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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine - Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley WineKuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

507 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 507
Reviews: 180
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 8.56%
Wants: 1,166
Gots: 100 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  14.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-17-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 507 | Reviews: 180 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Mondiale 2007. Dark brown body with amber highlights. A great soapy white head. Very fresh tasting, vanilla and caramel. A very good bourbon barrel effort, and a great matchup of barleywine. 14.5% was extreme and it was a good thing this was my last beer of the night. Had the 2010 and was good though not best, great aroma though coconut dominated taste.

Sammy, Jun 01, 2007
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev -9.9%

t0rin0, Oct 19, 2012
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour provided by myself at the blind barrel aged barleywine tasting hosted by DarthKostrizer.

Thanks to FINEBEERGUY for this one!

2011 vintage.

Pours a slightly murky brown with a khaki head that fades to nothing. There is no lacing on this one. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, and some alcohol. Taste is much better with malt, brown sugar, caramel, wood, and bourbon flavors. There is an alcohol kick in the throat with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a nice smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good barleywine that tastes much better than it smells.

UCLABrewN84, Apr 11, 2012
Photo of zestar
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%

zestar, Nov 21, 2013
Photo of spycow
4.75/5  rDev +7%

spycow, Jan 12, 2013
Photo of Thorpe429
4.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at the Kuhnhenn Brewery, 12.27.2009.

Just stopped in to pick up one of the remaining bottles of Fourth Dementia (thanks to all the BA's who pointed this out in the Great Lakes forum), and we were lucky enough to catch the 2009 version of this on tap at the brewery.

7oz pour into a mini snifter.

A: Dark caramel with some closer-to-gold hues. Bronze and a small off-white slash tan head. Moderately transparent, and somewhat of a glow. Minimal lacing.

S: The smell is immediate bourbon. Underneath the bourbon comes a malty balance including caramel, raisins, a bit of dates, hints of vanilla, toffee, and a wee bit of oak. The bourbon was definitely one of the dominant flavors, but didn't quite overpower like it does with the Perfect Storm.

T: Much like the smell, and the complexity really hits you, with each sip revealing more flavors. As the beer warms, the bourbon mellows through, and out comes a bit of malt sweetness, some nice caramelization, toffee, and a bit of woodiness. A touch of spiciness as well.

M: Quite full bodied and the alcohol doesn't come through nearly as much as would be expected from a 14% beer. Nice and chewy throughout.

D: Very, very drinkable. It was quite sad running out of this, and I would absolutely love to get my hands on a bottle to see what a few years does to this one. As it is, I'm quite glad we were lucky enough to catch this one in time--props to my parents for deciding to move to MI and give my wife and I an excuse to stop by and try this one out.

Thorpe429, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of nmann08
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%

nmann08, Jan 16, 2012
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.4/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle: Poured a deep amber color ale with a very small foamy head with minimal retention and lacing. Aroma of bourbon with distinctive vanilla notes is quite powerful with some deep caramelized sugar notes and lingering sweetness. Taste is also a very interesting mix between some deep bourbon notes with some balanced vanilla and sweet malt notes. Body is quite full with medium to low carbonation and no apparent alcohol. This one is a sipper and I could not consume vast quantities at the same time.

Phyl21ca, Jun 17, 2011
Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -9.9%

GRG1313, Feb 09, 2013
Photo of mikesgroove
4.97/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A first things first, huge, enormous thanks goes out to Jay for hooking this one up. This has been a mission of mine forever and I owe him for that! Twelve ounce bottle was chilled down to cellar temperature as soon as I received it and served at the same temperature in a snifter. Consumed on 08/04/2008.

The pour was just what I would have expected. Rich notes of caramel colored brown, with hints of ruby around the edges and a deep, opaque haziness that overtook the entire session. Smallish head of deep tan lace then formed on the top and settled down quickly to just a broken film, but this did the job of thoroughly coating the inside of the glass with abundant lacing throughout the session.

The aroma is the thing that dreams are made of, well Bourbon Barrel dreams anyway  Incredibly subtle, yet complex I have not ever had something this wonderful cross my nose. Rich notes of bourbon and vanilla, so strong, yet so welcoming just layer on top of each other, seamlessly dancing around the effortless profile. Hints of toffee and caramel, some touches of almost some kind of coffee or something, this was incredible. The flavor, I am really having a hard time putting into words, but suffice to say this was by far the best barley wine I have ever had. Complex wasn't the word, started out with big notes of vanilla, coating the tongue and not letting anything stand in its way. Light notes of oak and bourbon starting to come in now as it begins to warm, then the bourbon takes over and starts to mix in with toffee and caramel, some light vinous properties and a touch of spice. There is some light fruitiness going on in here, maybe some fig, some tart cherries, not sure, but it was a nice little splash around right before the finish. And let me just tell you, the vanilla flavor lasted so long, I was still tasting this after I brushed my teeth it felt like, just really tremendously good. This was ridiculously smooth, I cannot even begin to try and get that point across. This was over 14% abv, but I have not had anything in this category. It was amazingly subtle and sublime, complex yet simple. Perfectly aged, yet still vibrant. This is what it should be, what all barrel aged beers should strive to be. Nothing here is overdone, quite the contrary, it is done as just enough.

Overall, wow, this was worth the search, and deserving of the appraise that it gets. It was a whole new level of Barley wine for me, this was exactly what I wanted it to be, exactly what it needed to be. A fantastic brew that literally blew me away. I would love to get this one again, but I know it won't happen. Still though, WOW.

mikesgroove, Aug 06, 2008
Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -9.9%

ygtbsm94, Nov 19, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
4.05/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to hoppymeal for hooking it up with a 2009 bottle of this recently. Shared with friends at an impromptu CBS tasting last night (man, it feels awesome to say that).

A: The pour is a murky dark amber color with very little in the way of carbonation and little to no head.

S: The nose is very heavy on the bourbon, with plenty of sweet molasses, brown sugar, caramel, with a light touch of chocolate. There is also some noticeable alcohol.

T: Like the nose, the flavor is definitely heavy on the bourbon. There are, however, nice brown sugar, butterscotch, caramel, and chocolate flavors with a hint of alcohol heat.

M: The body is fairly full, and due to the low carbonation, quite smooth and sticky on the tongue.

D: While there is a decent amount of heat to this beer, I still really enjoyed the flavors. I think the vanilla and chocolate oxidation flavors go nicely with the barleywine base. Perhaps it would have been good to let this age for a bit, but it's still enjoyable fresh.

womencantsail, Feb 04, 2010
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of JAHMUR
5/5  rDev +12.6%

JAHMUR, Nov 15, 2011
Photo of largadeer
4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Another long-time want generously shared by ipa247. Thanks, Jeff. This review is for the 2009 vintage. I was able to sample the original 2005 batch a couple of times this year as well and found it more enjoyable than the '09, with greater oxidation and mellow alcohol and an excellent balance of wood and bourbon flavors.

The beer sits in my glass a near-lifeless mahogany color. Clarity is excellent for such a big barleywine. While the occasional bubble can be seen rising to the surface, this is very lightly carbonated.

This beer absolutely reeks of bourbon barrel, but it's pleasantly warm rather than nostril-singing. Dark fruits, caramel, leather and a touch of earth bring complexity to the table. This smells great.

Bourbon is unsurprisingly dominant on the palate, but there's a huge malt backbone to support the strong barrel character. Sweeter notes of caramel, vanilla and dark fruit are nicely balanced by the woody tannins and sharp alcohol. Full-bodied, syrupy, and perhaps a bit too boozy, but still thoroughly enjoyable. The finish is biting and hot, but not unpleasantly so, though those that dislike a noticeable heat in their beer may find this harsh.

largadeer, Jan 14, 2010
Photo of TMoney2591
4.2/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Three Floyds tulip pint glass.

Big thanks to therealnomayo for this bottle!

2010 vintage. The final beer this evening, a sort of leftover from our last major tasting. I love having plenty of good bottles around... Anyway, it pours a clear sunset amber topped by a short lived half-finger of dirty off-white foam. The nose comprises buttery toffee, bourbon, and light vanilla. It's rather simple, but pretty tasty. The taste brings in more of the same, along with some light oak and some additional toffee. Damn good stuff here, especially with the alcohol being almost completely masked. The body is a hefty-feeling medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and a thickly slick feel. Overall, a beer worthy of the hype it receives. I enjoyed this bottle very much.

TMoney2591, Apr 25, 2011
Photo of Kegatron
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap @ The Great Taste of the Midwest (Madison, WI) on 8/14/10. Dispensed from a little keg carried on the back of "Spaceman Todd" during the event.

Pours a murky brownish caramel color, with (to be expected) just a very light smattering of bubbly off-white head which quickly scatters and leaving just the tiniest smattering of light spotty foamy down the sides of the glass. The aroma has a lot going on with it. Cocoa, some dark fruit, burnt smelling molasses, vanilla, and brown sugars notes all make an appearance. There's a good bit of woody tannic character present from the barrel which lends this a green feel in the nose. Unfortunately, the warmth of the barrel is also VERY strong here and threatens to overpower some of the flavors in spots. You gotta' dig deep to get to the goods in this bouquet.

The taste is fairly similar to the nose and if anything, runs maybe even more intense with flavors of chocolate, toffee, fruit, and those unmistakable notes of vanilla and burnt molasses from the bourbon barrel. The woody character is also VERY strong here, giving the overall profile an earthy tannic feel that blends in effortlessly with some very light herbal hop activity that hangs in the background. The mouthfeel is chewy, thick, and hot, and to its credit I guess, it's tough to figure out if the extreme heat is coming from the ridiculous ABV or the obviously very fresh barrels that these were aged in. I'm betting more on the fresh barrels, which is a credit to the depth of flavor here helping cover up the high alcohol in the body.

Still too young and raw to really call this world class, I can definitely see though why the aged 2005 vintage is so highly sought after. Let some of that heat mellow off and this stuff will be outstanding in a couple of years. I'm going to have to seek a bottle or two of this out.

Kegatron, Aug 19, 2010
Photo of MasterSki
4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

'05 Vintage - Brewery Aged version from the '09 Winter Solstice Party. Served in my Darkness snifter.

A - Wow! A hard pour yields a half-finger of toffee-colored foam that dissipates slowly to a thin ring and some haze. There are even a few spots of lace. Lots of bubbles on the sides of the glass. Body is an opaque milk chocolate color. Impressive for a 14.5% beer from 2005, and one of the best-looking Kuhnhenn beers I've had (which ain't saying much).

S - The smell is wonderful. Caramel, bourbon, burnt brown sugar, dried dark fruits (raisins, dates, figs, prunes), lots of oak. The booziness of the '09 has subsided quite a bit, and only pops up when the brew is at room temperature. Reminds me of Abacus quite a bit, which is high praise, but it's a bit more mellow.

T - Tons of caramel, molasses, spiced rum, anise, chocolate-covered cherries, and burnt sugars. There's some light oxidation, but you can tell this was aged in a keg and not in the bottle. The finish is incredibly spicy, oaky, and tannic - perhaps even too much at this point, as it lingers as an aftertaste for more minutes than I had the patience to measure (as I was reaching for another sip by then!). Surprisingly mellow and smooth for something so strong and boozy when fresh.

M - The body is actually a little thinner than it should be for such a high gravity brew. Otherwise it's very smooth and soft, with very low carbonation that is style-appropriate. After about half-a-glass there's some nice alcohol warmth and a nice buzz building, but that's not wholly unexpected for something this strong. Basically if it were a touch more viscous and chewy it'd be perfect.

D - I've managed to drink an entire 12oz bottle of this beer (both the '09 and '05) on a few separate occasions. It's a slow sipper, but never becomes a chore. The tannic and oaky flavors become a bit tiring, but otherwise it's about as drinkable as a 14.5% beer can be. I think I like Abacus more, but this is still quite excellent.

MasterSki, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of jlindros
4.29/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to rudzud for sharing this interesting beast.
2011 vintage.

Pours no head, like nooo head, light legs but not as clingy as I thought, murky weird molasses maroon color.

Nose is incredible, bourbon city, tons of toffee and caramel, nutty, a nice soft aged malt thing too, bit of a raisin and brandy soaked raisin, very light booze warmth, touch of vanilla barrel and great bourbon. Just a faint hint of oxidation which keeps it from epic status.

Taste starts great but has a weird flavor, slight bbq like sauce but very light, perhaps oxidation. Other than that very nice, tons of bourbon and mild vanilla barrel, lots of toffee, caramel, little molasses, more brandy soaked raisin, mild bitterness too. Finish is nice, bit more bitter, hint of warming booze, more toffee, brandy raisins, bourbon and little barrel.

Mouth is a bit thin but not too syrupy, how it has so much and yet not too heavy or boozy, but too light on the carb.

Overall great, just that one bbq sauce possible oxidation thing, otherwise nice bourbon, toffee, brandy raisin, malts, etc.

jlindros, Feb 09, 2014
Photo of drabmuh
4.2/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by beergirl8 in a blind taste test. Thanks.

Beer is dark brown and hazy wtih a thin broken white head of small and large bubbles that fail to rally to form much lacing on the glass. Carbonation appears low. Looks "to style" to me for a bourbon barreled barleywine.

Smell is nice and liquor. There is a lot going on in the aroma of this one, not my favorite out of the three but probably the middle one for me. This one has a lot of complex malts and caramel with raisins and stone fruits all mixed in with some bourbon, fun.

The taste is as complex as the aroma in my opinion with the exception that the taste has more oak in it than the aroma. Maybe I just missed the oak but it is present in the taste. Lead off is sweetness with the stone fruits and raisins to follow. Beer is lighter in body than I expected and finishes a little dry. A good beer overall.

drabmuh, Jan 06, 2011
Photo of oline73
4.45/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy mahogany with hardly any carbonation. By the time a touch of carbonation has showed up it is off white, but it goes away immediately. 3.5

Smell: Sweet and malty, I'm picking up a bunch of caramel and some bourbon. Smells a bit like barleywine candy. Getting lots of dark fruit as well. 4.5

Taste: Follows from the smell. This beer is a bit hot, but that is to be expected given the fact that it's so young and the abv is so high. Sweet caramel malt with dark fruit and some vanilla notes. Warming bourbon and more sweetness in the finish. Very good. 4.5

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side with mild, tingly carbonation and a slick finish. 4.5

Overall: This beer is fantastic. Really sweet and warm, but that was to be expected. I would like to get some more of this to let it sit for a year or two and see how it is at that point. 4.5

oline73, Feb 25, 2012
Photo of mendvicdog
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%

mendvicdog, Oct 23, 2013
Photo of mdfb79
4.2/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From 01/15/12 notes. Big, big thanks to Thorpe429 for sharing this one, a big Want of mine. Thanks Mike. 2011 vintage I believe.

a - Pours a dark amber-brown color with one inch of white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of bourbon, caramel malts, toffee, oak, vanilla, roasted malts, toasted malts, and burnt malts. Some very nice bourbon and caramel in the nose, I like it a lot.

t - Tastes of bourbon, caramel malts, toffee, oak, toasted malts, burnt malts, light fruit and vanilla, and alcohol. Very nice again, though a bit hot, so docking it a bit.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. A nice mouthfeel but docking it a little bit due to some alcohol heat.

o - Overall I thought this was another great barleywine from Kuhnhenn. While I don't think this is as good as 4D and BB4D, I thought it was a ton better than their American Barleywine. Great nose and I bet with some time on it this could become a world class BBA barleywine. Would love to have again.

mdfb79, Jan 23, 2012
Photo of Mora2000
4.33/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle.

2009 vintage. The beer pours brownish-red/amber color with a white head. The aroma is awesome. I get a lot of bourbon, but also some orange citrus, caramel and brown sugar notes. The flavor is heavy on the maple with some brown sugar, vanilla, alcohol, caramel and bourbon. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

A very nicely done bourbon-aged beer, that I am very happy I got to try.

Mora2000, Sep 14, 2010
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +12.6%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 26, 2011
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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 507 ratings.