Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe now →

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.

565 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 565
Hads: 2,573
Avg: 3.63
pDev: 39.67%
Wants: 145
Gots: 718 | FT: 9
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.
View: Beers (20) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 565 | Hads: 2,573
Photo of bobhits
2.95/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

OK I'm going to break the rules here and feel free to remove my review if this offends anymore. I've had this beer 20+ times over the last few years and I've had it both on tap and in bottles almost equally. The advantages of living in Lexington where it's brewed I suppose. This beer varies so much imo it's impossible to review a single bottle and do it justice. As a result I wanted to use this review to tell you my thoughts on this kentucky favorite.

A OK nothing major changes here. Dark amber almost brown in color. A nice off white head will form and this is pretty consistent.

S Here is where this beer gets interesting. Every batch of this seems a bit different. This a nice amber beer (site says English pale ale for the Kentucky ale...dunno about that one) with a touch of malt and some subtle hops way back there. They then barrel age it and from talking to the sales reps they don't consistently pick the same barrels to use. This results in a nose that goes from strong vanilla to strong oak to almost smelling like a boiler maker with a shot of bourbon in there. That said there's nothing wrong with any of this in the nose, but don't go in expecting a certain aroma cause they'll throw you a curve ball every time.

T I recall my fist time having this a few years back. I bought a nice 4 pack of it and was excited to try it. I truly struggled to get a single bottle down. It was this amazingly strong bourbon flavor that just took control of the beer. The abv seemed a joke and it was a sipper beyond words. I never liked that 4 pack...each bottle was just too much. That said this beer is everywhere and I had to try it again. The next time I picked it up I expected much the same and was prepared. The problem was I got a completely different beer. The first beer was harsh and the bourbon dominated so much that I couldn't taste anything else. This second batch was overwhelmingly vanilla. It was smooth, silky, the original beer was shining through with its caramel malt and earthy hop character. It was actually lacking that bourbon flavor I wanted and instead the oak and vanilla where all that the beer offered. Fresh and on tap however this beer often hits a near perfect balance of the vanilla and bourbon and creates this true gem. When this beer gets things right it mixes a fairly thin and mild ale with some amazing vanilla and oak flavors finishing with a nice bourbon flavor while mixing in the caramel malt and subtle hops. This is a beer that will turn a whiskey drinker for at least a night into a beer drinker and turn even the biggest beer snob into a fan. The problem is this isn't what I normally find.

At its best this beer is a solid 4's with a few 4.5's mixed in there. At its worse just avoid. On average and the majority of bottles I have had, this is a really solid beer. It looks good, the bourbon nose is solid, it tastes as you'd expect a bourbon aged english ale to be, and it drinks pretty well. It's a shame this is not more consistent and isn't on that better side of things more often, but go in with these expectations and hopefully you get one of their better bottles.

 3,130 characters

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

Pours clear amber with a creamy white head that hangs around awhile and leaves globs of sticky lacing.

Aroma is sweet caramel malt, earthy hazelnut, light fruit and slight alcohol warmth.

Taste is very earthy and nutty. Bready caramel malt. Woody oak, with a touch of vanilla as expected. Bourbon has a presence, but seems thin for my taste, and seems a bit watery. Hops bring and earthy bitterness to the finish.

Mouthfeel is light-medium in body. A fuller feel would go a long way for this one.

Overall a very mild bourbon barrel aged brew. I had expected a stronger bourbon presence. However, I did enjoy the malty earthy qualities of this beer.

 652 characters

Photo of bashiba
2.81/5  rDev -22.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured a nice clear amber color with long running carbonation and a thick and fluffy sticky white head.

Has a light sweet caramel smell along with some mild bourbon vanilla and alcohol notes.

The flavor is very mild with a light toasted grain body and a touch of bourbon notes. Slightly sweet and very low on hops.

The mouthfeel is light, surprisingly thin, and full of carbonation.

Pretty average, not much going on other than mild bourbon aging qualities almost like drinking and extremely watered down glass of whiskey. Barely any beer flavor to speak of.

 562 characters

Photo of rjhaupt
3.24/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Much lighter than expected from a bourbon aged beer but since it only says it's an "ale" and nothing more specific perhaps my expectations were unfounded. Pours with a nice head that retains well but not great but that's somewhat normal for aged beer. Same story for the carbonation which isn't absent but needs to be looked for to be found at all.

S - Almost no smell at all, which is better than a bad smell but surprising from a beer with an 8.19% ABV, but still doesn't help preview what you're about to taste as much as one might like.

T - Very sweet, like maple syrup or caramel. Mild overall, no hop character whatsoever. Pungent aftertaste, like roasted pecans.

M - Smooth, creamy, and entirely what was expected from everything written above.

D - The highest rated category simply because this style of beer tends to be a one serving and you're done sort of beer but the mild nature of this ale actually makes it more likely that I would have another one later on.

 981 characters

Photo of cooncat
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at Save-On in Mentor as a single for $3.00 for a 12 oz. bottle.

Poured at fridge temps into my S.A. glass, the beer is a bit darker than your standard BMC lager in color, with a 1 fingered ecru head which diminishes quickly. A bit of lacing on a swirl of the glass, but no stickage (or very little).

The nose has bourbon in it, which, given the name, is not a surprise. Its not overwhelming, but more of a hint of bourbon. Behind that is a light malty sweetness. Overall, nothing exciting going on in the nose.

The taste is pretty similar to the nose. To be honest, it tastes pretty much like someone added a dash of bourbon to a glass of BMC type lager. I'm stretching my taste buds to try to pick up some of the other flavors I've read other reviewers mention, and I'm not coming up with much. There is a bit of caramel malt behind the bourbon; no noticeable hop presence. Carbonation level is on the high side .. not enough to make it "bitey", but enough to thin the mouthfeel to med-light. As for drinkability, I'd have to say that I'd reach for one of my homebrews before I reached for another one of these.

This is my first beer from a Kentucky brewer, and this particular brewer (Lexington Brewing Co.). Hope that my next beer from this region offers a bit more. Would I recommend it? Well, if you can get yourself a single, and you enjoy the flavor of a "shot and a beer", you'll probably be a candidate for giving this one a try. Otherwise, I can't recommend it .. especially at $3 for a single.

Na Zdravje!

 1,532 characters

Photo of mtnbikerpa
4.06/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle with no freshness date into a pint glass. Only mildly suds for a head. The smell was amazing to me. I was letting this brew sit and breathe. I could smell the sweetness from the malts almost as a candied fruits would smell. I could also smell a titch of the original bourbon. Certainly malts are tasted but the overwhelming flavor for me is the bourbon and woody nature. No real hop flavor. Booze present and not hidden well. Its a sipper for me.

 465 characters

Photo of Wisconsinality
3.42/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle split 3 ways.

A- Pours a pale golden with very minimal head. Quite frankly, it looks like something from a BMC company.

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.

 652 characters

Photo of OWSLEY069
4.22/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clean orange-ish/ amber color with a white head. In the aroma, big oak and bourbon. In the taste, bourbon, oaky, hints of vanilla and a nice maltiness. A small bite and medium to big mouthfeel, with a clean small oak in the aftertaste. Big bourbon flavor and quite smooth, very nice being an ale.

 304 characters

Photo of JunkYardJake
3.17/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into tulip.
Pours amber in color with a small head. Smells very much of bourbon as the barrel aging really took to the brew. A little vanilla in the nose as well. Taste follows the nose with the vanilla coming out a little more but still very much a hot bourbon palate. The bourbon imparts a raw licorice and raisin taste. Mouthfeel is creamy and coats the mouth and throat. Not my favorite but I'm glad I had a chance to try it..

 450 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
2.45/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Huge thanks to wisconsinality for another Kentucky brew. Poured into my pint glass the beer is golden amber with about one finger of off white head. Not much head retention no lace.

The aroma is mostly bourbon barrel and sweet malt. That's about all I can pick up. So not real complex but close to style.

The flavor was rather dissapointing. Pretty much bourbon and more bourbon. I got no other flavors. It reminds me of a whiskey and water at the bar.

Thin and watery body. Light carbonation.

Overall nothing special at all. I actually had this on my wants at one time. I'm glad I never pulled the trigger.

 612 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip. 8.19% ABV, no date.

Thanks to Wisconsinality for breaking this out for his Kentucky tasting!

A - Pours out a clear golden light bronze color with a thin ring of bone foam. The color is great but the lack of any head is disappointing.

S - Pure oak bourbon aroma. Nothing else is really going on. The malts and hops are absent in aroma. A bit of cold refrigerator that's reminiscent of Sam's Club (no kidding) appears on the back end. Good oak and bourbon that's not too boozy/alcohol rich in aroma but definitely needs more malts in the back.

T - Oaky wood and straight bourbon flavor. No malts, no hops, just straight bourbon flavor. Interesting thing is it's not boozy alcohol at all. The bourbon barrel level is great...if there would be more complimentary flavors going on.

M - Thin and light-medium-bodied with a smooth and fairly crisp texture. Decent finish on it with out any hot alcohol.

D - The thin feeling texture and flavor give it easy drinkability but the bourbon becomes a little much towards the end with out any malts. Serious work is needed on this one.

 1,127 characters

Photo of mikeyv35
4.2/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Date: 06/17/2010
Type: 12oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2010
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

*First off, I would like to thank Kevin(BEERchitect) for hooking me up w/ this brew and giving me the opportunity to sample it.

Poured a golden straw color w/ light red hues and a 1/4 finger white bubbly head, that left a decent amount of lacing on the glass. Nose was of light whiskey, oak, vanilla, and maybe a touch of brown sugar. Almost smells like a very light Jack or Beam and coke. The taste was of oak, vanilla, and subtle bourbon whiskey that gives you enough for you to know it's there, but does not overwhelm. The mouthfeel is thin and crisp, but adequate as it brings more bourbon notes from the barrel aging forward. Drinkability? I could drink this all night, actually I am going to put another 12ozer in the fridge as we speak.

Kevin, I hope you don't mind trading me some more of this brew next week, because I am sure the 6-pack is not going to last long! Do seek this brew out if you enjoy whiskey BAing that is very mild and makes for an extremely drinkable brew.

 1,064 characters

Photo of buschbeer
3.9/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I poured into a pint glass to a finger of off white head. It is amber colored and clear. The aroma is bourbon and vanilla. I can also get whiffs of caramel malt. The taste is dominated by the bourbon. I get the oak/vanilla taste as well. This beer is a great example of what bourbon barrel aging can do to a beer. I am not a big whiskey drinker but I could see this as an alternative.

 384 characters

Photo of zhooker
2.99/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the tap into a standard pint glass. Not much foam up top, hence not much lacing either. Deep, dark golden-amber in color, and rather clear.

The nose is light but enjoyable. Wood and an oaky sweetness come out, like a very mild bourbon. There are some roasted malt scents as well. Frankly, I am a little underwhelmed.

The taste is even more underwhelming. Incredibly light. A well-rounded malt flavor with a tinge of sweetness, but not much bourbon or oak/wood on the tongue. Hops mild, hardly present. Disappointed.

I will admit, as a beer (in general), this is a good ale. But I'm thinking barrel-aged when I drink this, and compared to other barrel-aged ales (bourbon barrel in particular) this just tastes weak. Drinkable? Very. And it hides its 7-9% ABV well. But it really fails to deliver in the flavor department.

Overall, it feels like a Kentucky brewery trying to cash in on the Kentucky bourbon legacy, making it palatable and consumable, but really missing the amazing powers that barrel-aging can impart.

 1,025 characters

Photo of aubuc1
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in to a snifter.

Pours a light brown with a thin white head.

Smell is first smooth whiskey, then a mellow malty bread. Don't know if I should sip it or bite in to it.

Taste reminds me of a bourbon/vanilla creamshake. The vanilla is very pronounced after the bourbon.

Good mouthfeel and good drinkability for a bourbon beer.

 348 characters

Photo of LucienDeRubempre
3.44/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours a thin red with little head and lacing, and without the thick syrupy look that usually goes with bourbon barrel aged and high ABV beers in general. Lots of bourbon in the nose, some malts. Big bourbon taste, but leaves you a little disappointed in the malts department, too light and undemanding for the bourbon flavor. The low carbonation isnt balanced by a full mouthfeel, seems almost flat. Easily the most drinkable bourbon barrel aged, but is that really a good thing?

An interesting experiment, basically this is your session bourbon barrel aged ale. Overall for me the base beer, sort of a malty amber, is too weak and really takes a beating from the bourbon, leaving you with a watered down glass of bourbon.

 723 characters

Photo of mondegreen
3.4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a stemmed Cantillon glass.

A: Clear golden color with a moderate head. Fades quickly to a ring on the outside of the glass.

S: Bourbon supported by sweet malts. Honey and dark sugar linger in the background. In all, an interesting mish-mash, but pretty tame.

T: Leaves me wanting. The bourbon is pretty faint and the malts
leave a sweet residue on the palate. Nothing more to report. I was really hoping for huge bourbon notes from this one.

M: Medium bodied and well carbonated. Just about average.

D: Probably a little more drinkable than I'd like. I want my bourbon ales be challenging sippers. It may sound harsh, but this tastes like the lawnmower beer of strong ales.

 701 characters

Photo of RomaniIteDomum
3.97/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice orange color with a light head that stays mostly to the glass.

The nose on this is definitely the strong point. Lots of fresh bourbon in the nose with a kiss of hops.

The taste is a bit confused. The bourbon and the beer seem to be competing for palate time. Individually they are good, but if they could get along it would be outstanding.

The feel is light and bubbly. Nothing special.

This is a great nightcap beer and one of a couple of reasons I wished I lived in Kentucky.

 486 characters

Photo of crosamich
4.42/5  rDev +21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I was very impressed with this beer. Although a bit light (color and body) for the style, a decent light amber ale greatly improved with bourbon. The bourbon flavor was very much upfront but not overpowering or overly woody to knock you over the head. This would be a fantastic introductory beer for any drinkers that reject or assume they would reject a bourbon-aged beer. I gave a taste to several people in the standard beer-drinking group I was with and several ordered pints for themselves. granted, we had just visited a bourbon distillery the day before...

 563 characters

Photo of OneDropSoup
4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A staple at Vintage Estate's tap room, I was happy to see it turn up in my local bottle shop.

Poured into a snifter: Nice copper, honey color. Clear, with just the thinnest collar of head. Plenty of tiny, fast bubbles. Not the greatest composition, but I love that color.

Smells of light, sweet caramel with a woody bourbon ring. A little buttery, like butterscotch or buttered rum. The only drawback is that the alcohol smell is a tad sharp. Sweetness turns to toasty sugar, like creme brulee.

Taste is, again, lightly sweet & caramel, like cream soda, with a "round" bourbon character that's present but not too strong. Mild fruity finish & slight dryness in aftertaste.

Medium-bodied, creamy mouthfeel. A little viscous in "afterfeel."

I really enjoy this: very smooth & easy-drinking for a barrel-aged ale. I like the fact that you get the barrel flavor without it being super-heavy. Maybe it's the positive associations with VE, but this warms my heart a little. I can see how it might be too sweet for some, but that doesn't bother me. Time & place.

 1,060 characters

Photo of mantis3333
4.78/5  rDev +31.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a light copper color. Smells very sweet. Tastes a lot like Werthers original candy. I am usually not a fan of bourbon but I loved this beer. Well worth $12 for a 4-pack. I would love to try a draft of this. I would not drink this exclusively in a sitting though. 1-2 is good occasionally.

 295 characters

Photo of nova009
4.52/5  rDev +24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a bronze copper color reminiscent of pennies. Light carbonation with little to no head.

S- Wow fantastic smell! The bourbon really hits you from the start. Vanilla and oak follow with a fair amount of prominence.

T- Really complex and delicious flavors. The mixture of bourbon and vanilla make for a very smooth drink. Alcohol is present but is not overbearing.

M- Carbonation is light but balances well. An almost silky feel that makes you want to swish it around in your mouth for awhile.

D- Definitely one you want to sip on. A great one to drink before bed.

I love bourbon and good beer so this one was perfect for me. Definitely one of my favorites.

 668 characters

Photo of endincolorado
3.95/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an ultra-clear, pale copper with a decent, off-white head that settles quickly. Lacing is adequate.

Aroma is heavy on vanilla and slight woodiness, reminds me of whiskey and water. Some sweet malt aroma- no hops.

Flavor is also big on vanilla and is pleasantly reminiscent of bourbon, though also slightly of cream soda as well. A lingering sweetness and a slight hop presence can be found in the finish.

Mouthfeel is okay. Could be a little creamier, and less carbonated.

A drinkable beer, and one that might be a stand-by if not for the price tag. I'd heard this was amazing and I was skeptical. It's pretty good, but there are a lot better barrel-aged beers.

 672 characters

Photo of MbpBugeye
4.26/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this a while ago when I visited Lexington for a weekend. At the time I knew very little about beer and I thought bourbon barrel aging was something totally unheard of. I liked the beer then, lets see how it is now that I know more about beer.

A- Smallish head rises and fades super fast. This beer is way lighter than I thought it was going to be (I had it right from the bottle before). Its a super clear amber red beer.

S- STRAIGHT bourbon. Really not much else. Its still good as hell smelling though. Its basically toned down bourbon. Very very vanilla-y. There is also a lot of nuttiness.

T- Pure vanilla, oak, nuts and bourbon. This is quite good. This is so close to the taste of a scotch that its insane. Just way way less boozy and more drinkable.

M- Low carbonation which is typical for a barreled beer. It makes it creamy and smooth. It finishes surprisingly clean, only a tad bit oily and vanilla-y

D- Good stuff. Its better than I remember. I will have to procure more of this good ale from a small time brewery.

 1,034 characters

Photo of jkrich
3.4/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle with no freshness date. This one poured a deep, clear gold to copper - much like a new penny. There was no freshness date.

The odor was strongly sweet and alcoholic. Yes, it does smell like a sweet Kentucky bourbon.

The flavor is thickly sweet with vanilla highlights and butterscotch. There are also hints of coconut. Despite this seemingly cloying melange, the aftertaste is rather refreshing.

There is that thick, sweet mouthfeel that encourages slow sips. The carbonation is moderate.

If you enjoy bourbon as much as you do beer, this one is for you. This is a unique offering, though not one I would seek out. I will slowly sip this glass and call it a night.

 683 characters

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
82 out of 100 based on 565 ratings.