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

Not Rated.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel AleKentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

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565 Reviews
very good

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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.
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Reviews: 565 | Hads: 2,573
Photo of WunderLlama
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

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Photo of homebrew311
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Served in a shifter at sugar

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

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

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Photo of TVolt1
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
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.

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Photo of eclipse54
3.05/5  rDev -16%
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.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of mattcrill
3.03/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.02/5  rDev -16.8%
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.

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Photo of DanH83
3.01/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

It tastes like what it is. A cheap light ale aged for a short time in barrels. It's sticky sweet on the nose with a touch of bourbon. It has an oily and light mouthfeel.

It looks average, tastes okay if a little bit strange.

You can pass on this one with no remorse. It's not offensive, but I don't think I'll make it through the bottle, it's just not worth it.

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Photo of nickapalooza86
3.01/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to my little brother for picking this up in Ohio on his trip.

Pours a clear goldish amber.

Smell is very one note bourbon in front, middle and back.

Taste is the same bourbon all the way with a hint of vanilla and oak.

Mouthfeel is very thin, to thin for a beer of this alchol imo.

It is not bad, I will drink it all. It is just to one note for me. I know some bourbon lovers might like this but if so, why not just drink strait bourbon??

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Photo of uhcougar
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I bought this on a trip this summer. Poured it into a Jester King Tour Glass.

Copper Color,very little head but decent lacing. This bottle is dated
Dec 2011, but it has been cellared since June, and considering the high abv, it should have been able to hold up.

Smells like bourbon, but not like very good bourbon.

Taste is OK, pretty much bourbon and nothing else. Malt doesn't come through.

Not thin or heavy on the mouthfeel.

This beer is OK, but I am not super excited about trying to get it again. I think that my preference is for stouts aged in bourbon barrels and not this type of ale.

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Photo of burnheartsMKE
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I must admit this was the first time I had ever enjoyed a lighter-bodied ale that had spent any amount of time inside the guts of a bourbon barrel. I had unceremoniously consumed Lexington’s daily ale a few days earlier and I could only imagine, while drinking this bourbon ale, that the weaker beer was used as it’s base (I believe I am wrong). Thankfully, that bubbly malt beverage had no real inspiration therefore letting those beautiful barrels do the real man’s job.

In my mouth this bourbon ale sang with an almost artificial bourbon essence like a vocoder covering up the very real mistakes. High notes of cherry, coconuts and vanilla extract made this taste almost like bourbon & cream-soda cocktail.

Strange though, through all my negativities, I actually enjoyed it and could see it’s rightful place in a styrofoam cooler on some double-wide’s cement slab, The Derby blaring on a tiny old tube TV. Just me & a couple good old boys lazing on a sun-bleached couch.

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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.

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Photo of sweemzander
2.99/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12oz. bottle poured into a nonic. Thanks to BeerFMAndy for this one!

(A)- Pours a clear orange amber color that produced a thin film of white foam.

(S)- A sweet oaky vanilla and caramel/toffee/brown sugar sweetness. Tons of bourbon sweetness in this.

(T)- Very similar to the smell. Very sweet caramel/butterscotch character with a dry oaky vanilla. Some corn meal in the far background, but the bourbon definitely takes center stage.

(M)- A decent carbonation level. A very sugary sweet richness with obvious bourbon notes. A bit syrup-like in feel. Rather boozy too for the ABV.

(D)- An interesting take on the style. Very obvious with the bourbon barrel aging that totally takes over what the beer is and becomes the main focus of the beer itself. Decent, but way too sweet to have more.

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Photo of SGDJosh
2.99/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On draft at Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop on 9/14:

A - New penny copper in color with very little head. What head was there has dissipated quickly leaving a soft lace on top.

S - Bourbon, burnt sugar, malts.

T - Sweet oak, lots of vanilla and little hint of chocolate. Tastes like a cheap Bourbon to me...

M - Light-Medium Body, carbonation is nice but it doesn't carry the alcohol well.

O - Not a great combination of body, flavor, and booze. It's sweet but doesn't hide the alcohol with such a light body. Just not my thing.

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Photo of becktone
2.97/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance is poor. The color is very nice-crystal clear copper. The beer looks dead very little carbonation bubbles floating to the top. This beer's inability to form a head and or lacing and keep what little film it did form is sorely disapointing.

Wow! Strong aroma of burbon, almost overwhelming! I can't say that this is bad, however I am not really a fan of burbon. However, I saw this beer and decided to try it. No hop or malt aromas, just burbon and alcohol. It is a burbon barrel aged brew and it definitely smells like burbon so I guess it achieves what the brewers were going for.

Weirdest beer that I've ever drank. It tastes like burbon, though I've never had it I can assume that it tastes like burbon. I've had scotch though, and it reminds me of that. Lots of flavor, some butterscotch in there. As I Said before I am not a fan of burbon or scotch for that matter, ever since I drank a whole bottle of scotch in one night.

Can't really finish this brew, it tastes too much like scotch/burbon. Sure that's what the brewer was going for but I can't take it. It is light on the palate and almost flat, very low carbonation. Alcohol is obviously apparent. I will not buy this brew again. I can't abide the taste of scotch/burbon. Since I am reviewing this brew with an open mind and trying to judge it by the brewer's interpretation of an American Strong Ale aged in Burbon barrels I'll give it flat 3's across the board...except for appearance, all beer should be able to form and keep a head.

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Photo of JLSIV
2.95/5  rDev -18.7%

Poured from a bottle into a snifter glass, Bright clear copper color with a thin one finger head that dissipated very quickly, some lacing.

Aroma of oak and bourbon was extremely pleasant

Taste was bourbon up front, with an aggressive alcohol flavor for an 8.5 ABV brew. I have had trippels and quads that were more subtle. If you are looking for an old-fashioned boiler maker flavor, then this is for you.

Mouthfeel is thin and a little watered down.

Overall, I think this is a gimmicky attempt to attract the crossover high end spirit crowd. I am glad that I purchased this as a single, it just isn't my thing I guess. Again, some of the positives are the aroma and appearance…it is definitely an eye grabber for the initial aroma and color, I think there are better English Strong Ales out there. I gave it the mark I did based largely on appearance, aroma, and effort. Probably won't be trying again.

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Photo of kevanb
2.95/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured on tap at Lockdown Bar and Grill in Chicago, served in an 8oz snifter

Pours a nice amber color, hues of brown, ruby, honey and copper when struck by the light, opaque, no head, no lacing. The aroma is of cheap bourbon, some oak, mild vanilla, rich malt. The bourbon is really prominent in the nose, which is both impressive, as it really highlights the bourbon, but unfortunately, it's clearly a cheaper or lower shelf bourbon and isn't the most inviting. The flavors are sub par, predominately watered down bourbon, and again, not a great bourbon either, mild vanilla and nougat are also detectable, but this beer really just drinks like an oddly thick watered down bourbon, not pleasant. The body is okay, carbonation is good but not great, could have had a bit more, almost a bit syrupy, the beer is a bit thinner than I'd like, perhaps that enhances the watery aspect, it is rather smooth at the finish, however it's just not remarkable.

Verdict: It's an ambitious beer, that's for sure, it does a great job of highlighting the bourbon character, however, it must be highlighting a really awful bourbon. This is a beer with a lot of potential, but at present, it's average at the best, happy to have tried it, but in a vast spectrum of barrel aged beers, this one is pretty close to the bottom of the barrel.

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Photo of ElGeordie
2.95/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On a recent visit to Lexington I tried a pint of this at the hotel bar. Visually it was a lot lighter than I expected: light abmber with a half inch of dense white head. The noese was quite fruity too.
I wasn't sure what to expect on the first sip, and after a pint of kKntucky ale the first taste was a shock to the system. The bourbon flavour was overpowering, the hops were nowhere to be found -the sweetness of the bourbon just eliminated any bitterness that the hops may have imparted, almost like drinking a boilermaker. I'm pretty sure I pulled a face ! I did persevere with it and after a few more sips my palatte adjusted to the bourbon sledgehammer and I began to discern some familiar beer flavours. I'm glad I tried it but it wasn't one of my favourites.

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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.

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Photo of Hopfenpeter
2.95/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This beer was poured into my crystal mug and showed a clear old copper gold color with a white head building about one finger high. It dissipates fast and left no lacing
Smelling this beer, you will instantly recognize the bourbon whiskey flavors and the oak barrel wood notes.
Tasting the beer, you will be strongly introduced to those sweet bourbon notes. In the middle the bourbon is still dominant, but some malty notes are present. At the end, I only can guess the hint of some hop. For my taste the bourbon whiskey flavors are just to much and powerful. I see no balance in this beer and would not buy it again, but it might suit others.

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Photo of aasher
2.93/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I had to at least try this one since it's been all the rage in Indianapolis for the past couple months. It pours a crystal clear dark gold in color with a one finger off white head that dissipates into a white lacing around the glass. It smells of syrupy artificial bourbon, honey, and vanilla with a touch of alcohol. It's odd and where's the bourbon? This smells fake. It tastes of essentially watered down bourbon with honey and a touch of vanilla. The flavors are too mellow and blase overall. Why are people going crazy about this? The bourbon is so subtle and is really only present in the aftertaste. You would think a bourbon barrel aged ale would be able to give off more bourbon aromas and stronger flavor. Overall this beer is just average all around. It drinks light and is easy to drink but I don't think it's what they were going for and just didn't live up to the abv or attention that this has gotten in the midwest. That said, it does "taste good", being a honey ale in my opinion and is easy to drink. This beer just doesn't rate very well in my opinion.

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Photo of AgentZero
2.92/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Clear golden color, nothing real special going on here, small white head that dissipated rather quickly leaving no lacing.

S - Well, definately can smell the bourbon. Strong bourbon kick wrapped around carmel malts.

T - Not my think, the bourbon is very strong, but doesn't meld with the rest of the beer at all. Tastes like I'm drinking whisky and water, albeit not quite to that extent. No complexity to speak of, really lose the beer taste here. Sweet brown sugary taste, but outside of the bourbon, that's really about it.

M - The strength of the bourbon makes this beer seem a lot more watery than it really is, but don't really care much for the feel of this, I keep checking expecting to see ice in here.

D - It's not hard to drink, other than it tastes bad, so that one made me end this relatively quickly. Would not drink again.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
2.92/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

seems like anyone can drop beer in bourbon barrels and try to sell it as top market stuff.pretty mediocre to be fair.not much barrel presence at all in this beer.

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