Saturday, 4 December 2010

Open It! - Lexington Brewing Co. Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

I promise this won't degenerate into a lot of virtual willy-waving about who has the most interestingly-stocked cellar, but I've just been down to mine and crikey, I've got a lot of old tat down there.

Sure, I have some interesting bits and pieces. There's some of the last vintage of Gales Prize Old Ale from the Horndean Brewery, a couple of aged Orval, a Marble Decadence, and so on. Arguably, any of these would be a better choice of beer for Open It! than the bottle in front of me. But in some ways, I have more curiosity about this beer than anything else in my cellar. I sort of know how the Orval will be, and that the Gales POA is going to be a disappointment - horribly flat and sour, a shadow of the great vintages that Gales produced through the 1990s.

The only thing I know about this beer is that it came from Andreas Falt at Vertical Drinks, after a trip to the USA. He handed it to me and said that he thought I might find it interesting. I even had to look up the brewery on RateBeer, although I didn't look at any tasting notes (although I couldn't help but notice the score - 65 overall, and 92 for the style). And so because I knew nothing about the beer, I kept looking at it wondering when I was going to open it, until Open It! came along.

Straight from the freezing cellar, it pours golden and pin-bright. As it warms up, a little vanilla oak and spirit lifts from the glass along with a faint hint of something bacterial - lacto? aceto? The palate is - as the admen love to say - clean and crisp, and the finish is vaguely plasticky, reminiscent of sucking air in through an old chewed Bic biro. Mercifully, the finish is fairly short.

Maybe I should go and grab that Marble Decadence?


  1. Warning: My last vintages of Gales POA were bloody awful, as dead as a dodo, I kept one for a curiosity value but the rest went down the drain — on the other hand the same brewery’s Trafalgar beer looks good in the bottle when held up to the light.

  2. Adrian - yes, I'm not holding out much hope for them. I've had good ones from the mid-90s, at the Gramercy Tavern in 2007. I wonder if there are any stocks this side of the pond?

  3. I've got 3 bottles of 2006 Gales POA laid down in my beer 'cellar'. I bought them when my son was born and was planning on drinking one on his birthday. Last birthday I had a bottle of Fullers 2006 Vintage Ale. I'm not holding out much hope for my Gales now!

    Cheers, Zac.

  4. Anon - drink one and report back! Cheers to you too.

  5. I dont mind the still lambicesqe latter POA vintages.

    I had the kentucky bourbon ale the other week. big barrel character , lacking 'beer' character I thought.

  6. Are you drinking that sans Andreas Falt?

  7. If were all going to be 'willy waving' around town then I can only say that all the 'open it' articles I've read so far are all beers that are comfortable in my cellar. And will be for a few years yet, apart from yours Zak, so I guess you win! Is it just me but does it sound like Gales POA should be in a nursing home? (Decadence Frambozen - so good!!)

  8. Kieran - that's an interesting point of view. Maybe if I hadn't had 'good' bottles of POA, I wouldn't feel so disappointed by 'bad' bottles. Maybe I haven't got an open enough mind, or maybe I've heard to many tales about the poor sanitation control at the old Gales brewery to want to have an open mind. Or maybe I should just Open It! tonight and see for myself. And you're right about the lack of beer character - it was more like the results of 'grogging' than it was a beer.

    Barry - I bow before your wit, sir!

    Ghostie - there's no willy-waving here, just the observation that sometimes a beer that you know nothing about has a greater pull than one you know is going to be spectacular. Sort of an inverse Reluctant Scooper, I guess.

  9. Surprisingly, I've been most interested with what people actually have - despite normally shying away from such pissing contests. There have been some awesome-sounding beers out there!

  10. Didn't open a Gales last night as I'm keeping the '06 bottles for my son's birthdays.

    However I did open a JW Lees Harvest Ale 2005 which was rather nice. It seemed to have mellowed really well and didn't taste anywhere near its 11.5% ABV


  11. I have had "good" or unsoured vintages as well. I like them both.

  12. Leigh - fair do's, and you're ig, there have been a few interesting oddities out there.

    Zac - I'm struggling wth Lees Harvest at the moment - they just seem so tooth-rottingly sweet.

    Kieran - I've drunk more bad than good, but only just.


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