One Bourbon, One Barrel, One Beer.

Brewery and Country of Origin: Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company of 401 Cross Street, Lexington, KY 40508, USA

Date Reviewed: 6-25-12

Primarily distilled from corn, Bourbon is a form of whiskey from America which was originally introduced in the 1700s. Its popularity, center of production, and origin are based in the state of Kentucky which is not really known for much else. But that said, bourbon is rooted deep in Kentuckian culture. In fact, according to National Geographic, 97% of all commercially produced bourbon originates from some place near the town of Bardstown, KY. And while not much is known about the actual origin of bourbon whiskey, we can honestly say that it was never intended to help ignite an American beer movement which has seen a great rise in popularity: Strong American Bourbon Ales. The purpose of cask conditioned ales are to provide drinkers with a "real ale" experience which leaves all of the unfiltered components of a beer (which can sometimes be filtered after conditioning, not fermentation) which allow it to mature even more. Cask conditioning is a form of secondary fermentation which gives beers a richer set of flavors and aromas. When these beers are aged in casks which were once used to mature bourbon (or other forms of whiskey), the results can be epic. But not everyone is going to go for a punch in the face ale, which is where Kentucky Ales (a subsidiary of food nutritional science company Alltech of Lexington, KY comes into play. Making a forgivig beer for an unforgiving style? Just wait and see.
Date Sampled: 6-21-12 At: 7 Prescott Place, Allston, Boston, MA, 02134, USA
Beer Style: American Strong Ale
Alcohol by Volume: 8.18%
Serving Type: 12 oz Bottle, 14 oz Sam Adams Glass
Rating: 3.28


The Kentucky Bourbon Barrel pours a bit choppy with a half inch foam head, a good deal of carbonation action, and a dull yet clear, dark golden/rich amber color. This beer laces very nicely down the entire glass.


As you would imagine, this beer gives off a strong, alcoholic bourbon like aroma with some malty and sweeter notes mixed in as well. These are very prominent aromas derived from the Bourbon Barrels used to condition the beer.


This is a medium bodied beer which has a lower viscosity and a very high level of carbonation. Despite its relatively confident level of alcohol, this is an easy drinking beer with a cleaner finish than you would expect. A subtle warming effect is noticeable as well.


Prominent bourbon/whiskey notes dominate the tastebuds accompanied by more subtle sweet, caramel, and malty flavors. Absolutely no hops presence is noticeable in both the flavor and aromas.

Our Take

Generally speaking, beer is an absorbant substance. Flavors and aromas are all picked up by beer from the things it comes in contact with, and this effect is multiplied over time. And for a set of interesting reasons, Beer and Bourbon seem to mix well together - that is if you like bourbon. But beer that is conditioned for too long in a Makers Mark barrel is going to make your eyes water. Kentucky seems to have struck a nice balance between the typical bourbon cask conditioned brew which literally burns a hole in you, and a lighter, somewhat forgiving beer which is easy to handle. Sure, this beer is missing a few fundamental elements (especially in lacking a more refined aroma and complex flavor), but bourbon ales aren't for everyone. This particular one is for more people than the rest. Think of this beer as an enabler, training wheels if you will. Before you run a marathon, give the neighborhood 5K a whirl. With Bourbon ales, it's much of the same; learn to love this "weak" version first, then tackle the big stuff. You'll be more apt to enjoy the style as a whole because these are generally quite potent.