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Kelsey drinks beer: Kentucky Beer Dad
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Kentucky "Beer Dad" is a collaboration between Atlanta Brewing Co. and Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery in Atlanta. - photo by Austin Steele

If you haven’t heard of a lagerwine, that’s because it technically doesn’t exist.

When I tried Kentucky “Beer Dad,” I didn’t think twice about its high gravity and bourbon notes, assuming it was some of the best barleywine I had ever tasted.

The beer was made as a collaboration between Atlanta Brewing Company and Max Lager’s Wood-Fired Grill & Brewery in Atlanta.

But I kept coming back to that word, lagerwine, there on the can. What in the name of Dionysus is a lagerwine? After searching and coming up with nothing, I decided to call up the Beer Dad himself, John Roberts.

Roberts — also known as J.R. — is the brewmaster of Max Lager’s and has been brewing beer for more than 28 years.

After years of throwing around the idea of making a special brew together, Roberts said he teamed up with Gavin McKenna, the director of brewery operations at Atlanta Brewing Company.

“We didn’t want the beer to come out tasting like barleywine and we didn’t want it to taste like a strong doppelbock,” he said. “We manipulated the recipe and blended pilsner malt and pale ale malt, as well as some other things. I think we did a pretty good job of making it come out exactly the way we were envisioning.”

One of the basic differences between barleywine and lagerwine includes the type of yeast strain. Instead of fermenting the beer with an ale yeast, which is how barleywine is made, Kentucky “Beer Dad” uses lager yeast.

The red-bearded man printed on the beer’s can happens to be Roberts, who inspired the brew’s name. Roberts said he didn’t know he would literally become the face of the beer.

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Kelsey Podo. - photo by Austin Steele
“It’s weird seeing it in the store,” he said. “I saw it at a package store, looked up and those cans were staring back at me.”

Coming in at a whopping 11.8 percent alcohol by volume, the Kentucky Beer Dad taps into subtle flavors that are often difficult to find in barleywine.

The beer is aged in Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels, and it tastes like it. But my favorite surprise involved the traces of dark chocolate, toffee and raisins that hung around after each sip.

This is a big beer in big cans — Beer Dad comes in 16-ounce cans and has a full-body, so I’d dub it as a dessert-replacement beer.

All in all, the Kentucky “Beer Dad” is a beautiful, scrumptious beer.