Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

Today’s review is of a delectable Imperial Stout that I have now enjoyed on three occasions, the Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout.

Image, courtesy of Natuba (
Brewed by the Blue Grass Brewing Co., Louisville, KY; 8.5% ABV

The Blue Grass Brewing Co. offers a variety of beers, one of which is their seasonal bourbon barrel. 

All three of my experiences with the Jefferson’s Reserve have occurred at Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Park Lane Tavern.  Two of the tastings were excellent, and one was simply good.  I can not pinpoint the reason why the second tasting was not as exceptional as the first and third.

During all three occasions, the stout was poured from tap in to a snifter.

I enjoy most deep, big-bodied beers.  I usually prefer varieties that are hops-rich in nature, and the Jefferson Bourbon Barrel is certainly not that; it is, however, deep and big-bodied.

I first sampled this beer before ordering, and noted that it was a “smack in the face,” a “direct hit,” with a “violent smell.”  To me, these are all great qualities.  During my first full tasting, all of these qualities persisted and I greatly enjoyed this Blue Grass Brewing Co. offering. 

During the second experience, all of these qualities were much more subdued.  I noted this to my trusted bartender and, upon his sampling, he agreed.

However, during a third flirtation with the Jefferson’s Reserve stout, all of those same characteristics from the first tasting were again present.  In fact, it was during this most recent sampling that the bourbon most directly exhibited itself, and in a highly satisfying fashion. 

This is a very good Imperial Stout.  It may not be as heavy (in texture) as some may desire from a dark beer, but its complexity and richness more than compensate.  This is a beer that one more “experiences” than tastes.  Perhaps this would not be the beer of choice to recommend to those more accustomed to lighter brews, but to those desiring a beer to sip and savor, this is one that I would surely suggest. 

And savoring is the method of choice with the Jefferson Bourbon Barrel.  It may be a bit much, both in richness and alcohol volume, to serve as a session beer.  However, it is a near perfect brew to partner with, say, good conversation. 

Out of ten, I would rate Blue Grass Brewing Co.’s Jefferson Bourbon Barrel an eight.  I recommend locating a tavern that offers it on tap, making a friend amongst the bar staff or a like-minded beer advocate, and enjoying it while engaging in friendly craft beer conversation. 

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