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

Not Rated.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel AleKentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

2,212 Ratings
THE BROS
86
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,212
Reviews: 523
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 18.8%
Wants: 106
Gots: 394 | FT: 5
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:
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.

(Beer added by: SheepNutz on 07-13-2004)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 2,212 | Reviews: 523 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of metter98
3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Harrigan’s Tavern, Dayton, OH

A: The beer is crystal clear light amber in color. It poured with a thin head on the surface that left some lacing on the surface and a ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: There are moderate to strong aromas of bourbon in the nose; the smell intensifies as the beer warms up.
T: Similar to the smell, the bourbon barrel aging really stands out in the taste, imparting flavors of bourbon and vanilla along with hints of oak. The vanilla becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
M: It feels a bit shy of medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The bourbon is nicely incorporated into this beer and doesn’t really add alcohol heat. I enjoyed this because the bourbon is very evident but not overpowering.

Photo of kjkinsey
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of olradetbalder
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of brentk56
4.09/5  rDev +11.4%
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 BEERchitect
4.38/5  rDev +19.3%
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 BuckeyeNation
3.45/5  rDev -6%
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 kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.38/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

I am going to go way out on a limb with this one I am sure, but I am sorry I absolutely loved it. Served chilled and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 02/24/2010.

The pour was not what I would consider, um great. Light amber in color, nearly golden with a very, very clear body to it. Lots of carbonation could be seen streaming up towards the top of the glass which coalesced into a thin, but firm white cap at about a quarter of an inch, but this really did not stay long, fading with no real side glass lacing. Aroma is sweet, unbelievably sweet with loads of vanilla and sweet candy like notes. I found this incredibly appetizing and dove straight in. Super light body takes you off guard, but once you let this thing open up it's over. Rich beyond words with a sweetness that is unmatched. Like French vanilla ice cream mixed with hints of bourbon and light grain, it just worked. So light it was almost refreshing as I really just could not get enough of this one. 

Overall wow, I did not see this coming. I was not sure I was going to like it nearly as much as I did, but wow it really, really worked for me. I would love to have this one again any time, it is just a wonderful, sweet concoction that truly just worked for me.

Photo of Knapp85
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of SocalKicks
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a clear, bright amber body capped by a thinning layer of white bubbles.

Smell: Toasty, oaky aroma with slightly lesser notes of brown sugar, vanilla, and humble pale malts.

Taste: Pale malts with a caramel kick to them make way for the far stronger flavors of vanilla, oaken barrel extract, light brown sugar, and even toasted coconut. Medium sweetness throughout. Never much in the way of hops or bitterness. Rebound of basic malty sweetness along with a rather woody quality to the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium-low carbonation.

Drinkability: Hmm. Well, it's certainly interesting, I'll give it at least that much. Maybe its the decaying brain cells, but I cannot adequately recall such a light base beer getting the bourbon barrel treatment. It's appealing to try all the characteristics bourbon barrel aging has to offer without being hampered and diluted by a... well, more substantial beer, but it doesn't make for an overall sublime drinking experience and doesn't have much appeal beyond the one bottle.

Photo of oberon
3.93/5  rDev +7.1%
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 largadeer
2.5/5  rDev -31.9%

Photo of biboergosum
3.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

355ml bottle. I get a weird feeling about the provenance of this offering, given that it is imported by the same liquor chain/agent that recently brought in all those re-branded, bland contract brews from World Brews.

This beer pours a crystal clear, pale copper amber hue, with one finger of loosely foamy, bubbly off-white head, which leaves but a few stray specks of lace around the glass as it hastily melts away.

It smells of woody caramel and vanilla, a bit of musky spice which zeroes in on the particular type of whisky barrel here, some grainy malt sweetness, and mildly citrusy, earthy hops. The taste is still big on the vanilla and toffee barrel notes, with a further lessening of the spicy, fruity character one might expect from the titular spirit, a soft oaken woodiness, smooth candy-tinted doughy caramel malt, and some obscured leafy, citrusy hops. The barrel notes do well to integrate the 16.38-proof (we are talking Yankee booze here) ABV.

The carbonation is quite sedate, not really doing much beyond very basic support, the body a sturdy medium weight, but bordering on cloying in its bald-tire smoothness. It finishes on the sweet side, the soused vanilla, caramel, toffee, and malt all facing little counterpoint action.

A decent malt-forward English-style ale, awash in beginners' bourbon barrel character. That's all fine and good, and tasty enough to be a means to an end. However, for me to actually desire another, there needs to be something in the way of balance to the well varied sweetness. Oh, and as for this brewer's origins? I apologize for intimating that they are in the same league as World Brews.

Photo of emerge077
4.13/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

After tackling a growler solo in my past review, it's time to slow things down a bit and consume 12oz. at a time, and appreciate.

Bottle pours a high clarity orange tone, with a small cap of white foam. Spotty bits of lace ring the tulip glass.

Oak, vanilla, sweet corn mash, and brown sugar in the nose. Becomes slightly funky as it warms.

A light bourbon taste, yet it touches on all my favorite aspects of this Kentucky-bred specialty. Woody oak, caramel sauce, buttery theater popcorn, a hint of coconut, with creamy vanilla bean in the long finish.

The thin, clean mouthfeel and refreshing nature of this ale deceptively mask it's alcohol content. Lacks body and complexity, but the bourbon flavor is good. Respect this beer, and it won't mess you up. Drinking a growler of this stuff made me feel like I had put down a pint of bourbon...

Photo of TMoney2591
3.98/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Big thanks to VDubb86 for finally gettin' this off my Wants!

Kentucky + Bourbon + beer = yes. This thing pours a clear, bright amber topped by a minor bit o' white foam. The nose comprises oak, caramel, whiskey, butterscotch, and a tiny touch o' vanilla. The alcohol hangs over the surface, both a come-hither eying and a staunch admonition. I like a challenge. The taste refuses to deviate from the smell, with the bourbon-draped oak coming in at full force. A sly hint of maple syrup nudges the 'buds' arms, rather than just coming right out and introducing itself. I like it. The body is a slender medium, with a light carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, a nice little sipper, something to be enjoyed, though rapture remains aloof.

Photo of zeff80
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Poured out a dark orange/amber color with a tan, creamy, but small head. It left some trails of lace.

S - It smelled of bourbon, vanilla and molasses.

T - The taste really had too much bouron flavor. It was still sweet and caramely, but the bourbon flavor was almost too strong.

M - It was smooth, soft and creamy. A medium to full bodied beer.

D - This is okay, but I prefer just hints of bourbon flavor in my beer and this one was just too strong.

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I could be way off on this, but it seemed to me like Kentucky Ale that had been barrel aged. It poured a golden colored body beneath a short head of creamy white foam. The nose was loaded with bourbon, but I didn't find it really intriguing. It had the sweetish, woody, alcoholic notes, but I'd imagine that you could pull that out of a barrel just by adding water. The flavor was better, and there's a bit of malt base to it (but again, it seemed simply like standard Kentucky Ale). It was well rounded with vanilla and wood though, and there wasn't too much alcohol (as can happen in some cases). Other than that there's not much I can say about this beer. It seems kind of light for a Bourbon barrel beer. I'd like to see more malt behind it, but it was enjoyable. Would I have two in a row? - Never! But it has its merits. I might like to enjoy one with a good book in front of the hearth, or perhaps with a meal that included caramelized onions and yams, or something like that. Or at a backyard barbeque in the summer with some tangy ribs! Worth trying... but not worth buying a six pack.

Photo of Jason
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
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 WVbeergeek
2.28/5  rDev -37.9%
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 TheManiacalOne
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light gold color, with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains bourbon, vanilla, alcohol, caramelized malts and some hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, vanilla and bourbon. The bourbon barrel aging is quite evident as it is in the smell but it also brings medicine-like flavor. The malt character is on the thin side for this type of beer and there’s a mild but complementary hops presence. However, there isn’t as much balance as you get from most barrel-aged beers. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, good kick, good variation of style, it’s not a bad beer but there are several other barrel-aged beers I would choose over this one.

Photo of RblWthACoz
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear amber with a thin creme head. Nose is boozy, like I was taking a whiff of bourbon. Flavor is more bourbon than anything. Not really complex at all. But it is creamy. Feel carries the same character on liquid and carbonation is lower. A nice sipper. If you like the bourbon, this is pretty heavy with it, so you'd be happy.

Photo of Slatetank
3.45/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I picked this one up while at Ft Knox at the Px, just getting around to reviewing it.

Poured cold into a session ale glass

A - An ale the shade of bourbon w/ a bone white 2 1/2 finger fluffy head. The lace clings moderately well

S - The scent of bourbon is strong in the nose w/ a subtle ale fruitiness and boozy woody notes that accent the aroma

M - Very mild sweetness w/ a mild carbonation and gently chalky feel w/ nutty vanilla oaky wood textures and smooth finish that practically falls flat

T - The bourbon smell carries over into the taste w/ a mostly light ale flavor and subtle fruity tinges w/ a vanilla bourbon oak taste w/ a beer flavor that really has a meek demeanor in relation to the Bourbon oakiness that accents it almost dominates it. There is a slight hop/vegetal note and possible adjunct type sweetness in the flavor, an overall light ale taste that seems out of porportion in relationship to the sweetness in the bourbon.

D - I enjoyed the bourbon flavor in this , but one or two seems like more than enough. This ale just falls short of great and allows the bourbon aging to manhandle the flavor while making the beer seem light. It isn't the best wood aged beer, but it is worth a try

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
83 out of 100 based on 2,212 ratings.