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Conntucky Lightnin' Bourbon Ale | Two Roads Brewing Company

22 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Two Roads Brewing Company
Connecticut, United States | website

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
The Connecticut Yankees of Two Roads have CONNjured up this moonshine inspired bourbon-like ale. Using good ol' USA corn grits and aged in real bourbon barrels from a famous Kentucky distillery, this unique CONNcoction includes notes of whiskey, oak and vanilla. It should make your taste buds happier than a pig in "____"

Added by Jason on 05-08-2013

User Reviews
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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 166
Photo of ExtraStout
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this 8.5% ABV brew on tap at Foxwoods. Given the name, I was expecting a bit more deeper color. It came in a frosted glass with a nice size white head but at best was a light colored copper shade.

I wanted to like it straight away but I had to have several to reach a conclusion. When all was said and done I didn't regret the experience but it wasn't anything over average.

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Photo of Will_cigars-n-brews
2.68/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2

What a let down, it was just basic beer taste, like any standard american domestic. What a waste of $17, I'm not even sure the abv was as stated on the bottle at 8.5%. Just completely lacking

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Photo of mdfb79
3.79/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

From 10/22/15 notes. 8 oz pour at Pony Bar HK in NYC.

Pours a medium brown color with one inch of light tan head and low carbonation evident. Lots of malts....caramel malts, dark fruity malts, bready and toasted malts, bourbon, coconut, wood, leather, figs, and alcohol. Medium body and moderate carbonation.

overall a decent BA strong ale. The booze comes through and you get a lot of that hot coconut flavor from the barrel.

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Photo of ShanePB
2.28/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.25

750 ml bottle. Hazy amber body, no head or retention. Boring, flat looking beer. Aromas of wood, corn, pale malt, wet wood. Flavor is corn, wet wood and no real bourbon anywhere here at all. What a complete disappointment of a beer.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
3.06/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

Whiskey, oak, bourbon barrels? I don't get any of that... this is like a light amber ale with a bit of artificial vanilla flavor at the end of the sip. Reminds me of Anheuser-Busch jumping the barrel-aged wagon.

Those American grits used in the mash sound interesting, but they smell and taste like cheap Budweiser mass-produced corn.

Truly forgettable and underwhelming, with a thin body to boot.

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Photo of damndirtyape
3.6/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Cask Republic, Stamford, CT. Served in a snifter.

Appearance: Hazy dark amber with a massive foam which slowly died back to a thin skin across the top and plenty of lacing all over the glass.

Smell: A bit sour, with some tart cherry, strong whiskey notes, and a hint of rye + wood.

Taste: Similar to how it smelled: sour, fruit notes, whiskey, but a bit of some citrus as well. The citrus is muted and fleeting though, as if it is competing against the other flavors and aromas and losing.

Mouthfeel: Very light carbonation, approaching flat. Sticky on the teeth.

Overall / Drinkability: A slow sipper, and not something I could really have by itself. I ended up pairing this with a desert where it went much better as a complimentary flavor. One is definitely enough with this beer - the whiskey does surprisingly pack a punch that I noticed pretty quickly after starting on this beer. A bit unbalanced in flavor though - I almost wonder if this aged too long, or if there was a desire for the hops from the strong ale to balance with the whiskey flavor if they ended up clashing a bit or were lost in the beer as the sour notes and wood flavors took over. I'll simply say I enjoyed it, but not enough for another or to have again. There was something just slightly off with this beer - probably the carbonation, and again, maybe something in the base ale that clashed with the wood aging. Or it's just my taste buds just not enjoying the combination, although I liked the nose of this beer quite a bit.

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Photo of WhiteHillsStore
4.1/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice smooth brown with a thin off white head that trails the glass. The scent is full of wood from the barrels, vanilla, alcohol, and sweet scents like toffee. The taste is just as packed full flavor with sweet bread and toffee being on the forefront, which then gives way to the alcohol and vanilla on the finish. Very delicious although it is a sipping beer.

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Photo of deltatauhobbit
4.25/5  rDev +19%

Bottled 5/14/14

Pours a light amber color with some golden hues along the edges, decent sized head but it doesn't stick around too long nor much on the glass.

Smell has a strong whiff of bourbon mixed with the sweet malt backing, sweet nose yet also has a latent astringency from the alcohol it's trying to hide.

Taste has a nice sweetness up front based on the malt, nothing cloying, almost a caramel/toffee presence, bourbon and wood has a strong presence without much of the burning sensation in the throat, hops don't have much of a showing although there is a slight citrus element.

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Photo of jlindros
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Sunday Night Football Pats game. Need a New England local beer, so why not a big bourbon barrel aged ale from the newest CT brewery. Bottled 5/14/14, not really a summer style beer, so now that it's cold this should go nicely.

Pours a smaller fizzy head that fades fairly quickly, as if it never really existed, although it does leave mild lacing to remind you, and decent legs too, dark semi hazy slight clear darker amber reddish orange color.

NOse brings lots of bourbon, a raw barrel juice, sweet under-aged bourbon, with lots of oak, tannic oak as well, bourbon almost seems tangy. Sweet caramel malts, candy, toffee, little nutty, lots of sweet candy reddish malts, faint candied dark fruits, with some vanilla, and a little sweet corn mash, probably where that tangy like note comes from.

Taste brings sweetness, not super sweet but thick syrupy candy and fair sweetness. A big corn slight sour mash flavor, with plenty of caramel and toffee candy, with caramel candies and syrup like with some warming booze and tingly notes, mostly warming in the throat. Then bourbon barrel, some raw bourbon, again very under-aged young bourbon, and some mild tannic oaky barrel, with hint of vanilla, and into some candied dark fruits that are also quite mild. Mild sweet reddish malt, but the bourbon just overpowers it all, and a young bourbon doesn't place well. Little butterscotch candy on the back end between the candy and mild buttery oak. Finish is sticky sweet, fairly hot booze, more caramel and candy syrup, more young bourbon and tangy sour corn mash flavors lingering.

Mouth is fuller bod, syrupy and messy, fair hot booze warmth but nice carb.

Overall meh, this reminds me of the Innis & Gunn style beers, with raw oak, young bourbon that just overpowers the beer that doesn't hold that well by itself anyways, and some not so great tangy sour mash corn flavors in there as well, just a mix of a lot of not so great characters.

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Photo of chinchill
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%

750{?} ml bottle.
Deductions for overly thin body and a hint of tobacco smoke.
Moderate bourbon barrel but perhaps a bit more than the underlying malt/hop load can withstand gracefully.

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Photo of metter98
3.63/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is slightly hazy light amber in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high beige colored head that died down, consistently leaving a small pillow of bubbles in the center of the glass and a collar of dense, small bubbles around the edge.
S: Once the beer warms up, light to moderate aromas of bourbon become apparent in the nose.
T: The taste starts off with initial flavors of apples followed by notes of bourbon, the latter of which are most prominent in the finish. Slight bits of malty sweetness are noticeable.
M: It feels medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel seems to be a little thin for the style.
O: This beer is easy to drink, but seems like it could have used stronger aromas and flavors as well as a heavier body. Nonetheless, the beer grows on you and the light amount of bourbon in the smell and taste keep things interesting.

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

A: deep amber ale, hazed opacity; few fingers of tan head slimmed to a persistent cap; some lace trails

S: sweet wet fruit, pale, orchard-style; bourbon barrel oak; something spicy about the fruit; little herbal and floral

T: fat wet fruit and malt, bourbon barrel flavors woven throughout; hints of spiced amber orchard fruit, like apricot, maybe overripe, and fermenting...

M: slightly chewy but fuzzy and soft; medium-weight, plush feel across the palate; tingly; just a hint of drying on the finish

O: admittedly partial to this type of ale, I am pleased with Two Roads product. Lush and rustic, with a drinkable abv. Most of the reviews are for last year's batch - as of this, I'm only the second reviewer in 2014. Give it a try - it's not polished like Curieux or Doom, but it's a very enjoyable ale. Recommended.

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Photo of sinstaineddemon
3.74/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A - dark brown, transparent, only a bit of haze from the sediment as I finished the bottle. An easy pour wells up a huge white head, with good retention. Had to let it sit for a minute to finish the pour.

S - a mellow aroma, not typically strong. A simple sweet aroma, reminiscent of corn mash or even Apple-y

T - much more powerful than the aroma. Sweet first and foremost. Not sickly sweet, but mellow and relaxed sweet. Again reminiscent of corn or apples, all a prelude to a strong malty backbone that hides the ABV.

M&D&O - the mouthfeel is sticky and sweet, invitingly so. It's a tasty beer. The ABV is a bit sneaky, but it's a quaffable brew indeed.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +12%

On-tap 5/17/2014 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI served in a goblet glass.

A: The beer is a deep coppery brown color, with a short dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains bourbon, caramelized malts, vanilla and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, vanilla and bourbon. Then a hearty malt character comes in. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a solid flavorful beer to drink worth drinking for a while.

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Photo of tigg924
3.27/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance: 1.5 inch head, high carbonation, clear, golden-brown in color

Smell: Citrus hops and light oak--very inviting

Taste: sweet corn to start, the oak comes in the middle and is dry to the end, citrus hops are also fairly present.

Mouthfeel: medium body, high carbonation, sweetish start follow by bitterness which dominates and mixes with some oak.

Overall: I usually love Two Roads brews, but to me this was a bit lacking after the wonderful smell. The bitterness was a bit overpowering at times. There was not any sweetness or vanilla that I generally associate with beers of the style. It tasted like a malt liquor with more oaking, not bad, but just not up to the same quality I associate with Two Roads.

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Photo of Amalak
3.78/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A. It is a hazy brown, but clearish. It has huge white lacing after a big white head. Some bubbles.

T. It has a sweet and bourbon scent.

T/M. It has a nice caramel taste. A bit of a burnt taste. Malty and sweet. Sugary. Full bodied with a touch of alcohol.

O. A hair to malty, and heavy, but nice and flavorful.

I had at ginger man in south Norwalk Connecticut

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Photo of Lupin
2.26/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Picked up at the wine and spirits co. These have been on their shelves for a couple weeks now. Honestly, the labeling of this kept me away for a while as it sounded like too much of one flavor going into the beer. Corn grits and then bourbon barrels? Why both?! Was it too cheap to make it with just one?

As such, my hopes for this continued to be pretty low after I popped the cork. Aroma was boozy, with little to detect other than a fierce bitterness and corn grain alcohol. Poured exceedingly foamy with decent retention. Nice lookin' beer, at least.

Overall, it had a pretty bland american ale/strong ale body to it but with a very bitter kick of starchiness that dominated the entire palate. This beer did not let too many nuances peek their little heads out from the pillow of bitter corniness. Finish was unpleasant and it took a while to clear out the taste. Yet I still had more. Maybe the profile would change as it warmed? Nope. Even worse.

Tastes stronger than it is, which is impressive at 8.5%. Sure it's different, and a flavor profile several highway lanes from anything I've never had before. The bottle hints at hick dialect and moonshine culture and I'll be damned if this doesn't fit the bill. Yet, while living in the south, I had two types of moonshine: straight corn, and fruited. It can almost go unsaid that I preferred the latter; people don't drink the former for taste. To be honest, I'm surprised I didn't taste this beer on the way out.

I realize this is meant to be my own review but the bottle was shared in small amounts with several friends, each of whom had a markedly negative response to the flavor. Not worth it for ME at any price, let alone the $14. None of us had the impression that there were any oxidation issues.

Barrel-aging lighter beers seems to be a relatively new thing, at least locally. To be honest, a lot of the $14-20+ 750s I've had should have been brewed at least one more time as a test batch before being produced en masse. As much as I want to support the explorations of the breweries in this state, releasing something this unbalanced really turns me off to making another investment into a big bottle until I've gone out of my way finding a bar that has it on draft for a sample.

This is literally one of the worst craft beers I have ever had and THE WORST barrel-aged beer I have bought at a store and its sole personal merit was its creativity.

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Photo of PicoPapa
3.56/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750mL bottle. Pours a murky brown swamp water color with over an inch of thick, frothy head that takes forever and a day to dissipate. Lots of lacing. Smells boozey with some oak, vanilla, grains and butter. The taste is buttery bourbon with some cereal and corn. Slightly sour. Vanilla and oak at the finish. A bit on the sweet side. There is a decent sized alcohol burn, but I kind of expected more. Maybe it's not as boozey as I thought it'd be because the abv is only 8.5%. Mouthfeel is creamy with lots of carbonation. Overall, a bit disappointed with this one. I expected this to be a bigger beer than it turned out to be. It's decent but I won't go out of my way to have it again.

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Photo of TheBrewo
3.38/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

We crack the cage and cork on a 750 mL bottle with “2” on the label, pouring a brew of tawny orange. It puts up massive two and a half finger head of cream colored foam, showing extreme retention. Thick and three dimensional sheets of lacing are left all around the glass, as the head slowly bubbles away into a cratered film cross the top of the liquid. A chill haze cuts clarity, with microspecks of sediment floating about. Carbonation appears to be active. The aroma gives wax, yellow mustard, bright plastics, fusel booze, big corny grit, and buttery diacetyls off the bat. Mixing in and with warmth are notes of acetone, raw barley and straw, light banana esters, vanilla cake icing, clove spikes, oaky woodiness, and faint bourbon warmth. Our first impression is that the end and aftertaste are quite bittered and boozy, definitely giving the drinker the feel we’re sipping on actual bourbon, but with a much more malty, corny zing. As we sip, the taste begins with strong oaky character, light vanilla smoothness, pale, corny, and metallic adjuncty malts, bittered plastics, dirty earthiness, soy sauce, light wheaty toast, grassy hops, and bittered booze. The middle cools a bit, with brown sugar sweetness, cold banana breadiness, plum sugars, pale toast, chalked yeastiness, coiny metallics, and even adjuncty grittiness. The finishing wash shows a return to the harshness, with strongly fusel booze, black pepper, mustard seed, ginger root fruitiness, earthy bark, massive corny adjuncts, biting metallics, puckering yeast, sweet wine grape qualities, dirty oak, and biting floral grassiness. The aftertaste breathes of cheap bourbon bite, gravel, graphite, stark oakiness, distant grassy and earthy hops, vanilla cleanliness, bittered plastics, powdered corn, metallic adjuncts, brown sugar sweetness, and resiny green grassiness. The body is full, and carbonation is medium, but foams up quite a bit when held around the mouth and swished. The mouth is thus coated, but this dries into grainy, yeasty, and boozy pucker and astringency. Each sip gives nice slurp, smack, cream, froth, and pop. The abv is appropriate, and the beer sips decently.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was its fantastic look, and strong oaky character through the flavoring. The head is as impenetrable and reminiscent of the best Belgian IPAs out there, marking the best retention we’ve seen in an American strong ale to date. This makes the beer highly desirable and inviting, and contributes nicely to the slurp and the frothy mustache. The nose and flavoring, however, fall off a bit. The nose is basic, with much attention given to the corny adjuncty bolstering of the malts to match the bourbon flavoring imparted by the barrels. The taste follows suite, giving heavy booziness against a background that isn’t sweet or buttery enough to support that kind of kick. This is an interesting ale, but just isn’t as blended, even, and flavorful as you would expect. Drink on the cooler side to calm the bitters and soothe some of that booziness on the way down.

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Photo of davey101
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml C+C bottle into a tulip glass. Bottom of the bottle showed a layer of cloudy sludge and there was a decent amount of floaties.

A - Pours a somewhat hazy amber body with later pours becoming more and more hazy and sediment rich. Huge fluffy white foam that settles into a solid finger of foam. A swirl generates another massive head. Super sticky lacing and retention. It does look nice.

S - Bright cereal grains, faint apples and a bit of corn sweetness followed by a wave of smooth, buttery bourbon. Oak and vanilla really dominate the end of the aroma. This doesn't smell like a particularly big beer though, the bourbon is present but the alcohol is not.

T - Sweet cereal grains and the introduction of some caramel malts followed by the bourbon. Butterscotch, oak, and vanilla. The aftertaste is strong on the toffee but quite light. This probably sounds insane, but its like a non-imperial version of Firestone Walker's Double DBA. Its somewhat rich and sweet but the body is light and highly carbonated. Alcohol adds a touch of heat but its rather tame.

O - I wasn't sure what to expect with this one. The corn grits are definitely noticeable as is the bourbon barrel. This is not a big 'ol barrel aged barleywine or a stout. Instead its a light "strong ale" using an interesting adjunct and stuck into a barrel. Its very tame and approachable and I can honestly see this beer working as an intro to BA craft beers. Its very tasty and pretty different, but don't go into it expecting a behemoth because it saw a barrel.

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Photo of rdilauro
3.39/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

The pour was a very light amber with hardly any noticeable head. The aroma was typical of ales that have been aged in whiskey casks. It was a pleasant aroma with the absence of any detectable hops, citrus etc. I could smell that this was going to be a bit malty.

The first taste was nice, big, soft and round. The whiskey overtone was not too pronounced and didn't hit you in the face. That was done, then on the second sip, I had the same impression as when I finished my first one. The finish and aftertaste basically dropped off. There wasnt much left to feel, in fact, it picked up a stranger taste that I have not been able to put my finger on.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.45/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.25

On tap at the brewery tasting room.

A: Clear chestnut body under a finger of fine off-white froth that settles into a persistent ring and leaves spotty lace. Decent.

S: Corn and whiskey. Raw, burning booziness on top of some sweet cereal notes. A little leafiness and spice. Pretty much as expected, but without the richness and cohesion I was hoping for.

T: Follows the nose precisely: bourbon, corny booze, and not much else. It's simple and rather boring. Nothing but alcohol on the finish. One-dimensional and underwhelming.

M: Medium-bodied and creamy. Excellent.

O: My hopes were high for this one, as the only other bourbon-barrel corn beer I've tried was nothing short of stellar. This, though, simply didn't deliver. The base beer had plenty of corny sweetness, but no depth. The barrel had plenty of boozy intensity, but no positive vanilla/coconut/marshmallow side effects. It also didn't help that the bartender loudly proclaimed that this beer was "far superior" to BCBS...


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Conntucky Lightnin' Bourbon Ale from Two Roads Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 22 ratings.