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Rackhouse Ale - Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Rackhouse Ale
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BA SCORE
91
outstanding

59 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 59
Reviews: 36
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.13%
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: TurdFurgison on 10-27-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 59 | Reviews: 36 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BuckeyeSlim
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

BuckeyeSlim, Apr 21, 2012
Photo of Tyrawlings
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Tyrawlings, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of greg4579
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

greg4579, Jan 17, 2012
Photo of siege06nd
3.58/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a sampler cup at the GL BA Blackout release.

A. This brew is a very cloudy, medium orange brown color. A half finger of cream head appears and slowly settles, leaving about a quarter finger behind. Decent lacing. Nothing spectacular, but has a pleasant glow to it. Good.

S. A lot of bourbon, maple, vanilla, creamy malt, and caramel. A very sweet, thick smell, but balanced and with some subtle syrupy nuances. Hints of brown sugar and molasses. Bourbon covers most of it up though.

T. A lot of vanilla, maple, caramel, and some booziness on the back end. Barrel aging is apparent here, as the wood really comes through. A dry, boozy finish. Enjoyable, but just a little bit thin right now. Bourbon overpowers all of it and makes it a little one note. Ho hum.

M. Highly carbonated, perhaps too much so. A distinct thinness to this one. Lackluster.

O. Rackhouse is an interesting beer that I am certainly happy to have tried. But it is a bit thin and boozy at the moment. Just not enough malt to support the heat on this one. Wondering what time will do to this.

siege06nd, Jan 17, 2012
Photo of Rhettroactive
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

Rhettroactive, Jan 17, 2012
Photo of thebouch01
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

thebouch01, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of Urbancaver
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

Urbancaver, Dec 12, 2010
Photo of PenguinBeerFan
4.38/5  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.

PenguinBeerFan, Nov 21, 2010
Photo of jampics2
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the 2010 Barrel Aged Blackout Release.

In whisky production, the rack house is the building where the whisky is aged. Over time, the whisky takes on woody qualities and changes to its final form. Even though it was originally intended to reference the wood aging, Rackhouse is a very appropriate name for this ale, as the beer has gone through some tweaks and changes over the years. Most notably, the recipe was changed to incorporate more sweetness last year, and that has continued to this year. This is a huge bourbon bomb of a beer, full of sweet malts, woody notes and with a syrupy feel, making it very reminiscent of brandy or some other liquor. The continual evolution Rackhouse ale has undergone has lead to a very nice place, setting this beer as a unique and enjoyable American Strong Ale.

Rackhouse looks nice in the snifter. The beer is amber with hints of honey, crimson and ruby swirling around the glass. Unfortunately, the swirl does not reawaken the liveliness of the beer. This has very little head retention, which can be a consequence of barrel-aging. However, I'd like just a bit more signs of life in the relatively clear liquid that fills my glass.

The smell is a bourbon lover's dream. Rackhouse has more sweet caramel malt than just about any other beer I've had. Hints of toffee and even a touch of cherry give it depth. A nice amount of bourbon and vanilla showcase the masterful way this beer was aged. Not too boozy, but bourbon dominated.

The taste takes me to the middle of the warehouse, where barrels on shelves line the corridors. The transformation that is occurring all around me makes whisky taste the way it does - the wood makes the difference. That really holds true for this ale, as the sweet caramel malt is smothered in layers of vanilla and bourbon. Some sweetness and a hint of alcohol burn finish out a well-rounded palate. This is unique in its sweetness and showcasing of the barrel. Any fan of big, barrel-aged beers will love the tastes Rackhouse features.

Rackhouse has low carbonation, which is fine for a strong ale. The medium body is satisfying and has great viscosity. Some lingering sweetness and a touch of lingering alcohol finish the experience. The beer is slightly sticky, but never becomes syrupy. That, along with the pleasant tastes makes this very drinkable for a bourbon lover like me. This is not a beer for everyone, though, as its strength and disposition may make it difficult to finish for the uninitiated.

jampics2, Nov 09, 2010
Photo of Spider889
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
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.

Spider889, Nov 08, 2010
Photo of xnicknj
3.68/5  rDev -11.5%
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.

xnicknj, Nov 06, 2010
Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.55/5  rDev -14.7%
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.

LordAdmNelson, Oct 31, 2010
Photo of chaz01
3.83/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was able to get a growler from a 1/6 barrel leftover from a local Great Lakes Beer Tasting event here in Dayton. As a side note, great event hosted at Dorothy Lane Market, and Lisa from Great Lakes did a great job.

A: Dark mahogany, a little cloudy. Not much head, but that maybe due to I was unable to open the growler until a few days following the event.

S: Woody and oak aromas with an alcohol presence, more rum-like than bourbon.

T: I'm picking up a big alcohol presence, but again like the aroma, not necessarily bourbon flavors. Fruity raisins and dates flavor complement the alcohol, with a little bit of bourbon flavors in the aftertaste.

M: Full bodied, low carbonation, syrupy mouthfeel

D: Nice sipping beer for a cool Autumn evening. Very easily drinkable that can sneak up on you. A couple glasses out of my growler and I am definitely feeling it.

chaz01, Oct 20, 2010
Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

yeahnatenelson, Oct 03, 2010
Photo of treyrab
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

We got really lucky with this one. As we had lunch at Bocktown we were greeted by a Great Lakes Brewery Representative who provided us samples of three of their beers. They had told us that later that night Rackhouse would be on tap at Fatheads. With only a 1/6 barrel being tapped, we raced down to get a glass.

A: Poured into a snifter all the way to the rim, yielding no head. You could see a few bubbles of white/eggshell color, but nothing substantial. Perfectly clear mahogany and ruby red hues. Some amber and brick colors as well.

S: When cold, the only thing that could be made of the smell was bourbon and vanilla from the barrel aging. Albeit, that element is minot. Not a bourbon bomb at all, but very smooth and balanced. As it warms, the beer really shines. Vanilla, bourbon, rum-soaked dates and raisins, toffee, and brown sugar. Again, subtle and not overpowering, but well blended.

T: Similar to the smell, this got exponentially better as it warmed. The beer was complex, but in a subtle way. Not as powerful as some bourbon aged beers, but definitely more balanced and well blended. Nice rum-soaked dark fruits, vanilla and bourbon, chocolate, and toffee.

M/D: Nice and creamy. I drank two glasses with no problem. Could have enjoued a third or fourth as well.

treyrab, Oct 03, 2010
Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.22/5  rDev +1.4%
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.

NittanyBeerFan, Oct 03, 2010
Photo of phattysbox
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brought a growler of this fine brew to a tasting in NYC... Split and shared among friends.

Growler was opened with a slow hiss - this beer was not carbonated very strongly when it was filled, but it maintained what carbonation it had very well. Poured into Unibroue tulip glass and the color resembles that of a rose(wine) - reddish to orange and light in color. Very clear. Small 1/4 inch head that recedes leaving a very thin lace.

Smell is AMAZING. Bourbon soaked sweet fruit hits the nose with undertones of vanilla, toffee, and oak. Great nose that comes off kind of boozy but a great way. Some malt here and there but the barrel really comes out in the nose.

With the smell all Bourbon I was really expecting a bourbon bomb but it was pleasantly subdued in the taste. Sweet candy fruit with a strong malt backbone. Caramel, raisins soaked in bourbon, and grainy huskiness in the aftertaste. Really complex and ABV is really not noticable.

Mouthfeel is average meduim body. Doesn't quite coat the tongue but definitely leaves its mark. Low carb. served this beer well.

Dangerous drinkability and not as sweet as I expected from other malt bombs that are out there. Well crafted and an outstanding brew.

phattysbox, Dec 14, 2009
Photo of nrbw23
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a golden orange and is pretty cloudy. A good, solid ring of white head and leaves light spots of lace on the walls of the glass.

S- Aroma is really complex, quite a bit going on here. A little tart, with hints of grapes and some grassy herbs.

T- Taste follows the smell really well and even sweeter than I expected. Overall a good balance of fruit and an oak flavor. Alcohol also stands out.

M- Medium in body and carbonation.

D- Very drinkable, even though its has a higher ABV. Brought this one home in my growler.

nrbw23, Dec 14, 2009
Photo of boatshoes
4.08/5  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.

boatshoes, Nov 17, 2009
Photo of nuttyviking
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%
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.

nuttyviking, Nov 09, 2009
Photo of adamette
4.68/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served into a snifter from tap at the brewery by Steve, day bartender at GLBC. This is the beer that replaced BA Blackout Stout once it was finished. I have waited about three weeks to taste it since I was not able to attend the release party in which it was first served. From the sign hanging on the bar..."Sweet Strong Ale aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels." 10.0% ABV also listed on the same sign at the bar.

A Opaque medium brown body under a nice light brown creamy head. Lacing is like a curtain on the inside of the snifter. Interesting, deep, inviting look. 4.5

S The bourbon is in the forefront for sure. Some malt sweetness is able to be smelled as well. The beer is devoid of any hops smell to my nose. 4.5

T Light roast malt lays the groundwork for this bourbon bomb of a beer. No hops tasted by me but I am quite sure that they are in there. Expertly brewed and one of GLBC's best. 5.0

M Nice and syrupy, sticky, just like I like this style to be. Make no mistake, this is one huge beer with the bourbon notes, the big malt presence and the alcohol content which would have been hidden well aside from the huge dose of bourbon! 5.0

D Certainly every drop of this will be savored and enjoyed but it is a sipper, meant to be enjoyed one per night. I will still rate it as "good" though due to its wonderful depth, complexity, interest making is such that I will drink every drop! 4.0

adamette, Nov 03, 2009
Photo of bamadog
3.6/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

bamadog, Nov 02, 2009
Photo of sholland119
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
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

sholland119, Oct 28, 2009
Photo of pwoods
3.85/5  rDev -7.5%
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.

pwoods, Oct 20, 2009
Photo of kels
4.43/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

kels, Oct 19, 2009
Rackhouse Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
91 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.