The Alltech beer and whiskey extravaganza will be returning to the Convention Centre in Dublin this February. The American multinational specialises in animal nutrition but runs a brewery and bourbon distillery on the side as pet projects of the owner Dr Lyons.
I wasn't much of a fan of the flagship bourbon barrel aged ale when I first encountered it last year: there's more than a hint of Innis & Gunn sickliness about it, so I was apprehensive when approaching its stablemates. Kentucky IPA is 6.5% ABV and a very slightly hazy orange-gold. The aroma is pithy with a hint of boiled sweets and the carbonation light and prickly. That candysugar flashes briefly at the start but an assertive bitterness swings in quickly behind it, sharp and mouthwatering, if a little metallic. There are notes of beeswax which make it seem more English than American, despite the strength, and while it lacks fruity freshness or hop complexity, I rather liked its straightforward, plain speaking bitter bite.
To accompany the barrel-aged ale, there's a Bourbon Barrel Stout too, also 8% ABV but this time the beer is robust enough to stand up to the spirit. Not that the two complement each other, just that the beer isn't ruined: what you get is a sticky sweet stout with lots of caramel plus a background buzz of woody bourbon and a pleasant alcoholic heat. I'm reminded a lot of the Innis & Gunn stout, one of the very few palateable beers they've made. This too is palateable but not a patch on the kind of barrel aged stouts produced by breweries of De Molen's calibre, for instance.
By way of disclaimer, both these beers were freebies at the July Alltech event and there was more corporate hospitality at the launch last week of the February event. Thanks once again to the Alltech crew for their generosity.
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