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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.

575 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 575
Hads: 2,623
Avg: 3.62
pDev: 39.78%
Wants: 147
Gots: 761 | 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.
View: Beers (18) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 575 | Hads: 2,623
Photo of Spider889
3.44/5  rDev -5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had this at Winking Lizard last month as part of a tasting of this, the parent Kentucky Ale, and the Woodford Reserve Bourbon. I will be adding my notes of the bourbon itself to this review as I think they are pertinent.

Served with an excellent presentation - a place mat has descriptors of each beer and the bourbon, pictures of each, and a place to put each glass (which included a snifter and tasting glass I got to keep). Very nice presentation.

This is a darker version of the regular Kentucky Ale. As expected there was little head. A ring of soapy bubbles sat atop the beer. I got minimal spotty legs of lace on the snifter. Still crystal clear, they clearly are filtering this beer, it is a nice warm hue of garnet.

The aroma begins with subtle hints of honey. The bourbon is very inviting but strong as hell. Vanilla abounds and makes the aroma very sweet. Some wet oak shows up as the beer warms, along with some light char.

The flavor wasn't bad at all, though the thin, inferior beer that went into the barrels meant that no amount of barrel aging could make this beer world class. I really wanted heavier malt and a stronger oak presence. If I had to guess, this beer is aged in fresh barrels, but for a very limited amount of time.

Overall it was not a bad brew. The alcohol isn't very well hidden, and is warming all the way down. But the beer itself was creamy and smooth. I still wouldn't buy this again, but it's worth a try if you must - just promise me not to pay for the non barreled version.

My notes on the bourbon:
Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Lots of vanilla. Very smooth on the palate, but strong as hell going down. A healthy burn stings the throat. The nose is biting with alcohol on a deep inhale, but in doing so I could detect a nice honey component, and deep grainy oak.

I'm not a bourbon drinker normally, but I actually kind of liked this. It's sad to say, but the straight bourbon was the best part of the tasting I did at Winking Lizard!

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Photo of Vdubb86
3.8/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter

Thanks to boxcar01 for the beer and glassware to match

This beer pours a clear golden orange color with faint residues of white on the surface. The aromatics are quite profound. The obvious aromas are bourbon and oak with hints of butterscotch and maple in the background. The off smells came from what could be interpreted as some tart white grapes, which IMO had no business being there. The flavors are also on the complicated side. There are the aforementioned bourbon, oak and butterscotch, but in addition there are strong notes of cinnamon with hints of vanilla. The body of the beer is mostly bourbon, in fact it actually tastes mostly like drinking a complicated yet super weak bourbon. The finish of the beer is interesting it leaves the taste of raspberries in my mouth and I have no idea why. The mouthfeel is a bit watery for the strong boozy bourbon character of this beer. I enjoyed drinking it. It was surprisingly intense, but manageable.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had this beer dozens of time if not hundreds and i really enjoy it but it loses points for having no consistency from bottle to bottle or keg to keg. This bad boy varies in flavour a LOT

Pours A reddish amber with a decent amount of head. The head on this pen dissipates but leaves a thin layer of white bubbles across the surface. The aroma at it's best is very strongly of vanilla. Smetimes the vanilla is not very present and there is a strong oakiness on the nose. Taste is similar. The base beer is not very flavorful so the beer basically just takes on the characteristics of the barrel. When it's at it's best there is a ton of vanilla and a nice background of oak. The beer is always sweet and rich and creamy almost with a solid mouthfeel and hearty drinkability but the flavour profile is what varies.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Big thanks to VDubb86 for finally gettin' this off my Wants!

Kentucky + Bourbon + beer = yes. This thing pours a clear, bright amber topped by a minor bit o' white foam. The nose comprises oak, caramel, whiskey, butterscotch, and a tiny touch o' vanilla. The alcohol hangs over the surface, both a come-hither eying and a staunch admonition. I like a challenge. The taste refuses to deviate from the smell, with the bourbon-draped oak coming in at full force. A sly hint of maple syrup nudges the 'buds' arms, rather than just coming right out and introducing itself. I like it. The body is a slender medium, with a light carbonation and a fluid feel. Overall, a nice little sipper, something to be enjoyed, though rapture remains aloof.

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Photo of Vierenner
4.5/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fantastic beer. Had many times on tap and in bottle form before writing this review. You have to want to taste vanilla in your beer to like it. It's buttery smooth and unique -- I wish I had another beer to compare it to but I've found none. There's a magic formula here that will be duplicated ... eventually.

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Photo of srandycarter
3.62/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Deep honey, thin white head, very clear brew.

S - WOOD! Wood, bourbon. Well there was wood and bourbon too.

T - Taste follows smell. Some malt but not much. Like a carbonated light whiskey.

M - Good carb, balance is a joke.

D - One is enough per session.

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Photo of beefnbarley
4.08/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh, poured a light amber color. Had a light colored head that quickly fell. Great aroma of reminent bourbon from barrel. Vanilla notes from the barrel. Slight alcohol in the nose as well, but not fusel. Easy drinking, pleasant beer. Medium-light body and well balanced. Finishes slightly sweet. Very drinkable.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
2.8/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

This review is going to be brief, as there is very little I can add to the testament of BA 'radioscooter' in the review below this one. It does smell like a Budweiser with a half-drop of Bourbon in it, and it does taste like a Bud Light with a half-drop of Whiskey, to boot. It also looks fairly pedestrian, which is apt, I guess. Wimpy mouthfeel.

I differ from him in that, a) I had not had the beer at anytime prior, so, b) I did not have a fond recollection of it, and, c) I was more irked than BA 'radioscooter' over the absolute banality of the brew.

My bottle was uber-special too. It was 'Brewed Exclusively for the 2011 World Equestrian Games'.

To be honest, the label looked dangerously close to copyright infringement of 'Killian's Red'. Not that I give a damn about such things...

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Photo of radioscooter
3.37/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Vintage Estate some months back and liked it enough to remember to pick up a bottle this last trip (yesterday)

Bottled version does not do my memory of it justice.

Appearance is just like someone splashed a few drops of Bourbon into a Bud. Sadly, the taste is pretty much like someone splashed a few drops of bourbon into a Bud light - or to be more accurate, probably it's the Lexington pale ale.

There's a vanilla, caramel, maltiness there, which I should like, given my proclivities. But, this is really not up to par with some of the heavier stuff. I guess it's a bit like the beers that put the fake lime or chili or whatever in it. Maybe this is a ballpark version of the Bourbon aged stuff that is out there. Though to be fair, there is a nice syrup quality to the mouthfeel and it's not a full-on fake flavor deal. Plus the high ABV is well-disguised, though also well-telegraphed by the bourbon taste. The aftertaste/finish is pleasing. Not as boozy a feel as you'd expect. Mellow.

Honestly the idea that someone just poured a light beer into a glass that still had some Kentucky bourbon in it is hard to shake or get past.

Not one I'd get again. But not offensive in any way. The mellowness and lack of any real problems is what made me give it a b-. If you're working your way through the bourbon-modified beers, this should go on your list.

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Photo of MrDanno96
2.55/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Pours a deep golden color with hints of red. A thin white head encircles the edges of the glass with some spotty lacing.

S: Strong aroma of bourbon and that's pretty much it. Notes of vanilla come through along with the strong booziness of bourbon.

T/M: Meh. All you can really taste is bourbon. This typically would not be a problem, but it really just tastes like really watered down bourbon - no real beer character at all except for its medium, slightly carbonated body.

D: I did not really enjoy this to be honest. I don't think this is a good base beer to age in bourbon barrels - pale ale and bourbon don't really mix. It just tastes like someone took a session beer and poured several shots of bourbon into it.

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Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.07/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: golden amber in color, poured into a flute with a very minimal pure white head. little to no lacing to speak of.
S: holy sweet bourbon. the smell is so intense, and i love it. vanilla and toffee notes mingle, but its really just huge SWEET bourbon. i cant emphasize enough how strong it is. the toffee thats mixed in makes an excellent second fiddle, but i could see how some may see it as too much.
T: pretty pleased with the full flavor. sugary bourbon, toffee, cloves, delicious. vanilla bean.
M: its lighter than i initially thought it would be. it comes across almost a little watery, as much as i hate to say it. not up front, but in the backend it lets up just a little bit. flavor is still there, maybe a
little more carbonation would buff it up a little bit.
D: its delicious, and i love this take on a bourbon barrel beer, so id drink them till they were gone. unfortinately i only have one!

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Photo of Auslander
3.36/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured a 12 ounce bottle into a snifter. It is the color of honey. Bone white head does not last long. Almost no lacing.

Smells of bourbon and muted vanilla.

Taste- Wow. Nice mixture of vanilla, honey, and mellow bourbon. I like this. It is a worthwhile beer.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.3/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: A clear golden amber body with orange highlights and a creamy (although it makes a fizzy sound in the glass) mostly lasting head.

S: No joking around when it's said this is a bourbon barrel ale. Strong aroma of bourbon along with sweet vanilla & subtle malts.

T: This one taste just as good as it smells. Upfront bourbon flavor followed with caramel malts and sweet vanilla. A very warming finish.

M: A smooth and creamy beer with a medium body and high carbonation.

D: One of my favorite beers for the summer, but I drank 3 of these tonight just relaxing around the house. Great beer.

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Photo of Lothore
3.18/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

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Photo of sweemzander
2.99/5  rDev -17.4%
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 treyrab
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A friend of a friend brought a four-pack of this up from Kentucky when he came up for New Years Eve last night. I had never had it, or heard of it, so I was anxious to try it. As we sat and chatted about all the bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, I sipped this out of a Stella Artois gold-rimmed glass...

A: Pours a crystal clear gold with a spritzy white head. The beer was as clear as can be with no signs of priming yeast or other particles in the beer. Fine carbonation kept a head going for a little, but the head was very thin and finally faded after a few minutes.

S: The smell starts with a nice whiff of sweet bourbon. The bourbon is soft, however, and you can tell this is not going to be a bourbon bomb. Sweet scents of vanilla, oak, and bourbon reel you in before some finer scents of caramel come into play. Not an overly complex nose, but the bourbon and vanilla scents are rather nice.

T: The taste is again sweet bourbon, vanilla, and some pale malts. The taste is not very complex, as it is predominantly bourbon, but it is still very nice and blended rather well. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, and pale malts.

Overall, I was very glad to try this beer. It is not very complex, but if you are looking for a straight-forward bourbon beer on the lighter side, this is a great option.

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Photo of TheSarge
3.97/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours decently with a light tan head that dissipates rather quickly into a thin film of lace. The body is copper in color and is very clear.

The aroma is mostly bourbon with subtle hints of vanilla and toffee.

Taste wise it's earthy, woody, vanilla and bourbon.

The feel to this brew is a bit warming, oily, and lightly carbonated. Overall a uniquely flavored beer and something nice to sip on.

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Photo of alkemy
4.16/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This pours a clear light amber with only about a finger of head and minimal lacing. The aroma is strong with bourbon. That may be a bad choice of words. By strong, I mean it's the dominant scent. Overall the aroma is not terribly strong. I'm a fan of this because I really don't want to be overpowered with bourbon. There's also wood and vanilla. The taste begins with a bourbon and vanilla note. There's some caramel malts, but the bourbon and vanilla reappear and linger after each drink. It's in this malty middle that an actual "beer" taste is most present. This is incredibly smooth and easy to drink. Alcohol is completely muted. I was shocked that 8.19% was listed on the bottle. Mouthfeel is a bit thin, but it works well for this style. I'd gladly have this one again.

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Photo of beerman207
4.2/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Saw a single of this at Jungle Jims in fairfield, oh so I decided to give it a whirl. Always see it as a 4 pack and wasn't that committed.

A: pour results in a fluffy white head that disappears quickly. Beer is light brown and very clear - lots of bubbles going on in the brew

S: Wow - vanilla, bourbon, sweet malt, wasn't expecting this much in the nose - good

T: bourbon, vanilla, oak, even coconut? Wow, this is a good beer imo. Not bad for Lexington Brewing!

M: Mild carbonation - easy to drink

D: All night. Even at 8% this is a good beer for a small session.

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Photo of Groomsy
3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle with "bottled on" date of Nov. 15 2010. Served in a snifter.

Appearance: Poured a very transparent and clear light red/amber, basically the same as a Kentucky Ale. However, there was zero head (only a collar of bubbles) and zero lacing. Occasional carbonation bubbles rise, more so when the glass is swirled for agitation. When I first poured it, I thought I got a bad batch, or maybe I just didn't pour it vigorously enough. Beautiful color, though.

Aroma: Big hit of sweet bourbon on the nose is immediate, followed by some vanilla, woody accents, and a subtle malt backing from the Kentucky Ale. I wish they could make a candle after this beer; I would keep it lit in my house all day long, haha. The bourbon and vanilla become much more pronounced as the beer warms. Very promising aroma for this one.

Taste: The bourbon takes the largest part in taste; very sweet with a substantial amount of warming from the alcohol. As the beer warms, more of the malt flavors emerge, as well as the mentioned hints of vanilla and smoky wood. Maybe a little too sweet for its own good, but certainly a great-tasting beer to sip on slowly and enjoy. My only issue with the taste here is that it could be a little more "together"; at certain points, especially after the beer warmed, I felt like the bourbon and beer taste were playing tug of war: Bourbon at the front, beer in the back. Other than that, very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: More or less the same as regular Kentucky Ale, minus the carbonation (which Kentucky Ale didn't have a lot of in the first place). A little too thin for its own good, but suitable for the "sipping" nature of the beer.

Drinkability: The alcohol, although noticeable, is fairly well masked by the other flavors in the beer, and this makes it a dangerously drinkable beer. The sweet malts and bourbon characteristics make it a sweet and delicious dessert beer. That being said, if you drink more than two of these, you'll be feeling it; the alcohol creeps up slowly.

Like others, although this beer is great, I wish that Alltech would use a different base beer to age; Kentucky Ale isn't bad, but it's certainly not what one would think to use as an aging candidate. The aging process really stepped up the beer's game substantially, though. I'm proud to drink this and would go after it again.

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Photo of craytonic
3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: clear bright amber with a nice off-white head. Guess they don't make the cool bottle pictured on BA anymore; came in a 12oz-er.

Smell: sweet almost milky creaminess with some faint bourbon

Taste: First sip tastes like whiskey and water (not necessarily a bad thing). After that, it I get tons of brown sugar, caramel and vanilla with a nice smooth bourbon backdrop and a bit of french oak.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly smooth and creamy; a bit light which really just bumps the drinkability up.

Drinkability: Had to make myself not gulp it. This one isn't incredibly complex and is not a "big" beer (despite the unnoticeable 8.19% ABV) but it is tasty and enjoyable. That said, there is always a bit of branch and bourbon element to it.

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Photo of TheWildflower
3.87/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Really smooth brew with enought bourbon that you know its there. Slighly sweet from bourbon, but not heavy or liquor like. Lighter version of BBC Bourbon Barrel stout that can be too heavy and bourbon like, which I've thrown up before. Its not pretty. Totally poundable, easy to drink, with some nice bourbon touches. The original brew is probably week as hell, I dont get much "beer" from this one.

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Photo of Ryan011235
3.35/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap in a 10oz snifter at The Pub Polaris on 11/11/10

Clear; hues of amber & brown. Not much foam, just a collar & some bubbles.

Smells mostly of grains & some caramel. Subtle earthy hops; slightly floral. Warmth brings out vanilla in the nose.

Actually tastes pretty balanced. Not too bitter but it has an ok kick. Between the bourbon & hops it's nippy enough. Caramel, hints of candied malt & vanilla. Notions of wood. Not very sweet - fine by me.

Medium body with average carbonation. Not particularly slick or hot. Kind of tingly on the finish. Bourbon, vanilla & oak linger.

This is nothing I would get excited over but it reasonably solid & an easy sipper.

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Photo of Frothboss
4.78/5  rDev +32%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Appearance is very zesty and fast at first pour with a thick two finger off white head that quickly bubbles away to a loose layer fed by the constant bubbles dancing to the top. This is very active and as exciting to watch as the horse races, it slowly loose its quick carbonation and settle down on the warm up lap. Light bronze in color, clear and consitent looking.
Smells very sweet, almost like a peice of caramel or a bourbon ball at christmas time. Light hint of bourbon that i really enjoy. I love the smell of this beer.
Tastes delicious. Very sweet, the bourbon seeps through ever so gently in each sip. Nice alcohol content that compliments the sweet flavor.
This is an absolutely delightful beer. I really enjoy this by beer. It stands by itself, unique.

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Photo of steve8robin
3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one on a work trip to OH. 12oz bottle...

A: Super clear copper color with a very white 1/2 inch head that fades at a decent pace. Good.

S: A nice bourbon malt upfront with some grape booziness in the middle and hints of toffee on the backend. Good.

T: Some light sugary malt and rye breadiness followed by some watery earthiness. Not much else. Decent.

M: Medium body with a good carbonation. Good.

D: Goes down very easy.

All in all, this is an ok brew. Decent brew, but not a good or great brew. Many other offerings in the style that are better. Super Kitty comes to mind. Don't worry about this one unless you have access.

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
82 out of 100 based on 575 ratings.