I have a confession: I haven’t always been a bourbon man. In fact, it wasn’t until I moved to the great state of Kentucky that I truly developed an affinity for Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.
My previous beverage of choice was beer despite a bland market that forced me to decide between Bud Light, Guinness, Coors, or Natty Ice.
But behold! As if in answer to my prayers, the Almighty has bestowed upon mankind a bourbon renaissance and a craft beer revolution that has changed the entire drinking landscape forever. When combined, these two movements have given birth to some of the best barrel aged bourbon beers the world has ever tasted. If you are a bourbon lover, and have yet to taste any of the bourbon beers on the market, here are 5 to try before the barrels run dry!
GoodWood Bourbon Barrel Stout
Goodwood is the result of a huge re-branding effort by Bluegrass Brewing Co. – Louisville’s longest operating brewery. Goodwood highlights all the things that make their bourbon beer spectacular and unique. Every beer touches wood before bottling and every beer is made with pure limestone water. These same elements lend flavor to bourbon, and as Goodwood CEO Ted Mitzlaff says, “If it’s good for bourbon, it’s great for beer”!
This isn’t your typical heavy stout – its light bodied and full of flavor, including lots of bourbon and vanilla up front. The finish is long and full of chocolate and caramel.
This is a great beer for any time of year, especially if you are a stout lover!
If you aren’t fortunate enough to live in bourbon beer country, grab a four pack for around $12 or demand that your bar carry Goodwood Bourbon Barrel Stout!
Alltech Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
The self-proclaimed beer of bourbon country, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is the BEST barrel aged ale on the market as of yet.
Alltech, makers of Town Branch bourbon has outdone themselves with this award-winning sipping beer.
This stuff is like a “bourbon bomb” – like a light, crisp beer with a shot of bourbon thrown in there. The body is nice and even, the taste is smooth and bold with strong hints of vanilla and oak, and the carbonation is just enough to let you know you are drinking an ale, without disrupting the creaminess of the pint.
With so much
horrible experimental bourbon ale on the market, this one stands head and shoulders above the pack.
Goose Island Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Coffee Stout
Everyone who knows me knows that stout is my beer of choice, and my non-alcoholic beverage of choice is a nice, bold, roasted coffee. When I first saw Goose Island Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Coffee Stout, I was as giddy as a woodpecker in a lumber yard!
This is one of the very few beers to receive an overall 100/100 on RateBeers.Com. I had the pleasure of having a bottle for myself over at Sergios World Beers, and let me say that you get what you pay for. I spent $15 for a 22 ounce bottle of 15% alcohol and I was done. ONE AND DONE! It would have costed me twice as much in Bud Lights to get the sexy that I got from this Imperial.
Brewmaster Greg Hall put his heart and soul into this beer, and had this to say:
“I really wanted to do something special for our 1000th batch at the original brewpub. Goose Island could have thrown a party. But we did something better. We brewed a beer. A really big batch of stout-so big the malt was coming out of the top of the mash tun. After fermentation we brought in some bourbon barrels to age the stout. One hundred and fifty days later, Bourbon County Stout was born-A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with a thick foam the color of bourbon barrels. The nose is a mix of charred oak, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer. It overpowers anything in the room. People have even said that it’s a great cigar beer, but I haven’t yet tried a cigar that would stand up to it.”
Smells of coffee grounds, chocolate, and bourbon. Great black pour with brown head. Good mouth feel. Amazing taste balance of coffee, bourbon, chocolate, and roasted malt.
This is definitely one of the finest beers I’ve tasted, and I feel like I can give it one of my only 5 ratings.
Central Waters Brewer’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout
Who knew something so beautiful could come out of Wisconsin?!
This is an exceptional stout with a 9.5% ABV and usually only available in the wintertime unless you hoard seasonal bottles, like I do. Like most stouts, there is very little carbonation, freeing you up to enjoy the dramatic interplay of chocolates, coffees, malts, and fruits.
Even with these flavors, the barrel makes itself known like a conductor before a magnificent symphony….
Ok, that was sappy. But I have been known to wax dramatic in the presence of a noteworthy beer!
Bell’s Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury
Bell’s Bourbon Barrel Hell Hath No Fury is heavy on the oak and caramel with surprisingly very little alcohol aftertaste. This Belgian style Dubbel Ale is deceptively sweet, but don’t be fooled.
Even at 8.4 ABV, it seems to go to work on my motor skills as quickly as a straight shot. As I write this article, I have a chalice full sitting in front of me (don’t judge me, today is my day off!). So many flavors are coming to me all at once, fighting for my attention and affection. There are some apples, a hint of nectar, caramel that can definitely be tasted.
This is one you want to try! If you can find this bourbon beer, snatch it up quickly. It was only brewed once, and is on limited release. Once its gone, its gone!
If you have had a noteworthy or notorious bourbon barrel aged beer, let us know about it in the comments section below!