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

2,488 Ratings
THE BROS
85
very good

(view ratings)
Ratings: 2,488
Reviews: 612
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 18.48%
Wants: 137
Gots: 651 | 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: 2,488 | Reviews: 612
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 sweemzander
2.99/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

Photo of treyrab
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

Photo of TheSarge
3.97/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Photo of alkemy
4.16/5  rDev +13%
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.

Photo of beerman207
4.2/5  rDev +14.1%
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.

Photo of Groomsy
3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

Photo of craytonic
3.95/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

Photo of TheWildflower
3.87/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

Photo of Ryan011235
3.35/5  rDev -9%
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.

Photo of Frothboss
4.78/5  rDev +29.9%
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.

Photo of steve8robin
3.9/5  rDev +6%
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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brightest topaz topped with nearly two fingers of eggshell colored foam that is slightly crackly and does no better than a passable job with respect to glass decoration. High-ABV, barrel-aged beer often struggles in the head and lace departments.

After having been aged for 6 weeks in *recently decanted* bourbon barrels, one would think the nose would be more whiskey-like. This is a somewhat pleasant sniffer if you like that spirit, but it's too mild. The base beer doesn't contribute much either.

Kentucky Ale is average beer. Its metamorphosis into Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a definite move to higher ground. It isn't amazing beer by any means, but the bourbon character finds that middle ground between 'too much' and 'not enough' (closer to the latter).

This offering tastes like an amber ale to which a very small splash of bourbon was added. Caramelized sugar and vanilla notes are subtle, and there wasn't enough time for much woodiness to have made it into the final product. Hard to believe the ABV went from 5.34% to 8.19% after 6 weeks contact with whiskey-soaked wood.

The mouthfeel didn't change... and wasn't expected to. It's still waaay too light, doesn't bulk up with warming, and the bubbles don't do a great job either. It's barely acceptable for a sipper, just don't expect much in the way of mouth pampering.

My advice to Kentucky Brewing Company is to use a different (better) beer as the base for this beer. Something with more malty guts would be a great place to start. Too bad this is the 12 ounce bottle rather than the cool looking cobalt vessel shown above.

Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.34/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I've never seen this before-so I decided to try it today on-tap at Vintage Wine and Estates.

A- Body is a nearly transparent dark copper hue that is served with the perfect 1/2 finger foamy white head. The head has perfect retention the whole way down the glass.

S- Nose is pretty much what you would expect. Full of whiskey, rye, and malted barley. A hint of bourbon sweetness comes through but nothing really fantastic.

T- Hot, fresh, bourbon everywhere. Not aged enough to have that note of sweetness. A hint of malted barley and maybe rye in the background. A hint of wet oak as well. Finish is moderately astrigent and leaves behind a decent size alcohol heat.

M- Medium carbonation and medium weight body. More of a classic ale mouthfeel than a hot astrigent one.

D- This is a decent beer overall. It offers exactly what it advertises-bourbon flavor. Pretty one dimensional and not much else to it. Ironically-I've come across BBL "stouts" with an identical profile with the exception of the appearance.

Photo of EricHeff
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I have had Bourbon Barrel Stouts before but not an Ale.
I poured the beer into a glass and got frothy 1 finger head. Its a completely clear amber color. The smell is quite different from other beers. You can actually pick up a bit of the bourbon smell.
The taste is full of the aging. Mostly hints of bourbon from start to finish with a hint of the wood in there.
This is a good, easy to drink beer. I don't think I'll have many of these, but its defiantly a nice to beer to chill with.

Photo of Bendurgin
4/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I got this as an extra in a trade with 6DaysBottomOcean recently. I am very excited for this one for I haven't heard of it until it fell in my lap. Poured into a pint glass. This one is a very clear amber color with about two fingers of bubbly white head. Nice sticky lacing on this. The smell is unlike any other beer I can recall. Smells of rich butterscotch and sweet bourbon run straight to the front. My words can't do the smell justice. It has a certain sweetness to the aroma that I am familiar with but can't place my finger on. It smells really nice and very malty with subtle oak undertones. I'm intrigued to say the least. It has a nice balance of bourbon and malt with a slight sweetness that I can only call comforting. The bourbon hits nicely right up front but it creeps very subtly, to finish strongly with sweet malts and a spot on oak flavor. The mouthfeel is as expected, medium bodied with fair carbonation. For what this is I would say it is quite drinkable, even though I would only want it once in a while. It is however, really hitting the spot on a cool Autumn night in New England.

Photo of scoobybrew
3.88/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - super clear light amber color with a modest head and decent lacing

S - strong aroma of bourbon and oak, not much else; no hop and a faint hint of malt

T - oaky moderately sweet malt at first with the whisky flavor throughout from start to finish; the hop is only for balancing as any hop flavor is absent but finishes with only a touch of sweetness

M - medium body, moderate carbonation

D - This is truly a different and unique beer. I've had a number of stouts and barleywines aged in barrels and this is truly unique. Despite it's high abv, I find this beer highly quaffable - dangerously so. It almost reminds me of a fuller bodied seltzer & bourbon drink to a point and also somewhat like Vernor's, a soft drink from Michigan that is aged in oak (I grew up with Vernor's - can't help but see some similarity). This is definitely worth a try, but don't come to the glass with expectations of a complex strong ale - it is unassuming and doesn't pull any punches.

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.22/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale on tap at Mellow Mushroom in Columbus, Ohio.

Appearance: Light amber, almost no lacing. Barely any head. Not very impressive.

Smell: Beautiful! Oak, vanilla. Some bourbon. Light nose overall but very enticing.

Taste: Bourbon and vanilla in a nice balance. Woodsy.

Mouthfeel: Medium to light body, smooth and low carbonation.

Drinkability: High, unless you tire of bourbon. I love KBB and feel it is an underrated beer.

Photo of matt20102
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into goblet at refrigerator temperature with little lingering head. Appearance is an attractive golden brown; aroma suggests apple cider, sugar, oak, and lemon. Mouthfeel is light and spritzy. The beer is most closely reminscient of a malt cider, were there to be such a thing; little hop aroma or taste is present; despite the claim of 8.19% ABV, there is no alcohol taste (research was required to verify this number, actually.) Given this high ABV, the drinkability of this brew is quite high, although it might be higher with more familiar flavors. This is definitely a unique beer without the need to come out of left field like some other highly esteemed breweries. While not an everyday libation, this is one that is definitely worth trying, especially given its limited distribution. Recommended.

Photo of mklinger
2.88/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into a 12 oz snifter. Deep golden color. Thin white head, but lots of carbonation. Fine looking beer.

Aroma is all bourbon. Smells exactly like a bourbon with ice & water. I don't get much else that I would characterize as beer-like.

Flavor is interesting, not what I was expecting. There's beer character in there, some light malt character & a bit of hops, but it is a very light in character beer to be paired with such a strong bourbon flavor. I've had Lexington's Kentucky Ale & it's still one of my lower rated beers. This tastes like it's probably not much of a different beer than that but with some barrel aging with a lot of bourbon still in the barrel.

Mouthfeel is remarkably thin for some big beer with the barrel flavor. This really is one of the odder barrel aged beers I've had. The base beer is pretty unremarkable I think, bringing the focus all on the bourbon barrel. This makes the base beer better & improved, but still not great.

Photo of domtronzero
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Clear copper orange with a medium, short-lived, whitish head.

S - Big caramel, bready malts, oak, vanilla, slight alcohol.

F/M - Caramel, big sweat malt profile. Vanilla and oak, toffee. Slightly boozy alcohol. Medium-bitterness lets the malts shine. Medium body with medium low bitterness.

D - Clean, not too huge, but just a little too thick and sweet to put more than one of these down in a sitting.

Photo of Lukafer
2.61/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Appearance is a thin, clear gold with no head. Smells are bourbon, that's all. Tastes like Jim Beam, vanilla and some cinnamon at the very end, not that good. I love bourbon beers, but this beer did not have the malty backbone to balance out the booze. To me, it really tasted like drinking a beer version of Jim Beam. The mouthfeel is thin as hell. Damn, I really wanted to like this beer, but I don't. I'd like to try it in a bottle just to see if maybe I had a bad pour from a bad keg.

Photo of bobhits
2.95/5  rDev -19.8%
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.

Photo of Blakaeris
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of bashiba
2.81/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
83 out of 100 based on 2,488 ratings.