Bo & Luke | Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse

88 Reviews
Bo & LukeBo & Luke

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

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

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Reviews: 88 | Ratings: 904
Photo of Thirsty_In_Chicago
4.24/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Whole Foods West Loop. Poured into a 4 oz taster. Very dark, with little tan head. Smoke is definitely there on the nose and taste. Not overwhelming, but this is what sets it apart from your 'everyday' RIS. Overall the smoke compliments the barrel characteristics. Thinner than I like, but overall a solid offering from ATG. Just wish the bar didn't serve this so cold - an all too common problem. I did not have enough time to let it warm to preferred temp. Would like to try it again, out of a bottle.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

From BeerAdvocate Magazine #81 (Oct 2013):

Originated from a collaboration of AtG and Brouwerij De Molen. Nothing short of epic; so well put together that this beer must happen again and again ... please. This beer simply just laughs at other, overhyped Imperial Stouts. A sipper, and one to take care with, as it becomes more desirable after each taste. Cheers to AtG for this re-creation.

STYLE: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Smoked Stout
ABV: 13.0%

LOOK: Pitch-black, tan lacing

SMELL: Even smokiness, roasted grain, black currants, dark-roast coffee, burnt raisins, mild bourbon, wood, cocoa powder, fleeting vanilla

TASTE: Stodgy, creamy, sweet, smoky, molasses, candied dark fruit, espresso, chocolate pudding, charred wood, modest carbonation, mild wood tannin, big mellow warmth

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Photo of MattXT
4.03/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

EBF pour. Nice beer, but I found the smoke to be a little bit overdone, in that it covered the rest of the flavors. The barrel flavors were hidden behind the strong smoke.

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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.

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Photo of Rutager
3.96/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with a finger of thick, light tan head. On the nose, woody bourbon and dark chocolate, a little briney, a little smokey. Tastes good, decent sweetness, dark malts and chocolate, light smoke and oakey bourbon. Fairly full body, medium-low carbonation. Good stuff.

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Photo of Mdwstbrlvr
4.57/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, dark brown. Slightly transparent if you catch it at the right angle with a light background. With an aggressive pour a thin brown head will form a couple seconds after the pour, doesn't stick around for long.

S: Awesome. Whisky, smoke, cherrywood, and chocolate.

T: Smoke flavor is there but has a really nice, subdued cherrywood flavor that sticks to it. Chocolate comes through in the middle. Whisky throughout but subdued, to me it serves more to blend the smoke/cherry/malt flavors than a stand alone flavor. Works well.

M: A little lighter than I would like for a beer with smokey profile, but good enough.

O: Excellent blend of very strong flavors. Nice departure from the typical bourbon barrel stouts our there. Will definitely get again. Wish I would have grabbed more when I had the chance.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
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.

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Photo of joe1510
4.26/5  rDev -0.9%
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!

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Photo of spacecake9
4.5/5  rDev +4.7%

A - Pours black with a small caramel creamy head that reduces quickly.
S - Smells of dark coffee with a bit of smoke
T - There's a lot going on here. Smoky, coffee, dark chocolate and something sweet, this is a tough one to figure out but a delicious one to drink. 14% abv but the booze does not take over at all - I did not even notice it.
M - Medium mouth feel.
O - I was very excited to get my hands on this beer and boy did it deliver! This is just flat out delicious. Hard to find, so if you see it on the shelf, grab it. Keep reading, there are better, more detailed reviews below.

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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...

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Photo of RickS95
4.35/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very dark, black pour...thick. The head is one part yellow, one part orange and five parts white. A finger thick, but very frothy like root beer head. Moderate retention, but it never fully dissipates. Full messy lace.

The smoke is very aggressive, but never fully overpowers everything else. Spices, bourbon, malt and vanilla are all present, but mostly subtle.

Whatever you notice in the smell is present in the taste, but far more aggressively. You can taste the smoke, along with the spices and bourbon. The alcohol is very strong, but is somewhat tempered by everything else. Complex taste. Not sure if a hop was ever used in this beer because it's totally an afterthought. Notes of chocolate in the finish.

Very manly beer. Full bodied with lots going on. Sweet, but smokey. Spicy. Faintly bitter. Warm, bordering on hot due to stupid high ABV, hints of bourbon and spices. A great winter beer.

This is my kind of beer. Dark, aggressive, highly alcoholic. I typically don't care for the bourbon barrels because I'm not a spirit drinker, but with everything else this beer has going on, it's a perfect match.

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Photo of jbwimer
4.32/5  rDev +0.5%

Poured from a 750 ml into a Bullfrog Le Roar snifter.

A- Black with some light coming through on the edges. Finger of brown foam lingers for a bit, though eventually fades.

S- Plenty of smoked wood and sweet vanilla. Roast is minimal, but present. Sweet chocolates with a hint of bourbon.

T- Really smooth, sweet chocolate, with some smoke flavors and more vanilla. Quite sweet, yet manages to avoid being cloying.

M- Not the greatest body, but I think a thicker body would make this difficult to drink, so it works out. Medium carb, medium mouthfeel. Smooth.

O- I really enjoyed this beer. It's a 2013 and has aged wonderfully. Would be glad to drink it again.

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Photo of a0lbudman
4.73/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A-black with a one finger light brown head that fades slow and leaves a good lace
S-smoke , bourbon, vanilla , and a cherry aroma
T-vanilla flavor that goes to a bourbon and vanilla mix, that quickly goes to a hot and hop bitter aftertaste that brings the smoke out in the finish.
M-low carbonation and full body with a good alcohol warming in the aftertaste
O-the warmer it gets the stronger the hop and alcohol aftertaste become but the smoke flavor seems to mellow out some

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Photo of supaadam
3.83/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Good looking dark beer with a little head.

S:A little too much smoke, but not completely overpowering like so many smoky beers. You can smell the bourbon a bit as well as cherry.

T: I get more cherry than anything else. Smoke flavor so there, but not very powerful, which is good for me. Bourbon is there, but not very much.

M: Lighter than I expected. Not much alcohol burn.

O: A good beer. I would like some more age on it to see what happens. The smoke and light mouthfeel did me in. I couldn't finish it.

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Photo of MarcWP
4.55/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with charred brown highlights toward the edges. Small cinnamon brown colored head that dissipates to nothing. This bottle leaked on the way to me, so I chilled it and opened it right away. Maybe some loss of carbonation but there was still a hiss when I popped the top so I believe the loss was not extreme.

Smell is quite nice with big vanilla, creamy cocoa, cinnamon, smoke, a dark fruit character much like plum or fresh black cherry pulp. Overall smokey but very well balanced with the barrel and sugary malt notes.

Taste is creamy vanilla, meaty char, dulce de leche, nutmeg, spiced rum, oak, hints of pasteurized maple syrup, and fresh pipe tobacco. Wow, one of the better tasting barrel aged imperial stouts I've had in a while. Of course I spend my days mostly immersed in farmhouse funk, but still, how did I not have this sooner. Very tasty!

Mouthfeel sports a solid light heavy body with 20 percentile carbonation level. I'm sure it lost some carb with that leakage so it's hard to hold it against it. Even then, it drinks very nice and for the abv is quite smooth. Sweet but with plenty of char and spice to balance it out.

Overall a fantastic imperial stout. This is far better than any of the ones I've had lately, which are actually few but among them some Noir variants and a few others. Has a great structure with the sweet and creamy flavors, smokiness, fall spice character, and subtle bourbon notes. This actually reminded me of a smokey, less rich Abraxas and quite honestly is about as good or better.

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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.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.49/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml wax capped bottle purchased at the brewpub a few weeks ago, label says 13% ABV. Served in a DFH snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with an inch tan head that sticked around for a while. There's also a decent amount of lacing. The brew smells like smoked malt, vanilla, roasted malt, bourbon, dark fruit, and bittersweet chocolate. Taste is similar to the aroma, it tastes like smoked malt, bourbon, vanilla, roasted malt, dark fruit (mostly cherry), coffee, dark chocolate, caramel and some rye spiciness. All the flavors mesh well together in this brew, and none of the flavors overpower the others. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's creamy and smooth with low/moderate carbonation. The 13% ABV is well hidden, it's very easy to drink for a brew this strong. I think this is a pretty good stout, definitely worth a try if you come across some! $15.50 a bottle.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.12/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 3.25.14

A - Pours a dark brown with a large brow, fine head that fades slowly.

S - Smoke, jerky, bourbon, roasted malts.

T - Burbon with lots of smoke dominating the finish.

D - Good carbonation with a heavy body.

O - Super smokey with nice bourbon background.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Black in the glass with a two finger brown head that tried to leave some lacing.

S-Roasted, burnt, smoked malt. But the smoke is not overpowering at all. Mild chocolate sneaks in as well.

T-Like the nose the smoke/roast/burnt malt is the in the forefront, but it doesn't dominate is is well balanced with the chocolate and very slight coffee.

M-Heavy to medium in body, alcohol is hidden.

O-A really good beer, an interesting take on the style, very glad I was able to try it. Thanks!

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.1/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml, spring 2013
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours deep brown color. Reddish hues. Light tan head. Some lacing bits. Some alcohol feet.

S: Campfire. Bourbon booze heat. Roasted malts. Some light vanilla, but its almost completely overpowered by the booze.

T: Definitely campfire smoked malt forward. Some chocolate meshing with the vanilla from the barrel. But for the most part this beer is all about the smoke and barrel. Definitely some booze heat on the back of the throat.

M: Full bodied.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.4/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Had this one over the weekend... Pours the standard black with a short lived dark tan head... no retention and no lacing... only okay looking.

Nose shows just a ton of ashy acrid smoke that really overpowers most all of the expected BA RIS notes... not pleasant at all. Dark chocolate and vanilla notes are present but are bulldozed by the sorta burning tire elements.

Flavor is only marginally better... weirdly phenolic and very ashy.. smoke is weird with sweet and road-tar not meeting in the middle... A bit more chocolate helps move the drinkability up for me, and the barrel comes out a little more than the aroma.

Nice body... carbonation is small bubble/everpresent.. pretty nice.

Overall, I don't have any idea about this one. I thought it was a trainwreck.


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Photo of macher0
4.71/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This was released 4/19/14. Bottle to tulip.

I've had this serval times but never reviewed. The wax is very light and it's very easy to open.

A. Very, very dark brown. Especially around the edges. Not complete black. Minor head quickly retreats to an amber fine bubble rim. Highly viscous and slightly oily.

S. Dominated by dark roasted malts. Moderate notes of bourbon, coco, and smoke. The smoke is noticeable but very low key. Very minor notes of vanilla and toffee.

T. The smoke is more dominate in the taste but not overwhelming and not at all similar to smoked pig. The smoke is more roast/char that you will also find in coffee ba stouts. The bourbon is noticeable and equals the malts. This is fairly bitter with a
Coffee/hops finish. Booze is totally hidden.

M. Moderate carbonation. Full body. Smooth for the style.

O. Bad to the bone. I'll say the smoke does build up after it warms. This ale transforms highly as it warm, but all phases are excellent. Highly recommended.

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

Enjoyed after about a 14 mile and 2000+' climb on my road bike with @commanderofawesome. 'Twas a somewhat cold and foggy day on Mt Tamalpias and we nededed to warm up a tad. Good thing we had this waiting.
As you can tell, poured into unbreakable Dixie cups, so no clue as to color or lacing but suffice it to say it was black and the lacing, much like the enjoyment of this delicious RIS, stuck around a while...once I got the plastic cap off. I came prepared with my fire fighter issue Swiss Army knife which has a 4" saw blade as no civilian knife can get tho off.
The aroma and nose on this beer is amazing. Rye, some smoke an some barrel and a whole lot of goodness. As we warmed (us and the beer) this got even better...more of the rye, smoke and barrel.
Much like the ride, I enjoyed the hell out of this beer. Lots of build up and worth the effort.
Even at $28, I'd grab it again.
Just like the show of old: open, sit back and enjoy for 23 minutes. You'll love it

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

No bottle date but this was released in the last month or so.

A: First off, this is the worst waxed cap I have ever seen. It doesn't feel like wax, it's like 1/4" thick plastic. It took a few minutes to chip off enough wax to get the bottle opener on this. Beer (finally) pours a pitch black with a tall, dense medium brown head. Head fades somewhat slowly, leaving almost no lacing at all. Quite good retention, however.

S: This is a heavy one for sure. Mellow caramel from the bourbon with a decent sweet chocolate. Smoky for sure but blends nicely, not overpowering. Nice vanilla on top of everything.

T: Notable bourbon but not too much. Very mellow but thick caramel coating. Loads of vanilla. Smoked malt doesn't stand out, it's crushed under the sweetness of the vanilla and caramel and even some chocolate. It's still a nice addition and adds complexity at the same time. Decent mixture of chocolate and a little coffee overtones with that smoked malt into the finish. Smokiness is most prominent in the finish and aftertaste where it lingers with some charred oak and more vanilla.

M: Mouthfeel on this one is amazing. Heavy, thick, super smooth and creamy. Sweet without being cloying. Viscous. Just wonderful. Might be the best of all time or at least in recent memory.

O: I am not a fan of smoked anything but this beers pull it off better than most. The heavy body and intense complexity really causes it to meld nicely instead of standing out like an ashtray dropped into your beer. The body on this one is absolutely incredible. It's hard to describe really. It's just got the right level of heaviness, viscosity and creaminess that makes it a dream as soon as you take a sip. Wonderful. Makes for an especially drinkable 13% barrel aged smoked stout!

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.65/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Pours black as night with a small, tan head. Retention is ok, but lacing is pretty good. Not too much to say here, as it looks like most impy stouts do.

S- Lots of smoke, burnt malts, and just a touch of barrel there. Really a complex and unique nose here. There is some evidence of Belgian yeast I think.

T- Starts off smokey and burnt in the flavor department. The barrel flavor shows off a little bit of oak and more burnt flavor, with very little vanilla to speak of. Barrel is really subdued compared to the smokiness. Lingering barrel spiciness on the palate.

M- Smooth and think on the palate. Alcohol is the big hitter here, but it is hidden very well.

Overall, my favorite smoked beer to date. Really smooth, complex, and not too much barrel to overtake the flavors of the base beer. Next step. find the variants.

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Bo & Luke from Against The Grain Brewery & Smokehouse
4.3 out of 5 based on 904 ratings.
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