Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company Springs to life this March with their second seasonal offering that harks to the turning tide. While still robust with malt sweetness and a heavier palate, its bright citrusy hop character signals a change. And with the signature backdrop of the bourbon barrel, this massive ale is uniquely Kentucky!
Its bright crimson pour shares tawny redish-garnet hues and simply gleams in the glass with its crystal clarity, swirling bubbles and semi-ominous stature. A creamy and ivory-stained column of foam builds on top the ale like rich lather, trailing with speckled lace and sheen legging in the beer’s wake. While all ale, the beer has a sliver of brandy to its appearance.
Rich with barley malt at the forefront, the beer’s aromas are dripping with caramel-laded fruit. A slightly toasted back note is nutty, toffee-like and with a hint of biscotti and fresh-hung tobacco. Complementing its malty demeanor, its hop balance comes in the form of freshly zested nectarines and torn pine needles.
Lavish in taste, the barley sweetness greets the early palate with a toasted toffee taste and a nutty counterpart that resonates with something of pistachio brittle. As the middle opens up, its toasted husk character offers a lightly earthen taste, similar to rye, that links up seamlessly with the acute citrus hop flavor- much more of vibrant oranges than of the more common grapefruit, the ale trends toward a dry-malt taste and a growing resinous bitterness of pine, fresh-cut grass and citrus ribs.
Dense and weighted on the palate, the beer’s body shies away from cloying as its moderate carbonation provides enough lift of the sweetness to usher in a patient dryness as the malty sweetness seems to dissolve right off the tongue. A slight glimmer of thinning occurs in its transition and exposes slight mineral taste and mild grain texture. Its warm and lingering nutty finish continues to deliver complex taste with echoes of fruit marmalade and bubblegum.
While not the “hoppiest” American Barleywine on the market, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Barleywine balances more even-keel than classic British varieties. Perhaps a perfect marriage of the two bring this ale into season with the decadence of malt but with a palatable and refreshing closure.