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Bo & Luke - Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Not Rated.
Bo & LukeBo & Luke

Educational use only; do not reuse.

71 Reviews

(Read More)
Reviews: 71
Hads: 772
Avg: 4.32
pDev: 32.41%
Wants: 390
Gots: 219 | FT: 37
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: 71 | Hads: 772
Photo of pjkelley82
4.85/5  rDev +12.3%
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...

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Photo of KYGunner
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured viscous and smooth with virtually no carbonation in the body this stout had an opal like hue. The head was thick and brown and rose slowly from the top until it muffined above the rim.

The aromas were chocolatey with some strong malt character. Vinous fruit and bourbon provide almost a texture to the scent.

The flavor is incredibly diverse with constantly changing complexity at every sip. The chocolate is certainly the backbone with caramel, praline and molasses. I also caught glimpses of chocolate covered cherries, honeycomb, pecan, maple, woodsy oak, vanilla and ever so slight dry coconut. The dried fruitiness was evident but I was unable to identify just which ones. With all that I still tasted some strong malt and a hint of bourbon.

The feel was a tad astringent with a piney metallic aftertaste and feel. The overall feel was not nearly as thick and viscous as the appearance would suggest.

This is a fantastic beer with all the subtleties and nuances beer lovers look for and proof that ATG is the real deal.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.26/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to Mike for splitting this gem! A smoked beer aged in Pappy barrels... what could go wrong? Pours a deep brown, teetering on the edge of black, but certainly not there just yet. The beer sits, thick and still with a quickly receding head that's a few hues lighter than tan. No lacing left on the glass; just the slightest bit of alcohol legging upon swirling.

Bo & Luke hits your nostrils like a sack of potatoes; nothing to hide, here. Rustic, woody smoke, both meaty and peaty, mild liquid sweet smoke, oak, smooth and warming bourbon, a bit of underlying, sweet roasted malt, and even a little bit of caramel and/or brown sugar. A very old times-y feeling brew with lots to offer. The oak, the smoke, the meat, the bourbon... a unique combination of aromas - I'm digging it so far.

Pleasantly warm bourbon greets my taste buds with the first sip; none other than Pappy Van Winkle. No, I wouldn't have been able to guess "Pappy" just from the taste, but knowing this fact afterwards helps to justify the smoothness. Sweet, liquid smoke, a subtle campfire woodiness, light cocoa malt mixed with burnt, roasty malt... The taste, much like the aroma, has so much to offer that it would be easy to overlook something if you don't pay attention!

Very smoky, woody (oaky) and lightly sweet in the finish with a touch of cocoa, while the mild bourbon warmth is left, lingering in the back of your through. Yeah, the warmth is there, but it's surprisingly drinkable for 14% ABV. Medium bodied... I would expect heavier or thicker for the style, but it works well here; borderline sticky, with a lasting mouth coating that'll keep you tasting smoke and bourbon for a while.

When Mike first pulled this out and told us what it was... I didn't really know what to expect. But damn, this beer was pretty tasty. Like sitting around a warm campfire, smoking some delicious meats and taking a few shots of bourbon. Smooth, warm, oaky bourbon. I don't think I've had anything quite like this before, so it definitely gets brownie points for uniqueness. Tasty and drinkable considering the style - thanks again, Mike!

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Mikecap
4.51/5  rDev +4.4%
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.

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Photo of biegaman
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.62/5  rDev +6.9%
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.


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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.

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Photo of PHBoiler
4.87/5  rDev +12.7%
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.

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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.

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Photo of magictacosinus
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

When I heard they were tapping this at Trappist Provisions the other night, I knew I HAD to check this out. My ultimate goal is to add a bottle of 20yr Pappy Van Winkel to my aspiring collection of spirits, so this would be the closest that I'd get so far to trying something that had some of its flavor. (Although, how long this spent in such barrels, I've no clue. My guess is a year, give or take.) Poured in a 6oz tumbler.

Contains, as expected, an opaque, blackened color with an off-khaki head that makes the beer resemble a glass of thick espresso over being an actual beer. Ridiculously monstrous alcohol legs on this thing, with such strength that nothing sticks to the sides of the glass. The head sticks around for a while, which is rather surprising. Perhaps the tap provides forced carbonation? I would have gladly had this served in a tulip glass instead, but it still looks rather intimidating even in the small tumbler.

The aroma is definitely everything I was expecting, and more - lots of candied notes resembling toffee, butterscotch, dark chocolate, and soaked woody vanilla flavors. Dark fruits, especially cherries, come out as this warms up. The barrels definitely did their job in enhancing the beer's complexity, perhaps to the point of overriding so many of the stout's flavors, such as the roasted malts and grains. I barely get any zest to speak of, but there is an undeniable stinging feeling on the nostrils, no doubt imparted by the large ABV. This definitely opens up as it warms, but as first it's definitely a dark chocolate coated bourbon aged drink to the max.

The flavor is a little bit more intense, in which the dark cocoa and woody soaked alcohol dryness really comes to full fruition. Lots of a vanilla in the finish, which is very much expected from the bourbon. The alcohol is pretty well concealed overall, and flavor eventually turns from woody to candied, to slightly bitter and roasted at the finish. Definitely the amount of high quality bourbon in this thing makes a lot of the beer's aspects slightly muted, but it's still pretty delicious. Lots of heat comes up at the finish from the alcohol, and I definitely had to have a glass of water alongside this in order to dispel the bone-dryness.

Very intense and intriguing take on the imperial stout style for once, although this is definitely on its road to being a hybrid. It isn't difficult to finish and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though it did take me some time. Not sure how easy it is to come by, but I recommend this as a must try to bourbon and stout fans from all over. A good way to end a long day, for sure.

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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.

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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!

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Photo of ltjska04
4.79/5  rDev +10.9%
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.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.77/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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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.

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Photo of kevanb
4.46/5  rDev +3.2%
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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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.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A collaboration beer with De Molen aged in PVW barrels. As a BIG fan of ATG, I had heard of this beer and practically peed in my pants when I saw this on the growler station at Party Town in Florence, KY. Poured from a growler into a Unibroue Maudite snifter. The pour is extremely dark with no light getting through and some brown tint along the edges. Very, very little head and almost immediate dissipation (common for barrel-aged beers). Lots of vanilla, oak, and bourbon on the nose.

Very full body and nice firm mouthfeel. The taste doesn't quite follow the nose in that the bourbon smells very hot, but the flavor doesn't show it. It's actualy quite smooth and drinkable for this style. There are nice sweet malty notes up front and bitter roasted flavors at mid-palate. The bourbon isn't nearly as hot on the palate as it is on the nose. For me, the flavors are very well-married as the roasted notes are balanced by malt and vanilla sweetness. Other flavors include oak, maple syrup, figs, and a hint of smokiness. Is this stuff really 14% ABV? I find that difficult to believe. There is naught but a whiff of booze on the finish and a lingering oaky warmth.

Overall, I was really impressed by this beer. The folks at ATG have once again done themselves proud. One of these days, I'm sure they will start bottling their wonderful beers so that us Kentuckians can share them with BAs across the country. This beer is not about combining flavors of coffee, chocolate, and bourbon. It is all about the bourbon. It's kind of like BCBS only much, much smoother. I freaking loved it.

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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...

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Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
94 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.