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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.

565 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
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 MisterTiat
3.76/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle into a snifter glass

A: Pours a deep golden/caramel brown. Looks like a glass of bourbon with head. Head pours fluffy white, recedes sort of quick to a few patches on top and a thin lace.

S: Notes of sticky bourbon, sweet alcohol and toasty oak come through. Earthy and fruity. Very pleasant complexity that is worth lingering over.

T: Carmel and vanilla notes, sweetness of bourbon with a lingering smokiness from the cask. You can tell they used a damn good bourbon, makes me think of fall.

M: This is the weakest part of the beer, a bit light on carbonation, the beer feels a bit thin. This is probably due to the addition of bourbon to the beer, and probably why most bourbon beers are darker stouts or porters. Still it was interesting, and almost better to have it with the caramel color than a darker beer.

D: Drinkable for the 8.2 ABV, but I dont know how many of these I would want to choke down. Better for an after dinner thing.

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Photo of Mistofminn
4.12/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to auroracrisis for sending me some bottles of this! Wanted to try this for a long time, so thanks Ben for the chance.

I needed a boubron beer fix (see my review for BBC Reserve Boubron Barrel Stout to see why) so I grabbed one of these next.

My bottle didn't look like the sweet one in the picture above, it was simply a brown 12 oz bottle.

Pours a slightly hazy golden amber color into a pint glass. Off white head is produced on the pour, and shrinks to a small pillow and ring around the outside edge of the glass. Doesn't leave a ton of lacing. I love the color though.

The nose is...fantastic! This has to be my first bourbon barrel beer that isn't a stout, porter, barleywine or brown ale so this is very good news for the rest of bourbon barrel beers in my eyes. I get bourbon soaked fruits...incredibly fruity. A nice woody character in the background and a nice warming bourbon smell, which is mostly soaked into the fruit aromas.

The taste is similar to the nose, very fruity with a bourbon soaked fruit/wood character. This is tasty stuff, but it's just not as tasty as the nose advertises unfortunately. Still, very tasty. Totally not expecting it to be so fruity. It's like it's an average beer with bourbon (and good bourbon mind you) soaked fruit dropped in. Great stuff.

The mouthfeel is light, and slightly overcarbonated. I'm not feeling this section of the beer, but I'm definitely into the taste and smell.

Drinkability is great. If the ABV were slightly lower this would be an awesome session beer. I really like the aroma and flavor of this, and I could have a few without getting knocked on my ass. What more could you ask?

If I lived in an area where this was readily available, I would buy this all the time. At $12 a four pack, how could you go wrong?

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Photo of Aenema
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a bright, clear amber with a short-lived 1.5 finger soapy off-white head with very little lacing.
Smell - Bourbon, vanilla and caramel.
Taste - Lots of vanilla and sweet caramel - almost a caramel apple flavor - and bourbon.
Mouthfeel - Light-medium body; a little thin and watery with light carbonation. The carbonation begins at a moderate pace but runs out of steam relatively quickly.
Drinkability - Surprisingly drinkable, though the sweetness of this beer prevents it from being a beer to have more than 12 ozs of.
Overall - A very interesting beer that is a nice change of pace.

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Photo of bheilman
4.04/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice golden color with a decent head with a medium to high amount of carbonation. The smell is fantastic. Somewhat sweet smell with a delicious slightly bourbon accented aroma. The taste is solid but not mind blowing. About what you would expect although a lot lighter than any other beer I've had that was aged in bourbon barrels. Leaves a decent aftertaste, but the lightness allows the taste to fade quickly. Fairly drinkable for a stronger beer although I would want to switch up after about three or four of these because it has more sweetness than a typical beer. Overall I was pleasantly surprised and although it isn't the most tasty bourbon barrel beer I've had it is still a special beer.

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Photo of nickd717
4.05/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried this on draft on the recommendation of Brian Yaeger, author of "Red, White, and Brew." Brian was nice enough to give me another 12oz bottle of this that I brought to a tasting to share.

A - This beer is a nice clear amber color with a small off-white head and nice lacing.

S - Aroma is bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and oak. Smells very nice.

T - Slightly sweet caramel malt, bourbon, vanilla, oak, buttery notes, and a little alcohol. Very well balanced. It's nice to see a bourbon barrel aged beer done well other than the massive imperial stouts and such.

M - Body is medium and palate is smooth with medium-low carbonation.

D - This is an underrated beer, and drinkable for the ABV.

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Photo of abrand
4.21/5  rDev +16%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

In Kentucky for the night so what better way to spend it than watching opening night of NFL with an ale aged in kentucky bourbon barrels. This 4 pack of 12 ounce bottles set me back a total of $12. Very rustic looking label with no best before/bottled on date.

12 ounce bottle poured into my brand spankin new Founders pint glass. Pours an orange color with very little head and no lacing lining the glass. Nose consists of sweet vanilla and kentucky bourbon. Tastes mostly of sweet bourbon with bitter beer hints settling out the palate. Also sweet caramel is noted. Mouthfeel is light bodied Drinkability is pretty solid, definitely more bourbon in the taste than I would prefer but the sweet finish really sets this beer off. We'll see how i'm feeling after I finish the 4 pack.

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Photo of khiasmus
3.42/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Many thanks to WesPatrick for sharing this at a tasting on 8/12.
Blue swingtop-- bottle number 203/500 from 2006. Reviewed from notes.

Cascades into the glass a burnt sienna, as it were, orange, though not so much of the tiger-paw type. A surprisingly ample head for the age, but it settles quickly and leaves but a few wisps behind.
Aroma is the best part, with notes of vanilla and bourbon, a bit of cardboard from the oxidization of age, though I do think that this beer is better now than it would have been fresh.
The flavour affords a bit of disappointment... mostly watered down bourbon with some malt syrup and woody notes, but very little complexity.
The carbonation level is a bit of a surprise for the age of the beer, especially from a swingtop. Huge carbonation with a cottony feel in the back of the throat, and a good bit of astringency and warming.

This is a decent beer by the pint, but it seems to me that the bourbon has simply overwhelmed the beerish characteristics as a result of the marginal body. I don't know that aging a 7% beer in bourbon barrels is a good idea, as 7% beers can hardly stand up to a bourbon flavour... rather than melding together flavours to form a great beer, it seems to simply polarize aspects of the beer so that the flavours you get are first bourbon, then malt, and that's it.

An interesting beer to try, to be sure. I certainly wouldn't drop the coin on it that Wes did, but I thank him for the opportunity.

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Photo of nanertak
4.22/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle brought from Kentucky, poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Poured brilliant amber. Very light head, no lattice. Reasonable amount of carbonation. Relatively thin body.

Nose: Sweet vanilla and coconut dominate, hint of honey and sweet orange zest background.

Mouthfeel: Not a lot of body, a little thin. Wish it had a little more.

Taste: Vanilla and toffee up front, very sweet. Malts and honey, fading to golden raisins or sweet dried fruit (again a hint of orange). No hops anywhere in flavor profile.

Finish: Low, lingering finish, honey and vanilla flavors persist. Sweet again.

Overall: Good sipper if you're in the mood. You can actually taste the bourbon, as opposed to so many weak bourbon ales that lack the flavor of the spirit. Good beer, I'd get it again when I'm in KY.

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Photo of mikey711
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Received as an extra in a trade with BEERchitect

Orange in color with some good lacing. It's transparent and with a good level of carbonation. I was surpirsed how light this beer was in color. Vanilla is the dominating smell, not as much bourbon spiciness as I had hoped, alot of caramel. There is minimal hoppiness, but the bourbon does come through a bit more in the taste. The vanilla again dominates followed by the caramel sweetness. Once it warms up a bit more though more of the bourbon comes through. The mouthfeel is light yet creamy. The drinkability is fairly high, but the sweetness is a little troubling. This is definitely one of those beers that only gets better as it gets warmer, because the flavor balance out more.

I am very happy to have tried this beer and much thanks to a great trader.

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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 shroompod
3.78/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours clear golden orange , small head some lacing.

Faint Aroma of whiskey , sweet malts.

Fairly sweet and mellow with a sharp bourbon finish. Smokey oaked aftertaste.Very little to no hops detected.

Mouthfeel is medium with good carbonation.

Overall a fairly tasty brew.

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Photo of drtth
3.86/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a standard Shaker-style glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: The beer pours out a clear dark golden color with ½" white head that soon recedes to thin film and a small ring around the glass. Sipping leaves a light lacing but the lacing is mostly gone by about half way through the beer.

Smell: The aroma is soft and filled with the coconut, vanilla and oak of the bourbon cask with some hints of faint caramel from the malt. There is no sign of any hops here.

Taste: The flavor here is all about the bourbon barrel with active support from the malts in the ale. There is coconut and vanilla as expected from the aroma. This is layered over the sweet caramel malt that provides a nice backbone. The flavor is almost too sweet but somehow seems quite right and I suspect having the hops play a more active role would be a mistake.

Mouthfeel: The mounthfeel is medium bodied to light bodied, with moderate carbonation that becomes very faint and hard to detect well before the end of the beer. The finish is medium length and is soft and sweet with no hops detectable. (Seems to me that it is in the finish where a bit of dry bittering effect from the hops would be nice to prepare one for the next sip.)

Drinkability: This is a sipping beer and it is easy to let one sip follow another, but it is also a one per evening type beer because of the sweetness of the malt and bourbon character of the beer. As an example of bourbon barrel aging this is a very nice beer that illustrates well that such aging need not be restricted to Stouts and Barleywines. The bourbon barrel comes through clearly and adds a nice aroma, flavor and character to the ale.

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Photo of Ragingbull
3.19/5  rDev -12.1%
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.

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Photo of GatorBeerNerd
3.47/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle purchased as part of a 4 pack split with a friend from a store in Bowling Green, KY. Poured into a regular pint glass.

A: Pours a light brown with not much of a head at all. The little bit of head that is there doesn't leave any lace at all.

S: Bourbon really dominates the nose which I would normally love. However, this is a one trick pony so I am only giving it slightly better than average.

T: A hint of malt sweetness mixed with some vanilla and oak flavors. I am not really getting the bourbon taste which is surprising based on the aroma.

M: It feels extremely thin almost watery. Not really a lot of other character either.

D: Since it is listed as a strong ale, it is pretty drinkable for that style.

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Photo of taylorhamrick
3.42/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Different packaging from the picture, but it must be the same beer.

Pours out a perfectly clear kind of copper color, with a very thin head that dissipated, leaving little bits of lacing as I drink it. The clarity is nice, but the head is disappointing. The smell is just straight bourbon with just a little bit of sweetness behind it. No not of beer, none at all, just some vanilla and wood and a bit of char. I kind of expected something different, but I don't see why I should have. The taste isn't as strong on the bourbon as I expected - really just the flavors without the burn, which I like. There's a bit of a pale ale/amber ale back, absolutely no hoppiness. Kind of light on the body, but a pretty good medium for the bourbon flavors. There's huge vanilla, with a nice woody, earthy feeling that doesn't exactly cling. This isn't really dry, but not sweet. The wood kind of fills up my stomach and warms me. Overall, this kind of feels like a more full bodied bourbon. I wonder what more and more age in the barrels would do to this (the website says it only spends 6 weeks in the barrels). This one is just clearly made for the barrel taste. The carbonation is a bit prickly at first but calms down quickly. I would expect more body from a bourbon barrel. Overall, I found this very pleasant and enjoyable. I could never drink more than one of these - actually, I doubt if I'll have another one, but it was pleasant, and kind of quick drinking, a very interesting canvas for the bourbon-barrel painting. I would recommend it if you're looking for something interesting.

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Photo of br3wmeister
2.41/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A- Light gold colored beer with a nonexistent head.

S- Biscuity with some caramel, vanilla, nuts, bourbon and coconut.

T- Large biscuit flavor with lots of butter. Hint of vanilla, some caramel nuts, and again coconut.

M- Not too much going on. Medium bodied with a light oily feel.

Overall I would say this is just not my style, though i could tolerate it I did not feel compelled to finish the bottle.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
2.91/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

I'd previously had the Kentucky Ale, but when I ordered this at the Brews Cafe in Granville, I was expecting something dark....usually bourbon-barrel aging usually equals RIS, not an amber ale! Surprising, and different, but not the greatest outcome. THis beer had a ton of bourbon character without a ton of booziness, which is admirable, but somehow it seemed overly sweet to me and not all that drinkable.

Color is a clear and (for a barrel aged beer) surprisingly brilliant amber color with a fine head coating. Aroma is fruity, a touch boozy and very bourbon-y. Flavor was (thankfully) less boozy, but very bourbon-y and also quite sweet, perhaps too much so. A bit too sweet for my tastes, pretty astringent, and not much else to appeal to me besides some bourbon character. Just OK. Mouthfeel is dry and warming.

This beer was just sort of OK...not terrific. I had this on-tap at the Brews Cafe in Granville.

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Photo of Yesac
3.57/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Not the color I was expecting. Clear pale golden yellow. No head, just a ring around the glass.

S- Big aroma. Sweet vanilla, cotton candy with bourbon. Interesting.

T- Very 'ale' tasting. Sweet bourbon and vanilla on a toasty malt base.
Weak taste overall.

M/D- Medium carbonation and medium body. Just not an exciting beer here.

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Photo of aggiearcher13
3.37/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a nice golden color, thin, about a 1/2" of head, nothing really stands out to me.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon.

T: BOURBON, vanilla and cinnamon. Tastes a little bit like Maker's Mark, if it were a beer. Sweet, smoky bourbon flavors really overwhelm the malt.

M: Kind of creamy, much to my surprise. Smooth.

D: I like bourbon a lot, but I couldn't finish this one, it was a little sweeter than what I was in the mood for.

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Photo of stbfan
3.37/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

pours gold/transparent. very thin, quickly dissapating white head.

smells like BOURBON, faint vanilla, light hops.really smells like bourbon.

tastes of bourbon, vanilla. dry, light alcohol finish.

not a bad brew. bourbon really gives it a unique mouthfeel.

pretty good drinkability.not bad. not real good. in between.

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Photo of iceball585
4.62/5  rDev +27.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Bright amber color, clear, one finger thick fluffy head that faded quickly, lots and lots of bubbles rising throughout

S- Bourbon, vanilla, oak, malty, strong auroma of alcohol

T- Kentucky bourbon whiskey, oak, pale malts, vanilla, light hops flavor

M- Medium body, medium carbonation, smooth, flavorful, slight warming of alcohol, dry finish

D- Definitely worth trying

If you like bourbon whiskey as much as I do... then you really need to try this one. It's amazing the amount of flavor from the bourbon barrel that comes out in this brew.

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Photo of projectflam86
3.35/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A- Light brown color with thin head that dissipates quickly leaving some mild lace.

S- Whoa! This smells like straight bourbon! A deeper sniff revealed some light vanilla and oak scents.

T- Tastes like bourbon with the slightest malt and vanilla sweetness. A bit hot from the alcohol but not much else really going on.

M- Smoother than I anticipated, but bitter ester alcohol in the finish.

D- Not a bad brew but the flavor profile was a bit one demensional.

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Photo of Brew33
2.26/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Wow.... this is brutal. It's all bourbon. Low carbonation. The aroma is all bourbon. The first sip is nothing but cheap bourbon. It's like they didn't even try. Slightly boozy with a surprisingly dry finish. I will never drink this again.

I don't care for Bourbon or any kind of whiskey so I don't know what I was expecting. This has a very strong, forced bourbon taste. Avoid.

My first ever drain pour.... Unforgettable for all the wrong reasons....

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Photo of goatgoat
2.66/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a clear gold with just a hint of orange. A white one finger head quickly falls to nothing. No lace.
Aroma is heavily bourbon and oak with a sharp alcohol. As it warms it lets a bit more vanilla through.
Taste opens up a bit. More oak than bourbon and still strong though less overwhelming. I'm still missing the "beer" in this beer. A vanilla alcohol finish, very sweet, with a bit of a burn. Though that may be more a sensory memory association due to the bourbon aroma.
Light body with more carbonation that the appearance lets on.

My first bourbon barrel brew, gotten in a trade. It's a very new experience, interesting, not something I'll seek out again. I've never been a fan of brown liquor, though.

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Photo of CrazyMacHarris99
2.17/5  rDev -40.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

This one starts out good and then divebombs. The appearance is great. A clear amber with a decent fluffy white head. The smell is all wrong. The vanilla overpowers everything and it smells too sweet like candy. There is a hint of bourbon and some malt as well. The taste is the same. The vanilla sweetness is too much. This should be a flavor that hides in the background. The bourbon is there but there is no beer backbone to support the amount of bourbon and vanilla flavor here. This beer seems like it was created in a laboratory, not aged in barrels. The mouthfeel is really thin but syrupy at the same time. This plays into the idea that beer is not big enough to handle the bourbon barrel "aging" at all. Drinkability is low, very low. This one reminds me of my first sip of ST Creme Brulee. The intent and craftmanship were there but somewhere along the line a good idea turned into a bad product.

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