Bo & Luke
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Bo & LukeBo & Luke
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Style:
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #55
ABV:
13%
Score:
95
Ranked #960
Avg:
4.28 | pDev: 9.35%
Reviews:
106
Ratings:
975
From:
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
 
Kentucky, United States
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Gots
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SCORE
95
World-Class
Bo & LukeBo & Luke
Notes: Originally an Against the Grain Brewery and Brouwerij De Molen collaboration beer. For the first incarnation, De Molen head brewer Menno Oliver hopped in a muscle car and drove straight through from the Netherlands to Louisville, KY (that's USA folks) to brew this bourbon inspired ale, and we liked it so much, we decided to do it again. We took the ingredients in bourbon whiskey (Barley, Rye, Corn) and then smoked them with cherry wood and brewed a huge imperial stout with them. Then to top it off we aged it in Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels. The resulting beer is rich, smokey and complex, with a bourbon character of caramel, vanilla and spice.
Reviews: 106 | Ratings: 975 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Franziskaner
4.15/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black in color with no penetration to light. There’s a half inch of densely packed brown on top. The aroma is comprised of smoked cherry wood, robust roasted barley, caramel, and molasses. I’m tasting a burst of smoked cherry wood, dark roasted barley, piney hops, vanilla, bourbon, and caramel. It’s thick, chewy, and dense.

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Photo of Eddieeight
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Took me a while to cut through the thick wax dipped cap on this 25 ouncer. Poured into a tulip glass. Pours dark brown with a minimal creamy head to it. Smells strongly of bourbon and smoke and doesn’t even smell like a beer really. Others have described it as a campfire and I would tend to agree. The beer has kind of a flat taste to it - not really rounded out. I’m getting vanilla and bourbon and maybe some cherry in there too. Very smoky taste. In fact this is my first beer I’ve ever had that is a “smoked” beer. Mouthfeel is heavy and thick almost syrupy but not cloying. Overall I love these kinds of stouts and although it’s not one of my favorites of this variety I can still respect it for what it’s worth. Nicely done.

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Photo of Roguer
4.24/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Brew pours with a tremendous dark brown head, with fantastic retention and slowly leaving behind flat fields of lacing. Body is a dark nutty ebony color. Superb.

Bourbon is perhaps the first noticeable note on the nose, but the smoked malt and roasted barley quickly follow, giving nuance and depth to a classic, ashy RIS profile which includes caramel, brown sugar, and red grapes.

Surprisingly sweet up front, and throughout the first half, as bourbon mash, dark fruit, and brown sugar lead the way. Smoke starts building around mid-sip, and really carries through the finish, while the bourbon notes start to lean away from sweet, and toward hot, boozy, and oaky. Other prominent notes include, at various times: prunes, raisins, bananas, nuts, and dates (primarily up front); chocolate and vanilla (primarily on the back third); tobacco and leather; caramel and toffee.

Big and bold, clearly a potent brew, but carrying very little indication of just how massive it truly is, clocking in at 13% ABV. A touch thinner than I'd prefer for the style, but still coming in full bodied.

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Photo of TreyIsWilson
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours motor oil black with a two finger tan head. Heavy amount of soapy lacing.

S - Aroma is dark chocolate, vanilla and roasted malts.

T - The taste is dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses, raisins tobacco, charred oak and light bourbon.

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

O - This is a very tasty BBA RIS. Nice and rich with tons of char.

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Photo of buschbeer
4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

25.4 FL OZ bottle
Served in a snifter
2017

This beer pours black and is topped with a couple inches of tan head that leaves nice lacing as it recedes.

I notice the smoke right away. I smell some chocolate. Searching I can smell a little caramel and vanilla.

The smoke is up front. Flavors of chocolate and fig cut the smoke. There is some bitterness.

Full bodied with a smooth mouthfeel

I have had a beer boner for this beer for quite awhile. Hell, it's already smoked, so I don't even need a cigarette after I finish. Great beer. Great change of pace from all these desserty stouts out there. I just wish I had some brisket to enjoy with it.

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Photo of unlikelyspiderperson
4.19/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a nice midnight black with a thin coffee colored head that doesn't hang around long but does leave a slight lacing.
The smell carries a fair bit of a barrel, some char/coffee notes, something between bacon and fresh baked bread, and a molasses sweetness. Very interesting smell, not very common in my experience. It might be rated better by some, worse by others, I'm still sort of on the fence honestly.
Taste is molasses up front, with some raisin and chocolate. The barrel seems totally absent to my tongue and the flavor seeps slowly toward a figgy sweetness. Really wonderful taste, very classically within the style as opposed to the unusual aroma.
Mouthfeel is also excellent, obviously quite syrupy and thick, but it has a lightness to it makes it dangerously drinkable
Overall this is a wonderful big beast of a stout. The barrel is perfectly fit in and this puppy is ready for the drinkin

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Photo of q33jeff
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

**
03/23/18

Bottle to snifter. Share at Borgata with MCD and DS.

Look: thick black, healthy off white head.
Aroma: lots of smoke and tobacco.
Taste: more smoke and tobacco. A little too harsh. Like a cigar. Very tasty, but it drags on you.
Feel: a tad thin. Medium carbonation.

Good beer. Awesome bottle.
**

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.55/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I'm trying this at the brewery. It poured an almost opaque dark amber with off white head that is not leaving any lace. The scent had very subtle smoke and fennel hint. The taste was nicely balanced and easy to drink for a stout. Some chocolate flare. The mouthfeel is lighter in body with good carbonation. Overall it's an ok beer.

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Photo of brentk56
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance; Pours with the full three fingers, a beige rocky head that tops the espresso colored liquid; spots and squiggles of lace

Smell: Smokey, with Bourbon, chocolate, coconut, vanilla and dark fruit tones

Taste: A lot of threads to follow here; the smoke hits the palate first, creating an ashy tone that builds through the middle; the dark chocolate is an early arriver, too, and that flavor persists into the aftertaste; some prune tones appear, through the middle, along with coconut and vanilla, with the sweeter elements lingering into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation; warmth in the gullet

Overall: Surprised by the lighter mouthfeel, given the abv, but otherwise there are a lot of interesting elements to this beer

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Photo of curtis6290
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 Bottle enjoyed on 1/14/18 poured into snifter.

Look: Deep brown in color, appears oily when swirled, oily lacing, mediocre foam head that lingers. Beige foam color.
Smell: Bacon, smoked pork, charcoal fire, bourbon, maple, coffee, chocolate.
Taste: All of above, plus vanilla, nutmeg, caramel, cinnamon, pancakes, waffles, and Maple Syrup. The smoke is the forefront and this reminds me of maple glazed bacon. The bourbon appears toward the end but is forgiving.
Feel: Medium-High carbonation and strong alcohol mouthfeel, but it mellows nicely, and is quite pleasant. Very light unlike RIS, more like a porter.
Overall: This should be called a breakfast porter because it reminds me most of bacon, pancakes and maple syrup. An interesting beer that's worth trying. Don't drink this one all by oneself, this is one to share with a group and drink slowly.

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Photo of Gajo74
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

My second taste at Top Hops, NYC’s 6th anniversary party.
Pours a dark brown/black color with a moderate frothy head. Average retention yields a smattering of lace.
Holding it up to the nose reveals aromas of roasted and smoked malts. The barrel aging emits aromas that are oaky, bourbon and vanilla like. There is also a nutty quality similar to almond. Finally, there is a touch of anise of and licorice.
Putting it to my lips, I’m immediately astonished by the intense smoky quality of the malt taste. The smoky malts are accompanied by a creamy sweetness that evokes flavors of dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla, and almonds. Flavors of anise, licorice and mint add a menthol like freshness. Midway, the palate takes an interesting turn through its development of hops, roasted malt and espresso bean flavors that add a bold bitterness and dryness to the finish. The spiciness of the rye and tobacco also begins to come out. Obviously high in alcohol, the flavor suggests a touch of bourbon without the booziness. The alcohol is well masked-more spicy and oaky than boozy- rendering this dangerously drinkable. Full bodied, complex and robust. Dynamic in all its flavors. A wonderful beer!

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Photo of Damian
3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Drank from a 25.4 floz 750ml orange wax dipped bottle purchased at Whole Foods Market - Columbus Circle, New York, NY
Served in a tulip

Great label art as always. Against The Grain do it again. Although the orange wax dipped neck looked pretty awesome, the wax was a real pain in the ass to remove. As for the beer itself, it poured a fairly thin, dark caramel brown. The liquid was surprisingly light in both color and body for the style. A frothy, half-inch tall, khaki colored crown rose above the liquid and fell to a thick, bubbly collar. Some streaky lacing stuck along the glass.

Smoky notes came through big time in the aroma. Smoked mesquite or perhaps even a peaty Scotch came to mind. Good dose of brown sugar. Fairly sweet. Bourbon was noticeable but not quite as much as I had hoped. Moderately boozy. Vanilla was also apparent, and it intensified as the beer warmed.

The flavor profile was similar to the aroma but slightly less rounded. Malty and rich up front. Somewhat sweet. Caramel and brown sugar notes were apparent. The smokiness kicked in next. Like in the nose, the smoked malts displayed a peaty Scotch or a campfire-like quality. The beer was nutty and somewhat fruity in the middle. Touch of vanilla. Moderate bourbon presence on the back end. The beer finished with a fairly big whiskey-like kick and some lingering oaky tannins. Perhaps a bit astringent.

Fairly thin mouthfeel. Almost a touch watery for the style. The liquid contained a medium carbonation that turned somewhat frothy and slick on the palate.

An interesting, bourbon barrel-aged smoked strong ale or American brown this may be, but it certainly did not drink like an imperial stout. Looking at past reviews, I wonder if this recent vintage was thinner than past iterations. Bo & Luke is an interesting, enjoyable beer but definitely not worthy of the hype or the steep price tag.

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Photo of chicagocraft
4.99/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Opens very dark, looks like mud, but the Pappy barrels make this by far one or the best BBA stouts I've ever had. Dark caramel, chocolate, and Pappy flavor. Against the grain knows their Bourbon. Amazing beer.

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Photo of rypkr
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So BA has this classified as a RIS but all the notes I read has it flirating with a smoked ale. And since rauchbiers and smoked ales are my favorite offerings I'm extremely excited to dip into this guy.


2016 bottle, only let rest out of the fridge for 15 minutes. Going to be consuming this slow and noting the evolution as it warms.

Holy fuk the wax game was strong on this.

L - teku pour. Wow this is gorgeous. Deep inky, oily black with a pillowy damn near white frothy head. Lacing is so frothy its nuts.

S - I read reviews where people complained of no barrel character. Well that's not the case so far on the nose. It's heavily laden with bourbon all throughout the nose. Lots of vanilla and caramel sweetness. Not a lot of smoke sadly. Cream corn? Yeah I'm getting that.

T - boom. Holy smoke. Holy unique smoke. This is unlike any smoked beer I've ever had. There's an element to this beer that I just can't put my finger on, something in the grain bill is so prominent and assertive, but foreign to me and I don't know what it is, but it's delicious.

There's a definite spicyness to this from the rye. Deeply riasty and yet sweet at the same time. The smoke is like tobacco much more so than sausage or meat like a rauchbier.

I'm in agreement with the other reviews that there is very little barrel throughout. Though with this beers intense complexity, I'd have a hard time justifying a want for anything to change.

F - very big. Very dry. Very filling. Very satisfying. It's a meal in a teku.

O - I love this. This is on my top 20-30 beers for sure.

Value - this was a very generous trade extra, but I'd gladly pay heavily for another. Speaking of which... I wonder if I have off for this year's release...

Warming notes - as I aprroach 50% through and nearing in on room temperature I can't help but feel stuffed. This is seriously a meal, and the warmer it gets, the richer and more filling it becomes. Yet another case for a beer that really should be in a 12oz format. Perhaps even may be a reason I shy away from future trades or purchases for this... I'm pretty much done with it half way through.

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Photo of mattflippin
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass. Dark brown/black beer with a moderate tan head which has good retention. The smokiness of this beer is immediately apparent- it dominates the aroma, in a good way, with some whiskey and other spices reminiscent of a BBQ. The taste is immediately a familiar Russian Imp Stout, roasty with a nice smoked woodiness, with a nice whiskey, cacao, vanilla, and caramel flavor. This beer is medium-bodied, and warming on the finish. Overall, maybe the best 'smoked' beer that I've ever had- pretty great for the RIS style, but while there is certainly barrel characteristics and wood present, I didn't get a whole lot of whiskey on the taste or smell. A great beer nonetheless.

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Photo of Buck89
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Nice looking beer. A cola brown color on the pour, producing a near opaque chestnut brown color with a frothy and resilient tan head. The smoked cherrywood shines through on the aroma, accompanied by whiskey, cocoa, and roasted malt. The taste brought a beautiful mix of smoked wood, chocolate, whiskey, and vanilla. Medium-to-full bodied with prominent whiskey on the finish. Wow.

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Photo of Barnoloid
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft pour at Fountainhead Chicago. I guess what I wasn't prepared for here was the smokiness. This is the smokiest beer I have ever had. Wow! I feel like I am working a half barrel BBQ grill in Nashville whilst bluegrass bands play in the opposite room.

Not your ordinary BA stout. Chocolate, cherry and a hint of vanilla do come through but that smokiness carries everything along and fills up your nose and palate in an overwhelming manner.

Fantastic, just a really surprising, somewhat jarring and ultimately delicious brew.

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Photo of Sir_Whats-his-face
3.29/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

As a regular imperial stout, this is pretty solid. It's flavorful, well-balanced, and the smoke presence is very nice. However, as a barrel aged stout- especially one in this price range- this falls very short. Simply put, there is almost no barrel presence in this beer whatsoever, and there are tons of outstanding BA stouts with tons of barrel presence- Parabola, Bourbon County, Crux Tough Love, Rye Whiskey Abyss, Oakshire Hellshire VI, Heathen BA Epitaph to name a few- that can be found for the same price or less than this. If this weren't marketed as a bourbon barrel aged stout, and if it weren't $25 a bottle, I could recommend a beer like this. As it stands, though, I'd say that your money would be better spent on something else. I could care less if Against the Grain uses Pappy barrels- a BA beer either has barrel presence or it doesn't, and this beer doesn't have it at all. The base beer is very good, but I think if you're going to make a barrel aged stout, you ought to put some effort into making it taste barrel aged. Against the Grain doesn't seem to agree with me.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Black body, looks thick. Tan head, creamy looking but fades to a thin ring. Smell is like a bonfire, great smoke aroma without harshness, some nuance like barbecue or spice. Beneath that is warm, like caramel, and warm, like booze, bourbon notes, followed by dark chocolate. Taste also puts the smoke first, then whiskey, then dark, bitter chocolate and roasted malt, a hint of vanilla, and a flash of raisin. Body is thick but not *sludgy*, and a bit too carbonated. But still very rich.
Love it! They have it all: authentic smoke, real whiskey, and a great beer behind it, too. Put more meat on the body and this would be nearing perfection.

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Photo of puffthestuff
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L: black duh tan head quite frothy
S: unique marshmallow woody slightly bourbon smell cherrywood is there. It's good fantastic smell
T: dark chocolate bourbon slightly smokey like a campfire smore quite fantastic very well blended and roasted malts not over powering. Berry fruits come through smoke and bourbon on the back
F: thick as a stout should be. Syrupy down your throat not too much carb very good mouth feel that sticks
O: overall I'm damn impressed with what my hometown comes up with and this is a fantastic stout and there's very little I would change. Possibly this beer is the experience of having a backwoods campfire with friends in KY. So well balanced probably the best roasted malts I've had to date. No over powering bitterness but character still kept. Fantastic beer must try. It gets a 5/5 perfect cause this reminds me of home and there not much I could think to change to make it any better.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
3.83/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Unknown vintage; drank 10/10/15 @ Harvest Hop Haus.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Dark brown appearance.

Minimal tan head; minimal lace.

Burnt leaves, caramel & cream soda notes in the nose.

Thick, sticky mouthfeel.

Smoke, milk chocolate & caramel flavors up front; heavy burnt leaf notes on the finish. A nice stout lurks somewhere underneath this smoke bomb, but I can barely taste it.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pitch black pour, lots of legs, very viscous on the sides of the glass.

S - Cocoa, wood, smokiness, vanilla, some caramel.

T - Dark cocoa, bourbon, vanilla, some smokiness, lightly charred oak.

M - Thick and full bodied, lip smacking sticky, silky, velvety.

O - Pretty solid barreled aged beer!

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Photo of Beersnake1
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from fridge temp to snifter. Allowed to warm over an hour. Pours black with almost no carbonation. Smell is smoke and roasted malts. Honestly not getting a lot of bourbon on the nose. Taste is very different than smell, at least to me. I get a really smooth creamy stout with a hint of bourbon. Almost no bitterness, and a good amount of dark fruit - mostly blackberries. Mouthfeel is bold and creamy. This is incredible.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.46/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a red wax topped bomber into a snifter, the beer is jet black, with a ton of carbonation feeding a tall, foamy, bubbly, light tan head. Aromas of bourbon booze and spice notes, vanilla, molasses, brown sugar, chocolate, coffee, and solid peat and smoke. Very dynamic nose. Flavors are very smoky and earthy forward, with a solid follow of chocolate and coffee, both bittersweet and roasted. More flavors burst forth as you drink, with notes of blackstrap molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, caramel, and toffee. Very dynamic and layered palate. Smooth and creamy bodied, with a boozy bourbon, chocolate, and smoked aftertaste. The finish is smooth, creamy, and surprisingly light for all of the dynamics going on. Damn good beer!

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Photo of kojevergas
3.36/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Rating from notes taken Zwanze Day 2014:

High B / GOOD

***
Reviewed from notes taken in Spring 2015.

750ml brown glass bottle with orange wax-ed over cap purchased at Torst in Brooklyn for $33 USD and served into stemware. Expectations were high going in given my memory of this beer at Zwanze day. Great label art.

13% ABV.

HEAD: Fizzles out within 10 seconds, leaving no time to note any characteristics aside from its khaki colour. Leaves no lacing as it recedes.

BODY: Opaque solid black. No yeast or sediment is visible within.

Appealing for the style, but not unique or special.

AROMA: Chewy tobacco, bourbon (replete with faint vanilla and rich white oak), dark malts, caramel, cream, chewy toffee, and nougat. I don't find the rye malt or corn adjunct. To my surprise, no smoke is present, but if I really search I think I find a hint of cherrywood...not something I'd find in a blind tasting, but I guess it's there when you know to look.

Surprisingly bourbon-emphatic for its scant 3 months of barrel aging.

Aromatic intensity is moderately high.

No overt hoppy or yeasty notes are detectable, nor are any off-notes. It does have some bourbon-induced warmth.

Roasted barley is absent, unfortunately.

TASTE & TEXTURE: Subtle cherrywood is present on the climax. Heavy dark malts provide the backbone, accompanying the beer's thick syrupy viscous mouthfeel with heavy malt sweetness. Heavy on the palate, with some nice creaminess but not enough softness or silkiness. Well-carbonated.

Roasted barley would help lend it needed coarseness and dryness and would give it more of a biter edge to help counterbalance the overly sweet dark and specialty chocolate malts.

Sticky, chewy, hefty, full-bodied, and weighty on the palate. Comparisons to motor oil woudn't be off-base.

The bourbon character is nice, boasting pleasant flavours of faint vanilla/barrel vanillin and weak white oak, but the bourbon isn't as pronounced as would be ideal even if it does eclipse the weak reticent base beer.

Base beer lacks the intended smokiness. I want more of a toasty beer with rich oak and roasted barley.

I do like the creaminess of the brew.

Suffers from a fundamental sweetness/bitterness imbalance that really holds it back. Boozy warmth is inescapable throughout, that 13% punching at its weight.

No overt hoppy, yeasty, or off-flavours are present.

Average depth, duration, and intensity of flavour.

Where's the smoke? The rye? The corn?

Too harsh, rough around the edges, and imbalanced, with an out of control complexity that lacks order or deliberation. Mouthfeel is a disaster and there's no harmony of texture and taste. Kind of a mes.

OVERALL: A severe disappointment (especially at $33). This emperor has no clothes; I'm not sure what all the hullabaloo is over this beer, but I expected better given De Molen's involvement and the beer's reputation (not to mention my memory of it as pretty good from my last rating). Doesn't get any better as it warms, and I wouldn't buy it again even at 1/3 of the price I paid (though price has no bearing on my rating). Above average, I guess...I remembered this better.

C+ / ABOVE AVERAGE

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Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 975 ratings