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London Balling | Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

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London BallingLondon Balling
BA SCORE
4.18/5
Exceptional
395 Ratings
London BallingLondon Balling
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Kentucky, United States
atgbrewery.com

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
English style barleywine brewed with Maris Otter pale, Aromatic and caramel malts, then balanced with English Nugget and Kent Goldings hops. Aged in Angel's Envy bourbon barrels for nearly 3 months.

Added by JDizzle on 03-01-2012

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#1,555
Reviews:
71
Ratings:
395
pDev:
7.42%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
47
Gots:
63
Trade:
9
HISTOGRAM
 
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
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Ratings: 395 |  Reviews: 71
Photo of AyatollahGold
4.91/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was huge. And I loved it.
Tastes of oak, vanilla, caramel all mixing with a little bourbon make this a great barleywine.

126 characters

Photo of Muss42
4.44/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of dbrauneis
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a clear, almost opaque deep reddish brown in color with moderate amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass and moderate ruby red colored highlights. The beer has a two finger tall dense foamy tan head that reduces to a medium sized patch of medium thick film surrounded by a large patch of very thin film covering the remainder of the surface of the beer and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of toffee, caramel, toasted, and bready malts with a slightly heavier than moderate amounts of toffee + caramel + brown sugar sweetness. Moderate aromas of vanilla, toasted oak, and bourbon booziness. Light aromas of earthy + herbal hops.

T: Upfront there are moderate to strong flavors of toffee, caramel, toasted, and bready malts with a slightly heavier than moderate amounts of toffee + caramel + brown sugar sweetness. Slightly stronger than moderate flavors of vanilla, toasted oak, and bourbon booziness. Light flavors of earthy + herbal hops which contribute a light amount of bitterness which fades quickly leaving a lingering woody + malty sweetness in the finish.

M: Medium to full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Slightly sticky with a moderate amounts of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: Very enjoyable BBA Barleywine - really nice complex malt flavors with lots of sweetness and nice complementary bourbon + barrel flavors. Drinks a bit easier than the 12.5% ABV but definitely a slow sipping beer - I wish I was sitting by a fireplace on a really cold evening when enjoying this one.

 1,641 characters

Photo of GregSemenza
4.14/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Sir_Goatman
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Tsar_Riga
4.04/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Hazy brown-orange body, moderate head, lots of lace.

S - BOOZE. Wood and vanilla. Hints of tea, hop resin.

T - BOOZE. The barrel notes hit with vanilla and lush sweet caramel and tea notes. Close brings a spicy hop snap.

M - Sharp and hot. A bit sticky. Close is warm and lingers.

O - Solid. Not my style, but very well done.

 340 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Not going to lie if you told me this beer was bourbon barrel aged I wouldn't have believed you since both the smell and taste got little to no bourbon. This is the only way I could see the price point at 8 dollars a pounder (16oz) it makes it a little easier to justify.

Not saying this beer is bad at 12.5% it packs a punch and smooth caramel, figs, and oaky toffee goodness with no ethanol or hop bite.

I guess I would pick it up again if it had more of a pronounced barrel character or just skip the barrel and have a 10-12% barleywine in a pounder for around 5 bucks. That works too.

 589 characters

Photo of novamat
3.67/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of golf4collet
4.54/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of grover37
4.03/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of stephenlee
4.49/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Franziskaner
3.94/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber to dark copper colored. There's a fingernail of brown around the rim. I smell dark malt, oak, and sweet bourbon. I taste intensely dark malt,oak, and sweet bourbon. The mouth is thick,sticky, and chewy.

 212 characters

Photo of EMV
3.83/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a tallboy can at the brewery. Poured into a pint glass.

L: Cloudy caramel brown pour. Thin tan head with spotty lacing.

S: Rich and malty... caramel, toffee, and booze.

T/F: Follows the aroma... sweet caramel and sugars. Notes of fig and raisin. Boozy... vanilla, oak, and char. Not as strong of a bourbon flavor as expected from the nose. Buttery and smooth. Finish is bittersweet.

O: Rich and malty.... a bit overly sweet and under-bourboned but a solid all around effort.

 500 characters

Photo of BrotherDylan
3.59/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer suffers from a severe case of uninteresting-itis. It is dreadfully boring, as the British would say.

The hop flavor is non-existent (Note: The bitterness level is fine, but i expected at least some hop character). The malt is pleasantly sweet, but one dimensional. The classic english ale yeast flavor is severely muted, if present at all.

The cardinal sin is the flimsy barrel character. It adds almost no tannic mouthfeel and the bourbon flavor actually comes off more as a weak port flavor than anything resembling bourbon. For a brewery in Kentucky, that is a shame. I can understand why they would only age it for 3 months (cost savings and the beer already tastes over oxidized), but the beer would have been better off non-barrel aged and 5 dollars cheaper.

Overall, it tastes like a malt soup with no direction or purpose and no synergy between its parts. Save you money... for over $12 bucks, there are 75 better beers that you can find on the shelf.

 975 characters

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter glass from a 16oz can.

Appearance: Semi to full cloudy amber-mahogany color looking very beautiful an slightly resembling a carbonation black tea. Off-white head rises maybe just maybe half a fingers length at best.

Smell: Smell good but light whiskey notes and warm brown sugar to go with.

Taste: Sweet and complex liquor feel which has a light toffee note to go alone with it. The alcohol a bit overpowering but mellows a bit when the beer warms closer to to room temperature.

Mouth: Sticky, and easily the lasting finish is the best part about the beer. Medium carbonation but very full bodied.

Overall: Good take on one of my favorite genres of beer, but English Barleywine in my opinion has only been mastered by very very few. Good, very god but not a classic. Worth grabbing ig you see it though,

 833 characters

Photo of AlexFreudenberg
4.02/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of travelguy
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ckollias
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MickeyHops
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of pateypate
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ladle69
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of WOLFGANG
4.31/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Diet-z
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of darktronica
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A great choice of hops to provide an intensity of character, with plenty of spice from the Golding and bitter, herbal botanicals from the Nuggets. More hoppy than expected from an English barleywine, but at least they're authentic in flavor. In that sense, London Balling nails the concept. But I wish more time had been spent in the barrel, as three months is not producing much oak, vanilla, or bourbon spice. Angel's Envy is such a lovely spirit, it would have been great to have lent a bit more to the beer.

Edit: previous review was from an aged bottle. Now, I'm enjoying a can from a fresher batch, and it's a different story. Lots more vanilla, a touch of oak, and less hop character. I don't know which is more typical, but they're both good. Leaving the original score for posterity, but I would otherwise rate this one a touch higher.

 845 characters

Photo of Harrison8
4.46/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky deep hue of cranberry red with a finger of off-white head. Lacing forms in tight, but small patches. Aroma is bolstered by notes of caramel, toffee, raisins, fig, and plum with only a whiff of barley below. It has a clear, caramelized aroma that urges a sip. Flavor profile is a sweet swelling of sugary malt notes - caramel, toffee, fig, raisins, and plum. Any sort of earthy, or bitter, or biting malt characteristics have been restricted to the cupboard, and are out of view. Mouth feel is medium-thin with an easy-drinking feel. Overall, a barleywine that both smells and sips extremely smooth. It packs a presence, and yet is reserved in its statement enough to be approachable for all levels of enjoyment.

Served in a teku.

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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Beer rating: 4.18 out of 5 with 395 ratings
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