Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. “Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale” is 10% ABV.
I poured all of a 12 oz bottle into a Belgian ale glass.
Appearance: I poured this with some force, which produced no real head to speak of. The color is a very clear and bright yellowish orange, almost like brass. This looks to have mild carbonation.
Smell: At the outset, I get very clean and not boozy bourbon, as well as a mild spice bill. The spices coming through are cinnamon, maybe some nutmeg, and maybe some more of the “pumpkin pie” spices. I also get a fairly heavy dose of vanilla to the aroma, as well as a little light brown sugar sweetness. I’m not getting a whole lot of pumpkin or malt. This smells very bright and almost like a cider. Nice interesting aroma.
Taste: This has an almost cider-like crispness to it. The flavors are all restrained in it so that, surprisingly, nothing really smacks you in the face. I get the bourbon which, though mellow, adds some warmth and depth. There is also some very mild astringency and starchiness to this, with a little pumpkin flavor. On top of this is a sweetness of intense vanilla with a slightly and bordering on artificial-like quality to it. The spicing is very subdued, and brings maybe a little bit of cinnamon and some mild bitterness. The flavors in this are bright and acidic, but balanced well. This finishes dry with a thin alcohol note. It has some light brown sugary sweetness fading into dull spicing. A little bourbon and faint dull spice in the aftertaste.
Feel: This is light to medium bodied, and is surprisingly light for something this heavy-hitting. It is also surprisingly light-bodied for a bourbon barrel aged beer. The feel is crisp and acidic, like a cider. It has some warmth from the bourbon, but is otherwise clean and dry. Alright here.
Drinkability: This drinks smoothly, quite smoothly for something 10%. Thee is a bit of alcohol bite towards the finish, but nothing really harsh for this style. The bourbon also isn’t overpowering, as in many bourbon barrel aged beers. Decent marks here.
Overall: I like the flavors in this. The spicing contributes to the flavor, but is very subdued. The bourbon is nice and smooth, and also contributes without overwhelming. There is enough sweetness to add in some body and roundness, yet not too much to detract from its dry finish. I do wish that there was more pumpkin to this one. The flavors are all good and blended pretty well. This is maybe more acidic than I was expecting. It is also a lot lighter in body than I was expecting. For those that like the bourbon-aged beers, this is a good one to try. The bourbon builds more and more as you drink it. It is a great example of how to contribute bourbon without giving a punch to the face or otherwise totally overwhelming the palate at the first sip.
Overall Rating: ***
Lexington and their Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale: Alltech’s Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co. began in 1999 in Lexington, Kentucky, after the former Lexington brewing company closed. Their flagship Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale is one of their award-winning beers, which like some of their others, is aged in their Kentucky Bourbon Barrels. The beer is added to the barrels after only a handful of hours from when the Kentucky bourbon has left the barrels. Their main beers are now available in 13 states, as well as in China and Ireland.
Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Co. produced Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale as a new seasonal in 2013. It is their first seasonal, which has been available in limited markets in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin since late August. I spoke with Danielle Palmer, who does public relations for the company. She was very helpful and informative. For this brew they use Kentucky-sourced pumpkin, and spicing of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. They then age this beer in Kentucky bourbon barrels for six weeks to achieve some round bourbon and some vanilla tones. It is a great addition to their lineup, and has been talked about as the first of a number of new seasonals to be offered by Alltech’s Lexington Brewing Company. So look out.