Review: Two Roads Conntucky Lightnin’ Sour Mash Ale

Review of Two Roads Conntucky Lightning Sour Mash Ale from Two Roads Brewing Co. in Stratford, CT.

Beer Type: American Strong Ale  ABV: 8.5%  Tried on draught.

Their Description: “The Connecticut Yankees at Two Roads have CONNjured up this moonshine inspired bourbon-like ale. Using good ol’ USA corn grits and aged in real bourbon barrels from a famous Kentucky distillery, this unique CONNcoction includes notes of whiskey, oak and vanilla.”

The Reality: First off, this beer actually has a lot more going on than just what is in their description. It starts with a light woody scent that has a mild funk and a cloudy brown color. The flavor is a blend of dry tang (not dissimilar to clear moonshine) and subtle bitterness, but not sour, with a bourbon oaky backdrop, but not sweet. The sour mash base is quite unique in this way. It leaves a pervading dryness in your mouth, similar to a sour beer but with no acidity, and it is quite smooth. The “whiskey, oak and vanilla” notes are all there, but again there isn’t any sweetness. I would definitely describe it as well-balanced.

Final Verdict: This beer is really in a category all its own, with a unique flavor profile that even separates it from other bourbon barrel-aged beers. Sure, all those bourbony tones are there, but they are not the star. They are there to mellow the corn sour mash base and add complexity, which they do very well. I really enjoyed this beer, and couldn’t stop drinking it once I started. It just has a “smack your lips” quality about it that is reminiscent of drinking straight white whiskey (moonshine), but without any of the harshness. Can a beer be tart and sweet with being at all tart or sweet? This beer is, don’t ask me to explain it. Also, don’t get the name mixed up when you order it, because after I had a few I accidentally ordered a “Connpucky Thunder” and that’s just when you pay former Hartford Whalers mascot Pucky the Whale to discharge his blowhole in your ear. I know he’s been down on his luck since the Whalers moved, but why would anyone want that!?!