Bo & Luke - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

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Bo & LukeBo & Luke

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

729 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 729
Reviews: 73
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 9.86%
Wants: 368
Gots: 213 | FT: 34
Brewed by:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse visit their website
Kentucky, United States

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.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 729 | Reviews: 73
Photo of JohnCassillo
5/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

Photo of Dan138
5/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I now compare all other beers to this.

Photo of PHBoiler
4.87/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On draft at Local Option in Chicago.

Jet black with a deep purple head that is maybe 1/4 inch. Lots of scents on the nose including coffee, dark chocolate, some bourbon, and fruitiness. The taste is sinful. So deep and smooth with sweetness that is apparent but not cloying. You get the vanilla from the bourbon and it enhances the sweetness. Only light coffee and limited dark chocolate on the finish. The front end has more of a dark/dried fruitiness. This is the 2nd beer I've had aged in Pappy barrels, and they've both been home runs. I had this beer after Baudonia, and this was just as good if not better. If you have the chance, make it a priority to taste this beer.

Photo of pjkelley82
4.85/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this at a bottle share on 10/21/13... thanks Joe For Bringing this bottle and getting to try it without opening mine...lol..

Right before we tried this beer there were 3 comments made(from non smoke beer lovers) about how smoked beers are overly smokey.. just had smoke from the oak mind you... this beer settled all their worries....

Listen.... screw A, S, T, M, O.... this is "the" Imperial Stouts of smoked beers... whatever that pappy van winkle is...keep it.. it does wonders for this beer... its a supremely goos stout base with subtle smoke flavors... everything is so smooth and so well put together... I can't say enough about this brew and is definitely a must try...

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.84/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - Black like well used motor oil. A slight mocha head lined the sides of the glass.

Smell - The bourbon aroma comes to the front, but the acidity of the smoke is also very present.

Taste - There is a lot going on here. Smoke, bourbon, burnt sugar, sweet malt, raisin, and sweet syrup. What is absolutely remarkable about this one is how well balanced the smoke and bourbon go together, like they were made for each other. The sweet malt backbone makes both stand out all the better. In the aftertaste, the bourbon warms nicely amid the mild bite of bourbon.

Mouthfeel - This is a thick and sticky stout that clings nicely to the roof and sides of the mouth. Remarkably smooth, there is nothing harsh about this one.

Overall - I do not say this lightly. Seek this beer. It is one of the most remarkable beers I have had in quite some time.

Photo of ltjska04
4.79/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Filled from the growler station at Party Town in Florence, KY into a pint-sized mason jar. This is an imperial smoked stout aged in Pappy van Winkel 23 year and named after some good ol' boys, so why not drink it straight from the mason jar?

This beer is dark black with little to no head or lacing. The smell is chocolate and oak up front with smoke with a bourbon tinge in the follow through. The taste has the smoke taking the lead followed by dark chocolate and roasted malt. A complex and delicious stout that is even more well-rounded thanks to the barrel aging. The bourbon is apparent but not overpowering and lends a nice complexity. After a few sips the smoke fades to the background and provides an interesting layer to an outstanding stout. The mouthfeel could be a little bit fuller and the carbonation could be a touch higher but overall this is an outstanding imperial stout.

Photo of jmarsh123
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter at Zwanze Day at Holy Graile

Pours pitch black with a small beige ring of lacing on the edges.

Smells sublime. Lots of chocolate fudge with a small dose of bourbon. A bit of vanilla, coffee and oak as well.

Similar flavor. Lots of rich fudge flavor throughout. A good balance of coffee malts balance out the sweetness. Rounds out a bit oaky with a good kiss of bourbon. Extremely well integrated and not hot, but a bit warming. Smoke is where it should be. Subtle and no more. Great flavor profile.

Nice creamy mouthfeel. Carb level is lowish, but present and in line with the style.

I really hope this one ends up being made again. One of the best stouts I've had in a while and glad I got the chance to try it after not sampling it during FOBAB. Very complex layered flavors, but what makes it stand above the rest is the incredibly perfect integration of the bourbon.

Photo of Ri0
4.77/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Growler from the brewery shipped to me courtesy of Harold. Thank you!
poured 12-14oz into a snifter.

A - Obsidian with a 1.5 finger tan head. A thin ring remains after the head fades. Small spots of lacing trail behind as the liquid slides down the glass. Nice looking for a BB beer.

S - Tons of chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, caramel, marshmallow, and just a hint of light smoke. Smell is not bourbon dominated, but rich and decadent.

T - Huge sweetness from this beer, in a complementary way to the bourbon and smoke. Chocolate, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, and marshmallow lead the way. Faint wood and smoke linger around at the end. How is this 14%? The alcohol is so hidden, I best be careful.

M - Silky smooth, rich and creamy. Nice carbonation for the BB style.

O - I should be sipping this much slower than I am. It is a really nice BB stout that more people need to experience. I fell very lucky to have had the pleasure of drinking it.

Photo of a0lbudman
4.73/5  rDev +11%
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

Photo of macher0
4.71/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This was released 4/19/14. Bottle to tulip.

I've had this serval times but never reviewed. The wax is very light and it's very easy to open.

A. Very, very dark brown. Especially around the edges. Not complete black. Minor head quickly retreats to an amber fine bubble rim. Highly viscous and slightly oily.

S. Dominated by dark roasted malts. Moderate notes of bourbon, coco, and smoke. The smoke is noticeable but very low key. Very minor notes of vanilla and toffee.

T. The smoke is more dominate in the taste but not overwhelming and not at all similar to smoked pig. The smoke is more roast/char that you will also find in coffee ba stouts. The bourbon is noticeable and equals the malts. This is fairly bitter with a
Coffee/hops finish. Booze is totally hidden.

M. Moderate carbonation. Full body. Smooth for the style.

O. Bad to the bone. I'll say the smoke does build up after it warms. This ale transforms highly as it warm, but all phases are excellent. Highly recommended.

Photo of arusso13
4.69/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed from notes. Enjoyed on-tap at The Owl Farm in Brooklyn.

A: One finger, quick fading khaki head. Pitch black in color.

S: Bourbon immediately hits you, giving way to coffee and chocolate. Faint smell of smoke.

T: Sweetness up front (think milk chocolate, caramel, toasted marshmallow), followed by slight bourbon notes (but very little burn). Smokiness plus added sweetness on the back end. Very drinkable despite it's high ABV.

M: Not as full-bodied as I would expect, little carbonation.

O: A very complex, well done BA stout. Worth seeking out if given the opportunity.

Photo of Treyliff
4.68/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From the bottle to an oversized wine glass, Monk's Cafe Philladelphia

A- pours pitch black with a big frothy light-tan colored head that retains nicely, leaving thick lacing around the glass as it settles.

S- lots of bitter-sweet dark chocolate aromas with a big smoked cherrywood presence, spicy rye adds a subtle peppery notes, oaky bourbon juice kicks in just before closing with more chocolate and cherrywood

T- big chocolate notes up front mesh with just enough smoky malt, complimented by a prominent cherrywood flavor. Spicy rye kicks in, followed by a subtle-yet-smooth bourbon flavor with some toasted oak notes, adding a hint of vanilla. The bourbon is more of a compliment, rather than a focus, which works nearly perfectly. More chocolate kicks in on the finish with a long linger of dark cherry

M- medium-heavy body with low carbonation leads to a creamy and silky mouthfeel with an absolute smooth finish. I can't believe that this beer is nearly 14% ABV, as it drinks more like 8%.

O- so impressed with this one, the smokiness of the malt mesh so well with the chocolate flavors, the rye adds a nice spiciness and the bourbon is perfectly integrated. This is the best beer I've had in a while

Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.65/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Pours black as night with a small, tan head. Retention is ok, but lacing is pretty good. Not too much to say here, as it looks like most impy stouts do.

S- Lots of smoke, burnt malts, and just a touch of barrel there. Really a complex and unique nose here. There is some evidence of Belgian yeast I think.

T- Starts off smokey and burnt in the flavor department. The barrel flavor shows off a little bit of oak and more burnt flavor, with very little vanilla to speak of. Barrel is really subdued compared to the smokiness. Lingering barrel spiciness on the palate.

M- Smooth and think on the palate. Alcohol is the big hitter here, but it is hidden very well.

Overall, my favorite smoked beer to date. Really smooth, complex, and not too much barrel to overtake the flavors of the base beer. Next step. find the variants.

Photo of woosterbill
4.62/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Tørst.

A: Black body, brown highlights, 1 inch of fine, creamy light brown head. Excellent retention and lacing, particularly for the strength. Gorgeous.

S: Enormous bourbon, vanilla, oak, and chocolate-covered raisins. The oak in particular is incredible.

T: Nutty vanilla oak up front, with delicious bourbon and chocolate midway through. Marshmallow, coffee, and more bourbon on the finish. Warming booze on the aftertaste, but alongside lingering coconut and vanilla. Wow.

M: Smooth, full bodied, and creamily carbonated. Lovely.

O: I hadn't heard of this beer before a friend ordered one, but the second I smelled his I ordered my own. This is one of the best Bourbon-barrel Stouts I've had in a while. Really intense, really great. Wish I could have it again.

Cheers!

Photo of rden4654
4.61/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Luv’d this beer!!! I would recommend if u can get!!!

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.59/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle purchased by stillmatic2232 from Oliver's in Albany, NY, shared and poured into two tulips. Thanks man!

I stare into the abyss as I look at the glass. So dark and black, like obsidian. A mocha-colored head rises up out of the abyss and sticks around for a while.

Aromas include coffee and roasted malts, a bit of smoke, and slight alcohol.

The taste is much the same, with additional hop bitterness, smooth bourbon sweetness, light char, campfire smoke, oak, caramel, coconut, and vanilla. Awesome!

Full and delicious mouthfeel here. Low but nice carbonation. Very drinkable for the ABV.

Awesome collaboration here, and one I hope to drink again.

Photo of Mdwstbrlvr
4.57/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

Photo of MarcWP
4.55/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

Photo of LiquidAmber
4.51/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Reuben's Brew snifter. Pours a very dark brown, appearing opaque black in the glass, with a thin light brown head that dissipates leaving a thick ring around the glass and light lacing. Aroma of bourbon, dark toasted malt, vanilla and smokehouse smokiness. Flavor is rich, sweet toasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon with an overlay of wood smoke, very well balanced and integrated. Finishes with a bit of bourbon booziness, smoke and nice hop bitterness. Medium bodied with light creaminess. A very smooth, nicely balanced bourbon imperial stout. Not as heavy bodied as expected, but the flavors more than compensate. Smoke is deftly done. Alcohol is well covered, but this is definitely warming and carries a punch. Well done, and glad I stumbled on a bottle of this uncommon beer.

Photo of Mikecap
4.51/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

End of the keg, about a 6-7 ounce pour, for free!

Appearance: Jet black with a thin dark brown head, solid retention with chunky lacing.

Smell: Oak, chocolate and a ton of smoke. Such a great aroma, with hints of the bourbon coming through as well, lots of sweetness to counteract that.

Taste: Silky smooth, chocolate, molasses and caramel, with notes of charred oak, bourbon, and more alcohol. Very tasty.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied but surprisingly smooth. Very easy drinking with little heat for its size. This was a small pour but quite easy to drink.

Overall: Fantastic beer that I'm glad I got to try. Worth seeking out this rare brew.

Photo of spacecake9
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%

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.

Photo of biegaman
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at The Beer Temple, in Amsterdam.

Bo & Luke is black as the char inside the bourbon barrel in which it was aged. Dark as deep space, with a coffee-coloured head, the contents of the glass look thicker than concrete. It's obvious off the bat: this is not the beer to order if you're in the mood for something "normal".

Smelling the beer is akin to licking the inside of a charred oak barrel that still contains portions of its former alcoholic contents. The use of cherry wood smoked and rye malts really serve to accentuate the singe and spice of the bourbon (Pappy Van Winkle, by the way). Notwithstanding, there's far more to this Russian Imperial Stout than simply whiskey...

Bo & Luke drinks with exalted flavours of dark chocolate, vanilla cake, and cinnamon spice. These three flavours play out in order, again and again like clockwork with each mouthful before giving way to a very dry and smoky finish that subjugates a chunk (though by no means all) of the alcohol. It tastes a little like what the inside of a cigar box smells.

It's my experience that few beers can age more than a short period of time; this one could probably outlive you. At a not-so-hard-to-believe 14% alcohol, I savored my six ounce pour patiently. There's no other way to do it; each sip is formidable and rewarding in its grandeur.

Bourbon-barrel aged stouts can be monotonous, but Bo & Luke was truly special. Pappy Van Winkle is an expensive (several hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars/bottle) that is very rare and regarded as arguably the best bourbon in the world. I've never had the privilege of trying it but if its effects on this stout are any indication, its praise is warranted.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.49/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml wax capped bottle purchased at the brewpub a few weeks ago, label says 13% ABV. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with an inch tan head that sticked around for a while. There's also a decent amount of lacing. The brew smells like smoked malt, vanilla, roasted malt, bourbon, dark fruit, and bittersweet chocolate. Taste is similar to the aroma, it tastes like smoked malt, bourbon, vanilla, roasted malt, dark fruit (mostly cherry), coffee, dark chocolate, caramel and some rye spiciness. All the flavors mesh well together in this brew, and none of the flavors overpower the others. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and smooth with low/moderate carbonation. The 13% ABV is well hidden, it's very easy to drink for a brew this strong. I think this is a pretty good stout, definitely worth a try if you come across some! $15.50 a bottle.

Photo of BarryMFBurton
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I’ve heard great things about this beer, and about Against the Grain in general; thankfully, I was able to snag a bottle when a case of this stuff showed up in town. I’ve been waiting for some real down time to crack it open, and now I’ve got nothing to do but enjoy a great drink – cheers!

A: Pours fizzy and without that thick syrupiness you’d expect in such a huge stout: the head, though fleeting, is no more than a dark brown collection of popping bubbles when present. Interesting. Pitch black body.

S: Bacon and booze, a winning combination. Actually, it’s more of a honey-glazed ham note – sweet and meaty – among a menagerie of corn, cedar sawdust, and intense rye whiskey scents. If that was it, you could call it robust, but there’s much more there: charcoal, burnt toffee, Hershey’s syrup, and blackcurrant, among others. Every little space in this nose is filled with rich, complex aromatics.

T: A palate that’s brimming with delicate flavor; this is truly a gourmet beer. Dense, bittersweet fudge and toasty-sweet caramel corn provide a blanket of natural, earthy sugariness, first in line. The meaty char and salted pork tastes of smoked malt then start to creep up, giving contrast without becoming the dominant flavor. In fact, there is no dominant flavor to this beer – it’s balanced exceptionally well (and, thus, insanely drinkable). The middle is a duet of bold bourbon and wood, a mellow warmth. Toward the finish, the campfire starts to come out, causing an aftertaste as pleasing as ever: smooth smoke. This is an exquisite beer – it tastes just like fine chocolate, intricate and dark.

M: Full-bodied, but only to an extent: it has a subtly fizzy carbonation and a body that could be described as moderately-creamy. First impressions are that it’s a bit thin, actually, but it ends up filling out a little more as it warms. And for a beer that’s aged in bourbon for three months, its burn is pretty mellow. No fire from a whiskey as nice as Pappy, I guess.

O: Kentucky, meet Holland – wow, what a partnership! Bo & Luke is a meal in a glass (or at least dessert), and I certainly got my fill. Truly world-class beer.

Photo of kevanb
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter on tap at Local Option in Chicago. For those that don't know, this was aged in Pappy van Winkle barrels.

The beer pours a wonderful deep black color, hues of dark brown are certainly apparent, intensely opaque. A mocha colored head with tight knit bubbles rises to the top of the glass, easily a finger high that has fantastic retention and leaves behind a great web of lace as well as a significant amount of film atop the beer once the head does recede completely. The aroma is wonderful, lots of roasted coffee and charred wood, the smoke is such a great layer that plays well with the dark chocolate malt, but is still a bit abrasive, the bourbon is smooth and rich, no astringency with sweet chocolate and alcohol at the finish. The flavors are even more complex, lots of roasted coffee, charred wood like the nose led on, but the smoke is much less abrasive, plays so well with the chocolate, toasted malt. The bourbon is perfect, smooth, rich, brings out hints of vanilla and toffee sweetness that counterbalances the harsher roast elements. The body is wonderful, big and rich, coats the mouth very well, borderline creamy, a slightly drier finish than I'd like, but it's just about perfect.

Verdict: Wonderful stout that only got more complex and flavorful as it warmed. The PvW treatment is just as good as any high profile beer I've tried be it Rare, BA Dark Lord or King Henry and the smokiness is just as great as a beer like Barfly. This was a real treat to enjoy and I hope to have the chance to enjoy it again.

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Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
95 out of 100 based on 729 ratings.