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London Balling | Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

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London BallingLondon Balling

Brewed by:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Kentucky, United States | website

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

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Reviews: 51 | Ratings: 336
Photo of Tilley4
4.5/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

All the folks bitching about the lack of hops here, please remember that this is an English barleywine and not the overly hopped American version we see most of the time... This is a great beer... Bourbon infused toffee in a snifter... Sweet and slightly boozy... The bourbon is big and bold and delicious... World class IMO....

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Photo of Erik-P
3.68/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours a deep amber/brown with a small amount of head that dissipates. First sip is definitely a punch in the face with big boozy sweet malty notes. Comes in quite hot, might be more mellow with a bit more time on it One is more then enough and at 12.5% would recommend sharing this one.

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Photo of tigg924
3.85/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours hazy, orange-brown in color with1/2 inch head. Taste is toffee, raisin, caramel, vanilla, light oak and hoppiness towards the end. Sweet with slight bitterness at the end. Pretty incredible to find a beer with this much complexity in a can. While I prefer other English barleywines, this one is quite good.

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Photo of Slack
3.93/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Amber brown in color and clear with razor thin head and good lacing.

Sweet fruit, malt, and caramel dominate the nose.

Taste is malt, mild sweet fruit, bread, toffee, booze and hops.

Mouthful is medium and smooth. Carbonation is medium to low. Finish lingers.

A solid representation of a barleywine. I would have liked a bit more hops to balance out the sweetness. Nicely done.

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Photo of Jaypeajus
3.87/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

First ATG brew, 3rd BBA barleywine ever. Can says BBA, so I expect a bite on the nose from the booze. Into snifter at 48 degrees. Deep Amber pour, light creamy head, not expected to hold at abv. Smells as I expect a barleywine to smell, but not so much a BBA BW. "Quit holding out, and draw another breath" Malty, dark charred fruits (cherry?, raisin) twizzlers on nose; same on taste and a bit of backend bourbon, hiding under the texture. 3 months aging, wish it could've been longer, 6+ months. Feels smooth, viscous, not too much carbonation. Sticky lips from fruit sweetness. Overall, a solid barleywine IMHO, but more to be desired as a BBA. Side note on artwork: never seen a 3 string bass, or fret inlays on 1st, 2nd frets.."After all this, won't you give me a smile?"

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.66/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a reddish-brown murkiness with a thin head. Wonderful smell of Carmel malt and bourbon. The fast is very much enhanced with the bourbon as it accentuates the dark fruit, Carmel malts, and vanilla. As the beer warms, the hop and bourbon bite become bigger. A great beer.

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Photo of puffthestuff
4.46/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: red brown good looking barley wine
S: smell is fantastic barrel age comes through well. Pruney smell nice oak smells very interesting and intriguing. The barrel age version must be far superior to the can in my opinion.
T: prunes toffe oak vanilla and signature bitter barkeywine taste. Absolutely enhanced by the barrel I can taste the oak and bourbon flavors throughout.
F: nice mouthfeel in my opinion. Actually no complaints here. Just oaky and nice body to the brew wonderful.
O: I'm not a barleywine afficianado but this is by far the best I've had yet. In fact, better than Bigfoot by a long shot. There's a lot of flavors in this one that I enjoyed. I wish this aged version was more available from ATG nonetheless if you're a barleywine fan seek this one out. No disappointments. Excellent barleywine and among my favorite. As a DIPA and stout drinker mainly, I would still pick this bottle up if given the chance. Can't wait to get another to further explore the flavors. Like I said, incredible barleywine and worth searching for. I do not think the canned version is aged but not 100% sure. Still check out this brew it's unique and wonderful.

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Photo of Donco
4.43/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A very nice example of a traditional English Barleywine.
Not a lot of bourbon barrel in the nose or taste. But a very well balanced brew between malt and hops. Very nice. Especially since this was given to me as an "extra" in a trade. Highly recommended. I'd love to try other beers from this brewery if I could get them in PA.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.96/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This beer pours a dark and hazy reddish brown. The aroma is so tantalizing a swear I spent over a minute before drinking. I get chocolate, nuts, toffee(almost a snickers bar here), raisin, black currant, sour blackberry, chocolate malt, and prune. The flavor is much simpler and more concentrated than the aroma, but no less enticing. It leads with a srt of bread pudding flavor, replete with caramel, toast, toffee, and dark fruit. The feel is rich and creamy, but my only complaint is in does leave rather a sugary afterfeel. Overall this is an awesome beer, one just to sink into as the weather starts to cool.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.33/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a snifter
(A)- Pours an amber caramel colored bronze. Some minimal white froth
(S)- Rich toffee and caramel meets some dry but boozy oak. Some bourbon sweetness met with soft and subtle woody vanilla
(T)- Big and rich oaky caramel with some vanilla forward heat. Finishes with some nice toasty toffee and bourbon barrel influences
(M)- Big on the booze, but some great sweet and rich flavors to balance it out
(O)- A really great barleywine. Barrel forward, but with a great supporting base. One of Against the Grain's best offerings so far

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Photo of brewskis
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a deep dark ruby red/brown color with over a finger of a tan head.

Aroma is rich and dessert-like just like a BA English Barleywine should be. Get carmel, toffee, creme brulee, dark fruits (raisin and plum), molasses, and herbalness. The barrel brings notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon that combines nicely with the other aromas.

Taste follows the aroma pretty well. Get dark fruits (raisin, plum, black cherry), bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some carmel up front. The middle brings more of those flavors, with the addition of more carmel (almost like creme brulee). The beer gets sweeter and richer as it gets into the finish. Molasses, toffee, nuttiness, and more bourbon barrel flavors (spirit, oak, and vanilla) and heat add another layer to the beer in the finish.

High medium body. Nice carbonation is there to cut through the sticky and oily texture of the beer.

This is a top notch BBA English Barleywine. Wonderful complexity. Although it could use a little more time to sit, the bourbon barrel flavors and heat combine nicely with the sweet, malty flavors of the base beer. ATG seems to be underrated imo on their barrel treated beers and this is no exception.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.21/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Brandon for sharing this enjoyed from the bottle chilled in a glass.

The color is amber with slight haze and full creamy khaki head. The smell is great -packed with bourbon aroma with slight vanilla and woody scent. The feel is very good with rich creamy texture with sweet middle and light boozy quality with slight spice and dry finish with moderate carbonation and warming alcohol.

The taste is great with a wonderful layered malt with bourbon enhancement that has a dried fruit quality with slight vinous woody tannin and slight spicy effect of elevated alcohol with nice sweetness level of dried fruit. This is a great tasting mix of bourbon and barleywine, very drinkable especially for a 12% beer. Thanks again Sarz

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.41/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a hazy reddish/brown color with about an inch tan head that stuck around a little while. There's also a good amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like dark fruit (cherry, plum), bourbon, vanilla, caramel, oak, dark bread and a bit of herbalness. The taste is similar to the aroma, the brew tastes like bourbon, vanilla, oak, dark fruit (cherry, plum, raisins), caramel, earthiness, dark bread, molasses, toffee, and some nuttiness. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and coating with moderate carbonaton. I have to say this is a pretty good barleywine, I'd definitely buy this again the next time I see it. I think I bought this bottle on a prior trip to ATG, but I don't remember for sure.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours hazy deep ruby red/brown color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big raisin, plum, cherry, date, apple, caramel, vanilla, toffee, toast, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, light coconut, herbal, and yeast/oaky earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great complexity and balance of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and earthy hop notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, plum, cherry, date, apple, caramel, vanilla, toffee, toast, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, light coconut, herbal, and yeast/oaky earthiness. Fair amount of herbal hop bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, plum, cherry, date, apple, caramel, vanilla, toffee, toast, brown sugar, bourbon, oak, light coconut, and yeast/oaky earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and earthy hop flavors; with a great bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an incredible English barleywine. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of fruity/earthy yeast, dark/bready malt, bourbon barrel, and earthy hop flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.17/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to mrbubbler for sharing this one at his tasting.

Pours a hazy dark honey orange with a foamy beige head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, and wood flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of wood bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and sticky mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with really nice bourbon barrel aged qualities all around.

Serving type: bottle.

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Photo of pagriley
2.59/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

rich and bourbony. good stuff.

Re-visit on a bottle that I have had for 6 months in the cellar.
really sharp and tart. Definitely going downhill and fast. Fruity cherry notes, over-carbed and showing signs of infection. Fresh this was pretty amazing, but something has gone wrong here. Disappointing to say the least.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.14/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Haw River Farmhouse Ales teku glass. No freshness date.

A- Pours a murky medium brown color with a 1/8 inch tan head that doesn't retain long before becoming a thin ring around the edge of the glass and minimal surface foam. Not-so-resilient lacing.

S- Very medicinal in the nose with a strong booze aroma and big hits of oak. Mostly notes of band-aid with some brown sugar-like sweetness trying to come through.

T- Flavor makes the smell worthwhile with plenty of caramel sweetness. Toasty notes of dark bread and dark fruit with the oak interwoven in the profile making for layers of complexity. Alcohol is incredibly well concealed though there is a bit of booze in the finish.

M- Silky smooth with an alcohol bite that's just right. Medium carbonation and a fullish body.

O- Although the nose is a bit off-putting, this barleywine hits all the right notes otherwise as the barrel smooths out the rough edges and makes a beer that should probably be sipped slowly so very drinkable.

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Photo of dmgeng
4.41/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This was the second ATG beer that I've tried and it looked quite tasty.

A - Very dark garnet. Has an off white head with mild retention and mild lacing. Quite clear but a darker beer that doesn't let you see too much through.

S - Big sweet malt character with dark fruits, bourbon, oak, and some earthy hops. Very complex smell with raisin, fruit cake, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, and enough herbal hops to know that this is a barley wine to be reckoned with.

T - The first shot is of the sweet barley wine base that is rich and robust. Again fruit cake, dark fruits, and caramel compliment the sweet malt. Going into the middle the bourbon starts to warm with lots of vanilla, more caramel, and oak. The finish is still sweet but the alcohol comes through accompanied by a significant herbal hop bitterness that tries to balance the sweet barley wine. Very good depth of flavor and richness but a barley wine through and through.

M - High mouth-feel with light carbonation. It is a pretty typical barleywine feel with a sweeter, sticky character with a modest alcohol twinge and herbal bitterness.

Overall, this is an outstanding representation of a BB Barley wine. The barrel is there throughout but it isn't the start player like in some of it's type. The big fruit character is strong that adds great depth to the rich caramel and malts that you would expect and all in a package that is manageable. If you don't like sweet beers or bourbon this one is probably not a good choice. Still a sipping beer but not too much not to enjoy in a larger glass. If you like barley wines I would strongly recommend this one!

Glass- Snifter from draft

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Photo of russpowell
4.11/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Picked this up in Arkansas, no one will confuse their offerings as being geared towards the frugal beer shopper

Pours a Faint orange/caramel with 3 fingers of fluffy tan head. Stellar lacing & way above average head retention

S: Bourbon notes, oakyness, & plums, raisins

T: Oakyness, plums, molasses, brown sugar & caramel up front, a little booze warmth/cinnamon. Barrel comes through as this warms, some herbal & leafy hops as this warms, dryness as well, a touch of honey too. Finishes with honey bourbon, dryness, some leafy hops, a little tangerine & Bing Cherry

MF: Medium body at best, over-carbonated, smoothed out a bit once warm, turns a little creamy once room temperature

This might be a beer to age, way too carbonated right now. Not bad, but for this price this is a B- beer selling at A++ prices

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Photo of AppaZappa
4.31/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into snifter glass. Nice mahogany color with fading 1/4 inch foam, fairly clear. Smell is coconut, malt, vanilla, bourbon, dark fruit, caramel. Taste is bourbon and toffee with co nut and raisin. Oak on the tail end with a sticky sweet finish. Surprised at how thin this is, little carbonation.

This is a very nice bbbw that chimes in a bit below some of the big ones as others have noted. But I'd definitely pick it up again and try to age a bit....

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Photo of pants678
3.77/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Opaque, cloudy brown with off white head.

Bourbon and something clean and fruity.

Bourbon's the overarching here. Not far from an Old Ale, IMO. The alcohol's noticeable without being harsh -- warm, not hot -- with a full oaky, caramel character.

High carbonation, cola-esque

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Photo of Greasy
4.24/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured a nice brown color with a small head that went away to nothing rather quickly.

S: Bourbon notes up front with some caramel and toffee in there as well.

T: Sweet bourbon followed by caramel, vanilla and dark fruits. Hoppy too.

M: Medium-full body that went down quite well given the high ABV.

O: A nice offering by Against the Grain. The bourbon flavor isn't overpowering. The hoppy profile makes it seem a little closer to an american style barleywine, however.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.16/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Nice rich color but a sadly depleted head. Nicely diverse nose of bourbon, pina colada, oranges, some dark fruit, light oak, fudge and caramel. The flavor is perhaps a touch subdued but delicious none the less. Sweet bourbon creme, toffee, caramel, bourbon whiskey, and dry oak wood meet the palate but it ends lightly fruity. This is very thin and the alcohol heat is not hidden but despite this flaw this is a great beer for a nice price.

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Photo of dar482
4.03/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer comes in a murky brown color with tons of red hues coming through.

On the aroma, the beer explodes of bourbon heat. It almost masks the caramel sweetness of the base, the hints of earthy and spicy hops.

On the flavor, the beer offers a bit more. Up front, caramel sweetness along with that sharp bourbon flavor throughout. Dark fruit with dates and plums, lots of raisins. A good amount of vanilla. Then onto an oaky drying flavor on the back end.

In the end, the light mouthfeel and heat detract from this beer, despite good flavors.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
3.75/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Had this following White Birch's Ol Cattywhompus. Deeper toffee and caramel flavors with deeper background from the bourbon barrels. Superior to OC but somewhat pricey at $8.50 for a 12 oz. bottle. I have several others I will age. So far the best ATG brew for me.

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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
92 out of 100 based on 51 ratings.
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