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Bo & Luke - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Not Rated.
Bo & LukeBo & Luke

Educational use only; do not reuse.

73 Reviews

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Reviews: 73
Hads: 815
Avg: 4.31
pDev: 32.25%
Wants: 385
Gots: 244 | FT: 38
Brewed by:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Kentucky, United States | website

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout | 13.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: TMoney2591 on 10-08-2012

Originally an Against the Grain Brewery and Brouwerij De Molen collaboration beer. For the first incarnation, De Molen head brewer Menno Oliver hopped in a muscle car and drove straight through from the Netherlands to Louisville, KY (that's USA folks) to brew this bourbon inspired ale, and we liked it so much, we decided to do it again. We took the ingredients in bourbon whiskey (Barley, Rye, Corn) and then smoked them with cherry wood and brewed a huge imperial stout with them. Then to top it off we aged it in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels. The resulting beer is rich, smokey and complex, with a bourbon character of caramel, vanilla and spice.
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Reviews: 73 | Hads: 815
Photo of docoman
3.85/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I have been wanting to try this beer for couple years and lucked out finding it locally on tap to try. Smells of faint bourbon, smoky burnt raisins? The taste is what let me down, finding out just not fan of the "smoked" stouts, which if is your thing you would probably really like this one. Glad I got to try it, but probably not again for me.

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Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark brown with thin head
S: Smoke, bourbon, chocolate, fudge, oak, vanilla
T: Chocolate, smoke, bourbon, caramel, sweet, fudge, vanilla
M: Medium heavy, residual sugar
O: Good bourbon barrel stout with balanced smoke

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Smoky and roasty, dark chocolaty sweet with bittersweet char around the edges; hints of marshmallow and vanilla, and a little dark fruit under airs of bourbon barrels. Nice full body, smooth and easy-drinking.

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Photo of _RL_
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black but not opaque on the pour, only in the glass. Smells boozy and roasted but the taste has only some booze and maybe a hint of smoke. Very smooth, especially considering the abv. It has a very good mouthfeel that is just short of great. I wish the beer was a bit more complex (perhaps cinnammon, coffee, vanilla, etc) but it's pretty tasty as is. I would be interested to see if this infuses with flavors as well as BCBS.

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Photo of Kurmaraja
4.31/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 reviewed with a few years in it. Simply among the best in style. A little lighter, red brown, than I though it would be. Head fades fast. Smell is campfire smores. Hickory, dark chocolate, burnt toast, not really sweet at all. Prunes in the finish. A tar note. Note thick but a bit creamy with a lingering smokey note.

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Photo of Tidesox28
5/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Love the bottle art, but more importantly I love the beer inside. Nice and smoky, but not too over-the-top. Drinks much like a porter. Perfect for shipping near the campfire and autumn. I just wish it wasn't so hard to get.

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Photo of stephenjmoore
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a very dark brown that settles into the glass with a near-black body and a thick, foamy light brown head. One of the biggest heads I have ever seen for such a big imperial stout. Aroma has lots of vanilla, roasted malts, hints of grainy spices and a dash of smoke. Flavor is much of the same, with a little bit more sweetness than I expected. Almost a toasted marshmallow type flavor with the vanilla, spices, roast and hints of smoke complimenting. Flavor is thick and velvety, lingering sweet and smokey finish. Smoked beers are hit or miss for me and can sometimes mask other flavors, but in this one the smoke compliments everything nicely. Not too sweet, not too smokey, great feel and very drinkable for the ABV.

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Photo of JohnCassillo
5/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Despite the high ABV, this one certainly doesn't drink like it. Smooth and smokey finish that possesses a ton of rich bourbon notes with each sip. On top of the pleasant bourbon flavors, it adds chocolate and coffee notes as well. A truly excellent example of style, and one only serves to improve with age.

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Photo of Tommo
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

If you liked smoked beers, you will looovvvvveeee this. If you are looking for a bourbon aged stout, look else where. Wonderful flavor, truly a great beer

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Photo of superspak
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours fairly pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a large amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toast, vanilla, raisin, plum, cherry, bourbon, oak, light pepper, light smoke, and oak/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, dark fruit, and bourbon barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of huge milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toast, toffee, vanilla, butterscotch, cream, coconut, bourbon, oak, raisin, plum, cherry, wood smoke, light pepper, and oak/roasted earthiness. Light roast/oaky bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toffee, toast, vanilla, butterscotch, cream, bourbon, oak, wood smoke, light dark fruit, and oak/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/smoked malt, bourbon barrel, and light dark fruit flavors; with a good roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an incredible barrel aged smoked imperial stout. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast.smoked malt, bourbon barrel, and light dark fruit flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of Thirsty_In_Chicago
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Whole Foods West Loop. Poured into a 4 oz taster. Very dark, with little tan head. Smoke is definitely there on the nose and taste. Not overwhelming, but this is what sets it apart from your 'everyday' RIS. Overall the smoke compliments the barrel characteristics. Thinner than I like, but overall a solid offering from ATG. Just wish the bar didn't serve this so cold - an all too common problem. I did not have enough time to let it warm to preferred temp. Would like to try it again, out of a bottle.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.4/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #81 (Oct 2013):

Originated from a collaboration of AtG and Brouwerij De Molen. Nothing short of epic; so well put together that this beer must happen again and again ... please. This beer simply just laughs at other, overhyped Imperial Stouts. A sipper, and one to take care with, as it becomes more desirable after each taste. Cheers to AtG for this re-creation.

STYLE: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Smoked Stout
ABV: 13.0%

LOOK: Pitch-black, tan lacing

SMELL: Even smokiness, roasted grain, black currants, dark-roast coffee, burnt raisins, mild bourbon, wood, cocoa powder, fleeting vanilla

TASTE: Stodgy, creamy, sweet, smoky, molasses, candied dark fruit, espresso, chocolate pudding, charred wood, modest carbonation, mild wood tannin, big mellow warmth

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Photo of MattXT
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

EBF pour. Nice beer, but I found the smoke to be a little bit overdone, in that it covered the rest of the flavors. The barrel flavors were hidden behind the strong smoke.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.03/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown-black pour, with a small, short-lived head. Smoke and roast in the aroma, some oaky/bourbon/vanilla sweetness in the background. Taste was acrid and chalky. I'm usually a fan of cherrywood smoking, but in this beer it came off ashy and unpleasant. There was some malty and vanilla sweetness going on, but also a medicinal element that just wouldn't go away. Bourbon was present, but only as an afterthought. Medium body, thin, and messy mouthfeel. Seems like a waste of a rare barrel on a so-so beer.

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Photo of Rutager
3.96/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with a finger of thick, light tan head. On the nose, woody bourbon and dark chocolate, a little briney, a little smokey. Tastes good, decent sweetness, dark malts and chocolate, light smoke and oakey bourbon. Fairly full body, medium-low carbonation. Good stuff.

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Photo of Mdwstbrlvr
4.57/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, dark brown. Slightly transparent if you catch it at the right angle with a light background. With an aggressive pour a thin brown head will form a couple seconds after the pour, doesn't stick around for long.

S: Awesome. Whisky, smoke, cherrywood, and chocolate.

T: Smoke flavor is there but has a really nice, subdued cherrywood flavor that sticks to it. Chocolate comes through in the middle. Whisky throughout but subdued, to me it serves more to blend the smoke/cherry/malt flavors than a stand alone flavor. Works well.

M: A little lighter than I would like for a beer with smokey profile, but good enough.

O: Excellent blend of very strong flavors. Nice departure from the typical bourbon barrel stouts our there. Will definitely get again. Wish I would have grabbed more when I had the chance.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.45/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with a 1/4 inch medium brown head that retains decently before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a half sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Smoke-forward aroma that, when accompanied with the barrel notes, makes for a semi-medicinal quality but not in a bad way. Big roast lurks underneath the smoke which is ultimately the key player in the smell. A bit of boozy bourbon.

T- Mm mm mm. Smoke initially dominates the flavor but, as more sips are taken, it blends with the vanilla and oak from the barrel to create this melange of tastes that work so well together. So smooth for the high ABV. Dark chocolate aftertaste. The smoke actually becomes less tolerable as it warms which is a bit of a surprise.

M- Creamy, silky smooth with medium carbonation and a full body.

O- I am not usually a fan of smoke, but this beer is magnificent. The melding of the smoked malt and the barrel somehow transform this beer into something special that's to be sipped slowly and appreciated. Unfortunately, when I get a super tasty beer in my hand, I have a tendency to drink it even faster than I would a "normal" beer of lower ABV. This stuff is dangerous like that, so beware.

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Photo of joe1510
4.26/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Binny's - Willowbrook

Wax enough to make a sane man crazy and a crazy man crazier. Bo & Luke looks like a big bad stout should. It's midnight black and swallows light. The foam is instantly creamy and mocha brown with steady streams of carbonation crawling up the glass to bolster the head. The head leaves behind ropey lacing. Purty!

The nose is packed full of goodies. Cherrywood is the first thing that comes to mind, a few tendrils of smoke. After that I'm overtaken with stoutiness. Cocoa and fudge in heavy doses are followed by vanilla and underripe berries, blue and black mostly. There's an undercurrent of blackstrap molasses as well. Huge roasted barley. This beer is even handed and well done.

The nose set a high standard and the flavor stepped up. The sweet smokiness of cherrywood has it's fingerprints all over the delicious roastiness of this stout. It's rich in roast with a big note of blackstrap molasses running along the back. The dark chocolate again is heavy and bordering bitter. Underripe berries and soft peppery booziness wrap it up. Again, great depth with some surprises here and there.

The body is rich with a good density but it never even comes close to cloying. The carbonation is active enough to cut the lush body before the swallow. The finish actually dries up eventually with some peppery booze and roast bitterness left behind. It's pretty easy to put away all things considered.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not a big fan of the majority of Against the Grain but they, and de Molen, nailed this beer. It's reminiscent of the BBQ I cook (lots of fruit wood), roasty as all get out, complex as hell, and simply delicious. It seems like a lot went into this beer. It's all even handed and expertly done. Nice job!

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Photo of spacecake9
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

A - Pours black with a small caramel creamy head that reduces quickly.
S - Smells of dark coffee with a bit of smoke
T - There's a lot going on here. Smoky, coffee, dark chocolate and something sweet, this is a tough one to figure out but a delicious one to drink. 14% abv but the booze does not take over at all - I did not even notice it.
M - Medium mouth feel.
O - I was very excited to get my hands on this beer and boy did it deliver! This is just flat out delicious. Hard to find, so if you see it on the shelf, grab it. Keep reading, there are better, more detailed reviews below.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a really really darn good beer. its a rich lathery dense stout, with just enough sweetness, a big bold grain base with a ton of roast to it, dark cocoa, coffee, and tobacco notes app prominent, and its aged in barrels once housing some of the best whiskey on the planet. whats to complain about right? well, for me, and I love smoked beers, but this is way too much smoke for a pappy barrel. it might as well have been jim beam at this point, you smoke it so much that the nuance of the finer spirit cant really appreciate to the fullest. I mean obviously things like mouthfeel and sweetness levels are aided by a good whiskey barrel, but I just don't get the uniqueness and specialness of it coming through. it should be amazing in that regard and its not because the smoke is too strong. that said, the smoked flavor is great, perfect for late fall and early winter, the alcohol is shockingly absent from such a strong ale, and the overall beer is downright fantastic, but I wish they scaled that aspect back a little more so that we could really enjoy what pappy barrel does for a beer like this, it just seems a shame to me, as much as I do like this beer...

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Photo of RickS95
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark, black pour...thick. The head is one part yellow, one part orange and five parts white. A finger thick, but very frothy like root beer head. Moderate retention, but it never fully dissipates. Full messy lace.

The smoke is very aggressive, but never fully overpowers everything else. Spices, bourbon, malt and vanilla are all present, but mostly subtle.

Whatever you notice in the smell is present in the taste, but far more aggressively. You can taste the smoke, along with the spices and bourbon. The alcohol is very strong, but is somewhat tempered by everything else. Complex taste. Not sure if a hop was ever used in this beer because it's totally an afterthought. Notes of chocolate in the finish.

Very manly beer. Full bodied with lots going on. Sweet, but smokey. Spicy. Faintly bitter. Warm, bordering on hot due to stupid high ABV, hints of bourbon and spices. A great winter beer.

This is my kind of beer. Dark, aggressive, highly alcoholic. I typically don't care for the bourbon barrels because I'm not a spirit drinker, but with everything else this beer has going on, it's a perfect match.

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Photo of jbwimer
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%

Poured from a 750 ml into a Bullfrog Le Roar snifter.

A- Black with some light coming through on the edges. Finger of brown foam lingers for a bit, though eventually fades.

S- Plenty of smoked wood and sweet vanilla. Roast is minimal, but present. Sweet chocolates with a hint of bourbon.

T- Really smooth, sweet chocolate, with some smoke flavors and more vanilla. Quite sweet, yet manages to avoid being cloying.

M- Not the greatest body, but I think a thicker body would make this difficult to drink, so it works out. Medium carb, medium mouthfeel. Smooth.

O- I really enjoyed this beer. It's a 2013 and has aged wonderfully. Would be glad to drink it again.

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Photo of a0lbudman
4.73/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A-black with a one finger light brown head that fades slow and leaves a good lace
S-smoke , bourbon, vanilla , and a cherry aroma
T-vanilla flavor that goes to a bourbon and vanilla mix, that quickly goes to a hot and hop bitter aftertaste that brings the smoke out in the finish.
M-low carbonation and full body with a good alcohol warming in the aftertaste
O-the warmer it gets the stronger the hop and alcohol aftertaste become but the smoke flavor seems to mellow out some

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Photo of supaadam
3.83/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Good looking dark beer with a little head.

S:A little too much smoke, but not completely overpowering like so many smoky beers. You can smell the bourbon a bit as well as cherry.

T: I get more cherry than anything else. Smoke flavor so there, but not very powerful, which is good for me. Bourbon is there, but not very much.

M: Lighter than I expected. Not much alcohol burn.

O: A good beer. I would like some more age on it to see what happens. The smoke and light mouthfeel did me in. I couldn't finish it.

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Photo of MarcWP
4.55/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with charred brown highlights toward the edges. Small cinnamon brown colored head that dissipates to nothing. This bottle leaked on the way to me, so I chilled it and opened it right away. Maybe some loss of carbonation but there was still a hiss when I popped the top so I believe the loss was not extreme.

Smell is quite nice with big vanilla, creamy cocoa, cinnamon, smoke, a dark fruit character much like plum or fresh black cherry pulp. Overall smokey but very well balanced with the barrel and sugary malt notes.

Taste is creamy vanilla, meaty char, dulce de leche, nutmeg, spiced rum, oak, hints of pasteurized maple syrup, and fresh pipe tobacco. Wow, one of the better tasting barrel aged imperial stouts I've had in a while. Of course I spend my days mostly immersed in farmhouse funk, but still, how did I not have this sooner. Very tasty!

Mouthfeel sports a solid light heavy body with 20 percentile carbonation level. I'm sure it lost some carb with that leakage so it's hard to hold it against it. Even then, it drinks very nice and for the abv is quite smooth. Sweet but with plenty of char and spice to balance it out.

Overall a fantastic imperial stout. This is far better than any of the ones I've had lately, which are actually few but among them some Noir variants and a few others. Has a great structure with the sweet and creamy flavors, smokiness, fall spice character, and subtle bourbon notes. This actually reminded me of a smokey, less rich Abraxas and quite honestly is about as good or better.

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Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
94 out of 100 based on 73 ratings.