Bo & Luke - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Not Rated.
Bo & LukeBo & Luke

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BA SCORE
94
outstanding

67 Reviews
THE BROS
98
world-class

(Read More)
Reviews: 67
Hads: 735
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 2.55%
Wants: 365
Gots: 213 | FT: 35
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 67 | Hads: 735
Photo of Rifugium
3.03/5  rDev -29.9%
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. (511 characters)

Photo of Jeffo
3.16/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this as a surprise bottle from claaark13 a while back. Cheers dude! Was always a huge Duke Boys fan when I was a kid.

From a 750 into a snifter
Impossible orange wax on this one.

APPEARANCE: Pours out clear brown and yields a two finger, looser looking, light tan head with very good retention. Clear bistre brown in color with higher levels of carbonation for the style. Head slowly fades to a full wisp. A foamy ring remains until the end leaving a few dots of lacing down the glass. Too light in color and an average-at-best-head.

SMELL: Roasted and smoked malts with bourbon, coconut, sweet vanilla and dark chocolate on the nose. Light soy notes and smoked meat with touches of caramel and molasses as well. Very bold and nicely complex as well. Good stuff.

TASTE: Very different and relatively disappointing compared to the nose. Lots of caramel, licorice and soy sauce up front with bourbon and alcohol into the swallow. A big and lingering finish of bourbon, alcohol, smoked malts, coconut, vanilla and a hint of bitter dark chocolate as well. Licorice, smoked and roasted grain with bourbon and oak linger. Flavorful, but the licorice and soy flavors made it less pleasant than the nose. Doesn't quite match the complexity I'd expected.

PALATE: Slightly thinner body with higher levels of carbonation. Not really creamy, a touch prickly perhaps, goes down okay and finishes slightly mouth-coating. Some heat lingers. Sub par, unfortunately.

OVERALL: This was okay, but nothing special. Certainly glad I didn't bug people for the entire set of these. The nose was certainly nice, but the flavor didn't match the complexity I'd expected and the feel was too thin and carbonated for the style. Not a bad beer per se, just not something worth writing home about. Thanks again for the box claaark13. Always good times. (1,838 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.4/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Had this one over the weekend... Pours the standard black with a short lived dark tan head... no retention and no lacing... only okay looking.

Nose shows just a ton of ashy acrid smoke that really overpowers most all of the expected BA RIS notes... not pleasant at all. Dark chocolate and vanilla notes are present but are bulldozed by the sorta burning tire elements.

Flavor is only marginally better... weirdly phenolic and very ashy.. smoke is weird with sweet and road-tar not meeting in the middle... A bit more chocolate helps move the drinkability up for me, and the barrel comes out a little more than the aroma.

Nice body... carbonation is small bubble/everpresent.. pretty nice.

Overall, I don't have any idea about this one. I thought it was a trainwreck.

3.25/3.25/3.5/3.75/3.25 (795 characters)

Photo of RockAZ
3.63/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

OMG! I thought I had just tasted bacon grease pressed through an espresso coffee machine! On the first sip... I warmed to it. The beer demands food that can fight back, which I did not have available. Still - Highly recommend you try this beer if you ever get the chance, it is so unique and others have described it better, you owe it to yourself to take it on. (362 characters)

Photo of supaadam
3.83/5  rDev -11.3%
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. (519 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.85/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter at Au Cheval.

A PVW barrel-aged smoked imperial stout. Okay! This stuff pours a bleak onyx topped by a half-finger at best of tan foam. The nose comprises bourbon, roasted malts, dark chocolate syrup, oak, vanilla bean, and a kiss of char. The taste focuses mostly on the bourbon barrel, with the roast and molasses coming in a distant second, and a tiny bit of smoke clinging to the edges. This would usually be fine, but the bourbon seems to drown out any other flavors for most of the drinking experience. The body is a light hefty, with a very light moderate carbonation and a thick, chewy feel. Overall, an intense bit of beer, one that, considering how much it focuses on the bourbon aspect, hides its alcohol dangerously well... (758 characters)

Photo of Rutager
3.96/5  rDev -8.3%
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. (268 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at the post-FWIBF bottle share held at the Adelaide Inn in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours a clear super dark brown with a foamy khaki 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 toasted malt, smoked malt, bourbon, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa, smoke, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a nice balance of smoke and bourbon barrel aged qualities. (654 characters)

Photo of MattXT
4.03/5  rDev -6.7%
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. (174 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.07/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a wine glass.

Appearance - Jet black. Inky and viscous. Small mocha head.

Smell - Smoke and chocolate in perfect balance. Whiskey aroma, but it's not strong. Vanilla.

Taste - The smoke is very strong. Stronger than the aroma. Sweet chocolate, kinda fudgy. Whiskey is present, but never a centerpiece. A little bitter form the smoked malts.

Mouthfeel - Sweet as hell. Heavy. The smoke gets dulled by the sugars.

Overall - The barrel is muted and the beer is too sweet, but otherwise the flavors work very well together. (549 characters)

Photo of inlimbo77
4.1/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml, spring 2013
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours deep brown color. Reddish hues. Light tan head. Some lacing bits. Some alcohol feet.

S: Campfire. Bourbon booze heat. Roasted malts. Some light vanilla, but its almost completely overpowered by the booze.

T: Definitely campfire smoked malt forward. Some chocolate meshing with the vanilla from the barrel. But for the most part this beer is all about the smoke and barrel. Definitely some booze heat on the back of the throat.

M: Full bodied. (496 characters)

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 3.25.14

A - Pours a dark brown with a large brow, fine head that fades slowly.

S - Smoke, jerky, bourbon, roasted malts.

T - Burbon with lots of smoke dominating the finish.

D - Good carbonation with a heavy body.

O - Super smokey with nice bourbon background. (282 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle from trade. Big thanks goes out! After 10 minutes of battling the thick orange wax on this I finally got to pour it in my tulip glass. Pours dense black with a creamy one finger mocha head that sits and sits there and won’t go away. Aroma of bourbon, smoke, vanilla, bacon, oak, roast, and a tad of bittersweet chocolate. Flavor is big and smokey with plenty of bourbon and a hint of vanilla, then mid palate sees a good bit of molasses, dark fruit, raisins, bitter chocolate, and finally a finish with more smoke and oaky bourbon tones. Much more fruit character than I expected. Rich silky mouthfeel, heavy bodied, with low to medium carbonation. A nice beer and excellent smoke-bourbon integration. I was hoping for a bit more rich chocolate or vanilla but overall a very nice and rich treat for the last day of my winter holiday break. (848 characters)

Photo of EgadBananas
4.13/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Imperial smoked stout aged in Pappy barrels? Yes please.

Appearance: midnight black, minimal dark brown head.

Aroma: light smoke and charred barrel, bourbon, vanilla, booze, chocolate, coffee hints.

Taste: vanilla and chocolate, burnt toast, smoke, ash, alcohol, bourbon, molasses.

***Thick and chewy, full bodied, and it isn't too busy for the ABV. Never heard of this brewery before, but I'm not disappointed to see em. (426 characters)

Photo of DrewskiWhit
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A looks like a double. Huge legs on this one, tho all these big stouts basically look the same

S vanilla, bourbon & some dark fruits. The nose could be bigger but as it is its very nice

T really nice barrel flavors on this one. Some imperial stout bitterness but the barrel is huge. Its very complex and changed quite drastically as it warmed. Not a big fan of smokey beers but this is done really well. The lingering aftertaste is mostly imperial stout.

M its a bit thin but I think it helps to make the beer more drinkable.

O this is quite a unique beer. Its part imperial stout part old ale part quad. The barrel character is huge. Not my favorite BA stout but still very enjoyable. (689 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Green Lady. Served in a 5oz taster glass.

A - Medium, creamy, tan foam that lingers, leaving behind specks of lace. Very dark brown body with a hint of transparency at the edges of the glass.

S - Big vanilla, bourbon, dark breads, light smoke, hefty doses of milled grains, caramel, and dark fruits.

T - The taste is similarly sweet and and heavy on vanilla, caramel, dark fruit, and dark chocolate. The bourbon character is very Pappy-esque in the high level of sweet oxidation and sherry-esque character to it. There's some smoke, but it's quite restrained.

M - Big, chewy, sticky, and viscous. Some mild tannins, but definitely more on the sticky side. Lower carbonation. Well-hidden alcohol for 14%; I would have guessed closer to 10%. Quite nice for the style.

D - A good beer in small portions, but it'd take me a while to work through a snifter. The smoke is quite nuanced, which I appreciate, and there's good balance between malt, bourbon, and barrel. Not quite as good as 70k, but well worth trying. (1,024 characters)

Photo of maximum12
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a taster of this at the Great Taste of the Midwest & couldn't wait to try it again, one of the highlights of the day. Funniest part was running into a few of my young friends (hell, they're all young punks) & asking if he understood the "Bo & Luke" reference. Uh, no, they didn't. 750ML bottle, orange wax, interesting dead-inspired artwork. Oh, & thanks to incubuscience for this one!

First off, there's a special place in hell for breweries that wax bottles like this. It took eight minutes & a single Abrams round to knock off the six inches of accumulated wax. Finally, the damn beer. It's black. Moderately life. Nose brings moderate smokiness, peat, & vanilla. Not as aggressive as I recall, but hey, it's just a smell.

Bo & Luke used moonshine in the General Lee & thank goodness they didn't have this around for fuel. A smouldering peat bog hits the senses first & for a moment I think "uh oh all smoke no fire" but then we're sliding past, into a deep barrel character that delivers both whiskey & vanilla. Mid-palate lovely chocolate, light char, drying oak, & as a bonus, the vanilla comes along to finish up & lend a wicked smoothness that gives a big fat lie to the ABV number. My chest says 13%, my mouth says 4%. I suppose my head will feel it, eventually.

Not as transcendental as on tap, but a damn excellent beer, especially since my tastes don't run strongly to smoked malts. Was kind of hoping my wife wouldn't like her glass, but alas...I did, however, leave some in the bottom of the bottle to sneak... (1,533 characters)

Photo of barczar
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque jet black color with a hint of a toffee head that quickly dissipates, leaving only a ring of foam around the circumference.

Sweet, boozy bourbon hits early in the aroma, accented later by woody, oak notes. Underlying those notes are chocolate, roast malt, and a touch of coffee. Deeper into the profile, hot tar and tobacco add complexity. Dark fruit scents of plums and bruised curries surface as it warms.

Initial flavor impression is almost overwhelming in complexity. Sweet, dark fruit carries throughout the profile, with cherries at the forefront. Bourbon, vanilla, and oak surface on another plane, fading to a roast malt, coffee finish. Intertwined throughout are comparatively subtle flavors of chocolate, malted milk balls, and soy sauce. Tobacco makes an appearance at the slightly bitter finish. Umami notes of soy sauce surface as it warms. There's some phenolic character present. Tar and tobacco join the party late.

Body is on the fairly viscous. Carbonation is minimal. There's a bit of alcohol warmth, but it's not indicative of the strength of the brew. It finishes slick and extremely smooth.

Overall, a very complex offering. I've never had Pappy bourbon, so I'm not sure where various flavors were derived. It's a lot fruitier than anticipated, with a good amount of bourbon character, as well. Lacks the anticipated strong roast/coffee flavors often associated with the style. It's a sipper, but not terribly obvious in the flavor. I think the malt character could've been a little stronger to provide a backbone for the other flavors. The fruitiness was somewhat overpowering. Still, a great beer. (1,641 characters)

Photo of jaasen64
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750ml bottle poured into HF fest class. First beer of Donfrap's birthday tasting, also first beer of the 4 bottle set.

A- Pours a translucent brown but appears opaque black in the glass with some translucency around the edges. Slight mocha head that recedes fairly fast leaving some light lacing that slides back into the glass. Appears a bit thinner then I was expecting being a 14% stout.

S- Smoked meat is pretty apparent with smoked ham and smoked wood, faint chocolate malts in the background and faint sweet bourbon. Fairly aromatic with a nice balance.

T- Sweet nicely integrated bourbon balanced with smoked meat, a bit of wood, smooth dark chocolate that comes out a bit more on the finish.

M- Nice carbonation, very smooth, a tiny bit thinner then I was expecting but body fits nicely.

O- This beer was a little bit smoker and thinner then I was expecting but overall this beer was fantastic. The booze was very well hidden and the flavors came out nicely. Definitely worth trying and looking forward to trying the variants next. (1,044 characters)

Photo of Vegasbeer
4.23/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the brewery, September 14, 2013. Served in a snifter. Creamy colored 1" head, excellent lacing. Appearance was dark and oily. Smell was bourbon, caramel. Taste was slightly sweet, subtle smoke, light bourbon, vanilla. Alcohol was not overbearing, despite being 13-14%. Has a smooth mouthfeel, light carbonation. Was fortunate enough to try a couple of variants on this trip, including port barrel aged and the peanut butter from the Bo and Luke 4 pack. This beer lives up the hype. Delicious. (502 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
4.24/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

De Nolen is the master at ultimate roast taste in beer. Yet Against the Grain explores the anti-expected hit that's certain to arise in their beers. The blend is certain to be be an imperial stout, but with a twist...

It's abyss-black pour is given on site with a dark beer that is as deep as any other. It's just like staring into nothing. Yet there's something in there; and it rises to form a frothy mocha head, full of both loosely-knit, and tightly woven bubbles- all complementing the beer's durable retention and broken lace.

If the style prescription is to pile on as many aromas as possible, then Bo and Luke has delivered! Robust roasted grains push the scent of campfire, burnt embers, cocoa, bold roast coffee, and charred fruit- currants, grapes and berries all fold into the beer's roasty and savory matrix.

And yet the flavors deliver all that, but in different balances. What starts out with burnt malt sugars of black-strap molasses, coffee, and bittersweet chocolate quickly turns to a semi-strong taste of smoky meats, mesquite, charcoal, and burnt fruit. Grilled berries, currants, plumbs, figs, and grapes suggest both peaty scotch and vinous red wines. It's a complex taste that finishes with a woody bitterness that extends with bourbon-like alcohol sweetness, mild vanilla, caramel, and baked coconut.

Incredibly, the beer rests upon its robust malt body that facilitates early sweetness with creamy and semi-arid textures. But as the beer extends into middle palate it dries and turns powdery while remaining semi-sweet. Alas, the finish closes the session with a firm roasty, (some would say ashy, texture that's anchored with chalky roast, broad alcohol warmth, and semi-dry spice.

Bo & Luke absolutely captures the essence of both De Molen's best and Against the Grain's best attempts at beer. Its and experimental ale, an absurdly robust ale, and a cellar contender for years to come. Whimsy and power align for a complete strong taste! (1,971 characters)

Photo of Thirsty_In_Chicago
4.24/5  rDev -1.9%
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. (522 characters)

Photo of rlee1390
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass with a two finger brown head that tried to leave some lacing.

S-Roasted, burnt, smoked malt. But the smoke is not overpowering at all. Mild chocolate sneaks in as well.

T-Like the nose the smoke/roast/burnt malt is the in the forefront, but it doesn't dominate is is well balanced with the chocolate and very slight coffee.

M-Heavy to medium in body, alcohol is hidden.

O-A really good beer, an interesting take on the style, very glad I was able to try it. Thanks! (490 characters)

Photo of Tommo
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
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 (154 characters)

Photo of auroracrisis
4.25/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter.

Pours inky black with a small mocha ring around the edges.

The smell is cocoa nibs and whiskey. A touch of oak with some sweet fudge like aromas as well. Maybe some smoke as well but it is very subtle.

Big bourbon characteristics on the palate. Oak, vanilla, and booze with a hint of coffee and dark chocolate. Some fudge and dark fruit such as cherries come through too. A touch of smoke. Pretty excellent.

Medium bodies and sticky. Really kind of thin for a stout of this quality.

Overall, a great beer. Very surprised something of this caliber came out of my home town. Granted, its not Rare or PVW Dark Lord, but its still a very solid bourbon stout. (687 characters)

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Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
94 out of 100 based on 67 ratings.