London Balling
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

London BallingLondon Balling
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English Barleywine
Ranked #38
Ranked #2,220
4.18 | pDev: 7.18%
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Kentucky, United States
London BallingLondon Balling
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 89 | Ratings: 448 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.63/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

an enormous beer, crazy to see a barrel aged barleywine in a can, what a beast! looks dense and slightly sedimented, brick red in color, frothy khaki headed high rising for the style, lots of viscosity, and some light oxidation in the nose, this may have been in the can awhile, although i didnt look for a date on it. in addition the the light wet cardboard thing in the nose, i also get fresh milled lumber, sweet and boozy whiskey, and some english yeast character, bready and fatigued here. this is really alcoholic and sweet, both to smell and to taste, and it seems almost just like a baseline for the style, nothing overly unique about it aside from the packaging, not at all what i am used to from these guys, who always seem to do something weird to each of their beers. its good, but its a small doses thing for me, palate coating and rich, hot and boozy, and seemingly not really mellowed much by the barrels, only intensified. subtle burnt sugar, rotting wood, and bread crust to this, light molasses and maple notes, and some hops in here too at the end for some contrasting bitterness as it warms up. heavy beer, the whole can would be a mission by myself, so glad to be sharing it. always fun to drink beer from these guys, but i would not rank this among their most compelling. just a big mean beefy bruiser of a barleywine here, not overly well refined or distinctive to me...

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Photo of EmperorBevis
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Canned in a big old imperial pint crafty craft can
Pours a rich ruby hued hazy amber body with a big foaming white head
Aroma is carob in burned sugar
Flavour is burning wood alcohol tart embers and sherry

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Photo of Treyliff
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

16oz can poured into a snifter
2016 Vintage

A- pours brown in color with a one-finger foamy off white head that reduces to a ring around the edge

S- more hop presence than expected for an english barleywine, mostly faded hops at this point, followed by caramel, toffee, brown sugar, sweet tobacco, leather, raisins and light oaky bourbon

T- as with aromas, hoppier than expected. Plenty of caramel and toffee up front, followed by notes of raisin, fig and tobacco. The finish brings out just a hint of oaky bourbon, lingers of faded hops and caramel

M- medium body with moderate carbonation leads to a creamy mouthfeel that continues into a velvety, slightly warming finish

O- drinks more like an American barleywine, due to a big hop presence

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Photo of ajm5108
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Nice balance of hop & malt, lots of suped-up American style barleywine hopiness, underneath plenty of bourbon / carsmel goodness. Maple molasses, overripe peach, sweet / savory

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Photo of kitch
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A 1 pint can, with no clear canned on or best before date. Poured into a snifter glass.

Appearance: A rusty orange brown colour with some floating sediment and a thin beige head that dissipated fairly quickly, but left some spotty lacing.

Aroma: Sweet malt, caramel, toffee, oak, vanilla, and grapefruit hard candy.

Taste: Sweet, sweet malt, caramel, toffee, vanilla, bourbon, dried dark fruit, raisin, dates, brown sugar, slightly bitter and a touch boozy.

Mouthfeel: Medium to full bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Not my favourite English Barleywine as sweet and boozy doesn’t really work for me. It’s ok to sip, but a whole 1 pint can, took me a good while to finish.

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Photo of MikeWard
3.96/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz stubby bottle into a goblet. No clear freshness dating that I could find.

When held up to the light, we have a clear dark body with amber, brown, and reddish notes. Initially there is a decent off white head which eventually shrinks to a ring and covering leaving little in the way of lacing.

There is a strong aroma of boiled sweets. It's also a little musty.

Upon tasting, there is a lot going on. Vanilla, dried fruit, toffee, candy. There is a serious warmth from the abv, and it's a little harsh. It's woody at times, and there is a touch of bitterness toward the end.

Mouth closer to full than medium, finish a bittersweet warmth that spreads through the throat and chest.

Overall, a nice enough drink, good example of an English Barleywine with a hint of american bitterness. Would have enjoyed it more without the overburn.

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Photo of q33jeff
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25


Can to Snifter. Welcome back NFL.

LOOK: Brown and clear; hint of red, 20% muddy look. Small head fades fast and has poor retention.
AROMA: apple, spice, fruitcake, brandy, light touch of squash or pumpkin.
TASTE: plum and apple, some oak and leather come a tad later moving this from sweet to bold. Finish is more fruit and brandy, with a little hint of sappy hops that does not clash.
FEEL: a bit of a carbonation kick that is not seen in the appearance. Smooth. Medium to full body.

Yum. Very impressed. Wasn't necessarily looking at this like a world class Barleywine, but it is better than some others I've had with more hype.


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Photo of jkblr
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

16oz can stamped 02/11/24 (best before?) poured into a snifter at fridge temp 12.5% ABV. The beer pours mostly bright medium amber in color with orange/red highlights and khaki colored head. The head recedes to a thin cap and leaves a little lacing. The aroma is sweet brown sugar & caramel with just a trace of bourbon and oak. The taste is more semisweet caramel, Maris Otter malt and lighter amounts of earthy hops, oak barrel, vanilla and bourbon. The finish is mostly dry with low to medium bitterness and a touch of alcohol heat. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with average carbonation. Overall, very good. Never cloying, with real English malt and the barrel is not overdone. I'm not sure how long this one sat in the cooler at the store, but it's a fall or winter release & could have more barrel influence when fresh.

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Photo of drdiesel9483
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

look - clear hazle amber color with a slight head
smell - pale caramel english
taste - easy going pale caramel english slightly sweet a little woddy
feel - lots of body with a light carbonation
Overall - pretty yummy beer

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.18/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours a murky amber with a one finger creamy off white head. Light soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is caramel, toffee and raisins.

T - The taste is caramel, toffee, plums, raisins, vanilla, bourbon and some light piney hops.

M - Full body with medium carbonation. Creamy mouthfeel with a sticky dry finish.

O - Very nice BBA Barleywine. Nice sweetness with a light hop kick. Drinks very easy for being 12.5%.

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Photo of mntlover
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep rich murky copper hued brown sugar looking brew that just looks thick and sugary with a finger sized darker tan head, doesn't' lace much but a good looking brew.

Aroma is rich big sugary malty goodness, loads of caramel, molasses, brown sugars floating around dark fruits sugar coated figs and plums. All mingled into sweet goodness and topped off with bourbon barrel and vanilla notes just to round out this perfection.

Taste is like the nose big on malts, caramel lots of free floating sugars and dark fruit notes with some good bourbon, oak and vanilla thrown in for good measure. Some hops to keep this from being cloying but but don't do much more then that maybe some spiciness. Alcohol notes blend very well and don't distract and are hardly noticed.

Mouthfeel is big and chewy on this baby carbonation is mellow and hardly noticed except for a mild tingle in the tongue in the finish.

Overall love this beer, why is it so hard to find an English Barley Wine, why don't more peps make this wonderful style. Not sure if I am just in the mood for this on this cool evening or this is a fantastic treat, Either way hoping I can find more of this locally or guess I'll have to be going back to Boone for more.

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Photo of hman43
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: It pours brown with a full light brown head. Head retention is good.

Smell: Thick, malty rich aroma with plenty of caramel and nuts. There are background hints of bourbon, a touch of spice, and a whiff of dark fruits.

Taste: The flavor is full of nuts with a dark caramel flavor. The nutty character carries throughout the finish. There are background notes of plums and a slight bit of spice. The bourbon is also in the background.

Feel: It is quite full bodied on the chewy side. The alcohol warming is quite pleasant without any harshness or being hot.

Overall, this is a malt balance barleywine with plenty of flavor and alcohol without the harness that many in the category display.

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Photo of 2beerdogs
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Without going into the breakdown, this is one helluva English barleywine. Copper to amber in hue. Sandy foam cap. Good lacing. Smell's brilliant. Malty, a hint of bourbon barrel, and a round rich dark fruit note. Taste follows nicely. Great barleywine, and in a CAN no less!

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Photo of clayrock81
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a copper-hued body with minimal head and little lace. Boozy, tad malty, and some dark fruits are noticeable in aroma. Thick, sticky, oaky, some vanilla booze sweetness, strong beer but not overpowering with hints of dark fruits like figs and raisins (black cherries?) with clean finish. The heat from the alcohol is only noticeable on finish and is good finishing touch. The balance between sweet malts and woody notes is good and overall a not overly complex but enjoyable beer.

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

First had poured from pint can, bottom stamped (drink by?) “29.12.20,” into brandy snifter. London Balling is malty, fruity and oaky, with a surprisingly smooth finish for a 12.50 ABV barleywine, probably assisted by the barrel aging.

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Photo of avalon07
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: Poured from a tallboy can to a pint glass. Had a rust-brown color and a cloudy texture. There was a half inch of foamy, off white, fairly long-lasting head. Fair lacing.

S: A very good aroma of caramel, bourbon, hops, malt, oak, and vanilla.

T: Tasted of a good shot of hops (more than expected), some malt notes, lots of caramel (always welcome), light vanilla notes, some oak, a good amount of bourbon, and an herbal quality. This is a vibrant, interesting, complex flavor. It has to be one of the more balanced barleywines I've tried before. Delicious.

F: A well-carbonated beer with a lively finish. Medium-bodied.

O: An extremely well-made and likable beer. Big, brash, and tasty. Drinkable.

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Photo of AyatollahGold
4.41/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pouring from a 2019, 16 oz. can into a snulip glass, this beer pours out absolutely beautiful. A lightly brewed tea in color and it forms a brilliant, two finger width of a light butterscotch colored crown. Crown is tight and holds well.

The nose is a well balanced mix of some apricot, light fruit hop aspects and sweetness layers of light caramel and toffee.

The taste has tea aspects, along with the light fruit like apricot, slight pine. Some vanilla, caramel, thick brown sugar meld into a dry, oak wood. Very balanced, touching kiss of bourbon.

Mouthfeel is thick, ABV is present, warm bourbon and dry oak.

Overall, this is a balanced monster. The layers all meld together greatly, while not being too strong on any aspect.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 16oz can into a speiglau BA glass.

Look is a dark amber bordering on cola colored with a big thick head.

Aroma is dark fruits, vanilla, and a definite barrel note.

Taste is a lot of vanilla bourbon and a ton of molasses malt.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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,

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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 448 ratings