Bo & Luke
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

Bo & LukeBo & Luke
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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #60
Ranked #1,036
4.28 | pDev: 9.35%
Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Kentucky, United States
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: 117 | Ratings: 996 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by landhoney:
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landhoney from Florida

4.75/5  rDev +11%

Sep 18, 2013
More User Reviews:
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joe1510 from Illinois

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

Binny's - Willowbrook

Wax enough to make a sane man crazy and a crazy man crazier. Bo & Luke looks like a big bad stout should. It's midnight black and swallows light. The foam is instantly creamy and mocha brown with steady streams of carbonation crawling up the glass to bolster the head. The head leaves behind ropey lacing. Purty!

The nose is packed full of goodies. Cherrywood is the first thing that comes to mind, a few tendrils of smoke. After that I'm overtaken with stoutiness. Cocoa and fudge in heavy doses are followed by vanilla and underripe berries, blue and black mostly. There's an undercurrent of blackstrap molasses as well. Huge roasted barley. This beer is even handed and well done.

The nose set a high standard and the flavor stepped up. The sweet smokiness of cherrywood has it's fingerprints all over the delicious roastiness of this stout. It's rich in roast with a big note of blackstrap molasses running along the back. The dark chocolate again is heavy and bordering bitter. Underripe berries and soft peppery booziness wrap it up. Again, great depth with some surprises here and there.

The body is rich with a good density but it never even comes close to cloying. The carbonation is active enough to cut the lush body before the swallow. The finish actually dries up eventually with some peppery booze and roast bitterness left behind. It's pretty easy to put away all things considered.

To be perfectly honest, I'm not a big fan of the majority of Against the Grain but they, and de Molen, nailed this beer. It's reminiscent of the BBQ I cook (lots of fruit wood), roasty as all get out, complex as hell, and simply delicious. It seems like a lot went into this beer. It's all even handed and expertly done. Nice job!

Dec 26, 2014
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

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

De Nolen is the master at ultimate roast taste in beer. Yet Against the Grain explores the anti-expected hit that's certain to arise in their beers. The blend is certain to be be an imperial stout, but with a twist...

It's abyss-black pour is given on site with a dark beer that is as deep as any other. It's just like staring into nothing. Yet there's something in there; and it rises to form a frothy mocha head, full of both loosely-knit, and tightly woven bubbles- all complementing the beer's durable retention and broken lace.

If the style prescription is to pile on as many aromas as possible, then Bo and Luke has delivered! Robust roasted grains push the scent of campfire, burnt embers, cocoa, bold roast coffee, and charred fruit- currants, grapes and berries all fold into the beer's roasty and savory matrix.

And yet the flavors deliver all that, but in different balances. What starts out with burnt malt sugars of black-strap molasses, coffee, and bittersweet chocolate quickly turns to a semi-strong taste of smoky meats, mesquite, charcoal, and burnt fruit. Grilled berries, currants, plumbs, figs, and grapes suggest both peaty scotch and vinous red wines. It's a complex taste that finishes with a woody bitterness that extends with bourbon-like alcohol sweetness, mild vanilla, caramel, and baked coconut.

Incredibly, the beer rests upon its robust malt body that facilitates early sweetness with creamy and semi-arid textures. But as the beer extends into middle palate it dries and turns powdery while remaining semi-sweet. Alas, the finish closes the session with a firm roasty, (some would say ashy, texture that's anchored with chalky roast, broad alcohol warmth, and semi-dry spice.

Bo & Luke absolutely captures the essence of both De Molen's best and Against the Grain's best attempts at beer. Its and experimental ale, an absurdly robust ale, and a cellar contender for years to come. Whimsy and power align for a complete strong taste!

Feb 20, 2013
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Jeffo from Netherlands

3.16/5  rDev -26.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this as a surprise bottle from claaark13 a while back. Cheers dude! Was always a huge Duke Boys fan when I was a kid.

From a 750 into a snifter
Impossible orange wax on this one.

APPEARANCE: Pours out clear brown and yields a two finger, looser looking, light tan head with very good retention. Clear bistre brown in color with higher levels of carbonation for the style. Head slowly fades to a full wisp. A foamy ring remains until the end leaving a few dots of lacing down the glass. Too light in color and an average-at-best-head.

SMELL: Roasted and smoked malts with bourbon, coconut, sweet vanilla and dark chocolate on the nose. Light soy notes and smoked meat with touches of caramel and molasses as well. Very bold and nicely complex as well. Good stuff.

TASTE: Very different and relatively disappointing compared to the nose. Lots of caramel, licorice and soy sauce up front with bourbon and alcohol into the swallow. A big and lingering finish of bourbon, alcohol, smoked malts, coconut, vanilla and a hint of bitter dark chocolate as well. Licorice, smoked and roasted grain with bourbon and oak linger. Flavorful, but the licorice and soy flavors made it less pleasant than the nose. Doesn't quite match the complexity I'd expected.

PALATE: Slightly thinner body with higher levels of carbonation. Not really creamy, a touch prickly perhaps, goes down okay and finishes slightly mouth-coating. Some heat lingers. Sub par, unfortunately.

OVERALL: This was okay, but nothing special. Certainly glad I didn't bug people for the entire set of these. The nose was certainly nice, but the flavor didn't match the complexity I'd expected and the feel was too thin and carbonated for the style. Not a bad beer per se, just not something worth writing home about. Thanks again for the box claaark13. Always good times.

Feb 24, 2014
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UCLABrewN84 from California

3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle pour at the post-FWIBF bottle share held at the Adelaide Inn in Paso Robles, CA.

Pours a clear super dark brown with a foamy khaki 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 toasted malt, smoked malt, bourbon, and wood aromas. Taste is much the same with cocoa, smoke, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of roast bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer with a nice balance of smoke and bourbon barrel aged qualities.

Jun 05, 2014
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Fordcoyote15 from Kentucky

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.

Sep 06, 2017
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Greywulfken from New York

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

Smoky and roasty, dark chocolaty sweet with bittersweet char around the edges; hints of marshmallow and vanilla, and a little dark fruit under airs of bourbon barrels. Nice full body, smooth and easy-drinking.

Nov 27, 2015
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MasterSki from Canada (ON)

4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Green Lady. Served in a 5oz taster glass.

A - Medium, creamy, tan foam that lingers, leaving behind specks of lace. Very dark brown body with a hint of transparency at the edges of the glass.

S - Big vanilla, bourbon, dark breads, light smoke, hefty doses of milled grains, caramel, and dark fruits.

T - The taste is similarly sweet and and heavy on vanilla, caramel, dark fruit, and dark chocolate. The bourbon character is very Pappy-esque in the high level of sweet oxidation and sherry-esque character to it. There's some smoke, but it's quite restrained.

M - Big, chewy, sticky, and viscous. Some mild tannins, but definitely more on the sticky side. Lower carbonation. Well-hidden alcohol for 14%; I would have guessed closer to 10%. Quite nice for the style.

D - A good beer in small portions, but it'd take me a while to work through a snifter. The smoke is quite nuanced, which I appreciate, and there's good balance between malt, bourbon, and barrel. Not quite as good as 70k, but well worth trying.

Jun 03, 2013
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cardsfan from North Carolina

3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Was really underwhelmed by this. Heard lots of good things but was immediately concerned after the look. Extremely thin. Smell was great but taste didn't back it up. Feel was just what I was expecting after the look. Not a bad beer but very overhyped.

Apr 18, 2016
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dar482 from New York

4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

The beer comes in a thick dark black color.

The aroma has big smoked malt, bacon, bourbon, chocolate.

The flavor follows with those notse. Sweetness of chocolate, coffee, fudge, vanilla. Then a baconey smokiness picks up and then the bourbon attacks and melds with it. Mouthfeel is medium full.

A great attempt at a bourbon barrel smoked beer.

Jan 24, 2014
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Devi0us from California

4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Mar 26, 2014
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Baab200 from New York

4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Jan 31, 2016
KSMONHNYIL from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Jun 24, 2014
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mltobin from Connecticut

4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Jul 01, 2017
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polopaul20 from Maryland

5/5  rDev +16.8%

Mar 04, 2014
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CoolEthan from California

4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Mar 19, 2014
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Bhoward0698 from Kentucky

4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Apr 13, 2014
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tykechandler from Kentucky

5/5  rDev +16.8%

Oct 10, 2014
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Immortale25 from North Carolina

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

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

A- Pours a 99% opaque black color with a 1/4 inch medium brown head that retains decently before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a half sheet of sheer surface foam. Semi-resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Smoke-forward aroma that, when accompanied with the barrel notes, makes for a semi-medicinal quality but not in a bad way. Big roast lurks underneath the smoke which is ultimately the key player in the smell. A bit of boozy bourbon.

T- Mm mm mm. Smoke initially dominates the flavor but, as more sips are taken, it blends with the vanilla and oak from the barrel to create this melange of tastes that work so well together. So smooth for the high ABV. Dark chocolate aftertaste. The smoke actually becomes less tolerable as it warms which is a bit of a surprise.

M- Creamy, silky smooth with medium carbonation and a full body.

O- I am not usually a fan of smoke, but this beer is magnificent. The melding of the smoked malt and the barrel somehow transform this beer into something special that's to be sipped slowly and appreciated. Unfortunately, when I get a super tasty beer in my hand, I have a tendency to drink it even faster than I would a "normal" beer of lower ABV. This stuff is dangerous like that, so beware.

Feb 15, 2015
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WolfsbaneBloom from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Nov 24, 2013
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Nichols33 from Massachusetts

4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mar 27, 2016
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hooliganlife from Missouri

3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Sep 28, 2014
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brewskifan55 from Mississippi

4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a tulip glass. Thanks, Ron!

A: Dark brown with a one finger tan head that lingered. Thick lacing.

S: Yep, I smell the smoke along with bourbon, chocolate and vanilla. Nice intertwining.

T: Comes on like a muscle car. Smoke invades with a shot of bourbon. Then vanilla icing, chocolate and cocoa nibs bring this thick, sweet devil down hard for a 13% kick.

M: Medium to heavy with medium, chewy carbonation.

O: A fantastic smoked stout. Just a notch or two below a Sue. And that's damn good. Varoom!

Mar 28, 2016
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Nolen12 from Kentucky

4.2/5  rDev -1.9%

Jan 20, 2014
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dental from Massachusetts

3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Mar 23, 2015
Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 996 ratings