilla aroma is almost hidden. This is my third bottle and this is the first time I've noticed it. Interesting, but disappointing that the last few weren't at the same level as this bottle.

T: Mostly flat and tasteless. Dark roasted malts. There is a smoky chalky taste which lingers in the mouth. Slight sour and hoppy quality.

M: The beer has some depth, but not the kind of rich texture that you would expect from an Imperial class beer. It doesn't coat the glass or the mouth in the way that an Imperial Stout should. At best, it has the depth and texture of a standard stout. At 9.1% ABV, I can't smell or taste the alcohol in the beer, which makes me question the validity of the company's claims regarding the ABV content. Or it could be that this is one of the better crafted beers on the market in that respect. Who knows?

Overall, I had great hopes for this beer and was hoping that this was a rare exception to the pricy Imperial Stouts that one finds on the market. Sadly, I feel like I was duped by the company into buying an inferior product which appears to be very misleading in its claims.

VERY DISAPPOINTING, ESPECIALLY BECAUSE I ACTUALLY LIKE TWO BROTHERS' BEERS (NOT ALL, BUT SOME).

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Photo of Northsider
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Two Brothers Tap House.

I'm not usually a fan on Imperial Stouts but this one wasn't bad. The flavor masked the alcohol nicely, which many RISs don't do. Color was almost pitch black with nice tan head. Smelled of roasted malts. The taste was almost smokey, not chocolaty or of coffee like my experience with most stouts.

Overall this seemed like a great desert beer, not something I would drink quickly, but rather something I could nurse with a full stomach.

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Photo of rembrant
4.48/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Look Classic stout, oilcan black,ample froth,lacing clings well.

Scent Rosted Malts Dark Chocolate, slight fruity hops.

taste Up front,a surprise,fudge Brownie with raisins. Then it quickly returns to being a Stout,and the raisin shifts a bit to a subtle Port Wine as the choco shifts to Espresso. I enjoy how some of these big old Stouts play the Malt/Hops lag into a way to transform flavors

This,relatively, has a kinder,sweeter note than a lot of Imperial Stouts,despite the bitter-sour hop finish.

I've been exploring quite a few Stouts the last couple of weeks and,no question,Stout variants are where Brewers like to play a lot of tricks. This has several elements and they shift. It's a mystery tour of flavors with that undertone of Port and espresso quite interesting.

it goes well with Provolone or Prawns or Naked Women. Some of my favorite other flavors.

Mouth Yep Lots That hops posing as Port lingers,good viscosity....even the froth is tasty I can't pinpoint carbonation as a distinct prickle,but it's not flat at all. Nice.

Drinkable I'm not sure of the ABV and Imp Stouts are large but I'm feeling like a better man having had one,so,I figure one more and I'm nearly perfect.

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Photo of mecummins
3.29/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A- poured a dark dark brown color. Very rich looking. Produced a 1 & 1/2 finger dark tan head. The foam dissipated very quickly, however, leaving a thin film to cover the beer. Bits of lacing here and there, but nothing really exciting.

S- dark chocolate, coffee and some roasted malts. There was a sweetness there as well.

T- sort of disappointing at first. The taste did not live up to the aroma at all. There was a harsh alcohol taste on the front note, followed by the bitterness of the chocolate & coffee. As it warmed though, it grew a bit sweeter and better balanced. I enjoyed it a lot more after it sat out for 20 minutes or so.

M- very lush and rich mouthfeel. It had a chewy quality to it. Medium finish

O- it was a decent stout that I'd drink again, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

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Photo of dgfair
3.5/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle poured into Great Lakes snifter.

A - Pours an opaque oily, jet black color with a very thin head that dissipates almost instantly and leaves no lacing on the glass.

S - Heavy cocoa upfront balanced with a little bit of malty sweetness and light roasted coffee. A little thin in smell, and I would love to have the scents hit a little harder.

T - Sweet, powdered cocoa with a little bit of roasty coffee and roasty malt. A slight taste of alcohol at the swallow, but not overpowering...just enough to let you know it's there. Flavor becomes a little more biscuity as it warms also.

M - Not bad, kinda thin for an impy stout, but the carbonation is perfect. Also, the balance between dry and oily is very, very nice.

D - This is probably the easiest drinking RIS I've had. The thin body and not overly complex taste make this one go down quick and smooth. I certainly like this, but it's almost more like an imperial porter than an imperial stout.

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Photo of MattBrooks
4.65/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I found out after trying this fantastic brew that it regularly comes in six packs as the next in a series of seasonals, but the brewery couldn't get the six-pack holders made in time, so they put it in a 22oz bottle this year. This beer pours brownish-black with a beautiful cascade and complimentary colored head. It smells the way a cup of coffee would had that cup been made by Hershey's. Yum! The only flaw in the whole beer is the mouthfeel, it could have been a little bit heavier for my taste. Some Russian Imperials can come off way too bitter or way to chocolate-y, not this one. It has great balance throughout and it's not too hard to put down a few bombers, even if it is 7.5%.

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Photo of optiontwo
4.35/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz. poured into Unibroue tulip glass

Appearance: Black with a one inch somewhat tan head that was only conjured with a vigorous pour.

Smell: Chocolate, coffee, tobacco, caramel, and nuts. Plenty going on here, can't wait to taste.

Taste: Reminds of dark chocolate covered nuts, almonds maybe. There's a definite roasted flavor to everything that's in there. Other flavors include smoky coffee, dark fruit, and even cherries perhaps. The finish is clean with a perfect amount of hop bite.

Mouthfeel: Wonderful for an imperial stout. Carbonation and viscosity are both spot on.

Drinkability: Surprisingly high. I'm impressed that Two Brothers has made an imperial stout that tastes and feels like an imperial but is only 7.5% ABV. If you're looking for a nice full bodied stout to drink for a whole night, this is it.

Overall: I love it. I'll definitely be picking this one up again to have my friends try. Once again, very impressed with what Two Brothers has done here but I'm usually impressed with what they do.

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Photo of THORN
3.53/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11.2 fl. Oz. bottle poured into DUvel tulip. Served 55-60 F.
A: Dark black. Reddish brown frothy head. Splotchy head left around tulip.
S: Very sweet, creamy, and hops.
T: Very bitter and creamy. Malts are dark and similar to molasses. Sharp bitter hop linger.
M: Medium on mouth.
D: Not what was expected for style.

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Photo of drunkmonk
4.07/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A cool grey winter day here in NC, with a chilly north wind blowing. What better a beer to try today?

Thanks to DavidEddie for a very thoughtful extra and opportunity to try this one.

Thick jett black pour. Nice thick dark tan head with great staying power. Dark fruits, charred malts, star anise, bittersweet chocolate and coffee aroma's. Wonderful melding of dark fruits flavors, and rich roasted malts along with a coffee and chocolate kiss. Hops are ample and keep all the rich flavors well in check. Mouthfeel is ultra creamy. Ethanol is very well hidden and only felt in a nice gullet warming capacity. Dangerously drinkable.

This may not hold the abv girth of most Imperial Stout's, but who cares? This is great stuff. I Wish I lived near this Place. Would love to try this one from the source.

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Photo of JimboHD2005
4.05/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

By far, one of the best imperial stouts I've had. I am so pleased that Two Brothers brought this back to six packs again this year.

This poures pitch black with no light coming through in a snifter held towards light, even at the upper edges. Looks just what I expect from an Imperial Stout. Has a slight quarter inch or so head that disapates after a couple of minutes.

Scents of carmel, toffee and chocolate come through nicely without being overpowering.

Notes of a deep chocolate, rich maltiness and slight bitterness. Malt is nicely balanced with the hop bitterness.

Very easy to drink and will be picking up more of this to share with friends. A perfect warmer in this bitter winter (-19 today).

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Photo of Kbogac
3.76/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice brown head but it doesn't last. Dark brown almost black. Foam dissipates quickly to a ring with minimal lacing. Idont get a lot of smell. Some sweet malt and coffee but it's light. Balanced taste. Nice malt,coffee and some caramel. Medium mouthfeel with light carbonation. Overall this is a good stout. great taste & easy to drink.

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Photo of AnPiobaire
3.68/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This Two Brothers Northwind IMperial Stout was poured from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet at about 54 degrees.

The pour was nice and dark brown and opaque, however the brew did seem to have some sediment in suspension. The head was a caramel colored thin head with very good retention and lacing that stuck around for the entire brew.

The nose was mild but nice. Roasted malt with a hint of coffee and dark fruit.

Taste was nice and filled with roasted malt and coffee bean along with notes of bitter chocolate. It finishes with a mild bitterness that lingers.

This brew has a thick mouthfeel that coats the palate nicely.

Overall this is a very competent imperial stout and although I may not go hunting around for it, I would certainly order some or pick some up if I come across it again. Enjoy!!!

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Photo of thedrewski86
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter, opaque black color with a thin tan skim for a head. Whatever lacing starts to form slides down the glass with the alcohol. Great smell of dark fruits, alcohol, raisins and vinegar. Taste is very nice, strong boozy malts with a solid hop presence without being bitter. Nice and toasty. I'm actually getting a little bit of biscuit from the malts which is odd for the style. Pretty big body, you could drink this fast but that abv sneaks up on you! It's actually 9.1%, not 8.5% as it says on this site.

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Photo of BFro
3.24/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nothing over the top about this effort from Two Bros. Not sure if it's the norm with other batches of North wind, but the bottle I poured had tons of sediment. Looked like orange rind pieces. Whatever it was made the end of the glass start to taste like a bitter orange peel. Otherwise it was a par effort on this imperial stout. Not the best I've had, but not the worse either. Probably wouldn't buy again, but if someone offered me one, I'd drink it.

Characteristics: smoky, matly, slight dark chocolate, bitter orange rind. Drinks smooth though. Not overly harsh/bitter as some stouts in this genre can be.

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Photo of Jettanbass9
2.94/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - nearly jet black but still is permiable by light. Light tan head barely holds on to the glass.

S - Anise, licorice, dark caramel and dark fruits. Strong pale malt aromas. Whats lacking? oh yea, roast.... I can't help but to ding a few points for not getting as much roast in a beer like this. Major flaw.

T - Tons of anise and licorice, dark fruit and some roast poking through. No hop flavor. Very clean fermentation, no yeast character.

M - Full mouthfeel and light carbonation, slick on the tounge. Good mineral balance.

D - The beer goes back easy but misses the mark on the style's coined boldness. A sipper, definitely, however needs some help in the roast area of flavor and aroma. Two Brothers, please revamp this beer.

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Photo of dgugliuzza
2.65/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter

Black pour with a dark tan head. Two fingers thick head quickly fades into a thin film. Appears thin and watery for the style.

Smells of light roasted malt with a hint of semi-sweet chocolate. It's tough to really get deep into the aroma. You really have to dig your nose into the glass to pick up whatever roastiness and bitterness there is.

Taste is much like the smell. Lightly roasted malts and semi-sweet bakers chocolate. The flavors are subdued and uninspiring, especially for a RIS. There's just not enough boldness in here.

Thin and borderline watery mouthfeel. Much too thin for the style. Low carbonation and absolutely no viscosity. I suppose that one positive it that it's easy to drink for a 9.1 abv.

Meh, an average at best RIS. It lacks oomph and boldness. The roasty and chocolaty flavors needed to be ratcheted up many notches. The mouthfeel was also a major letdown. Too thin and watery for the style. Overall, not wholly terrible, but not an RIS worth seeking out.

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Northwind Imperial Stout from Two Brothers Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 411 ratings.
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