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
438 Ratings
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 Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by mcallister on 04-07-2006

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 438 |  Reviews: 326
Photo of lightindarkness
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Not a disappointment at all, but don't expect to be hit by some huge beer. This is a modest version of its style

Pours all but jet black, with some really dark deep ruby highlights. Creamy light-tan head is fed by tiny carbonation streams.

Nose is extremely malty, with very distinct coffee and toasted grainy bread. A dry roasted scent dominates with little more coming through. A faint nutty oaky smell does develop, along with a little bourbon, kind of nice that it's so mild, but not a lot to it.

Taste is smooth and grainy, with a lot of dark roasted malt and coffee. Nice stout finish, somewhat airy and crisp. A lot of great surface malt flavors, but lacking the depth I expected from the name and style. A great tasting beer, just not as much complexity as I'd hoped for.

Feel is medium bodied, somewhat lighter than expected, with a lot of fuzzy carbonation, I liked that.

I'd be happy to drink it again if I didn't have to pay as much as I did for it. Remarkably, however, because of the lighter body and taste for its style, somehow I've managed to guzzle the bottle a lot faster than I intended, and I'm surprised to realize I wish I had another.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.12/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle received in trade, but I don't know who from. I've been trading too much and I forgot who sent this. But thank you for the opportunity!

Pours a dark brown/black. Lets a little light through when held up to it. Meager tan head that disappears quickly. Aroma is some chocolate, some bourbon, some oak, and I pick up a bit of vanilla, faint but its there. Taste is roasty, oakey, sweet and chocolaty. Mouthfeel is thinner than I would expect for a stout. Tasty mix of flavors, but should be a bit thicker. Drinking this feels more like drinking a porter or even a strong brown ale. Tasty, but labeled incorrectly.

Big thanks to DavoleBomb for sending me this in the Secret Santa Bif and allowing me to try this again.
I might have been a bit harsh in my review of this the first time around, I was young forgive me. The nose on this one is great Oak, bourbon, and vanilla without being overpowering on top of chocolate, dark fruits and licorice. I could smell this all day. Taste follows the smell. I was right the first time that the body is quite thin. I adjusted my score up based on this tasting.

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Photo of Sammy
3.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very good stout, like a 1.5X rather than a double, with some thickness and good chocolate with some coffee nicely roasted. A well done minority of bourbon in aroma and taste. Smooth drinker. Absent of head. Above average mouthfeel.Balance and taste, though not the thickest.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Rich, deep black... a great tan head that sticks to the sides. Nice retention.

S: The barrel woods come through on the nose... malts and roasted aromas.

T: Rather similar to smell... the oaky taste, roasted grains. A little more chocolatey as it warms. Not a really 'big' flavour, but rich and quite delicious.

M: A little light bodied, just a little coating... could be a little heavier.

D: A fairly easy drink. Like the feel, it could stand to be a little heavier. I'd like to savour a little more flavour.

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Photo of dickieb
3.91/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours as dark as any stout i have seen with 1 1/2 fingers of head that quickly works down to a ring around the glass. The smell is of paper and coffee grounds with hints of bourbon, and some dark malts. The flavor is more subdued then i would expect staring with the roasted malts with some vanilla, and working through to the oak chips and a lingering bourbon finish. Good mouthfeel for a stout, and the drinkability it also rather good. I was expecting something a bit more over the top, seeing as this was not anything to extreme, but rather enjoyable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.4/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Roasted walnut with meager russet highlights along the edges. A barely audible escape of CO2 on crown cracking was followed by the creation of a golden ecru cap that maxed out at a fat one finger and melted to a thin disk in several minutes. Glass coverage is decent.

The nose is reminiscent of an American stout without the Double/Imperial qualifier. Dark chocolate and coffee beans are present, with the latter being slightly more prominent. Unfortunately, there isn't as much bourbon as there should be.

At least bourbon whiskey is present on the palate. Trouble is, JRBBS is anything but a big stout. In fact, it drinks smaller than the 5.0% oatmeal stout that I reviewed yesterday. Granted, I reviewed the best oatmeal stout in the universe yesterday.

The malt bill includes pale, wheat, chocolate and roasted. That's all well and good, though why not add less of the first two and more of the last two? Much, much more. Jefferson's Reserve is akin to a porter that was aged in bourbon barrels for considerably less than the claimed 60 days. Only a hint of caramelized sugar and oak are appreciated.

This might be the thinnest 8.5% double stout in the history of 8.5% double stouts. On the silver lining side, more carbonation would have resulted in an even lower score. Bluegrass needs a larger adding-malt-to-the-kettles shovel.

I've had my eye on this brew for a year or so and finally found a single. I'm not sure what was expected, but very little ended up being delivered. If you're looking for a decent bourbon-accented porter, then have at it. Decent is as good as it gets, though.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
3.5/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

what an odd and interesting beer.
A - dark brown / black in color, steady small tan head through the full glass.
S - coffee, roasted grains, hint of bourbon.
T - light roasted grain / coffee, hints of bourbon and oak with a bit of a bite.
M - light to medium bodied, smooth, mellow
D - this was a tale of two halves of the glass. initial half was confusing as the flavors tried to find their message, the second half melded better with a nice end note of bourbon and vanilla.

The odd thing of this beer is it felt more like a porter to me than a stout. I think it drank well but it's an adventure.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.28/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I thought this beer was OK, but pretty weak compared to other imperial stouts out there in the market (there is a definite positive bias toward this beer). Still, not bad.

It poured an opaque black with minimal head. Aroma was pretty interesting...I got bourbon, tobacco, and liquorice off of this beer. Aroma was definitely the highlight of this beer. Flavor, in contrast, was a bit of a disappointment. It tasted to me like a malted milk ball, cereal-y, and a bit sour. There was also a fair amount of roastiness and chocolate. Mouthfeel was a bit thin, particularly for an imperial stout.

I'd weakly recommend this beer.

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Photo of secondtooth
4.8/5  rDev +26%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

If a beer can be called 'beautiful', then this one qualifies.
Louisville's impeccable craft brewers have concocted this fine stout,
then aged it in oaken bourbon barrels, so you get a smooth, lush, and
complex taste with the vibe of a fine wine. This is a top-shelf beer
that has few peers. It may be a mite expensive, but this is one beer
you simply must try.

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Photo of abcsofbeer
4.01/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle with a Oct '07 freshness date. The color is dark brown to mostly black, the brown around the edges. The head is tan in color and about 11/2 fingers high, and falls to a thin crown, but, leaves little to no lacing.

The aroma is sweet malts, currants and raisins. I detect some sweet grape smells and a touch of mild alcohol. The taste is smooth and lightly hopped. There is some nice bitter chocolate flavor that lingers on the tongue. The alcohol flavor content is not representative of the 8.5% listed. It seems much lower.

The mouthfeel is pretty thin for a stout, no chewiness, but, overall, this one tastes pretty good.

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Photo of RedBaron
4.13/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A Confederate strong stout...I just had to pick up a four-pack of this interesting-looking beer while traveling to Indianapolis recently (from Chicago).

Appearance: Super-dark brown, but not quite opaque. Low carbonation (good for the style).
Smell: Faint whiff of molasses and hand-cut cured tobacco.
Taste: Aged-whiskey sweetness, but tastefully mellowed; fig and chocolate notes, too. Quite yummy.
Mouthfeel: This beer is all about the malts and additions of the residuals sugars of having been aged in bourbon barrels. Finishes sweet, but perhaps a bit thin. The alcohol in this beer is quite apparent in the finish.
Drinkability: Not your every day beer, but one to be enjoyed when the cold winds blow.

Cunningly, I purchased many strong beers, such as this one, on a jaunt to Indianapolis in late October. My rationale was to store these types of can't-find-at-home beers in my basement until such time (i.e. WINTER IN CHICAGO) was called for.

This is one of those beers that remind me that Kentucky is one of the leading American producers of bourbon and tobacco, and only a fella with blood-ties to that state, and the South in general, could fully appreciate it, I suppose. It ain't the kind of barrel-aged stout I'm used to (having lived most of my life in the North), but I really appreciate the subtleties and mellowness in this beer. Sipping this beer makes me nostalgic for swimming in places like Kentucky Lake, or spelunking in Mammoth Cave (or Horse Cave, for those who REALLY know Kentucky cave exploration), and remembering spotting all those families in the western part of the state who hang tobacco to age under little outdoor awnings on their property.

I only hope my kin south of the Mason-Dixon line has easier access to this beer than I do!

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Photo of Redwood21
4.02/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: It is a great inky black with a brown thin head thats very robust

S: This beer smells great robust roasted aroma maybe some coffee and a little bit of alcohol. it starts to die off a little bit but some vanilla candle type smells finish it off.

T: it has a good taste. i wish it was more complex considering how "big" it is but that said at 8.5 it is very smooth. there is a roasted oak vanilla bean taste with very faint oats or chocolate, not sure could be picking up on something else. very creamy and the flavor lasts on your tongue for a while. this is a quality beer that if not careful you can put too many down before you know it.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.98/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, bottled in October 2007. Served in a Sam Adams BL glass, the beer pours dark brown with an inch tan head. The head goes away quickly, and the lacing is OK. It smells like bourbon, coffee, chocolate, wood and vanilla. The aroma is nice, but not strong at all however it does improve as it warms up some. It tastes like wood, smoke, coffee and a little bit of bourbon and vanilla. There's also a lingering bitter coffee and wood aftertaste. Mouthfeel is medium, it's a bit thinner than I like my stouts to be. However, it is very smooth and silky. Because it is a bit lighter, the drinkability is very good. This is really easy to drink and the alcohol isn't noticable at all. It's not a great beer, but it's still a good one. I'd drink this again, it's a decent choice and it's sessionable enough for an 8.5% ABV beer.

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Photo of LittleBreeze
3.57/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Beer Thirty Tasting

Bourbon, oak, brown sugar and vanilla were the strongest smells for me.

As it warms the flavors come together. It seems unbalanced...maybe a little heavy on wood or smoke in contrast to the other flavors. I'd be interested to know which barrels were used.

Drinkable. It is a little thin. But overall not bad.

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Photo of rsyberg01
4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

S - 12 oz bottle, bottled feb 07, from notes. andy snead likes the baseball with the wooden stick.

A - Pours black with a chocolate thin head, foam is tight and tucked way, waiting for a chillier day. looks like it should.

S - dark roast coffee, smoke, chocolate, subtle fruit character that breaks through the heavy scents of the prior, touch of bourbon in there, not overwhelming, just right.

T - wood, smoke, bourbon, chocolate, coffee, sweetness though not cloying. hot damn.

M - Lighter bodied but still with some love to it.

D - With the lighter side in the body it makes it that much more drinkable.

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Photo of Bitterbill
3.23/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This one pours from 12oz bottle(bottled 10 07) a very dark brown with a 1 finger head of tannish foam that quickly leaves the scene leaving just a ring around the glass and there's almost no lacing.

The smell is delicate to me. I can just detect some faint notes of wood and maybe some vanilla?

The taste has a nice bourbon flavour up front with some vanilla backing it up. After a few more sips, I can taste some dark fruit and toffee. The mouthfeel is fairly light as is the carbonation and it finishes with a bitterish hot cocoa flavour. Hmm...I don't notice the abv at all but I'm sure *that* will catch up to me later. ;^)

Btw, the more I sip, the more I notice a somewhat watery finish..I mean, it really loses a lot of its character there and it wasn't exactly power packed with flavour in the first place.

All in all, I'd say it 's a good tasting brew of the style but, I don't know, it's missing that certain oomph to make it special. At least, to my tastebuds. I'm glad I got to try it but it's turning out to be something that I wouldn't try hard to seek out again. YMMV.

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Photo of dedrinker
3.9/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark chocolate color, thin, but persistent tan head. Aroma of burnt malt and bourbon. The flavor was a great blend of vanilla, darkly roasted malt, and a hint of coconut in the bourbon flavor (rum?). The mouth feel/ body was a little thin for the style, but this was a great comfort beer after coming in off the rainy streets of a cool November night. Slides down and hit the spot that need the warmth and soothing silky body of a stout.

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Photo of BeerSox
3.81/5  rDev 0%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into nonic.

Even with an aggressive pour, barely any head was created. About a minute after pouring only a thin rim was left around the glass.

Burnt barley sets up a bitter tone to the aroma, matched by a sweet chocolate aroma that is well balanced.

Somewhat of a sweet stout for the style. The chocolate really stands out in the flavor. I'm not sure if chocolate malts were used or if they brewed it with real chocolate, but it adds a nice touch regardless. The beer seems a little bit thin, but not really watery; it still has the full flavor. The finish is mostly the roasted grains lingering. There is maybe a touch of flavoring from the bourbon aging.

Overall this isn't bad. It's a little thin, but it's still a good beer. It's nothing spectacular, but it's still worth a try. Recommended (for at least a sampling).

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Photo of cdrummer
3.78/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Dark, thick blackness offset by a light beige head that starts thick and laces quickly to the sides of the glass, and stays around for a while.

S: Cocoa and wood with a subtle toffee and coffee-like richness.

T&M: Simple dark chocolate and smoky notes cover the tongue, with a lingering finish bourbon, wood, and blood orange. Mouthfeel is a bit thinner than I would expect from this seemingly thick stout.

D: While quite drinkable, I think it could be a bit thicker, especially considering its focus on dark wood and chocolate.

Overall, I think the quality of the wood aging is the main character here. While not overwhelmingly impressed, I would recommend checking it out for what it's worth.

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Photo of arguemaniac
3.88/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The smooth but very full palate features a big vanilla note, rich chocolate, a bitter (but not overly astringent) coffee character, a nice touch of whiskey sweetness and plenty of roasted maltiness.

Thick, full and rich yet still surprisingly smooth and drinkable. I’m guessing the barrel-aging helps to mellow out what would otherwise be an intensely robust brew. Nice, and aging doesn’t hurt this one either, by the way.


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Photo of Atricapilla
4.84/5  rDev +27%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Do not drink this beer cold! It masks the flavour and aroma. Just below room temperature is appropiate.

I had this in both bottle and draught; draught was significantly better. It is a chocolate color with a smaller head than most stouts. It had a wonderful bourbon and vanilla aroma. The taste is a great smokey boubon backed by a medium roasted malt flavor. There are also light hints of vanilla. A great beer.

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Photo of CharlieMopps
3.12/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pitch black, with dark mahogany tones when held to light. Minimal khaki colored head on top.

S: Subtle malt profile in the nose, barely a trace of hops at all in the bouquet. Seems rather straightforward, we'll see what the taste yields.

T: Mellow for such a bold stout, bit of bourbon aging detectable on the palate, as is its whole Kentucky theme here, but not much. Toasted malt presence was alright, but nothing to write home about.

M: Lighter body than expected, with a maltiness that lingers on the back of the mouth. Decent enough, I'd say.

D: After all that I'd heard about this beer, mostly very glowing remarks, I found it to be rather lackluster. Granted, I'm all about the barrel aging and seeing what can be done to enhance the flavor, but this just didn't hit the mark for me.

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Photo of homebrewhawk
3.65/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12 oz. brown bottle allowed to warm for about an hour. Poured into a brandy snifter. Deep opaque brown. Little carbonation and a sparse head.
Some vanilla in the aroma and lots of sweet malt. Some fruit aromas appear as it warms. Some roasted malt flavors. Very dry. Medium body. Some chocolate and cocoa flavors. I didn't get a whole lot of wood or bourbon. Fairly restrained flavors. Very smooth and easy drinking for the ABV.
Decent, but there are a lot better bourbon barrel brews out there.

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Photo of hchinaski
4.23/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle serving, around 9pm. (still have effects of slight cold)

A- pours nice and thin into an imperial pint glass. about a half inch head that disipated in about a min.

S- did not catch much aroma from the beer(see above about a cold) maybe a little sweetness, but was overzealous and snorted an ounce or so. have had this beer a couple of times, so i'll grade from memory.

T- very nice and silky. goes down like water, but not in a taste way. aftertaste is a wondrously sweet, warm sensation that masks the ABV

M- leaves no ill effects on the sense. very nice.

D- i could drink these all night long, if my liver and wife would let me. the ABV does tend to sneak up on you, due to the smoothness. one of our beer distributors left me one at the bar where i work last week, and he's now my favorite person.

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Photo of Atlas1
3.95/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had the Bourbon Barrel Stout at Rustico in Alexandria, VA the other day. A tasty choice that went quite well as the finale to my lunch.

From the tap into a standard shaker pint glass, the BBS appears a dark brown/black color with hints of ruby red at the edges and thin brown head on top. This sucker leaves behind a lot of lace in its wake. The nose is sweet vanilla and molasses, with some light chocolate and oak scents. It is definitely heavy on the bourbon too, as this really takes over as the beer warms up a bit. Some faint coffee esthers as well. The taste is nutty, with a bitter coffee quality and distant bourbon flavors. Again, things really begin to mature and develop as the beer warms up to room temperature. The mouthfeel was a bit thin, but smooth and crisp.

This is an entirely drinkable double stout. A very nice example of the barrel-aged style, as the bourbon flavor and aroma really comes through nicely. It's stronger than some, but not at all over-powering. Better when served at room temperature, in my opinion.

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Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Bluegrass Brewing Co. - East St. Matthew's
Beer rating: 3.81 out of 5 with 438 ratings
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