I am happy to see more bourbon barrel beers associated with Kentucky – after all Kentucky is the home of bourbon. Theoretically – KY should excel at representing bourbon barrel aged everything! Bluegrass Brewing Company beers are the only beers brewed, barrel-aged and packaged right here in the commonwealth.
I brought home a growler from the Clay Street BBC and immediately poured a glass (or three). The appearance was a beautiful, clear and bright amber color – much like a fine bourbon or a new penny. The small head of off-white foam settled quickly to a small ring, but a cap re-appeared each time I swirled the glass to soak up the wonderful aromas of this beer.
The smell was huge coconut and vanilla! There was a lot of bourbon, and some booziness in the nose. But, as nice as the smell was – the flavor was even better.
The taste reflected the aroma but without as much alcohol. Vanilla and mild brown sugar notes were there. Bourbon, of course, and hints of butterscotch surfaced as it warmed. There was low bitterness at only 35 IBUs. Toasted coconut was very prominent. It reminded me of the Zagnut candy bars I ate as a kid. Hey, that’s probably a nice dessert pairing!
The medium body was smooth, almost slick in the mouth with modest to mild carbonation. An easy to drink beer that is moderate in the alcohol level (7% ABV), despite being bourbon barrel aged.
Phil Dearner, president of BBC Beer Co., explained that this is a new beer, not an existing beer that they decided to barrel age, but a beer created specifically for aging in bourbon barrels. The result is very tasty – some may say this beer tastes more like a light, bourbon cocktail than it tastes like a beer. However it is described – in the end it is delicious.