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

2,480 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,480
Reviews: 611
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 18.48%
Wants: 138
Gots: 645 | FT: 8
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: 2,480 | Reviews: 611
Photo of PretzelCity
3.23/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to Grafter for this one. Poured into my pint glass a nice golden color with a solid two inch head that slowly dissipated. The smell was a little weak with the bourbon overpowering the ale despite the bourbon not being that intense. The taste was more of the same. The bourbon had a bigger presence than the ale itself. It tasted to me like the bourbon used was better than the beer they aged. Overall not a great beer but I'd try it again down the road.

Photo of dnoahg
3.23/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I find this brew to be exceedingly average. It is not much different than a lot of the sweet beers I've tried, but with only the hint of the Bourbon to differentiate it. There was no sparkle from the carbonation, or noticeable bitterness.

First, it pours a nice amber color, with a small head that rapidly disappeared (used a 16 oz. tulip glass). There was little to no lacing. You could detect the Bourbon smell, but it wasn't overpowering, and after a while it was barely noticeable.

The taste was sweet....something. I don't know what exactly. I didn't taste vanilla, maybe it was caramel, but it didn't strike me that way. It was drinkable. Not cloying, but not very exciting.

Photo of jwhawkins81
3.22/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Aroma - Vanilla, wood, and a hint of sweet fruit

Appearance - Poured a big light tan head that dissipated to just a thin film and collar. The beer was a very light golden yellow.

Taste - Almost the same as the nose. Slightly buttery flavor surrounded by sweetness with a hop bite at the end.

Notes - This seems to pale in comparison to the draft versions I've had before. The draft versions I remember are full of buttery smooth flavors while this seems a watery dull version of that. I hope this was just a bad bottle or batch.

Photo of cvm4
3.22/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours a clear amber in color with a thin, one finger head that dissipates quickly.

S - Predominantly bourbon with sweet vanilla malts backing it up.

T - Sweet oak and vanilla. I hate to say it, but cheap or watered down bourbon is pretty much how I see it.

M - Thin, but then again it is an ale. Low carbonation as well.

O - It was nice to try. I won't buy again simply because it blurs the lines, if I wanted watered down bourbon then I'd reach for something on the low shelf, not high shelf.

Photo of GoldHorde
3.21/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I favor my memories of bourbon - hey, even the lost ones! I am favoring this new craft of using old bourbon casks/barrels to enhance beers. Usually this crafty enhancement is pronounced on the sturdy styles of beers: stouts and porters. This particular one is applied on a what could be categorized as a Brown or Belgian Ale style. The amber color predicts nothing of it's flavor. Someone mentioned vanilla - oh yeah - like a VANILLA WOMP. It is predicted in the aroma BUT it kicks you with a BIG Li'l Abner vanilla boot. The flavor is WAY TOO unusualy present in the beer to be ignored as a character when it is too busy banging you over the head with a mallet. It is like when you have a restaurant chain franchise meal and notice a preservative flavor that reminds you it isn't real food. The vanilla masks any memory of bourbon. IF YOU LIKE vanilla Coke - THIS is the beer for you. The beer is just TOO vanilla for me.

Photo of maximthegreat
3.2/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Poured 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Poured a light golden color. A little head.

Smells are mostly bourbon. Slight caramel coming through on the nose also.

Lots of heat from the bourbon and not much else honestly. There is a slight sweetness, but not enough to balance the bourbon.

Good carbonation, but felt a little watery and thin.

Overall, not a beer I would buy again. Nothing offensive, but nothing that makes it interesting either. Plenty of better beers on the shelves.

Photo of Ragingbull
3.19/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Copper color with no head and moderate prickle. Heavy bourbon nose. The attack is pretty smooth. The bourbon presents itself about halfway through the sip/flavor. Once the bourbon strikes it really dominates the flavor. That being said, the beer finishes surprisingly clean. The mouthfeel is heavy and malty. This is much better than other liquour infused/liquour styled beers that I have had, but it isn't stellar. I love bourbon and I love beer, but mixing the two together I am thinking might not be my style. I might be to much of a traditionalist. I am glad to have tried it however.

Photo of icefisherman
3.18/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

well thanks go out ot greggy for this one it looks like beer great beer smells to me like a cheap chardony wine yuk! but taste like some one poored in a half shot of jim beam with like some medioker mild/amber but all in all not the worst i have had but kinda un impressive

Photo of ABOWMan
3.18/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

The ale poured a rich golden color with perfect clarity. With some effort, I was able to obtain a creamy off white head of relatively course bubbles which dissipated rapidly. No lacing was evident as I drank this aromatic ale.

Speaking of aroma, this ale wreaks of bourbon and vanilla with some burnt wood smokey notes to finish. What's lacking is any faint aroma of anything beer, like malt for instance. Close your eyes, or keep them open, and waft a smell and you'd think you were sniffing a high ball.

The flavor is bourbon upfront, charred wood, vanilla and brown sugar. The lack of any beer flavor ruins what would could have been, a decent brew.

The mouthfeel is thin and watery. It seems almost impossible to be so thin given the ABV and intensity of bourbon flavor. As a result, drinkability is average, but why bother given the price for a four pack. There are plenty of good bourbon barrel ales out there. Don't waste your money on this one.

Photo of Lothore
3.18/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A- Pours a golden color with creamy, off white head.

S- The nose has lots of bourbon and wispy bready notes but seems thin and one dimensional.

T- Light bread, vanilla, some bourbon but it's all pretty faint.

M- Medium bodied with ample carbonation.

D- This brew wasn't extremely interesting to me and seemed like one that didn't benefit too much from barrel aging.

Photo of IcarusComplex
3.18/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Alright, I need to get back to reviewing before I start to lose the vocabulary for it...I haven't posted my 300+ beer journal notes to the site yet(which I stopped taking, being well past 800 tastings now), and I've never had a laptop on hand at the exact moment I'm tasting a brew. First time for everything right? So here we go: Tasted at Riverside Market Cafe in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From bottle to Guinness-style pint glass.

Appearance: Even an aggressive pour fails to produce any head, just spatterings of fine white mist, with a constant outer ring that displays subdued, champagne-like activity. Visible carbonation remains steady and slow along glass's edges, none at the center of the brew. Absolutely no lacing, but almost displays legs if stirred, though it lacks the colour to make it prominent. The colour is actually quite nice, a highly refined clarity with a brilliant gold as its base that picks up lively orange and deeper, woodier amber shades in varying light.

Scent: A bit lacking, for what was expected. Grows with warming, but not significantly enough; it makes you hunt hard for every note. White bread and caramel malts, alcohol, sweet cream corn, oaky vanilla notes, fizzy watery lager scent is too prominent, and there is a long last bit of boozy esters, almost more brandy-like than bourbon.

Mouthfeel: Pretty decent. Light to-medium, perhaps leaning more into medium with warming. Some slight viscosity, just enough to coat the tongue, and a small amount of creaminess along the tongue's edges and mouth's roof. Carbonation feels lazy and lifeless, however. Has the rare character of actually dimishing in mouthfeel as it warms, rather than gaining richness. Very strange.

Flavour: Okay, this department is a bit of a mess, but a mess with major potential. Unfortunately, as of current this beer is wholly dominated by a decadent and entirely unrepeatable buttercream taste. Buttercream and sweet cream of corn, and artificial tasting, Mexican-brand vanilla extract, a high fructose corn syrup backing, mountain-region American lager taste, mediocre amber ale notes....really, corn and sugars are all over the place. I would guess this beer contains a significant amount of corn grit in the mash, alongside being aged in bourbon barrels that previously contained a tipple that was highly corn-heavy. Also, not sure what kind of char those barrels boasted, but I'm guessing it wasn't too dark, because this has none of the desired, earthy wood edge to its taste that you would look for in bourbons of bold character. Just this light-toasted vanilla aspect that feels forcibly inserted. Almost no boozy bite though. The diacetyl-like, heavy butter essence ensures that, but in the most vulgar of ways. It's a shame, too, because in controlled amounts all of these flavour elements could be highly desireable. The finish is longer than you'd like it to be, and continues on a cream and sugar note rather than anything involving hops, dryness or booze.

Overall: This is an okay beer to give a spin if you're a bourbon nut or an oak-aging nut, BUT with a caveat: try it knowing it is an extreme example of results of the style, and expect that you may not enjoy it enough to finish it. If you go in with that expectation, and find it at a fair price, you can forgive yourself for the possible drainpour and still feel like you overall benefited from the experience. It has certainly expanded my understanding of what bourbon aging can do to a beer. I just won't likely be having it again, unless it's with rosemary rotisserie chicken and mash. With the right food this could actually complement quite well. Hell, this may even be a fun craft brew to go full-taboo with and drop a shot of woody, smoky, harsh bourbon in to balance the flavour and imbalance your sobriety. However you try it, do it responsibly! Cheers!

Photo of JunkYardJake
3.17/5  rDev -13.9%
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..

Photo of kojevergas
3.16/5  rDev -14.1%
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 DJoe
3.15/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Meh. Had from a bottle, poured into a pint glass. There was very little about this that could be called distinctive other than the moderate vanilla flavor. Never tasted any bourbon or oak traits.

Photo of TheBullsHorn
3.15/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This beer has all of the typical characteristics of an English Strong Ale without any depth at all. It's fairly true to the style with a strong malty backbone,booziness, and light English hops. It fails to deliver any depth and and is fairly one note especially for a beer aged in bourbon barrels.

Photo of Avool1960
3.15/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I had recently discovered bourbon barrel aged brews at the Yards brewery in Philadelphia Pa. Seems to be made just for me. This Kentucky brew is a wonderful tasting beer. The ale is light and flavorful with the the bourbon and oak flavors coming thru to please. It is smooth, and has no bad after taste. It's like a cocktail for real men! Try it.

Photo of azdback
3.15/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to BgThang for this extra! Poured into a pilsner glass. Bright, clear orange color. A lot of carbonation bubbles. Head is almost a bright white and quite frothy. The lace is sticky and stays the night with us.

Smell is almost all bourbon. There are some sweet malts that poke their heads up. I do also get a hint of booze.

The taste is all bourbon. It almost tastes like a bourbon flavored Sasparilla. Very sweet and hollow.

The mouth is as I have already explained. Very watery. Carbonation falls off quite a bit.

Once again I want to thank BgThang for this. I wasn't overly swayed to the good or the bad on this one. I did like the bourbon flavors, but they almost tasted like they were artificial.

Photo of litheum94
3.13/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle. August 18, 2011 stamped on the bottle. I can only assume this is a best by date, which seems a little odd for a barrel aged beer.

P: Clear amber body. Dirty white head, one finger thick. Settles down to a patchy cover with large bubbles.

A: Jack Daniel's whiskey aromas. Toffee and sweet taffy. Burnt caramel. Oak. Spicy hops. There's an almost artificial aroma. Buttered popcorn?

T: Vanilla, oak and bourbon flavors. The bourbon is a little hot, giving the impression that the barrels weren't of the highest quality. Some buttery malts. Cola flavors on the finish. No hop profile.

I vacillated between liking this beer and loathing it. It has some nice flavors, but the bourbon portion of it just tasted artificial and cheap. It was an interesting style to barrel age, and I have one more bottle, so my opinion may change. But at this point, I'm not overly impressed.

Photo of mdaschaf
3.12/5  rDev -15.2%
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 Georgiabeer
3.12/5  rDev -15.2%
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 jsh420
3.1/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

best by march 08 2012

pours clear gold with a 1 finger white head that faded fast and left some spotted lacing

smell - the first thing i thought of was a candy my friend makes called tutti fruiti - sweet candy malt vanilla some oak

taste is nice - a little sweet and cloying - no real bourbon flavor - all malt vanilla and oak

mouthfeel - medium body with good carbonation - a bit sticky

overall - for the price this beer is a fail and for being aged in bourbon barrels this beer not only falls short but lost yards - however the flavor was pleasant - i will enjoy the rest of the 4 pack but would never buy this again

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.1/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Skuter for sharing this one at his UCLA vs. USC viewing party.

Pours a clear orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Tiny dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, bourbon, wood, and a distinct funky aroma. Taste is much the same but no funk comes through in the flavor. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty average beer that is a pretty poor example of a barrel aged beer.

Photo of skyout
3.1/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - Clear amber color with very little head.

Smell - Strong smell of bourbon and caramel. Excellent notes that aren't found in too many other beers of the same style.

Mouthfeel - Extremely smooth feel however not overly bubble. It leaves one wishing for a little more carbonation.

Taste - This is one of the most important and unfortunately one of its weakest characteristics. The taste does not linger and leaves one desiring a little more. However there are very nice hints of the bourbon at the end.

Overall, I gave this beer a 3.00 because while the appearance and smell are fantastic, however the mouthfeel and short finish leave both ale and bourbon lovers wanting more.

Photo of raleigh_blue
3.1/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bottle with no date. Picked up a few months ago in NOLA.

A: Aggressive pour into Iron Abbey snifter leaves a thin head with no lacing. Clear golden amber.

S: Hints of caramel and malts. Not much here. No Bourbon whatsoever.

T: Somewhat pleasing vanilla caramel and malt. Again, like the nose, zero bourbon. Is very hot - does not disguise the abv whatsoever.

M: A little thin but with good carbination .

O: A poor mans BBA ASA. I would not buy it again but its not awful.

Photo of JAFoley
3.09/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - crystal-clear pale amber body with bubbly white head.

S - smoky bourbon musty and sugary

T - subdued bourbon and spices amidst tangy fruits. Flavors are weak and drop off fast

M - medium/light body with moderate/light carbonation.

O - not a beer I'd drink again. Weak flavors and body, not a big fan.

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
83 out of 100 based on 2,480 ratings.