Written by Kevin Patterson
Nestled in the heart of bourbon country has its privileges and Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company takes full advantage. The fresh and recent decanting of bourbon barrels means that these vessels are ripe for the picking for local brewers who wish to claim the complex nuances of bourbon for their beers. The brewery simply has no fear in brewing relatively tame recipes to reside in those magical barrels- the results are not simply “hints” of bourbon or “mild” wood complexities, but rather a changed beer that’s uniquely Kentucky!
Dark as night, the stout ale opens with a deep brown hue that reminds that catches the eye with richly stained tree bark and crimson highlights. Though dark, the beer shows great clarity with an onyx-like sheen, just as the redish hues plays through the saturated brown color. Its light and delicate creme floats atop the beer and decorates the snifter with lacy rings that delights the eye.
Strong coffee overtones leap onto the olfactory senses along with roasted walnut, heavy toast, and firey burnt embers. Yielding shy of smoke, the scent instead, introduces complementary aromas of caramel, cherry, vanilla, coconut, and unmistakable bourbon alcohols.
And true coffee dominance exudes in the stout’s taste as well. Even thought the strong ale proclaims bourbon- its the taste of Columbian coffee, walnut, and bittersweet smoky chocolate that form first impressions. The malty underpinnings of thin caramel sweetness and starchy light whipping cream emerges at middle palate and braces the palate from the dry toast and roast of grain. And all this succulent taste is wrapped in a cocoon of bourbon sweetness with all its gentlemanly oak, tannin, and char.
Medium-full in texture, the stout’s mouthfeel resides on a dry-roast backbone that evokes an, arid, powdery, and light ash that extends beyond that of receding malt sweetness and thin bourbon warmth. At eight percent alcohol, the palate easily underestimates the strength as the warmth is calming and succulently inviting. It’s a much more drinkable beer than it should be.
Sure to appease the sweet tooth in all of us, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout is indeed a stout at heart. But much like that of their Bourbon Barrel Ale, the beer doesn’t simple add nuances of bourbon in complement, it changes the beer into something else- one with much more bourbon influence than is common for such bold technique. The advantages of living in the Bluegrass are many and this new stout is one.