London Balling - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Not Rated.
London BallingLondon Balling

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding

282 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 282
Reviews: 46
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 7.16%
Wants: 35
Gots: 42 | FT: 6
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: 282 | Reviews: 46
Reviews by LambicPentameter:
Photo of LambicPentameter
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Enjoyed on tap at Bier Station in Kansas City. Poured into a small round tulip glass with no flaring on the lip.

Appearance - Pours a ruddy brown that gives the impression of red clay and is hard to see through due to some murkiness. Atop the body sits a small half finger of beige colored head that dissipates pretty quickly to a ringlet of foam around the edge of the glass, with just a smattering of soapy bubbles on one side of the glass. Lacing is pretty nonexistent.

Smell - Lots of notes of sweetness and grain, with contributions of rich caramel, light molasses, vanilla, and even some syrupy characteristics, like sweet sorghum. There is also a bready presence beneath the sweetness, but it's not savory enough to overtake the dominant notes of sweet. The bourbon and wood components are faint, with just a hint of heat and a touch of oak from the barrel.

Taste - The overarching sweetness from the aroma continues along through the taste, with more syrup, caramel and vanilla on the tongue. Brown sugar and toffee come through on the aftertaste a little more, with a slight bitterness like burnt sugar providing some depth of flavor alongside hazelnut and almond notes. The grain is aggressive enough to be present, but not overpowering, with undertones of toasted barley and rye bread. Please to say that there is a bit more mustiness from the oak, riding on a breeze of vanilla and tannins, with just a touch of boozy heat on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with moderate to low carbonation and a sticky mouthfeel, but not unpleasant. Lingering sweetness and some viscosity.

Overall, a very good take on the style. There is just enough barrel aging to impart the vanilla and bourbon characteristics, but without drowning out the base barleywine. The sweetness is pleasant and not cloying, enticing swallow after swallow. I will say that the 80 IBUs surprises me on this one, but perhaps that's the key to preventing a sweet beer from becoming overly so.

More User Reviews:
Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -4.5%

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 jeonseh
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap and served in a snifter

A - Has a deep brown and burgundy color with a small white head. Light carbonation and a nice clean body. Appears to have a bit of a thin body for the style - 4

S - Light hints of vanilla, toffee, light dates, oak, oats, and cherry. Definitely can tell the bourbon influence on this one. As it warms up, you really get the bourbon presence in it - 4

T - Get hints of vanilla, dates and a slight cherry bourbon aspect to it. Get a nice caramel and toffee in there as well. In the finish, get slight lemon peel, oak, and definitely a slight alcohol presence in the finish that gives it a warming quality. I can see the Angels share presence in this one as it gives it a slight dark fruit presence. Has a complex aspect to it as each sip brings a slightly different flavor - 4.5

MF - Has a nice stickiness to it in the mouth but manages to not be cloying. Light carbonation that goes well. Has a slight bite to it near the end and a light lingering alcoholic bite that sits on the tongue post finish. - 4

O - A solid beer from Against the Grain that makes me want to try to find more of their beers. Has a great smell and a complex flavor profile. I would like it to be just a bit smoother. Like that it takes a strong presence from the bourbon barrel - 4

Photo of PBRmeasap1980
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

12 oz bottle ( I think...small and fat) into snifter

A- Dark brown, but still able to see through it... a bit like dark iced tea. No head
S- Big bourbon nose. Like smelling a shot of bourbon or a fresh barrel. Oak, booze, smoke
T - A lot like it smells. Sweet malts that work with the sweetness of the bourbon. Oakiness is great. Nice finish
M- Medium.

O- Nice suprise on this one. Picked it up at Bo & Luke day 2014 from AtG.

Photo of russpowell
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
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 larryarms847
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
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 KYGunner
4.16/5  rDev -0.7%
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 gillagorilla
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sample had at Max's during their Rare & Obscure Festival (from notes, 4/17/14)

A: Dark amber copper brown. Consistent head and lacing that is quite thick.

S: Sweet with some light roasts.

T: Nice even barrel flavors here. Prevalent whiskey but melds well with the rest of the beer. Quite warming. Light roast and slightly sweet with lots of barrel.

M: Smooth.

O: This was some good stuff and my first beer of the festival. Very good use of the barrel and not overpowering.

Photo of beersdmf17
4.09/5  rDev -2.4%
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 emerge077
3.92/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a brandy snifter at Green Lady.
Review from quick written notes.

The beer has a dark reddish brown color with a thin layer of white foam on the surface. After five minutes or so, it breaks to a thin surface veil with minimal spotty lace. Looks the part of a barrel-aged barleywine...

Sweet toffee, caramel, and vanilla in the aroma, sweet with some depth to it. Rich toffee flavor punctuated by an odd sweet candy note like gummy fruit. To be hyper specific: raspberry "Nordic Sweets Forest Berries" gummy candy ... strange. Could be the port sweetness coming through possibly. Smooth feel, rich and not overly cloying, but the candy note is ever present. Dry malty finish. Worth a try, though the flavors didn't really coalesce to me.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a hazy reddish/brown color with about an inch tan head that stuck around a little while. There's also a good amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like dark fruit (cherry, plum), bourbon, vanilla, caramel, oak, dark bread and a bit of herbalness. The taste is similar to the aroma, the brew tastes like bourbon, vanilla, oak, dark fruit (cherry, plum, raisins), caramel, earthiness, dark bread, molasses, toffee, and some nuttiness. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and coating with moderate carbonaton. I have to say this is a pretty good barleywine, I'd definitely buy this again the next time I see it. I think I bought this bottle on a prior trip to ATG, but I don't remember for sure.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
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 wedge
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

@ Ridgewood

Deep, dark chestnut brown under a low, but very sticky, bubbly head. Smooth, sticky dark malt aromas...raisin, wort-like smells, toffee, plum, cherry, and a fairly mellow barrel character with some vanilla creaminess. Smooth caramel, vanilla, oaky spice, dark fruit, black tea, light sherry, nuts, and cherry. Dry with a quick, tidy finish, not cloying in the slightest and the bourbon isn't boozy. Surprising hoppy bitterness in the finish. Heavy and smooth. Not too much barrel or sticky sweetness for its strength. Pretty nice.

Photo of Immortale25
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
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 deadonhisfeet
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from my growler into a New Belgium tulip. Appearance is a murky, hazy, burnt orange color with a thin, quickly dissipating head. The nose is syrupy sweet with caramel and dark fruit notes and some oak.

Very sweet, traditional English barleywine flavor with a firm, slick mouthfeel. There is a strong caramel and malt presence up front that is accompanied by a mild hop profile. At mid-palate, you get flavors of cherries and a subtle oaky vanilla note that lingers well in the mouth after swallowing. The oak and cherry flavors provide a nice tart complement to the malty sweetness. Alcohol is noticeable, but not at all overwhelming or boozy.

This is simply an outstanding barleywine. It is quite traditional and not at all extreme, but it has a nice ``tint'' to its flavor. It is very comparable to Weyerbacher Insanity. Do not pass this one up if you are fortunate enough to find it.

One other thing. Dear ATG - please bottle this stuff so I can trade it! It's wrong to keep this good a beer entirely within our state.

Photo of bilhelm
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had this brew at Against the grain and thoroughly enjoyed it.
A- Pours a cloudy deep copper with a creamy off white 1/4 inch head
S- Boozy sweet toffee caramel and vanilla
T- Very nice taste, sweet caramel with oak undertones, but the finish is distinctly smooth bourbon. The 12.5% abv is deceptively contained within the depth of this beer.
M- Full bodied, particularly for the style, with subtle carbonation.
O- Very good beer that I would gladly sip any chance I got. The characteristics of this beer are like a great kindergarten class - it plays well with others and makes even the grumpiest "grown-up" smile and reflect on the the amazing simple joys of life. Very well done.

Photo of Bjorne
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Cool design of bottle and LOTS of taste.
Sweet thick creamy and strong.

Photo of AppaZappa
4.31/5  rDev +2.9%
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 SportsandJorts
4.04/5  rDev -3.6%
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 Ohiovania
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
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 JDizzle
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Against the Grain.

Served an 8 oz. pour in an half-pint glass.

This is an English style barleywine aged in Angel's Envy bourbon barrels for 3 months.

Wow! Really impressed with this Barleywine. Pours fairly dark with a nut brown head that is impressive for the ABV. It smells like oak, vanilla, dark fruits, malts, and little hoppy. Very good smell. Right away you get the Oak blast from being barrel aged. Vanilla comes strong with a hoppy bitter finish. No real detection of alcohol in the taste, but I feel it.

Great Job ATG!! My favorite so far there.

Photo of themind
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

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.

Photo of TMoney2591
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a snifter at Green Lady.

Must...resist...making...Clash...joke... Whew, that was harder than it should have been... Anyway, this stuff pours a clear garnet topped by a half-finger of off-white foam. The nose comprises sweet caramel, sweet toffee, light oak, light walnut, mild vanilla bean, and a hint of dark fruits in the background. Everything coalesces amiably around a thin core of mild booze. The taste brings in more of the same, with a bit of bourbon, a heightened sense of fruitiness, and some added sweetness from a buttercream character. Damn, this is some tasty shit! The body is a hefty medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a very nice b-wine, possibly the best AtG has made (at least from the selection we've received here in Chicago thus far). Get some.

Photo of Tone
4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a cloudy, brown color. 1/2 inch head of an off-white color. Great retention and great lacing. Smells of alcohol, sweet malt, liquor, wood, yeast, and slight dry hops. Fits the style of an English Barleywine. Mouth feel is sharp and crisp, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of liquor, alcohol, sweet malt, slight hops, sight roasted malt, and slight wood. Overall, good appearance, aroma, body, blend, and complexity.

Photo of TheBrewo
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This brew was served on tap at One-Eyed Betty’s in Ferndale, Michigan. It arrived in a generic stemmed tulip, showing a murky apricot coloring. It held a one and a half finger tall head of eggnog colored bubbles, showing nice retention into crystalline spider webs of lacing left around the glass. An intense haze cut clarity persistently, while no sediment was noted. Carbonation appeared to be light. The aroma gave notes of sourdough bread, thick ale yeastiness, and rye, pale, and amber malts, with sweeter caramel richness on the back as its grainy base. This was laid over with notes of authentic lemon juiciness, sharp booze that was only initially reminiscent of bourbon, soured wet oak, creeping moss, warm buttery diacetyls, airy sweetness of Vermont maple syrup, intense honey sugars, dryness of red wine grape skins without the fruitiness, and tannic leafy teas. With warmth came an enhancement of the booze to bring more burn, but of the harshest alcoholic cider. Our first impression was that that flavoring was beautifully warming, with sensational buttery representation of the barreling blending seamlessly with the base grain and sugars of the barleywine. As we sipped, the taste opened up with heavily fumy bourbon, rich roasty caramel and red maltiness, paper towel dryness, candied cane sugar, massive melted butters, steely metallics, big oaky depth, granite, and graphite. The middle came forward to meet, with a blend of cloying syrups of liquid caramel, tannic breakfast teas, mild cloven phenol, black pepper, citric and herbal hop bitters, deeper grainy roast of caramel and coffee maltiness, blackstrap molasses, and a shoe polish burn to transition us to the finish. The end followed with a final punch of big woody mossiness, with vanilla slick across its surface, with massively buttery diacetyls, spicy burn on bourbon, rich caramel sweetness, chalky yeast, cough syrup cherry depth, candied almonds, and butter-soaked doughnuts. The aftertaste breathed of heavy toffee stickiness, bitter oak barrel, musk and dust, echoing bourbon bite, massive vanilla bean, corn husk, ground lemon seed, burning sea salt, general rumbles of hollow chemical ethanol, and chalky English ale yeastiness. The body was full and chewy, while carbonation was higher, with a hearty, lingering prickle. Each sip afforded syrupy thick cream, slurp, smack, froth, glug, and pull to the finishing pop. The mouth was completely coated, with slow, eventual chalky bitterness. The abv was high, and it sipped appropriately.

Overall, the most enjoyable thing about this brew was the quality of the barreling throughout the flavoring. Top notch. The wood added undisputable authenticity of bourbon and heavy, heavy, heavy oakiness, both of which lent a balancing bitterness to the cloy of the malts and residual alcohol sugars. The nose and feel complement the taste well, comfortably marking this beer as a knockout. There are so many layers to the aroma, and it just becomes stickier and stickier with each passing moment. We also loved how it left your mouth both cleanly sweetened and dryly chalked, without offense from either the bitters of the cloy. This is a stellar English barleywine, and should be a foremost example, along with the likes of Artic Devil, of how to properly utilizing barreling.

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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
93 out of 100 based on 282 ratings.