Close Only Counts…

The line typically ends in horseshoes and hand grenades. Horseshoes, local to Kentucky, can typically be found in lots of places in the Bluegrass State. Muscle-bound horses run with them and feeble old men pitch them.

Hand grenades, hopefully, are not as common in Kentucky and please god, shouldn’t be a staple among many Kentuckians. (Authors Note: I’ve only been to Appalachia a few times.)

This leads me to the question I’ve been pondering lately, what happens when a hand grenade is shaped like a horseshoe and that hand grenade tastes really damn good?

If you’ve read the local beer news lately, you’ve noticed that Alltech just recently announced they were canning an IPA this summer as part of their plan for their $20 million dollar expansion
. In a good move in my book, they are also renaming their Kentucky Light to Kentucky Kolsch and also, toying around the idea of a taproom to entertain the booming Lexington craft beer scene. Alongside West 6th, these canned IPAs will for sure be filling coolers this summer in the Kentuckiana region.

Alltech has been taking small steps away from their flagship Kentucky Ale (what airport can this not be found in?) and doing a little more R&D. If you’ve been out to a local establishment lately, you’ll notice a new bourbon stave tap handle for their Bourbon Barrel Stout…alongside another bourbon stave tap handle…with the same name…but made from Bluegrass Brewing Company. Same name, totally different beers. Both very good.

Scenario 1: A guy/gal walks into a bar and says to the barkeep in their best 1920’s tone “Bourbon Barrel Stout, barkeep!”. The barkeep goes to his/her taps and utter confusion breaks across their face. They swore their customer said Bourbon Barrel Stout but they are looking at two similar tap handles with similar wording. One says BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout and one says Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout. The bartender saunters back over to the patron empty handed, clears his or her throat and states, “I’m sorry, but you are going to have to clarify which selection of bourbon barrel stout you wish to consume kind sir/lady.”. The patron stands puzzled knowing that they have come to this exact same bar and ordered the same drink before with no quarrels. (Editor’s Note: This can also be confusing to the consumer. If they think they ordered their old standby, BBC BBS and it tastes different than they remember.)

Scenario 2: A guy/gal walks into the bar and says to the barkeep in their best 1920’s tone “Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Coffee Stout please.” The barkeep goes to his/her taps, grabs a snifter, and pours the patron a drink. The drink is given to the patron and the patron immediately draws the snifter to their nose and inhales the wonderful fornicating scent of coffee and stout.

Although, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout’s name doesn’t contain Coffee in it, the beer contains a pleasurable amount of it. Pushing aside the once great Founders Breakfast Stout, KBBS (for short) smells and tastes like a fresh cup of joe more than bourbon soaked stout in my opinion. Although branded as a bourbon barrel stout with a small leafed coffee bean on the label, this beer has more coffee than the Heine Brothers in Louisville.

Then there is BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout (BBS), the epitome of a bourbon barrel stout. It’s been around since David Pierce first filled Jefferson Reserve barrels with the tasty concoction during his tenure as head brewer at BBC. A staple among the community and on taps, BBS has been a go-to beer for so many locals over the years when taps have been dominated by macros.

A simple search on Beer Advocate yields 153 results when the search term of “bourbon barrel stout”. That’s a lot of beers that have similar names in the title, but that’s a part of the business though. There are only so many times you can come up with a different name to describe the same style of beer. Bourbon barreling beers isn’t something new, but it is something very popular among craft beer enthusiasts. Go ahead and give both the beers mentioned above a try. Most places have them on draft or in four packs at your local beer stores.

Maybe even try them side-by-side, but just remember, close only counts in branding and hand grenades.

What's your take? Please comment below.