Alltech Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale

Drink Reviews
Alltech Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale

The Old Fashioned—is there a more iconic cocktail available behind the bar? Two fingers of whiskey, a bit of sugar and a couple of dashes of bitters. Garnish with a twist of orange peel. That’s all it takes and you get what is arguably the most perfect cocktail. So why not craft a beer that tastes like the Old Fashioned? That’s what Alltech Brewing, out of Lexington, Kentucky, has aimed to do with their new Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale. They took their signature ale, brewed it with orange peel then aged it with tart cherries in bourbon barrels and bitters barrels (barrel aged bitters is a thing now).

Naming the beer after the country’s most famous cocktail might be a bit of a gimmick, but the beer does have a lot in common with the Old Fashioned. There’s a light, almost rosy color to the beer, and strong notes of oak and whiskey on the nose. It has a creamy mouthfeel, and there’s plenty of wood in the taste, a bit of bitter orange, and oh yeah, whiskey. A good bit of whiskey. You also get some caramel sweetness as the beer warms. And just like a proper Old Fashioned, the cherry and orange are mainly background noise—minor layers of subtle flavor that are mostly there to enhance the other dominate characteristics of the drink.

Alltech knows how to barrel age beers. Not only does the brewery double as a distillery, producing Town Branch Bourbon and Rye, they’ve also done well with their Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. That particular beer won silver at last year’s World Beer Championships and gold at the U.S. Open Beer Championships in 2012.

This Old Fashioned Barrel Ale can hold its own on the overcrowded bourbon-barrel aged shelves at your favorite bottle shop, largely because Alltech plays it cool. While the beer has plenty of wood and bourbon to satisfy barrel-age fanatics, Alltech doesn’t go over the top with the flavors. It’s not too aged or too cherry or too anything. The adjunct flavors and barrel aging work well together, and the beer still comes off as light and creamy. The name is a little gimmicky, sure, but it’s a gimmick that works.

Brewery: Alltech Brewing Company
City: Lexington, Ky.
Style: barrel aged ale
ABV: 10%
Availability: summer seasonal, 12 ounce bottles

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