A session worthy barrel aged beer
A Review of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Lexington Brewing Co.
Posted on 9/26/2012 by Chops
I always cringe going into barrel aged beers because I'm not a big fan of liquor. I can certainly appreciate the various flavor nuances of liquor and why some drinkers gravitate to them, but I personally have little interest. I'm a craft beer guy and that's what I stick with. The reason I cringe when trying these beers is because many of them can be overpowering. The barrel aging process can infuse some seriously potent flavors in beer. Some are so relentless that they actually smother the base beer. Luckily for all beer drinkers, there are beers like the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from the Lexington Brewing Co. This, by beer loving compatriots, is how you craft a barrel aged beer.

My brother often travels to Kentucky for business and noticed that the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale was being widely consumed at restaurants and bars. Intrigued, he decided to order one and ended up loving it. This is a man who lives and dies by the Yuengling Lager, so my curiosity was peaked when he raved about a barrel aged beer. He brought some home for me to try and the rest was history. He is now required to restock our supply with every visit.

In the glass, this beer has a clear golden honey coloration. It comes with a frothy white head that dissipates very fast, even with an aggressive pour. On the nose, there is little more than an oak infused bourbon aroma. For anyone new to the beer, you would swear that you were about to drink a glass of weak bourbon.

The first sip really caught me off guard because the first aspect to catch my attention was the mouthfeel. It's surprisingly thin and easy to drink. It drinks a lot like, and try to follow me here... a witbier. Yes, it's that easy to drink. The bourbon flavor is quite dominant, but not abrasive in the least and is actually very pleasant. It allows you to study the sweetness of the bourbon infusion without being accosted by alcohol burn. The brown liquor sweetness is wrapped in a blanket of earthy oak and peppered with some nondescript spices. Strangely enough, the base beer is almost indiscernible, but you really don't mind. It's almost like drinking a glass of thin bourbon with beery undertones. The beer finishes clean and leaves a malty sweet bourbon aftertaste.

Overall, Lexington Brewing's Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is a very tasty brew with an inviting character. It's by far one of the most surprising finds in the world of barrel aged brews. This is the only beer of its kind that I would regard as session worthy, and that's saying a lot for the style. Consequently, I can actually recommend this brew to most beer fans. My only caveat would be to novices: drink with caution and an open mind. While this beer is an excellent bridge into the barrel aged style, it doesn't change the fact that it's still a barrel aged beer and should be treated as such. In other words, I hope you like bourbon.

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Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale by Lexington Brewing Co.
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