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
82
good

556 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 556
Hads: 2,518
rAvg: 3.64
pDev: 16.21%
Wants: 138
Gots: 670 | 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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Reviews: 556 | Hads: 2,518
Photo of kojevergas
3.16/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

BOTTLE: Branded pry-off pressure cap. Appealing label design. Brown glass. 12 fl oz.

Reviewed live as a bourbon barrel aged...ale? No specific style is identified on the label. 8.19% ABV. Served cold into a pilsner glass at low altitude in low altitude Austin, Texas. Expectations are above average given the brewery and the description/marketing - which makes it sound good.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 2 fingers wide. Off-white colour. Okay frothiness. It's not as creamy, full, or thick as it ought to be. Should look softer as well. Retention is above average - about 3 minutes. Leaves no lacing.

BODY: Clear translucent copper of average vibrance. Clean; no yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Appears aptly carbonated. Doesn't look unique or special, but it's generally appealing. Has no stand-out characteristics.

AROMA: Barrel sugars, vanilla, hints of white oak, lovely charred barrel characteristics, English malt character, and marshmallow. Bourbon? I guess...but I wouldn't notice it if I tried this blind. It's got those great vanilla notes, but it never really rings distinct as bourbon per se.

No yeast character, overt alcohol, hops, or off-notes are detectable.

Aromatic intensity is mild.

A pleasant, soft aroma. I'm interested in trying it, but I did hope for more of an overt bourbon character. The base seems underwhelming and unfocused. The oak could be more evocative.

TASTE: Marshmallow, vanilla, English malts, English mild characteristics (including the beginnings of a buttery note), caramel, barrel sugars, a fleeting wisp of white oak, hints of charred wood, some toastiness, and hints of some kind of unrefined sugar - but it isn't piloncillo, brown sugar, or treacle. What's strangely missing is bourbon; I mean it has the hints of oak and it has the vanilla, but it never touches on bourbon at all for me. I can't quite put my finger on why.

Balanced? Sort of. It has a loose cohesion at best, and there are no egregious clashes of flavour, but it's by no means a gestalt whole of a build. I'm not really even sure what style this falls in...it's not even a bourbon ale - as vaguely defined as I find that descriptor - because there's not really much of a bourbon character. It does feel English in character (likely from the yeast) but never commits to toffee or anything beyond the caramel.

Has no obvious hop profile. No yeast character or off-notes come through. It does have some light alcohol warmth.

Overall, I just find it unrefined. It's fairly shallow in terms of depth of flavour. Duration and intensity of flavour are average. Adequately complex and subtle, but it's not world-class in either respect. I do like it in a general sense, but it needs honing. And it has touches of artificial flavoring throughout which bother me.

TEXTURE: Full-bodied, moderately thick, moderately weighty, smooth, wet, and unrefreshing. Slight overcarbonation.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough or scratchy.

Overall, this texture suits the taste decently, but fails to elevate the beer or to accentuate the flavour profile's constituent notes.

OVERALL: It's a drinkable brew, but never touches on the bourbon character it promises...in fact, the marketing and description are so hubristic about Kentucky and bourbon that it makes bourbon's absence more conspicuous. It's frankly rather embarrassing. I'm enjoying it for what it is, but at this price point I couldn't justify a second purchase. Seems like a cash-grab for the bourbon barrel aged niche. I like some of the English leanings, but this just never feels like a focused or deliberate brew to me, and the balance needs dialing in. Moreover, if you want to run with the big dogs in the bourbon barrel aged category (regardless of style), you've got to bring more to the table in terms of intricacy and subtlety of flavour. This is largely a let-down, and needs work. I can't see this ever becoming a world-class brew no matter how much fine-tuning they do; it'd need a whole new recipe. I guess I'm glad I tried it once, but it's not the best beer I've had from this brewery, and I wouldn't recommend it to friends or trade partners.

The barrel char is the stand-out note.

Apparently, this is aged for "up to" 6 weeks in bourbon barrels...um, for starters 6 weeks just ain't enough. But "up to" suggests some batches (if not most) are aged in bourbon barrels for less than 6 weeks. That's a nice way to increase profits and bolster marketing potential, but it doesn't strike me as honest - or maybe honest isn't the word, because they are disclosing this info (just not on the bottles themselves). I guess the word I'm looking for is "cheap" or perhaps more appropriately "pathetic." Why not just throw it in bourbon barrels for one day? Hell, technically it'd still be "aged." I'd like to see the brewers behind this grab their balls, gain some fucking integrity, and start genuinely committing to their craft; there's clearly potential here.

C+ (4,995 characters)

Photo of DJoe
3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Meh. Had from a bottle, poured into a pint glass. There was very little about this that could be called distinctive other than the moderate vanilla flavor. Never tasted any bourbon or oak traits. (198 characters)

Photo of TheBullsHorn
3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This beer has all of the typical characteristics of an English Strong Ale without any depth at all. It's fairly true to the style with a strong malty backbone,booziness, and light English hops. It fails to deliver any depth and and is fairly one note especially for a beer aged in bourbon barrels. (297 characters)

Photo of Avool1960
3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I had recently discovered bourbon barrel aged brews at the Yards brewery in Philadelphia Pa. Seems to be made just for me. This Kentucky brew is a wonderful tasting beer. The ale is light and flavorful with the the bourbon and oak flavors coming thru to please. It is smooth, and has no bad after taste. It's like a cocktail for real men! Try it. (346 characters)

Photo of azdback
3.15/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to BgThang for this extra! Poured into a pilsner glass. Bright, clear orange color. A lot of carbonation bubbles. Head is almost a bright white and quite frothy. The lace is sticky and stays the night with us.

Smell is almost all bourbon. There are some sweet malts that poke their heads up. I do also get a hint of booze.

The taste is all bourbon. It almost tastes like a bourbon flavored Sasparilla. Very sweet and hollow.

The mouth is as I have already explained. Very watery. Carbonation falls off quite a bit.

Once again I want to thank BgThang for this. I wasn't overly swayed to the good or the bad on this one. I did like the bourbon flavors, but they almost tasted like they were artificial. (712 characters)

Photo of litheum94
3.13/5  rDev -14%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. August 18, 2011 stamped on the bottle. I can only assume this is a best by date, which seems a little odd for a barrel aged beer.

P: Clear amber body. Dirty white head, one finger thick. Settles down to a patchy cover with large bubbles.

A: Jack Daniel's whiskey aromas. Toffee and sweet taffy. Burnt caramel. Oak. Spicy hops. There's an almost artificial aroma. Buttered popcorn?

T: Vanilla, oak and bourbon flavors. The bourbon is a little hot, giving the impression that the barrels weren't of the highest quality. Some buttery malts. Cola flavors on the finish. No hop profile.

I vacillated between liking this beer and loathing it. It has some nice flavors, but the bourbon portion of it just tasted artificial and cheap. It was an interesting style to barrel age, and I have one more bottle, so my opinion may change. But at this point, I'm not overly impressed. (886 characters)

Photo of mdaschaf
3.12/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Review from notes.

A: Pours a light orange/copper color with small white bubbles that made up a smallish head, moderate lacing. Lots of small carbonation bubbles released from the bottom.

S: A little bit of caramel and vanilla, light bourbon aromas, some darker fruit, and a little bit of molasses and brown sugar.

T: It tasted very similar to apple juice, with a slightly sour flavor to it, almost vinegary. Not sure whats going on as the flavor profile is extremely different than the aroma.

M: Medium bodied, but seemed a little thin, with moderate carbonation.

O: A puzzling beer, not really sure what happened, or why the beer tasted as it did. Can only hope to try it again in the future. (703 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.12/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Not bad, but a bit too oaky and sweet. Pours amber with very little head, Smells sweet and oaky with a bourbon nose of brown sugar, vanilla, and oak. Simple, and a bit sweet, but not bad. Similar taste, with the same notes in the nose, but it feels a bit more washed out and fades toward the end. Right at the finish, there is a fairly bit hit of vanilla. Overall, although there are indeed Bourbon flavors here, it's not any Bourbon I'd ever drink- far too one dimensional and lacks subtlety, yet at the same time is a bit washed out and lacks punch, substituting oaky sweetness instead. Just okay. (599 characters)

Photo of jsh420
3.1/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

best by march 08 2012

pours clear gold with a 1 finger white head that faded fast and left some spotted lacing

smell - the first thing i thought of was a candy my friend makes called tutti fruiti - sweet candy malt vanilla some oak

taste is nice - a little sweet and cloying - no real bourbon flavor - all malt vanilla and oak

mouthfeel - medium body with good carbonation - a bit sticky

overall - for the price this beer is a fail and for being aged in bourbon barrels this beer not only falls short but lost yards - however the flavor was pleasant - i will enjoy the rest of the 4 pack but would never buy this again (623 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.1/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Skuter for sharing this one at his UCLA vs. USC viewing party.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, bourbon, wood, and a distinct funky aroma. Taste is much the same but no funk comes through in the flavor. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer that is a pretty poor example of a barrel aged beer. (529 characters)

Photo of skyout
3.1/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - Clear amber color with very little head.

Smell - Strong smell of bourbon and caramel. Excellent notes that aren't found in too many other beers of the same style.

Mouthfeel - Extremely smooth feel however not overly bubble. It leaves one wishing for a little more carbonation.

Taste - This is one of the most important and unfortunately one of its weakest characteristics. The taste does not linger and leaves one desiring a little more. However there are very nice hints of the bourbon at the end.

Overall, I gave this beer a 3.00 because while the appearance and smell are fantastic, however the mouthfeel and short finish leave both ale and bourbon lovers wanting more. (691 characters)

Photo of raleigh_blue
3.1/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle with no date. Picked up a few months ago in NOLA.

A: Aggressive pour into Iron Abbey snifter leaves a thin head with no lacing. Clear golden amber.

S: Hints of caramel and malts. Not much here. No Bourbon whatsoever.

T: Somewhat pleasing vanilla caramel and malt. Again, like the nose, zero bourbon. Is very hot - does not disguise the abv whatsoever.

M: A little thin but with good carbination .

O: A poor mans BBA ASA. I would not buy it again but its not awful. (477 characters)

Photo of JAFoley
3.09/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - crystal-clear pale amber body with bubbly white head.

S - smoky bourbon musty and sugary

T - subdued bourbon and spices amidst tangy fruits. Flavors are weak and drop off fast

M - medium/light body with moderate/light carbonation.

O - not a beer I'd drink again. Weak flavors and body, not a big fan. (309 characters)

Photo of kissmybunniebutt
3.08/5  rDev -15.4%
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. (305 characters)

Photo of far333
3.07/5  rDev -15.7%
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. (635 characters)

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.07/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber in color with no head forming on the pour. Smell is sweet and alcoholic. Not necessarily a bourbon smell, but a sweet alcohol. Taste is overly carbonated and cheap bourbon. Mouthfeel is a bit thin. I was hoping more from a brewery that is located in the backyard of bourbon. The Jefferson's Reserve Stout is lightyears better.
A disclaimer is that I've heard this beer is an entirely different animal on draft compared to bottle. I'll seek it out on draft and update my rating accordingly. (500 characters)

Photo of mulder1010
3.07/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

355 ML poured into a tulip
Thanks to Shagtastic for the bottle
Shared with Mr Kennedy

A-- Poured a near clear, light colored carmel. One finger of white head that faded to a white collar. Just bits of spotty lacing one sides of the glass.

S-- Barrel notes all over the place. Oak, bourbon, big vanilla, and Carmel. Vanilla dominated the nose through drinking.

T-- See above. Reminded me of a vanilla wafer as had a bit of crisp wafer taste along with the vanilla.

M-- Quite a thin body. Not a lot of the base beer to notice as the barrel character, vanilla, just dominated the beer. Slightly sweet feel and a lot of dry vanilla.

O-- Had this in Louisville on tap in July 2011 and loved it. Bottle version??? Not so much. Really dominated by vanilla. Would get it again if on tap only. Was far more balanced on tap. (825 characters)

Photo of WunderLlama
3.06/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into a snifter

Clear copper color with steady stream of bubbles. White one finger foam settles to flotsam and jetsam rafts of bubbles. Some lacings

Faint bourbon aroma

Faint bourbon taste , oak and vanilla

Had this on draft at a restaurant. It was excellent. Ordered a second glass. Still excellent. Saw it on the shelf of the local packie and had to try it. Wow! What a 180 . Nowhere near as enjoyable in the bottle as it was on draft. I will not buy this in bottles again, only draft. Never had such a drastic disparity in taste between bottle and draft. (575 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
3.06/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a shifter at sugar
Maple.

A: deep clear red, short white head, decent lacing, no retention

S: nose is all vanilla with a candy like sweetness, notes of icing, bourbon is vanilla with no oak, pretty mild on the nose

T: starts off with mild malts, turns into sweet vanilla, no backbone to this brew. The bourbon character is shallow and lacks any oak character. The abv is not detectable.

Mf: high carbonation, light body

O: this beer has an unpleasant candy character. The base beer does not stand up to the bourbon aging (536 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
3.06/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pour is clear orange with reddish hues and a creamy bubbly off white head. Nose is interesting, heavy bourbon with strong vanilla notes and wood undertones. Off chocolate malt notes and some charred barrel in back. Taste is heavy wooded bourbon and chocolate malt. Fair amount of vanilla behind the flavors but finish is a bit empty. Thinned out body in back with strong carbonation making an odd combo. Fair amount of running alcohol in the finish but somehow not hot. Very different beer. (490 characters)

Photo of TVolt1
3.06/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Golden, clear appearancewith small amount of white head.

S: bland smell with a hint of vanilla/creme.

T: i am not a fan. It tastes like a bland beer with a small amount of vanilla extract and bourbon.

M: Okay mouthfeel. Not very carbonated and a small to moderate thickness.

O: Overall, it's an alright beer. Not my fav and there isn't anything great about it. (367 characters)

Photo of jwinship83
3.06/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

64oz growler filled at the liquor barn in lexington. this has sat in my fridge for close to 2 weeks. drank from my big eddy snifter.

A- the pour is an amazingly translucent very light copper colored body with a finger of bright white head on top. the head is quick to fizzle away, and leaves behind little as far as lacing goes.

S- bourbon is the first thing that comes to mind. some bready malts mixed with some spiciness brings out a sugar cookie-like scent. bourbon and a touch of vanilla finish this off.

T- the taste starts out with more of the bready malts that mix with some spiciness in my mouth creating the sugar cookie thing that i could smell. interesting. after that i get some sweetness from the bourbon as well as a mild shot of vanilla form the barrel. a mild bourbon aftertaste as well.

M- the body is on the thin side of medium. the carbonation is nice and subdued. little burn from the alcohol, but my mouth is left tasting like bourbon.

O- i liked the bottle version much more than the growler. this seems like a pretty generic beer with some bourbon poured in. (1,089 characters)

Photo of eclipse54
3.05/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A 12 ounce bottle picked up at Casanova on my New Glarus run. Saw it sitting there and figured I'd give it a shot. Poured into a DFH signature glass.

The body is much lighter than expected, being more of a golden wheat color with some reddish, copper hues. It's very transluscent and only develops a thin, quarter-inch layer of eggshell white head. Minimal retention and lacing, but there is an ever present pillow of bubbles streaming up the center of the glass and billowing out on the surface. Still, I would not have guessed this was a barrel aged strong ale by looking at it (maybe an IPA?).

Aroma is of bourbon and not much else. Maybe some brown sugar or caramel, maybe. A bit offputting, and here's to hoping that it tastes better than it smells.

And it does, tasting of bourbon, some vanilla and toffee, a bit of oak and caramel, some brown sugar, and a hefty dose of ethanol. Surprisingly, it's not too bad once you get past the dominating bourbon.

Mouthfeel is a bit sticky and resinous, and it finishes pretty dry. Prominent alcohol burn on the finish.

Overall, this isn't one I'll be revisiting anytime soon. The bourbon is just way too pronounced for me. It really seems like you could have recreated this by just adding bourbon as opposed to barrel aging. Perhaps it will mellow out a bit with some time, but I'm not going to be the one to find out. (1,373 characters)

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.03/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a small brandy snifter. Color is clear, light amber gold. In fact, it looks like lightly carbonated bourbon. The nose offers up some muted alcohol aroma mixed with some citrus. In other words, it smells like a screwdriver.

Flavor is somewhat hop-forward. It's light and fizzy and there is a faint taste of bourbon that just doesn't complement the beer flavor at all. Mouthfeel is average.

Overall, this was disappointing. I wouldn't say that this is a poorly-made beer, just that it was poorly thought out. Bourbon-barrel aging just cries out for a beer that is rich and malty, not a light ale that is crisp and hoppy. I don't want a beer that tastes like bourbon, I want a beer whose flavors are complemented by the bourbon notes (see Founders Backwoods Bastard or BBC Bourbon Barrel Big Brown). This was not what I was looking for. (861 characters)

Photo of mattcrill
3.03/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma: Vanilla, oak, spicy undertones. No hop aroma. Clean fermentation character.

Appearance: Brilliantly clear amber pour with a sticky white head. Head retention is poor.

Flavor: More oak and woody notes. Faint biscuity malt background and some earthy hop bitterness. Finish is clean and dry.

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, moderate-high carbonation, and slightly slick. A touch of astringency and warming alcohol on the back of the palate.

Overall impression: A clean, wood-aged ale. Not really sure what this beer would be without the bourbon and wood-aged character. Maybe an amber? Very one dimensional. Not a big fan of bourbon/barrel-aged beers and this does nothing to help that. (688 characters)

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
82 out of 100 based on 556 ratings.