Posts tagged ‘Gourds of Thunder’

2013 Rankings and the 2014 Season begins!

Punpkin Beer Set 2014

Oof. Just looking at that photo makes my liver hurt. But we do it for you guys, we do it for you. Now it’s time to do it all over again. So strap in and get ready, the 2014 season has begun and the fourth times a charm!

Of course, as the ritual requires before digging into any more amber spiced libations, here’s a look back at the best of the best, the cream of the crop, the most unique, the most interesting, well, yeah, the really, really good ones. We’ve scoured the earth for these brews, and we will keep searching as the list of craft brews continues to grow and more skilled artisans get in the game.

And of course, we will be breaking down our personal top 5, and lowest ranking choice at the end. So if you’ve got a favorite reviewer, we won’t tell anyone if you skip to there.

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Top 10 Beers To Date

10. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams (Boston Beer Co.) *Tie* Score 7.75

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Brewed with Two-Row Pale Malt Blend, Caramel 60, Special B, and Smoked Malt. East Kent, Goldings, and Fuggles hops are then added, along with 28 lbs of real pumpkin the barrel. Spices include cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

Notable Quotes

“Wow. This is that deliciously burnt crust pumpkin pie reheat that you get the day after Thanksgiving. Piled in creamy goodness to keep it moist, and then finished with a slice of apple wood smoked bacon — because you’re the guy that eats pie for breakfast. The pumpkin tastes phenomenal, and there is no doubting of it’s presence. This barrel is bursting with squash, and momma slapped that hand away before it got too heavy with the spice. It’s got all the sweetness and weight of a Belgian triple.”

Fat Jack corrected

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10. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun  *Tie* Score: 7.75

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

This demented ale took home the Gold at the 2007 Great American Beer Festival, and is made with pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg.

Notable Quotes

“Thick with roasted malts, lush pumpkin, cocoa nibs, blackberries, dark fruit jam and molasses blending with a notable touches of cinnamon, vanilla and clove. The beer envelops, it’s sweet and bitter all at once with enough pronounced notes of alcohol heat to keep you warm on the long sunless Saturday’s during Alaska’s famed 30 days of night.”

treat1 WEB

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8. Slashed Pumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) *Tie* Score: 7.83

(No longer in production)

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Twenty-two pounds of fresh pie pumpkins are baked, caramelized, and added in the mash, boil, and fermentations stages along with pie spices intended to balance the chocolatey porter. ( This may sound familiar from their offering “The Great Plumpkin“, and with good reason.) It is then finished with chipotle peppers to give it a mild Smokey burn. Another nicety for some additional flair is the garnish of a deep fried Pumpkin Grit Fritter made with Anson Mills Organic Heirloom Grits, pumpkin, spices, and a drizzle of honey for sweetness.

Notable Quotes

“The pumpkin aspects are accented very well by the porter’s smoky qualities and the malty sweetness is just right without being too cloying. It’s a unique addition to a pumpkin beer, but the chipotle spice gives this porter a great finish.”

slashed-pumpkin

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8. Gourdgeous (Local Fields Series) – Hangar 24 Craft Brewery  *Tie* Score 7.83

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Gourdgeous uses 1,000 lbs of pumpkins grown at Larry Jacinto Farms just a half mile from the brewery,  hand collected, cut, and seeded by local volunteers, and then roasted in giant ovens compliments of local catering company Q-Works BBQ. It’s then turned into a rich strong porter where molasses and spices join the mix.

 

Notable Quotes

“Did someone say decadent? This is a top notch porter, delivering on every single promise the aroma has to offer, it’s thick and chewy which stands in direct contrast to the color of the ale. Masses of burnt caramel and molasses, roasted pumpkin and baking spices are mixed with earthy sage and rosemary notes.  It’s a full-on assault making this craft beer more of a meal than a beverage.

Gourdgeous

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6. Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing  *Tie*  Score: 7.92

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almighty takes Cigar City’s ever popular Good Gourd (an imperial pumpkin ale that includes Ceylon cinnamon, Jamaican allspice, Zanzibar cloves, and nutmeg) and finishes it out for some time in rum barrels.

 

Notable Quotes

“Spiced Rum, treacle, dark fruits, and milk chocolate. This tastes a good bit like a Dale Degroff tropical pumpkin cocktail with a few extra dashes of Pimento Dram. It’s caramel coated pumpkin bread – beach side.”

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6. Pepitas Grande (Dunk Your Face Project) – Paradox Beer Co.  *Tie*  Score: 7.92

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Pepitas Grande is a dark beer brewed with pumpkins, roasted pepitas, Chimayo red chili, and a hint of cocoa. After brewing it is aged in oak red wine barrels.

Notable Quotes

“This isn’t your typical pumpkin ale, and I say that with a very happy lilt applied. This is complexity and grace. The wine barrel adds heavily to its presence and richness, vegetal and earthy notes shine from the competing pumpkin, and the heat is a kiss upon the brow. Both nuanced and epic, this is pumpkin beer done Dios De Los Muertos style. Well deserving of its name.“

Paradox2

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4. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub)  *Tie*  Score: 8.25

(No longer in production)

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

18 lbs of pie pumpkins are baked and caramelized in the emporium’s bakery, and are then used in both the mash and boil to add flavor, texture, and sweetness. Cinnamon, Allspice, Nutmeg, and a new spice to our equation, Mace, are added to create a uniquely spicy and aromatic finish. Then it’s garnished with a skewered toastette covered in roasted and candied pumpkin seeds.

Notable Quotes

“Deep roasted pumpkin explodes on the palate while the malty spice keeps the ale dry and pleasantly sweet. The shining star here is definitely the smokey roasted notes though, and the garnish offers such a dramatic change in flavor profile, giving a completely different aspect to the ale. Try the first half without it, and then kill it with the toast. It’s a trip.”

GPA 1

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4. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing  *Tie*  Score: 8.25

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Bewitched and brewed with pagan spirit, Pumking is brewed in tribute to Pủca, the benevolent Celtic goblin of fairy folk lore, who is both respected and feared, but notably a trickster of the highest degree. This beastly beer is brewed with 2-row pale malt, caramel malt, puréed pumpkin, and both magnum and sterling hops.

Notable Quotes

“Huge vanilla cookie notes–that are liable to send neophyte pumpkin beer drinkers running for cover–pop out ahead of pronounced cinnamon, sweet caramel malts and roast pumpkin flavors. It’s toasty and liquory with a background of clove, nutmeg and allspice. Tremendously complex, Southern Tier recommends serving at 40-degrees but as it warms up it displays cognac-like elements that are really unique to this beer.”

Pumking 1

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3. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)  Score: 8.42

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Gourds of Thunders stays true to the Cigar City Brew Pub Farm to Table mission, and features heirloom local organic calabaza pumpkins and butternut squash, along with chocolate rye, dark chocolate, coriander, allspice, and other spices. It is fermented with Tim’s go to house Belgian yeast “Forbidden Fruit”.

 

Notable Quotes

“For some reason, brewpub exclusives tend to be the domain of mad scientist potions, and this ale is no exception. It has to have one of the craziest spice profiles of anything I have had in a very long time. It reminds me primarily of my mother’s homemade Thanksgiving stuffing, with significant notes of celery, cumin, rye seed, fenugreek, an d even a little iron (courtesy of chicken liver in the stuffing – and I don’t know what in the Ale!). Masses of dark chocolate notes and dark roasted malt accentuate the caramelized pumpkin and squash. It’s a meal in a glass.”

Gourds of Thunder WEB

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2. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine (Farm To Barrel Series) – Almanac Beer Co.   Score: 8.50

 

Specialty Prep / Individuality:

Almanac Pumpkin Barleywine is made with 500 lbs of hand-roasted heirloom pumpkins from La Tercera Farms in Bodega Bay. The caramelized gourds were added to their American Barleywine and aged in brandy barrels for a year, then the resulting concoction was blended with a freshly brewed spiced barleywine.

 

Notable Quotes

“Warm brown sugar, caramel, an explosion of malt, pumpkin, and spice tamed only by wood, and a finish of vanilla, apricots, violets, and cognac. This is what the flame on the tea light inside your jack o’lantern must taste like after a round of Brandy Alexanders.”

Almanac

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1. All Jacked Up (Ron Raike) – Cask & Larder   Score: 8.83

 

Speciality Prep / Individuality:

All Jacked Up is a traditional style pumpkin ale brewed with 150 lbs of Tampa, FL grown Calabaza Pumpkins that are roasted in the kitchen by Cask & Larder’s Sous chef. The Pumpkins are then added to the mash, boil, and secondary fermented, based on the degree of char they received, along with mace, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, and wildflower honey.

 

Notable Quotes

“I’m really trying not to be a fan girl here but Ron knows how to make a damn good beer. Just the right amount of earthy/squashy pumpkin with a honey sweetness, and just when you think it can’t get any better the finish completely blows you away.”

All Jacked Up 2

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Top Five Beers By Reviewer To Date:

 

Mike

1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 9.33
2. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pug (Tim Ogden) 9.08
3. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 9.00
4. Pumking – Southern Tier 8.92
5. T.R.E.A.T. Imperial Chocolate Pumpkin Porter – Midnight Sun 8.83

Last Place: Sarnac Pumpkin Ale 3.25

 

Tim
1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 9.08
2. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 8.67
3. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale *Tie* 8.25
3. Pepitas Grande – Paradox beer Co. *Tie* 8.25
4. Blight Pumpkin Ale – Elysian Brewing*Tie* 8.17
4. Fat Jack Double Pumpkin – Samuel Adams *Tie* 8.17

Last Place: Pumpkinhead – Shipyard Brewing 3.08

 

Brittney
1. All Jacked Up – Ron Raike (Cask & Larder) 8.33
2. Southern Tier Pumking *Tie* 8.17
2. Slashed Pumpkin Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) *Tie* 8.17
3. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. 7.92
4. Harvest Time – Big Boss Brewing *Tie* 7.83
4. Hipp-O Lantern Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Riverhorse Brewing Co. *Tie* 7.83

Last Place: Avery Rumpkin 3.50

 

Rick
1. Good Gourd Almighty – Cigar City Brewing 8.83
2. The Great Plumpkin – Ron Raike (Shipyard Brewpub) 8.67
3. The Fear Imperial Pumpkin Ale – Flying Dog *Tie* 8.58
3. Gourds of Thunder – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden) *Tie* 8.58
5. Pumking – Southern Tier Brewing *Tie* 8.42
5. Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine – Almanac Beer Co. *Tie* 8.42

Last Place: Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider 3.50

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Pumpkin Closze Up

Brewer Spotlight: Tim Ogden – Cigar City Brew Pub

entry

For our second foray into our new Brewer’s Spotlight feature, we sat down with Tim Ogden of Tampa’s Cigar City Brew Pub. Tim was kind enough to take a moment out of his busy schedule to talk some shop about the beer industry, the perks of working for such an esteemed young company, and our latest reviewed beer “Gourds of Thunder”. So have a look-see below and check out some photos from our visit (and it’s extremely cool beer themed décor featuring elements inspired or directly from a number of Cigar City brews).

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First off, thank you and the rest of the folks at Cigar City for being a big part of Florida’s craft beer renaissance. The reputation for quality, experimentation, and interesting treatments definitely comes with the branding. How closely related is the pub to the brewery and how did it come to be?

We are sibling companies with many things in common such as core values, and at the same time independent of each other with our own ideas, visions, and personalities.  There is a mutual respect and affinity, but at the end of the day we operate individually.  It came to be out of our love for all things artisanal.  We love to enjoy well-made meals as much as well-made beer.  We wanted a place where we could highlight that relationship of food and beverage.  A place where we could prepare our own puree in house to put into the beer, where we could take wort or finished beer and put it into a dish.  And finally a place where we could place our beer with just the right dish to create something more than line items, an overall experience.  Chef Nicolay loves beer, I love food, and we’re pumped to put our creations next to each other on the table.

 tim ogden

How did you get your start in brewing and what are some of the highlights of getting paid to do it for a living?

I started out as a home brewer in the late 90’s and passion took hold.  I learned from local brewers and books.  The local brewers were huge in my path to learning the craft.  They were never too busy.  Not at the festivals or at their bars.  They always took the time to hear my question and point me to the right book or procedure to make my beer better and more consistent.  The sense of community has grown into more of a family feel.  These are my brothers and sisters.  Being able to help promote my family and friends is the highlight.  Through events, collaborations, any way I can.  This industry has been great to me from before I was in it, just being here is dope.

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Given the popularity of CCB’s Good Gourd, you had some pretty big shoes to fill in pumpkin ale territory. What was your approach with Gourds of Thunder?

With Gourds of Thunder, I felt like there are a lot of solid pumpkin beers that take the pie approach.  Good Gourd is definitely one of my favorites.  If somebody wants that beer I am glad to point them in that direction.  With Gourds of Thunder, I wanted to make something that would complement the pie rather than be the pie.  Something that would pair as well with pie and other desserts as it does with entrees.  I also wanted it to be something that would be welcome before Oktoberfest as a sessionable (6.3% ABV) ale, welcome during Halloween when gourd season is peak, and through the fall and winter holidays.  Personally, I can’t wait to pour a bottle and enjoy it with turkey dressing and cranberry sauce.

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Cigar City beer has a reputation for making a lot of nods to Florida lore. Is there a process by which you come up with most of your beer concepts?

We are proud to represent home for sure.  Whenever it feels right we incorporate local culture in beer concepts and names.  As far as a process, not so much.  If it feels like I’m reaching, I take a step back.  Usually I come back with some dark humored witty or culturally valid idea.  I guess if there were a process it could be summarized as fun.

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What are some of your favorite beer styles? Any craft trends right now that you love or hate? Top beers our readers just have to try?

I love stouts, porters, browns, IPA, red IPA, Black IPA, White IPA…ummmm I’ll stop.  I just love beer.  I love the trend of just making beer and figuring out what it is later.  Styles are a great means of communication, but its fun to just make beer.   I really dig the MOA breakfast, Blue Point White IPA, St Somewhere Cynthiana, Cigar City Brewing Jose Marti, Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsener, Avery Mharaja.  That’s a good short list.

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In that same vein, toot your own horn a bit. What is your favorite brew that you’ve made?

Probably Moat Water.  I mentioned earlier how rad collaborations are, this one was super fun.  Brewing a beer for the Skatepark of Tampa’s 20th anniversary took me back to my childhood, and I met some fantastic people.  That’s what it’s all about.

 hunahpu cake

How closely do you work with the kitchen when creating brews? Do you enter with a pairing in mind on the menu?

Chef and I have conversations here and there.  Sometimes (like the Gourds of Thunder) I have pairing ideas in mind, and other times it’s after the fact.

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There is a big focus on local when it comes to the menu. What are some of the pros and cons you guys have encountered with this. How does it incorporate into your brewing?

The pros are that it just fits our core values.  Buying local products supports the local economy.  We are all about supporting local small business.  As far as the cons, I would say supply.  There is only so much local product.  Seasons come and go for different products.  As far as brewing, there are no local hop farmers or the like, so I do what I can when I can, be it Dade City Kumquat in the Carrollwood Cougar or Dade City Muscadine grapes in the Alexander and the Grapes upcoming band/beer collab.

 barrel heads

Tell us a bit about the hand crafted sodas.

We wanted to have some offerings for the little ones to enjoy.  Newfangled Root Cream is a hybrid Old Fashioned Root Beer / Cream Soda.  The appearance is cream soda, the nose is root beer, it starts out root beer and finishes cream soda in the flavor.

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Do you foresee other locations of the brew pub opening in the future?

I have learned to never say never.  I would not be surprised either way.

 Beer case

 

Any good advice for home brewers or other craft beer enthusiasts?

Drink fresh, Drink local, and Drink outside the box.  Keep an open mind.

 

What is the best part about working for Cigar City?

We have a lot of fun.  This company is run by really good people and we have a LOT of fun.

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Gourds of Thunder Festive Ale – Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)

Gourds of Thunder WEB

Today’s offering comes from a, not so secret anymore, hot spot on any tour of Florida’s many blossoming and popular breweries. Nestled just a short way up the road from the old cigar factories of Ybor City(and closer still to their big brother), we find our destination: The Cigar City Brew Pub. Featuring a menu that stresses local farm to table offerings heavily influenced by Tampa’s Cuban and Italian populations, and of course, it’s own house brewed beer specialties (along with featuring many from Cigar City, and the new Cigar City Cider & Meadery), it’s pretty much a must stop lunch destination. House Brew Master Tim Ogden is no slouch either. Those familiar with Cigar City’s much sought after offerings will be more than familiar with two of their more popular offerings that he developed: “Tocobaga Red Ale” and the notorious Skate Park of Tampa Collaboration “Moat Water” (a 100 rated sweet stout brewed with actual moat water from the skate park and aged on skate decks). Suffice it to say, the man has the credentials to deliver (along with a grand champion award from the 2012 National Beer Tasting Championships). So, what we’re trying to say is, you should probably stop by if you’re in town.

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Name:  Gourds of Thunder Festive Ale

Place of Origin / Brewer: Tampa, Florida / Cigar City Brew Pub (Tim Ogden)

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Black Ale / 6.3%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Gourds of Thunders stays true to the Cigar City Brew Pub Farm to Table mission, and features heirloom local organic calabaza pumpkins and butternut squash, along with chocolate rye, dark chocolate, coriander, allspice, and other spices. It is fermented with Tim’s go to house Belgian yeast “Forbidden Fruit”.

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Packaging:

I like the simplicity of this label. Boom, it’s in your face with the brewer’s logo and the beer’s name jumping right off the bottle to greet you. – Rick

This is a pretty basic label as the ale is not brewed for mass release.  A brewpub exclusive, it’s only available on tap or in bottles sold in the pub itself.  Intended to be paired with the gastro-pub fare served in their flagship location, the bottle features the standard Cigar City logo with a little side note giving the chef  and brew master a little love. – Tim

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Color:  9

This beer pours a super dark espresso color with a small, smooth, creamy head. It’s picturesque and iconically represents how a dark beer should appear. – Brittney

Anyone familiar with Cigar City’s Marshall Zhukov Imperial Stout knows this color well. I took the Led flash on my phone and held it directly on the glass. Nothing. It’s midnight, in a cave, in the furthest reaches of space black. The only hint of color is the head, a deep brown of roasted almond skin. – Mike

M- 10 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 9

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Aroma:  8.5

The nose is chocolate and vanilla, coffee and breakfast pastries; this serves a dual purpose, making me both equally hungry and thirsty. – Tim

The aroma that I’m getting here is roasted malt, espresso, dark chocolate and pumpkin. There is a smell of spices that I can’t really place, but not your usual pumpkin pie spices, there is something different going on here. – Brittney

M- 9 / T- 8 / B- 8 / R- 8

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Mouth feel:  8

Super smooth, yet it still retains a full body with a creaminess that helps it glide right over the tongue. I am actually both impressed and surprised by the smoothness. – Rick

Heavy cream thickness, like liquid silk. If you ran your motor oil for 50,000 miles and then filtered it back to it’s original viscosity, you’d have something like this. It’s about as full bodied as they come. – Mike

M- 9 / T- 8 / B- 7.5 / R- 8

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beer

Tasting notes:  9

There is a hefty dominance of chocolate and spice on the forefront here. Like, 98% cacao dark chocolate on the nasal retro hale after your first sip. I like the interplay of the spicing, and would be curious to see the Tim’s list of secret additions. It plays somewhere between thanksgiving dinner and exotic Indian cuisine flavors. It’s decadent, and as your mouth adjusts, butternut squash and floral yeasty coriander notes battle their way through the huge bitter roast Clash of the Titans style. – Mike

For some reason, brewpub exclusives tend to be the domain of mad scientist potions, and this ale is no exception.  It has to have one of the craziest spice profiles of anything I have had in a very long time.  It reminds me primarily of my mother’s homemade Thanksgiving stuffing, with significant notes of celery, cumin, rye seed, fenugreek, an d even a little iron (courtesy of chicken liver in the stuffing – and I don’t know what in the Ale!).  Masses of dark chocolate notes and dark roasted malt accentuate the caramelized pumpkin and squash.  It’s a meal in a glass. – Tim

When you first taste a beer in the environment that it is brewed in, magic happens. And then you immediately buy three bottles of it.  I’m a firm believer in so much more than our taste buds creating how something tastes.  Both taste experiences were top notch; The beer at the brew pub seemed to be a little sweeter and less earthy. The bottle pour is more vegetal and bitter which is welcome in a world of sugary pumpkin pie in a bottle beer.  Fresh tomatoes on a vine, espresso crusted anything, and bitter, bitter dark chocolate. – Brittney

Full bodied with all the right aspects of an imperial stout, I’m loving the dark chocolate and espresso backbone. There is something fruity also that seems to be black cherry, and at first I thought there was some banana, but that quickly subsided. – Rick

M- 9.5 / T- 9 / B- 8 / R- 10

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Finish:  8

This beer is in your face, big time. There is a solid 10 seconds of dark chocolate finish, and then a nice clean vanilla yogurt aftertaste that leaves the mouth dry. – Mike

Finish is smooth and dry with the chocolate presence being strongest here. There is a slight bitterness at the end, but just barely noticeable.  It may also have a hint of vanilla bean lurking around here. – Rick

M- 8.5 / T- 7.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8.5

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Flavor balance:  8

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 7.5

The gourd is all roasty and dense; the spice profile is insane with a level of complexity that I don’t think I’ve yet experienced in pumpkin ale. I feel like there is a laundry list of ingredients in this ale (one I’d like to see), but nothing overpowers anything else—although you can see it trying. – Tim

I would have to say that even with so many other factors of flavor here, the pumpkin and spice give each other enough room to display themselves without competing with one another. – Brittney

M- 8 / T- 7.5 / B- 8 / R- 6

         Sweet / Dry balance: 7.5

The great finish here really helps balance the sweetness by drying it up. At first it seems as dry as freshly ground espresso. As parching as crushed roasted cacao beans. It takes some time, but the sweetness eventually shines through. – Rick

The ABV is on the low end, and thus the ale carries sweetness in the body and bitter notes in the finish, which trails on for quite a while. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 7 / B- 8 / R- 8

         Multiple Drinkability?  8.5

You try not to remember that multiple servings are sometimes not an option when it comes to Cigar City specialties and just thoroughly enjoy what you can get your hands on. – Brittney

If this is what you get when the gods are angry, then I am calling Thor out as the pretty boy dandy he is. It’s punishing to the senses. It will fatigue your tongue. And you will keep coming back because, let’s be real, you like it rough. Thank you sir may I have another? – Mike

M- 10 / T- 7.5 / B- 6 / R- 10

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Overall:  8.42

M- 9.08 / T- 8.16 / B- 7.75 / R- 8.58