Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel AleKentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
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Style:
English Strong Ale
Ranked #34
ABV:
8.19%
Score:
84
Ranked #32,030
Avg:
3.74 | pDev: 17.38%
Reviews:
699
Ratings:
3,176
From:
Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
 
Kentucky, United States
Avail:
Year-round
Wants
  168
Gots
  1,095
SCORE
84
Good
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel AleKentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
Notes: Award winning Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a unique sipping beer with the distinctive nose of a well-crafted bourbon. Our Kentucky Ale is aged for up to 6 weeks in freshly decanted bourbon barrels from some of Kentucky’s finest distilleries. Subtle yet familiar flavors of vanilla and oak are imparted to this special ale as it rests in the charred barrels. Pleasantly smooth and robust, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale may also be served as an aperitif or after dinner drink.
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Reviews: 699 | Ratings: 3,176 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by BEERchitect:
Photo of BEERchitect
4.35/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally, the highly anticipated bottle of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. And not the ceramic, novelty, $40 bottle that if you rub it, a beautiful bourbon barrel jeanie will magically appear and hastily remind you of how much you over paid for her beer. Released this week, is the 12 oz. $9.99 per 4-pack bottles now on the retail shelves. Packaged in a handsome and artistic lable and carton with a reminescence of the horse and bourbon herritage in Central Kentucky that represents the Blugrass well. Must say that the beer remains as tasty as ever, but the concern is how much stability will this beer handle durring travel and on the shelves. I pick up a mild vinegar aroma and flavor that rides the background of Strong Ale sweetness and strength, distinctive bourbon character, vanilla, coconuts, butterscotch, toffee, toastedness, nuttiness, oakiness, and a touch of brown sugar. So much power, character, intensity, and complexity without pushing the body into thickness. In fact, the beer remains refreshingly thin without watering. Mildly creamy, sweetly rich, and a constant bourbon warming throughout. Finishes with a touch of bourbon heat, toffee sweetness and a mild dryness.

It will be interesting to see if the newly bottled Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale will continue to vary from batch to batch. Locally, this beer will show more vanilla and coconut in one batch, and then more oak and bourbon the next. Sometimes it tastes like a stronger, sweeter standard Kentucky Ale and other times take on cherry or berry character. Many Budweizer drinkers will call this 'inconsistancy'. I call it 'variety' -- a little bit of Christmas in every pint. If this crosses over to the 12oz. bottles, then it will be interesting to see if it gains praise (as it does locally) or criticism.

I have also noticed that this beer gets far lesser review ratings if it has beer 'shipped' out of the Bluegrass than those ratings where BA's sampled it locally. I don't think it's because of our biased tendencies of wanting our local 'baby' to succeed. I have noticed that this beer has traditionally not traveled well. Althought the bottle is pleasant, it's a far cry from the quality freshness that is available locally, expecially brewery fresh. A must drink if traveling through Lexington. Sit back with a brandy sniffer full of the Bourbon Barrel and discuss which horse stole all of your money earlier that day at Keenland. This is the stuff of dreams.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of WVbeergeek
2.33/5  rDev -37.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appears a pale copper translucent color with a large bright white head, fine bubbled lacing forms evenly as it dwindles and continues the pattern with each sip.

Aroma is straight up oak barrel and vanilla with whiskey just coming out of it's pores. It smells like Hank Williams Jr in the 80s or Tim Mcgraw's new cologne that's out now. When leather, oak, brown sugar and vanilla collide without any cohesion. Big charred oak characteristics, the base beer just seems so lifeless I guess the whiskey barrel aging gives it what's here doesn't really complement the beer like so many other versions of brews that sit in the whiskey soaked oak. There's something very solvent and chemical about the aroma that doesn't even make me want to take my first sip.

Flavor yep there's a reason why I didn't want any part of it, it's like sipping on whiskey without the 80 proof. Whiskey tea we'll call it. Sour mash is evident with vanilla, charred oak and hints of caramel and toffee with some serious booziness for a beer this thin in body. Makes it seem like such a gimmick beer that's only really being brewed for the Kentucky Derby, there's no other audience that is going to take to this beer.

Mouthfeel is thin way to thin for alcohol level and the flavor profile it just doesn't carry it too well, it's like watered down whiskey tea. Booze gives a bit of a burn, but it's really the charred oak flavor bringing out a bit of cinnamon like expressions on the palate. Gag reflux get ready I'll be lucky to make it through 12 oz of this brew.
Drinkability overall when in Rome I guess, like if I was at the Derby bidding and I was really worn out of the official mixed drink of the Alltech F.E.I. than yeah maybe I would have this abomination. I'd rather have brews run through whiskey soaked oak chips in an infuser like Bocktown has been doing for quite some time now.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.45/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Brightest topaz topped with nearly two fingers of eggshell colored foam that is slightly crackly and does no better than a passable job with respect to glass decoration. High-ABV, barrel-aged beer often struggles in the head and lace departments.

After having been aged for 6 weeks in *recently decanted* bourbon barrels, one would think the nose would be more whiskey-like. This is a somewhat pleasant sniffer if you like that spirit, but it's too mild. The base beer doesn't contribute much either.

Kentucky Ale is average beer. Its metamorphosis into Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a definite move to higher ground. It isn't amazing beer by any means, but the bourbon character finds that middle ground between 'too much' and 'not enough' (closer to the latter).

This offering tastes like an amber ale to which a very small splash of bourbon was added. Caramelized sugar and vanilla notes are subtle, and there wasn't enough time for much woodiness to have made it into the final product. Hard to believe the ABV went from 5.34% to 8.19% after 6 weeks contact with whiskey-soaked wood.

The mouthfeel didn't change... and wasn't expected to. It's still waaay too light, doesn't bulk up with warming, and the bubbles don't do a great job either. It's barely acceptable for a sipper, just don't expect much in the way of mouth pampering.

My advice to Kentucky Brewing Company is to use a different (better) beer as the base for this beer. Something with more malty guts would be a great place to start. Too bad this is the 12 ounce bottle rather than the cool looking cobalt vessel shown above.

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Photo of brentk56
4.11/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a clear honey color with a modest head that quickly fades to a ringlet and leaves a few shards of lace

Smell: Caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, oak and coconut; just a hint of bourbon

Taste: Starts out with a buttered brown bread and bourbon-influenced caramel flavor; lots of vanilla and coconut arrive by mid-palate; after the swallow, there is a brief flourish of very smooth bourbon and oak that lingers into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: A really nice Bourbon treatment here instead of the typical barrel-aging of a big stout; the beer has some nice subtleties

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Photo of Tom_Leventhall
3.98/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I'm not an ale drinker, nor do I typically like sweet beer. The bourbon flavor isn't overpowering and vanilla comes through quite strongly in taste and smell. It's not a session beer in terms of body or alcohol content (8.2%), But if you want some smooth and unique, this is a worthwhile find. Get it on tap if you can. - Tom Leventhall

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Photo of TonyFrac
4.26/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A classic ale with light bourbon aging. Nothing to write home about but an easy drinking ale with some vanilla and caramel notes (from the barrel).

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Photo of elduderino28
1/5  rDev -73.3%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

If I wanted to drink bourbon, I would drink bourbon. This ale fails to find a balance between a beer with a hint of bourbon and the enjoyment of a liqour by itself. I enjoy bourbons, but this was an unsuccessful attempt.

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Photo of kissmybunniebutt
3.08/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

This was a weird beer. It was creamy on the tongue and sweeter than I would have expected. I got little hints of bourbon at first sniff, but afterwards I really only got sweet. And random side note, It was also one of the most carbonated bottles of beer I've ever had. It REALLY wanted out of that bottle.

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Photo of MR2slow
4.22/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

From bottle to glass.
Pours a nice deep amber color with a decent head that fades quickly. Smell is mainly charred wood with hints of toffee. Taste is very much oak with a sweetness of caramel and vanilla with a very slight whiskey kick. Feel is light and finish is slightly flat. Overall, it would be a very nice beer with a steak and some oak logs in the fireplace on a cold, quiet night.

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Photo of craigsp
4.22/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

very flavorful beer lots of aroma going on, wood barrel taste also, sip don't slam or you'll be on the floor after 2 or 3 glasses!

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Photo of joberlander
3.33/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Really nice bourbon in the aroma but the mouth feel and taste is so thin. I get hints of the bourbon but its almost a watered down taste and don't really get other flavors from the beer. Hides the alcohol well but when I drink a bourbon barrel beer I like it to be a bit thicker. Overall, its great if you want a little bourbon flavor in a beer you can have a few of, but I wish they aged it a bit longer in the barrels.

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Photo of SheepNutz
4.1/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is basically regular Kentucky Ale that has been aged in bourbon barrels. It's only available at a few places in Lexington, so get it while you can bourbon lovers!

On tap poured into a snifter glass. It pours a medium amber color with two fingers of head. There is a good amount of lacing. The smell is malty with lots of sweet cherry and oak. A nice aroma. The taste starts fairly malty with charred oak under brown sugar sweetness. The bourbon REALLY comes out after it warms up some. The finish has a nice little dose of citrusy hops. The mouthfeel is fairly thick and smooth. The drinkability is very very good. This is a big improvement to regular Kentucky Ale. They need to bottle this stuff. It would really put them on the map.

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Photo of xxxcjbcxxx
1.75/5  rDev -53.2%

One word: Butterscotch.

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Photo of MrDanno96
2.55/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Pours a deep golden color with hints of red. A thin white head encircles the edges of the glass with some spotty lacing.

S: Strong aroma of bourbon and that's pretty much it. Notes of vanilla come through along with the strong booziness of bourbon.

T/M: Meh. All you can really taste is bourbon. This typically would not be a problem, but it really just tastes like really watered down bourbon - no real beer character at all except for its medium, slightly carbonated body.

D: I did not really enjoy this to be honest. I don't think this is a good base beer to age in bourbon barrels - pale ale and bourbon don't really mix. It just tastes like someone took a session beer and poured several shots of bourbon into it.

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Photo of RMoeNay
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of busterwhite
3.25/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a golden color with a one finger head. A little bit of lacing on the glass.

Nose is straight vanilla.

Tastes is sweet, sweet vanilla and bourbon. No real hop flavor.

Light on carbonation but nice and creamy.

Overall its a little sweet for me. A definite sipper full of vanilla and bourbon.

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Photo of JRBecks
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Atelidae
3.5/5  rDev -6.4%

Photo of Oldkentman
4.25/5  rDev +13.6%

Photo of jawas
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%

Photo of MasterRigger
3/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Photo of MJSFS
3.37/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Photo of JoeyJellico
3.41/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Photo of cbl2
3.38/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

8/23/2006 $12.00 4 pack purchased at Roof Brothers in Paducah KY. No best by date.

Appearance:

Pours a radiantly clear orange that is tinged with hints of peach topped by a quarter inch of white foam that rapidly settles.

Aroma:

They weren't joking when they said aged in bourbon barrels, as the bourbon shines through here along with notes of toffee, buttered popcorn and peat.

Taste/Mouthfeel:

Very odd diacetyl and fusel alcohol up front, with the long lingering presence of kettle corn in the background. Vanilla and oak are apparent throughout, imparted by the wood contact.

Bourbon has always been my father's drink, and I've never gotten a taste for it, but I figured while I was out visiting my grandmother in Kentucky, I'd try what the locals drink (though in beer form). It's interesting, but I still am not a bourbon fan, which is perhaps why I knocked a few points off the drinkability and taste.

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co.
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 3176 ratings