Rackhouse Ale | Great Lakes Brewing Co.

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BA SCORE
90
outstanding
38 Reviews
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BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Ohio, United States | website

Style: American Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by TurdFurgison on 10-27-2005

BEER STATS
Reviews:
38
Ratings:
74
Avg:
4.08
pDev:
12.99%
 
 
Wants:
12
Gots:
5
For Trade:
0
User Reviews
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Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 74
Photo of brentk56
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the bar with a dark amber color and a modest head that, nevertheless, laces the chalice

Smell: Bourbon and a bit of caramel

Taste: Starts with a sweet caramel flavor that builds in intensity and then, whoosh, the bourbon arrives at mid-palate and provides an oaky bourbon-filled sweet finish

Mouthfeel: Full body with moderate carbonation; some warmth on the finish

Drinkability: Very subtly handled; just enough bourbon to make things interesting but you can still taste the beer

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Photo of Rhettroactive
3.66/5  rDev -10.3%
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 TurdFurgison
3.82/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Had this on-tap at Great Lakes on 10/23/05. This was served only from the pub, so I was told. Presented to me in a chalice glass, very dark color brown, almost a red shade of black. Thin wispy head on top, almost non-existent.

The aroma was strong old ale, or alcohol-laden barleywine. Very powerful and a little bit scary. The flavor was very full, very rich, and burned my throat. It was hard to believe it was beer. I would have guessed brandy or something of that sort. The after-taste was chocolate, but I douldn't detect any burnt malt flavors.

I had to rate kind of low on drinkability, because it's hard to finish one chalice. The flavor was great and all, but my lord it was too strong in alcohol burn.

Try it if you see it. But be careful.

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Photo of xnicknj
3.7/5  rDev -9.3%
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 cpetrone84
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
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 brewdlyhooked13
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance - while enjoying the bread pudding, my server gave me a shot of this. In the tiny glass it looked fairly golden but now, in the 10-ounce goblet, it has a decidely reddish burgundy cast to it. Just a thin collar of light tan foam.

Aroma - loads of whiskey notes with a sweet fruity bend. Not much else but I ain't complaining!

Taste - the strong ale presents itself as sweet and grainy, malt liquor-ish. The fruitiness from the nose is here as well. While that is pretty good by itself, the oak barrels add a good complementary dimension. Smoky, charred flavor from the depths of the oak, peaty and a bit hot. If they would bottle this, what could *this* develop into after a few years of cellaring? The finish is warm and whiskey.

Mouthfeel - a little heavier than average. Restrained carbonation, let's the flavor come through unhindered.

Drinkability - takes a little adjusting, but smooth (and potent) sailing after that.

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Photo of Deuane
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Hazy, turbid yellowish tinged amber with a thin white head that vanishes quickly in a plume of alcohol flame!

S-Whoa! Sweet luscious bourbon, heat and a bit of caramel sweetness.

T-Initial caramel sweetness that is quickly overwhelmed by a tidal wave of bourbon. This is like the beer equivalent of a bourbon shot! Dry oaky notes finish things off.

M-Medium-heavy body and super smooth. This is so thick, creamy and smooth it's like a burbon milkshake. Decadent!

D-A bit too hot in the end but overall a very interesting brew. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to taste this one.

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Photo of siege06nd
3.6/5  rDev -11.8%
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 nrbw23
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a golden orange and is pretty cloudy. A good, solid ring of white head and leaves light spots of lace on the walls of the glass.

S- Aroma is really complex, quite a bit going on here. A little tart, with hints of grapes and some grassy herbs.

T- Taste follows the smell really well and even sweeter than I expected. Overall a good balance of fruit and an oak flavor. Alcohol also stands out.

M- Medium in body and carbonation.

D- Very drinkable, even though its has a higher ABV. Brought this one home in my growler.

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Photo of mcallister
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Lovey shade of amber/mohagony. Off white head is rich and creamy with very good retention and some sticky lace left behind.

Rich sweet caramel malt, rediculous amounts of sweet toffee, toasted oak, coconut, brown sugar, candied fruits and dried fruits, fig especially. Also a hint of butterscotch on the ending.

Lush, sweet, palate coating mouthfeel. Very sweet and malty. Toasted oak, with a vanilla, toasted coconut edge. Bourbon is nicely integrated. Brown sugar, fig, other dried fruit round out the flavors. Many nutty flavors in here as well especially chestnut and even some hazlenut. The overall RS level of this does hurt the drinkability however. A sipper for sure.

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Photo of jampics2
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
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 sholland119
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to unclejedi for sending this one along!

A-Pours a cloudy pale brown amber, almost like iced tea. Not much head or lacing.

S-Bourbon, oak, white grapes and pineapple. Very nicely woody and sweet.

T-Much like the nose, the sweetness and wood dominate. Lots of white grape, mild citrus and pineapple with a bit of boozy warmth.

M-Medium bodied and lightly syrupy.

D-Very nice. This one slides right down and leaves me ready for another.

HV

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Photo of adamette
4.65/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served into a snifter from tap at the brewery by Steve, day bartender at GLBC. This is the beer that replaced BA Blackout Stout once it was finished. I have waited about three weeks to taste it since I was not able to attend the release party in which it was first served. From the sign hanging on the bar..."Sweet Strong Ale aged in Oak Bourbon Barrels." 10.0% ABV also listed on the same sign at the bar.

A Opaque medium brown body under a nice light brown creamy head. Lacing is like a curtain on the inside of the snifter. Interesting, deep, inviting look. 4.5

S The bourbon is in the forefront for sure. Some malt sweetness is able to be smelled as well. The beer is devoid of any hops smell to my nose. 4.5

T Light roast malt lays the groundwork for this bourbon bomb of a beer. No hops tasted by me but I am quite sure that they are in there. Expertly brewed and one of GLBC's best. 5.0

M Nice and syrupy, sticky, just like I like this style to be. Make no mistake, this is one huge beer with the bourbon notes, the big malt presence and the alcohol content which would have been hidden well aside from the huge dose of bourbon! 5.0

D Certainly every drop of this will be savored and enjoyed but it is a sipper, meant to be enjoyed one per night. I will still rate it as "good" though due to its wonderful depth, complexity, interest making is such that I will drink every drop! 4.0

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.89/5  rDev -4.7%
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 Spider889
3.99/5  rDev -2.2%
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 neenerzig
4.22/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this at the GLBC last night as it is another of their on-tap "pub exclusives." Served in a snifter. This beer is a a deep mahogany color. Very little head and lace from the get go on mine and my buddy's. Strong malty and fruity aromas are present as well as the oaked bourbon as the beer is aged in oak bourbon barrels. Sweet malty flavors and dark fruit such as cherry and perhaps plum are also present along with some caramel. The taste is rounded out the the bite that can only be present when a beer has been aged in oak bourbon barrels. I love it! Has a crisp, full bodied mouthfeel with moderate to heavy carbonation. Much more drinkable that I would have anticipated given the high ABV. Another winner from Great lakes. I hope to drink this again before it is gone until next year.

Eric

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Photo of bamadog
3.56/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review is from notes taken on 10/13/2009 at the 2009 release of GLBC Barrel-aged Blackout Stout. Poured from the tap to a sample glass.

Appearance: Pours a hazy lemony/coppery color; body is far from clear and a short 1/4 finger head that fades immediately to a ring and a thin poly-wog in the center sits on top of the beer; thick washes of oily lacing slides back into the beer from the sides of the glass.

Smell: Very mild aromas - comes across the nose as sweet combined with some alcoholic vapor - a slightly citric quality is present as well. Like most GLBC offerings though, the nose is kind of weak.

Taste: The taste is overwhelmingly sweet, like candied honey and it almost turns my stomach as it's sooo sweet... Strong dose of alcohol; slightly citric quality of an orange is present as well and it comes across as a little acidic - reminiscent of an old ale mixed with honey.

Mouthfeel: Body is thick and viscous and leaves a solid coating all over the palate; mouth is VERY warm, as is the belly; very mild carbonation but that makes sense considering how thick the body is on this. Very nice overall.

Drinkability: Nice flavors, but it's heavy and the sweetness is just too much for my palate. I am glad, however, that I got to try this beer.

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Photo of pwoods
3.85/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap down in the cellar of the brewpub during the bourbon event.

Served in a 5oz. snifter. Notes.

A: Pours a cloudy, murky golden peach color. Decent sized pearly white, somewhat frothy head. Some retention and a bit of lacing.

S: Plenty of bourbon and woody notes. Surprisingly there is a lot of citrus, pineapple and mango. Some lighter malts but they're mostly dominated by the bourbon and oak.

T/M: More of the bourbon and barrel flavors. Plenty of the citrus with pineapple and mango and even some tartness. Not a bunch of bitterness, though. Body is medium or so with good carbonation.

D: Higher ABV and gets a bit too sweet as it warms up. Interesting, though.

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.12/5  rDev +1%
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 Stevem68
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
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 mjpolzin
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
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 NittanyBeerFan
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
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 LordAdmNelson
3.55/5  rDev -13%
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 treyrab
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
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 rhinos00
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Great Lakes Brewery...served in a snifter.

A- Clear amber in appearance. Off-white head formed at the top and then reduced to a ring as the beer was consumed.

S- Strong smell of bourbon with a subtle hint of sweet caramel on the finish.

T- The sweetness really took me by surprise, I loved it. Upfront the sweet caramel hits the palate and settles in, then the bourbon flavor just wipes it out for a nice strong finish.

M- Smooth with some carbonation. Had a medium bodied consistency.

D- This is definitely a sipper. At 10.5% ABV is was still really drinkable, but just slowly.

Overall, very happy I got to try this on-tap. Really stood out as for as bourbon flavored beers go because of the unique sweetness that accompanied it. Highly recommended for those that enjoy bourbon barrel aged beers.

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Rackhouse Ale from Great Lakes Brewing Co.
4.08 out of 5 based on 74 ratings.
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