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Rackhouse Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Rackhouse Ale
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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

63 Ratings
THE BROS
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 63
Reviews: 36
rAvg: 4.13
pDev: 9.2%
Wants: 11
Gots: 1 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co. visit their website
Ohio, United States

Style | ABV
American Strong Ale |  9.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: TurdFurgison on 10-27-2005

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 63 | Reviews: 36
Reviews by MattPfeifer:
More User Reviews:
Photo of Osiris9588
4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the brewery. Pours a deep mahogany color with a creamy off-white head that shows solid retention and ample lacing.

The smell offers plenty of malt, fruit, and a strong bourbon note. The taste follows, along with caramel, toffee, and a bit of dried cherry--the bourbon characteristics are present to an amazing degree. I like bourbon, and I also really liked this beer.

The mouth is full and complex, sweet yet well carbonated and robust. The hight alcohol does limit the drinkablity a bit, but it's time well spent with this ale.

Photo of boatshoes
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Had this on tap at the Great Lakes BA Blackout release party and am reviewing from my notes that I took while meeting some new Beeradvocate friends. Remembered having this one the previous year at the GABF and was very excited to try it again. Lived up to my memories and expectations.

Appearance- Poured a hazy amber into first my five ounce sampler and a subsequent 9oz snifterful as well. Minimal ring of head around the edges of the glass, but a fair amount of mild, evenly distributed carbonation beading up the glass. Oddly, I didn't remember this one being a shade of amber, but it was in fact the same beer.

Smell- Nice nose. Smells heavily of vanilla and oak with some bourbon and a touch of leather coming through as well. Very rich and sweet smelling.

Taste- Hugely prominent vanilla and wood for me here. The bourbon really comes across as vanilla forward for me, but the oak has really smoothed everything out here. More complex notes of perhaps a mild tobacco, along with the leather I detected earlier in the nose. Very sweet but blends together very well. Almost tastes like a liqueur.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- The mouthfeel on this one is really outstanding. Silky smooth, rich, and substantial. However, despite how much I liked this one, I can't really give it high marks on drinkability. It is very very sweet and not conducive to drinking more than one really. That being said, I really liked this beer.

Overall, excellent. I really like this one as a dessert beer or a nightcap. I wish they would bottle this and sell it along with the BA Blackout.

Photo of pwoods
3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap down in the cellar of the brewpub during the bourbon event.

Served in a 5oz. snifter. Notes.

A: Pours a cloudy, murky golden peach color. Decent sized pearly white, somewhat frothy head. Some retention and a bit of lacing.

S: Plenty of bourbon and woody notes. Surprisingly there is a lot of citrus, pineapple and mango. Some lighter malts but they're mostly dominated by the bourbon and oak.

T/M: More of the bourbon and barrel flavors. Plenty of the citrus with pineapple and mango and even some tartness. Not a bunch of bitterness, though. Body is medium or so with good carbonation.

D: Higher ABV and gets a bit too sweet as it warms up. Interesting, though.

Photo of nuttyviking
4.75/5  rDev +15%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

At Great Lakes Brewing, had a small shot of this amazing brew. So much bought a growler to take home to CT to share with my friends in Willimantic.

This strong ale at 9.5 or 10.0 or whatever is a mean brew, heat ensues in the body immediately after drinking. This is an alcohol bomb, but with tons of flavor and character.

Carbonation, none really

Head, slight to none

Nose, major aroma to this brew, so full of character, the bourbon aroma hits you and yet the malts and grains are very apparent.

Flavor is so subtle, after the nose you expect to be hit by booze, but no, an amazingly light rich character, plenty of depth, rolls across the tongue warming as it goes. The aftertaste is wonderful, a rich coat in your throat.

I guess they know how to cask age a beer in Cleveland.

Photo of cabsandking
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark opaque brown with a creamy, beige, fine bubbled head that fades to a fine lace. Oak barrel aromas all over, tobacco, sweet bourbon, and vanilla. The bourbon barrel is pretty clear in this one, candy sugar, big vanilla, lacto-bourbon and cloying. Fruity flavors are to be found but hard to put my finger on particulars with such strong bourbon character. Smooth body and a descent zip to creamy carbonation on a medium mouthfeel. Finishes with more bourbon and some prickly heat that cleans up considerably well. The taste is fantastic...if you love bourbon...if it’s difficult to pick out beer-ey-ness for the oaked bourbon is potent.

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to the GLBC rep that we met at Bocktown in Pittsburgh, PA for tipping us off to the event at Fatheads last Friday that was to have this beer on tap. We rushed over early and were lucky enough to grab a couple beers out of the 1/6th barrel that was there.

Poured into a snifter, there is no head at all. The body is crystal clear garnet, as I can see right though it to the table below even with a full glass. In the light, the body is highlighted by deep ruby hues.

Aromas of toffee, dates, and only slight notes of bourbon and vanilla. The dates are complemented nicely by raisins. Not too much going on aside from the barrel-aging, which I guess is understandable, since this beer was made purely to be barrel aged and doesn't exist in non barrel aged form. On the palate, Rackhouse really opens up. A great fruity base of dates and raisins is complemented by intense notes of toffee and vanilla. Oakey tannins are very notable. The bourbon is very subtle. The finish leaves some sweet cherry and bourbon.

Syrupy but smooth, a slight tingle is the only hint of carbonation. Again, to be expected from a BA beer. Definitely a sipper, and as it warms, the depth improves considerable, bringing on new flavors.

Photo of dustylong
3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had this beer at Greak Lakes brewpub. Pouts a dark color with a reddish tint with a decent head and some lacing (on-tap into a snifter). This is a very strong beer. Period. The smell is strong. Very alcohol...reminds me of barleywine a little bit (which I think someone else noted, and I agree with). Aged in bourbon barrels, which is very evident. Has a very strong taste it...Once again very alcoholic, with a bourbon flavor to it. Felt kind of rough in the mouth..not an easy beer to drink...Overall a very tasty beer, but a little much, even for me.

Photo of PenguinBeerFan
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Oily brown. Thick and syrupy with tight lacing. Very little head.

S - Atomic malt bomb, with a little bit of oak behind it. A little boozy smelly. Nothing outstanding, certainly nothing offensive.

T - Sweet, sweet, sweet. The oak aging manages to mellow it out just enough that it isn't sickly. This is a malt lovers dream.

M - Dense, syrupy, thick and luscious.

D - For 9.5% ABV (I'd wager it stronger than as listed which seems to be the case for GLBC's pub exclusives) this goes down easy. With as much malt as this brings to the table I'd expect it to get sickly after one or two, but the flavors from the barrel really bring this one full circle into something I can tear at to my hearts content.

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.66/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From tap to plastic cup at the BA Blackout release on 1/16/12

-- Thanks for sharing the experience, John! --

A: Gorgeous orange-amber. Top notch collar and lacing.

S: Alcohol esters, hot notes of wood and a bit banana and clove.

T: Really, really hot. There's no real balance here. It's a bourbon bomb from the start, an it never lets go. The yeast and malt profile fight to shine through, but in the end, they fail to make a lasting impression. Not bad, just a bit above average.

M: Creamy. And thank God, as a thin, weak beer couldn't carry the heavy bourbon profile this brew packs.

O: This is one for the cellar. GL's Rackhouse screams for time to mellow out a bit, as it's a hot bourbon bomb fresh. It lacks the proper balance, and left me burping whiskey esters for a while.

Approach cautiously.

Photo of neenerzig
4.22/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this at the GLBC last night as it is another of their on-tap "pub exclusives." Served in a snifter. This beer is a a deep mahogany color. Very little head and lace from the get go on mine and my buddy's. Strong malty and fruity aromas are present as well as the oaked bourbon as the beer is aged in oak bourbon barrels. Sweet malty flavors and dark fruit such as cherry and perhaps plum are also present along with some caramel. The taste is rounded out the the bite that can only be present when a beer has been aged in oak bourbon barrels. I love it! Has a crisp, full bodied mouthfeel with moderate to heavy carbonation. Much more drinkable that I would have anticipated given the high ABV. Another winner from Great lakes. I hope to drink this again before it is gone until next year.

Eric

Photo of Spider889
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

One of the tougher GLBC beers to try, I really wish they'd bottle this too! Had my first taste of this at the BA Blackout Release Party.

Pours a honey amber color. Darker in the center. I didn't get much head from my pour, but then again this beer is really light on the carbonation.

Smells very delicate, surprising coming from a BA beer. Softly sweet with hints of honey, clover, and floral hops. Mild vanilla and citrus comes through occasionally.

The beer also tastes quite delicate. I would like to know how long they age it in barrels, because it's nothing like the hot BA stouts that are becoming so popular. It was very light and crisp - no lingering aftertaste or stickiness. There's a sweet twang of alcohol and it's mildly warming on the way down. The flavor is slightly oaky with honey once more coming though predominately. Also essence of orange and of sweet honeyed lemon tea. When I sat back and stopped trying to dissect every nuance I suppose the beer has a mild sweet sherry-like quality to it.

Goes down super smooth and finishes with a slight earthy hoppiness. Not really boozy despite the 9.5%.

I found this to be a very drinkable brew. Not my favorite of GLBC, but a real treat worth seeking out for sure.

Photo of kels
4.42/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours a golden apricot shade. It is moderately cloudy, with light carbonation visible throughout. A good, solid ring of white, watery lacing skims the top of the beer and leaves behind light spots of lace on the walls of the glass.

Aroma is really complex and pleasantly mouthwatering. It is a little tart and almost wine-like with hints of grapes and herbs and a slight pungency that reminds me of tannins. There is a lightly toasted malt presence along with warm, earthy oak.

Taste echoes the aroma. It is slightly tart, slightly bitter and heavy on the alcohol. The fruity sweetness of tart, chewy cherries or apricots underlies a toasty, oaky grain and slight hop presence. There's an initial stickiness that fades with the heat of the alcohol to a dry warmth. The weight is moderate with a brightly carbonated finish.

This beer is incredibly drinkable, to a fault. It is really tasty and unique, and it goes down much too easily.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - while enjoying the bread pudding, my server gave me a shot of this. In the tiny glass it looked fairly golden but now, in the 10-ounce goblet, it has a decidely reddish burgundy cast to it. Just a thin collar of light tan foam.

Aroma - loads of whiskey notes with a sweet fruity bend. Not much else but I ain't complaining!

Taste - the strong ale presents itself as sweet and grainy, malt liquor-ish. The fruitiness from the nose is here as well. While that is pretty good by itself, the oak barrels add a good complementary dimension. Smoky, charred flavor from the depths of the oak, peaty and a bit hot. If they would bottle this, what could *this* develop into after a few years of cellaring? The finish is warm and whiskey.

Mouthfeel - a little heavier than average. Restrained carbonation, let's the flavor come through unhindered.

Drinkability - takes a little adjusting, but smooth (and potent) sailing after that.

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Imbibed at Kegs For Kids Chicago 2010 - taken from notes.

Appearance -- Pours a medium amber hue, nice clarity, sudsy beige head.

Smell -- Honey, caramel, dates and figs, vanilla oakiness, faint bourbon. Some buttery diacetyl in the mix, but not terribly distracting.

Taste -- Rich malty notes abound: toffee, spiced rum raisin, date, caramel, buttered toast. Bourbon and oak are present, but don't dominate. Oak tannin dryness in the finish.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body, not too heavy, with moderate prickly carbonation.

Drinkability -- I was told this beer was barrel-aged 6mo's - works for me. the barrel notes worked in tandem with what the malts were doing. This was probably the most easy-drinking barrel-aged beer I've ever had. Not my favorite of the category, but a beer I would gladly have again given the opportunity.

Photo of Deuane
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Hazy, turbid yellowish tinged amber with a thin white head that vanishes quickly in a plume of alcohol flame!

S-Whoa! Sweet luscious bourbon, heat and a bit of caramel sweetness.

T-Initial caramel sweetness that is quickly overwhelmed by a tidal wave of bourbon. This is like the beer equivalent of a bourbon shot! Dry oaky notes finish things off.

M-Medium-heavy body and super smooth. This is so thick, creamy and smooth it's like a burbon milkshake. Decadent!

D-A bit too hot in the end but overall a very interesting brew. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to taste this one.

Photo of bamadog
3.56/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review is from notes taken on 10/13/2009 at the 2009 release of GLBC Barrel-aged Blackout Stout. Poured from the tap to a sample glass.

Appearance: Pours a hazy lemony/coppery color; body is far from clear and a short 1/4 finger head that fades immediately to a ring and a thin poly-wog in the center sits on top of the beer; thick washes of oily lacing slides back into the beer from the sides of the glass.

Smell: Very mild aromas - comes across the nose as sweet combined with some alcoholic vapor - a slightly citric quality is present as well. Like most GLBC offerings though, the nose is kind of weak.

Taste: The taste is overwhelmingly sweet, like candied honey and it almost turns my stomach as it's sooo sweet... Strong dose of alcohol; slightly citric quality of an orange is present as well and it comes across as a little acidic - reminiscent of an old ale mixed with honey.

Mouthfeel: Body is thick and viscous and leaves a solid coating all over the palate; mouth is VERY warm, as is the belly; very mild carbonation but that makes sense considering how thick the body is on this. Very nice overall.

Drinkability: Nice flavors, but it's heavy and the sweetness is just too much for my palate. I am glad, however, that I got to try this beer.

Photo of mcallister
4.02/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Lovey shade of amber/mohagony. Off white head is rich and creamy with very good retention and some sticky lace left behind.

Rich sweet caramel malt, rediculous amounts of sweet toffee, toasted oak, coconut, brown sugar, candied fruits and dried fruits, fig especially. Also a hint of butterscotch on the ending.

Lush, sweet, palate coating mouthfeel. Very sweet and malty. Toasted oak, with a vanilla, toasted coconut edge. Bourbon is nicely integrated. Brown sugar, fig, other dried fruit round out the flavors. Many nutty flavors in here as well especially chestnut and even some hazlenut. The overall RS level of this does hurt the drinkability however. A sipper for sure.

Photo of drgonzo3705
4.47/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I'd like to Thank myself for cracking this one open. I truly am generous beyond all belief. From Mr. Stewarts noggin:

A: Beautiful deep amber color with a light head with thin ring around the edge.

S: Woody sweet vanilla bourbony goodness. Enough said.

T: Vanilla and wood smack your palate as a pleasant sweetness rides underneath.

M: Medium body with just enough carbonation to keep me happy.

D: I still have to finish this growler, and I'm definitely not dreading it. I'm glad this is a once a year pub exclusive because I think it makes it that much better.

Photo of cpetrone84
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is hazy copper amber with a tan head. Nose is fairy sweet with a good amount of wood and notes of bourbon. Notes of berries, vanilla, and toffee. Taste is quite sweet. Wood is a bit more moderate with a nice bourbon interplay. There are layers of toffee, vanilla, caramel and cherry in the back. Stronger carbonation with a relatively drinkable body and fairly soft palate. Pretty good stuff, taste is a bit more deep and integrated.

Photo of brentk56
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a dark amber color and a modest head that, nevertheless, laces the chalice

Smell: Bourbon and a bit of caramel

Taste: Starts with a sweet caramel flavor that builds in intensity and then, whoosh, the bourbon arrives at mid-palate and provides an oaky bourbon-filled sweet finish

Mouthfeel: Full body with moderate carbonation; some warmth on the finish

Drinkability: Very subtly handled; just enough bourbon to make things interesting but you can still taste the beer

Photo of Bagman007
2.75/5  rDev -33.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Served on tap in a sampler glass at the brewery.

A- Dark amber coloring with a little bit of head.

S- Has a very strong whiskey scent to it.

T- Definitely has a whiskey type taste to it, but not too strong to where you start to think it's not a beer anymore. Has a bit of a smokey flavor as well.

M- Kinda strong tasting and heavy. Kind of like taking a mild straight shot of whiskey.

D- Might be very drinkable for some people, but definitely not for me. The fact that it is so strong also hinders it's drinkability.

Overall a very strong whiskey tasting beer. It tasted better than the waitress made it sound, but I still couldn't have too many of these.

Photo of Urbancaver
3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thin clear tannish brown with red hues and minimal head that dissipated immediately. Smells strongly of bourbon... not much else. tastes like a malty bourbon concoction with not much else going on. a bit thin but well carbonated and overall very drinkable.

Photo of sholland119
4.32/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to unclejedi for sending this one along!

A-Pours a cloudy pale brown amber, almost like iced tea. Not much head or lacing.

S-Bourbon, oak, white grapes and pineapple. Very nicely woody and sweet.

T-Much like the nose, the sweetness and wood dominate. Lots of white grape, mild citrus and pineapple with a bit of boozy warmth.

M-Medium bodied and lightly syrupy.

D-Very nice. This one slides right down and leaves me ready for another.

HV

Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

At GL BA Blackout release party.

Pours a rich golden color with a bit of white head that recedes to a ring around the glass. Smell is decent, some oak and bourbon notes come through, with a bit of lighter malt. Flavor is similar, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and a bit of a light ale in the background. Description says oak bourbon barrel aged sweet ale, and that's a pretty apt description. Something about lighter beers aged in bourbon, however, doesn't work for me. It ends up getting an odd buttery flavor (not diacetyl) that I just don't particularly enjoy. Body is big enough to handle the bourbon, but not overpowering, carbonation is good. A sipper for sure, not a bad beer, just not my favorite.

Photo of xnicknj
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at BA Blackout release party

Pours a darker auburn color with some golden hues. Smaller head, with a touch of retained wispy film running across the top of the beer.

Notes of malted sweetness, oaky bourbon, brown sugar, and vanilla in the nose.

Begins strong with roasted malt and candied brown sugar. Dark fruit including raisins and figs alongside some vanilla tones. The oaked bourbon flavors are apparent, but not overboard, along with some alcohol warmth. The sweetness is heavy here, especially with the brown sugar and bourbon combining. Finishes boozy and sweet.

Lighter body for a barrel aged beer, fairly carbonated, and a bit sticky. A smaller sample of this was enough for me, as the booze and sweetness were a little bit much. It's described as a "bourbon barrel aged sweet ale," so this wasn't surprising but it just wasn't my style. I can see some people loving this though.

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Rackhouse Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 63 ratings.