By Richard Thomas
Something to look out for in Kentucky (and certain areas where it is distributed) when the Holidays season rolls around again is a bourbon barrel ale from Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company, the beer side of which is better known as Kentucky Ale. I spied a four-pack of this stuff in the liquor store in early December, said “that sounds perfect” for as a Christmas ale, and snagged one. And then I went back and got a second four-pack.
Kentucky Ale was one of the forerunner of aging ale in old bourbon barrels. Certainly they were the first to do it and bottle it in the Bluegrass. Although I had encountered bourbon barrel aged stouts and ales around the country prior to Kentucky Ale getting started, those were available only at taphouses; you couldn’t go to a liquor store and buy it. Whiskey barrel-aged beer has become very much a thing in the almost two decades since then, and Kentucky Ale’s footprint in the category has grown accordingly. Most of those are one-time or seasonal releases, such as this one.
Bourbon Barrel Peppermint Porter is an imperial porter, bottled at 8.2% ABV.
This medium bodied beer is simply yummy. As implied above, I liked it so much I went back and got a second four-pack, and it now replaces my previous locally made choice for a Christmas ale. It delivers a base of earthy chocolate and toffee, sweetened with a little molasses and vanilla, with a crisp current of mint running straight through it. The finish winds down sweet, minty and not overtly thick.
Compared to the standard Bourbon Barrel Ale from the same brand, it’s a better balanced beer. I only drink their ale as a dessert beer; this porter makes for yummy and refreshing drinking, fine tuned to match that early winter, Christmas spirit.
I paid $14 for my four-pack.