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

Not Rated.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel AleKentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

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565 Reviews
very good

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Reviews: 565
Hads: 2,573
Avg: 3.63
pDev: 39.67%
Wants: 145
Gots: 718 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. visit their website
Kentucky, United States

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  8.19% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: SheepNutz on 07-13-2004

Award winning Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a unique sipping beer with the distinctive nose of a well-crafted bourbon. Our Kentucky Ale is aged for up to 6 weeks in freshly decanted bourbon barrels from some of Kentucky’s finest distilleries. Subtle yet familiar flavors of vanilla and oak are imparted to this special ale as it rests in the charred barrels. Pleasantly smooth and robust, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale may also be served as an aperitif or after dinner drink.
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Reviews: 565 | Hads: 2,573
Photo of brentk56
4.11/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear honey color with a modest head that quickly fades to a ringlet and leaves a few shards of lace

Smell: Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, oak and coconut; just a hint of bourbon

Taste: Starts out with a buttered brown bread and bourbon-influenced caramel flavor; lots of vanilla and coconut arrive by mid-palate; after the swallow, there is a brief flourish of very smooth bourbon and oak that lingers into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A really nice Bourbon treatment here instead of the typical barrel-aging of a big stout; the beer has some nice subtleties

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Photo of innersanctum
4.11/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is the best bourbon aged beer that I've had thus far! Having started my journey with the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout this is a tall order. KBBA is an extremely drinkable and likeable ale.

The only element this brew lacked was its aroma, which took some time to open up and share some vanilla notes. The taste has a nice blend of oak and vanilla which is picked up nicely from the barrels. I could not discern the specific type of ale which this brewe is from but it does not have a hoppy presence. Its mouthfeel is smooth and consistent and about as heavy as Champagne while lacking the carbonation.

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

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Pours a clear bright copper in color, small ring of head forms and recedes away. Aroma is full of vanilla, bourbon, butterscotch, and alcohol fumes. The taste follows suit, but does so nicely. There is a sweetness from the oaky tannins of the bourbon barrels, vanilla like. Bourbon flavor makes itself known, with a vaguely smokey sweet alcohol grain flavour. The english pale/irish red base beer lends itself perfectly in its lightness to pick up all the flavors from the barrel. Alcohol is there but not overwhelming. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with good carbonation. Overall, this beer really highlights what fresh bourbon barrels can do to a simple base ale. Quite nice.

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

Poured into my Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter that came with the beer.

A: Pours a transparent amber color with an off-white head that dissipates into a thin lace.

S: Smells like I am drinking a Manhattan. Some serious bourbon scent with a bit of a woodiness and a hint of vanilla.

T: The taste is just as it smells. A quick explosion of bourbon upfront which is immediately followed by a vanilla burst that carries into the finish and well after.

M: Thin/medium bodied with average carbonation.

D: The name on the label fits this beer perfectly. You get the bourbon flavor in the smell and right upfront, but then the vanilla flavor comes in and takes over. It seems that this is exactly what they were going for and it works nicely.

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

A: Clear dark amber, bourbon color, white foamy head and thin lacing

S: the bourbon smell hits you up front, next comes a pleasant sweetness that reminds me of banana bread and vanilla and some clove

T: Again the bourbon is prominent, the oakiness comes out more as well, some vanilla and a hint of hop bitterness and minimal malt presence.

M: very mellow and smooth but slightly dry on the finish, it has a subtle sweet aftertaste and it light bodied

O: very good beer, though a bit too sweet for me but not overly so. Very drinkable and very pleasant oaky bourbon flavors. If you don't like the strength and bite of bourbon but still like the associated flavors, this is a good beer for you.

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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 Mario61Aler
4.12/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A nice suprise from the 335 ml bottle, poured into a pint glass. It poured a nice golden color, with a white head that disapated quickly. Hardly any lacing at all. Aroma was of carmel and a just hint of the bourbon. Taste was of Malts and a hint of alcohol, bourbon and then a sweetness comes into play, like a dried cherry. Was slightly creamy with a medium body that makes this a very drinkable Ale. I will revisit this one.

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

Poured into a KY Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter obtained at a Pazzo's Pint Night years ago... I remember not liking this beer the first time I had it, but oh how my tastes have changed! This is now one of my favorite go-to locals...

A- 4 Pours an attractive, clear burnt orange / amber color with a one finger fluffy white head. The head lacks retention as it dies down quickly but there's a nice ring left around the edges and the tiniest of bubbles lace the glass smoothly.

S- 4.5 Caramel, malt, bourbon and wood... In no particular order. Just balanced and pure. The oak makes its presence felt as much as anything, and the rest composes a nice sweetness that has me itching to raise the glass... The snifter is worthwhile here because there really is some good stuff going on.

T- 4 Though I generally detect the same elements in its taste as I did from the aroma, the taste is notably sweeter and not quite as balanced. That said, it is quite good. I get a bit more caramel and bourbon here, with just a touch of oak on the finish. Though it has a respectable ABV, it is just barely detectable at the end of the drink.

M- 4 KBBA is medium in body with a smooth creaminess that is quite manageable. It is heavier on the palate than I expected from its appearance. It has a good level of carbonation. It is a little syrupy on the finish, with the slightest bit of heat from the alcohol.

D- 4 I really enjoy this beer and could put down a few of them. I don't think I could do it all night because it is a little sweeter than I prefer ideally. Regardless, this is an enjoyable ale with a bourbon presence that fits in nicely. I'd definitely recommend trying this if you enjoy bourbon brews or are visiting KY where you can easily find it in bottles or draft. It also blends well with Guinness, ala a 'black and tan,' and is known as a 'black barrel.' It is a succulent combination... Cheers to Lex-Vegas and the growing popularity of KBBA!

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Photo of julian89
4.13/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Got a growler of this from work at Hop City.
Poured from growler into pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a clear honey color with a half inch head no lacing, decent retention. Bubbling is seen through the glorious translucent amber.

Smell: Vanilla and coconut dominate. Bourbon smell of sweet butterscotch. Last I smell earthly notes of smoked oak.

Taste: The progression... smooth bourbon and malty taste, then I received a strong medium bodied vanilla and coconut taste, then the earthly feel on the back end.

Mouthfeel: A medium to soft bodied feel with watery flow. Decent carbonation from a growler.

Drinkability: Very good taste and smell. It is a very pretty beer. I will say it's downfall if mouthfeel and it could be a bit stronger due to it's ~8% ABV but alas. It still gets a fairly high rating from me.

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Photo of scotorum
4.13/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into an Innis & Gunn flute

a: A gorgeous crystal clear amber with a finger thick white head which receded quickly to thin surface foam, some stringy lacing eventually appears. Not much carbonation evident.

s: Bourbon!

t: Bourbon! Dayum! Dry boozy finish.

m: Light to moderate. Lighter than the bourbon flavor wants you to believe. Much more carbonation evident on drinking than is visually evident.

o: Good for what it is. Think I still prefer beer that tastes more like beer, but it is a unique experience to have a beer that tastes like weak bourbon. Maybe this will grow on me though, I loved Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Aged beer from the gitgo and still enjoy it now and then. But unlike Innis & Gunn, I get the impression there is not much substance here beyond the bourbon flavor and aroma. Still, that flavor is seductive, so I'll probably buy more of this.

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Photo of emerge077
4.14/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

After tackling a growler solo in my past review, it's time to slow things down a bit and consume 12oz. at a time, and appreciate.

Bottle pours a high clarity orange tone, with a small cap of white foam. Spotty bits of lace ring the tulip glass.

Oak, vanilla, sweet corn mash, and brown sugar in the nose. Becomes slightly funky as it warms.

A light bourbon taste, yet it touches on all my favorite aspects of this Kentucky-bred specialty. Woody oak, caramel sauce, buttery theater popcorn, a hint of coconut, with creamy vanilla bean in the long finish.

The thin, clean mouthfeel and refreshing nature of this ale deceptively mask it's alcohol content. Lacks body and complexity, but the bourbon flavor is good. Respect this beer, and it won't mess you up. Drinking a growler of this stuff made me feel like I had put down a pint of bourbon...

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Photo of bnes09
4.14/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Caramel color and semi-transparent. White head forms then dissipates quickly leaving a ring around the glass and minimal lacing.

Rich aroma of oak, caramel, toffee and nuts. Complex, intricate and inspires curiosity.

Similar flavors in beginning and middle. Definitely a sweet tone with caramel and brown sugar. Some vanilla and mild bourbon notes. Fruity with cherries and apples adding to the sweetness. Finishes fairly clean with lingering bready malt flavor.

Surprising light feel, just barely medium bodied. Crisp, even carbonation. Exceptionally smooth texture.

I really like this. Highly complex and well balanced.

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Photo of pat61
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%

Bourbon, light caramel and vanilla on the nose.
Pours brilliant orange amber with a thin rocky white foam cap. Light lace.
Starts with caramel malty sweetness followed by bourbon and vanilla and finished with a light touch of hop bitterness.
Medium body and carbonation, smooth.

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Photo of Preismj
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer is personal favorite of mine in terms of local brews. works well with guinness as a type of 'black and tan' which is, locally, called a 'black barrel'. I recommend the mix.

a: brown amber color with a mostly white head and hints of light brown.

s: a malty sweetness from the bourbon gets you first here with a caramel in the mix. toffee and a roasted scent catch you at the tail.

t: sweet from bourbon. the booze is present for sure, but such a nice finish to this beer. the caramel is strong in this along with a roasted and burnt taste of toffee.

m: Perfect carbonation and very smooth in the mouth.

d: I could have (and often do have) many of these in a row. It is a great beer that gets better as you have more. Once the booziness dies down, the taste of the caramel shines and tastes like a drink you've never had before.

I recommend taking an actual sip of bourbon before a sip of this stuff to get some of the booziness out of the way up front. While the heat is welcome, it is that taste of the caramel and toffee that keeps me coming back to this beer again and again.

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Photo of jwhancher
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Dad gave me a 4-pack after his b-day. Freshness day reads 10/15/14. Poured into a snifter for review.

Pours a clear copper with head that fades rather quickly to nothing. Some lazy carbonation persists. Smells of sweet bourbon with strong punch of vanilla and some light oak char. Some caramel malts, and and almost honely like quality, blend beautifully with the bourbon oak character.

Tastes bourbon-like upfront and throughout. Not over the top or too subtle. Just the right balance. Sweetness of malts again blend perfectly with the vanilla, oak, and light char. A little burn in the back of the throat, but alcohol is well in check at just over 8% ABV. No real hop character, but bitterness balances well and comes in at the end.

A well done beer. Drink this fresh for a nice bourbon beer experience.

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Photo of johnnycakes
4.15/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My wife picked me up a 4-pack of this from the local grocery. (I live in Louisville, KY and our grocery stores are good about stocking local brews.)

I was not expecting a much because I am not a fan of Kentucky Ale's standard ale. However I was pleasantly surprised.

It poured with nearly no head.
The color is a beautiful amber-golden.

I've been reading these reviews that say it tastes too much like bourbon and I'm very confused. I was actually shocked at how un-bourbon tasting this ale is. I've had Bluegrass Brewing Co and Browning's each make a bourbon barrel stout that are wonderful and have a distinct bourbon taste. This ale does not.

The bourbon barrel aging of this ale has surprisingly given it a banana/vanilla flavor. Upon my first sip, I immediately thought of banana nut bread.

Overall, I think this is a great ale to be paired with the right food.
(Not exactly sure what that food would be - just think this would be a good ale to accompany a meal rather than to drink on its own)

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Photo of ZBrewz
4.16/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

So, I've tried this beer twice now. Once before, and
once after reading through the "Beer Rating 101"
articles on Beer advocate. And I got to say, drinking
the beer right makes a difference.

I decided to listen to beer advocate's advice and drink
my beer warmer than I normally would (especially since
this beer in particular has a higher alcohol content.) I
noticed that though the sharp alcohol taste was still
there, it seemed to lessen as it became warmer and the
undertones of the grains used in the beer came through
resulting in an enhanced experience of the flavors of
the ale.

Look: 4.0 It wasn't "crystal clear". It did have some
yeast/sediment floating around in it, but nothing to
really be concerned about. I felt it gave it authenticity. The color ranged from an amber color outside of direct light (dark, but not very), to a more golden amber when
held closer to a light. I poured it kind of hard so it was a
little extra foamy than it should've been, but the head retention seemed
great. It didn't go flat and I drank it slower than I
normally would.

Smell: 3.5 Really strong Bourbon smell, with a hint of
some malts.

Taste: 4.3 As I said, the taste evolves as it warms up.
The colder it is the more the bourbon-like alcohol
taste comes out, but as it warms up a creamy smooth
wheat-like taste starts to envelope if you let it sit
on your palate. (I'm not saying the bourbon taste isn't
still there, it's just less defined when the other flavors of
the beer come out.) Definitely a must try if can handle
higher ABV beers.

feel: 4.6 A little unpleasant if it's too cold, but
gets to be a smooth, creamy-like, bubble feel once it
warms up. It really complements the taste and leaves a
nice feeling on your taste buds.... Delicious.

overall = 4.51 If you can't handle a strong beer (or
don't like the taste of bourbon) than this might not be
for you. But, if you don't fall under either of those
categories and are up to try something new, then this
is a pretty good beer to try. (Just don't drink all
four at once. ;-) haha)

P.S. Drink it warmer and slower than you normally would.

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Photo of alkemy
4.16/5  rDev +14.6%
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 E-McFarden
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours pale amber in color, crystal clear. First scents at a distance bring sweet oaky vanilla certainly reminding me of bourbon, then comes the hops and caramel malts. The taste is well balanced and brings the drinker just the right amount of oaky bourbon flavors to balance the malt profile. The alcohol is surprisingly not overpowering considering the subtle flavors. Finishes smooth and dry. I'm surprised this beer isn't getting higher ratings, I would definitely say that if you're drinking this one right out of the fridge you're missing out on the nice flavors and aromas. I like it.

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Photo of Greggy
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured into a large snifter leaving a quick 1 finger head that recedes quickly into a thin cap with decent lacing. No sediment present in the golden amber body.

S- Big waft of bourbon as well as what i perceive to be scotch. There is a definite caramel, vanilla, butterscotch and light baking chocolate that is reminiscent of scotch ale. Digging deeper I catch some darker fruits like figs and even a touch plum.

T- starts off with a nice light bourbon taste that is a little oaky and dry on the finish which is nice. I get notes of light butteriness (oak), a touch of vanilla, and just a hint of butterscotch.

M- Just a hint of light carbonation which is nice for an oak aged beer. The mouthfeel is quite dry and oaky which is nice.

D- This beer hides its 7% with ease; however, I think this beer got most of its character form the barrel. I would have liked to see a bit more complexity of bourbon and maybe a little more smokiness. If you can get it, definitely try it. It's not the greatest oak aged beer, but I will definitely enjoy the rest of mine.

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Photo of atsprings
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy copper with almost no head. Aroma is a nice blend of burnt caramel, Bourbon, oak and some vanilla. The taste is a great blend of Bourbon, caramel and vanilla. The slight oak flavor adds a nice touch. This is a great beer for someone who also likes Bourbon, good taste of both worlds. The beer is light bodied with good warming undertoned alcohol. This is a very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.17/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a Hoegaarden glass.

Appearance - Pours a good amber color. frothy head that sticks around for a bit. good carbonation. no lacing

Smell - Strong hop right away followed by butter and whiskey notes.

Taste - A good comibination of hops and whiskey. Slightly grainy and small notes of butter. Light body

Mouthfeel - All of the flavors mix well, and the whiskey notes stick around with the grain flavor. I really like this beer!

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Photo of ACD
4.18/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great overall after dinner sipping beer. I have had this on tap at Bison County in Waltham Ma (great Barbeque). And out of the bottle.

In both cases it seems best served in a sniffer type glass and to let sit. It taste better a little on the warm side

A smell of bourbon at the beginning

Mouthfeel is smooth with a bourbon like kick.

Overall and excellent after dinner beer if you are looking for only one or two and to leisurely sip it.

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Photo of KeefD
4.19/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. Bright amber orange with no head, but plenty of carbonation. Big hints of bourbon soaked fruit on the nose. Hints of vanilla and spice. Taste is wonderful. Definite hints of bourbon, backed up by some sweet malt, some vanilla undertones, and a not-too-cloying fruit sweetness. Hints of caramel are present. This beer is a bourbon lover's dream. Mouthfeel is somewhat thin, but it's perfect for the style. Not too much carbonation to get in the way of the body, which would have made it a bit too crisp. A very nice Kentucky Koncoction.


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Photo of FosterJM
4.19/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1473rd Review on BA
Bottle to Great Lakes Snifter

2012 Vintage

Thanks to EgadBananas for the trade

App- Was really suprised at the coloring of this beer. Was more of a golden color and was expecting a deeper brown/crimson color. The head was a quick receding off white with maybe 2 dots of cling.

Smell- Incredible bourbon notes. Char, vanilla, oak and malts. The beer is as close to pure bourbon I have smelled on a -BA beer before. Floral and pleasant to say the least.

Taste- It's a very tasty beer. Lots going on but blended well. Malty and smooth with a rich vanilla flavor and a little bit of oak on the back end. Not overly boozy but you get a lot of the bourbon notes to it.

Mouth- A thinner medium body with a low/medium carbonation. Residual spicey boozey flavor with hints of vanilla.

Drink- A good beer. Very barrel and booze forward. I really enjoyed it. I bet this would be a good one for aging.

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