Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout | Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's

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Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel StoutJefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout
Very Good
Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel StoutJefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

Brewed by:
Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's
Kentucky, United States

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 326 | Ratings: 438
Photo of stakem
3.7/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2009 12oz bottle poured into a tulip, the brew appears black in color with a khaki cap.

The nose is pretty mild but with a hint of oak, roasty chocolate/espresso and vanilla/caramel.

Taste has some nutty character, sweet with milk chocolate and a very clean finish with an aftertaste mildly oaky. As it warms up, the nuance of oak comes forth with caramel and vanilla.

Medium to lighter in body with moderately low carbonation. Decent

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Photo of uvachief
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%

Draft. Pours black but I see a little light. Little 1 finger head that lingers for a bit. Hints of bourbon under chocolate and coffee through the nose. Oddly light in the mouth with only subtle tastes of bourbon. Zero burn. Light ABV is my guess. Not creamy. Goes down extremity easy and smooth. Could drink several. No after taste . Not filling. Interesting.

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Photo of smcolw
3.79/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Good blanket lace from a relatively modest head. Near black color but sunlight does shine through the center of the glass.

Mild, but stout-like smell of burnt does come through.

More chocolate than black patent malt. Blindfolded, I would say this is a porter--a well-made porter, mind you. But it does miss the mark for a true stout. There is some sweetness that will contrast the dry, dark chocolate.

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Photo of sierratwohearted
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%

served on draft. black/opaque. super smooth. big notes of chocolate, some bourbon sweetness. coffee in the nose, mocha taste with the heavy chocolate. goes down entirely TOO easily. not much bourbon heat though. decent stout, but i wouldnt guess this was aged in bourbon barrels. Too sweet for my taste.

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Photo of ElijahCraig69
5/5  rDev +30.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On the rare occasions i buy beer, i buy craft. When I'm not drinking bourbon from the state of kentucky, i drink stouts from kentucky. Very good flavor. not good at picking up flavors. I just know i love this. I buy craft mainly to support microbreweries. Macrobreweries make low quality beers and charge an arm and a leg for them sometimes. Microbreweries make good quality beer for a similar price. The appearance is nice and dark. the smell is amazing, and the taste is also amazing. Mouthfeel is very complex but can't describe it. I had cigars while i was drinking this one. might be why i couldnt pick out any flavors.

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Photo of woosterbill
3.12/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12oz bottle from October 2009, poured into a Duvel tulip. Thanks to Lazerlobe for sending this as an extra back in the day.

A: The crown loosens with a tremendous hiss, and the first splash of beer in the tulip explodes to fill it halfway with dense, almost gel-like froth. The oversized glass fills up with about an inch of beer and five inches of head. An attempt to top it up several minutes later still doesn't manage to empty the bottle, and even a third try after that comes up short. Wildly overcarbonated. Infected? I'll give it a point above the minimum here just because the head is so insanely creamy - it looks more like a root beer float than a beer.

S: Whiskey dominates, with equal parts heat and oak. Some chocolate and caramel in the background. The oak notes carry quite a bit of char. Not bad at all.

T: Sweet vanilla, cola, and bourbon up front, with sweeter caramel and chocolate filling in behind. The finish is distantly oaky and, again, sweet. The aftertaste has a bit of a subdued bourbon burn, along with a touch of char. Not bad, but rather boring for the style.

M: The extreme overcarbonation has thinned it out quite a bit, and yet it's still rather fizzy even after repeated swirls and swishes. Not good.

O: My expectations were rather low for this one, and in many ways it exceeded them. If it weren't for the carbonation issues it would have been thoroughly enjoyable; as is, average is about the best I can say for it.


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Photo of KYGunner
3.75/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This poured thick, black and opaque but had tons of carbonation that bubbled along the edges for the entire duration.

The scent is of coffee, dry smoky bean coffee, with hints of malt. There's a bit of dark chocolate with some graham cracker crust aroma.

The taste has chocolate and coconut with a watery maltiness. That's good and bad, the chocolate was nice, the coconut sweet and the maltiness watery. Enjoyable but a lot of room for improvement I will drink it again.

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Photo of HomeBrewJake
4.29/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Got it on tap at Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg Va. Poured into a small ale glass.

Appearance - Midnight black pour, off white head that dissipates pretty quickly, could've had more head if the bartender poured it correctly. Tiny bit of lacing that sticks around for only a minute or two.

Aroma - Deep chocolate, dark fruitcake, there's some woodiness, and a tiny bit of coffee, hint of dark bread. Very enticing.

Taste - Definitely getting some chocolate and some dark fruit, the woody flavors compliment the Chocolate nicely. Coffee aftertaste is there. Very smooth tasting for a barrel aged Stout with a high abv.

Feel - Very smooth and refreshing. It is probably the easiest drinking stout I've ever had.

Overall - Solid brew. One of my favorites and definitely my new go to stout.

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Photo of bonkers
3.98/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I poured from a bottle into a nonic while on vacation in Nashville. The pour is jet black, thin tan head. The aroma is strong bourbon, roasted notes. Well rounded, notes of bourbon, roasted malt, coffee, chocolate. The bourbon lingers. The body could be a bit fuller, good carbonation. A very enjoyable beer, very glad to try it.

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Photo of gtermi
3.26/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2006

A: This beer pours a very dark black body with a thin tan head that quickly fades to nothing.

S: There really isnt any bourbon at all and that really disappoints me. All I really get is strong sweet dark malt.

T: The bourbon really faded out of this beer and it has really turned into just a basic tasting stout. The beer really only has a strong chocolate flavor and a tiny bit of bitterness that doesnt last long.

M: The beer is really easy to drink and has a tiny bit of crispness on the back on the throat.

O: This beer didnt age too great and I would love to do a side by side with a new bottle just to see the difference.

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Photo of davey101
3.23/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Label notches indicates that its been bottled on April 2006

A - Pitch black body with a two finger light tan head. Settles down to a thin cap. Decent amount of lacing and retention.

S - Burnt malts, milk chocolate, cheap bourbon. A touch of vanilla sweetness, but the char is rather dominating. No hints of oxidation.

T - Incredibly tame and mellow. The little flavor it does have is somewhat pleasant though. Roasted malts, coffee beans, milk chocolate, vanilla, and oak. Almost no bourbon presence. Mouth feel is thin to medium with ample carbonation.

O - This beer is an exercise in the fact that not every beer should be aged. Very little flavor, the aroma is a bit offensive, and theirs a high level of carbonation for the thin mouth feel. I'm not sure how this one was fresh, but I bet it was a hell of a lot better. Luckily it isn't oxidized at its current age.

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Photo of oldirtycaffrey
4.22/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Was very impressed with this beer. Had 14oz served to me in a snifter at the excellent Park Lane Tavern in Fredericksburg, VA (which has a really good selection of beers on tap). Color is near black with an inch tan foamy head. Smell is strong in vanilla, malt, and caramel. Hints of chocolate as well. Simply a delicious brew to have after dinner, or as I like to have with imperial stouts, a nice, crisp burger with bacon (preferably applewood). Big Thumbs Up!

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Photo of LuthersMug
4.74/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one at the Blue 5 Restaurant in Roanoke, Va.

A - Nice dark color, with a tiny head, not much lacing.

S - Absolutely wonderful, sweet vanilla and bourbon, hints of espresso and coffee.

T - Again wonderful, sweet bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, and roasted coffee, very well balanced.

M - Smooth and creamy.

O - Would definitely have this one again.

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Photo of paulginva
3.5/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

APPEARANCE: Came to our table with a large, perhaps 2½", light tan foamy head that dissipated somewhat slowly over 3 or 4 minutes leaving very little head lacing. Carbonation was lively, almost fizzy and the body was an opaque very dark brown to black.

AROMA: The predominant aromas were of vanilla, bourbon, and oak, with a bit of nuttiness, chocolate, and roasted coffee in the background.

TASTE: The taste was predominantly roasted, almost burnt, coffee, plus dark chocolate, bourbon and oak. There was also a clear taste of roasted malts, probably oats, and an identifiable taste of alcohol which produced a slightly unpleasant aftertaste.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium body with lively (almost too much) carbonation, little body lacing, and a thin, watery texture and a slightly bitter aftertaste. The initial flavor that came through was a sweet coffee/chocolate/bourbon flavor, changing to a slightly bitter, dry, alcohol flavor at the finish, which lasted for a moderate amount of time.

DRINKABILITY: I might be able to drink two of these in a sitting but the relatively high alcohol level would probably stop me from having more -- or at least quickly having more, though it was reasonably easy to drink. If I were the designated driver, this would be a sipping beer, not a drinking beer. I can't say that this stout was particularly memorable; there are many better exemplars of the style and there just wasn't any "wow factor" present. It presented reasonably good value -- it certainly wasn't overpriced. Would I buy it again? That's a hard question to answer here. Probably not, I guess, not because there was anything intrinsically bad about it but because there wasn't anything identifiably special present.

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Photo of Daniellobo
4.1/5  rDev +7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice bourbon aged stout, in particular with a memorable final rounded sense.

Presentation: 16 oz draft offering. Menu notes style, general characteristics, and 8.5% Alc. by Vol. Served in a pint shaker glass.

A - Black pour with deep brown edges, short creamy head with moderate retention, fair surface memory and nice touches of lacing.

S -Malty vanilla and bourbon nose, with a nice sense of chocolate, a tad generic but rather pleasing.

T - Nice malty range with good notes of chocolate, touch of coffee, and a nice bourbon vanilla range.

M - Medium-full body with moderate carbonation, and a nice creamy flow. A bit thin for the imperial edge of the style but while a bit short for the standard it does not hinder the enjoyment.

O - Very nice flow, rich and long with a good threshold.

Notes: Happy to revisit this one. It might feel a tad generic at first, but it hits a nice upper bracket for a nice barrel aged stout, with a solid bourbon touch, and a rich range. On tap this is almost a go-to kind of thing… In particular with this price-quality ratio for this area.

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Photo of rudolphjacksonm
3.97/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Patrick Henry's Pub & Grille on 10/31/11.

A - Dark brown, almost opaque black color. No head at all and barely any carbonation. A little bit of a head would have been nice for a stout, but I suppose this could be a problem either with the tap at the pub or the particular batch. Or it's entirely possible that this particular stout doesn't produce a head at all. 3.0

S - Smell's like bourbon, molasses and malt. The bourbon smell can become a bit overpowering makes it hard to detect any other scents. 3.5

T - The taste is absolutely delicious (if you like bourbon, that is). Hits the tongue with an initial wave of bourbon, then moves to more creamy and smooth notes. Coffee, malt, cream, hazelnut, caramel and toffee all swirl around together after the initial sip. Small bit of hoppy bitterness at the end that wraps the whole experience up. 4.5

M - Very smooth with some tingling at the end. What you'd expect for a stout with very little carbonation. The consistency is similar to Guinness in a lot of ways. 3.5

O - When judging the Bourbon Barrel Stout as a whole, I think there are some points upon which it could be improved. The mouthfeel is a little flat, and the smell is almost too bourbon-ey to detect anything else unless you submerge your nose in it. The appearance is also disappointingly flat. If you rate it just based on taste, however, I find the Bourbon Barrel Stout very enjoyable. It's a fantastically delicious beer that definitely deserves to be tried. 4.0

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Photo of sommersb
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 10-25-2011
Freshness: Unknown
Packaging: Draft
Glassware: Shaker pint
Purchased: On tap at the Flying Saucer, Nashville

Pour was a black, opaque beer with a thin tan head.

Aromas were of chocolates, roasted malts, bourbon, wood and some spice.

Taste followed the nose with typical stout flavors of dark malts, roasted grain, and chocolate, with the added whiskey notes. The bourbon added a nice alcohol warmth without being too overpowering.

Mouthfeel was creamy and smooth, with a low-to-medium level of carbonation and a fairly full body. Finish is nicely balanced between the sweet malts and bitterness of the roasted grains.

Overall a nicely done bourbon-barrel stout that I'd recommend.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.42/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

black as night with a light tan head of maybe an inch and a half across the top. This faded down to about a quarter inch but never got any lower then that. Lots of side glass lacing all over the sides as it went down. The aroma was a touch boozy, with tons of chocolate and roasted malts coming through. Almost a licorice like smell as it warms, incredible. As I take my first sip I am floored, rich vanilla and cocoa taste with a large dose of roasted malts. Tons of flavor here, with bourbon notes really coming through on this one. I am literally drooling as I write this that I dont have any left. The finish was soo smooth, and chocolate filled, it was a dessert beer to the extreme.

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Photo of Zraly
3.22/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

On-tap at Cogan's in Suffolk, Va. Poured into your standard pint glass. Pitch black with a decent head.

A very pleasant nose of wood (i.e., a la bourbon), vanilla, and coffee. The bourbon note is upfront and not altogether bad but something cloying and sweet lingers on for too long -- vanilla. The vanilla is persistent and makes it hard to enjoy. There is a weird cola flavor, too, intermingling with the bourbon and I don't care for it. This makes the mouthfeel awkward and overbearing. I enjoy all of these flavors but there can be too much of a good thing.

I might enjoy this more from an aged bottle. It's not half bad from the tap, so I'm willing to try.

Not bad, but not great. A half-way decent steak with au jus might cut through some of the sweetness.

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Photo of russwbeck
2.76/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Black pour with a light brown head. What remains of the head does lace nicely. Lots of bourbon on the smell. Roasted malts and vanilla underneath. I wish more of a typical stout taste remained. It worries me that the beer will be too thin and all bourbon when I can't tell it was a stout some lifetime ago. Roasted malts begin the taste lightly with a lot of intrusive bourbon. Really the bourbon is all you taste. Vanilla, oak, not balanced at all. Heavy body though, was expecting lighter. Nicely carbonated with a decent amount of alcohol noted. Overall this is another Bluegrass Brewing Company Bourbon Barrel Aged beer that really disappointed me. Not enough stout, all bourbon, no balance, just a mess of a beer.

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Photo of Pahn
3.67/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into Duvel tulip. Bottled May, 2005.

Appearance: Free pour yields a 2 inch frothy light tan head that dissipates steadily and lacelessly. Pours pitch black and leaves a couple bubbly swatches of lacing.

Smell: From the bottle: smells like a bottle of liquid dark chocolate. In the glass: Dark and unsweetened chocolate at first. Smooth, small background note of coffee and rum. Odd, emerging sugary/nutty liqueur note... hard to put my finger on it... pistachio ice cream! It definitely smells like pistachio ice cream. What a strange way for a beer to smell.

The pistachio ice cream soon becomes the dominant note in the aroma, along with heavy whipped cream and sugary cookies. Some chocolate and coffee stick around in the background.

Somehow borders on offensive while still smelling very good. Extra points for smelling like pistachio ice cream (???).

Taste: First sip: follows the nose but with less chocolate and more whipped cream. Wow, terrible mouthfeel, but interesting flavor. Nice hit of roasted malt comes in and takes over the flavor in the finish, assuaging the immediate too-sweet/too-rich worries. Coffee with cream aftertaste.

Subsequent sips show this beer to be a nice dessert stout. There's a pleasant and subtle hit of bourbon in the middle between the milky coffee / pistachio ice cream beginning and heavy roasted malt finish. These are good flavors that not only work well together, but solve each other's problems to a large degree.

The wateriness is holding the flavor back, and despite the welcome roasted character, the beer could definitely benefit from some more hop bitterness. Extra points for some unique and pleasing flavors.

Mouthfeel: Thin, chalky, and paradoxically at once milky and watery. Moderate carbonation, and a nice long finish. No alcohol heat. While definitely bad, the mouthfeel is less a disaster and more deep flaws coexisting with decent aspects. It's too thin, has a few unpleasant flaws, but provides some good stuff as well (a short, unsatisfying finish would push this to a 1, but there's enough done right here for it to be a 2).


Overall: I like it. Despite its problems, it has no off flavors, and is giving me some stuff I rarely get from a stout.

Given that this bottle is about 6 years old, I'll weigh in on the "Cellarable?" question and say, "Sure, if you have a lot of space, it's worth putting one of these aside and waiting on it for awhile." While the thin mouthfeel problems don't get any help from age, some nice, smooth, *very dessert-oriented* flavors come out, and could well justify the endeavor if you like that sort of thing.

P.S. Pairs awesome with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

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Photo of jcurtis55
4.38/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Wow, I really liked this one. Got little head which affected the appearance rating and may have subdued the aroma a bit. But flavor and mouthfeel are great. It was good right from the refridgerator and continued to taste great as it warmed a bit. And this is form a person who does not really care for bourbon.

This might not be for you if you are looking for a distinct bourbon flavor. I thought I got just a bit of bourbon in the smell, but it certainly took a back seat to the usual roasty chocolate stout flavor. Quite drinkable. In fact I would think of this as more of a normal stout instead of an Imperial stout.

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Photo of lpritchard
4.3/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured a midnight black with a nice tan head. Slight roast aroma with little to no bourbon smell.

Taste: Roast flavor thats not overpowering, bourbon finish with a sweetness (brown sugar?).

Overall a great beer, not very heavy so I could actually have another without filling full even with a heavy meal.

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Photo of meatyard
3.42/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle is about 3 years old by now.

Pours a very dark brown with cola colored edges. The head is a 1-finger, light brown color that falls quickly to a center cap.

The smell is mainly a straight up bourbon aroma with a little chocolate in the background.

The taste is bourbon but has smoothed out over time, a bit of licorice, some dark chocolate and a small bit of a tangy, sourness.

Mouthfeel is fairly thin with low carbonation.

Overall: There's nothing special about this beer. It's not bad but just doesn't compare well with many other options of this style.

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Photo of ramseye4
3.93/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A=Pours a thick oily black color with no head or lacing
S=booze, oak, roasted malt
T=Starts with a heavy dose of roasted malt, with some milky smooth chocolate making an appearance. The bourbon isn't as pronounced as expcected, but it comes out when the beer is swilled around in the mouth, adding a nice touch.
M=medium bodied and highly carbonated
O=A decent bourbon barrel stout, though its no KBS its not a bad poor man's substitute

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Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's
Beer rating: 3.83 out of 5 with 438 ratings