Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

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
82
good

561 Reviews
THE BROS
85
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 561
Hads: 2,555
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: 16.25%
Wants: 145
Gots: 699 | 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 (19) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 561 | Hads: 2,555
Photo of Utica_Brew_Review
3.77/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Amber color with mild to no head and moderate carbonation. Strong bourbon aroma with a hint of smokiness and hop notes. Beer? What beer? Smells like we poured a glass of bourbon. Caramel bourbon flavor without an alcoholic kick. Mostly bourbon flavors and not much in the way of beer. Perhaps a bit too heavy on the bourbon flavor which suffocates the beer flavor? Finishes with a carbonated bite. Good strong bourbon flavor.

If you want bourbon. Drink bourbon. (463 characters)

Photo of brewskifan55
3.81/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured into a Westmalle goblet.

A: Clear, bourbon-y amber with minimal white head that quickly shifts to lots of interspersed bubbles.

S: Smooth Kentucky bourbon, malts and a hint of vanilla. Oak barrel in the periphery.

T: like drinking a jigger of Kentucky bourbon. Sweet, mellow. Caramel and molasses with vanilla and smokey oak. A real sipper. The alcohol slides in for the kill.

M: light to medium with light carbonation. Picking up some soft mellow fizz the longer it sits on the tongue.

O: a nice surprise. Definitely an after dinner sipper, perhaps with a cigar. More like a bourbon than a beer. (608 characters)

Photo of PorterLambic
4.44/5  rDev +22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Arrives a clear and bright reddish brown. Minimal, nearly non-existent, head, just a faint ring.
Smell is malty with notes of vanilla, coconut, bourbon, smoke/char and an really well received brown sugar sweetness. Very complex and really well balanced.
Taste is exactly the same: sweet, malty, vanilla, light smoke, bourbon, coconut. Again, very complex and very well balanced.
Smooth, fairly rich, and it only gets better as it warms. The ABV hides well but there is a warming aspect that develops as it warms up stopping short of becoming cloying. I highly recommend this one. (581 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.59/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours a brilliant deep copper brown with a modest cream head.

Bourbon, oak, and amber malt fruitiness comprise the initial aroma. Fairly boozy, with notes of vanilla and floral hops.

Flavor reveals fruity amber malt notes underlying a fairly bready, toasted malt backbone. Oak and bourbon shine through. Subsequent sips reveal dominant vanilla, caramel, and coconut notes.

Body is moderate to full, with moderate carbonation and light alcohol warmth.

Too much vanilla for my liking. The malt backbone is nice, and oak provides good dryness. The fruity notes are somewhat offputting. (586 characters)

Photo of Axnjxn
4.22/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a FW tulip

Pours a dark copper, almost reddish color with a slight head. The smell is very big on bourbon notes ... just from the nose you could confuse this with a bourbon barleywine or possibly stout (tho no chocolate flavor here.) Extremely smooth taste with vanilla on the back end but with bourbon up front and lingering. Just as expected and oh so tasty! Caramel and toffee are present as well. Body is medium, just where it should be. Low in carbonation. Real real easy drinking and ABV undectable.

Overall an amazing beer in my eyes. One i could drink a few of without a problem. Im a lover of bourbon so thats definitely a reason why, but why would you even try this beer if you dont like bourbon? (725 characters)

Photo of ckollias
3.74/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Enjoyed this 12 oz bottle out of a large snifter glass.

A: Pours a copper hue with a thin white head that quickly dissipates leaving no trail and semi wispy lace.

S: Sweet malty aroma with a bourbon alcoholic scent.

T: Smooth malty flavor with a sweet profile with hints bourbons that finishes on the sweet side of dry.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation

O: Decent brew – was expecting a little bit more. (414 characters)

Photo of bad72amx
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is the most inconsistent beer I have ever tried. I have had it tapped numerous times, often in the same BW3 in Louisville. Sometimes, it is thick, rich, and Oakes with nice complex flavors of malt, candied sugar, very mild hops and some minor bourbony afterburn. If it were always like this, it would be a solid 4.5 overall. When it's like this, with a nearly syrupy mouthfeel, it is a personal favorite. It doesn't sound like it, but the mouthfeel and creamy head make it work.

Here comes the downside, and I have noticed this at different bars that have sometimes poured an excellent brew. Sometimes, it's just okay. Malty and sugary, with almost artificial bourbon aftertaste. No rich oak notes, no caramally candied sugars, just sweet malt. Like raw canned brewing malt was watered down. When it's like this it's almost fizzy, yet it builds and retains almost no head. Also, when it's like this it is more of a muddled dark straw color, instead of the deep golden brown it should be. It's almost like a lager with a dash of grenadine added without stirring. It's pretty, but when I see that I know I'm getting a mediocre beer.

Altech, please read this and revisit your Lexington brewery. It seems to me your quality control is very lacking, and lately I get more bad batches than excellent batches. I understand the need to meet demand, but if it makes a stellar beer okay, you are not doing anyone any favors. (1,423 characters)

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. (895 characters)

Photo of Omnium
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Pours out a darker gold color, very clear, one finger of head that fades fast, no lacing at all.
S - Very light aroma here, you get some of the bourbon, but its very subdued, a little vanilla bean, toasted caramel, toffee, a slight hint of cinnamon. Where's the bourbon?
T - You get some bourbon mixed with that caramel malt and thats the standard for most of the flavor here, a little spice, very sweet on the end, almost like some dried fruits or a spritzer kinda taste. The end is almost tart like some lemon.
M - Somewhat crisp, not really sweet or boozy despite being bourbon, but there is a slight alcohol burn.
O - Not super, not bad, somewhere in between, but the idea of this ale is greater than what it actually is, which is unfortunate. (775 characters)

Photo of Radome
3.51/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served from a 12 oz bottle into a goblet.

A - Deep gold or light copper color, some brown shades, but not amber. Extremely clear. Head is very thin and essentially just a light ring around the edges and a tiny cloud in the center of the surface. The head color is off-white.

S - Aroma is surprisingly faint. The strongest note is bourbon whisky, with its vanilla and sweet cinnamon aromas. There is very little malt or hops that come through. No yeast notes. Alcohol comes through with the whiskey.

T - The taste is all about bourbon whisky. The base beer style is indecipherable because no hops or malt are evident. The bourbon flavor is good, but the overall taste is un-beer-like. No yeast or alcohol flavors.

M - Thin body; low carbonation, although there is a bit of creaminess. Low alcohol burn. No hops bitterness is evident, but beer does not seem overly sweet.

O - Beer is overly thin and overly bourbon-like, without any beer backbone to hold it up. (967 characters)

Photo of WillCarrera
3.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12 oz bottle, no bottled-on date, poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours brown with a rapidly-receding tan head, leaves minimal lacing.

S- Lots of malt and sugars but not much bourbon. Definitely getting caramel, vanilla, maybe some gingerbread / sugar cookie.

T- Similar to the aroma, lots of caramel, vanilla, sugar cookie, mild bourbon.

M- Medium-bodied, a bit thin for its ABV, moderate carbonation.

O- Pretty meh for something that's been in a bourbon barrel. I was just expecting more flavor, but the base beer is too thin and bland to really hold up against or complement a more substantial bourbon flavor. (614 characters)

Photo of angrybabboon
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Consumed 8/22/13

Appearance: Pours unexpectedly crystal clear, bright orange with some honey and copper - small, white head, fades to few small wisps of a cap, leaves a few spots and streaks of lacing

Smell: Caramel malts, vanilla, and bourbon - lightly toasted caramel malts, and crystal malts - some caramel and brown sugar sweetness, with some vanilla - some wood - definitely some bourbon aromas, and they are weird (not in a bad way) - very mild and gentle bourbon

Taste: Caramel malts with an undercurrent of mild, remarkably mellow bourbon - pale and caramel malts - lightly bready, with some interesting buttery esters (English yeast?) - basically, toasted bread with butter, caramel, and vanilla (part of your complete breakfast) - oak and very smooth, very mild bourbon - more like bourbon flavor than straight-up bourbon, I'm guessing this was not aged very long

Mouthfeel: Medium body, very smooth, nicely carbonated, nice finish

Overall: "I know what I hate... and I don't hate this"

I am pleasantly surprised that is isn't a hot mess. I've been more or less disenchanted with bourbon-barrel aged beers over the last year, and I really just bought this out of mild curiosity. The base beer is pretty mild, but so is the barrel aging. This is far from a big, burly barrel-aged stout, and I'm sure that's why some would scorn at this. But I think it's worth a try. (1,382 characters)

Photo of SassieCassie
2.7/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Served in a tulip glass darkish/medium amber color, not much head retention. The nose is definitely the distinct smell of bourbon. The taste is quite neat. It tastes like bourbon beer! I was expecting that bitter alcohol taste that hard liquor delivers, but got quite the opposite. It brings out all the great flavors of bourbon: oak,vanilla, burnt caramel, but adds a malt beer flair.

Definitely an interesting brew. It's a great beer to try when you want something different (478 characters)

Photo of mikefuski17
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had this beer about 3 years ago and couldn't remember what it was called so I looked it up. The beer itself was really good and has a nice strong flavor. The color was rich and smelled great. I am not much of a whiskey can but I really enjoyed the beer. (253 characters)

Photo of RedlinerScott
4.46/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

First had KBBA on tap at the wedding rehearsal dinner of my daughter and son-in-law three years ago. Only recently realized it's marketed in bottles as well. Pretty strong bourbony aroma and flavor with a kick from a higher alcohol content. Despite it's boldness KBBA goes down pretty smooth with no noticeable aftertaste. I've got a feeling you either really like this sort of thing or you really don't. Count me in! (417 characters)

Photo of jzeilinger
2.51/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

A - Pours a medium copper gold color with a one finger deep soapy, white head and medium carbonation.

A - Sweet toffee/caramel malt with bourbon and a hint of light vanilla.

T - Very one dimensional with lots of bourbon mixed in with sweet malt finishing with a sweet bourbon and light vanilla oak finish.

M - Thin medium body.

O - I'd pass on this one next time unfortunately. (382 characters)

Photo of Brenden
3.48/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

It comes off the tap a clear shining gold color. It sports a billowing head that foams up and drops down to a bit of a lighter whitish cap. With time, it recedes to the edges while leaving a wispy island. Some pretty good spotting with light legging does cling to the glass.
Wood is the inital note, not particularly dry, and something lighter that gives the imprssion of beech or balsam (but obviously isn't). Nice vanilla and toffee notes are present too. Oddly, I get something like plum, but a softer, pale flesh sort, and only a few flashes here and there. It's got a bit of booziness, but it's fairly tame.
A touch of the vanilla and toffee sweetness come out on the tongue with the wood up front, all under a note of grains that follows through to the end.
While smooth, it is a bit too lightly carbonated, and thins out slightly toward the end. (852 characters)

Photo of Brianedonovan
3.41/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

I have tried this beer on 3 different occasions.
I am not a bourbon drinker, but I can tell the difference between bourbons.
(bartender)
Each time was different. I asked the bartender what he thought of the beer ( he knows his stuff) and he told me that this "batch" tasted like it was a makers mark barrel...I then tasted makers mark.
He continued to tell me they use different bourbon brand barrels for it and you can discern the difference in bourbons.
I liked the previous ones better (no idea what brand barrel they used....or if that is even true) (553 characters)

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. (811 characters)

Photo of Tonmeister
2.74/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

bottle poured into tulip shaped glass

Appearance: poured a thick off-white head, but it dissipated very quickly to the point that it has no head and no lacing. It's a light golden color.

Smell: I can smell the bourbon to the point that it almost burns my nostrils. It Smells like alcohol with a hint of caramel and vanilla notes.

Taste: It has a very strong alcohol flavor on the fore front. The bourbon cuts through, but then towards the middle its pretty sweet. The wood notes come out towards the end. It's a very sweet after taste. The vanilla, caramel and sweet malt really cuts through on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin with light carbonation

Overall: This is not my favorite Bourbon Barrel Beverage. Doom, by Founders is the best bourbon barrel I've ever had and this does not compare. This beer is not that balanced in my opinion, the booziness alcoholic flavors dominate on this. I am not a very big fan. I would not buy this again. I just wanted to try it, and now I regret buying it. I had to dump it in the sink. (1,029 characters)

Photo of harrymel
2.73/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

On tap at meadhall

It’s a toasted gold ale with just a ring of soapy white foam. Smells of applesauce, rich peach and booze, some caramelized sugars and a bit of an immature oak. Taste is sweet, vanilla, nougat and more sweetness – really one dimensional. Medium bodied with lighter carb and a surprisingly dry finish. Not really a fan of this one. (353 characters)

Photo of einman
3.96/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I really liked this beer. My brothers and I stopped in KY and randomly picked a store near Lafayette on our way back home to MN from a GA drive. I grabbed this and a few other things in my search for local brews I can't get back home. The smell is great and I really like the mild cocoa smoothness in this.
Completely random buy and completely satisfied. (354 characters)

Photo of Bayern1971
4.58/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I'm a bit surprised at the so-so reviews of this beer. IMHO it's one of the best American beers I've tasted in a long time. Most beers classified as "Bourbon" usually come off as Chocolate mouth-bombs. Yeah, melted & fermented cocoa nightmares. What's so lovely about this one is that it hints at the cocoa but also has a subtle oak and vanilla flavor. Taste is complex and only becomes understandable after subsequent tastings. 9% alcohol is barely perceivable and there's little carbonation which is KBB's only weakness.

In parting, KBB is the best American brew I've tasted in years. There's a revolution going on here and I'm glad I'm along for the ride. (659 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
3.06/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pour is clear orange with reddish hues and a creamy bubbly off white head. Nose is interesting, heavy bourbon with strong vanilla notes and wood undertones. Off chocolate malt notes and some charred barrel in back. Taste is heavy wooded bourbon and chocolate malt. Fair amount of vanilla behind the flavors but finish is a bit empty. Thinned out body in back with strong carbonation making an odd combo. Fair amount of running alcohol in the finish but somehow not hot. Very different beer. (490 characters)

Photo of ExtraStout
3.72/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Had this on tap at The BBC in Norwood.

A- Pours a caramel color with minimal head. Quite frankly, it looks like fizzy bourbon.

S- Bourbon just dominates the nose. A little bit of wood in there and some pungent alcohol. Some caramel and molasses lie deep with there.

T- The bourbon is pretty well integrated with the smooth oak. Almost has a caramel/ buttery after taste. The alcohol is fairly hidden.

M- Lighter bodied but very smooth. No real feel of carbonation and not even any burn from the alcohol.

D- This one goes down smoothly but if you aren't a fan of bourbon, you will not enjoy this. I would call this a cheap bourbon alternative. (647 characters)

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
82 out of 100 based on 561 ratings.