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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

2,338 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,338
Reviews: 565
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 18.53%
Wants: 120
Gots: 516 | FT: 6
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: 2,338 | Reviews: 565 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of oriolesfan4
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of jwc215
4.02/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jcwattsrugger for this one!

Pours bright, clear copper with a thin head that becomes a thin cover. Some lacing follows down the glass.

The smell is of bourbon whiskey. Vanilla and oak really stand out. Caramel/toffee backs it up.

The taste is of bourbon. The vanilla and oak are quite strong. Caramel shows a firm maltiness. A light touch of earthy bitterness balances some of the sweetness. Whiskey hangs on well into the aftertaste.

It's on the full side of medium with medium carbonation.

Alcohol is reasonably well-covered, but this is still a sipping, one at a sitting brew for me. Nice bourbon character. Barrel aging well-done.

Photo of kojevergas
3.16/5  rDev -13.9%
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+

Photo of smcolw
3.47/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Low level head that leaves little lace. The color is a perfect neutral amber and is crystal clear.

More earthy than anything else. There's a bit of sweetness that reminds me of molasses.

This is a sweet ale. Again, molasses seems to be the strongest flavor. If there is bitterness, it is overwhelmed by the malt sugars. Not complex. Very rich body--low carbonation.

Photo of InspectorBob
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of Rochefort10nh
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of duceswild
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of wrightst
1.5/5  rDev -59.1%

Photo of Gavage
3.88/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: black with a 1" head that hung around a while. Some mild lacing develops during the session.

Smell: roasted malts and hints of bourbon are pleasant on the nose.

Taste: mild roasted malts, prunes, bourbon tones, vanilla, and a bit of alcohol are wrapped in a soft bitterness. Well balanced beer here.

Mouthfeel: smooth throughout. Heavy in body. Aftertaste lingers a bit on the tongue.

Drinkability: an easy to drink beer as the flavors are not over the top and the alcohol is in check here. You should give this a try especially if it is on draft.

Photo of dbrauneis
3.69/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a clear medium amber in color with some light hints of visible carbonation. The beer had a thin (maybe 1/8 finger tall) off-white head that quickly dissipated to just the faintest of rings at the edge of the glass. Very light lacing is observed.

S: There is a very subtle amount of malt sweetness in the background but upfront this beer is all bourbon - the bourbon smell is a little harsh but has elements of caramel, toffee, and vanilla.

T: Like the smell, the taste of this beer is dominated by the bourbon. The beer starts out with the caramel/toffee malt sweetness but then the bourbon elements come in with the oak and vanilla. There is quite a lot of sweetness to this beer.

M: On the heavier side of medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: As a bourbon lover, I had very high hopes for this beer and was a little disappointed by the harshness of the bourbon flavor and smell (it almost seemed like they used real cheap bourbon - rot gut stuff). This beer was not sessionable, the flavors were too intense to be able to have more than one at a session and this was a sipping beer.

Photo of imperialking
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of woodychandler
4.5/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured with a light, off-tan head with very low retention, quickly reducing to wisps. The color was a beautiful orangish-amber with NE-quality clarity. The nose was redolent with vanilla and wood. The first sip gave me the same vanilla and wood that I noted on the nose, plus coconut and honey on the tongue. Wow! Mouthfeel was full and creamy. The finish had a slight alcohol burn, but that was fine by me. I am usually not a huge liquor drinker, nor do I routinely stray from the hops, but dang!, this was some good stuff.

Photo of Gonzoillini
3.13/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Photo of chinchill
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of mdaschaf
3.12/5  rDev -15%
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.

Photo of weeare138
3.77/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much thanks to kmpitz for getting this for me!
Appears a gold with a lush white head and scattered lacing. Very little amounts of carbonation coming to the top of the glass. This is understandable with the heavy bourbon/oak aging.
Smell is of subtle oaky vanilla, bourbon, cream, sweet fermented corn and rye, along with a candy aroma.
Taste is of the same aromas with a butteryness to it, along with vanilla and bourbon...which I love.
Mourthfeel is sweet, smooth, and lightly carbonated.

Photo of afsdan
3/5  rDev -18.3%

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.12/5  rDev -15%
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.

Photo of Mebuzzard
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.12/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Pours a clear bright copper in color, small ring of head forms and recedes away. Aroma is full of vanilla, bourbon, butterscotch, and alcohol fumes. The taste follows suit, but does so nicely. There is a sweetness from the oaky tannins of the bourbon barrels, vanilla like. Bourbon flavor makes itself known, with a vaguely smokey sweet alcohol grain flavour. The english pale/irish red base beer lends itself perfectly in its lightness to pick up all the flavors from the barrel. Alcohol is there but not overwhelming. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation. Overall, this beer really highlights what fresh bourbon barrels can do to a simple base ale. Quite nice.

Photo of ejimhof
2.75/5  rDev -25.1%

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.23/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Drunkmonk for this brew.
Poured a light gold with a small white head. Nose smells sweet, vanilla and slight bourbon.
Tastes of oak, vanilla, bourbon, honey and butterscotch. Mouthfeel has some syrup, oak, honey, butterscotch with light bourbon. Drinkability is very good, not overly boozy. This beer blends lots of flavors together very well and a treat to drink!

Photo of smakawhat
3.02/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass.

Deep copper and bronze orange body but quite hazy and dull. Head has a creamy yellow and light tan color consistency and makes about two fingers to slowly settle into a soapy collar. Not bad minus the hazy quality, sort of looks like a barleywine.

Light bodied, and some small faint butterscotch like caramel. Senses a bit wet. Slightly sweet but not much oak or barrel aging character it seems. Pleasant at least.

Palate is quite surprising. Extremely light and airy, and very watery. I am talking tap water consistency. Senses of flat root beer like sweetness, and vanilla. Virtually no depth of malt on this at all. Palate isn't off putting, but this is really not lively.

This feels like a dead barleywine mixed with flat root beer. It's not horrid to drink but strangely doesn't remind me of beer let alone a barrel aged one. The only thing I would say is the weak watery body makes it super easy to drink, but my desire to ever want to have this again is virtually nil.

Photo of atrocity
2.5/5  rDev -31.9%

Photo of brandoman63
2/5  rDev -45.5%

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
83 out of 100 based on 2,338 ratings.