Bo & Luke | Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

BA SCORE
95
world-class
908 Ratings
Bo & LukeBo & Luke
BEER INFO

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

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by TMoney2591 on 10-08-2012

BEER STATS
Ratings:
908
Reviews:
91
Avg:
4.3
pDev:
9.53%
 
 
Wants:
380
Gots:
256
For Trade:
35
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
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Ratings: 908 |  Reviews: 91
Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of kylehay2004
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of jaydoc
4.09/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -7%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

 654 characters

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -7%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.33/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a really really darn good beer. its a rich lathery dense stout, with just enough sweetness, a big bold grain base with a ton of roast to it, dark cocoa, coffee, and tobacco notes app prominent, and its aged in barrels once housing some of the best whiskey on the planet. whats to complain about right? well, for me, and I love smoked beers, but this is way too much smoke for a pappy barrel. it might as well have been jim beam at this point, you smoke it so much that the nuance of the finer spirit cant really appreciate to the fullest. I mean obviously things like mouthfeel and sweetness levels are aided by a good whiskey barrel, but I just don't get the uniqueness and specialness of it coming through. it should be amazing in that regard and its not because the smoke is too strong. that said, the smoked flavor is great, perfect for late fall and early winter, the alcohol is shockingly absent from such a strong ale, and the overall beer is downright fantastic, but I wish they scaled that aspect back a little more so that we could really enjoy what pappy barrel does for a beer like this, it just seems a shame to me, as much as I do like this beer...

 1,162 characters

Photo of Knapp85
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -18.6%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
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!

 1,971 characters

Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of kojevergas
3.36/5  rDev -21.9%
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

 3,164 characters

Photo of oline73
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of largadeer
3.5/5  rDev -18.6%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of superspak
4.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into snifter, no bottle dating. Pours fairly pitch black color with a 2 finger dense tan head with good retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lingers. Nice dense soapy lacing clings around the glass, with a large amount of streaming carbonation retaining the head. Aromas of milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toast, vanilla, raisin, plum, cherry, bourbon, oak, light pepper, light smoke, and oak/toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt, dark fruit, and bourbon barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of huge milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toast, toffee, vanilla, butterscotch, cream, coconut, bourbon, oak, raisin, plum, cherry, wood smoke, light pepper, and oak/roasted earthiness. Light roast/oaky bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, toffee, toast, vanilla, butterscotch, cream, bourbon, oak, wood smoke, light dark fruit, and oak/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/smoked malt, bourbon barrel, and light dark fruit flavors; with a good roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy, and lightly slick/chalky mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is an incredible barrel aged smoked imperial stout. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast.smoked malt, bourbon barrel, and light dark fruit flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the huge ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

 1,667 characters

Photo of DrBier
4.21/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of mothman
4/5  rDev -7%

Photo of nickfl
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -7%

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.31/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 reviewed with a few years in it. Simply among the best in style. A little lighter, red brown, than I though it would be. Head fades fast. Smell is campfire smores. Hickory, dark chocolate, burnt toast, not really sweet at all. Prunes in the finish. A tar note. Note thick but a bit creamy with a lingering smokey note.

 323 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%

Photo of nathanmiller
4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Rifugium
3.03/5  rDev -29.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark brown-black pour, with a small, short-lived head. Smoke and roast in the aroma, some oaky/bourbon/vanilla sweetness in the background. Taste was acrid and chalky. I'm usually a fan of cherrywood smoking, but in this beer it came off ashy and unpleasant. There was some malty and vanilla sweetness going on, but also a medicinal element that just wouldn't go away. Bourbon was present, but only as an afterthought. Medium body, thin, and messy mouthfeel. Seems like a waste of a rare barrel on a so-so beer.

 511 characters

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Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
4.3 out of 5 based on 908 ratings.
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