#24 Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale: Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., Lexington, Kentucky
State: The Bluegrass State is home to the Bourbon Trail and Tobacco Road. As the second largest tobacco producer in the country, it’s economic impact on the state is almost $4 billion–meaning about a third as much as Thoroughbred racing and breeding. Kentucky is also, according to the DEA, the second-largest grower of wacky tobaccy in the union.
Brewery: Alltech Lexington—the qualifier comes courtesy of the biotech parent company founded by Dr. Pearse Lyons. In a roundabout way, he created the brewery since Guinness wouldn’t initially hire him to be a brewer despite getting working his way up from glorified gofer to graduate of a master brewing and distilling course. Now the brewery (and distillery) is a teensy part of his larger multinational empire, but one that marries the new yeasts they design with the “angel’s share” of the bourbon whiskeys that surround My Old Kentucky Home.
Beer: Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale gets overlooked, if not wholly dismissed, by beer snobs since it doesn’t emanate from the likes of The Lost Abbey or Founder’s Brewing (two estimable breweries that concoct bourbon-aged beers.) Shows you what beer snobs know since this beer, rich and velvety on the tongue and endowed with vanilla and cinnamon from the spent oak, has earned a combined seven gold or silver medals from the likes of the World Beer Cup. Having said that, it’s clearly not everyone’s cup of tea since some of the judges ranked it near the top of their scoring sheets while others…did not.
Difficulty of obtaining in Oregon: Distributed generously around Kentucky and sparingly in parts of the Midwest and Northeast (as well as China, South Africa, and Ireland!) our sample was obtained by the author who bootlegged it back from Kentucky in increasingly bottom-heavy trunk of his car.