On a recent trip to Knoxville, I explored the craft beer aisle at McScrooge’s a bit. I’m not generally a beer drinker and I can’t remember the last time I reviewed a beer in these pages, but I was in the mood for something different. What caught my eye was a beer that had been aged in Bourbon barrels. Well, that sounded right up my alley!
The Bluegrass Brewing Company was founded in 1993 and is Kentucky’s largest brewery, located in the city of Louisville. Their mission is “To cultivate Louisville’s brewing heritage by producing world class beers incorporating the finest ingredients and uncompromising commitment to quality.” In this case, they take a “full-bodied, silky stout” and age it in Bourbon barrels for 60 to 90 days, adding some smokiness from the char and hints of vanilla and bourbon from the residue the original liquid left behind. This Bourbon Barrel Stout (BBS) ran about $10 for a 4-pack.
As with most stouts, the BBS is very dark in the glass...almost the color of used motor oil. It had a creamy, sweet malty flavor up front with hints of bourbon and oak on the finish. There were also some interesting citrusy notes that lingered for up to a minute after each sip. The body of this beer was fairly full, although not as full as a Guinness, so I decided to pair it with a CroMagnon Knuckle Dragger (Petite Robusto). I soon was getting smokey, meaty, sweet flavors from both beer and cigar.
This was a fantastic pairing and I have to say: I love this beer. Unfortunately, distribution is fairly limited at this time (even nearly 20 years after the company was founded). Their “Find Our Beer” page shows a grand total of 5 states in which you can buy it: Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana, and Ohio. So...get to one of those states and pick up a 4-pack...or 5 or 6...your needs may vary.