A few weeks back I ventured over to Paramount Ranch for the Topanga Canyon Banjo & Fiddle Contest. The sun was shining, the music was pumping, and the beer was flowing. After several hours of country, bluegrass, roots, western, and traditional music I felt the perfect way to end the day was to swing by Ladyface Alehouse & Brasserie for some dinner and drinks. There cask beer was a barrel-aged version of their Barleywine that I knew I must have.
KENTUCKY BLUE is an American Barleywine with a 10.5% ABV.
A snifter glass soon arrived full of a liquid that I had initially written off as being simply “black” in color, that is until I held it to the light and discovered the ruby highlights. The head is a filmy manilla color with plenty of lacing splashing the sides of the glass.
Trepidation started to creep into my mind after taking my first sniff. The nose was HUGE on bourbon and I was concerned that that was going to be the only thing I would notice in this beer. After a little searching I was able to detect a little brown sugar and red wine notes buried under the booze.
Thankfully the actual beer set my mind at ease. It’s not nearly as overpowering as the nose prepared me for and was actually kind of sweet. It starts with a touch of bourbon, then red grapes and oak, a bit of brown sugar to mellow things out and then another peak at the bourbon. There is a faint red apple fruitiness that appears at the end.
Mouthfeel is light and airy. It goes down smooth with just a twinge of heat from the bourbon.
I was shocked how easy drinking this beer was. The nose is so full of bourbon that I was worried that it would wreck my palate (the habanero drizzle on my alligator flatbread ending up doing that). It is incredibly well-balanced and smooth with the bourbon forward in the taste, but not overpowering. Well done.
Overall: 7.5 out of 10
As a BARLEYWINE: 7.5 out of 10
FOR FANS OF: Uinta COCKEYED COOPER, COAST Brewing OLD NUPTIAL, Central Waters BOURBON BARREL BARLEYWINE