Cocktails are back in a big way, and now there’s a new way to enjoy the most iconic of them all – the Old Fashioned. A limited summertime beer release from Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. puts a new twist on the Southern favorite, with Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale. Ideal for fast-approaching Derby parties or late summer evenings on the patio, the cocktail-inspired brew will conjure up the sights and sounds of bartenders in starched shirts and white jackets, ragtime and the unmistakable clink of ice in a rocks glass.
Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale is a subtly sweet, citrusy ale brewed with orange peel, then aged with tart cherry in fresh bourbon barrels and bitters barrels. It debuts this week in local markets, and will soon reach other domestic territories in limited supplies.
The Old Fashioned cocktail is said to have originated in Louisville, Kentucky in the late 1800s, at a private club called the Pendennis Club, in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper. Pepper was a prominent bourbon distiller in Lexington, Ky. whose thoroughbreds raced in the Kentucky Derby.
Though bartenders still debate the best way to make and garnish the drink, the Old Fashioned is a cocktail traditionally made by muddling sugar with bitters, adding bourbon, and sometimes also muddling or garnishing with cherries and orange.
“Cocktails are big right now,” said Ken Lee, master brewer for Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Co. “The cocktail culture has definitely seen a resurgence in recent years, and we wanted to salute a cocktail that is beloved here in Kentucky, the Old Fashioned. Making a beer inspired by the cocktail was both a lot of fun and a challenge for us to make. We even used bitters as well as bourbon barrels for the aging process. We figured what better brewery to make a beer like this than one that also produces its own bourbon and is known for its barrel aging?”
At 10 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), Kentucky Old Fashioned Barrel Ale seasonal release has a suggested retail price of $14.99 for a four-pack. The brew will also be on tap at the upcoming Alltech Craft Brews & Food Fest Saturday, May 16 in Heritage Hall at the Lexington Center in downtown Lexington. Advance tickets are on sale for $30 at Eventbrite.com.
Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company’s barrel-aged seasonal program allows the brewery to brew unique beers outside of its year-round offerings to experiment with new tastes and ways of barrel aging. The brewery regularly ages 3,000 to 5,000 barrels at a time, and handles up to 1,000 barrels per week.