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London Balling - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Not Rated.
London BallingLondon Balling

Educational use only; do not reuse.

42 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 42
Hads: 305
Avg: 4.2
pDev: 19.05%
Wants: 36
Gots: 50 | FT: 10
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 42 | Hads: 305
Photo of JebBeerFish
3.75/5  rDev -10.7%
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.

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Photo of pants678
3.77/5  rDev -10.2%
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

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Photo of barczar
3.87/5  rDev -7.9%

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.

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Photo of emerge077
3.92/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

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Photo of mrfrancis
3.93/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a murky, ruddy amber with a creamy, lingering khaki head.

S: Aromas of caramel, toffee, dark bread, milk chocolate, toasted coconut, and woody spice dominate the nose.

T: Notes of caramel, toffee, dark bread, brown sugar, roasted nuts, milk chocolate, woody spices, toasted coconut, honey, praline, herbs, and mild citrus are present on the palate. The finish is punchy, rich, and syrupy with praline, herb, citrus, chocolate, honey, toasted coconut, and spice flavors underscored by mellow alcohol.

M: Full-bodied and decidedly off-dry. A bit sticky and syrupy in the mouth. Carbonation is very gentle and discreet. Alcohol presence is pronounced, but not fiery. An easy sipper.

O: This is a very nice English barleywine. Try it if you get the opportunity.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4/5  rDev -4.8%

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.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.01/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

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Photo of gillagorilla
4.02/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

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Photo of dar482
4.03/5  rDev -4%
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.

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Photo of wedge
4.04/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of SportsandJorts
4.04/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of beersdmf17
4.09/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of russpowell
4.11/5  rDev -2.1%
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

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Photo of KFBR392
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.12/5  rDev -1.9%

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.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.14/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.14/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.15/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.16/5  rDev -1%
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.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.17/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to mrbubbler for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours a hazy dark honey orange with a foamy beige head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of wood bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with really nice bourbon barrel aged qualities all around.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of Tone
4.18/5  rDev -0.5%
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.

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Photo of jeonseh
4.2/5  rDev 0%
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

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.21/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.21/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Brandon for sharing this enjoyed from the bottle chilled in a glass.

The color is amber with slight haze and full creamy khaki head. The smell is great -packed with bourbon aroma with slight vanilla and woody scent. The feel is very good with rich creamy texture with sweet middle and light boozy quality with slight spice and dry finish with moderate carbonation and warming alcohol.

The taste is great with a wonderful layered malt with bourbon enhancement that has a dried fruit quality with slight vinous woody tannin and slight spicy effect of elevated alcohol with nice sweetness level of dried fruit. This is a great tasting mix of bourbon and barleywine, very drinkable especially for a 12% beer. Thanks again Sarz

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Photo of Greasy
4.24/5  rDev +1%
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.

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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
92 out of 100 based on 42 ratings.