Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company “Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale”

November 20, 2012

The first real cool air of fall is upon us and our thoughts begin to turn towards ways to ward off the icy fingers of the season. Many among us reach for that bottle of the brown. Fall is the time for whiskey.

Bourbon from Kentucky, in particular, is a favorite. The combination of Southern corn, charred oak barrels and artisanal water provide a final product that’s both flavorful and warming all the way down to the gut. It’s also a traditional pairing with beer. There are those who prefer slamming down a neat shot and chasing it with gulp of beer, and then there are those who cut out the middleman.

The Boilermaker. Take a big, cold beer, drop a shot of whiskey down into it and chug. Call it the original beer bomb, call it a bad idea… call a cab. It’s a sure-fire method of getting warmed up and well on one’s way to being what the Irish call “legless.”

No one is certain where the drink derived its name. The most logical conclusion is that it was named after the hardy men who constructed boilers for factories. Laborers who worked long, grueling hours had very little time at the end of the day to sit back and enjoy a few pints. A Boilermaker drink was a method of making up for lost time.

Not everyone out there who doesn’t mind a good drink or two wishes to become quickly inebriated, however. No need to pile on the liquor, thankfully. There’s a way to have the best of both worlds without double-teaming your liver. Age the beer in used bourbon barrels.

When liquor is distilled, it’s inherently clear and, mostly, flavorless. Color and depth of flavor comes from aging the liquid in oak barrels, fire-charred barrels in the case of Southern whiskey. The aging process impregnates the wood with the resultant flavor and, in turn, can impart those flavors to other beverages.

New to our area is Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company. These guys don’t need to procure bourbon barrels from elsewhere; they make everything themselves. This caramel-copper colored ale gives up its head fairly quickly but shows nice carbonation. The nose is, to me, not overtly whiskey-ish but still gives off sweet malt and caramel cream like a Brach’s Maple Log. Another candy comparison shows up on the palate with Werther’s candy backed up by toasty vanilla and buttered popcorn. The mouth feel is smooth bordering on slippery with an 8.19% abv providing the warmth.

The best of two things at once, this one is a nice item to have handy at a chilly sunset.