London Balling | Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

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London BallingLondon Balling

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

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: 63 | Ratings: 376
Photo of darktronica
4.09/5  rDev -2.4%
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.

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Photo of Harrison8
4.46/5  rDev +6.4%
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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Photo of Spikester
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with one finger of bone color head.
Smell is vanilla oak and alcohol.
Taste is vanilla oak and medium bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium to full with good carbonation. Finish is dry and lightly bitter.
Overall a fine beer. Is it worth $12 for a pint can? Well compared to the Goose Island biggies it is right in line with those heavy hitters.

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

look: Clear handsome tawny. Full tan head head on the pour that almost entirely recedes.
smell: Rich caramel, toffee, vanilla, and dark fruit.
taste: Much like the nose. very nice brew. Just a notch below the superstars (e.g. Sucaba).

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Photo of Peterock27
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a pint an into a snifter. Appearance is dark Amber in color with a one finger head. Very nice lacing as you slowly sip this beer. Smell is heavy on bourbon / whisky as soon as you open the can. Very powerful scent that makes you wonder if you are sipping straight it warms you get the toffee and vanilla scent on the nose. I honestly waited a few minutes before sipping since the can says to enjoy at 48 degrees. It also said to drink from the can but I ignored that ;-)

Taste is very sweet with notes of vanilla, caramel, toffee, oak and a little smokiness at the end. Mouthfeel is very thick and syrupy. Overall this is a great BBA barley wine. Not quite up there with Sucaba but very close. Would definitely purchase again.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled fall 2014; drank 10/18/14 @ the Yarchives.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Orange/red rust murkiness.

Khaki head; strong lace.

Oak, cream soda, mild booze & mild caramel nose.

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Oak & cream soda flavors up front; caramel & booze heat emerge as this warms. A touch too sweet but enjoyable.

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Photo of Jadjunk
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

"Big, ballsy, barmy and barrel aged. London balling is not typical. Its a skirmish of flavor. The barrel imparts oak and vanilla, mixed with the caramel sweetness from a malt bill with brick that'll knock your bloody bollocks around. Hey bloke?...fancy that, and you'll be gobsmacked." Brewed in the style of an English Barleywine, available in 12 oz. single bottles and on rotating draft.

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle to a tulip glass.

(Appearance) Pours a light, crisp frothy head of a pale beige over a moderately hazy copper brown body with abundant, varied sediment and lively carbonation. Retention is below average and there is no visible lacing. 3

(Smell) Robust, bread malts, caramelized sugars, grain malts and dark fruit syrup undertones of molasses and stone fruit, moderate sweetness with subtleties of fruit tartness and lightly spicy yeast presence. The bourbon barrel impact is moderate, with lightly toasted oak tannins and slight vanilla creeping through, subtle bourbon sweetness and light alcohol. Potency is moderate. 4.25

(Taste) A continuation of the aroma, with rich bread and caramel malt syrup body, rich fruit undertones of fig and date molasses, moderate graininess and a pinch of alcohol heat on the back end, graceful bourbon barrel flavor generating notes of leather, oak tannin and very slight vanilla. Finishes softly boozy and drying. 4

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, moderately chewy, softly syrupy, medium dry. Carbonation is moderate, generating a mild frothiness and a near fully crisp finish. Body is medium/heavy for the style, short of heavy overall. Balance is nearly even sweet to spicy and tangy specialty malt and delicate grain alcohol. Alcohol presence is moderate and there are no off characters. 3.5

(Overall) An appreciated Barleywine style ale with a considerable amount of malt flavor and complexity, and the bourbon barrel character preserved much of the best qualities, rounding out the overall flavor nicely. I found the carbonation a bit brisk and buzzy for a beer that would be a much more smooth, gradual sipper. As is typical with my experience acquiring Against The Grain's releases, there's a high dollar-to-ounce ratio in this particular ale, but it is a positive experience for me and overall a favorable example of the style. 4

Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

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Photo of tone77
3.67/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 16 oz. can. And yes, that can came courtesy of the creator of the canquest, woodychandler. Has a hazy, dark amber color with a 1/2 inch head. Smell is of fruits, malts, vanilla. Taste is alcohol, dark fruits, bourbon, light malts, a touch of alcohol burn. Feels medium bodied in the mouth and overall is a solid beer, but a tad to boozy for my tastes.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.71/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The CANQuest (tm) has fallen behind in its stated mission, acCANulating a backlog that is embarrassing. It will take a CANcerted effort on my part, but I would like to get caught up. Such is life on The CANQuest (tm)!

From the CAN: "Balls Deep! Big, ballsy, barmy and barrel aged. London [B]alling is not typical. It[']s a skirmish of flavor. The barrel imparts oak and vanilla, mixed with the caramel sweetness from a malt bill with brick, that'll knock your bloody bollocks around. Hey bloke? ... fancy that, and you'll be gobsmacked."

The Crack! unleashed a spray of foam, whether from being overly full or just highly pressurized, it gave me a surprise. Color was Copper-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with NE-quality clarity & I CANnot imagine a more beautiful example. Nose smelled like loads of oak, treacle, vanilla, caramel, walnuts & fusel alcohol. Oh my. Mouthfeel was beyond thick and full. It was downright syrupy! The taste was really oaky, initially, but then the caramel and nuttiness got a turn. To me, this is a Barleywine! I get the idea of super-hopped AmeriCAN Barleywines, but this is what I think of when it comes to the style. Loads of caramel malt with flavors of barrel aging. Phew, but this one was big! The heat of the fusel alcohol was the part that was making it tough for me. Otherwise, it tasted (& felt) like flan (caramel pudding), which was even more amazing! I took Advanced Foods in HomeEc in high school and we got to devise really decadent meals. I made a kick-ass flan that really garnered rave reviews and this was very reminiscent of that dessert. It was absolutely hot & sweet and I have no idea that it would age CANtastically, but I wanted to add mine to The CANQuest (tm) sooner, rather than later. If I CAN score another one, it will go into the basement, but I have no regrets. Finish was dry, if hot is CANsidered "dry". Jeez-O, man, this left me gasping for breath & grasping for the fire extinguisher! Wheee. I may need to wrap it up. Warming, it really took on a great coconut flavor! Double wow!

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Photo of FBarber
4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On draught.
Lovely BA barley wine. Reddish brown color, opaque, shiny, no head.
Smell had rich aromas of dark stone fruits, caramel, and fresh baked bread notes from the noticeable malts with an overarching barrel and vanilla aroma.
Taste followed the nose with some stone fruit and caramel notes, average barrel presence did not overtake the beer, lovely notes of vanilla complimented the beer, bit of an oaken nutty finish.
Feel is thin, but not unusually so for a barrel aged barley wine. Mild carbonation, smooth, buttery with a dry tannin like finish.
Overall a really nice BA barleywine. Ill be looking for this one again.

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Photo of Tilley4
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
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 -12.2%
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 -8.1%
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 -6.2%
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
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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?"
Update: second go round: this is a great BW! This weekend had BCBW and an organic BABW Beerline that was outstanding and this is right up there with them! WAY TO GO ATG!

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.66/5  rDev +11.2%
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 +6.4%
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 +5.7%
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 +18.4%
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 +3.3%
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 +2.6%
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 +0.5%
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 +5.3%
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 +2.6%
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 -0.5%
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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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
4.19 out of 5 based on 376 ratings.
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