Framboise For A Cure

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Every year, the fine folks at Russian River host a month long fundraiser for breast cancer awareness, with the centerpiece being Framboise For A Cure, a sour blonde ale comprised of 80% Temptation and 20% of something called Sonambic, a new beer they've been working on using a traditional Coolship (just like them official lambic makers). The blend is then aged in Chardonnay barrels with fresh raspberries. It sounds heavenly, no?

Fortunately for me, the owner of Philly institution Monk's Cafe, Tom Peters, is good friends with the folks at Russian River and every year, they host a fundraiser of their own. They even release a small amount of bottles, which, alas, I was not able to secure because I'm lazy and didn't get there until a little after opening. However, I was still fortunate enough to get a taste on tap (and I also picked up another bottle that will no doubt be making an appearance on the blog sometime soon), so let's get going:

Russian River Framboise For A Cure

Russian River Framboise For A Cure - Bright ruby red color (so many robey tones, you guys), almost no head, though a cap of pinkish hued stuff sticks around so maybe it was just the initial pour or something. Smells of funk, oak, and twangy raspberry. Taste hits that raspberry sweetness up front, oak kicking in towards the middle, with a sourness also coming to the fore in the middle and lasting through the finish, where that raspberry returns and everything ties together. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp and sharp, a little sticky in the finish. Overall, this is a superb, well balanced, complex sour. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a goblet on 10/19/13.

Because Monk's is awesome, they were also pouring some other limited gems that I couldn't resist... it's for a cure people! And not to go all dudebro on you, but I like breasts. Sue me.

Cantillon Vigneronne

Cantillon Vigneronne - This is a lambic made with hand-picked muscat grapes, and it's apparently one of the rarer varieties due to the scarcity of grapes (not to mention Cantillon's general capacity issues). Pours a clear gold color, again with the no head. Smells like a gueuze, taste has a vinous character matched with gueuze-like oak and biting sourness. It is, perhaps, not quite as powerful as a full gueuze, presumably the influence of the grapes. Mouthfeel has a snap to it, well carbonated, just a bit of stickiness in the finish... Overall, I think drinking these two beers back to back pretty much obliterated my palate, but it was totally worth it, and this was clearly another winner from Cantillon. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV on tap. Drank out of a goblet on 10/19/13.

Not bad for a lowly Saturday afternoon. I'm going to have to find a way to drag myself out of bed earlier next year and maybe snag a bottle. In any case, I was quite happy to try it on tap and as I mentioned, I managed to snag a bottle of something pretty special, so it was a good day, is what I'm saying.

Ithaca Old Habit

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Ithaca is a brewery that, for some unknown reason, hasn't garnered much love on this blog. This is more of an oversight than anything else, so don't grab your torches and pitchforks just yet, as I'm trying to rectify that. Flower Power has steadily built up mindshare in Kaedrin's crowded go-to IPA category, and just this past summer, whilst on vacation in upstate New York, Ithaca provided me with a savior amongst macros; I sucked down a few Ground Break saisons which were quite nice.

So now I snap into their Excelsior! series of beers, their line of limited run experimental beers. This one is made with four different rye malts, some Centennial and Crystal hops, and is partially fermented/aged in old Rittenhouse Rye barrels. So lets develop some old habits, shall we?

Ithaca Old Habit

Ithaca Old Habit - Pours a murky brown color with half a finger of fizzy off white head that completely disappears after just a few seconds. Smells of dark crystal malts and a sharp rye twang, with hints of that whiskey barrel poking through. Taste has a similar feel to it, very sweet, lots of rich caramelized fruit, some spice coming from the rye, and not a lot in the way of barrel character, though it's there. The fruit character is interesting, especially in the finish, which isn't tart or sour or anything, but it has a bite to it that's hard to place. It very randomly called to mind a soda I used to drink growing up called Frank's Black Cherry Wishniak (if you grew up in the Philly area at a certain time, you almost certainly know and love this stuff). Of course, I haven't had that in at least a decade, so take this with a grain of salt, but hey, neurons fire for a reason, and this beer was firing Black Cherry Wishniak neurons. Go figure. Mouthfeel is reasonably well carbonated, on the lower end of full bodied, a little richness, and some stickiness that lingers in the aftertaste. It's great in small doses, but gets a bit cloying for a whole 750. Reminds me a little of The Bruery Rugbrod. Overall, it's an interesting beer, definitely got that rye character and it's a decent drink. B

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/18/13. Batch # E!045.

Still intrigued by the rest of Ithaca's Excelsior! series, in particular beers like LeBleu and Brute. Alas, the only other one that appears to be available to me at the moment is White Gold... which may make an appearance at the next beer club...

Fantôme Santé 15!

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The word "Santé" roughly translates to "to your health", and as such, is often used as a toast, akin to "Cheers" or "Prost" and so on. But in this case, it has a double meaning. Fantôme brewer Danny Prignon brews a new beer every year for a charity that helps those in need of healthcare not provided by standard means, and thus a second meaning of Santé comes into play. That sneaky ghost, always doing the right thing. It's hard to find much info on these beers, but I gather that the recipes are different every year, though they are always saisons (as befitting Fantôme's general nature). This particular edition is actually from 2011, and seems to be particularly well regarded, though it is clearly showing its age at this point:

Fantome Sante 15!

Fantôme Santé 15! - Pours a golden yellow color with a finger of bubbly white head that quickly resolves into a ring around the edges that stays around for a while. Smells of earthy, fruity funk, Brett is clearly doing its thing here. Taste is very sweet with a surprising fruity note, almost raisiny, like an aged dubbel or quad, though this is clearly its own thing. That Brett kicks in towards the middle with some tart fruit that intensifies into a full blown sour note in the finish. Mouthfeel is on the upper end of medium bodied, with lower than normal carbonation for Fantôme, but still ample enough to work. A bit of stickiness lingers in the finish as well. Overall, this is yet another interesting offering from Fantôme. It's showing its age a bit, but it's really brightening my outlook after a long day at work. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml capped and corked). Drank out of a goblet on 10/18/13. Bottled July 2011, Released 6&7 August 2011 (charity weekend).

Fantôme continues to fascinate, and I'm always up for trying a bottle of the stuff. You never know what you're going to get.

Telegraph Obscura Aurantium

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When you live in Pennsylvania, it feels like out-of-state liquor stores are magical. I'm not going to turn this into a rant about the PCLB; suffice to say, it sucks. Then I read about places like K&L Wine Merchants in California, and my brain explodes. They appear to have an excellent selection of wine, spirits, and beer (for the uninitiated, in PA, you can't sell Wine and Spirits in the same building as Beer, unless you're a bar), and what's more, they actually commission bottlings of various spirits and beers (I can't speak to wine, but I assume it goes on there too). And we're not talking piddly bottom-shelf blended Scotch (you know, the ones that taste like gasoline) either. One of their recent releases: a 1997 Laphroaig 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive Signatory Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky (the other one was a 21 year old Cambus, which is also an impressive get). Some readers of Kaedrin are drooling right now.

These K&L folks know their stuff, is what I'm saying. So it makes sense that they tapped Telegraph brewing for a special K&L exclusive beer. "I really gave Brian and the guys at Telegraph free run to do whatever it was that they thought would be interesting and delicious." See? Smart people. And the result was certainly interesting. Telegraph's Rhinoceros is a barleywine brewed with a hefty dose of rye (you might call it a "rye wine"), and for this bottling, they took that base beer, added Seville orange peels, and aged the whole concoction in a bourbon barrel. It's a single barrel bottling, so only 21 cases were produced (so we'll say somewhere on the order of 250 bottles). Special thanks to Jay from the (sadly now defunct) Beer Samizdat blog for snatching this up and slinging it cross-country to my liquor-store-challenged commonwealth.

Telegraph Obscura Aurantium

Telegraph Obscura Aurantium - Insert joke about Adamantium here (Aurantium is actually the scientific name for the Seville orange). Pours a very pretty Orange hued brown color with a couple fingers of bubbly, fizzy head that nevertheless manages to stick around for a while. Smells of rich, boozy bourbon, oak, vanilla, and yes, those oranges too. Taste is all spicy rye and bourbon, Belgian yeast spiciness hits in the middle too, followed by yet more booze. Mouth feel is highly carbonated and as a result this doesn't feel as heavy as a lot of big barrel aged beers. On the other hand, there's nothing to restrain the booze either, and it hits pretty hard here. A little burn and some definite warming in the belly. Not unapproachable and I rather enjoyed it, but yeah, it's boozy. I'm usually a little leery of non-wild Belgian styles aged in bourbon barrels. The highly attenuating yeast sometimes doesn't leave enough residual sugars to stand up to the bourbon barrel treatment (like this). Fortunately, this beer clears the bar. Yes, it's very boozy, but it's got enough going on that it works well. Overall a solid, interesting, complex brew. It grew on me as I drank it, too, but maybe that's the booze talking... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 10% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 10/11/13. Batch No. 124.

After the interesting failure of Obscura Cacao, I'm happy to get back on the Telegraph wagon and will happily seek out more of their stuff.

Forest & Main Solaire Reserve

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A couple Sundays ago, Forest & Main did a bottle release and I made the trek up to Ambler to secure some liquid gold. Unlike my previous trip, I actually had time to sit down, sample a flight of beers, and eat dinner. Whilst there I met Mike Lorenz, famed jazz guitarist who I recognized as the guy who plays Tired Hands on a weekly basis (as well as bottle releases whilst we're all waiting in line). Very nice fella, and I was glad to have met him. I also met a very generous woman who just decided she wanted to share some beers with the group, including stuff like a Voodoo BBVD aged in Pappy Barrels (!), KBS, and BCBS. We all agreed that she is a great American. So yeah, it was a fun night!

Anywho, they were releasing two different beers that night, and this seems to be their most frequent release. It's their standard saison, called Solaire, which has been bottled with "several strains of Brett". Well twist my arm, why don't ya?

Forest and Main Solaire Reserve

Forest & Main Solaire Reserve - Pours a golden yellow color with a big three finger fluffy head and lots of lacing, retention, etc... Smells very spicy, lots of Belgian yeast character, pepper, coriander and the like. Not picking up a ton of Brett here, though perhaps its masquerading as a simple byt potent Belgian yeast at this point. So quite a nice nose, actually. Taste is classic Belgian yeast, musty with a powerful dose of spices (pepper, coriander, clove, etc...), a nice bready sweetness rounded out by a very slight bitterness in the dry finish. Again, not a lot of Brett here, except perhaps for the dryness and maybe the intensity of the Belgian yeast character (both of which differ from the standard Solaire offering). The mouthfeeel is highly carbonated and finishes very dry. Clocking in at 5% ABV, this is crisp, light, and refreshing, damn near quaffable. Overall, this feels like a straightforward, but very well executed saison. I expect the Brett character to pick up with time, and I do have another bottle, so we shall find out, shan't we? Incidentally, this paired nicely with dinner too! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a goblet on 10/11/13. Bottled Jun 06 2013. Bottle no. 112 of 132.

Back label

If I lived just a little closer to these guys, I'd be there often. As it is, this has been twice in about a month, so maybe that would be dangerous. Anywho, really looking forward to the other bottle (Palomino), so stay tuned for that...


Spring House Big Gruesome

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The fine folks at Spring House must be big fans of Hanna-Barbera, as this beer's title is derived from an obscure and short-lived 60s cartoon called Wacky Races. The show pitted eleven different racing teams against one another in a series of road rallies in order to award the title of "World's Wackiest Racer." The Gruesome Twosome are modeled after Frankenstein (Big Gruesome) and Dracula (Little Gruesome) and they drive a hearse-like car called the Creepy Coupe. It's got a belfry on it. Of course.

If you look closely at the label of this beer, I think both of the Gruesome Twosome are represented, though they don't quite look like the actual cartoon characters. Anywho, befitting Big Gruesome's Frankensteinian origins, Spring House decided to brew a big, lurching stout using all sorts of wacky ingredients: chocolate malts, raw cacao nibs, vanilla beans, more cacao nibs, a human brain marked "abnormal"*, and, of course, peanut butter**. Does all this tomfoolery really work? Let's find out, shall we?

Spring House Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout

Spring House Big Gruesome Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout - Pours a very dark brown color with a finger of light brown head. Smells of coffee, chocolate and just a whisper of peanut butter. Taste follows along with lots of coffee, a little chocolate, and just a hint of that peanut butter. Given the kitchen sink approach to ingredients, I was expecting a much sloppier affair, but it actually came out rather well balanced. Mouthfeel is on the upper end of medium bodied, with a nice richness and appropriate carbonation. Overall, a very interesting beer, not quite as gimmicky as you might think, really quite a nice stout, with some added complexity from all those other ingredients. Well done! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 10/5/13.

Spring House also makes something called Lil' Gruesome Peanut Butter Jelly Stout, which isn't as strong as Big Gruesome, but clearly has just as much wacky crap going on. I most certainly need to get off my butt and visit Spring House sometime, so stay tuned... Might even want to do it in October, as it seems like those fine folks really get into the spirit of the season (actually, it seems like their branding is Halloween-like all year round, good on them!)

* Allegedly. By me. So basically, not true at all.

** Not sure what it is about peanut butter beers, but there seems to be a rash of them gaining popularity of late. Heck, even I had that Rogue Voodoo abomination recently, but that's barely worth mentioning. Everyone around here won't stop talking about Sweet Baby Jesus! though, and it's certainly a fine beer with a strong peanut butter kick. And by everyone, I mean this one I guy I was talking to the other day. So basically, just ignore this. That's why I put it in a footnote.

Punkel Dunkel Pumpkin Wheat Ale

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Even amongst pumpkin beer haters, there's a tacit acknowledgement that yes, The Bruery's Autumn Maple is awesome even though it kinda, sorta fits the category, despite using yams instead of pumpkins. Aside from the yams, it differs in a few other key ways. First you've got molasses and maple syrup, which, you know, sploosh. But the yeast is what ties it all together. The Bruery's house strain of Belgian yeast is fantastic and pairs well with the traditional pumpkin pie spices, not to mention all that other junk.

So those punkels up at Neshaminy Creek, not wanting to do the same old thing in the oversaturated pumpkin beer market (i.e. bland amber base, pumpkin, and shit tons of spices), went all German on our asses. They amped up their recipe for Dunks Ferry Dunkelweizen, added the requisite pumpkin, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg, and fermented using traditional Bavarian weizen yeast. The result is something Autumn Maple-like, which is high praise. Definitely worth checking out, even for the pumpkin haterz.

Plus, check out that label, it's awesome. And for those of you disgusted by pumpkin beers showing up in July, those fine Neshaminy Creek folks made sure to release this after the "unofficial" end of summer, Labor Day Weekend. Not that any of that really matters, but still. Oh yeah, beer:

Neshaminy Creek Punkel Dunkel Pumpkin Wheat Ale

Neshaminy Creek Punkel Dunkel Pumpkin Wheat Ale - Pours a very murky, cloudy brown color with a cap of light tan head. Smells beautiful, huge spicy character, and while some of that is typical pumpkin pie spice(cinnamon, ginger, clove, brown sugar, etc...), it matches really well with the weizen yeast character (bananas and even more clove). Taste is similar, lots of Weizenbock spice and wheat, brown sugar, with the pumpkin pie notes (cinnamon and the like) hitting in the middle and lasting through the finish. Mouth feel is medium bodied, very well carbonated, spicy, and yet somehow almost creamy. Hint of sticky booze, but that works well here. Overall, a very good, uncommon take on the pumpkin genre, well worth trying even for folks who don't normally go for pumpkin beer. It actually reminds me more of The Bruery's Autumn Maple than anything else... B+

Beer Nerd Details: 8.8% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/5/13.

Rich suggests they make a Doppelbock pumpkin beer next year, which, yeah, sounds awesome. Of course, due to the lagering period, they'd either have to make it without fresh pumpkin (though it's not like most pumpkin beers actually do that these days) or release it much later than normal, but I'd totally be down with applying pumpkin to other beer styles (pumpkin stouts are actually pretty great). Anywho, Neshaminy Creek continues to make some interesting stuff, so you'll probably hear more about them in the future...

Oktober Beer Club

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Tonight was Beer Club, a gathering of beer minded friends from work who get together every month at a local BYOB for libations and fun. This month, someone decided to bring beers she thought would be disgusting. And they were! We should probably discourage this practice, but on the other hand, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and try some Cave Creek Chili Beer or, in this case, some of Rogue's recent offerings.

Oktober Beer Club

Half-blinkered thoughts on each beer are recorded below for posterity, though standard tasting disclaimers apply and I'm a moron so take it all with a grain of salt. In order of drinking (not necessarily the order in the pictar):

  • Tired Hands Jason - One of my contributions, and a great way to start the night. I'll probably talk more about this at some other time, but for now it's a very nice, juicy IPA, great hop character and that citrus fruit really comes through. Reminiscent of last year's "Vampire" beer. A-
  • Rogue Beard Beer - This beer's gimmick is that it's made using yeast that was found in their head brewer's beard. Sounds appetizing, no? Well, no, but the beer itself was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. It felt sorta like a bland Belgian pale ale, with some light spicy yeast notes and some sweetness. So not the worst thing ever, but perhaps I set the bar too low on this one. B-
  • Jerry's Homebrew "SB" - Mystery homebrew from one member who got it from a friend of a friend, or something. Don't know what "SB" stands for, but that's all it was labeled with. But it turned out to be a pretty good beer in the style of a brown ale or soemthing like that. Not something to go crazy over, but a good homebrew. B
  • Rogue Voodoo Doughnut Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana Ale - I actually had no real problem with the first Voodoo Doughnut beer, but then again, it's a smoked beer and no one likes those. I don't know why they thought it was a good idea to continue this collaboration with Voodoo Doughnuts, but I guess they're actually selling this stuff. This was a pretty terrible beer. I get hints of that chocolate and peanut butter, but they feel... wrong, like they were buried in Pet Semetary or something. This is an unbalanced, sloppy mess. Not entirely undrinkable, but in no way good. D
  • Terrapin Dos Cocoas Chocolate Porter - Now this one gets the chocolate thing right, and the base porter matches really well with it. Not my favorite style ever or anything, but it works well enough. B+
  • Trappist Westvleteren 12 - Yep, it's still amazing. Certainly opened some eyes with other folks too.
  • Perennial Vermilion Winter Ale - Excellent English style barleywine, lots of caramel, toffee, and almost fruity malt notes, really nice. A little heavy, but that's what you want out of this sort of thing. The sort of beer that makes me want to put on a smoking jacket, sit by a fire next to my bearskin rug on a cold night, making haughty rich person noises. Another eye opener for some folks. Me, I really liked this sucker, and may snag another bottle if it's around (it looks like it was a 2012 one-off, but I've definitely seen it around). A-
And that just about covers it. You may have noticed that it's only been a little over 2 weeks since the last beer club, but we had to reset to the beginning of the month, due to the November and December holidays. So stay tuned, moar to come.

If you know what I'm talking about, I love you.

Allright, fine, I'll explain. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a horror movie that was made in 2006, but it wasn't released until recently. Yes, a seven year wait, and part of a larger theme of movies I watched this past weekend. They were all things made a long time ago, but forwhatever reason, shelved for years before finally seeing the light of day. As such, I made a trip down to my cellar to liberate a bottle that's been down there too long.

We're big fans of FiftyFifty's Eclipse series of stouts, each with the same base imperial stout recipe aged in a different expression of bourbon (or rye) barrel. I was a huge fan of the Rittenhouse Rye variant, and the Elijah Craig 12 version was pretty great too. What's interesting about those two beers was how different they came out, the EC12 retaining a nice big roasty stout note with EC's spicy notes complementing that well, while the Rye variant was much smoother and while whisky forward, it had a bigger caramel and vanilla profile.

What we have here is the Evan Williams variant, I believe the Single Barrel Vintage expression (which is a go-to when I'm not in the mood for beer or Scotch). EWSBV is aged for at least 9-10 years in barrels, and Eclipse resides in those spent barrels for another 6 months or so, so I'm guessing this was the 2001 vintage (I haven't had them, but supposedly those late 90s vintages were a bit off due to a change in distilleries). EWSBV isn't as rare or prized as, say, Pappy or any of the 20+ year bourbons, but it's one of the most reliable values out there, so I was excited to try this out. Erm, apologies for the craptacular picture.

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Evan Williams

FiftyFifty Imperial Eclipse Stout - Evan Williams - Pours a black color with half a finger or light brown head. Smells of bourbon and vanilla, with just a bit of that stout base roast and caramel. Taste is sweet with a big bourbon and vanilla kick, less in the way of caramel and oak, though both are present... Just a hint of dark chocolate and roast make an appearance as well. Again, well balanced here, and it's smack dab in the middle of the EC12 and RR variants I've had. Mouthfeel is full bodied and very rich, well carbonated with just a hint of slick booze. Overall, this is great. I might prefer the Rittenhouse Rye variant to this, but it's still very worthy. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (22 oz waxed bomber). Drank out of a snifter on 10/4/13. Bottle No. BR 1. 2012 Vintage.

So I have one more variant, the Old Fitz, in the cellar, and I promise that I will drink that bottle before the December release of this year's vintage (zomg Pappy). Anywho, one of my next two homebrew batches will be an imperial stout, partially aged on oak cubes soaked in... well, probably EWSBV (the current 2003 vintage). Exciting times.

Tired Hands FatherBeast

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This is the, er, I guess we'll call it the spouse of Tired Hands MotherAnimal (a barleywine conditioned on coffee and vanilla). Near as I can tell, FatherBeast is the same beer, sans the coffee... oh, and it was aged in Dad's Hat Rye barrels. Beast Mode: Engaged. Not being a big coffee person, I expect this to be more my speed, and what do you know, I loved it:

Tired Hands FatherBeast

Tired Hands FatherBeast - Pours a slightly cloudy dark brown color with beautiful robey tones and just a minimal cap of head that quickly resolves to a ring around the edge of the glass. Smells deeply of crystal malt, caramel and dark fruits, with some vanilla and oak pitching in as well. As it warms, more whiskey comes out to play too. Taste is very sweet, filled with a fruity crystal malt character, with the whiskey and vanilla sweetness kicking in towards the middle, then leaning back to the intense fruity malt towards the finish. Mouthfeel has a relatively low carbonation which leads to a very smooth and approachable feel, medium to full bodied, not much to indicate the ABV. It's pretty easy going for a sipper. Overall, this is some great stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 11.5% ABV bottled (375 ml capped and waxed). Drank out of the FatherBeast snifter on 9/27/13. "Roughly" 150 bottle release.

Worth waiting in line for, and check out that fancy snifter. Bitchin. As per usual, expect moar posts on Tired Hands in the near future, because I'm a jerk and like to post about beers that will never see the light of day again. You're welcome.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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Recent Comments

  • Mark: I didn't check the dates on Dark Penance or Wookey read more
  • beerbecue: We just had Dark Penance. I was wondering how would read more
  • Mark: I most certainly did. Thank you again for muling, you read more
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