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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

508 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 508
Reviews: 180
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 8.56%
Wants: 1,170
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: 508 | Reviews: 180 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WeisGuy
4.6/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle also had on-tap at the Solstice Party

a - pours a deep copper color with a minimal ivory head, slightly hazy but fairly clear, retention around the edges only and not much lacing

s - big caramel malt aroma mixed with vanilla, oak and big bourbon notes, the alcohol is prominent but not overwhelming

t - as with the aroma, big toasty and sweet caramel flavor up front with considerable oak and vanilla flavors on the mid-palate, big bourbon notes on the finish with some toast and oak mixed in, alcohol is pretty powerful but it works with the flavor profile, that said, I think this would benefit from sitting in the bottle for a bit longer, very complex

m - full-bodied and low carbonation, fairly sweet and hot finish, big alcohol warming effect

d - the definition of a sipper, but that's what the style is all about, I give it points for being interesting and complex, this beer also evolves as it sits in the glass

Really, really good beer overall. I have a few bottles of the 2005 that I look forward to trying to see what this might evolve into over time. Reminds me a bit of the Perfect Storm but a bit hotter.

WeisGuy, Dec 27, 2009
Photo of punkrkr27
4.38/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 bottle. Rusty-brown colored pour with minimal head. Rich candied fig aroma with hints of plum, oak, vanilla, red grapes, red apples, and balanced bourbon. The flavor is candied fruit, rum raisin bread, a little spice, vanilla and a strong oaky finish with lots of booziness. This really drinks a nice mellow bourbon instead of an assertive barley wine. The body is full and velvety with low carbonation and a kick of alcohol warming after you swallow a sip. I wouldn't really try to pair this with anything, but it make a great aperitif after a nice steak dinner.

punkrkr27, Dec 24, 2009
Photo of waltonc
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed a few glasses of this with JoeySchlitz on tap at Kuhnhenn last night. Fantastic stuff. Served too cold in a snifter glass, this poured hazy caramel without much head. At first I wasn't very impressed by this beer, but once it warmed to a proper temperature, it was great. Smells and tastes of bourbon barrel aged goodness, with woody, caramel, toffee, and vanilla notes, as pretty much every bourbon barrel aged barleywine does. But where this really shined in my view is the simple fact that it is so well done - clean, polished, not too much bourbon, not too sweet, not too thick or thin. Everything is just right. And it's really high in alcohol. JoeySchlitz and I were pretty tipsy upon leaving Kuhnhenn last night. Great stuff.

waltonc, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of Deuane
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A healthy 4 oz. pour given to me by a very generous, yet unknown BA at DLD '09.

A-Dark, murky, red tinted, deep brown with a thin ring of light tan bubbles.

S-Huge blast of a complex swirl of aromas. Dominated by a large dose of caramel malts, toffee and turbinado. Subtle hints of orange rind and raisin follow. Ends with notes of bourbon, astringent oak and a hint of vanilla.

T-Dominant caramel malt and turbinado. Oak dryness and vanilla sweetness creeps in underneath the malt onslaught. A bit of alcohol heat in the finish.

M-Medium-heavy, slick and somewhat syrupy. Deep lingering flavours and a nice astringent finish.

D-As good as advertised. This is a BBA malt lovers dream. Nicely done, but I think the sweetness and ABV would slow me down in the end.

Deuane, Apr 29, 2009
Photo of tjthresh
4.15/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours murky muddy brown with large bubbled brown head. The nose is huge with loads of toffee, hops and oak. The flavor is a fantastic blend of toffee and booze. The mouthfeel is thick but very drinkable. The heat from the booze lingers just for a bit.

tjthresh, Mar 03, 2009
Photo of gford217
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of masonjer poured into a snifter. I can't thank Jeremy enough for the opportunity to try this rarity.

Pours a dark murky reddish brown with little head outside of a small ring of bubbles that leaves very little remnants.

The aroma is massive and just explodes out of the glass. It has hints of citrus up front but the caramel malts, toffee and brown sugar really dominate. There are hints of dark fruits, bourbon and vanilla as well, though very subtle.

The taste has the same dominant malt backbone with tons of caramel malts and brown sugar. The wood makes itself felt a little more in the taste with some vanilla hints and the finish has a huge bourbon burn that lingers between sips.

The mouthfeel is extremely slick and just coats the mouth with bourbon and sugary sweetness. The carbonation is almost non-existent.

This is a damn fine barleywine and one that I've been looking to try for a while. I got hints of oxidation in the taste but that's really just nitpicking with such a great beer.

gford217, Dec 19, 2008
Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Purchased at the brewery - summer 2007. I've been looking forward to trying this. The aroma can be detected from across the room. There is a great play between dark fruity goodness, sweet caramel, hints of alcohol and woody bourbon-ness. The flavor is a sweet kiss on the lips with figs, dates, minced raisins soaking in molasses and an absolutely delicious river of caramel candy. A pleasant warming sensation does show up around the finish. Competing with the barleywine flavors but a couple notches below in strength is a bourbon and wood sensation. Very nice compliment creating an enjoyable experience. The after taste is a mix of dark fruit, caramel and hints of wood. The only knock I could find would be the body. It's a bit too thin. Sure hope they plan on making more this next winter.

BigMcLargeHuge, Nov 17, 2008
Photo of egajdzis
4.3/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a brownish amber color with a thin, off white head that left light lacing on the glass. Aroma of raisins, tobacco, smoke, vanilla, bourbon, nutmeg, a bit of oatmeal, char, and alcohol as well. Taste of more caramel malts, cherry, bourbon, raisins, citrus fruits, light nutmeg, dried fruits, chocolate, and alcohol as well in the finish.

egajdzis, Nov 10, 2008
Photo of hopdog
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle acquired in trade with hopscotch (thanks!).

Poured a medium mahogany color with a very small sized off white head. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, citrus, toffee, raisins, plums, and cherries. Tastes of bourbon, caramel, cherries, dark fruits, and toffee. Light alcohol finish. Perfect for our night cap beer!

Notes from and tasted on 7/3/07

hopdog, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of SacoDeToro
3.88/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Carlos for sharing @ the Ballast Point 12th!

Poured a deep ruby with a small off-white lace.

The aroma was full of rich caramel malt, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Some alcohol was present.

The flavor of the beer had a rich caramel maltiness appropriate for the style. It was well infused with prominent notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak, which added tremendous complexity. Some medium dried fruits came through in the palate as well. It did, however finish too sweet, IMO. This bottle was a tad past it's prime. I prefer just a tad bit of oxidation in my American barleywines, but this had gone past that point. The hoppiness was too low for the style.

The mouthfeel was pretty heavy. The body was full and creamy. The carbonation was delicate and was appropriate for the style.

A solid barleywine that exhibits a good barrel character, but not the best example I've had.

SacoDeToro, Nov 03, 2008
Photo of Floydster
4.88/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle generously shared by seaoflament on 10/25/08, thanks to Carlos for going out of his way once again, reviewed from notes, four to five ounces poured into a small sampling glass

A-Color is a dark brown with red hihglights, very small maybe 1/8 inch beige bubbly head that disappears immediately, no retention or lacing
S-First off the smell was outstanding, it had bourbon, maple syrup, dried fruits, berries, raisins, lots of butterscotch, sweet chocolate, toffee, deep caramel scents, vanilla, oak, and dates
T-Flavor was slightly oxidized and that was the first thing I noticed and really the only complaint, the combination of woody accents, big bourbon flavor, caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, dark fruits, and chpcolates was unparalleled, I sipped on this for close to a half hour and it was better with each sip, and very different each time too, starts off on the sweeter side, some chewiness in the middle, slightly dry finish with some booze and sweetness there to balance it out, cannot believe how well the flavors worked together, this stuff is great
M-Hot, sweet, chewy, and sticky mouthfeel, full bodied for a barrel aged brew and on the verge of being syrupy, very low level of carbonation, taste lingered for a long time and was great
D-Could have the drank the whole bottle it tasted so good, but both the alcohol and sweetness would have got the best of me, but the booze are hidden incredibly well for a brew that is near fifteen percent

This was for sure on my top three beers to try list, and the fact that they were only one hundred bottles ever produced made it look like I might not get to try it, luckily I did, going out on a limb here and saying that this is the best barleywine I have ever had, I think this was a 2006 vintage but I am sure this would hold up for another decade, would love to drink this again but not likely, cannot recommend this enough

Floydster, Oct 28, 2008
Photo of seaoflament
4.6/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A big thanks to my buddy Russ for trading me this bottle. You told me that this would be one of the best beers I will ever have this year and you're probably right. Shared this one today with Kyle and a few other people at the Ballast Point 12th Anniversary Fest.

Pours a vibrant brown color with some ruby edges. Thin head on top with a skim ring on the edge.

Wow, lots of bourbon notes, raisins, brown sugar, and molasses are the first things I detect. Lots of sugary goodness in this beer, caramel and candied yams. This beer has a complex malt profile.

Again, wow. Dark fruits, cherry, sweet strawberry, and rum soaked raisins. Caramel and butterscotch in the aftertaste. Milk chocolate becomes more apparent after it warms up. The beer develops more of a nutty profile too, with roasted almonds in the aftertaste.

Such a smooth beer for 14.5% My only complaint would be that the finish is a tad too sweet. Still, this is one of the best, if not the best barleywine I've had so far. I easily took 20-25min finishing off my sample of this, I just didn't want it to be over.

seaoflament, Oct 26, 2008
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 ncvbc
4.98/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Murky, rusty, red with brownish hues. Thin tan head that fades to a ring. Slow rising carbonation. It looks potent.

Smell is pretty remarkable. It's soft, subtle, and insanely complex. Bourbon and vanilla seem to blanket a vast assortment of aromas. Toffee, oatmeal, chocolate, coconut. Raisin, fig, spice. Too much to mention, really.

How could it get any better? Well, it does. I literally got chills when I took my first sip of this beer. Big, sweet, chewy malt flavors. A perfect warmth from the bourbon that isn't overpowering by any means. Layered with a depth of flavors that I have found in only a handful of brews and they work some serious magic.

This beer absorbs itself into the tongue. So rich and extremely smooth. Perfect carbonation and texture. To be enjoyed slowly but surely as a sipper.

While it is quite huge and needs to be consumed slowly, it's like heaven in a bottle. One bottle happens to be just enough. Not quite the ultimate in terms of drinkability volume-wise but as close as it gets. There are others that I could have more of but I won't savor and enjoy them like this one.

A big, big thanks goes out to grub for the chance to try this most excellent brew.

ncvbc, Jul 10, 2008
Photo of Lothore
4.88/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a ruddy, brownish hue with little to no head.

S- Smell is absolutely phenomenal. Tons of brown sugar, hints of bourbon, fig.

T- Wow. Before describing the taste my first thought is ... smoooth. Starts off slightly fruity, possibly hints of cherry mixed with figs, brown sugar sweetness comes in to balance. The end is an alcohol warming balanced exquisitly with very sweet, sugary notes.

M- Thick with a good bit of carbonation left for a beer this old.

D- This is another out of the park brew by kuhnhenn. I truly hope they produce more so I have another chance to drink this one. The main thing I truly loved about this one was the balance. It was huge yet seemed to balance the alcohol perfectly with rich sweetness that a lot of other "extreme brews" fail to do. Totally lives up to the hype in my opinion. Although there probably aren't many bottles left in circulation, if you have a chance trade whatever you can for this one.

Lothore, May 28, 2008
Photo of nyctreal
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

$6 for a wine glass serving at Spuyten Duyvil in Brooklyn, NY. Apparently it was illegally trucked in by an anonymous individual. Well kudos to that individual and to the folks here for letting us in on the secret. Pretty sure when this one is kicked, that's it. By far one of the best Barley Wines I've had, with the bourbon barrel in no way overpowering the original flavors of the beer. So I'd clearly recommend getting over to try it out. And of course this is privileged info to be kept between you and me, and any one else who would use the knowledge for good.

nyctreal, Feb 22, 2008
Photo of fartingdog
4.58/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours with very little carbonation. Smells of bourbon, vanilla, alcohol. Taste is big and complex- lots going on here. Malty sweetness, bourbon, vanilla, date, plums- it's a constant discovery severy sip. Mouthfeel seemed a bit thin at first, but as you sip it grows nicely. This is definitely one of those beers that gets better with every sip.

fartingdog, Sep 16, 2007
Photo of biegaman
4.95/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine appears murky on first glance but, upon closer inspection, is in actuality very clear. This is a fact easy to miss given the stunning dark crimson colour and gorgeous, blushing scarlet highlights. There are a select few bubbles resting on the surface but no matter how hard one swirls it's impossible to generate any sort of head (though the glossy tracks of liquid tearing down the glass are beautiful).

The aroma is sweet and deliciously rich. The proper use of bourbon barrels manifests token notes of vanilla, oak, and wood spice but they're accompanied by chocolate, dates, licorice, currants and rich, heavenly malts. My god, the malts! With each smell one delves deeper and deeper into the scent, layer by layer becoming more and more sedated by its divine complexities.

Kuhnhenn should have named *this* beer 4D - it has endless dimensions. While giant bourbon-influenced flavours hit the palate upfront, a great depth of slightly delayed and delicious nuances set in after the swallow: tastes of chocolate mousse and truffles, dates and raisins, french vanilla latte, anise, and heavy caramel. It's like a rich dessert that's big in body and luscious in texture.

The use of bourbon barrel aging is appreciable but sensibly done; all the distinction and character of the whiskey is blended with the malty essence of a barleywine, and somehow managed to loose the strong alcohol presence somewhere along the way. How is it that nearly 15% alcohol goes unnoticed? Neither the ale nor the bourbon dominates. They meld and marry, though the mouth is always coated with rich, viscous caramelly malts.

Oh glory of glories, oh heavenly testament to the eternal majesty of God's creation...
HOLY MACARONI! Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine is among - if not the - best crafted beer I've tried. The precision of detail and particularities, the depth of flavour, the sensible use of barrel aging, the sheer quality - it's a downright divine drink. While other brewers may write music, Kuhnhenn writes symphonies. This was something beautiful. Thanks Grub!

biegaman, Jul 23, 2007
Photo of grub
4.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

pulled from my cellar, purchased at the brewery in december 2006.

12oz bottle.

pours deep ruby red, almost burgundy, with just a small ring of dense off white head around the glass. the colour on this is just amazing.

wow. fantastic aroma. huge blast of malt. bread and biscuit. caramel and toffee. raisin and date. lots of alcohol. vanilla and light bourbon.

taste is amazing. everything from the aroma and more. nice caramel sweetness. date and raisin. light bourbon and vanilla. alcohol. chocolate truffle. i could drink this all night.

mouthfeel is excellent. low carbonation is excellent. nice big body.

drinkability is exceptional. very well balanced. definitely doesn't taste like 14.5%. just great stuff. another winner from kuhnhenn.

grub, Jul 22, 2007
Photo of Viggo
4.7/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had at Mondial de la Biere 2007. They give generous samples at the Petit Pub. 8 or so ounces for $5 CDN.

Pours a hazy caramel brown, thin off white head, lace spots, decent retention, head eventually disappears though. Smell is wow. Toffee, bourbon, alcohol, very rich, dates raisons, amazing. Taste is too. Sweet toffee, buttery oak, bourbon, dates, more toffee, bit of citrus, alcohol, super caramelized oaky vanilla goodness, just insane good. Mouthfeel is full bodied with low carbonation, hot going down, just right. Kuhnhenn is amazing.

Viggo, Jul 14, 2007
Photo of weeare138
4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to hopdog for breaking this open...
Appears a semi-transparent amber with a small, off-white head that slowly fades out. Spotty lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of bourbon, caramel, toffee, rock candy, vanilla, flowers, raisins, cherries...very complex stuff.
Taste echoes the aromas with as much complex characters coming through in the form of caramel, ripe fruit, and oaky bourbon.
Mouthfeel is syrupy, sticky, hot, and lovely. This is dessert heaven. More, please!

weeare138, Jul 13, 2007
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 tempest
4.2/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Clark's Ale House.

An incredibly mellow brew. The main flavor and aroma I got pineapple hops. The malt profile was a little too mellow, but there was no trace of alcohol. It was just a smooth sipper. At the end I got some vanilla flavor, but really, the pineapple dominated.

tempest, Mar 24, 2007
Photo of Crosling
4.88/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12’er. What nectar. Dark brown color. Outstanding aroma. Astonishingly complex flavor of absorbed wood (coconut, vanilla, soaked wood, light whiskey) and heavy malt (an array of cinnamon covered fruit, caramel and toffee. Very, very smooth. If anyone has any bottles of this for trade, I am willing to trade heavily for it.

Crosling, Feb 24, 2007
Photo of DrJay
4.45/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed at the brewpub. Clear and brown with reddish highlights. The yellowish, light brown head showed good retention given the gravity and fine bubbles stuck to the sides of the glass throughout. What a beauty. Aromas of toffee, vanilla, wood, light citrus, and mellow alcohol came together nicely. Moderate bitterness that barely keeps up with the other flavours. Lots of toffee and caramel, vanilla, and oak. Hops were quite citrusy, mostly grapefruit, and the bourbon character melded nicely with the alcohol flavour and warmth in the finish. Full bodied with low carbonation, smooth texture with a bit of dryness. Very tasty! The alcohol was really well hidden given the strength of this brew, making for an easy (and dangerous) drink. Another winner from Kuhnhenn.

DrJay, Jan 04, 2007
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 508 ratings.