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

Not Rated.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel AleKentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

575 Reviews
very good

(Read More)
Reviews: 575
Hads: 2,624
Avg: 3.62
pDev: 39.78%
Wants: 147
Gots: 763 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. visit their website
Kentucky, United States

Style | ABV
English Strong Ale |  8.19% ABV

Availability: Year-round

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

Award winning Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a unique sipping beer with the distinctive nose of a well-crafted bourbon. Our Kentucky Ale is aged for up to 6 weeks in freshly decanted bourbon barrels from some of Kentucky’s finest distilleries. Subtle yet familiar flavors of vanilla and oak are imparted to this special ale as it rests in the charred barrels. Pleasantly smooth and robust, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale may also be served as an aperitif or after dinner drink.
View: Beers (18) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale Alström Bros
Reviews: 575 | Hads: 2,624
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.45/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.34/5  rDev -7.7%
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.

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Photo of EricHeff
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

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Photo of Bendurgin
4/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of scoobybrew
3.88/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.22/5  rDev +16.6%
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.

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Photo of matt20102
3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
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.

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Photo of mklinger
2.88/5  rDev -20.4%
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.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.53/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

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Photo of Lukafer
2.61/5  rDev -27.9%
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.

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Photo of bobhits
2.95/5  rDev -18.5%
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.

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Photo of Blakaeris
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

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Photo of bashiba
2.81/5  rDev -22.4%
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.

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Photo of rjhaupt
3.24/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Much lighter than expected from a bourbon aged beer but since it only says it's an "ale" and nothing more specific perhaps my expectations were unfounded. Pours with a nice head that retains well but not great but that's somewhat normal for aged beer. Same story for the carbonation which isn't absent but needs to be looked for to be found at all.

S - Almost no smell at all, which is better than a bad smell but surprising from a beer with an 8.19% ABV, but still doesn't help preview what you're about to taste as much as one might like.

T - Very sweet, like maple syrup or caramel. Mild overall, no hop character whatsoever. Pungent aftertaste, like roasted pecans.

M - Smooth, creamy, and entirely what was expected from everything written above.

D - The highest rated category simply because this style of beer tends to be a one serving and you're done sort of beer but the mild nature of this ale actually makes it more likely that I would have another one later on.

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Photo of cooncat
3.25/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Purchased at Save-On in Mentor as a single for $3.00 for a 12 oz. bottle.

Poured at fridge temps into my S.A. glass, the beer is a bit darker than your standard BMC lager in color, with a 1 fingered ecru head which diminishes quickly. A bit of lacing on a swirl of the glass, but no stickage (or very little).

The nose has bourbon in it, which, given the name, is not a surprise. Its not overwhelming, but more of a hint of bourbon. Behind that is a light malty sweetness. Overall, nothing exciting going on in the nose.

The taste is pretty similar to the nose. To be honest, it tastes pretty much like someone added a dash of bourbon to a glass of BMC type lager. I'm stretching my taste buds to try to pick up some of the other flavors I've read other reviewers mention, and I'm not coming up with much. There is a bit of caramel malt behind the bourbon; no noticeable hop presence. Carbonation level is on the high side .. not enough to make it "bitey", but enough to thin the mouthfeel to med-light. As for drinkability, I'd have to say that I'd reach for one of my homebrews before I reached for another one of these.

This is my first beer from a Kentucky brewer, and this particular brewer (Lexington Brewing Co.). Hope that my next beer from this region offers a bit more. Would I recommend it? Well, if you can get yourself a single, and you enjoy the flavor of a "shot and a beer", you'll probably be a candidate for giving this one a try. Otherwise, I can't recommend it .. especially at $3 for a single.

Na Zdravje!

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Photo of mtnbikerpa
4.06/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from bottle with no freshness date into a pint glass. Only mildly suds for a head. The smell was amazing to me. I was letting this brew sit and breathe. I could smell the sweetness from the malts almost as a candied fruits would smell. I could also smell a titch of the original bourbon. Certainly malts are tasted but the overwhelming flavor for me is the bourbon and woody nature. No real hop flavor. Booze present and not hidden well. Its a sipper for me.

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Photo of Wisconsinality
3.42/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle split 3 ways.

A- Pours a pale golden with very minimal head. Quite frankly, it looks like something from a BMC company.

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.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.22/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clean orange-ish/ amber color with a white head. In the aroma, big oak and bourbon. In the taste, bourbon, oaky, hints of vanilla and a nice maltiness. A small bite and medium to big mouthfeel, with a clean small oak in the aftertaste. Big bourbon flavor and quite smooth, very nice being an ale.

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Photo of JunkYardJake
3.17/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into tulip.
Pours amber in color with a small head. Smells very much of bourbon as the barrel aging really took to the brew. A little vanilla in the nose as well. Taste follows the nose with the vanilla coming out a little more but still very much a hot bourbon palate. The bourbon imparts a raw licorice and raisin taste. Mouthfeel is creamy and coats the mouth and throat. Not my favorite but I'm glad I had a chance to try it..

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Photo of beerwolf77
2.45/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Huge thanks to wisconsinality for another Kentucky brew. Poured into my pint glass the beer is golden amber with about one finger of off white head. Not much head retention no lace.

The aroma is mostly bourbon barrel and sweet malt. That's about all I can pick up. So not real complex but close to style.

The flavor was rather dissapointing. Pretty much bourbon and more bourbon. I got no other flavors. It reminds me of a whiskey and water at the bar.

Thin and watery body. Light carbonation.

Overall nothing special at all. I actually had this on my wants at one time. I'm glad I never pulled the trigger.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.25/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip. 8.19% ABV, no date.

Thanks to Wisconsinality for breaking this out for his Kentucky tasting!

A - Pours out a clear golden light bronze color with a thin ring of bone foam. The color is great but the lack of any head is disappointing.

S - Pure oak bourbon aroma. Nothing else is really going on. The malts and hops are absent in aroma. A bit of cold refrigerator that's reminiscent of Sam's Club (no kidding) appears on the back end. Good oak and bourbon that's not too boozy/alcohol rich in aroma but definitely needs more malts in the back.

T - Oaky wood and straight bourbon flavor. No malts, no hops, just straight bourbon flavor. Interesting thing is it's not boozy alcohol at all. The bourbon barrel level is great...if there would be more complimentary flavors going on.

M - Thin and light-medium-bodied with a smooth and fairly crisp texture. Decent finish on it with out any hot alcohol.

D - The thin feeling texture and flavor give it easy drinkability but the bourbon becomes a little much towards the end with out any malts. Serious work is needed on this one.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.2/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Date: 06/17/2010
Type: 12oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2010
Glassware: Portsmouth Tulip

*First off, I would like to thank Kevin(BEERchitect) for hooking me up w/ this brew and giving me the opportunity to sample it.

Poured a golden straw color w/ light red hues and a 1/4 finger white bubbly head, that left a decent amount of lacing on the glass. Nose was of light whiskey, oak, vanilla, and maybe a touch of brown sugar. Almost smells like a very light Jack or Beam and coke. The taste was of oak, vanilla, and subtle bourbon whiskey that gives you enough for you to know it's there, but does not overwhelm. The mouthfeel is thin and crisp, but adequate as it brings more bourbon notes from the barrel aging forward. Drinkability? I could drink this all night, actually I am going to put another 12ozer in the fridge as we speak.

Kevin, I hope you don't mind trading me some more of this brew next week, because I am sure the 6-pack is not going to last long! Do seek this brew out if you enjoy whiskey BAing that is very mild and makes for an extremely drinkable brew.

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

I poured into a pint glass to a finger of off white head. It is amber colored and clear. The aroma is bourbon and vanilla. I can also get whiffs of caramel malt. The taste is dominated by the bourbon. I get the oak/vanilla taste as well. This beer is a great example of what bourbon barrel aging can do to a beer. I am not a big whiskey drinker but I could see this as an alternative.

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Photo of zhooker
2.99/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From the tap into a standard pint glass. Not much foam up top, hence not much lacing either. Deep, dark golden-amber in color, and rather clear.

The nose is light but enjoyable. Wood and an oaky sweetness come out, like a very mild bourbon. There are some roasted malt scents as well. Frankly, I am a little underwhelmed.

The taste is even more underwhelming. Incredibly light. A well-rounded malt flavor with a tinge of sweetness, but not much bourbon or oak/wood on the tongue. Hops mild, hardly present. Disappointed.

I will admit, as a beer (in general), this is a good ale. But I'm thinking barrel-aged when I drink this, and compared to other barrel-aged ales (bourbon barrel in particular) this just tastes weak. Drinkable? Very. And it hides its 7-9% ABV well. But it really fails to deliver in the flavor department.

Overall, it feels like a Kentucky brewery trying to cash in on the Kentucky bourbon legacy, making it palatable and consumable, but really missing the amazing powers that barrel-aging can impart.

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Photo of aubuc1
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured in to a snifter.

Pours a light brown with a thin white head.

Smell is first smooth whiskey, then a mellow malty bread. Don't know if I should sip it or bite in to it.

Taste reminds me of a bourbon/vanilla creamshake. The vanilla is very pronounced after the bourbon.

Good mouthfeel and good drinkability for a bourbon beer.

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