Beer Review: Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout

Bourbon-barrel-aged beers are nothing new at this point. Also, nothing new is adding coffee to the brewing of a beer. I believe this is the first time I’ve seen both things in one beer, though…but the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout (or Bourbon Barrel Coffee Stout) is not even that new, either, having won awards in 2013 and 2014.

Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling is one of “only a handful of joint brewing and distilling operations in the world.” The produce Town Branch Bourbon and Rye, some liqueurs, Kentucky Ale, Kentucky Kölsch, and several other adult beverages.

For this particular beer, Alltech “builds on the success of its barrel-aged brother, the beloved Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale,” brewing and aging the beer with their Café Citadelle Haitian coffee. The official name on the website is “Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout” and it shows the same on the 4-pack carrier pictured on the website, however when I bought my 4-pack is read “Bourbon Barrel Coffee Stout”…while the individual bottles still omit the word “Coffee.” I am guessing that they recently changed the name to make sure people know there is coffee in it, but it hasn’t been fully enacted yet.

This beer has a mid-range 8% ABV and a relatively low 25 International Bitterness Units rating.

What’s gives it its taste?

It starts pouring brown but develops into a more appropriate coffee black color. The head is 1/2 finger to start, looking good, and fades to a creamy ring. The aroma of the stout is as advertised – coffee, vanilla, chocolate, slight whiskey. A touch of coconut creme and vanilla beans. I actually love the aroma on this.

The flavor translates wonderfully. First, there’s a rush of chocolate cadberry creme egg, followed by the best vanilla pudding flavor ever, mixed with vanilla beans, and the familiar burn (but not flavor) of whiskey. It tails off with fresh coffee and burnt toast. The feel is abundantly roasty, with a ton of carbonation, and a hot, dry finish.

Overall, I’m trying to find something wrong with this beer but I can’t. I don’t understand the low ratings, as this stout is absolutely delicious. I highly recommend this.

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Nick Ficorelli
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