Beer or Bourbon? How about both?
A Review of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Lexington Brewing Co.
Posted on 2/13/2012 by Brew's Your Daddy
Believe it or not, there was a time when I wasn't what everyone refers to as a ''beer snob''. As shocking as that may seem to some of you, it's true. I could often be spotted at social gatherings with a nice little glass of bourbon in one hand, while my other was busy ''raising the roof'' or distributing massive amounts of douchebag ''fist bumps''. And while I have grown out of most of that phase, I still have a soft spot for a good bourbon from time to time. So when a beer like the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Lexington Brewing Company crosses my path, I simply must give it a try.

To begin with, I really could make this a very short and direct review and say that other than the carbonation, this is the closest thing to bourbon in a beer bottle I have ever come across. In the glass, other than a very thin, patchy film on top, the crystal clear copper coloration looks spot on for not only bourbon, but also for a nice amber ale. Placing your nose near the glass allows you to pick up on some delicious bourbon traits such as vanilla, charred oak, and of course booze. Laying just beneath the surface though is a thin, but noticeable layer of caramel and butterscotch that lends a surprising balance to the alcohol smell for an overall great bouquet in the glass.

The first sip will instantly make you give the glass a ''What tha???'' look. I say this because if you didn't know it was poured from a beer bottle, you would swear you were sipping a bourbon/soda mix of some sorts. I really don't know how else to explain it. I mean it tastes just like a slightly watered down bourbon with some carbonation in it. It sticks pretty close to the nose, with sweet vanilla, caramel, and butterscotch being the first things that your tongue notices. The oak is more subtle than the nose suggests, but is still present, and the charred characteristic does a good job in keeping all the sweetness in check. Again a faint malt layer lays just beneath the surface, but it has a hard time working its way though with any kind of success. A bit of an alcohol burn lingers on the tongue in the aftertaste, and once its gone, the finish is only slightly sticky, and deliciously tasty.

I have no problem openly admitting that the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is by far one of the most confusing, yet uniquely enjoyable beers I have ever gotten my hands on. So hats off to Lexington Brewing Company for that. Grading it is a bit difficult simply because there isn't a huge list of bourbon barrel aged ales out there to compare it to, or to even form a general grasp with. But this beer is 100% exactly what the name on the bottle says, so it gets some high marks from me. I could easily suggest it to everyone, if for nothing else other than the ''experience'' factor, but I could easily see some people being totally turned off by it. I think there is a much easier way for me to go at this one. If you like bourbon, you have no choice but to try it. If you don't like bourbon, I will save you the trouble and tell you to stay far away from it. It's that plain. It's that simple. I for one love it, and am glad I get the chance to have my beer and enjoy my bourbon too.

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Lexington Brewing Co.
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