10/21/19: Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company's Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale

7:59 PM

It's a rainy night here in east-of-Cincinnati, middle-of-nowhere Ohio. I'm sitting inside (my posts over the last few months have all been typed on my front porch, meaning that this post is the first to actually mark how the changing seasons are affecting my habits) while good, spooky music pours out of my speakers.


The beer open and on the coffee table before me is the biggest yet for the season: Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale. It's tantalizing, and I cannot wait to tear into the brew. So, let's have it.

The ale's brewed by Lexington Brewery & Distilling Company (whose "About Us" page doesn't list where the brewery's located but, thankfully, the "Tour" page does: it's--shockingly!--Lexington, KY, folks). Pearse Lyons, the guy behind Alltech, founded the place in 1999. Since then, they've come into their own in the beer world through their Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale and its family of beers. Oh, they also distill bourbon and are an official stop on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, to boot.

Kentucky Pumpkin Barrel Ale (I'll be referring to this simply as Kentucky Pumpkin from here on out) boasts a sizeable 10% ABV. It's brewed with pumpkin and spices (nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon) before settling down to age in bourbon barrels. Those barrels impart notes of vanilla and caramel to the ale's spicy, pumpkiny base. While it's not stated anywhere on the brewery's description of the ale (which is what I've linked to at the top of this paragraph, if you haven't yet figured that out), I'm  anticipating a heavy dose of booziness from bourbon barrel aging. 

The nose is almost what I expected. Here, let me tell you what I thought I'd get: Pumpkin spice, bourbon barrel quality (booze, oak, vanilla), and pumpkin. In that exact order. What's actually here is: Boozy warmth coupled closely with the vanilla and oak from the barrels, followed by a slight hint of pumpkin gourdiness and a small wallop of spice, in that exact order. So, everything I hoped to find is present, but the ratios are off. But, this is still a mighty pleasurable bouquet, unless you're Purrl, who gave my bottle two whiffs before refusing to pass her nose near it again.


The flavor profile of the ale isn't what I was anticipating. Sure, it's big and boozy, especially in the middle and during the exceptionally long finish. In the fore, though, is where all of the actual flavor is packed: pumpkin (a very small amount), pumpkin spices (an amount only slightly larger than the pumpkin), and the vanilla oakiness from the barrel (this is the most pronounced flavor here). Really, if I didn't know this was a pumpkin ale, I wouldn't peg it as such.

The mouthfeel is akin to that of a cream ale. It's not as sharp and punchy as a standard ale is, which is fine because sharp and punchy wouldn't fit well with the alcohol qualities of the brew.

I drank jungle juice at a party one time and one time only. I was there when one of the hosts was making it. It was a ton of gas station vodka and a ton of gas station bourbon mixed together in the bathtub of the house with a few gallons of store-brand punch. I can still vividly recall the stuff's taste: mild, sugary fruity flavors immediately overshadowed by the sheer volume of alcohol. It was, however, jungle juice, so that's what we all expected and, furthermore, it got the job done. The boozy flavor of that was similar to the boozy flavor of Kentucky Pumpkin. Take that as you will.

You know, I was really excited for this beer. I had a bourbon barrel-aged pumpkin brew last year that was amazing. This, however, is pretty mediocre. The pumpkin is pretty nonexistent in the flavor and the spices don't fare much better. If you're looking for a boozy brew, this ale'll do the trick. But, if you're coming to it for the Halloweeniness, don't expect anything I'd rate higher than a 7.0/10.

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