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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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194 Reviews
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Reviews: 194
Hads: 659
Avg: 4.34
pDev: 16.13%
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
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Reviews: 194 | Hads: 659
Photo of afausser
4.15/5  rDev -4.4%
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....

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Photo of mikeys01
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served from a growler recently procured at the Kuhnhenn Brewery. Color is that of a dirty, crusty, many years old penny, murky brown with just a bit of light coming through. No filtering here whatsoever, I can tell this is going to be one filthy beast of a barleywine, I love it already. The huge aroma is sweet and fills the air with boozey bourbon and soft rotting fruit, sweet and just a bit tart. Notes of sticky molasses and vanilla. I can’t pick out anything singularly hoppy in the aroma, but I know they’re buried somewhere in the melee.
Taste starts out with a rich blend of bourbon soaked plums, raisins, dates, and over-ripe fermenting autumn fruit, once it’s started to brown and fall from the tree to be beset upon by bees. Fruit notes taper off in a perfect tartness as sweet caramel syrup begins to drip off your tongue as the murky malt mixture takes over in the middle. Body is just a bit on the heavy side, consistency is thick enough to make this almost a meal in itself, chewy and delicious. Finish stokes a slowly building fire out of smoldering oak logs, leaving you with a nice warm burn and bewilderment as to how they packed so much complex flavor in this amazing creation. Bourbon is present throughout this beer but perfectly complements rather than dominates the malt and hop flavors. Drinks dangerously smooth as well. Excellently crafted, Kuhnhenn amazes me once again.

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Photo of beertooth
3.54/5  rDev -18.4%
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.

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Photo of joshuaseresse
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by my homie Brian, thanks a lot man. Poured into a snifter:

A - Pour produces really no head but only bubbles around the edges. Brown cream, little murky and cloudy.

S - Sweet and delicious bourbon barrel, caramel and brown sugar. Stingy sensation to the nostrils. Dark fruits abound.

T - Creamy and sweet bourbon and creamy vanilla, brown sugar. Oak and earthy, tingly barrel.

M - Tingly and velvety. Nice cream feel, which is very nice. I like this a lot but there is a bit lack of carbonation.

D - Very good and a great bbbw. I wish I had more. Typical taste and feel of a Kuhnhenn brew which is never bad. Must get more...

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Photo of blankenhoney
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle from the 2014 Winter Solstice release, savored from a snifter

A: BBBW pours clearer and thinner-looking than I was expecting, with absolutely no head. Kind of a deep brown or mahogany, with bright ruby tones.

S: Aromas are fantastic: old-smelling wood; ripe cherries, dates, and raisins; a little bit of vanilla; and a nice touch of straight alcohol.

T: But the taste is where this one heads to another dimension: an incredible blend of wood, alcohol, red fruits, and butterscotch. Everything the nose promised, and more.

M: Mouthfeel is surprisingly light and on the thinner, vinous side. Essentially no carb.

O: A world-class English barleywine, and a great way to wind down the weekend. Loved the strong wood presence, the slick mouthfeel, and everything about the way it tastes. This is about as good as a BA English barleywine gets (though it didn't unseat what I think is the king of the style, Mother of All Storms).

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Photo of b3shine
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle to snifter. Looks good; dark and thick with minimal lacing. Smells great! Bourbon, candied cane, and molasses. Tastes excellent! This brewery really has the barreling down to a science! Mouthfeel is good as well. Overall, a fantastic brew that I really appreciate getting to try.

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Photo of raveskdr
4.14/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 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 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 travMI13
4.79/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle, 2011 Winter Solstice vintage, poured into a Kuhnhenn snifter.

A: Deep, murky mahogany. Not a lot of light getting through here. Very thick, yet very little lacing.

S: The smell is wonderful. Bourbon, toffee, caramel, and a touch of vanilla. Some straight up booze mixed in with the rest of the nose, but it is definitely concealed.

T: Bourbon, toffee, and caramel again. I am picking up the oak, and there is a nice vanilla sweetness on the finish. This almost reminds me of a sticky bun. I'm glad this is my dessert for the evening. Fantastic.

M: Sticky and sweet. No carbonation at all. Leaves a nice, lingering aftertaste over the tongue.

O: The standard Kuhnhenn Barley Wine is one of my favorites. I didn't think it could really be improved upon. I was horribly mistaken. I want to age this to see if it gets even better, but I'm skeptical. Fantastic beer as it stands, and perfect for a cold winter night.

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Photo of fartingdog
4.57/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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

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Photo of StrongRepublican
4.58/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rich and bright shade of amber with red and golden accents. Virtually no discernible head, but a very thin pale collar. Huge sticky legs drape the edge of the glass. Closer in appearance to a well aged bourbon than a beer.
S: Massive oak and toffee, lots of sweetness, some dusty chocolate/cocoa powder, burnt sugar, and molasses with some booze/alcohol notes at the end.
T: Boozy, no question about that, the alcohol hits up front with a punch that combines with massive burnt sugar and charred oak to explode across the palate. Toffee/vanilla/caramel follows with hints of dark fruits - cherries and plums mainly - and cocoa/molasses/leather/tobacco. The barrel dominates throughout the very long finish even over the sweetness and booze.
M: Slightly thinner than expected but has a definitely syrupy note, lots of residual sugars. Carbonation is medium, slightly low, but perfect for the style. Just a tad more body would be nice.
O: This is exactly what I expect from a BA Kuhnhenn beer - deep and complex, incredibly sweet and chewy, lots of alcohol but not overwhelmingly boozy. Very well crafted.

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Photo of JoeySchlitz
4.27/5  rDev -1.6%
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.

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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 GoGriz
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I love Bourbon Barrel Barleywines and some just taste better than others. This is one of them.

Pours a super dark copper color with a thin filmy head that hangs around for a bit. The smell is of fig and dark fruit, brown sugar and caramel bourbony goodness. Hints of vanilla follow. The flavor is like the nose only balanced by a mild hop presence at the back end. My only knock on this beer is that it could be more decadent (a heavier, more extreme flavor profile) and I would imagine that in time it will be. I have an 08' that I will drink and compare this with later. Mouthfeel is perfect with a good creamy heft and nice carbonation. Drinkability is hard to judge...can you give a 15% beer a 5 on drinkability?

Do yourself a favor and track this down. If this beer was a woman, well you know....

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Photo of Lazhal
3.69/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2014 vintage, poured into snifter.

The is by far the most disappointing BB Barleywine I've had. While it isn't hyped per se, given how well it ranks among barleywines, I'm surprised I didn't enjoy it very much.

One thing that really hit home, was the label says its 14.5% alcohol. I'm considerably LESS bombed after a 19% 120 Minute. 14.5% has to be a mistake. Jesus, what's my name again?

Look - meh
Smell - great
Taste - Tastes like sweet alcohol. Alcohol is hidden well for the 30% this thing must clock in at.
Feel - I can't remember anymore.
Overall - Trading the rest of these. Or hell, I might pay people to drink shots of this and watch them fall on the floor.

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Photo of ucusty
4.35/5  rDev +0.2%
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

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Photo of nyctreal
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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