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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.

567 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 567
Hads: 2,582
Avg: 3.63
pDev: 39.67%
Wants: 145
Gots: 722 | 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.
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Reviews: 567 | Hads: 2,582
Photo of canislupus88
4.48/5  rDev +23.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle, first time i poured into a glass and second time i decided it was good from the bottle too.

looks like beer, nothing really special about the appearance.

smells of bourbon, with a little vanilla, like vanilla extract in a way.

tastes of sweet delicious bourbon. very mild ale with sweet bourbon and a slight hint of vanilla extract, i can't stop drinking this, i downed the first one in less than 10 minutes it's so good. but the "ale" part of the beer is purely just the way it is fermented because it is very mild for the 8.1% abv, tastes like a boilermaker. my dad who only drinks coors light, harp, and molsons actually liked this beer.

this beer is really drinkable, if it weren't for the high alcohol i would have no problem pouring the entire 4 pack down me in one sitting (but it takes me a few hours haha) but then you're a little sick.

i would love to have this beer all the time, i think it is worth the $12 for the 4 pack.

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.47/5  rDev +23.1%
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.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.47/5  rDev +23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle gifted from friends. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" white head above the clear golden amber brew. Head is down to a small-bubbled film pretty quick, with average lacing. Aroma is sweet and bourbony. Taste starts with a moderate pale malt sweetness, oak and vanilla come on in the middle, and then fade into the close. Mouthfeel is wow smooth, and drinkability is much too easy. Still liking this brew.

11/30/05 - 4/3.5/4.5/5/5

12oz bottle obtained via trade with kmpitz2. Thanks for the opportunity...

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed 1/4" of off-white head over the clear light copper brew. Head is gone pretty quick, with sparse bubbly lacing, both kind of par for a barrel-aged brew. Aroma is extremely boozy, easily overpowering the malt sweetness found in the Kentucky Ale base brew. Taste is much more balanced than the nose was indicating, with the malt sweetness smoothly fading into the bourbon tinges, with vanilla and wood apparent, but not enough so as to overpower the other flavors. This is one of the smoothest barrel-aged brews I've had, and the drinkability is just as good. I know it's only 7%abv, but with a lighter brew to start, it would take a bit more finesse to not destroy the original beer. This one is great.

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Photo of RedlinerScott
4.46/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First had KBBA on tap at the wedding rehearsal dinner of my daughter and son-in-law three years ago. Only recently realized it's marketed in bottles as well. Pretty strong bourbony aroma and flavor with a kick from a higher alcohol content. Despite it's boldness KBBA goes down pretty smooth with no noticeable aftertaste. I've got a feeling you either really like this sort of thing or you really don't. Count me in!

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Photo of taters21
4.46/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

An exceptional ale with a considerable oakiness and subdued vanilla note from the bourbon barrel aging but not overpowered and has a nice smooth, creamy mouthfeel.

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Photo of RyanLehr
4.44/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The first time I tried this beer it was the first that I had tried of this style and it was amazing so naturally I kept getting it every so often. That is what my score of this beer reflects. Recently though, it has gone way downhill. I don't know if they changed the process of brewing or what happened, but the color isn't what it used to be as well as the aroma, but most of all the flavor isn't there at all anymore. I'm actually shocked that more people haven't noticed that this beer has lost it's quality.

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Photo of rypkr
4.44/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I normally only rate the beers I've had and do not write full reviews, but this one was too unique to not log.

Picked out 12 random beers from a local shop to be tried at home. This one was about 20% more expensive than most others but I wasn't sure why. Before trying I looked over the bottle for perhaps an extremely high abv or maybe even a rarer brewery (wasn't even sure who it was made by) but found little information on it.

appearance - medium amber. Cloudier upon first pouring but settled pretty clear. Very frothy and white head. Let settle before finishing pour.

Smell - my thoughts literally went caramel! No butterscotch! No wait toffee! Still not sure which specific aroma it is that's so dominant but its something sweet.

Taste - this is where my evaluation went whoa. Did I just drink a carbonated, low ABV whiskey? It's sweet and smooth, much more so than any Bourbon I'd ever sipped (but not a liquor drinker by any stretch) all the while being entwined in fizzy frenzy of carbonation. Warm alcohol expels briefly after each sip like an exhale after whiskey itself.

Mouth feel - has a soft creaminess to it. Medium to maybe slightly over medium carbonation.

Overall - truly unique. Had (whiskey/bourbon) barrel aged beers before but never one that picked up this much whiskey flavor. Certainly worth trying but couldn't see myself regularly sipping on this one when reaching for a beer. Would go well on a cold night in the mountains around a hunting camp fire.

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Photo of Bobdope
4.44/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I drank this on draught at Max and Erma's in the Cincinnati airport, Delta concourse. This beer had a very clear light look, it had a great bourbon smell to it. I went in for on and could not leave without having another. The bartender served this fine drink in a schafer glass.

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Photo of JonKru
4.44/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really liked this beer got it at the bar down the street. The beer had a very strong vanilla taste, it tasted almost creamy to me which I was just not expecting. I am not one that likes to drink milk but this beer really hit the spot. I got it right after a nice dinner and I was sittin at the bar sipping it and watching the baseball game.

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Photo of PorterLambic
4.44/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Arrives a clear and bright reddish brown. Minimal, nearly non-existent, head, just a faint ring.
Smell is malty with notes of vanilla, coconut, bourbon, smoke/char and an really well received brown sugar sweetness. Very complex and really well balanced.
Taste is exactly the same: sweet, malty, vanilla, light smoke, bourbon, coconut. Again, very complex and very well balanced.
Smooth, fairly rich, and it only gets better as it warms. The ABV hides well but there is a warming aspect that develops as it warms up stopping short of becoming cloying. I highly recommend this one.

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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...

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Photo of Lemke10
4.37/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I tried this on-tap at Conway and O’Rielly’s in Janesville, WI in mid 2012. Pours a golden amber color with a strong bourbon scent. Strong crisp taste of bourbon that is silky smooth that is barrel aged to perfection. I thought this was a lot better than what the ratings reflect.

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Photo of ryalmighty1
4.37/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle into Sam Adams specialty pint glass. Ya know, the pretty curved one!

A- Lightly carbonated, medium-light amber hue. Almost looks like good Savannah honey. Small, one finger head dissipating quickly into slight lacing.

S- Well, this was heaven to me, 'cause I love a good bourbon. So much sweet, caramel-vanilla bourbon smell, you would think you were smelling a well aged bottle of Four Roses Bourbon. Definitely smell oak and a tiny hint of smokiness.

T- Very sweet, very bourbon-esque. A mild American Ale with slight hop characteristics with an overload of vanilla, oak, caramel, fig and, of course, BOURBON! Very pleasant taste. It hides its ABV VERY well. Only complaint is it needs a more complex malt character as well as a little smokiness to balance the sweetness. Almost NO aftertaste.

M- As creamy as Sleeman's Cream Ale. Light, yet silky smooth. Goes down easily, if not a bit TOO easily. This beer is unexpectedly light on the tongue.

D- Oh it's great to drink, just not in large quantities. Its sweetness can be overpowering, and its ABV will leave you wondering what happened after only a few. It will sneak up on you quick with this one.

Overall, a very warm and tasteful beer for those who look for the unusual or unexpected. Great for relaxing in a chair and pairs very well with good cigars, especially Conneticut Shade wrapped stogies. Definitely worth trying, just don't expect this to be the next great session beer.

When I was home on leave Thanksgiving '09, I went to the Paddy Wagon in Richmond, KY and had this on tap. Wow, was it great! Something about it being on draft brought out all the subtle little tastes even more, such as the caramel and vanilla. Followed it up with a glass of Knob Creek Bourbon and man was I on cloud 9, and it wasn't from the ABV either. This beer is great to warm the soul and relax.

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Photo of sardonicone
4.37/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Sent into a beer mug.

Appearance: Light amber, 2 finger head that left nice lacing and a bubble ring around the glass.

Smell: Vanilla bean and scotch. Not overpowering, in fact it's a very mellowing scent.

Taste: Fantastic imho. Vanilla, scotch, almost nutty, something roasted, can't quite make out what, but I love it. Bitter on the back end.

Mouth: Medium, slightly over carbonated, the liquor burns on your tongue while you leave it there, burns on the back end and has a familiar warming sensation all the way down.

This has quickly become a favorite of mine, and is a routine member of my rotation.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +19.8%
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.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.34/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a snifter, the liquid is clear copper with light carbonation, the Head is small white and leaves little lace.

The smell is great, lots of a very nice bourbon, vanilla and caramel seem to dominate.

The taste is equally as good but a bit different. Toasted coconut seems to be the taste the bourbon brings not vanilla so much. Really a nice brew to sip. Lightly toasted caramel and some vanilla notes do come out but nothing like the coconut.

The mouthfeel is light body and light carbonation nothing to great here, but not a reason to put it down either.

The drinkability is very good I would love to see this in a store. Thanks to NFLMVP for this very cool find, Prosit MK

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.34/5  rDev +19.6%
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.

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Photo of mutt
4.33/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

being a fan of bourban in the winter months, i had to give this one a try. very nice beer. drank from a snifter, it was suggested and i had no clean pints, so what the hey, i use the snifter. great amber color, sweeter than i anticipated, but not to much. nice bourban aftertaste lingers. if you like bourban and you're reading this, you obviously like beer, so try this one

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Photo of SSEngelbrecht
4.33/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at HopJack's in Pensacola, FL.

A: Huge light tan head, beautiful orange - red color.

S: The oak and citrus are prominent.

T: The barrel is the first taste to hit the palate. Red fruit and light citrus are also present. More subtleties emerge as the beer warms.

M: The beer is light and crisp.

O: This was a well balanced beer, but not overly complex. This is a great example of the style, and I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of Dave128
4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on tap at pazzos pizza pub in Lexington. Poured into a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel snifter.

A - An average pour from the pitcher yields a finger of slightly off white head that dissipates pretty slowly into a thin disc on top of the beer. Clear dark amber in color, very similar to actual bourbon. Lace rings occur on the pitcher from every pour.

S - sweet caramel and bourbon on the nose. Alcohol is pretty well hidden for an 8 percent beer.

T - incredibly sweet and rich on the caramel malt. Bourbon is definitely on the forefront in the taste. Of the bourbon ales I have tasted, this is definitely the most bourbony. It is woody and delicious. The reason I am giving it a 5 on taste is that it is so unique and I have never had anything quite like it.

M - It is a little light bodied for the flavors present and doesn't really seem like that big of a beer, but carbonation is average to low which is spot on for this style.

O - It's not really that drinkable of a beer. Being a whiskey lover, I like it a lot, but it is hard to have a lot of it in one sitting since the flavors are pretty intense and the alcohol content is high. Like it or not, it is definitely a unique experience for anyone that tries it.

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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.

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Photo of StuyBeerGuy
4.32/5  rDev +19%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - This beer has a light copper color body with a lively white head and good retention and lacing. Makes one want to drink it.

Smell - Smell and strong. The bourbon flavors that stand out are a minimal and intriguing bite with caramel smells.

Mouthfeel - Smooth. Also, this is one of the few weak-points of the beer. I wish it was longer in the mouth. It is smooth and bubbly besides a small issue.

Taste - Delicious, all of the smoky flavors of a bourbon with sweet flavors. Goes well with the decor of a irish pub.

I'd suggest this beer to a friend.

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Photo of Broman
4.31/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Copper red tint under a minuscule head that disappears almost immediately to nothing. Fairly transparent but inviting.

Smell- Mostly sweet bourbon on the nose. Other less obvious undertones are noted. Aggressive smell lets you know what this beer is about. Not overpowering but up front and inviting. Combined with the visual a very inviting beer.

Mouthfeel- Carbonation sting is the first note. Light body on the palet. The carbonation sting gives way to a distinct alcohol flavor.

Taste- Up front are malts and bourbon. There is a sweet hint as if brown sugar. The high alcohol content is apparent in the aftertaste. Overall not exceptionally complex but a very tasty beer.

Overall- Great beer. Definate try. I wouldn't advise consuming many due to the alcohol content. Not a beer for a new beer drinker, but one that could sway some to the light of good beer choices.

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Photo of mobyfann
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Paid $9.99 for a growler from The Party Source...

Pours a clear amber colored base with a medium white head, great retention and minimal lacing. The aroma is very subtle in Elijah Craig bourbon and sweet caramel malts.

The taste is all about the smoothness when looking at a beer this strong, it reminds me of a Yuengling lager, made with enough quality ingredients to be noticeable but not pretentious; yet deliver as a true winner (despite the usual overpowering of heavier beers). Low carbonation and good head retention make this one of the smoothest beers east of the Mississippi.

Final Thought: An absolute stunner of a session beer, best in class for style!

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Photo of kmpitz2
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was a great beer experience for me. Poured from the tap into a snifter. The head was good sized, about 0.75 inches, but fell before finishing the glass to almost nothing. Beer was a nice dark amber color; it let light through, but with resistance. It didn't smell as strong as I had expected from something out of a bourbon barrel. Smelled slightly sweet with the bourbon coming though. The taste was nice; heavily influenced by the bourbon barrel, with flavors of caramel and oak, with a slight sweetness that I can't place. I didn't have time to see how it progressed as it warmed, though it was served chilled, and not cold. Mouthfeel was a bit lighter than I would like, but since it's the stock ale as a base, I'm not surprised. The lacing was absolutely beautiful after finishing the glass. It was not overly heavy, but coated the entire snifter from the top down. I will not pass this one up when I find it offered again. Worth trying if you come across it.

Edit: I went back and revisited this one to see what I come up with after reviewing for a while. The bourbon flavors play very heavily in this one iving it great vanilla, almost coconut tones. I think this is a much better beer than I gave it credit for before.

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
82 out of 100 based on 567 ratings.