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Beer garden: Warm up to beer aged in bourbon barrels

7:46 PM, Nov. 21, 2012
Beer Garden
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale will warm you up on a chilly day. / Tony Giberson/pnj

The first real cool air of fall is upon us, and our thoughts begin to turn towards ways to ward off the icy fingers of the season. Many among us reach for that bottle of the brown. Fall is the time for whiskey.

Bourbon from Kentucky, in particular, is a favorite. Itís also a traditional pairing with beer. There are those who prefer slamming down a neat shot and chasing it with gulp of beer, and then there are those who cut out the middleman.

The Boilermaker. Take a big, cold beer, drop a shot of whiskey down into it and chug. Call it the original beer bomb, call it a bad idea Ö call a cab.

No one is certain where the drink derived its name. The most logical conclusion is that it was named after the hardy men who constructed boilers for factories. Laborers who worked long, grueling hours had very little time at the end of the day to sit back and enjoy a few pints.

Not everyone out there who doesnít mind a good drink or two wishes to become quickly inebriated, however. No need to pile on the liquor, thankfully. Thereís a way to have the best of both worlds without double-teaming your liver. Age the beer in used bourbon barrels.

When liquor is distilled, itís inherently clear and, mostly, flavorless. Color and depth of flavor comes from aging the liquid in oak barrels, fire-charred barrels in the case of Southern whiskey. The aging process impregnates the wood with the resultant flavor and, in turn, can impart those flavors to other beverages.

New to our area is Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltechís Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company. These guys donít need to procure bourbon barrels from elsewhere; they make everything themselves. This caramel-copper colored ale gives up its head fairly quickly but shows nice carbonation. The nose is, to me, not overtly whiskey-ish but still gives off sweet malt and caramel cream like a Brachís Maple Log. Another candy comparison shows up on the palate with Wertherís candy backed up by toasty vanilla and buttered popcorn. The mouth feel is smooth bordering on slippery, with an 8.19 percent alcohol by volume providing the warmth.

Hopjacks Filling Station, 3101 E. Cervantes St., Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen and Taproom, 10 Palafox Place and 204 E. Nine Mile Road. 497-6073, or visit

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