Old Kentucky Bastard
Nickel Brook Brewing Co.

Old Kentucky BastardOld Kentucky Bastard
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Beer Geek Stats: | Print Shelf Talker
Style:
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #205
ABV:
14.5%
Score:
92
Ranked #3,663
Avg:
4.13 | pDev: 11.14%
Reviews:
60
Ratings:
197
From:
Nickel Brook Brewing Co.
 
Ontario, Canada
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  20
Gots
  57
SCORE
92
Outstanding
Old Kentucky BastardOld Kentucky Bastard
Notes: Our Bolshevik Bastard kicked up a notch. We age Bolshevik in Kentucky bourbon barrels for over a year. The rich chocolate, coffee and dark fruit flavours from our imperial stout are married together with the vanilla, oak and warming alcohol from bourbon barrels.

Together as one, the result is an incredible blend of aroma and taste.

Drink today, or cellar for years as it matures.
Reviews: 60 | Ratings: 197 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by janubio:
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janubio from Spain

3.63/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottle at Las Buenas Pulgas, served in a snifter glass. Black color, beige color, small head with short retention, tiny lacing. Aroma of coffee, caramel, bourbon, vanilla, dried fruits. Medium to full body, creamy texture, good carbonation. Sweet and boozy finish. Taste follows the aroma, with more prune presence. Really good.

Jun 30, 2020
More User Reviews:
Photo of TheHammer
TheHammer from Canada

4.07/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark as night, finger and a half of head that stuck around with ample lace. Pretty easy to get Stout's appearance right, but more lacing and a bit more head is needed for the perfect score.

Smell: Smoky stout with the whisky aroma of bourbon very present. Some notes of Vanilla and oak, but the whisky aroma of bourbon is clearly dominant. Warming really brings out the Bourbon more and more.

Taste: Starts with a milder caramel malt with vanilla notes as bitter coffee and burnt oak comes forward to be tamed by the unmistakable taste of fairly even whisky. It's no Innis and Gunn mind you (whose whole thing is Oak aging) as it seems like fairly generic whisky, but it's good none the less.

Mouthfeel: I find that a bit of a burning whisky sensation is left on the back of my tounge on this one, as it is very clear that this beer couldn't hide it's alcohol content to save it's life. That said, some leeway is given, since it's very clearly aged with whisky barrels. What I am a fan of is the long lasting creamy carbonation that helps out the entire beer and the very smooth transitioning. Has just enough dryness at the end to be interesting.

Drinkability: On the heavier end of medium bodied, which is a bit surprising given the style and exceptionally high ABV. It's strong, but it doesn't drink like a meal, almost to it's detriment in my opinion. Very balanced and easy to drink, but I'm left wanting something more regardless.

Final Thoughts: It's an all around good beer, and certainly one of the better RIS's Ontario has produced, but I'm left with a lingering sense of "Shouldn't there be more to this?" I mean, it's an RIS aged in Bourbon barrels. I was honestly expecting a bit more of a kitchen sink effect on this one. What I found was a good stout with whisky tastes. Still worth a two thumbs up regardless though.

Dec 01, 2015
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SuperMartino from Canada

4.79/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Okay. I don't review a lot of beers but I must say this is worth buying. Buy this beer. You can taste the bourbon, the vanilla, the oak, the dark fruits, the alcohol. The mouth feel I like a mini Bourbon County stout. If you are into a bourbon aged beer THIS is worth buying. I recommend this beer for anyone who likes great beer. But this beer. Before it's too late.

Dec 21, 2014
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HockeyBrewmeister from New York

4.5/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 Batch - 14.5% ABV

L: motor oil black with mocha head (surprisingly active)
S: huge cherry cordial sweetness, chocolate fudge, oak, smooth vanilla, and bourbon
T: rich chocolate, roasted coffee bitterness, cherry cordial, sweet vanilla, and a beautiful bourbon warming on the backend that creeps down into the chest. Real Kentucky bourbon at it's finest.
F: velvety sludge

OVERALL: In my humble opinion, this is as good as BA Stouts get. No reason this shouldn't get the same hype as BCBS, SMS, KBS or any other unicorn brew. Taste is impressively smooth yet not cloyingly sweet. 100% recommended!

I was lucky enough to pickup a bottle on Long Island... but price was steep at $22. Really appreciate the fact that the detailed ingredients are included on the label.

Jun 18, 2017
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octortus from Canada

4.1/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draught Pour. ABV 14.5%.
Appearance:
Aroma:
Mouthfeel:
Flavour:
Overall: This was the 2016 version. It was very enjoyable and I would have it again.

Review: 92

Dec 08, 2019
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Phyl21ca from Canada

4.5/5  rDev +9%

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a nice dark brown foamy head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of vanilla, butterscotch and bourbon are quite dominant and pretty enjoyable. Taste is also dominated by a well-balanced mix of bourbon, vanilla and butterscotch with some light roasted malt notes. Quite a bit of residual sugar can be found in here as well. Body is full enough with an oily texture and good carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Very enjoyable beer that I would gladly buy again and share with friends.

Dec 12, 2014
Photo of TerryW
TerryW from Canada

3.72/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark with a moderate but handsome brown head. Lots of fine spotty lace as you go. Good looking beer.

Sweet and boozy on the nose. Quite clearly has spent art of its life in a barrel. Mouthfeel is full, unctuous, heavy, syrupy.

Lots of bourbon to taste. Chocolate, wood ash, licorice, plums. Really nice vanilla finish. Tons of flavour happening, a very sturdy beer, not for the light of heart. Drying bitter finish.

Quite boozy, so stay seated and drink this at home. A decent brew, but just a touch heavy handed. Kudos however to Nicklebrook for the variety of interesting brews they've been working lately.

Feb 11, 2014
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Sammy from Canada

3.57/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On cask at Volo. Dark and below middling mouthfeel. Chocolate, roast, and woody from the barreling. Glad it wasn’t substantive bourbon. On the flip side it looks like they kept this to pleasing more people and not going to any extreme of passion in making it. Might be livelier on tap, less watery in the bottle. Drinkable but a fair IS at best.

Jan 04, 2013
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ejimhof from Pennsylvania

3.75/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Feb 17, 2017
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.03/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pitch black pour, viscous on the glass, soapy thin toffee lacing ring.

S - Cocoa and chocolate.

T - Bourbon, oak, oak tannin, boozy, chocolate is buried, vanilla, toasted brown sugar.

M - Medium body, no carbonation, silky, boozy effervescence.

O - This beer is better than the rating.

Apr 05, 2016
Photo of Derek
Derek from Canada

4.45/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2016 vintage, nicely cellared by @dabeerbuddha. Thanks for this top 100 Canadian Brew!

Black with a dark tan head that recedes to a thin ring, but shows some leg.

Aroma of bourbon, oak, vanilla, bakers chocolate and a light coffee.

A bit boozy, but it has the flavour and body to back it up. Bourbon and oak up front, black strap molasses, licorice and espresso, with some chocolate sweetness and roasted marshmallow on the finish. For a brew of this strength, it is exquisitely balanced (bittersweet with some alcohol warmth).

I’d be interested to know the gravities, it’s rare that a brew this Strong is so drinkable and balanced.

Nov 03, 2017
Photo of mschrei
mschrei from Illinois

4.31/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2017 vintage. Pours dark with creamy tan lacing. A king of fruity and woody smell that reminds me of an infected barrel aged. Taste is malty, strong vanilla, slight chocolate, and a mild barrel presence. Excellent mouth feel. Medium body, nothing oily about it, mildly mouth watering, and deceptive alcohol presence (a shade under 12%, unlike the 14 plus as listed here). Warms well, pairs excellently with a cigar. Great beer, glad I took a chance on it.

May 25, 2019
Photo of bluejacket74
bluejacket74 from Ohio

4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

750 ml wax capped bottle, 2015 vintage, 12% ABV. Served in a Great Lakes Brewing chalice, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head that stayed around for a very long time. There's also a lot of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like bourbon, vanilla, oak, coffee, and chocolate. Taste is similar to the aroma, but there's also some dark fruit, molasses and burnt/charred malt noticeable. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit slick with moderate carbonation. I thought this was an enjoyable brew, if you're into bourbon barrel stouts then this one is worth trying! It was definitely a nice surprise since I hadn't heard anything about this beer when I bought it. $14.49 a bottle.

Jan 02, 2016
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biegaman from Canada

3.83/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Even pouring entirely upright couldn't produce even a finger's worth of head. Still, what's there is a cappuccino brown colour and surprisingly resilient given the beer's strength. Less of a shock is Kentucky Bastard's opaque, coal-black colour - this has the complexion of a charred barrel.

The nose on this beer is such that even the most complex single-origin chocolates in my possession are jealous. It has the sooty, earthy, lightly roasty but sweetly vanilla-laced profile with similar hints of burnt toffee, coffee and currant, but provides an overall richness that you can't find in bar form, at least not in the grocery stores I shop at.

The first sip is far more mellow than the initial impression let's on; all that vanilla character actually helps to mellow out the tobacco, cigar, and charred notes of the bourbon barrels. (Those notes are all present, mind you, but made far more palatable by a dosage of demerara sugar rum-like flavours.) Light custard, maple syrup, creme caramel, and molasses notes are there too.

It might all be too sweet except for the fact that it's all imposed onto an inherently bitter, phenolic backdrop; this beer is stronger than it is sweet. There's a certain mellowness to it, don't get me wrong - provided you can stomach the alcohol - and it drinks with more grace than many others in its category, but it's undeniably a tough beer.

It should be obvious what you're getting yourself into when popping a 750ml of Kentucky Bastard... While a bit more approachable than other bourbon barrel-aged offerings in its weight class, this is still a heavy-hitting imperial stout that'll leave a taste that could last days. And the contents of an unopened bottle, they could probably last for years.

May 09, 2014
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thehyperduck from Canada

4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle picked up at the LCBO; served slightly chilled and poured into a tulip. I tried a bottle of the non-barrel-aged base beer a few weeks ago and rather enjoyed it, so I was strongly tempted to pick this one up, despite the high price point and middling aggregate score.

Pours an opaque black colour, topped with just under one finger of frothy, tan-coloured head that quickly vanishes into oblivion. A wispy film and foamy collar are the only remainder; not a shred of lace to be seen anywhere. Not the most interesting-looking brew, but at least the aroma provides some notes of interest - bourbon is a big player, with weak accents of dark chocolate and roasted coffee that aren't nearly as noticeable as they were in the base beer. It's also considerably boozier, with a touch of molasses and oak as well. A little too mild for my preference, but an enjoyable aroma nonetheless.

I was a little worried for a second, but the first sip soothes my concerns - this is a tasty, if rather straightforward imperial stout. Notes of roasted malts, dark chocolate and molasses come through initially, with a slight dark fruity character reminiscent of plums/raisins. Banana is also detectable, with the barrel-aged features figuring in strongly toward the tail end of the profile. Lots of bourbon flavour, as well as oak and a slight touch of vanilla and coffee; some nice warmth also comes through in the finish. Slightly boozy aftertaste that features bourbon and a charry flavour that lingers. Medium-bodied; thinner than the base beer, but maintaining that smooth, silky mouthfeel that I love about Bolshevik. Very mild carbonation contributes to this one's easy-sipping nature, which improves greatly as it warms.

I tend to take a bit of a pessimistic, 'glass half-empty' view of barrel-aged beers - besides their inherent expensiveness, I just don't think that most beers benefit from the treatment enough to justify the effort. Kentucky Bastard is a good beer and I'm enjoying my glass, but it's still a little pricy, which stings given the fact that it's not really any better than Bolshevik Bastard. This one would make a nice dessert beer/digestif, and if you're a bourbon man/woman then this one will absolutely be right up your alley.

[Updated Dec 14 2014]

Picked up a bottle of the 2014 batch to see if they've made any improvements. I'd have to say that this one is considerably better - the bourbon is much more in-your-face than I seem to recall from last year's version, and I am even enjoying this bottle more than I enjoyed the 4-pack of Bolshevik I picked up last week. This is not a cheap beer but it's still a great one - and it would make an excellent gift for that stout/bourbon fan in your life.

Final Grade: 4.30, an improved A grade.

Dec 28, 2013
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bobhits from Kentucky

4.16/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Dark with a nice well formed foam head. reasonable lacing.

Bourbon notes over power chocolate and oak vanilla notes.

Bakers chocolate is sweetened by bourbon flavors, primarily vanilla with brown sugar and molasses. A nice oak bitterness as well. Really good.

The mouth is pushing thick but just a hair lighter but with amazingly well done carbonation giving it a creamy mouth feel. Really really good feel here just missing great.

At 15.99 this is expensive, but it really did impress me given I don't know this brewery. I was expected a good flavor with some horrible flaws that I'd ignore because I like the style. Instead this is a really great beer, it was just so well made.

Mar 11, 2016
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Monkeyknife from Missouri

4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sep 20, 2016
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irishkyle21 from Canada

3.5/5  rDev -15.3%

Sep 05, 2013
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PhineasMcClintock from Massachusetts

4.06/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apr 05, 2016
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Brew33 from Ohio

4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Jan 26, 2016
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freewill35 from Indiana

4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Mar 22, 2017
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biboergosum from Canada

3.85/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml, reddish-brown wax sealed bottle - the name here sez it all, really. Oh, 2016 edition, @ 14.5% ABV.

This beer pours a solid black abyss, with the scantest of scant basal 'edges', and three fingers of puffy, loosely foamy, and bubbly brown head, which leaves a bit of awkward Swiss cheese lace around the glass as it evenly subsides.

It smells of bittersweet hot cocoa, lightly roasted caramel malt, some biscuity toffee, fairly strong Bourbon barrel notes (vanilla and spicy rye whiskey, mostly), musty black licorice, day-old cafe-au-lait, hints of a dark orchard fruitiness unrequited, and some testy and not so charming estery alcohol. The taste is milk chocolate, bready and doughy caramel/toffee malt, some free-range ashiness, sharp Bourbon County essences (vanilla, wood, rye grain, but above all, booze heat), salted anise candies, gritty brown sugar, ethereal black stone fruit, stale coffee grounds, and a bit of generic perfume.

The carbonation is understated in its merely supportive frothiness, the body a decent medium-heavy weight, and sort of smooth, as the guest barrel treatment always has something to say, even here, right? It finishes off-dry, yet not nearly as sweet as this sports fan might have been expecting - wood and alcohol the 'salve', it would appear.

Overall, this is indeed one big and brash version of the style, the Bourbon treatment elevating, and at the same time evening out the sweetness of the base brew. Maybe almost too much, as it feels like some of the heady stout character gets overridden by vanilla, wood, and alcohol alike. At any rate, an appropriate enough offering, for when we are just about to sink into a serious deep-freeze - hello, January.

Jan 03, 2017
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slvrmon82 from Delaware

4.26/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Jan 06, 2016
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randylangford from Pennsylvania

4.57/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Feb 12, 2016
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ClavisAurea from New York

3.97/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Jun 17, 2016
Old Kentucky Bastard from Nickel Brook Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 197 ratings