Rodney A. Tillinghast's picture

Chanukah in Kentucky

February, 2016
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
5 / 6
37 / 40
8 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

As I cracked this brew open, I was startled at the amount of fizz released from the cap since bourbon-aged beers usually exhibit somewhat sluggish carbonation levels. This fizz spewed forth a dark, tawny brown head into my glass, one that lingered quietly for several minutes until I provided tonight’s liquid my full attention. I snatched up my snifter and beheld the darkest of amber hues of the ale in my desk lamp, stopping once to marvel at its sturdy amount of carbonation.

Its aroma was a blessed mix of the vanilla from the bourbon barrels, matched with a soft sweetness of raisins, dark breads and toffee. Alcohol was not apparent in the nose, which sets it apart from many other bourbon barrel-aged beers I have sampled.

In the back of my mouth, I could definitely pick up the bourbon, which (for someone that appreciates a well-crafted American whiskey) is a rather soothing flavor. The dark chocolate tones also come forward, supported by a very impressive level of hop flavor along with medium bitterness. Even in the finish, the alcohol hotness is subdued, providing a pleasant measure of drinkability.  

The beer seems to be well aged, as a good deal of time in the barrel creates a pleasant marriage of flavors. This beer showcases a strong hop profile, as it is quite rare for a bourbon-based ale to have such hop-forward characteristics in terms of flavor and bitterness. It makes me wonder how much hop flavor this beer had before it went into the barrel.  

For fans of bourbon-aged beers, this is a real treat. It also is a beer that could be enjoyed by the pint without being overly sweet and satiating. The hop flavor in the beer is an interesting twist on the style, and could also be an excellent candidate for long-term storage – just be mindful of its aggressive carbonation levels.