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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine | Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

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BA SCORE
96
world-class
202 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
202
Ratings:
722
Avg:
4.34
pDev:
8.76%
 
 
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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley WineKuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-17-2003

User Reviews
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Reviews: 202 | Ratings: 722
Photo of IMFletcher
3.86/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2014 bottle pour; Nice amber color, not as dark as expected. Nose is completely inviting, all the characteristics of a great BA barleywine. But then you taste it. Thin in an alarming fashion, and an odd finish that worsened as it warmed and caused me to react like I was drinking something especially tart (though it wasn't tart at all).

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.99/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Founder's CBS snifter. No bottled on date, but it's 2015 edition, so maybe 4 months old at this point.

A: Pours a very murky brown. Medium to full body. Lace of an off-white head lingers.

S: Very nice mix of fig, raisin, vanilla, oak, char, molasses, cherries, bourbon. Nothing comes up too strong or faint, but you can pick out each one as you take one waft after another.

T: Big notes of raisin, fig, vanilla, caramel, bourbon, molasses. Very sweet up front, but finishes with a nice warm up from the bourbon.

M: Nice and full. Light carbonation. Most amazing thing here is how well hidden the ABV is and how little sting you get from the bourbon, yet retaining all the flavorful aspects that the barrels impart.

O: In my BCBBW review, I mentioned this beer as probably the only other BA Barley Wine I like more. And well, yeah, that's pretty much confirmed now. This is a beast of a beer, but without all the traditional harshness and booziness of high ABV BA beers. This one comes through super drinkable and pulls off this amazing feat off pulling all these flavors from the barrels, but not leaving behind any boozy or strong whiskey flavors. Some people actually like barrel-forward beers, and I enjoy them too, but I really have a strong appreciation for when beers can use them, yet still be very pleasant and drinkable. One of the best beers from Kuhnhenn and one of the best beers around, period.

Recommendation: A Winter Solstice exclusive, but should be on your Must-Try list.

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Photo of LAp
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into a nearly-snifter-size-and-shaped wine-glass (the closest thing to a snifter I have on hand right now). Pours a beautiful, viscous, cola color, with a thin miniscus of rapidly dissipating head. Nose is sweet white wine, currant, and honey; strawberry jelly, and caramel. The nose is tremendously complex, with layer upon layer of scents. Palate is corn syrupy malt, with a distinct but not overpowering undertone of bourbon. There's a boozy warmth here, befitting the bold 14.5% abv, but once again it is subdued (I expect it will develop as the beer warms). The mouthfeel is almost creamy. Overall, perhaps the best entry in this style I've tasted. This beer nails the beautiful complexity possible with barleywines, without straying from the distinct palate of flavors that make the style to distinct. A beautifully crafted beer.

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Photo of Hootie159
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 From bottle. Looks like blood in the mud water. But in a good way. Oily film on top. Smell reminds me more of an old ale. Toffee, caramel, sweet bourbon. Taste significantly improves as it warms. A sweet candi sugar and bourbon pair wonderfully with the traditional English barleywine taste. Despite some of the other reviews, I don't find this to be hot or overly boozy. Feel is nice and has a smooth carbonation. A little thin. This beer does definitely sneak up on you, though.

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Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2013 at a blind tasting of 12 barleywines

Smell is raisin, fig, licorice, bourbon
Taste is huge dark fruit, bourbon, fig, watery, caramel, red apple

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Photo of SerialTicker
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Part of the Kuhnhenn 2015 Winter Solstice mixed pack ... $35 for the pack = $8.75 per bottle. Haven't had this yet, but only heard good things.

Appearance: Poured looking infected or something -- I say that because it looked like liquid caramel. Very strange but nice. Thick/viscous. In the glass it's a burnt caramel brown color with a lot of hazze. A surprising little ring floats on top of the beer.

Smell: Caramel and toffee with quite a bit of booze and barrel. Butterscotch as well? Super aromatic/potent. Very slightly burns my nostrils. Smells of a delicious, quality barleywine with a bit of a unique twist thanks to the unexpected but very welcome butterscotch aroma. As usual, the coconutty and vanilla-y accents from the barrel are what's really making this smell great.

Taste/feel: Maybe too big for its own good...? Tastes like a beer most people would say "This needs to be aged.", but I don't believe much in aging... if a beer has to sit in the basement for "x" years before drinking, then I don't think it should be brewed. Anyway, this is possibly the biggest beer I've ever had, and I've had quite a few big beers -- even ones with a higher ABV than this. This is super hot and boozy.Flavors are all over the place: like the aroma, toffee and caramel, oakiness, quite a bit of bourbon, and alcohol are all present, especially the booze. Unfortunately, the intense heat and strong, strong alcohol flavors are taking precedent over all else. It's strange to me that the alcohol is hidden quite well in the aroma, but in the taste, it's insanely potent -- especially when, strangely enough, the beer is on the colder side. I don't find myself getting any dark fruits, bizarrely enough.The feel of this beer is pretty nice: great (unexpected) moderate carbonation, with a medium -- yet stilky -- feel. I think most impressively about this beer, it's not at all overly sweet. It's one of the more balanced 15% beers I've had.

All-in-all, great beer that could probably be amazing if the alcohol wasn't raging so hard in the flavor. As it warms, the alcohol (I think) fades a tick for some reason. This let's a toffee and caramel oaky coconut flavor really come through and provide a pretty unique flavor experience. Phenomenally boozy, but if you can get past that, you'll really enjoy this. I think this would be a mindblower after a few years in a cellar, but again, I don't believe in buying a beer just having to wait however long for it to perfect itself.

Worth a purchase, the price, and the experience, without a doubt. In a word, intense. The alcohol is too strong for my liking (something you will NOT hear me say very often), but the other flavors are very balanced and quite good.

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Photo of thatoneguymike
4.52/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with no head, almost cola-like. The nose.... certainly off-putting. Smells like rubbing alcohol cut with caramel. But the taste, though....the taste saves this, and is a nice mix of caramel, vanilla, dark fruit, and just a touch of hops. The mouthfeel is nice and sticky too, and finishes with a lingering heat that goes so well in these cold winter nights.

One that I never sought out, but certainly glad to have tried, and would definitely recommend, even to those who normally say 'nay' to barleywines such as myself.

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Photo of Dactrius
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.25

Practically completely still. Smell is easily among the best of any barleywine I've had, tons of caramel. Taste follows suit but doesn't quite live up to the amazing nose. Feel is the weak point and I really wanted this to be more carbonated. A great barleywine that could've been one of the best ever with more carbonation.

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Photo of Lazhal
3.69/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2014 vintage, poured into snifter.

The is by far the most disappointing BB Barleywine I've had. While it isn't hyped per se, given how well it ranks among barleywines, I'm surprised I didn't enjoy it very much.

One thing that really hit home, was the label says its 14.5% alcohol. I'm considerably LESS bombed after a 19% 120 Minute. 14.5% has to be a mistake. Jesus, what's my name again?

Look - meh
Smell - great
Taste - Tastes like sweet alcohol. Alcohol is hidden well for the 30% this thing must clock in at.
Feel - I can't remember anymore.
Overall - Trading the rest of these. Or hell, I might pay people to drink shots of this and watch them fall on the floor.

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Photo of brentk56
4.23/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2010 bottling

Appearance: WIth a bubbly froth that fritters away to a ringlet, the liquid beneath is still and Bourbonesque, with a brilliant, burnt caramel color

Smell: Boozy Bourbon aromatics, with toasted coconut, vanilla, caramel and oak,

Taste: Somewhat oxidized flavors right off the bat, bringing toasted coconut, Bourbon, vanilla and dry oak aspects; after the swallow, the dryness builds, with subtle fruit flavors adding another dimension; tannic finish

Mouthfeel Full bodied, boozy and still

Overall: I have had this in my cellar for some time now and, while the oxidation is more than I had hoped, this is still a powerful beverage

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Photo of DaveBar
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had their $4.95 6oz pour at the brewery that came back a solid pour. Served in a snifter at 7deg C.

A- Poured a 1" high white head that filmed out in 3mins. Thick looking foam let me tell you. Red/Brown colour and filtered clear

S- Oodles of orange peel, malt and hops but above all else..... HEAT and lots of it.

T- Super sweet. The heat is intense but it is a nearly 15% alcohol brew. Lots of clove, hops and spice. Very well rounded brew to say the least.

M- Sticky. Unbelievably sticky. SO much sugar

O- Nice brew. Like the blend but the heat takes this rating down a touch

Food Pairing

This very good brew would go well with....... Braised short rib au jus. Backed onto some root veggies and a sautéed baby bok choy in a vinegar/soy base.

Enjoy

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Photo of PHBoiler
4.14/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Loads of toffee on the nose. Hints of fig and raisin. Primarily burnt caramel and toffee throughout the taste. Overly boozy and hot. Nearly still. The mouthfeel doesn't have the body to carry the high ABV.

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Photo of StrongRepublican
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rich and bright shade of amber with red and golden accents. Virtually no discernible head, but a very thin pale collar. Huge sticky legs drape the edge of the glass. Closer in appearance to a well aged bourbon than a beer.
S: Massive oak and toffee, lots of sweetness, some dusty chocolate/cocoa powder, burnt sugar, and molasses with some booze/alcohol notes at the end.
T: Boozy, no question about that, the alcohol hits up front with a punch that combines with massive burnt sugar and charred oak to explode across the palate. Toffee/vanilla/caramel follows with hints of dark fruits - cherries and plums mainly - and cocoa/molasses/leather/tobacco. The barrel dominates throughout the very long finish even over the sweetness and booze.
M: Slightly thinner than expected but has a definitely syrupy note, lots of residual sugars. Carbonation is medium, slightly low, but perfect for the style. Just a tad more body would be nice.
O: This is exactly what I expect from a BA Kuhnhenn beer - deep and complex, incredibly sweet and chewy, lots of alcohol but not overwhelmingly boozy. Very well crafted.

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Photo of unclekeith
3.99/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep amber with minimal head. Malty and sweet booziness on the the nose. Not as sweet as I expected. More oak than bourbon. Good backbone with some bitterness. Well balanced. Solid barleywine.

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Photo of justinp444
3.97/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter it pours a hazy darker amber brown with a quickly dissapating beige head. Smell is cherry, bourbon, leather, sweet malt, caramel and vanilla. Taste is much the same with earth, caramel, molasses, cherry, vanilla, oak, leather, lots of bourbon, sweet malt, toast, and a bit of chocolate. I am getting a little bit of butter, diacetyl, I think this bottle was infected. It has a crisp full mouth feel and a body.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle received in a recent trade with mikeyson4, thanks man. '14 vintage, aged in the barrel for an extra 4 months, apparently.

This one pours a medium dark clear amber, with no real head or lacing.

This smells just absolutely fantastic, huge caramel, brown bread, tons of bourbon and barrel, and toffee. The aroma is super super strong here.

As this warms, it becomes super super hot and boozy, but it still tastes quite good. So much caramel and vanilla, and a whole lot of bourbon. There's some astringent oak that I could just also be confusing with the astringent booze. There's some mild dark fruit, toasty brown bread, caramelized sugar, and some kinda earthy spices or something.

This is medium bodied, and fortunately remains not syrupy, which could get tiring. The 14.5% ABV is definitely present- warming and hot, hot, hot. A definite slow sipper.

An awesome and intense barleywine, I think this will age very well. As of now, it's very boozy, so that may fade with time.

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Short Review. I've been wanting to try this beer for a very long time and I'm happy to finally get to try, it's very good and it lived up to my high expectations, the bourbon barrel is strong and the barlywine base is just what I want with some nice rich flavors that go well with bourbon barrel. I really need some bottles of this. Highly recommended if you like the style. It's a boozy sipper, but damn is it tasty.

2016 UPDATE. I got a bottle of this 2015 Vintage as a Christmas Gift. Poured from a foiled brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks good, it's got a classy look to it and it's eye catching. It poured a nice brown color that took on more of a caramel color when held to the light with a little under half a fingers worth of bubbly tan head that died down to a thin ring that eventually faded away and it left a little bit of spotty lacing behind. This is a good looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a higher amount of sweetness with a big bourbon and caramel like aroma being the first to show up and it followed by some vanilla, lots of sweet malts and some dark fruit aromas. Up next comes a little bit of an oak aroma with some raisins coming through and it's got more of that bourbon and caramel coming through along with a noticeable boozy aroma. This beer has a very nice aroma. it's what I would expect for the style and the bourbon was showcased nicely.

T- The taste seems to be very similar to the aroma and it starts off with a higher amount of sweetness with the bourbon still being the first to show up and it imparts a nice mixture of bourbon, oak and vanilla flavors that are showcased nice and they are followed by the malts which impart a some caramel and sweet malt flavor. Up next comes a pretty big boozy flavor followed by the raisins which shows up towards the end along with pretty much no bitterness with the sweetness and booze taking it's place with some bourbon, sweet malts, raisins and caramel showing up in the aftertaste. This is a very nice tasting beer, but it's very sweet and boozy.

M- Not the smoothest. pretty warming, pretty boozy, not too crisp, full body with a lower amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is nice, but i wish it was smoother and not as cloying and boozy.

Overall I thought this was a very nice beer and a very good example of the style, it's very intense that's for sure and it pushes my sweetness and boozy tolerance to the brink. This beer doesn't have the best drinkability, one is the perfect amount for me, but it takes me a long time to get through it. What I like the most about this beer is the taste and aroma, they were very nice and had some great complex flavors and aromas. What I like the least about this beer is the sweetness and boozyness, I know that's how it should be, but I wish it was toned down just a little. I would buy this beer if I had ever had the chance and I would recommend it to anyone who likes big and boozy barrel aged barleywines. All in all I was very happy with this beer and I was impressed how much complexity and rich flavors they packed into this beer. IT's on the better Kuhnhenn beers I've had and it's a great example of the style. Good job guys, this one tasty and intense beer.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle from IAmJacksHopTongue (many thanks!). 2014 vintage. Served in a Barrel and Barley teku.

Pours an attractive reddish chestnut with less than a quarter finger cap of ecrue froth. Anything that would have been called head is gone soon after the pour. Some impressive legs form after a quick swirl but there is no lace to speak of.

Smells of sweet bourbon, vanilla, coconut, oak, caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Those sweet aromas welcome a sip.

Sugars and booze drive the flavors. Bourbon, burnt sugar, toffee, caramel, vanilla, cereal grains, mild herbal bitterness, brown sugar, oak and a hefty whallop of alcohol. The flavors play well off of each other with nothing seeming out of place in the blend. Despite the undeniable heat this goes down with an ease that belies the 14.5% abv.

Full, almost syrupy feel with soft carbonation. The aftertaste is lingering, hot & sweet. Notes of bourbon, burnt caramel, toffee and a mild bitter herbaceousness.

Kuhnhenn has yet another excellent barrel aged offering with their Bourbon Barrel Barleywine. It comes accross as just a bit hot but is a pleasing quaff nonetheless. As with everything else I've had from Kuhnhenn, I was quite happy to have a chance to try this and would love to try one with a little age at some point.

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Photo of dar482
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A 2014 vintage.

Having this next to Aaron, this was quite disappointing. The beer was hot, watery with some spicy hops on the back. Some sweetness balances this beer out, but in general, tastes more towards an barrel aged American Barleywine.

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Photo of blankenhoney
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle from the 2014 Winter Solstice release, savored from a snifter

A: BBBW pours clearer and thinner-looking than I was expecting, with absolutely no head. Kind of a deep brown or mahogany, with bright ruby tones.

S: Aromas are fantastic: old-smelling wood; ripe cherries, dates, and raisins; a little bit of vanilla; and a nice touch of straight alcohol.

T: But the taste is where this one heads to another dimension: an incredible blend of wood, alcohol, red fruits, and butterscotch. Everything the nose promised, and more.

M: Mouthfeel is surprisingly light and on the thinner, vinous side. Essentially no carb.

O: A world-class English barleywine, and a great way to wind down the weekend. Loved the strong wood presence, the slick mouthfeel, and everything about the way it tastes. This is about as good as a BA English barleywine gets (though it didn't unseat what I think is the king of the style, Mother of All Storms).

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Photo of BarrytheBear
3.96/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Still pour with a wonderful nose of liquified butterscotch. Taste just can't match and is very brown sugar forward. A nice treat and surprise...thanks, Kyle!

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Photo of Jeffo
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Dad got me this one when they visited the brewery in MI a while back. Thanks heaps for going down there and picking me up some stuff. Cheers!

From a bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2011

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, medium looking, off-white film that quickly recedes to a bubbly ring only. Clear, dark maroon red body with no carbonation evident. A slight ring remains leaving no lacing down the glass. Nice looking barleywine, though the head could leave a bigger mark on the experience.

SMELL: Piles of bourbon, oak, vanilla, coconut, caramel and toffee on the nose. Hints of milk chocolate as well. Very barrel heavy, but very complex and enticing as well. Great.

TASTE: Excellent. Oak, bourbon, alcohol in just the right amount, red fruits and caramel sweetness up front. A big and flavorful finish of bourbon, oak, vanilla, more caramel and toffee, with light notes of milk chocolate lingering on the palate. Very bold and flavorful with some well measured alcohol tying it all together.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Semi-creamy on the palate, goes down fine with a bit of a burn at the swallow and finishes slightly sticky. Some heat lingers.

OVERALL: Really, really good. Quite strong of course, but the alcohol never overpowers. Lots of aroma and flavor all over the place and a good feel to support the show. A great bourbon barrel aged barleywine; very much enjoyed this. Thanks again dad! Highly recommended.

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Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A perfect BA Barleywine. This beer really brought me from BA stouts over to BA Barleywine. When done well, the extra hardiness brings a little extra flavor and enjoyment to the overall profile.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.99/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 winter solstice release
The beer pours much darker than the regular barleywine - a very dark brown with a loose off-white/slightly grayish head and no sediment. The nose has deep notes of bourbon, leather & raisins, slight booze, and mild sweetness/fruit when it warms. The taste is a rush of barrel flavors, heavy on the oak tannins and bourbon caramel (definitely more more balanced as it warms) that transitions into the warming caramel/vanilla notes in time. It's full bodied, bold, and slightly syrupy with minimal carbonation with some harsher oak bitterness, which cuts deeply into the beer's bready body and leaves burning ethanol on the palate after each sip. I prefer the regular FGR barleywine in mouthfeel, but think this will not disappoint someone looking for big barrel notes in a bbbw.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.01/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a snifter glass at Churchkey DC.

A deep mahogany to dark chestnut brown along the edges. Only a thin presence of tan bubbles but very tiny and uniform makes a collar around. Looks a lot like King Henry. Seems it might be a bit thin also.

Quite a warm but not too boozy nose. Light oak, heat, and this large sense of nutty tannic quality.

Palates comes with a bit of a surprise. Big wetness and not much round oak aging character in the feel, for a barrel aged beer. Flavors do come out to play though. Dark chocolate comes out quite a bit more with some alcohol like a bottle of Godiva liqueur. There's a great sense of chocolate macadamia nuts all rolled into this almost like a bottle of Frangelico as well. Subsequent sips come in with lots of stomach alcohol warmth.

Overall though it doesn't have enough beer style character and is slightly heavy on the booze. But it's got impressive flavors to round out everything else going on.

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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 202 ratings.