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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine - Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

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

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BA SCORE
98
world-class

543 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 543
Reviews: 183
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 8.56%
Wants: 1,185
Gots: 108 | FT: 10
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: 543 | Reviews: 183 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ColdPoncho
4.05/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Winter Solstice 2010. ABV on bottle listed as 15.1%

A - the pour is a light amber color, but the body fills out to a more robust reddish color with a modest ring of foam around the edge. it's mostly translucent, with hints of orange light peeking through.

S - I could smell it as soon as I started pouring - lots of malt. Up close, the bourbon is the first thing you get, then some vanilla, wood, and alcohol.

T - Bourbon and vanilla and wood, and a touch of raisins are the first things you get. If you look hard enough, behind all of this there is a strong malty character of a barleywine. But overall, this tastes like bourbon and booze. There's a dryness to it, which might be hop-induced, but I think it's more from the wood.

M - very smooth and creamy, a really big beer.

D - This is too powerful, and with too strong a taste of alcohol (let alone the effect of it) to be highly drinkable. It is smooth and tasty, of course, but still something that will have to be respected and not drank quickly.

Photo of ChrisPro
4.08/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz 2010 thanks to jrallen34

A - dark orange with very little head that dissipated in seconds. A bit of chill haze

S - Tons of caramel, vanilla and a bit of biscuit and popcorn. The sweet smells dominate, but some complex malts there as well

T - Great sweet caramel followed by a huge hit of bourbon. THis is perhaps the strongest bourbon taste I've ever had in a beer. I'd swear there is a shot of booker's in my glass. I wish there was a bit more sweetness to balance it, but if you love bourbon, this is ideal!

M - Despite all the solid bourbon flavor, there is virtually no head. A year has done this beer well apparently. Not too oily, and nice full bodied. Very little carb, but that's exactly what I want in a BA barleywine.

O - Fantastic beer. Extremely well made with no apparent flaws. I wish there was a bit more residual sweetness, but this is a stellar barleywine.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.08/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

recieved via trade with mrandypandy! Thanks Andy!

Vintage 2010.

poured into a tulip.

Appearance: A glowing brownish amber colored body with no head at all; a very small ring of white head around the glass is hardly noticable.

Smell: This beer smells really sweat! Malt bomb for sure! Caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits, toffee, vanilla, and of course oak!

Taste: Moderate sweetness, this beers nose follows the taste. Vanilla and barrel notes hit strong right away. The malty backbone is quite noticable too. The caramel and brown sugar are really hard to miss and make there presence known! Dark fruit linger in the background with the wood notes of the barrel. It gets boozey quick and stays boozey through the aftertaste. The booze tends to mute most of the flavors.

Mouthfeel: full bodied beer with low...virtually no carbonation. This beer is syrupy and heavy.

Overall: This is another great Kuhnhenn offering, but it needs more time in the cellar. When the heat dies it will be out of this world! Its a great nightcap for a cool night just like this evening in Illinois.

Photo of madtowndmb1
4.08/5  rDev -8.1%

Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.08/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed this blind, thanks to abraxel... 2011 vintage...

A: Pours a murky brown, with absolutely no head at all, just some thin whisps across the top of the beer. No lacing as it drinks.

S: The nose is sweet of malt, caramel, figs, dates, and vanilla. It’s a nice mélange of those notes.

T: It’s sweet to start, with the beer getting a little funky in the middle (but in a good way). I get malt and caramel up front. I get the fruit notes (fig and date) in the middle, and I get some seaweed like funk in the back end. Seaweed notes tend to turn me off, but this is actually really pleasant.

M: Full bodied beer. Sweet and syrupy, coating, and mild linger on the back end. Not an easy drinker, but it’s very enjoyable.

O: Really nice beer. I’d have to be in the mood to want to open this beer, but it’s really good.

Photo of KAP1356
4.1/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to bdberr for this one in a trade. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle from the 2010 release. ABV is listed at 15.1%...

A - Pours an almost opaque dark maroon-brown color. A very thin eggshell white head forms and quickly recedes to a collar of the same color.

S - Wow. Very thick dark malts, caramel, vanilla, oak, and nice bourbon all coming through. There are some dark sticky fruits coming through as well; prunes, dates, figs. Some slight cherry there as well.

T - Nice dark brown sugar and dark malts right away. Right after that is a sweet bourbon, vanilla and spiciness which really adds nicely. The dark fruits are there but much more subdued on the palate; I assume from the presence of the bourbon barrel aging. Really strong bourbon presence, which for a bourbon lover like me, is very very nice.

M - Very smooth and a nice full medium to full body on this one. There is a bit of heat from the alcohol and a slight burn on the back palate. Low carbonation, but not all too detrimental.

D - I think this will be a far superior beer with some age on it. That said, this is quite a solid offering from Kuhnhenn. Such a smooth beer for the high ABV. The nice little bit of bourbon heat adds nicely and I really dig it.

Photo of HopHead84
4.1/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1/15/2010

2009 vintage. Bottle received in a trade with Masterski, to whom I still owe beer. Thanks a lot Alex. The beer pours ruddy rust water with a thin layer of bubbles resulting from a vigorous pour rather than carbonation. Thick legs on the glass presage the ABV.

The nose is of figs, dates, vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar. Bourbon is very powerful and alcohol heat is palpable, stinging my delicate nostrils, an offense I don't take lightly. Other notes are of toffee and wood. It smells excellent.

The flavor is boozy caramel with a heavy dose of bourbon. Sweetness is at an upper moderate level but it's never cloying. Figs and dates are perceivable, and vanilla is prominent. Alcohol is painfully evident in the flavor; I taste every bit of the 14.5%. At first I thought that it was at a very tolerable level, but as I made my way through the 12oz bottle it began to wear on me. I suppose it's partially my fault for drinking the entire bottle myself. Warming is evident in the bourbon laden caramel finish. The beer is nearly flat, but it's something I've come to accept with the higher alcohol examples of the style. The mouthfeel is sticky and smooth.

Kuhnhenn's Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine is an enjoyable, albeit potent barrel aged barleywine. I like a high level of alcohol heat in beers of this style, but this became a bit distracting and detracting. If the alcohol abates with age, and precluding an infection in the bottles, I daresay this will be great.

Photo of waltersrj
4.1/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle from splax23 (thanks buddy)!

Pour: Reddish brown hue when held up to the light. The off white head is sparkling like a champagne but quickly disappears. Fine bubbles are left around the edge of the glass.

Nose: Molasses, brown sugar, toffee, slight caramel, vanilla (more as it warms), slight oak, toasted coconut and sweet remnants of bourbon. The alcohol is also quite prevalent in the nose which I've found in every Khunhenn beer I've tried.

Taste: Slightly oxidized malt, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, toasted coconut, sweet bourbon and oak.

Mouthfeel: Slightly drying with an initial alcohol burn. This is between oily and watery, pretty nice actually.

Overall: This beer is pretty fantastic and gets better as it warms. I think the alcohol is over bearing at first but the taste gets better as it warms. The slight oxidation is moderately off putting but that's the only real strike against this beer.

Photo of JAXSON
4.1/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours a clear plum/orange with a thin ring around the edges. Nose is wonderful -- thick malt, spicy oak, a nicely weaved sweet bourbon, and a vinous note with plums, raisins. Flavor begins with sweet brown sugar and a light hop note, then rolls into the oak, dry and spciy, and the bourbon. I like the marriage of base beer and bourbon barrel here -- not so overt but powerful, nicely done. There are some faults here, as the booze is a bit heavy on the finish, and there's kind of a hole in the back palate. In style this is akin to Wooden Hell in a way, but it's not as nicely realized.

Photo of raveskdr
4.13/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Finally got a chance to try this. Big ups to Thorpe429 for getting me a bottle. Served in a FFF Teku glass.

A - Mahogany brown with some reddish undertones. Slight carbonation that recedes to the edge of the glass.

S - Sweet caramel and the bourbon from the barrel dominate the smell. Slight vanilla as well.

T - Sweet caramel up front, from the barrel and from the malt. Vanilla in the mid palate and on the back end. Slight alcohol burn, which is to be expected.

M - Very velvety and smooth. Good carbonation for the size of the beer, and a good lingering sweetness.

O - I really like this one. Just a super solid bourbon barley wine. Definitely up there near my favorites. This is from 2011 so it has a bit of time. On the second tier of BBBW (only 1st/god tier BBBW is King Henry, imo).

Photo of srandycarter
4.13/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Cola colored, small near white head leaves fast. Some spotty lace.

S - Fruity! Lots of booze, definitely wood, brandy like, burnt candy.

T - OUch. Hot. Boozy, rich and sweet, carbonation and booze burns the taste out dry at the end.

M - Full body, enough carbonation to carry it off, last part of balance is to the sweet.

D - Palate killer and equivalent to almost 3 beers in alcohol. Definitely not a session beer.

Photo of afausser
4.13/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Brooklyn tulip and split with CrellMoset.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy, muddy, mahogany toned brown with a very slight cream head. Tiny carbonation bubbles are just barely visible, and the head--which is now just a faint ring--is made of these very tiny bubbles, but other than that, there is hardly any movement. Nice sheet of lacing that immediately slinks down the glass. Looks very boozy and has a consistency reminiscent of syrup.

Smell: The nose on this one is huge--and very smooth and sweet. It smells quite strongly like a blend of of caramel, vanilla, cherries, molasses, and heavy raisins and prunes. Slightly spicy when agitated. There's quite a strong hint of coconut, which is a nice touch here. Heavy dark sugars and very syrupy. Slight wintergreen as it warms, but this does not overwhelm the other flavors and mostly comes across as a cool, snowy type of sensation in the nose. Dominant notes as it warms are the molasses and wintergreen. This is just about exactly what a bourbon barrel barleywine should smell like.

Taste: The taste is entirely less sweet than the smell, spicy throughout, and the high ABV is quite obvious. That said, it IS a Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, and does have some dark fruit characteristics--rum soaked cherries in particular, but some raisins as well, and there is some sticky molasses evident along with very heavy alcohol. Finishes with a bit of hops, slightly bitter, earthy, oaky and spicy, but just barely there before fading away. As it warms, molasses, caramel, toffee, mint, and heavy rum, bourbon, and clove spice dominate, but there is still a quite heavy raisin note blending in underneath. Gets a bit closer to the smell as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Dry, and burns a little bit going down, but this doesn't seem to affect the taste (well, at least not in a negative fashion). Just only slightly carbonated--anything more would probably kill this one stylistically as well as make it far too hot. There's almost no aftertaste--perhaps a slight molasses/raisin blend, but it's very subtle. A heavy brew and goes down a little slick. Consistent and well-balanced.

Oh, this is definitely one to sip. There's only so much you can take into account the ridiculously high ABV here paired with the dry mouthfeel--there's a point at which a brew is simply less drinkable due to alcohol content, no matter how delicious or well crafted. That said, I would love to be able to have this one again, and again, and....

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.

Photo of akorsak
4.15/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Foofaa for sharing.

A: The barleywine is a pretty orange-brown color that I'd be inclined to call auburn. The fuller body renders the ale opaque.

S: The nose has two distinct features. The first is a strong bourbon aroma, featuring vanilla and brown sugar. The second is an intensely caramel malt presence that has the aroma of an ale brewed with super-heated stones.

T: The malt side stands out upfront, with caramel appearing in alternating strong-weak blasts. Behind the malts, the bourbon lurks. As it comes to full strength, vanilla, dark fruits and brown sugar all appear in succession. The strength of the beer is deceiving, rarely indicating that it is more than 10%.

M: The mouthfeel is softened by a diminished carbonation. The punch of the malts, off and on flavor-wise, is nice.

D: A few sips is good. Anything more and the heavy pricetag kicks you square between the eyes. A full, malt-centric barleywine if ever I've had one.

Photo of CraftFan5
4.15/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Photo of Overlord
4.15/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks Masterski!

Pours a brown, ruddy color. Maybe a few stray bubbles on side of glass. Basically a completely flat beer. Not low carbonation, it's flat.

Smells like vanilla, bourbon, a whiff of coconut, dark fruits, and like generally sweet "malt." And alcohol heat. Whoa, so much alcohol heat.

Taste is really sweet, with bourbon-y, vanilla-y malt, a ton of caramel and brown sugar-y, teeth rotting sweetness, and an almost candied dark fruit background. The alcohol folks. The alcohol makes this more akin to having hard liquor than beer. Completely flat mouthfeel, but at least its' a fairly thick brew.

I probably enjoyed drinking this a lot more than the score would indicate, but to be fair, it's got some problems that perhaps only time in the bottle will sort out.

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.

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.

Photo of jaybags
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of jethrodium
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle generously shared by colonelforbin. Thanks Mike. Pours a dark brown with very small white head that settles to a ring and leaves close to no lacing on the glass. The aroma is big caramel, toasted marshmallow, bourbon, toasted oak, and vanilla. The taste is sweet with oak, caramel, bourbon, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla. The finish has a bit of lingering oak. Medium-full body. Low carbonation. Quite enjoyable.

Photo of farrago
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pouring heartily right into the center of the glass yields close to zero head, hence can't be any lacing either, right? Murky copper orange to brown hued liquid, more orange and general glow further near the rims, remains translucent not opaque. The nose betrays the bourbon immediately but thankfully not the alcoholic burn, vanilla, butterscotch, dutch chocolate, caramel leap to the fore, behind these come candied orange peel, cake batter, ginger and a blend of banana, peach and maraschino cherry fruit scents, underneath lies a subtle lactose funkiness. Full-bodied without seeming heavy, the density comes mostly from the strong bourbon character as well as, here, the alcoholic burn. Vanilla, butterscotch, caramel comes with a little licorice, ginger root. Clamps down a little too hard to give free berth to the orange peel, apricot, peach, cherry, banana fruit, ends on a drying note. The carbonation is somewhat inactive but what's there is fluffy like a cotton ball. For its type, good drinkability but I would still characterize it as along the lines of a "dessert beer." (12/09 vintage)

Photo of siege06nd
4.18/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my CBS snifter. 2011 Vintage. Huge thanks to ChadlyG for this one!

A: Pours a ruddy brown/copper color. Very murky and cloudy. Absolutely zero head, kinda disappointing, but not surprising considering the ABV on this. Almost zero lacing as well. Beautiful color, but the lack of any head or lacing whatsoever knocks this down a bit.

S: Can smell the barrel on this from over a foot away. The bouquet is filled with ripe dark fruit, caramel, vanilla, raisin, and some hints of tobacco, cherry, and just a hint of leather. Something just a little bit dank and rotten on the back end of the nose here. Detected the same characteristics in BB4D, so perhaps it is the barrels these are aged in. That little "offness" holds this one back just a touch.

T: Nearly perfect. Thick, creamy caramel, ripe figs, plums, and raisins. Plenty of vanilla and bourbon notes, along with rich, dark chocolate and just a bit of oak char. A spectacularly complex flavor profile. As it warms, toasted coconut becomes more apparent. Excellent.

M: Flavors are well balanced. Could use a bit more carbonation, as the finish overdoes it just a bit with the sweetness. A touch more carb would take some of the edge off.

O: There are better barrel-aged barleywines out there, but not many. This doesn't hold a candle to the likes of King Henry or Mother of All Storms, but few things do. On its own, Kuhnhenn BB Barleywine is a good example of quality barrel aging elevating what is likely a fairly pedestrian base beer. I enjoyed this one and will age the other to see what time does here.

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.

Photo of KevSal
4.2/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

been waiting to try this guy, finally got a chance tonight. big thanks to dblab33 for the hook up. i need to get my hands on more kuhnhenn brews!

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

a- very little head. looks a lot more like a ba wee heavy, like bog water. murky reddish orange brown with nearly no head. doesn't look too spectacular, but its expected.

s- tons of sweet malts, hint of cherry, toffee and a nice whiff from the english barelywine base.

t- loads of flavor on this one! some sweetness from the malts and vanilla from the barrel. not too much Bourbon on htis one but a enough to hint its there. slight alch burn in the finish along with a bit of cherry, which isnt very much at all. these guys hold the secret. certain flavors in there keep this one from beering great, cant put my finger on it.

m- thick bodied, almost chewy. the heftiness works great to layer the flavor on the tongue.

o- very good beer! theres a few things i wish were present, that "something" (which ba 4d seems to nail it just right). if you got the chance, go for it, very nice treat.

edit: woa 14.5! i didn't realize this guy was that high. man these guys are the king of disguising the booze

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.

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 543 ratings.