Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Ale | The Schlafly Tap Room

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Schlafly Bourbon Barrel AleSchlafly Bourbon Barrel Ale

Brewed by:
The Schlafly Tap Room
Missouri, United States

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
The result is a smooth bourbon character balanced by caramel malt sweetness and classic English hops. Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Ale is a seamless blend of Schlafly Barleywine-style ale and our pale ale aged in Kentucky Bourbon Barrels.

Added by BEERchitect on 06-12-2009

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Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 126
Photo of Duff27
2.62/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Bottles 12/09/2011

A- Short off-white head on a nearly opaque pinkish-hued red colored body. Leaves a collar. Pleasant looking beer.

S- Strange barrel aromas on this one. Fake vanilla, wood, cinnamon, weird fruit smells.

T- Woody cherries, coughdrop-esque. Hops factor in there somewhere. Almost has a wild ale tart feel to it for some reason, hmmm. Would guess this around 9%abv.

M- Medium mouthfeel, medium carbonation.

D/O- Very different. A lot of flavors going on here, I struggle to call this "complex" though. I wonder if this is what Schlafly was shoot for by mixing their barleywine with their bourbon barrel aged pale ale because that sounds delicious. I just didn't care for this one much.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
2.71/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

bottled on date of 12/09/11.

poured into snifter glass.

Appearance: dark amber to light brown almost copper bodied beer with small cap of whitish head. Drops to a ring around the glass.

Smell: smells like sour bourbon, little bit woody and earthy.

Taste: Faint vanilla and a sour note that I cant describe. The beer is vinous and almost vinegary. Finishes with a fairly dry oak note.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with moderate carbonation. Borderline syrupy. Not detecting much of the beers ABV.

Overall: Not what I think of when I drink a Strong Ale. Not sure what Schlafly was going for in this beer. Are there infection issues with this beer? I ask that because i have drank 2 other Schlafly beers that have been infected. This brewery does not have a great track record with me...

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Photo of secondtooth
3.06/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

This blending of barrel-aged barleywine and pale ale pours a murky amber, with a thick head of off-white suds. Lovely wisp of delicate lace, too.

Nose is complex, hinting at the bourbon barrel characteristics (vanilla), but this is dominated by a toffee and caramel maltiness (indubitably the barleywine). Needs more of the bourbony, oaky, vanilla vibe methinks.

Taste is a weird mix, as with the aroma. The boozy bourbon vanilla and charred oak is muted by a fruity character (again, the barleywine speaks loudest here). Though certainly not a bad beer, this one just lacks a more cohesive melding of tastes and styles.

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Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.11/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a bottle into a small brandy snifter. Color is slightly hazy, light amber gold. The nose has faint piney aromas. I'm not getting much bourbon in the nose.

The beer has a hop-forward,citrus flavor with just a hint of bourbon. It gets better as it warms a bit, but I'm not getting good complementary flavors of malt and vanilla here. It simply tastes like a boilermaker. Mouthfeel is average.

A disappointing beer from a brewery who makes several beers I really admire. I prefer bourbon-barrel aging when it is done with beers whose flavor profiles benefit from the treatment. For example, big roasty stouts and rich, malty brown ales and Scottish ales (e.g., Founders Backwoods Bastard and BBC Bourbon Barrel Big Brown). This was not what I was looking for. Now if Schlafly was to age their coffee stout in bourbon barrels...

Follow-up: I tried this again about 7 months later at a beer tasting and liked it much, much better. It's possible that I had a bad bottle before or that this beer is just much better when fresh.

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Photo of PDXHops
3.25/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12 ounce bottle poured into a DFH snifter, "bottled with love on 08/05/2011", so about 6 weeks old or so. Hazy dark amber with a smallish head that almost immediately goes to work laying down an small ring of lace at the top of the glass. Not much after that.

Interesting nose. Buttery cinnamon toast and canned pumpkin lead the way at first, with bourbon and toffee becoming increasingly assertive as it warms. The bourbon aromas stay under control, and the bourbon flavor does as well. I think this might improve/smooth out with age, and am inclined to perhaps go find a couple more bottles. At this stage, it's fairly tasty if slightly disjointed. Tangy fruit and oak plus abundant carbonation don't quite let the toffee and caramel sweetness do their thing. Tart and abundant fruitiness, almost like jolly rancers at times. The bourbon is pretty subtle, not quite an afterthought but close. Buttered toast again comes to mind, nuts and cocoa, too. Leafy and earthy hops aren't shy. This could perhaps turn into a nice English barleywine-type ale with a little time in ye olde cellar.

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Photo of Grindelvasdrum
3.29/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

On draft at local watering hole.
A-Very dark with nice head, little lacing
S-Faint caramel & bourbon. Maybe slight dried fruit
T-Charred oak barrel, bourbon, toffee & sweet malt.
M-Medium body, light carbonation.
O-Drank easy, decent brew.

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Photo of domtronzero
3.3/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Murky brownish orange, big but short lived and quickly dissipating whitish head that quickly fades into a thin ring around the glass.

S - Sweet malts, caramel and toffee. Very toasty. Fruity esters of apricots and other light stone fruits. Oaky.

F/M - Caramel, sweet toffee malts, fruity esters reminiscent of plums and raisins and apricots. Oaky and a little alocholic. Slick and oily full bodied with medium-low carbonation. A little astringent and quite warming in the finish.

D - Ok, but after a few sips I can tell I won't want another after this one. 1 bottle is great, but 2 bottle is too much.

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Photo of KajII
3.46/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

[Best served in a Snifter]

The pour was a murky medium brown with an average sized (1-2 finger) creamy light brown head that reduced to just a thin film on top and did have good sticky lacing.

The aroma was fairly mild of a toasted cereal malt and a sweet doughy yeast with notes of caramel, toffee, vanilla, dark fruit and a hint of bourbon.

The taste was sweet and malty with a nice note of caramel to start and finished sweetly acidic with hints of dark fruit and toffee and had a mild bourbon alcohol tinge at the end. The flavor was only around for a short while after the swallow and was mostly of a sweet fruit and malts.

Mouthfeel was between light and medium in body with a creamy, syrupy texture and a soft carbonation.

Overall a nice smooth a mellow bourbon aged ale with no heavy alcohol taste at all.

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Photo of jhp40219
3.48/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a standard pint glass.

A - Pours with a nice white head which dissipated pretty quickly. Little lacing on the glass as you drink. Hazy amber color in the light.

S - Caramel, vanilla, fruit, bourbon (not strong but noticeable), toasted malts.

T - Like the smell, except the alcohol comes on stronger. Not overbearing, but stronger. Somewhat of a Sweet Tart candy taste in the background. Leaves a strong bitterness going down.

M - Moderately carbonated, but still enough to sting the tongue. Light feeling, easy to drink, nothing really noteworthy.

O - I want to like this more than I do, but I just don't find this overly remarkable. Not bad, just nothing special. After having had Kentucky Ale's Bourbon Barrel Ale, (which is one of my favorite beers), this one just pales in comparison.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.58/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled 2/20/14

A- pours a deep & clear ruby Amber color with a small foamy off-white head that reduces to a ring around the edge

S- oddly, the aroma actually smells more like a wine barrel, white zinfandel perhaps. Undertones of caramel, dark fruit & brown sugar. Some spicy bourbon pokes through at the end

T- huge tart notes up front, almost puckering. Followed by some caramel sweetness, along with spicy oak, light bourbon & some fruitiness. More sour on the finish

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a dry sour finish

O- I'm guessing that this batch is unintentionally infected, as it's completely sour the whole way through. It's not terrible, but I was expecting plenty o bourbon notes from this

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Photo of ncfranklin
3.63/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a tulip, with a bottled on date of 12/09/2011.

A: A deep caramel to ruby orange, and hazy. Small half finger off-white head that sticks around for a good bit and recedes to the edges.

S: Extremely complex in the nose. Sweet, in a syrupy way at first, then notes of vanilla, oak, and bready malt. The bourbon isn't overly evident here, unless it's some odd bourbon I've never had the pleasure of enjoying and smells of maple syrup.

T: Interesting, for sure. Small flavors of caramel malt, light bitterness, before caving to a very distinct oak and vanilla tone on the end. Only the smallest bourbon influencing twang.

M: Very lighter body than expected. Firmly middle of the road here. Light bits of carbonation give it a tingle on the way down. No detectable booze, must be lower in ABV.

D: Surprising beer. Very drinkable, if only a little sweet. This effort to put something other than stouts into bourbon barrels still needs some work, but shows promise as the vanilla and wood characteristics come through far stronger than usual.

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Photo of Dave128
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 OZ bottle poured into a glass mug.. Bottled 1-11-11

A - Nothing spectacular looking... almost no head and lace is only present where the initial head was.

S - I was expecting some bourbony goodness. There isnt really that much of it. It smells a bit woody, but not the way I was expecting it to. Can smell it more when it warms and its nice.

T - pretty good.. a decent barrel ale. Dark roasty malts with somewhat of a tangy sweetness that pulls into the woodiness. Its almost room temperature now and tastes much better than it did when I first poured it. (I'm not a connoisseur of bourbon barrel ales but I guess they are meant to be enjoyed a little warmer?)

M - medium body with decent carbonation.

D - There's nothing too fantastic about this beer. There's also nothing I can fault it on. Regardless its moderately tasty and worth drinking. Glad I tried it.

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Photo of ltjska04
3.65/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the 12 oz bottle into my snifter, this beer is a dark copper color with good clarity but with a head that doesn't last long. At first the smell is mostly of the English hops but reveals more bourbon scent as it warms. The smell is a bit disappointing; I expected more. The taste is also a bit lackluster. I don't get much bourbon, mostly just some malty sweetness. I'm mostly comparing this to Lexington Brewery's Bourbon Barrel Ale which happens to be one of my favorite beers. The flavors with this one just seem to be muted, even after it warms. The mouthfeel is smooth and slightly sticky and I don't know what the abv is, but the alcohol is not very noticeable. Overall this isn't bad but there's other bourbon barrel ales I'd rather be drinking.

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Photo of jdklks
3.68/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

the bottle claims that its a mix between a pale ale and a barleywine... a strong ale? an almost transparent dark orange body is accompanied by an off-white head that has NO retention, and leaves little trace of its ever having existed in the first place. i think i pour it too cold. the aromas are trapped. the barrel aging is as apparent in the woody smell as it is in the bourbon smell, that is, they are of equal strength, which is quite interesting. There is a hint of fruits, especially green apple, beneath the imprint of the barrel-aged characteristics.

the taste is very interesting, to say the least. good, and interesting. VERY woody. in fact, the bourbon only serves to make the wood flavor much sweeter than it would otherwise be, and it is very sweet. there is, as predicted by the smell, a nice green apple flavor that reminds me of well-made apple cider. This is certainly a good beer. i am just having difficulties figuring it out. interesting.

mouthfeel is as expected. very decent, though nothing particularly outstanding. medium bodied, and well carbonated. i dont think ill be breaking into my other bottle of this tonight because it is much to sweet to stomach more than 12 ounces, but im definitely glad that i get to experience it again. a solid B+, and one the more interesting beers you'll ever try.

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Photo of beer2day
3.73/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Neck says special release, a blend of their barleywine and pale ale aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Bottled 10/17/12

Deep orange pour with 2 fingers of tan head. Not much retention. Nice lace strands.

Nose is an interesting mix of barleywine and bourbon. Ripe sweet cherries and English hops.

Expecting a strong bourbon flavor from the nose, but actually quite mellow. Bit of that cherry sweetness. The bourbon plays nice against the lighter malt body. Gets a bit syrupy towards the end. Bit of hop bite in the finish, but barleywine flavor really takes over.

Overall, pretty well done and probably worth trying if you are into barrel aged beers.

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Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.76/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

32 oz. growler filled a few days ago, poured into a NB snifter.

A - Pours a dark golden brown. A 1/2" head of dark khaki foam quickly disappears, leaving a sheen of very fine lace streaked across the surface. Held to a full-spectrum light, the beer is a rich dark orange/red and clear. Lots of thin legs of sugar coat the sides of the glass as it empties.

S - Lightly burnt, deep rich caramels and brown sugar with notes of toffee in the background. Dense, moist whole grain bread. Hints of hardwood and black pepper with touches of vanilla. A bit of heat in the back of the glass from the ABV. As the beer warms, the sugars, malts, and bourbon vanilla really comes together into a delicious nose.

T - Dark brown sugars lead into nicely toasted, almost roasted malts, which are followed by dark caramels and a bit of woodiness. Finish isn't cloying, but is defined by a sweet bourbon vanilla that lingers. Not quite big enough to suggest an oaked barleywine, the ale supplies the foundation to feature the bourbon extraction.

M - Very smooth and a touch creamy. Light carbonation. Light-moderate body with good structure. Components present as integrated. Soft finish lingers a bit from the sugars on the tongue.

O - This is pretty straight-forward, uncomplicated ale designed to feature the bourbon barrel aging characteristics. The sugars are forward, but not so much that's it's overly sweet, like Kentucky Bourbon Ale. It's quite drinkable without being distinctive, and pairs well with something like a full-bodied, somewhat spicy cigar, which I enjoyed immensely with this growler. The best aspect of this beer is the nose - it's to be savored before drinking. Recommended as a nitecap.

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Photo of kels
3.86/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beer pours into my tulip a nice honey-hued amber, like the color of cognac. It is only slightly opaque, and light, delicate carbonation runs throughout. There's only a tiny bit of white skim swirling along the surface of the beer, and little spots of lace barely cling to the walls of the glass.

The aroma has a notable caramel malt. Following that is a distinct copper penny metallic aroma and a bit of honey sweetness. That's about it.

Gotta let this beer warm to really enjoy it. There's a depth of syrupy and caramelly, yet still toasty and crunchy malts and grains that doesn't really present when it's too cold. There's a bit of dark, pruney sweetness and a dry bitterness that comes from the alcohol and the oaky aging from the bourbon barrels. A bit of sweet vanilla and the char of the barrels sneaks out in the aftertaste.

For the style this beer is actually immensely drinkable. The carbonation is very high - almost too high - so that the beer is incredibly light on the palate. The finish is slightly sticky, and holds the flavors well.

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Photo of nanertak
3.87/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured 12 oz bottle into pint glass

Appearance: Amber with hints of gold/orange. 1 finger head, decent retention for barrel aged.

Smell: Malty sweet with hints of bourbon. Bit of alcohol in the nose, but not an unpleasant amount. Sweet vanilla, mildly floral (orange blossom), hints of honey.

Taste: Tastes like it smells. The bourbon's more subtle than the smell indicates, a strong background flavor. Not overly sweet, but I get almost no hops. Light malty backbone. Bourbon finish, very nice. Low and lingering vanilla and honey aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Carbonation adds a nice fizz that spreads the bourbon over the tongue. Mouthfeel is great in my opinion. Not overly heavy, but round enough that it feels like you're drinking something with some weight to it.

Drinkability: I'd like this on occasion. It's a balanced beer, good sipper. Goes down easy, excellent aftertaste.

Overall: Not mind blowing, but very balanced. Personally I'd like the bourbon to pop a bit more than it does, it seems to fall a little short of the stronger bourbon flavor I'd like. Good beer though.

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Photo of bluejacket74
3.88/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a dark copper color with about an inch off-white head. Head retention is decent, lacing is good. It smells like caramel malt, vanilla, oak and a little bit of hops. The bourbon aroma isn't as strong as I thought it would be. Luckily, the bourbon comes out more in the flavor. I can taste oak, vanilla, caramel malt, toffee and a bit of dark fruit. There's also a lingering bittersweet fruity and bourbony aftertaste. Even though the label says the beer is a blend of barleywine and pale ale aged in bourbon barrels, I didn't pick up a lot of hops in the aroma or taste. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's a bit creamy and has good carbonation. Drinkability is good, it's easy and enjoyable to drink. All in all, I think this is a pretty decent brew. I'd buy this again in the future.

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Photo of chinchill
3.9/5  rDev +1.8%

12 oz bottle bottled on 20 Feb. 2014
Nice deep amber color with good carbonation. Excellent aroma.
Obvious bourbon, especially in tasting, but not so much as to completely overpower the nice malt base. Some good woody/barrel flavor too, along with vanilla and toffee in the finish.

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Photo of JoePat
3.94/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours an opaque redish brown with an off white head that leaves some lacing behind as it disipates.
There's not a lot of smell to this some bourbon but not a lot.
This beer has a great balance of flavor with nice smooth malt, bourbon, vanilla, and even a little coconut I think.
It has a pretty thin mouth feel but it really is a drinkable beer especially for a bourbon barrel ale.

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Photo of wspscott
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle in Sam Adams glass
bottled on 12/16/09

A: Dark copper/orangish color with a very fluffy, off-white 1-finger head. THe head never completely disappears, and there is a huge amount of lace left behind as it drops.
S: Bourbon, wood, vanilla, no obvious hops or malts, seems somewhat one dimensional.
T: The bourbon is definitely there, but it is not as overwhelming as other bourbon beers. The wood character really comes through. There is a hint of bitter hops, but they are buried far in the background.
M: On the crisp side, lots of carbonation, a nice change from some of the under-attenuated bourbon beers that turn into a sweet mess.
D: A beer that is hard to characterize, the label says a blend of their pale ale and barleywine, not sure what I would call it, but I like it, don't love it. A nice change of pace if you want something with bourbon characteristics, but not a RIS. Not exactly a summer beer, I could easily see reaching for a 2nd if it was fall and I was in front of a campfire. Glad I have a couple more left, at the same time, I am not sure I would buy again. Worth trying if you see it.

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Photo of rembrant
3.96/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks- Pretty. a hazy translucent reddish ale with a nice 2 finger head fading to less than 1 finger,but substantial. off white.

Aroma Caramel, vanilla,something like fresh bread,a touch of nuttiness,but not much of bourbon or barrell.

Taste- The first 2 sips I got a nice caramel-walnut start shifting to a classic hop bitter finish with a bit of lag. I sensed the bourbon more in the throat than on the palate.

I tried to hold the next sip in my mouth a few seconds..and that's when the real show began. First the Caramel-walnut lead,then the hops kick in and then, here's the bourbon to finish. Impressive (and quirky) how it takes 2-3 seconds to display the whole spectrum. Maybe limits this as a "pound down a few" type but once unleashed the bourbon does pick up a bit sooner.
This brew needs you to slow down a bit.
Rather nifty. Bourbon Barrell is not typically done with a red or brown ale. This works because there's body enough,and a contrast from the sweet malts into the bitter hops. the Bourbon lurks as a surprise that's more evident as you drink. It's almost a beer with a built in Bourbon chaser.

I think the oak probably helps the malt side do some nuttiness in the flavors.

Mouth- While this is not really dark malts,whatever was used was enough to give real body,and that 1-2-3 tastebud adventure would probably have floundered if the brew was too thin.
There's proper carbonation to keep good beerness without being a distraction.

Drinkable- Somewhat I have not checked on ABV,seems it could be on the high side. That however,may be more the Bourbon flavor than the actual %. Tasty. Like most Bourbon Barrel Ale or Stout, a bit much to do many in a sitting. Two? Sure.

All in all an interesting and creative take on the barrel.

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

Being new to the Kentucky area, this six-pack seemed intriguing

Pours a sparkling burnt orange with a red hue. An aggressive pour yields an inch and a half very light tan head that recedes slowly

Smells of citrus, dark fruits vanilla, brown sugar, maple syrup, and alcohol.

The taste begins the same as the smell but finishes with more bourbon character...some dull woody character in the background...

Initially the mouthfeel is nice and slick with some sparkles but as the carbonation dies down, it starts to feel watery.

The alcohol heat and sweetness creep up a bit and the watery mouthfeel interfere with the drinkability but still decent

Overall an interesting beer...but I'm wondering why they blended their barley wine with the pale ale...the pale doesn't seem to add much besides that watery mouthfeel towards the end...the hops don't come out much either

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

12oz bottle poured into a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

Appearance is a hazy dark orange with a tiny head that quickly dissipates. Not really any lacing.

Smells is heavy sweet caramel and vanilla. Not a strong bourbon note but you can tell it's there.

Flavor is fairly sweet with caramel being predominant. The bourbon is not quite as prominent as I would have liked and almost seems to take a back seat. Vanilla and oak are there but caramel dominates. Mouthfeel is full.

This is a good beer but still doesn't stand up to kentucky bourbon barrel ale. If the sweetness was just toned down a bit and the bourbon a little more pronounced this beer would be amazing.

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Schlafly Bourbon Barrel Ale from The Schlafly Tap Room
3.83 out of 5 based on 126 ratings.
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