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: 62 | Ratings: 371
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 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 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 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 tut2528
4.55/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from growler into a snifter. Pours a deep caramel-like brown with about 1/2 fingers worth of head formation.

S: huge toffee/caramel notes, vanilla is present as well as some slight hops. Alcohol is also noticeable. A sweet oaky character balances out the beer quite nicely.

T: sweet sugary toffee/caramel, oak and vanilla are all very bold in this brew. alcohol is well hidden for the most part behind the sweetness but still detectable, and there is some mild dark fruit notes as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed this brew. The drinkability is rather high and since the alcohol is well hidden it quickly sneaks up on you. By no means is this a King Henry, but a growler for ~$10, this is awesome. Complexity is very well balanced.

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Photo of themind
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

Great brew! as far as BBBW go this beer is good! decent bourbon character, nice aroma, good mouth feel and incredible drink ability. A top notch BW, don't hesitate on this one.

Bottom Line: I would seek this out again.

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Photo of IMFletcher
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

From a 12 oz bottle (the first-ever bottle release of this beer) at Bo & Luke Day. Really sweet aroma, and all of the wonderful range of flavors in a barleywine without being so sweet it feels like your teeth are rotting. If this gets out for distribution, don't miss it.

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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 THSdrummer
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 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 ZombiesAteMyDog
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured a murky brown/orange. Small light brown head. Doesn't look thin, and has a nice syrupy quality too it without appearing too thick.

S - Smells well balanced; nothing seems to be overpowering. Vanilla, malt, bourbon, and a touch of hops. The oakiness from the bourbon plays well against the sweetness of the vanilla and fruit.

T - Aging in Angel's Envy bourbon barrels has done some very nice things to this brew. The oak is very clean and distinguishable. This brings all the best qualities from the bourbon out. Finishes slightly dry with a hop and alcohol burn, but not too strong (this is a 12.5%).

M - Alcohol is mostly well hidden. Carbonation has been lost since last night's growler fill, but it was originally not very high to begin with.

O - I've wanted to try a barrel-aged barleywine for a long time, and it was awesome to find this one right in my backyard. Even better, the guys running the place are passionate and doing it for the right reasons. A great brew that I highly recommend.

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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 dmgeng
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
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 JDizzle
4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at Against the Grain.

Served an 8 oz. pour in an half-pint glass.

This is an English style barleywine aged in Angel's Envy bourbon barrels for 3 months.

Wow! Really impressed with this Barleywine. Pours fairly dark with a nut brown head that is impressive for the ABV. It smells like oak, vanilla, dark fruits, malts, and little hoppy. Very good smell. Right away you get the Oak blast from being barrel aged. Vanilla comes strong with a hoppy bitter finish. No real detection of alcohol in the taste, but I feel it.

Great Job ATG!! My favorite so far there.

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

This brew was served on tap at One-Eyed Betty’s in Ferndale, Michigan. It arrived in a generic stemmed tulip, showing a murky apricot coloring. It held a one and a half finger tall head of eggnog colored bubbles, showing nice retention into crystalline spider webs of lacing left around the glass. An intense haze cut clarity persistently, while no sediment was noted. Carbonation appeared to be light. The aroma gave notes of sourdough bread, thick ale yeastiness, and rye, pale, and amber malts, with sweeter caramel richness on the back as its grainy base. This was laid over with notes of authentic lemon juiciness, sharp booze that was only initially reminiscent of bourbon, soured wet oak, creeping moss, warm buttery diacetyls, airy sweetness of Vermont maple syrup, intense honey sugars, dryness of red wine grape skins without the fruitiness, and tannic leafy teas. With warmth came an enhancement of the booze to bring more burn, but of the harshest alcoholic cider. Our first impression was that that flavoring was beautifully warming, with sensational buttery representation of the barreling blending seamlessly with the base grain and sugars of the barleywine. As we sipped, the taste opened up with heavily fumy bourbon, rich roasty caramel and red maltiness, paper towel dryness, candied cane sugar, massive melted butters, steely metallics, big oaky depth, granite, and graphite. The middle came forward to meet, with a blend of cloying syrups of liquid caramel, tannic breakfast teas, mild cloven phenol, black pepper, citric and herbal hop bitters, deeper grainy roast of caramel and coffee maltiness, blackstrap molasses, and a shoe polish burn to transition us to the finish. The end followed with a final punch of big woody mossiness, with vanilla slick across its surface, with massively buttery diacetyls, spicy burn on bourbon, rich caramel sweetness, chalky yeast, cough syrup cherry depth, candied almonds, and butter-soaked doughnuts. The aftertaste breathed of heavy toffee stickiness, bitter oak barrel, musk and dust, echoing bourbon bite, massive vanilla bean, corn husk, ground lemon seed, burning sea salt, general rumbles of hollow chemical ethanol, and chalky English ale yeastiness. The body was full and chewy, while carbonation was higher, with a hearty, lingering prickle. Each sip afforded syrupy thick cream, slurp, smack, froth, glug, and pull to the finishing pop. The mouth was completely coated, with slow, eventual chalky bitterness. The abv was high, and it sipped appropriately.

Overall, the most enjoyable thing about this brew was the quality of the barreling throughout the flavoring. Top notch. The wood added undisputable authenticity of bourbon and heavy, heavy, heavy oakiness, both of which lent a balancing bitterness to the cloy of the malts and residual alcohol sugars. The nose and feel complement the taste well, comfortably marking this beer as a knockout. There are so many layers to the aroma, and it just becomes stickier and stickier with each passing moment. We also loved how it left your mouth both cleanly sweetened and dryly chalked, without offense from either the bitters of the cloy. This is a stellar English barleywine, and should be a foremost example, along with the likes of Artic Devil, of how to properly utilizing barreling.

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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 Ohiovania
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

(2015) A little hoppy for an English Barleywine. Bourbon ads a nice complexity. I wish I would of let this one sit for a while.

Edited score to reflect 2016 vintage. Much less hoppy than last year but they still create a subtle conflict in flavor for me.

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

Enjoyed on tap at Bier Station in Kansas City. Poured into a small round tulip glass with no flaring on the lip.

Appearance - Pours a ruddy brown that gives the impression of red clay and is hard to see through due to some murkiness. Atop the body sits a small half finger of beige colored head that dissipates pretty quickly to a ringlet of foam around the edge of the glass, with just a smattering of soapy bubbles on one side of the glass. Lacing is pretty nonexistent.

Smell - Lots of notes of sweetness and grain, with contributions of rich caramel, light molasses, vanilla, and even some syrupy characteristics, like sweet sorghum. There is also a bready presence beneath the sweetness, but it's not savory enough to overtake the dominant notes of sweet. The bourbon and wood components are faint, with just a hint of heat and a touch of oak from the barrel.

Taste - The overarching sweetness from the aroma continues along through the taste, with more syrup, caramel and vanilla on the tongue. Brown sugar and toffee come through on the aftertaste a little more, with a slight bitterness like burnt sugar providing some depth of flavor alongside hazelnut and almond notes. The grain is aggressive enough to be present, but not overpowering, with undertones of toasted barley and rye bread. Please to say that there is a bit more mustiness from the oak, riding on a breeze of vanilla and tannins, with just a touch of boozy heat on the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied with moderate to low carbonation and a sticky mouthfeel, but not unpleasant. Lingering sweetness and some viscosity.

Overall, a very good take on the style. There is just enough barrel aging to impart the vanilla and bourbon characteristics, but without drowning out the base barleywine. The sweetness is pleasant and not cloying, enticing swallow after swallow. I will say that the 80 IBUs surprises me on this one, but perhaps that's the key to preventing a sweet beer from becoming overly so.

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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 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 bilhelm
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Had this brew at Against the grain and thoroughly enjoyed it.
A- Pours a cloudy deep copper with a creamy off white 1/4 inch head
S- Boozy sweet toffee caramel and vanilla
T- Very nice taste, sweet caramel with oak undertones, but the finish is distinctly smooth bourbon. The 12.5% abv is deceptively contained within the depth of this beer.
M- Full bodied, particularly for the style, with subtle carbonation.
O- Very good beer that I would gladly sip any chance I got. The characteristics of this beer are like a great kindergarten class - it plays well with others and makes even the grumpiest "grown-up" smile and reflect on the the amazing simple joys of life. Very well done.

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Photo of AppaZappa
4.31/5  rDev +2.9%
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 larryarms847
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky ruby brown with a finger of very light tan foam.

Vanilla, oak, toffee, molasses, and sweet sweet bourbon.

Strong caramel and toffee, vanilla, fruity hop bitterness, and tons of boozy bourbon.

Heavy bodied, medium carbonation, sweet, sticky, and some earthy bitterness.

Overall, while not rather pleasing in appearance, this is delicious.

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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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London Balling from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
4.19 out of 5 based on 371 ratings.
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