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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine - Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine
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194 Reviews
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(Send Samples)
Reviews: 194
Hads: 659
Avg: 4.34
pDev: 8.76%
Wants: 1,243
Gots: 138 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 194 | Hads: 659
Photo of Retail1LO
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Firestone Walker Proprietors Reserve Series snifter

Pours a dark but brilliant garnet shade of dark red, with the scantest of heads despite a straight down the middle pour. Minimal lacing. The nose is incredible. Lush cocoa, vanilla, and dark fruits intermixed with a lovely touch of the bourbon barrel treatment. This is a damn tasty barley wine, I'll say that right now. This is rich in the aforementioned flavors. It's awesome when a beer's nose and taste align this well. It's damn near perfect. The mouthfeel is silky smooth with a sweet finish that's rounded off perfectly by the bourbon. I can't believe for the life of me that this is 14.5% ABV. Where is it? I can't find it. There's booziness to it, but nothing about this beer screams out that it's this goddam big. Overall this isn't just a home run, but a grand slam. Twice over. I'm permanently in search of this. For like, forever.

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Photo of MarcatGSB
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage. Thanks to Mike for sending this to me. Poured into DFH Signature glass.

A: Vigorous pour yields a frothy thin cap on top of a very dark mahogany/brown color. Beautiful lacing remains on the side of the glass, slowly moving it's way down. Some super tight, thin legs.

N: Nose is a big hit of bourbon, with not alot more coming through. I'm getting a bit of sweet caramel, toffee, and even some dark dried fruits.

T: Man, this puppy is complex. I'm getting all sort of flavors coming through, and not overpowered by that beautiful bourbon. Vanilla, toffee, caramel, some of that prune/dried candied fruit, followed by a nice mellow chocolate sensation at the end. Almost a bit of bitterness, I'm detecting some nice anise notes. Wow. Really enticing and spectacular.

M: A bit hot, but not to it's detriment. It's 14.5%, what do you expect? What I didn't expect was the extremely creamy character. Absolutely mind blowing.

D and O: Man...just a great English Barleywine. Really easy drinking for the ABV, and extremely enjoyable. Fantastically balanced, well rounded, very deep amount of flavor.

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Photo of n2185
3.48/5  rDev -19.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a dark mahogany with almost no head that vanishes with no lacing.

S: tons and tons of caramelized vanilla and toffee. Some oak, smooth vanilla, and slight cocoa as well.

T: similar to the aroma, tons of caramel, vanilla, and toffee. Some bourbon toward the finish as well. Light alcohol burn.

M: thick body with low carbonation, this beer is sticky sweet.

O: a pretty decent beer. It's very sweet and sticky with a significant alcohol presence, but still tasty enough. Definitely a beer to be drank in small quantities.

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Photo of mikereaser
4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed blind as part of Blind Beer BIF #6

A - Pours a murky muddy brown with very little foam.
S - Strong bourbon, raisin aroma, dark fruit and some vanilla
T - Flavor is the same as the aroma, dark fruit, plums, raisins, some sugary sweetness and bourbon. There is some alcohol present in the finish along with some more sweetness.
M - creamy mouthfeel, medium bodied with a light amount of carbonation. Lightly syrupy.
D - Very easy to drink and enjoy, the alcohol is noticeable but not detracting.

I'm guessing this is a quad or a barleywine but thats about as good as I can guess.
rip it open and its
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine 2011
wow, 14% and you really can't pick up on it at all. Its not something to gulp but not one that has to be sipped.

tip of the hat to abraxel for another tasty bottle, and hitting a want. sweet!

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Photo of BBP
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark dark chestnut color with a bit of ruby in the depth of it. Carbonation is nearly nonexistent, however a little bit of lace forms.

The aroma is bourbon and more bourbon. It has a bit of toffee sweetness and spiciness to the aroma as well, but they really struggle to get through.

The taste is really quite nice. The bourbon definitely brings some heat with it, but with the intensity of the flavor it brings, its completely warranted. Surprisingly with all the bourbon, there's still a considerable amount of flavor that breaks through. There's raisins, figs, and more dark fruits, as well as candied sugar, caramel, and spicy hops. I think I prefer this to Kuhnhenn's BB4D as it seems that more flavor can break through, and these flavors seem to work a bit better with the bourbon. I don't feel like this was overpowered by the bourbon, but the idea that the base beer was prominent was questionable.

The body is full with a medium/full weight. The finish is dry and considerably sticky. Carbonation is much more evident in the feel than it is in the appearance, but it's still slightly less than I'd hope for.

Overall, this was a very solid drink. The serving size of this is quite generous as well. I could happily share one of these bottles with somebody else and still get my fill. The alcohol definitely is enough to keep you sipping at this one, but I didn't think that it interfered with the drinkability as long as you slow down and respect it.

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Photo of StarshipPoopers
4.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Dark ruby with minimal head or lacing. Produces a thin film of off-white head that quickly dissipates. Very still beer after it sits for a few minutes.

S - Strong bourbon, noticeable alcohol, hints of vanilla.

T - Again, bourbon takes the majority of the flavour here. Very nice richness and sweetness, perhaps even stronger than in the bourbon barrel 4th dementia. The palate is rounded out by brown sugar and vanilla sweetness, with an alcohol heat that bites in the finish. The finish is surprisingly dry for all of the flavour, with nice residual bourbon and alcohol heat to enjoy.

M/D - Medium bodied beer that goes down very smooth.

O - Very impressed with this, the bourbon is fantastic. I'm not a fan of over the top sweetness, and this beer does a great job at not becoming overpowering while still offering a very rich flavour.

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Photo of 33nickadams
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I should probably wait and age this for some time before I review it, but what if I can't later?
Anyway, I digress. Got this at the 2011 Winter Solstice.
Dark brown color with a small amount of froth at the sides of the glass. Slightly translucent. Smells of bourbon, alcohol, molasses and caramel. I taste bourbon, dark fruits, slight vanilla and brown sugar. Very sweet tasting at the end of the sip. I can't believe that this is 14.5%, as it's noticeable, but not over-bearing. Full bodied beer that is slick and oily as its drank. Overall, I'm glad that I didn't age this, because I think it's quite drinkable now. I now wish I bought a second bottle to age, but at $7 a bottle, I was a little reluctant to buy two. If you like bourbon, this one is for you.

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Photo of ChrisPro
4.09/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.95/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz. bottle courtesy of Seeswo. 2010 vintage served in my Old Stock snifter. Pours a translucent mahogany with a loose, half-inch off-white head that quickly disperses towards the shoulders, forming a thin, bubbly band. There's also a residual oily slick across the center of the glass. Nose expresses milk chocolate, a trace of dark fruit and a pleasant buttery vanilla character. Only the merest suggestion of bourbon presents itself. Taste expresses toffee, butter candied fruit and a slightly acrid ethanol character that lingers at the back. Mouthfeel is medium-light (but closer to light) with a slightly coarse carbonation and quite a bit of residual heat that lingers on the tongue and at the back of the throat. All and all, a pretty good barleywine that could use some time to allow that alcohol presence to dissipate. That said, if the alcohol does in fact dissipate, the thinness to the body would be more prominent. I'm not sure if a lot of age will improve this beer, but another year in the cellar might reveal a decent balance.

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Photo of flexabull
4.18/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Winter Solstice Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine courtesy of jrallen34, thanks again!

This bottle says it is 15.1% ABV.

Pours a dark amber color with a pretty nice head that faded away pretty quickly, decent lacing.

Aromas are of roasted nuts, mocoa, dark fruits, caramel, dustiness and booze.

Taste is boozy, but not overly so. Notes of roasted coconut, caramel, dark fruits, and brown sugars. Finish is warm with a nice bourbon barrel booziness.

Mouthfeel is good, surprisingly smooth, with a lighter body than I expected.

Overall this is a very good bourbon barrel barley wine. The taste is quite good, but the dustiness on the nose is a bit odd though.

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Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to Jrallen34 for this one.

Even with an aggressive pour there is no head on this beer. Slight haze and a deep amber color with ruby highlights. No lace.

Aroma is very nice and a nice blend of vanilla, bourbon, alcohol and caramel. A touch of stone fruit as well.

I really enjoy almost everything I’ve tried from Kuhnhenn and this is no exception. Chewy caramel, lots of bourbon and vanilla. A touch of cherry. Lots of layers to the malt. Really nice.

Warming alcohol fairly bold body and slick.

Very nice. In the mood for a barleywine tonight and this really fit the bill.

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Photo of liamt07
4.48/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle shared by Peter of Flying Monkeys. 355ml bottle into some tulips, from the 2010 Winter Solstice release. Civic day tasting, long time want - thanks a TON Peter!

Low carbonation evident on the initial pour, leaves nothing more than some bubbles as a collar. Moderate legs on this, but pretty close to still nonetheless. Body is burgundy in colour, with some light brown sugar-like highlights. Nose is bourbon, caramel, molasses - sweet and sugary all around, not overpoweringly so. Some brown sugar like notes as well. Taste showcases more bourbon, brown sugar, caramel and booze. Sticky, and sweet and a medium mouthfeel - not as thick or syrupy as I thought it would be. Great flavour and a really nice BBBW, exactly the kind of barrel treatment I enjoy from the style. 35/45/4/45/45

Had on draught at the 2012 Winter Solstice, they were pouring the 2011 vintage.

Fantastic barrel integration here, fantastic sweet malt interplay with the barrel and borubon character. Absolute magic, phenomenal when it hits room temperature. 45/4/45/45/5

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Photo of pwoods
3.59/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. brown bottle poured into a Russian River tulip.

A: Pours a ruby garnet with decent clarity considering the barrel aging. Moderate head on the pour with a bit of retention and not much lacing.

S: Under a decent amount of bourbon and barrel, molasses and toffee... I get a faint but distinct aroma of my grandmas and mothers Christmas cookies. Butter cookies with home made icing. Doesn't smell overly sweet, either. Maybe some oatmeal cookies and walnuts, too. Bizarre.

T/M: The bourbon is there and not as over powering as I was expecting, but it's not quite melding with the BW like I did expect. Plenty of barrel, vanilla. A bit more sweetness than the nose implied. Alcohol heats up quite a bit as it warms. Maybe the slightest hint of the Christmas cookies, but I might be reaching. Body is only about medium and the carbonation is mild to medium.

D: After the aroma I was expecting great things, and I've rarely been let down by Kuhnhenn... but things just didn't quite add up. A decent beer but I was expecting more.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Tulip glass.

A cloudy reddish copper color with only a wisp of light stone colored film which mostly fizzles out by the time you've set the bottle down. Apple and caramel are at the forefront of the nose, along with sweet malt, nuttiness, cherry vanilla, whipped cream, but finally a slightly harsh solvent and alcohol aroma at the end. The smell is wonderfully complex but the alcohol harshness definitely detracts from it for me. Tastes like caramel malt and cherry, with some dry oakiness and a dry finish which again features alcohol prominently and a slightly off flavor that I can't place. I'm not picking up any of the bourbon flavors here or on the nose. Carbonation is pretty low but supports the surprisingly medium-light body just fine. Slightly tannic. Overall, this smells quite good, tastes pretty good, but the alcohol presence is a little much and unfortunately the bourbon is MIA. It tasted good enough but I'm not sure I'd reach for it regularly.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.78/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage

Appearance -- Pours a claret hue with a mild haze that catches light beautifully. Slim sudsy beige head quickly fades to a purity ring. Nice.

Smell -- Caramel buns, toffee, dark fruit, vanillin, bourbon, and some alcohol harshness. The aroma makes me think this is a bit rough around the edges, but still pretty good. Nice malt complexity.

Taste -- Again, a bit rough. The bourbon is a bit tart/harsh and the perceived alcohol is high. That said, the base flavors are great: dark fruit, toffee, vanilla/caramel, and with mild earthy hops to stop this from seeming cloying. Well-balance in terms of maltiness. Lingering flavors of bourbon and sugar cookie.

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body with milder carbonation. Nowhere near still, but pleasantly smooth. If the body was slightly fuller this would've been perfect.

Overall -- Honestly, this didn't live up to my hopes/expectations. This one definitely needs time to mellow. I love how the base beer hits all of my favorite barleywine/strong ale sweet spots, but the alcohol needs to soften before this is can be considered exceptional.

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Photo of waltersrj
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of Kkottonmouthkngz
4.36/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Winter Solstice 2010

Pours a light burnt brown, red hues when held up to the light. No head at all with the exception of the initial explosion of fine bubbles.
Strong, raw bourbon with an ever waming alcohol heat intertwined. This type of brute strength, such a strong, full nose is exactly what im looking for in a barleywine. Nice layer of vanilla.
Once this beer warms up, i just love it more and more. The alcohol heat in the back of my throat is actually inviting for 15%.
The initial carbonation dies down fairly quickly and really lets the vanilla and bourbon bounce off of eachother. Nicely complex, warming, and aggressively flavored. Would love to have a few to sit on for a while longer.

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Photo of dougofthefuture
3.74/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed blind as part of Blind BIF #5.

A - This pours a muddy brown/red that is hazy under the light. Just the smallest bit of head.

S - As soon as I popped the cap I'm thinking barrel aged barleywine. Central Waters perhaps? It smells of sweet bourbon, warm alcohol, and dark fruity malts. This is going to be a nice afternoon...

T&M - TONS of alcohol here. Maybe it is just because it is the first beer of the day, but this hits hard. I feel it in my nose. The carbonation is low and body is a bit weak, so not much of the complexity I thought I could smell really comes out in the flavor. It finishes much more harsh than warming. It is barely afternoon - is that throwing me off, or is this beer really 15%? As it warms, I pick up a bit more of the malty depth, but this seems over-attenuated for a barleywine. I like a bit more thickness.

O - Wow, that's a big glass. I'm warming up to it as it warms, but this is just too overpowering without enough complexity to match the booze. This would definitely be a better beer at the end of the night, but I guess I'll enjoy an afternoon nap instead...

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Photo of Spider889
3.91/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Per the bottle: Winter Solstice 2010. 15.1% abv.
Thanks to iceicebaby for this bottle.

Live review.

Beer is a hazed ruddy orange color with hints of aged wood. The carbonation is low, but I was able to produce a small head that was relatively short lived.

Smells of bourbon alright. Lots of wet oak and vanilla as well as some citrus notes. Heavy caramel malt flavors, quite sweet smelling. Doesn't smell really hot or astringent as some higher abv beers can sometimes be.

The flavor is much more alcohol forward, though I still am surprised at the 15.1% abv listing. Seems much less boozy than, say, BCBS. Bitter hops push through to mid palate. Meanwhile dry grainy oak and caramel apple are also quite potent. The bourbon is well integrated but also liquor-heavy.

The mouthfeel is extremely dry. Dry, dry, dry.

Overall an excellent beer. I'd be happy to drink this again.

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Photo of Urbancaver
3.91/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very pretty reddish maroon. A bit of white head around the edges. Very good looking beer. Smells a bit oxidied but very nice. A touch of bourbon on the nose but the oxidized aromas. Tastes sweet but dry. Roasty and bourbon heavy. The malts are oxidized but still nice. Overall solid but disappointing with regards to the oxidation

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Photo of ChadQuest
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010-label says 15.1%
Clear with a brownish amber color, finger of head, looks great.
The aroma has prominant but not hot alcohol, it really is a full strong bourbon but not fusel at all, fantastic. Light vanilla with some earthy molasses. Just great aroma, this is awesome stuff.
Ah, take a sip and you will want to sip this every night, it's like a very refined and gentle bourbon, so gentle with alot of warmth. notes of brown sugar incorporate with the bourbon and vanilla and create the best 15%+ beer i think i have ever had.

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Photo of Vdubb86
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a snifter

Thanks to TMoney2591 for sharing this rare find

Holy crap this is really really good stuff. This pours a nice amber color with an off-white foam that was coarse and probably not meant to really be there. I'm trying to figure out what best describes ambrosia, but I can't do it justice, but that's close to what this beer smells like. There is rich caramel and figs and raisin. Oh so good. This might have been the best thing if we'd cracked it out at our b-wine tasting. For a 2010 vintage this could still use some time to mellow out the high amount of alcohol (which actually doesn't come across too strongly). I really enjoyed this beer and wish to bathe in it in the future.

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Photo of mikeyv35
4.3/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Date: 04/29/2011
Type: 12oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2010 Winter Solstice
Glass: Portsmouth Tulip

Would like to thank AgentZero for sending me this bottle in my WW5 box. Much appreciated!

Pours a deep brown tobacco in color w/ only a skim coat tan head, only a ring of bubbles around the glass. Leaves little to no lacing on the glass. Well, it looks like an English Barleywine. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla,oak, covering brown sugar and caramel. The taste was just about the same, but a touch more complex. Big bourbon/vanilla/oak up front, followed by caramel and brown sugar, and finishing with tobacco and leather. Thin to medium bodied. Would have liked this one a little more lush. You are not going to drink alot of this one, w/ the 15.1% ABV showing it's face throughout.

Overall, this was a pleasure to sample! For what it is, it's fantastic w/ excellent complexity and depth. Age will only make this one better. However, for me the 15.1% ABV and strong bourbon character were too much for me, as I really struggled to finish my 12oz. glass. Not my cup of tea, but very good.

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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 194 ratings.