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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale - Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.

Not Rated.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel AleKentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

2,409 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,409
Reviews: 592
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 18.48%
Wants: 127
Gots: 575 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. visit their website
Kentucky, United States

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  8.19% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: SheepNutz on 07-13-2004

Award winning Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a unique sipping beer with the distinctive nose of a well-crafted bourbon. Our Kentucky Ale is aged for up to 6 weeks in freshly decanted bourbon barrels from some of Kentucky’s finest distilleries. Subtle yet familiar flavors of vanilla and oak are imparted to this special ale as it rests in the charred barrels. Pleasantly smooth and robust, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale may also be served as an aperitif or after dinner drink.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,409 | Reviews: 592
Reviews by KYBrewgrass:
Photo of KYBrewgrass
4.12/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a KY Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter obtained at a Pazzo's Pint Night years ago... I remember not liking this beer the first time I had it, but oh how my tastes have changed! This is now one of my favorite go-to locals...

A- 4 Pours an attractive, clear burnt orange / amber color with a one finger fluffy white head. The head lacks retention as it dies down quickly but there's a nice ring left around the edges and the tiniest of bubbles lace the glass smoothly.

S- 4.5 Caramel, malt, bourbon and wood... In no particular order. Just balanced and pure. The oak makes its presence felt as much as anything, and the rest composes a nice sweetness that has me itching to raise the glass... The snifter is worthwhile here because there really is some good stuff going on.

T- 4 Though I generally detect the same elements in its taste as I did from the aroma, the taste is notably sweeter and not quite as balanced. That said, it is quite good. I get a bit more caramel and bourbon here, with just a touch of oak on the finish. Though it has a respectable ABV, it is just barely detectable at the end of the drink.

M- 4 KBBA is medium in body with a smooth creaminess that is quite manageable. It is heavier on the palate than I expected from its appearance. It has a good level of carbonation. It is a little syrupy on the finish, with the slightest bit of heat from the alcohol.

D- 4 I really enjoy this beer and could put down a few of them. I don't think I could do it all night because it is a little sweeter than I prefer ideally. Regardless, this is an enjoyable ale with a bourbon presence that fits in nicely. I'd definitely recommend trying this if you enjoy bourbon brews or are visiting KY where you can easily find it in bottles or draft. It also blends well with Guinness, ala a 'black and tan,' and is known as a 'black barrel.' It is a succulent combination... Cheers to Lex-Vegas and the growing popularity of KBBA!

More User Reviews:
Photo of WVbeergeek
2.33/5  rDev -36.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appears a pale copper translucent color with a large bright white head, fine bubbled lacing forms evenly as it dwindles and continues the pattern with each sip.

Aroma is straight up oak barrel and vanilla with whiskey just coming out of it's pores. It smells like Hank Williams Jr in the 80s or Tim Mcgraw's new cologne that's out now. When leather, oak, brown sugar and vanilla collide without any cohesion. Big charred oak characteristics, the base beer just seems so lifeless I guess the whiskey barrel aging gives it what's here doesn't really complement the beer like so many other versions of brews that sit in the whiskey soaked oak. There's something very solvent and chemical about the aroma that doesn't even make me want to take my first sip.

Flavor yep there's a reason why I didn't want any part of it, it's like sipping on whiskey without the 80 proof. Whiskey tea we'll call it. Sour mash is evident with vanilla, charred oak and hints of caramel and toffee with some serious booziness for a beer this thin in body. Makes it seem like such a gimmick beer that's only really being brewed for the Kentucky Derby, there's no other audience that is going to take to this beer.

Mouthfeel is thin way to thin for alcohol level and the flavor profile it just doesn't carry it too well, it's like watered down whiskey tea. Booze gives a bit of a burn, but it's really the charred oak flavor bringing out a bit of cinnamon like expressions on the palate. Gag reflux get ready I'll be lucky to make it through 12 oz of this brew.
Drinkability overall when in Rome I guess, like if I was at the Derby bidding and I was really worn out of the official mixed drink of the Alltech F.E.I. than yeah maybe I would have this abomination. I'd rather have brews run through whiskey soaked oak chips in an infuser like Bocktown has been doing for quite some time now.

Photo of kissmybunniebutt
3.08/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

This was a weird beer. It was creamy on the tongue and sweeter than I would have expected. I got little hints of bourbon at first sniff, but afterwards I really only got sweet. And random side note, It was also one of the most carbonated bottles of beer I've ever had. It REALLY wanted out of that bottle.

Photo of craigsp
4.22/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

very flavorful beer lots of aroma going on, wood barrel taste also, sip don't slam or you'll be on the floor after 2 or 3 glasses!

Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, the highly anticipated bottle of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. And not the ceramic, novelty, $40 bottle that if you rub it, a beautiful bourbon barrel jeanie will magically appear and hastily remind you of how much you over paid for her beer. Released this week, is the 12 oz. $9.99 per 4-pack bottles now on the retail shelves. Packaged in a handsome and artistic lable and carton with a reminescence of the horse and bourbon herritage in Central Kentucky that represents the Blugrass well. Must say that the beer remains as tasty as ever, but the concern is how much stability will this beer handle durring travel and on the shelves. I pick up a mild vinegar aroma and flavor that rides the background of Strong Ale sweetness and strength, distinctive bourbon character, vanilla, coconuts, butterscotch, toffee, toastedness, nuttiness, oakiness, and a touch of brown sugar. So much power, character, intensity, and complexity without pushing the body into thickness. In fact, the beer remains refreshingly thin without watering. Mildly creamy, sweetly rich, and a constant bourbon warming throughout. Finishes with a touch of bourbon heat, toffee sweetness and a mild dryness.

It will be interesting to see if the newly bottled Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale will continue to vary from batch to batch. Locally, this beer will show more vanilla and coconut in one batch, and then more oak and bourbon the next. Sometimes it tastes like a stronger, sweeter standard Kentucky Ale and other times take on cherry or berry character. Many Budweizer drinkers will call this 'inconsistancy'. I call it 'variety' -- a little bit of Christmas in every pint. If this crosses over to the 12oz. bottles, then it will be interesting to see if it gains praise (as it does locally) or criticism.

I have also noticed that this beer gets far lesser review ratings if it has beer 'shipped' out of the Bluegrass than those ratings where BA's sampled it locally. I don't think it's because of our biased tendencies of wanting our local 'baby' to succeed. I have noticed that this beer has traditionally not traveled well. Althought the bottle is pleasant, it's a far cry from the quality freshness that is available locally, expecially brewery fresh. A must drink if traveling through Lexington. Sit back with a brandy sniffer full of the Bourbon Barrel and discuss which horse stole all of your money earlier that day at Keenland. This is the stuff of dreams.

Photo of brentk56
4.11/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear honey color with a modest head that quickly fades to a ringlet and leaves a few shards of lace

Smell: Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, oak and coconut; just a hint of bourbon

Taste: Starts out with a buttered brown bread and bourbon-influenced caramel flavor; lots of vanilla and coconut arrive by mid-palate; after the swallow, there is a brief flourish of very smooth bourbon and oak that lingers into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A really nice Bourbon treatment here instead of the typical barrel-aging of a big stout; the beer has some nice subtleties

Photo of TonyFrac
4.26/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A classic ale with light bourbon aging. Nothing to write home about but an easy drinking ale with some vanilla and caramel notes (from the barrel).

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brightest topaz topped with nearly two fingers of eggshell colored foam that is slightly crackly and does no better than a passable job with respect to glass decoration. High-ABV, barrel-aged beer often struggles in the head and lace departments.

After having been aged for 6 weeks in *recently decanted* bourbon barrels, one would think the nose would be more whiskey-like. This is a somewhat pleasant sniffer if you like that spirit, but it's too mild. The base beer doesn't contribute much either.

Kentucky Ale is average beer. Its metamorphosis into Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a definite move to higher ground. It isn't amazing beer by any means, but the bourbon character finds that middle ground between 'too much' and 'not enough' (closer to the latter).

This offering tastes like an amber ale to which a very small splash of bourbon was added. Caramelized sugar and vanilla notes are subtle, and there wasn't enough time for much woodiness to have made it into the final product. Hard to believe the ABV went from 5.34% to 8.19% after 6 weeks contact with whiskey-soaked wood.

The mouthfeel didn't change... and wasn't expected to. It's still waaay too light, doesn't bulk up with warming, and the bubbles don't do a great job either. It's barely acceptable for a sipper, just don't expect much in the way of mouth pampering.

My advice to Kentucky Brewing Company is to use a different (better) beer as the base for this beer. Something with more malty guts would be a great place to start. Too bad this is the 12 ounce bottle rather than the cool looking cobalt vessel shown above.

Photo of oberon
3.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Maybe the first Kentucky beer I have had,I poured into an oversized wine glass to get the full aroma aspects of this beer,it poured clear deep golden with a very thin head,good clarity just not much head to it.Man that stuff smells like Wild Turkey,full oak and vanilla/caramel notes with a bit of biscuit malt,no hop presence that I could find.Light mouthfeel but not sharp,just a little thinner than expected I guess.Flavors are oaky and vanilla tinged with that caramel and and biscuit showing through as well,again no hop presence noticrable in my mind.Something a little different,it tastes just as much as a bourbon as a strong ale,but I liked it for a change of pace.

Photo of byaeger
4.77/5  rDev +29.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Though I have had this on tap at the brewery's "bier stube," I'm rating this on the bottles I've had. This is a remarkable beer. I know barrel-aging is getting big including aging this or that in bourbon barrels, but for a golden ale from Lexington, this one makes the most sense since the barrels emanate from down the road.

I credit this beer with turning me into a bigger bourbon fan. Rich, vanilla-oak flavors dominate, but you can sip it like a rich beer. The scent hits you first and though it's not very carbonated, it fills the mouth with equal parts beer and bourbon in a symbiotic fashion.

Though you can only drink one of these in a sitting--or at least should--the one bottle will leave you feeling GOOOOD. When the angel's share of the 90 proof bourbon marries out with the 5ish percent ale, what's left is a strong 9 percent beer that is liquid gold and warmth.

Biggest downside: Only available in Kentucky, and when the hell are you gonna be in Kentucky?

Photo of tectactoe
2.8/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5

Pours a mild amber color with a very slight amount of haze, slightly off white head fades quickly; very faint amounts of lacing are left along the walls of the glass. The aroma is big heavy bourbon - no faintness, no notes, hints, or nuances - straight up bourbon, through and through. Woody, oak aromas reside somewhat along the outer edges along with a touch of creamy and subtle vanilla. Much like the nose, the mouth senses heavy bourbon upon the first sip as well. If you were to tell me it was a malted-up ale and someone dropped in a shot of Evan Williams, I'd believe it. Very malt forward; lots of sweetness from the malt, toasted, slight caramel flavors, grainy. Hops aren't very noticeable, at least in flavor. A slight harsh, dry bitterness grabs the palate halfway through, but it's hard to detect any hop flavors at all. Slick body, thin, with adequate carbonation.

This is a bourbon beer, through and through. Literally tastes like someone dropped a shot of bourbon or whiskey into a malty ale. If bourbon is your thing, you'll love this. I guess it's okay if you're looking to drink bourbon. But if that's the case... just drink bourbon.

Photo of ExtraStout
3.72/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Had this on tap at The BBC in Norwood.

A- Pours a caramel color with minimal head. Quite frankly, it looks like fizzy bourbon.

S- Bourbon just dominates the nose. A little bit of wood in there and some pungent alcohol. Some caramel and molasses lie deep with there.

T- The bourbon is pretty well integrated with the smooth oak. Almost has a caramel/ buttery after taste. The alcohol is fairly hidden.

M- Lighter bodied but very smooth. No real feel of carbonation and not even any burn from the alcohol.

D- This one goes down smoothly but if you aren't a fan of bourbon, you will not enjoy this. I would call this a cheap bourbon alternative.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine Issue #51 (April 2011):

The pale amber color and sufficient lacing does not tell much of a story, even though it’s a great-looking beer. At first sniff, the nose is filled with barrel juice from the freshly used bourbon barrels—fusel with sweet vanilla and oak. Has the body of a well-attenuated ale, though there’s warmth from the aggressive alcohol. Hopping is modest at best; the dryness and high level of alcohol seem to balance this beer out. Boozy with fresh bourbon flavors from start to finish. Any sweetness seems to come from the feigned direction of the bourbon as it throws down that vanilla flavor. Some graininess within to remind us that this is a beer. Drinking this one slow. Definitely sets itself apart from all other bourbon barrel aged beers, which makes it a must-try.

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.47/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours from the growler a clear golden amber, vibrant with a bubbly head that fades rather quickly to a ring around the glass. Aromas begin with beautiful bourbon, vanilla, sweet caramel, woody tones and light fruit notes. Very nice, enchanting aroma here.

First sip brings a sweet fruity caramel maltiness. Luscious bourbon flavors dance on the palate. A hefty helping of vanilla and woody tannins show up mid palate. Finishes smooth and slightly sweet. Very well balanced overall, the lingering bourbon barrel notes are great here.

Mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied. Mellow carbonation works really nice in the overall brew. I could drink a lot of this with no problem. Wonderfully melded flavors and quite refreshing. Goes to show how great barrel aging can be. Many thanks to clvand0 for the opportunity. Word is that this beer is aged in Woodford Reserve barrels as well.

Photo of CAC329
4.21/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Head was high and creamy looking but died fast.
Loved the initial aroma when I first popped it.
Taste is smooth easy and just right amount of bourbon.

Photo of Jason
3.84/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to clvand0 for the sample ...

A- Mild haze off of a deep golden hue, thin lacing from a light carbonation.

S- WOW!! Big hit of bourbon in the aroma, sweet vanilla, alcoholic and woody.

T- Upfront malt sweetness melds perfectly with the thick layer of bourbon flavor, mild hopping shows a modest but balancing bitterness. Both vanilla and wood are all over the palate with a warming alcohol from the 7.0% abv.

M- A tad too under-carbonated for my liking but it does not really take away from the beer that much. Nice and creamy though.

D- Sipping and sipping only ... I could only see having one glass in a sitting.

Photo of merlin48
3.95/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first experience with the bottled version. Pours a clear light amber body that seems a shade lighter than the draft version. Head is small and shortlived and leaves some wispy spots of lace on the snifter. Aroma is bourbon, and lots of it. Vanilla and oak notes are also prominent. Body is light to light medium, almost watery. Low carbonation. Taste has plenty of bourbon, joined by flaked coconut and vanilla. Slight caramel notes are also present and the wood tones are prevalent. Hops aren't noticed but there is a pleasant bourbon bitterness all the way through. A good sipper, but I still prefer this on draft.

Photo of tigg924
4.27/5  rDev +16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Sam Adams perfect pint glass

Appearance: medium carbonation, minimal head, orange-brown in color, hazy

Smell: toasted malt and light oak

Taste: big time oak and bourbon, a pleasant taste of vanilla, meadow, and sweet toasted malt

Mouthfeel: sweet with big time oaking, moderate carbonation and medium-light body

Overall: I really like this. The problem I have with a lot of oak beers is that they are one dimensional oak and/or alcohol bombs. While this one has both, there is a sweetness and complexity that I do not often find with the style. The oak, vanilla, and bourbon all get a chance to shine and blend wonderfully. I wish I picked up a six of this. Really great beer.

Photo of BareFeetPete
3.89/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I have to give big props for individuality. I almost don't know how to describe the taste of this beer. A couple of very pronounced flavors hit me at different times. Initially it's a very typical American amber, but quickly lightens (as I swallow) to something more like a pale.

The smell is really nothing special. I mean, I like ambers so I'm already predisposed to liking how this smells, but if I'm being objective about it there's really nothing special about it.

I already described the initial taste, but the after taste was what made this beer fun to drink for me. I had a couple of bottles, one poured into a pint glass, the other straight from the bottle. The bourbon flavor was really pronounced when I drank from the bottle, and when I drank from the glass I got a lot of the wood and vanilla flavors I had heard about.

The mouth feel was another enjoyable characteristic, more so out of the bottle than the glass. I'm not a big fan of heavy carbonation but they seem to have hit a really nice balance here. If anything the carbonation helped to enhance the lighter undertones like the vanilla to balance out the more noticeable flavors of the traditional amber.

Overall, it's certainly not something I expected, and to be honest it was an impulse buy by my buddy who thought it looked like something different to try. So I have to say it was pleasantly surprising and if I am ever offered one I will definitely take it. But would I buy it again? Probably not. It's a novelty and something to try if you're looking for a break from your norm. But it's not a good session beer and it's not something that I would look for on a regular basis.

*I'm young, I only started really thinking about good beer three years ago, and this is my first review on the BA. So feel free to review my review and tell me how I did. I welcome criticism and advice.*

Photo of 1Adam12
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bought this today. The first day it's been available in bottles in Indiana. Carmel colored poured from the bottle to my snifter. Smells of very light bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and malt. Very nice taste. I catch alot of vanilla and caramel, with very mild bourbon. I'd have liked more bourbon, but seems about right for the short amount of aging time. Alcohol really isn't present. Very light, low carbonated mouthfeel. I really did like this beer, however, with the 15 dollar a 4 pack price on it, it's just not even close to worth the price.

Photo of Ursula1007
4.84/5  rDev +31.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I love beer and I love Bourbon. A drink just doesn't get any better then this.

Photo of jondeelee
3.65/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale opens with a rich, malty, flavorful nose that bears a marked resemblance to bourbon poured over top-notch vanilla ice cream--the kind made with flakes of real vanilla bean. Some hints of biscuit and grain lie just beneath, but the bourbon scents are the larger part of the aroma. Still, the aroma is fairly light and evanescent, as if you were smelling a bottle that had been empty for several hours already.

On the tongue, the first notes are bourbon and, somewhat unfortunately, cola flavors, the beer thus immediately recalling a rum and coke, albeit one made with good, spiced rum. The bourbon barrel aging has added vanilla and oak flavors, which largely dominate the flavor profile, easily overpowering what appears to be a weak ale base. Some fruit esters such as berry and apple do float to the surface, but are light. Subsequent sips are even more dominated by the rum-and-coke flavors, and the beer's somewhat high carbonation levels contribute to this sensation. Mouthfeel is medium-light.

Overall, I was disappointed with the flavors in this brew, expecting more from the malts, and perhaps not quite so much from the bourbon barrel aging. The beer seems out of balance, which is a shame, since the bourbon barrels have obviously added a tremendous level of complexity to an ale that doesn't seem quite able to keep up.

Photo of pat61
4.15/5  rDev +12.8%

Bourbon, light caramel and vanilla on the nose.
Pours brilliant orange amber with a thin rocky white foam cap. Light lace.
Starts with caramel malty sweetness followed by bourbon and vanilla and finished with a light touch of hop bitterness.
Medium body and carbonation, smooth.

Photo of MattyG85
3.95/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice.

Appearance: Pours a deep copper orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. About one finger of off white head which fades into a thin patchy layer. Leaves a decent amount of lace.

Smell: A very whiskey forward and fairly sweet malty aroma. Big barrel presence with hints of bourbon whiskey, wood, oak chips, and vanilla. Toasted malts with hints of sweet caramel, toffee, yeast, grains, and biscuit. Also some sweet hints of molasses and brown sugar. Hop presence is very light. A little scent of booze. Aroma is pretty much bourbon and caramel malt. Decent.

Taste: Like it smells, very barrel forward with with sweet notes of caramel malt. Barrel notes of bourbon whiskey, oak chips, wood, and vanilla upfront. Toasty malts with sweet notes of caramel, toffee, grain, yeast, and biscuit. Some molasses and brown sugar add to the sweetness. Very little in the way of hops. Sweet but smooth and not syrupy. Decent bourbon taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, smooth, and slightly slick. Alcohol presence is pretty smooth for a barrel aged beer.

Overall: A decent barrel aged brew. Good smooth whiskey taste. The base beer could of had some more substance but it went well with the barrel.

Photo of far333
3.07/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to Brent for sharing this one. Crystal-clear, brand-new-penny copper colored with fine columns of tiny bubbles rising quickly to the top and capping it off with a fine frothy off-white head.

Aroma of caramel and brown sugar maltiness, with a definite vein of bourbon rising up through.

Dry mouthfeel, but rich and full, a mixture of creamy richness and fine bubbly tingles.

Flavor is not overly complex, very malty, but tending to sweet, nearly cloying for me. No hops to speak of, but lots of bourbon flavor coming through, plus some banana and vanilla. Not very drinkable for me, a bit overwhelming to the taste buds.

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
83 out of 100 based on 2,409 ratings.