Bourbon Barrel Stout Showdown!

Have I mentioned that football season is my favorite time of year?  Nothing brings back my memories of college football games like the smell of bourbon.  While I am certainly a beer lover by any definition, I am also a bourbon fan.  I’m not your garden variety bourbon fan either – I am a proud card carrying Senior Ambassador for Maker’s Mark.

Anytime a genius brewmaster concocts a bourbon/beer combination, I am going to give it a try.  So far, I have not been disappointed.  My favorite bourbon beer currently is the Brick Mason Ale from Red Brick Brewing in Atlanta.  I’ll write a review later this fall for you, my constant reader.

A while back I came across bourbon barrel stout from two different brewers, so I picked them up and have been saving them for a comparative review.  There’s no time like the present, so here we go!

First up is Bourbon Barrel Stout from Bluegrass Brewing Company (BBC) in Louisville, KY.  Clocking in at 8.6% ABV, this is not designed for chugging.  Poured into a goblet, this stout is black with a creamy, tan head that disappears at a moderate rate.  You immediately notice the aroma of bourbon, with hints of chocolate in the background.  The mouthfeel is thinner than I expected for a stout, but it wasn’t unpleasant.  This beer tastes quite nice – the bourbon is present but not overpowering.  As you would expect from the aroma, there is a chocolaty taste behind the bourbon that is delicious.  I would call this a good dessert beer, especially after a steak dinner.

Now we move on to Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Stout (KBB).  At 8.0% ABV, this beer is not a lightweight either.  KBB pours black and has a beautiful creamy tan head that persists just a tad longer than the BBC offering.  The bourbon aroma is present, but it doesn’t smell quite as sweet.  The mouthfeel is also thin for a stout, but just a bit thicker than BBC.  You certainly get a taste of bourbon with each sip, but rather than a chocolate background, KBB offers a slightly less sweet flavor that is more coffee like.

Once (twice?) again, I have enjoyed the bourbon/beer marriage.  These beers are both quite tasty and I would drink either one again in a heartbeat.  If your palate is more comfortable on the sweeter side, choose the BBC stout.  If you are more of a hoppy, bitter finish fan, the KBB is the one for you.  Either way, you can’t go wrong!