Rackhouse Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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Rackhouse AleRackhouse Ale
BA SCORE
4.13/5
Exceptional
Rackhouse AleRackhouse Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States
greatlakesbrewing.com

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
None provided.

BEER STATS
Ranking:
#4,701
Reviews:
47
Ratings:
104
pDev:
8.23%
 
 
Wants:
15
Gots:
12
Trade:
1
 
User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 104
Photo of stortore
4.2/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 ounce bottle into a tulip snifter. Had 10/5/18.

Pours a clear medium amber, with a one and a half inch foamy head and some slippery, foamy lacing. Aromas of figs, dates, malt, toffee, brown sugar, raisins, light apples and cherries, faint bourbon. The flavor shows more bourbon, then figs, dates, malt, plums, raisins, caramel, some brown sugar, light vanilla, a hint of cherries. It’s a bit sweet. Smooth, a good medium body, well carbonated.

Great aroma and flavor, has a big feel for a lighter body. Well made and enjoyable. Also had on tap, which I thought was slightly better, and that’s factored into the overall rating. Worth a purchase.

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Photo of SABERG
4.08/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bottle from 2018 release into the test glass
A - Mahogany colored, clear as a bell, with meandering carbonation strolling top side. A thin cap of white is quick to recede.
S - Notes of vanilla, some barrel tannin, toasted oak, earthy grains. light brown sugar, caramel also
T - Well that follows the aromatics well. add toffee, and more earthy grains and you have a treat here for sure.
M - A bit slick to start, quick shift to semi sweet, then drying out with a sweet bourbon linger.
O - A very rich offering, with excellent feel. The flavors run a field through the base ale and barrel treatment. Excellent offering

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Photo of MacMalt
4.21/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On draught at the Stirling Hotel. 12 oz. pour served in a tulip glass. It pours a pretty light ruby-cola color with orange hues and a half finger of long-lasting, creamy, ecru-colored head and a thin sheen of creamy lacing. It has a pleasing smell of sweet malt, caramel, butterscotch, brown sugar, and light but noticeable bourbon. As expected, it's quite sweet and opens with caramel, vanilla, and butterscotch. At mid-sip I'm tasting black cherry and bourbon that is subtle enough not to distract from the other flavors. Each taste stands out but they blend seamlessly. This ale is thick and creamy with moderate carbonation, and you can feel the 9.5% ABV. It's a sipper and it paired really nicely with a brisket sandwich.

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Photo of VABA
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A-Pours a hazy dark amber color with a slight head and lacing
A-Aroma has slight bourbon hints
T-The taste follows the nose with a bourbon flavor
M-A medium bodied well carbonated beer
O-A good balanced American Strong Ale

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Photo of schoolboy
4.25/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

If you are at the Great Lakes pub you have a couple good alternatives beyond the usual brews from this oldest of craft brewers in the region. This is one of them.

It's a monster dark ale, a little deeper than red, with beautiful color and fizz. The aroma is a boozy blend, enhanced by the aging process. The taste is a well balanced strong ale (not too deep, dark and foreboding, but enough to know it is serious) and pretty smooth drinking for a big boy..

Highly recommended, This is the one you want to get rather than something you can also get bottled.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A great strong ale
Looks thick with auburn nutty hue
Smell is a caramel and bourbon mix
Tastes like wood with bourbon drenched booziness
Overall a bit strong in taste yet lots of bourbon makes for a warming sipper...Mouthfeel is easier on the palate as it finishes

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Photo of BB1313
4.24/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

32oz growler filled at Heinen's in University Hts., Ohio

Growler poured into a tulip. Pours amber with a subtle haze but still has some clarity to it; fluffy off-white head that falls leaving solid retention and sticky lacing. The aromas are bourbon forward along with some sweet caramel and vanilla. Lots of malts. Some raisins, cherries and dark fruits in the mix. The flavors follow the nose. The bourbon shines without dominating and being overwhelming. Lots of caramel along with some vanilla. More raisin notes. Coconut flavors come through. Strong malt backbone. It's sweet, but it's not cloying or anything crazy at all. Alcohol is well hidden and basically goes unnoticed. Dangerously drinkable. Mouthfeel is very nice. It's on the lighter side of full-bodied with moderate carbonation. It's slightly thin, but it's pretty fluffy and very smooth. Once again, this one is dangerously drinkable.

This is a really nice barrel-aged brew. "Balance" is the key with this one. The bourbon characteristics shine without dominating and being overwhelming. The craftsmanship is very impressive. Well done. Very enjoyable stuff.

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Photo of ONUMello
3.57/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into a snifter
A: Translucent amber with a head that disappears as quickly as it forms
S: Molasses, cherry, a bit of Belgian yeast and just a bit of bourbon/vanilla
T: Brown sugar, quite sweet, a hint of cherry, little if any barrel/bourbon notes
M: Full-bodied, quite sweet
O: The bottle notes this beer gets better with age and I sure hope so. It's already been a couple of months since its release but it's currently only okay and I'm not getting my hopes up

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Photo of LaGuarns
4.58/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 limited release, only 2000 bottles total released. Taste was very sweet and smooth, hides the ABV% well. Barrel aging was strong but not overpowering. Well Done!

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Photo of mjpolzin
4.05/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A very interesting and enjoyable barrel aged beer. The barrel flavor was strong and familiar when compared to other barrel aged beers I like. The base beer though was what made this unique as the taste was sweet and smooth but with a slight tart aftertaste. Very good.

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Photo of Stevem68
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap draft of 2013 rack house. Pours a light Amber. Has a sweet and sour aroma. Flavor is tart, slightly sweet and very smooth. Leaves a nice sour after taste without the bitterness. Overall delicious

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.88/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is hazy copper amber with a tan head. Nose is fairy sweet with a good amount of wood and notes of bourbon. Notes of berries, vanilla, and toffee. Taste is quite sweet. Wood is a bit more moderate with a nice bourbon interplay. There are layers of toffee, vanilla, caramel and cherry in the back. Stronger carbonation with a relatively drinkable body and fairly soft palate. Pretty good stuff, taste is a bit more deep and integrated.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.6/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a sampler cup at the GL BA Blackout release.

A. This brew is a very cloudy, medium orange brown color. A half finger of cream head appears and slowly settles, leaving about a quarter finger behind. Decent lacing. Nothing spectacular, but has a pleasant glow to it. Good.

S. A lot of bourbon, maple, vanilla, creamy malt, and caramel. A very sweet, thick smell, but balanced and with some subtle syrupy nuances. Hints of brown sugar and molasses. Bourbon covers most of it up though.

T. A lot of vanilla, maple, caramel, and some booziness on the back end. Barrel aging is apparent here, as the wood really comes through. A dry, boozy finish. Enjoyable, but just a little bit thin right now. Bourbon overpowers all of it and makes it a little one note. Ho hum.

M. Highly carbonated, perhaps too much so. A distinct thinness to this one. Lackluster.

O. Rackhouse is an interesting beer that I am certainly happy to have tried. But it is a bit thin and boozy at the moment. Just not enough malt to support the heat on this one. Wondering what time will do to this.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.66/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

From tap to plastic cup at the BA Blackout release on 1/16/12

-- Thanks for sharing the experience, John! --

A: Gorgeous orange-amber. Top notch collar and lacing.

S: Alcohol esters, hot notes of wood and a bit banana and clove.

T: Really, really hot. There's no real balance here. It's a bourbon bomb from the start, an it never lets go. The yeast and malt profile fight to shine through, but in the end, they fail to make a lasting impression. Not bad, just a bit above average.

M: Creamy. And thank God, as a thin, weak beer couldn't carry the heavy bourbon profile this brew packs.

O: This is one for the cellar. GL's Rackhouse screams for time to mellow out a bit, as it's a hot bourbon bomb fresh. It lacks the proper balance, and left me burping whiskey esters for a while.

Approach cautiously.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.89/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

thin clear tannish brown with red hues and minimal head that dissipated immediately. Smells strongly of bourbon... not much else. tastes like a malty bourbon concoction with not much else going on. a bit thin but well carbonated and overall very drinkable.

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Photo of PenguinBeerFan
4.35/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Oily brown. Thick and syrupy with tight lacing. Very little head.

S - Atomic malt bomb, with a little bit of oak behind it. A little boozy smelly. Nothing outstanding, certainly nothing offensive.

T - Sweet, sweet, sweet. The oak aging manages to mellow it out just enough that it isn't sickly. This is a malt lovers dream.

M - Dense, syrupy, thick and luscious.

D - For 9.5% ABV (I'd wager it stronger than as listed which seems to be the case for GLBC's pub exclusives) this goes down easy. With as much malt as this brings to the table I'd expect it to get sickly after one or two, but the flavors from the barrel really bring this one full circle into something I can tear at to my hearts content.

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Photo of jampics2
4.17/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the 2010 Barrel Aged Blackout Release.

In whisky production, the rack house is the building where the whisky is aged. Over time, the whisky takes on woody qualities and changes to its final form. Even though it was originally intended to reference the wood aging, Rackhouse is a very appropriate name for this ale, as the beer has gone through some tweaks and changes over the years. Most notably, the recipe was changed to incorporate more sweetness last year, and that has continued to this year. This is a huge bourbon bomb of a beer, full of sweet malts, woody notes and with a syrupy feel, making it very reminiscent of brandy or some other liquor. The continual evolution Rackhouse ale has undergone has lead to a very nice place, setting this beer as a unique and enjoyable American Strong Ale.

Rackhouse looks nice in the snifter. The beer is amber with hints of honey, crimson and ruby swirling around the glass. Unfortunately, the swirl does not reawaken the liveliness of the beer. This has very little head retention, which can be a consequence of barrel-aging. However, I'd like just a bit more signs of life in the relatively clear liquid that fills my glass.

The smell is a bourbon lover's dream. Rackhouse has more sweet caramel malt than just about any other beer I've had. Hints of toffee and even a touch of cherry give it depth. A nice amount of bourbon and vanilla showcase the masterful way this beer was aged. Not too boozy, but bourbon dominated.

The taste takes me to the middle of the warehouse, where barrels on shelves line the corridors. The transformation that is occurring all around me makes whisky taste the way it does - the wood makes the difference. That really holds true for this ale, as the sweet caramel malt is smothered in layers of vanilla and bourbon. Some sweetness and a hint of alcohol burn finish out a well-rounded palate. This is unique in its sweetness and showcasing of the barrel. Any fan of big, barrel-aged beers will love the tastes Rackhouse features.

Rackhouse has low carbonation, which is fine for a strong ale. The medium body is satisfying and has great viscosity. Some lingering sweetness and a touch of lingering alcohol finish the experience. The beer is slightly sticky, but never becomes syrupy. That, along with the pleasant tastes makes this very drinkable for a bourbon lover like me. This is not a beer for everyone, though, as its strength and disposition may make it difficult to finish for the uninitiated.

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Photo of Spider889
3.99/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

One of the tougher GLBC beers to try, I really wish they'd bottle this too! Had my first taste of this at the BA Blackout Release Party.

Pours a honey amber color. Darker in the center. I didn't get much head from my pour, but then again this beer is really light on the carbonation.

Smells very delicate, surprising coming from a BA beer. Softly sweet with hints of honey, clover, and floral hops. Mild vanilla and citrus comes through occasionally.

The beer also tastes quite delicate. I would like to know how long they age it in barrels, because it's nothing like the hot BA stouts that are becoming so popular. It was very light and crisp - no lingering aftertaste or stickiness. There's a sweet twang of alcohol and it's mildly warming on the way down. The flavor is slightly oaky with honey once more coming though predominately. Also essence of orange and of sweet honeyed lemon tea. When I sat back and stopped trying to dissect every nuance I suppose the beer has a mild sweet sherry-like quality to it.

Goes down super smooth and finishes with a slight earthy hoppiness. Not really boozy despite the 9.5%.

I found this to be a very drinkable brew. Not my favorite of GLBC, but a real treat worth seeking out for sure.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.7/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at BA Blackout release party

Pours a darker auburn color with some golden hues. Smaller head, with a touch of retained wispy film running across the top of the beer.

Notes of malted sweetness, oaky bourbon, brown sugar, and vanilla in the nose.

Begins strong with roasted malt and candied brown sugar. Dark fruit including raisins and figs alongside some vanilla tones. The oaked bourbon flavors are apparent, but not overboard, along with some alcohol warmth. The sweetness is heavy here, especially with the brown sugar and bourbon combining. Finishes boozy and sweet.

Lighter body for a barrel aged beer, fairly carbonated, and a bit sticky. A smaller sample of this was enough for me, as the booze and sweetness were a little bit much. It's described as a "bourbon barrel aged sweet ale," so this wasn't surprising but it just wasn't my style. I can see some people loving this though.

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Photo of LordAdmNelson
3.55/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

At GL BA Blackout release party.

Pours a rich golden color with a bit of white head that recedes to a ring around the glass. Smell is decent, some oak and bourbon notes come through, with a bit of lighter malt. Flavor is similar, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and a bit of a light ale in the background. Description says oak bourbon barrel aged sweet ale, and that's a pretty apt description. Something about lighter beers aged in bourbon, however, doesn't work for me. It ends up getting an odd buttery flavor (not diacetyl) that I just don't particularly enjoy. Body is big enough to handle the bourbon, but not overpowering, carbonation is good. A sipper for sure, not a bad beer, just not my favorite.

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Photo of chaz01
3.8/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I was able to get a growler from a 1/6 barrel leftover from a local Great Lakes Beer Tasting event here in Dayton. As a side note, great event hosted at Dorothy Lane Market, and Lisa from Great Lakes did a great job.

A: Dark mahogany, a little cloudy. Not much head, but that maybe due to I was unable to open the growler until a few days following the event.

S: Woody and oak aromas with an alcohol presence, more rum-like than bourbon.

T: I'm picking up a big alcohol presence, but again like the aroma, not necessarily bourbon flavors. Fruity raisins and dates flavor complement the alcohol, with a little bit of bourbon flavors in the aftertaste.

M: Full bodied, low carbonation, syrupy mouthfeel

D: Nice sipping beer for a cool Autumn evening. Very easily drinkable that can sneak up on you. A couple glasses out of my growler and I am definitely feeling it.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.12/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Imbibed at Kegs For Kids Chicago 2010 - taken from notes.

Appearance -- Pours a medium amber hue, nice clarity, sudsy beige head.

Smell -- Honey, caramel, dates and figs, vanilla oakiness, faint bourbon. Some buttery diacetyl in the mix, but not terribly distracting.

Taste -- Rich malty notes abound: toffee, spiced rum raisin, date, caramel, buttered toast. Bourbon and oak are present, but don't dominate. Oak tannin dryness in the finish.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body, not too heavy, with moderate prickly carbonation.

Drinkability -- I was told this beer was barrel-aged 6mo's - works for me. the barrel notes worked in tandem with what the malts were doing. This was probably the most easy-drinking barrel-aged beer I've ever had. Not my favorite of the category, but a beer I would gladly have again given the opportunity.

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Photo of treyrab
4.3/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

We got really lucky with this one. As we had lunch at Bocktown we were greeted by a Great Lakes Brewery Representative who provided us samples of three of their beers. They had told us that later that night Rackhouse would be on tap at Fatheads. With only a 1/6 barrel being tapped, we raced down to get a glass.

A: Poured into a snifter all the way to the rim, yielding no head. You could see a few bubbles of white/eggshell color, but nothing substantial. Perfectly clear mahogany and ruby red hues. Some amber and brick colors as well.

S: When cold, the only thing that could be made of the smell was bourbon and vanilla from the barrel aging. Albeit, that element is minot. Not a bourbon bomb at all, but very smooth and balanced. As it warms, the beer really shines. Vanilla, bourbon, rum-soaked dates and raisins, toffee, and brown sugar. Again, subtle and not overpowering, but well blended.

T: Similar to the smell, this got exponentially better as it warmed. The beer was complex, but in a subtle way. Not as powerful as some bourbon aged beers, but definitely more balanced and well blended. Nice rum-soaked dark fruits, vanilla and bourbon, chocolate, and toffee.

M/D: Nice and creamy. I drank two glasses with no problem. Could have enjoued a third or fourth as well.

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Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.18/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to the GLBC rep that we met at Bocktown in Pittsburgh, PA for tipping us off to the event at Fatheads last Friday that was to have this beer on tap. We rushed over early and were lucky enough to grab a couple beers out of the 1/6th barrel that was there.

Poured into a snifter, there is no head at all. The body is crystal clear garnet, as I can see right though it to the table below even with a full glass. In the light, the body is highlighted by deep ruby hues.

Aromas of toffee, dates, and only slight notes of bourbon and vanilla. The dates are complemented nicely by raisins. Not too much going on aside from the barrel-aging, which I guess is understandable, since this beer was made purely to be barrel aged and doesn't exist in non barrel aged form. On the palate, Rackhouse really opens up. A great fruity base of dates and raisins is complemented by intense notes of toffee and vanilla. Oakey tannins are very notable. The bourbon is very subtle. The finish leaves some sweet cherry and bourbon.

Syrupy but smooth, a slight tingle is the only hint of carbonation. Again, to be expected from a BA beer. Definitely a sipper, and as it warms, the depth improves considerable, bringing on new flavors.

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Photo of phattysbox
4.59/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brought a growler of this fine brew to a tasting in NYC... Split and shared among friends.

Growler was opened with a slow hiss - this beer was not carbonated very strongly when it was filled, but it maintained what carbonation it had very well. Poured into Unibroue tulip glass and the color resembles that of a rose(wine) - reddish to orange and light in color. Very clear. Small 1/4 inch head that recedes leaving a very thin lace.

Smell is AMAZING. Bourbon soaked sweet fruit hits the nose with undertones of vanilla, toffee, and oak. Great nose that comes off kind of boozy but a great way. Some malt here and there but the barrel really comes out in the nose.

With the smell all Bourbon I was really expecting a bourbon bomb but it was pleasantly subdued in the taste. Sweet candy fruit with a strong malt backbone. Caramel, raisins soaked in bourbon, and grainy huskiness in the aftertaste. Really complex and ABV is really not noticable.

Mouthfeel is average meduim body. Doesn't quite coat the tongue but definitely leaves its mark. Low carb. served this beer well.

Dangerous drinkability and not as sweet as I expected from other malt bombs that are out there. Well crafted and an outstanding brew.

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Rackhouse Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 4.13 out of 5 with 104 ratings