London Balling - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Not Rated.
London BallingLondon Balling

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

260 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 260
Reviews: 41
rAvg: 4.18
pDev: 7.18%
Wants: 33
Gots: 39 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse visit their website
Kentucky, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.50% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: JDizzle on 03-01-2012

English style barleywine brewed with Maris Otter pale, Aromatic and caramel malts, then balanced with English Nugget and Kent Goldings hops. Aged in Angel's Envy bourbon barrels for nearly 3 months.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 260 | Reviews: 41
Photo of Immortale25
4.14/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. No freshness date.

A- Pours a murky medium brown color with a 1/8 inch tan head that doesn't retain long before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and minimal surface foam. Not-so-resilient lacing.

S- Very medicinal in the nose with a strong booze aroma and big hits of oak. Mostly notes of band-aid with some brown sugar-like sweetness trying to come through.

T- Flavor makes the smell worthwhile with plenty of caramel sweetness. Toasty notes of dark bread and dark fruit with the oak interwoven in the profile making for layers of complexity. Alcohol is incredibly well concealed though there is a bit of booze in the finish.

M- Silky smooth with an alcohol bite that's just right. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Although the nose is a bit off-putting, this barleywine hits all the right notes otherwise as the barrel smooths out the rough edges and makes a beer that should probably be sipped slowly so very drinkable.

Photo of dmgeng
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This was the second ATG beer that I've tried and it looked quite tasty.

A - Very dark garnet. Has an off white head with mild retention and mild lacing. Quite clear but a darker beer that doesn't let you see too much through.

S - Big sweet malt character with dark fruits, bourbon, oak, and some earthy hops. Very complex smell with raisin, fruit cake, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, and enough herbal hops to know that this is a barley wine to be reckoned with.

T - The first shot is of the sweet barley wine base that is rich and robust. Again fruit cake, dark fruits, and caramel compliment the sweet malt. Going into the middle the bourbon starts to warm with lots of vanilla, more caramel, and oak. The finish is still sweet but the alcohol comes through accompanied by a significant herbal hop bitterness that tries to balance the sweet barley wine. Very good depth of flavor and richness but a barley wine through and through.

M - High mouth-feel with light carbonation. It is a pretty typical barleywine feel with a sweeter, sticky character with a modest alcohol twinge and herbal bitterness.

Overall, this is an outstanding representation of a BB Barley wine. The barrel is there throughout but it isn't the start player like in some of it's type. The big fruit character is strong that adds great depth to the rich caramel and malts that you would expect and all in a package that is manageable. If you don't like sweet beers or bourbon this one is probably not a good choice. Still a sipping beer but not too much not to enjoy in a larger glass. If you like barley wines I would strongly recommend this one!

Glass- Snifter from draft

Photo of russpowell
4.11/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Arkansas, no one will confuse their offerings as being geared towards the frugal beer shopper

Pours a Faint orange/caramel with 3 fingers of fluffy tan head. Stellar lacing & way above average head retention

S: Bourbon notes, oakyness, & plums, raisins

T: Oakyness, plums, molasses, brown sugar & caramel up front, a little booze warmth/cinnamon. Barrel comes through as this warms, some herbal & leafy hops as this warms, dryness as well, a touch of honey too. Finishes with honey bourbon, dryness, some leafy hops, a little tangerine & Bing Cherry

MF: Medium body at best, over-carbonated, smoothed out a bit once warm, turns a little creamy once room temperature

This might be a beer to age, way too carbonated right now. Not bad, but for this price this is a B- beer selling at A++ prices

Photo of Hiwattowner
2.72/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2

Overly oaked. Base beer pleasant enough but oak tannins make this unbalanced. The barrel treatment here seems to miss the mark.

Photo of AppaZappa
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into snifter glass. Nice mahogany color with fading 1/4 inch foam, fairly clear. Smell is coconut, malt, vanilla, bourbon, dark fruit, caramel. Taste is bourbon and toffee with co nut and raisin. Oak on the tail end with a sticky sweet finish. Surprised at how thin this is, little carbonation.

This is a very nice bbbw that chimes in a bit below some of the big ones as others have noted. But I'd definitely pick it up again and try to age a bit....

Photo of pants678
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Opaque, cloudy brown with off white head.

Bourbon and something clean and fruity.

Bourbon's the overarching here. Not far from an Old Ale, IMO. The alcohol's noticeable without being harsh -- warm, not hot -- with a full oaky, caramel character.

High carbonation, cola-esque

Photo of Greasy
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured a nice brown color with a small head that went away to nothing rather quickly.

S: Bourbon notes up front with some caramel and toffee in there as well.

T: Sweet bourbon followed by caramel, vanilla and dark fruits. Hoppy too.

M: Medium-full body that went down quite well given the high ABV.

O: A nice offering by Against the Grain. The bourbon flavor isn't overpowering. The hoppy profile makes it seem a little closer to an american style barleywine, however.

Photo of KYGunner
4.16/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Nice rich color but a sadly depleted head. Nicely diverse nose of bourbon, pina colada, oranges, some dark fruit, light oak, fudge and caramel. The flavor is perhaps a touch subdued but delicious none the less. Sweet bourbon creme, toffee, caramel, bourbon whiskey, and dry oak wood meet the palate but it ends lightly fruity. This is very thin and the alcohol heat is not hidden but despite this flaw this is a great beer for a nice price.

Photo of kbrown
4.19/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Louisville downtown brewery on holiday trip.

Photo of Ohiovania
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A little hoppy for an English Barleywine. Bourbon ads a nice complexity. I wish I would of let this one sit for a while.

Photo of dar482
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a murky brown color with tons of red hues coming through.

On the aroma, the beer explodes of bourbon heat. It almost masks the caramel sweetness of the base, the hints of earthy and spicy hops.

On the flavor, the beer offers a bit more. Up front, caramel sweetness along with that sharp bourbon flavor throughout. Dark fruit with dates and plums, lots of raisins. A good amount of vanilla. Then onto an oaky drying flavor on the back end.

In the end, the light mouthfeel and heat detract from this beer, despite good flavors.

Photo of JebBeerFish
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Had this following White Birch's Ol Cattywhompus. Deeper toffee and caramel flavors with deeper background from the bourbon barrels. Superior to OC but somewhat pricey at $8.50 for a 12 oz. bottle. I have several others I will age. So far the best ATG brew for me.

Photo of Rimbimhoot
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Toffee, caramel, red apple, bourbon, vanilla, raisin, brown sugar, light bitterness

Photo of JohnParadee
2.87/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

I just don't like English Barleywines. Sorry.

Photo of larryarms847
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky ruby brown with a finger of very light tan foam.

Vanilla, oak, toffee, molasses, and sweet sweet bourbon.

Strong caramel and toffee, vanilla, fruity hop bitterness, and tons of boozy bourbon.

Heavy bodied, medium carbonation, sweet, sticky, and some earthy bitterness.

Overall, while not rather pleasing in appearance, this is delicious.

Photo of beersdmf17
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter (I love this style bottle, wish more would use it)

Pours a hazy amber brown with a fingers worth of tan head.

First impressions of the aroma are of the sweetness, with molasses, caramel, some light toffee notes and some booze notes from the barrels.

Taste follows aroma, with caramel, molasses, dark fruit, vanilla and oak. Bourbon barrel flavor shines through but is balanced by a great malt backbone and good bitterness, especially at the end.

Plenty of carbonation and the beer coats the inside of the mouth quite well. Good medium body and the booze is apparent but not overpowering, very pleasant feel overall.

Flavors are balanced overall, more than most bourbon barrel aged barleywines I've had. For the price are sure buy again and another solid offering from this brewery.

Photo of KFBR392
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours with a light brown color and a muddy body. Nice head of about a finger on the pour which stuck around a bit while drinking. Plenty of active carbonation.

Smell: toffee, caramel, and a stiff wheat backbone slap the drinker immediately. Sweetness wins out on the body with highlights of vanilla and some fudge. Can tell some welcome booziness lingers on the back end.

Taste: toffee and caramel immediately grasps the palate. Steps follow the aroma pretty well with an overwhelming vanilla sweetness on the body. A rich malt backbone keeps everything in check. That boozy backbone lingers throughout and is a welcome addition.

Mouthfeel: rich malt notes wash over the palate in waves. Some light funk left on the palate from the sweetness.

Overall: first experience with against the grain and I am very impressed. Hits all the checkpoints a great bba english barleywine should.

Photo of BMMillsy
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%

Bottle from Hop City when I visited Atlanta. Pours murky brownish amber into my glass with a small yellow khaki head. Nice aroma of sweet fruits, figs, some bron sugar, toffee, vanilla, light booze, and some cardboardyness. Flavor is caramel and fruit, vanilla bourbon, oak, brown sugar. Nice. Medium plus bodied, booze heat, and carbonation that is medium plus (maybe a bit much for the style). Tastes better than it smells. Pretty good stuff with heavy barrel notes.

Photo of Fcolle2
4.01/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours a viscous hazy lighter brown color with a light tan head. Smell has has a lot of caramel aromas forward in the nose along with hints of apples bourbon oak and vanilla. Taste follows the nose with sweet caramel and grainy flavors along with apple bourbon toffee tobacco vanilla and oak in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to thick in body and lightly carbonated.

Photo of SportsandJorts
4.04/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a nice solid brown with some reddish hues to it. a finger or so of a tannish head with decent retention. leaves a small lacing. strong clarity.

Smell: bourbon, alcohol. rich sweetness coming from caramel malts and toffee. vanilla and maple syrup.

Taste: opens with a bourbon flavor with a strong vanilla character. oak flavor, along with a strong sweetness coming in waves. noticeably caramel, toffee and maple syrup. some noticeable strong barley character near the end along with a strong kick and alcohol.

Mouthfeel: medium body. some alcohol warmth. some silkiness. syrupy stickiness at times.

Overall: a very well done bba barleywine. great base beer and a good addition of a bourbon character. great vanilla and oak character. Definitely worth a try but has some tough competition in its category.

Photo of barczar
3.87/5  rDev -7.4%

Very boozy, sweet, treacle aroma, with toasted oak notes, and hints of raisins. Flavor reveals a very sweet backbone, with huge caramel tones, and a moderately bitter, oaky finish. Bourbon notes and vanilla add complexity. Dates dominate the profile. The oak in the finish provides nice balance. Should age well. I'd like more complex dark fruit character.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle purchased at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a tawny, dark-ish brown, with a small quarter inch head, and no lacing.

Smells like bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, and toffee. Classic boiler-plate bourbon barrel barleywine smell.

This is quite nice. It's really pretty hot, with some astringent booze, and lots of bourbon up front, followed by a big oak presence, some vanilla, and caramel and toffee. It's the classic bourbon barrel barleywine flavor, with a a bigger boozy bitterness than typical.

This is medium bodied, slightly thinner than I'd expect, with a low amount of carbonation, and a slightly syrupy mouthfeel.

This is quite tasty. It doesn't quite match up to the biggest barrel-aged barleywines that all the kids are talking about, but it's still very good.

Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Tightly woven booze spice with malt sweetness allows the Against the Grain brewers to flirt with the commingling of British and ale Kentucky creativity.

Dense and viscous to the eye, the rugged beer layers gently into the snifter with a cloudy tawny and rusty color. As its delicate creme swirls about the surface, the ale quickly reclaims its bubbles and renders into a brandy-like appearance. And those boozy comparisons get started while the rummy sweetness wraps around the tongue and its sultry fruit, spice and savory aromatics pull forth and fully saturate the olfactory senses.

The middle palate overwhelms with rich caramel, toffee and maple. Peps of buttery brown sugar and butterscotch offer succulents while a nutty cashew and candied pecan character counters with its own gentle earthiness. Herbal with tea and softly shaven woods, these become the hook for the introduction of charred oak, vanilla, caramel, cherrywood and unmistakable bourbon empowerment. All the while, estery influence of apple, cherry, plum, date and fig suggest fruitcake and spice cake.

Decadent in finish, the full-bodied taste and texture weighs on the tongue and saturates the tastebuds to utter completion with its piercing booze and understated carbonated lift. Its "barley liquor" character numbs the palate and seduces the taste with its boldly laced savory character. Enjoy much more as an after dinner aperitif rather than a drinkable or refresher of a beer.

Photo of What_the_kevy1
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Solid all around

Photo of themind
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Great brew! as far as BBBW go this beer is good! decent bourbon character, nice aroma, good mouth feel and incredible drink ability. A top notch BW, don't hesitate on this one.

Bottom Line: I would seek this out again.

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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
93 out of 100 based on 260 ratings.