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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine - Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley WineKuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine

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

437 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 437
Reviews: 176
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 8.78%


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: 437 | Reviews: 176 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of ucusty
ucusty

North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev -1.4%
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

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2010 15:42:32 | More by ucusty
Photo of wagenvolks
wagenvolks

Texas

3.6/5  rDev -18.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-23-2010 17:27:30 | More by wagenvolks
Photo of beertooth
beertooth

Illinois

3.5/5  rDev -21.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-11-2010 06:39:19 | More by beertooth
Photo of nickd717
nickd717

California

4.4/5  rDev -0.9%
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).

Serving type: bottle

05-07-2010 17:04:10 | More by nickd717
Photo of farrago
farrago

New Jersey

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)

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2010 01:00:19 | More by farrago
Photo of mothman
mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

4.7/5  rDev +5.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-30-2010 15:41:00 | More by mothman
Photo of Mistofminn
Mistofminn

Minnesota

4.72/5  rDev +6.3%
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!

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2010 05:15:49 | More by Mistofminn
Photo of Jmoore50
Jmoore50

Nevada

2.83/5  rDev -36.3%
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.
J

Serving type: bottle

03-28-2010 01:01:39 | More by Jmoore50
Photo of tpd975
tpd975

Florida

4.8/5  rDev +8.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

03-11-2010 02:42:26 | More by tpd975
Photo of MasterSki
MasterSki

Illinois

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.

Serving type: bottle

03-09-2010 01:08:23 | More by MasterSki
Photo of augustgarage
augustgarage

California

4.33/5  rDev -2.5%
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...

Serving type: bottle

03-07-2010 02:46:46 | More by augustgarage
Photo of coldmeat23
coldmeat23

Oklahoma

4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-25-2010 06:31:35 | More by coldmeat23
Photo of vacax
vacax

California

3.73/5  rDev -16%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-14-2010 22:25:21 | More by vacax
Photo of callmemickey
callmemickey

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2010 14:07:36 | More by callmemickey
Photo of cavedave
cavedave

New York

4.28/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-12-2010 00:20:29 | More by cavedave
Photo of afausser
afausser

Montana

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....

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2010 13:50:28 | More by afausser
Photo of CrellMoset
CrellMoset

Virginia

4.53/5  rDev +2%
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.

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2010 05:10:28 | More by CrellMoset
Photo of Overlord
Overlord

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

02-07-2010 09:08:32 | More by Overlord
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womencantsail

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2010 18:02:02 | More by womencantsail
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akorsak

Pennsylvania

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-31-2010 01:52:09 | More by akorsak
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HopHead84

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-29-2010 07:45:56 | More by HopHead84
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largadeer

California

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.

Serving type: bottle

01-14-2010 21:38:31 | More by largadeer
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Arbitrator

California

4.38/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Lightly chilled bottle into a glass. Shared by Jeff (ipa247) at his epic sour tasting. Thanks man.

A: Pours a clear caramel-amber brown in the glass. Its short-lived head quickly vanishes into a light ring of bubbles; the stillness makes it look for all the world like a glass of bourbon.

S: And it smells like it, too. Bourbon, butterscotch, toffee, caramel, and light booze. It's warm, but not crazy hot. There's a slight dark fruit presence (figs), with brown sugar.

T: Quite the same stuff I pick up in the nose. A very complex sipper, introducing waves of bourbon, toffee, and caramel as I taste. Dark fruits, brown sugar, and butterscotch are evident in the middle. The finish is moderate tannins with not-insubstantial vanilla. The head is more evident in the taste than the nose.

M: It's pretty hot (in the taste). It works well for the most part, but I could stand to see it cooler. Its full body is supported by velvety carbonation that lets it roll over the tongue and coat the palate without building up too much.

D: It's quite good, and well deserving of its place in the Top 100 (IMO). Having recently had Alpine Great, however, I find that this falls just short of the quality of that one in the bourbon-barrel barleywine category.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2010 01:32:58 | More by Arbitrator
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corby112

Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Huge thanks to Jeff(ipa247) for opening this at our tasting.

Pours a dark caramel toffee brown color with burnt amber edges. Completely still with a faint, very thing ring that quickly fades.

Sweet boozy aroma with a very prominent bourbon presence. Hints of caramel and toffee along with some dark fruit, especially fig, plum and raisin. Again, the bourbon is dominant but you can still smell the oak and other notes.

Very hot and extremely boozy with a ton of bourbon that dominates the flavor and lingers into a long warm finish. Subtle vanilla from the barrel along with some slick caramel toffee sweetness and dark fruit, namely fig, date and raisin. A bit too hot and bourbony and not as well balanced as I prefer but it's a very nice sipping beer that should be savoured slowly.

Serving type: bottle

01-10-2010 22:35:37 | More by corby112
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mikey711

New Jersey

4.33/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep brown and a bit cloudy, similar look to apple cider. Their is some inital head that forms but it soon fades to nothing making it look even more like apple cider.

S: Nice bready and biscuit notes and some caramel malt sweetness. The bourbon is not as aggressive in the nose, but there are some nice wood notes. A slight hint of vanilla and dark fruits as well

T: Heavy bourbon notes that provide some smokiness. Also some hints of wood that provide some earth qualities. As it sits in the mouth it has a nice biscuit note along with some cherries and sherry notes. Very similar to perfect storm but not as intense

M: Creamy rich body in feel, plenty of boozes, but really it is just the whiskey. I like that there is no graininess and that it is not overly sweet.

D: after a few sips I already started feeling it but it is not super thick and I felt it was easier to drink than the listed abv

Serving type: bottle

01-03-2010 21:36:57 | More by mikey711
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 437 ratings.