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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine - Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine
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BA SCORE
95
world-class

192 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 192
Hads: 634
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 4.64%
Wants: 1,230
Gots: 137 | FT: 17
Brewed by:
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  14.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 02-17-2003

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 192 | Hads: 634
Photo of Khazadum
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

HUGE props to Alex for busting this out at his impromptu tasting. This bottle is the 2005 vintage. A hefty pour hit my GI tasting glass.

A- Fantastic off-mocha head caresses my glass with minuscule carbonation noted from the body of the liquid. It fizzles down to a faint skin but the lacing on this bad boy is amazing. It sticks like molasses at times. Caramel apple sauce body color.

S- Whoo heavy bourbon after all this time aging. After the spirit smells I find a mixture of sugar and sweets. Its like a big basket of goodies. Raisins that have been breaded in brown sugars. Apples coated in toffee.

T- Initially sour with the fruity nature of apples. Not much brown sugar or raisins here but definitely bourbon to balance everything out as expected.

M- For a bourbon barrel aged beer this is unbelievably smooth. It has an average body that compliments the flavors well. It clearly helps define the flavor profile and generates that somewhat enjoyable finish.

D- I'd definitely say that there is no problem drinking this beer. I want more even and would put away two in a night. I can't believe it is 14.5%. (1,118 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
4.59/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A HUGE thanks to my boy Alex(masterski) for yet another hook up.

2005!!! version...A darkish brown, watery though, semi clear, not much carbonation...The aroma here is unreal, its almost all dark liquid brown sugar, so nice and sweet but with a bite, light wood on the finish, a little vanilla...The taste is almost equally amazing, brown sugar, vanilla is more pronounced, light wood finish. Super easy to drink.

This is the second best bw I've had, right below Wooden Hell.

2010 Version, unreal aroma that is Dr. Pepper mixed with pure malt, awesome. (555 characters)

Photo of Kegatron
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
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. (1,846 characters)

Photo of prototypic
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009

Many thanks to Beerisheaven and JessetheHutt for the bottles.

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine pours a darker, caramel brown. It's full of haze, but has some reddish highlights with backlighting. A very modest, off-white head tops it off. It's barely a surface covering. Retention was on the short side, and lacing was very light.

The nose is very impressive. It has a very rich smelling, sweet caramel malt base. Bourbon is fairly moderate, but easily noted. It complements the sweet, caramel scent very well and isn't overbearing in the least. Dark fruit notes of plum, raisin, and fig are secondary and smell fantastic. A little oak and vanilla creep in the mix late. I'm not getting much in terms of hops. No huge surprise there. Alcohol is noted, but is blended well for 14.5%. This is very deep, complex smelling beer. I might add...it smells delicious.

The flavor is likewise excellent. It has a sweet, caramel malt base that's quite sturdy. Brown sugar is noted and is a nice touch. Bourbon plays its role perfectly. It's moderate in terms of strength, and is a perfect complement to the variety of flavors. Oak and vanilla add nice depth, as well. A little cherry and dark fruit flavors of fig, raisin, and plum emerge. The flavor profile seems to grow deeper with each sip. It's impressive. Alcohol is definitely noted, and runs a tad warm. It's a big, kick-ass Barleywine, so it doesn't have a negative impact on the flavor, but it is there. Finishes sweet, with a tangy, dark fruit aftertaste...and a bit of alcohol warmth.

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine has a thick body that's somewhat chewy. Carbonation is very, very light. It definitely has a smooth feel. I wouldn't mind a few more bubbles though. For such a big beer, drinkability is good. It does run a tad warm, but it's relatively easy drinking. At 14.5% abv though, you must tread lightly.

Kuhnhenn's Bourbon Barrel Barleywine was something I sought out for a long, long time. I had high expectations, and they've mostly been met. This is a fantastic Barrel-aged Barleywine. I don't know how long it was in barrels, but it was the perfect amount of time. The bourbon flavor is spot-on and works perfectly. The only qualms I have are perhaps too few bubbles and a little too much alcohol. Small gripes. This is fantastic beer. Seek it out. (2,319 characters)

Photo of JoeySchlitz
4.27/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many thanks to Waltonc for the hookup of a couple bottles of the 2009 vintage.

Poured into my trusty Hopmonk snifter. A fairly still beer with minimal head, almost non-existent, which settles into a thin ring at the perimeter of the glass. When put in front of my computer screen, a burnt sienna glow shines through the glass, a little lighter at the edges. An initial sniff into the glass reveals a medley of aromas: a strong fusel-alcohol, butterscotch, caramel, and brown sugar. A healthy amount of barrel is also mixed in and gives a bit of a funkiness.

The taste is more alcohol bite at first, then caramel, brown sugar, a very faint bit of hops, and some candied sugar. There are some faint rum-soaked fruits lingering in there as well. Although sweet, it is not overpowering and works well with the medium viscosity of the beer. Very light carbonation is present.

Overall this is a very good barrel-aged barley wine, but I think that it has fallen off a bit since the first bottle that I opened and when I had it on tap at the brewery this past winter. (1,063 characters)

Photo of steve8robin
3.33/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Review # 200. I love the Barleywines and have been looking forward to this for a long time. Let's give this big beast a go. 2009 Vintage 12oz bottle split with my beer bud...

A: Deep murky butterscotch brown with no head and a tiny lace atop the brew. Kind of looks like liquid caramel. Very good.

S: Heavy bourbon blended awesome with toffee. Some thick dark fruits in the middle. Apple, grape, plum, raisin. Heavy booze bite on this. Super hot smell. I get some walnut and almont scents on the backend. Good.

T: Holy hot burn Batman! Immediate dry alcohol bite blended with some bitter hop on the back. Hints of toffee / caramel in the middle. A lot less complex than I expected. The boozy bourbon just melts all other flavors away. Hard to pick out many different tastes with such a boozy bite to it. Man, did this disappoint. Ok.

M: Super thick dry body. Leaves some decent flavor on the palate. Good.

D: Eh, as easy as drinking Petron straight. Warming, but not an easy one to get down.

All in all, man, this one started good and went downhill from there. This is like drinking straight hard liquor. I'm not even sure if age would help settle this one down enough to improve it. This, to me, is not a good example of a good barleywine. Strong barleywine? Yes. Not too complex because all of the flavors are buried by the liquor. I'd say that this one was definitely not worth hunting down. Don't bother here. You will trade a lot and get a little. Only try once if you have access. Otherwise, don't bother. (1,517 characters)

Photo of ucusty
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Stopbarking for this one! As a bonus! Very generous of you! Vintage 2009. Hazy copper pour with a thin tan head. Aroma is creamy, vanilla, bourbon and toffee. Caramel, toffee, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, and dates. Nice warming finish! Decent beer (258 characters)

Photo of wagenvolks
3.55/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle courtesy of jconrick1. Shared with trep; my half poured into a Maudite tulilp.

'Alabama' on the bottle cap, and BBBW chugs into the glass with a dull, copper-brown body--murky with yeast. Despite the care on the pour, lots of dark yeasties swirl at the bottom of the tulip and become an unappetizing distraction with each sip. A faint, effervescent tan head tries its best to matriculate with a swirl, but given the ABV, I'm surprised there's even the least bit of foam. The aroma is buttery...an auspicious start. I mean this thing is REALLY buttery: butterscotch, burnt toffee, and maple syrup. Lots of hot booziness to back it up, but the sweet buttered note is distracting, and nearly clouds all traces of the bourbon-aging. Not necessarily bad, but just not even close to how I thought this would smell.

The flavor cranks up the booziness and thankfully shows off more of that signature bourbon heat that Kuhnhenn does so well with their barrel-aged beers. A bit medicinal at times, but the buttery presence is nearly non-existent on the tongue. Body feels sticky and chewy with a hot, syrupy finish. Still, surprisingly smooth for the ABV. The BBBW is the first real "miss" I've had from Kuhnhenn. The buttery aroma was distracting, and the rest of the beer was verging on a hot mess. Not something I'd look for again, but this brewery's track record is impressive enough for me to want to try every last beer they produce. (1,443 characters)

Photo of beertooth
3.54/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2009 bottle poured into a goblet glass.

This beer pours an almost still burnt amber with a tiny collar of white bubbles.

The nose is fairly complex. HUGE bourbon and alcohol notes burn the nostrils and burnt sugar, stone fruit, and dates follow suit. I think I'm picking up on some cardboard-esque oxidization. Far from the rich fruits and oaky notes I was expecting.

Very boozy and hot in the taste. Some mildly sweet malts mix with barrel and bourbon. Bourbon overpowers most of the beer. It's just not doing it for me. I love bourbon barrel aged barley wines, but this is falling short. Not enough complexity to back up on the booze.

Mouthfeel is a bit on the thinner side for the style with a very low level of carbonation.

Big thanks to Masterski for tossing me this bottle. I'm glad I was able to try it, but it wasn't my cup of tea. Maybe the batches vary. Maybe I should've let this cellar a bit longer. (916 characters)

Photo of nickd717
4.39/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to bring, who was generous enough to share 12oz bottles of the 2005 and 2009 vintages for a vertical tasting. This'll be big review #800 for me, and I'm pretty sure I'm the only person who cares about that.

2005 pours hazy dark amber with minimal head. 2009 pours hazy medium amber with a minimal head.

Both have an excellent aroma - sweet malt, caramel, toffee, oak, bourbon, and vanilla. More oxidative notes in the 2005 and some leather and sherry.

Both flavors are intense. Sweet caramel and toffee, bourbon, and lots of -bal notes of oak and vanilla. 2005 has some leather, molasses, and sherry oxidation notes as well. More barrel and vanilla too. 2009 has more alcohol, as the 2005 has almost no booze to it.

Just a tad boozy on the palate, less so with the 2005. Medium-bodied and smooth with appropriately low carbonation.

Overall both were great, but the aged version was really special. Extremely drinkable for the ABV. Really enjoyed this one (or these ones). (988 characters)

Photo of farrago
4.19/5  rDev -2.8%
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) (1,101 characters)

Photo of mothman
4.72/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2009 Vintage

Big thanks to eyebrews for sending this one out

Pours hardly any beige head. Color is an amazing bright ruby hued mahogony brown. This beer is glowing. Very appealing.

Aroma: Sweet and malty. Caramel and toffee. Big oak flavors. Bourbon is subtle but a perfect amount for the beer. Raisins and dark dried fruit notes in there as well. Perfect.

Taste: More bourbon up front. Rich caramel and toffee. Big oak flavors again. Reminds me a bit of cedar. Vanilla comes out here. The flavors blend very well. A little hot, but not bad.

Mouthfeel: Warming and smooth. Fairly large bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry with some bourbon notes. Very well done.

Overall, a damn fine ba bwine. A little hot, but still very well done.I don't really mind the small amount of heat for the style. They tops many ba bwines I have had. I really want more. (880 characters)

Photo of Mistofminn
4.7/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mega thanks goes out to Mothman, for sharing this with me. 6 oz of this whale, all to myself!

Pours a amber orangish color, clear with some flaky sediment. Poured with a head, but shrinks and disappears. Leaves little to no lacing.

The nose is strong and intense. Big woody notes. I don't get a ton of bourbon here, or booze for that matter. Just a dry, oaky, caramely, malty barleywine. It smells fantastic.

Sitting here now reviewing this, I'm kind of amazed that the ABV on this is so high. I never imagined it was this high when I was enjoying it. Being the last beer of the night, one could argue my senses were skewed. I beg to differ, as we sipped on some low ABV sours for quite some time before cracking into this night cap. And boy was it a night cap...

The taste is great...brown sugar and caramel, oak and malts, sweet toffee and vanilla. Again, literally no alcohol, it's incredibly well hidden amongst the layers of intense flavors. It's different every time I take a sip, and evolves as it warms. This was sipped and savored over the course of half an hour or so.

About medium in body, with a pefect carbonation level. Smooth and slightly boozy in the feel. I only say that because you can feel the heat in your throat and stomach, it's just hard for me to taste actual alcohol. Drinkability is probably criminally dangerous.

Obviously, a world class beer. One I will probably never get to try again. The beer exceeds the hype on this one. If you don't like this beer, then BA Barleywine's just aren't for you, as this is the top of it's class. Thanks Ben for this once in a lifetime chance! (1,612 characters)

Photo of Jmoore50
2.86/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

I have been waiting to try this one for a while. I don't really understand it, just like I did not understand Perfect Storm. I have had a few barrel aged barelywines, but this one is too hot. Not balanced, and muddled. It is the 2009 vintage. It needs about four more years to develop into something special. Potential is there, just not yet.

The appearance is nice, with a great brown copper color that has a great clarity. It has a few bubbles and a film is present on the top.

The aroma is brown sugar, whiskey, sweet malts, brown sugar, and lots of ABV. The smell burns the nostrils, and not in a good way. Does have hints of a good barleywine.

The taste is of solvents, fuel, sweet caramel malt, low quality bourbon and wood, peat. It has some strong rubbing alcohol burns, with wood make it very interesting. It has a presence of a barleywine base, but is so overwhelmed by the barrel that it makes it confusing.

The mouthfeel has a few sharp heat characters, strong wood, sweet sugars. This needs a few years to shape up. If you have the most recent batch, in my opinion it would be a good idea to put into the dark corner of your cellar and forget about it.
(1,176 characters)

Photo of tpd975
4.79/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to markwise for bringing a fresh bottle of this one to the tasting.

A: Pours a dark orangish brown hue with a small head. No retention but it does have some legs.

S: Huge aromas here. Tons of coconut, caramel, brown sugar. The barrel stands out in a big way as well with fresh oak, vanilla, and booze.

T: Crazy good brew. Sweet caramel, brown sugar, and toffee. Coconut macaroons, hints of dark fruit and lots of oak, vanilla, and light booze.

M: Medium in body, perfect carbonation, smooth, with a nice boozy finish.

D: Out of this world. World class beer. Kuhnhenn does it again. (593 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.49/5  rDev +4.2%
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. (1,989 characters)

Photo of augustgarage
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review #300. 2009 Vintage. Poured vigorously from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Carmine body with lust and amber highlights, clear, with a shiny pearl head that recedes to a creamy collar with good retention, beset as it is by comets of microbubbles ascending from the bottom of the glass. A consetallation of minute lacing dusts the sides against a back-drop of thick French Polish.

Intensely malty aromatics - dark chewy black bread, caramel, a hint of treacle, nuts, carmelized figs, nectarines, along with a light barrel note suggesting vanilla and rye.

Punishing maltiness backed by a wave of spirits from the alcohol on the palate. Quite ester-heavy, which ramps up the sweetness, though the alcohol and light tannins from the barrel manage to reign it in before you reach the extended finish with hints of char, burnt toast, and ginger syrup. The bourbon is present, but is subtle compared to a lot of barrel aged beers I've tried.

Medium-light bodied, maybe a little thin but there is a creaminess that makes up for this aspect; very warming (no surprise there) if not a little hot (extended aging would probably tame this somewhat), and well carbonated.

The ABV and the price gave me pause, but if you can stand the heat, this is well worth tracking down... (1,275 characters)

Photo of coldmeat23
4.44/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 55 degrees
VINTAGE: 2009
Huge thanks goes out to MasterSki for this one!

This one pours a dark copper color. A thin head of loose bubbles forms and quickly recedes. The lacing is present as an abundant spottiness, which slides down the slick oiliness on the side of the glass back into the liquid.

A thick rich maltiness permeates this snifter of goodness. A definite level of booziness is present, but at 14.50%, that is certainly to be expected. Loads of bourbon presence. A strong vanilla caramel presence, also. Big oakiness. Light hints of maraschino cherries. Lots of golden brown sugar notes along with golden raisins. Nice hints of yeast and spices.
This smells so much like delicious candy, laced with whiskey.

The taste is more spicy than sweet. There is still a lot of brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla in here. They are leveled out by the warmth and spiciness of the bourbon along with the dryness of the oak. Marascino cherries soaked in bourbon with a splash of rum. Lots of raisins and a touch of blackstrap molasses. Very nice hints of dates. There is a nice level of hops here that get all but lost, by the covering booziness. They make a brief, shining appearance right before the finish, only to be swallowed up again by a wonderful bourbon sweetness. The finish itself is on the dry side and has a wonderful warmth which you can feel for quite a while after it is swallowed.

This one is full-bodied, but the carbonation level is light. This provides it with a wonderful smoothness, but it hasn't got any creaminess to it, which I find to be disappointing. With a nice amount of creaminess, this could be perfect.

Okay, so it's true that the high abv will keep you from slamming these down. The beautiful taste will make you want to try, though. It's smooth enough that you might think that you could get away with it, too.
This is a delicious beer and worth the effort to track down, if you aren't afraid of the sweeter side of the glass. (2,002 characters)

Photo of vacax
3.7/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2009. Thanks Andrew. Chestnut brown in color, slight cloudiness, and little head, only a few strands of bubbles. Smells of molasses, hot buttered rum, and cheddar cheese. Tastes of hot buttered rum, with corresponding alcohol heat, chocolate malts, and overall clean flavors. Finish is warming and brings buttery brown sugar. Medium bodied, much lighter than expected, with a light carbonation that goes with the alcohol heat. This is a tasty beer, some good clean flavors here, but the flavors and body don't seem to stand up to the alcohol content. (558 characters)

Photo of callmemickey
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Release

A: Amber brown body. Fairly clear. Moderate light tan head. Quickly receded but remained as a skim for the duration. Spotty lacing throughout.

S: Dangerously sweet. Like warm maple syrup. Quite a bit of bourbon with its oak and vanilla companion notes. Caramel, brown sugar, and raisins fill out the sweet maltiness. Subtle spicy underbelly.

T: All of the notes from the nose are here, but the sweetness has mellowed out. Bourbon, oak and vanilla are up front paired with a slight booze blast. Caramel, molasses, brown sugar, raisins, and a hint of citrus. Some earthy/spicy hop bitterness. Well balanced between the booze/malt/hops.

M: Moderate-heavy bodied with near ideal carbonation. Only a slight booze burn (considering the 14.5% ABV, this is impressive). Clean finish, with a bit of bitterness and only a little lingering sweetness. Manages to deliver an incredible amount of sweetness from start to finish but never crosses the line and becomes cloying.

D: Slow drinking, but that should be no surprise. Deliciously complex with a good body = top tier bourbon aged barleywine. I'd imagine aging this brew would only improve the balance and help bring out additional layers of flavor. (1,209 characters)

Photo of cavedave
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Major thanks to MasterSki for this incredibly full flavored brew! 2009 vintage

It pours a thick, cloudy, dark amber/light brown, topped by a thin off-white skim which fades to a persistent island and ring. An oily lace clings lastingly. Beautiful look, just right for a barley wine.

Smell is a full aroma, bourbon up front for sure, with a light sweet caramel, spicy alcohol, and gentle fruitiness (plum? fig?)rounding it into a very tempting bouquet. I catch a hint of chocolate in there, a bit of tart yeast, vanilla, and earthy bitter as well. Nice.

First sip is a blast of bourbon, deep caramel notes, hot alcohol, which holds into the finish. It warms, and the flavors go crazy. Lots of herbal flavors in the finish, earthy, bitter, and wonderful, but the taste dominatingly bourbon and alcohol. There is a lot going on here, wonderful flavors just below the surface, and these are the flavors that remain after a sip. Dark fruit, vanilla, oak, earth, and a bit of sweet to not quite balance the alcohol and bitter. Very strong and tasty. Did I mention bourbon?

Mouthfeel is viscous to the extreme, very low carb., creamy feel, and promotes the flavor profile and finish excellently.

This is a sipper of mythic proportions. I am halfway through the bottle and plan on enjoying the other half in my Barca Lounger, with some Brahms, and with a Cuban, over the next hour.

Impression: If you like bourbon you will love this huge brew. I do and I do. (1,456 characters)

Photo of afausser
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
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.... (2,478 characters)

Photo of CrellMoset
4.52/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 release courtesy of Dlucky, poured in to a tulip.

Appearance: A turgid, brackish, pond water amber, existing in that area right between ruby and brown sugar. On the one hand, you don't get too much out of the hue, because even holding it up to extreme light reveals very little chromatic character - it sports a dirty, hazy, completely opaque body, lying underneath a ring of dense but nonetheless wispy-looking lace, as if the slightest agitation might cause it to dissipate as quickly as the half-finger of lightly tanned head did. On the other hand, there's a sort of understated beauty to the color, how the burned orange hues around the edges of the glass transition beautifully in to the earthy garnet ambers nearer the center which themselves meld seamlessly in to the vast, darker core. The lacing is similar to that of a 14.5% abv barrel-aged barleywine - that is, there isn't any.

Aroma: Very aromatic, even from a distance, and one of the earthiest and most robust malt showcases I've ever smelled. What's most surprising about the nose is the near-complete lack of bourbon, which is only a surprise because of the overwhelming amount of bourbon you usually get out of these bourbon barrel barleywines. Only extreme agitation drags the faintest whiff of that earthy spirit spice out. What this one doesn't hide, however, are the barrel notes - coconut and vanilla are large, mingling with a nice woody earthiness. Brown sugar, molasses, raw sugar, and dark toffee provide a caramelized edge to compliment toast, earth, bread crusts, and even faint cocoa. Dark raisin and cherry notes in turn compliment a lighter citrusy hop note, though the hop component here is mostly earthy, herbal, slightly minty. The smell on this one is "heavy" - that is, you have to agitate it even after warming to truly get everything that's here - but once you coax it out, it proves well worth the effort. The complete lack of any hint of heat or spice just adds to the impressiveness.

Taste: Kuhnhenn's BBBBW starts off dry, and in fact stays dry throughout. This sets it apart from many other barleywines, and indeed many barrel-aged barleywines. The malt characteristics of the nose are very earthy, wholesome, and brown, and - though they do occasionally exhibit the above-mentioned brown sugar, lighter toffee, caramel, and molasses notes - are more inclined towards bread crusts, dry toast, and heavily-attenuated fruit sugars. The attenuation is a virtue, not a vice, and it's a complex, solid malt foundation, authentic, and ends up doing this beer wonders.

In a beer where the barrel characteristics had been less expertly crafted, the above might be a problem. Not so here. KB^4W's relative lack of malt showiness puts the remainder of this brew's mouth on parade for all to experience. Coconut, vanilla, oak esters, and wood sugars come through strongly, as does a less submissive bourbon presence, slightly heated, prickly, golden. The fruits here are more impressive still, with cherries, plums, dates, and raisins melding with the tropical fruit overtones imparted by the hops and the residual sweetness. Hop bitterness is large, but does get somewhat lost in the reason this one does lose half a point, a mild amount of boozy, spicy, warming (not hot) alcohol. Truth be told, what's more impressive is how faint and pleasant this heat really is, given its high numerical value, and in many ways it almost contributes more than it detracts. The remainder of the hop notes - earthy leather, wintergreen, pine, faint grapefruit and berry notes - meld with all the above notes in interesting and unique ways. They seem both mellowed and subdued while at the same time not being buried at all, likely a result of the aforementioned dryness.

Mouthfeel: An amazingly balanced body. This one's chewy, sure - what 14.5% abv barrel aged barleywine isn't? - but it's not nearly as thick or heavy or biting as you'd expect it to be. Instead, it's relatively attenuation makes for a smooth, not-too-sticky body, filled with tons of fine effervescence. The result is as creamy as you'd like, as crisp as you'd like, and truth be told fairly light for a beer of this magnitude, which definitely eases the (wanted) imposition that is the slew of aforementioned flavors.

Drinkability: A masterstroke from the enigmatic QC-challenged, dot-matrix label-applying genius of micro breweries, and likely the most drinkable 14.5% brew I've ever had. An amazingly mature brew, for two reasons: first, the alcohol heat is incredibly tame for its numerical equivalent; and second, the flavors are incredibly well-blended/balanced for the age of this beer, with everything complimenting and mingling with everything else in a way that you usually only see in a beer of this size at an age four times this one's age. A must have for barleywine fans, and I'm confident Wooden Hell ain't got shit on this beauty. Seek it out if you can - you won't be disappointed. (4,954 characters)

Photo of Overlord
4.14/5  rDev -3.9%
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. (781 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.05/5  rDev -6%
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. (1,000 characters)

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
95 out of 100 based on 192 ratings.