1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine - Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
99
world-class

526 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 526
Reviews: 182
rAvg: 4.44
pDev: 8.56%
Wants: 1,181
Gots: 100 | FT: 8
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 526 | Reviews: 182 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of rudzud
4.26/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared with JLindros.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a rather deep chestnut hue that is not see through. Next to no head, tiny thin wisps.

S - Aromas of bourbon galore, tons of caramel, toffee, alcohol soaked raisins. This smells super enticing. The alcohol is super faint, which is awesome.

T - Taste is bourbon caramels galore, malty sweetness, light raisins. Maybe dinner slight oxidation. No detectable ABV, not hot at all. Quite tasty.

M - Mouthfeel is rather flat, super lightly carbonated. The alcohol though is super hidden. Very well done.

O - Overall this beer was a bit disappointing, probably should have drank it last year.

rudzud, Feb 08, 2014
Photo of Jwale73
3.95/5  rDev -11%
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.

Jwale73, Nov 19, 2011
Photo of francisweizen
4.9/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From a fresh 64oz growler, thanks Mentor!

Rusty-nail brown with a very nice espresso coloured head that makes this beer look absolutely appealing! The aroma of this beer is absolutely amazing. I smell bourbon soaked dark fruits, caramel, oak, vanilla, nice malts, a bit of roastiness and a slight hint of smokiness also come through. Wow, can you say complex? The taste is even more complex with the alcoholic dark fruits hitting first followed by the luxurious notes of oak, vanilla, carmelized sugar, and more. The middle is sweet and dry and the finish is warm, coating, and wonderful. Mouthfeel is thick, and this stuff grabs, and sticks to every tastebud on your tonuge. Drinkability is excellent for a barleywine of this abv, and I beleive that this is only a 2004 vintage of this stuff. Dry-hopped and aged in bourbon barrels this is another masterpiece from a brewery that I will soon visit!

francisweizen, Jan 18, 2005
Photo of DmanGTR
4.98/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a big beer. Pours a deep mahogany with tangerine hues. Nose is superb. Like a rich candy: toffee, caramel, and vanilla dominate. A bit of golden raisins and figs come out too. Bourbon comes out nicely in the finish. Really nicely done. Sweet, rich, and smooth. A beer of epic proportions. Thanks for opening this Joe!

DmanGTR, Jan 19, 2014
Photo of smartassboiler
4/5  rDev -9.9%

smartassboiler, Dec 01, 2013
Photo of BMart
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%

BMart, Nov 19, 2014
Photo of whartontallboy
5/5  rDev +12.6%

whartontallboy, Mar 22, 2012
Photo of AlexFields
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%

AlexFields, Oct 05, 2013
Photo of maximum12
4.93/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Eternal thanks & glory unto FlandersNed & beerisheaven for shipping me this much sought-after treat. I never thought I'd see one of these, much less multiples from different years. Winter Solstice 2010 edition, with 15.1% alcohol on the label vs. the 14.5% on the BA listing.

Poured into my lovely Captain Lawrence glass, where the a white head feints & withdraws so quickly it might have been imagined. Very dark beer, but when held to the light, glows with the inner fires of Mordor. Smell is pure top-shelf barrel-aged barleywine: rich bourbon, vanilla, warm sweet malts, sting of alcohol. This one writes the book & adds a few footnotes; the aroma is perfect.

Out of the fridge, I let it warm for several minutes before sipping. Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barleywine. One sip & I'm blowing over the limit. The is a complex, boozy, brawler of a beer. Big Time Rush hits my tongue in multiple places; huge bourbon backed with vanilla, brown sugar, molasses and/or maple syrup, sticky dancing raisins, oak or ash or maple, dash of caramel, holy holy hell. Then a tidal wave of alcohol wraps them all up, sticks a bow down their throat, & warms my chest cavity all the way down to my Achilles tendon.

Seriously. Smoother than cream silk pie, & screw the ABV, this is so drinkable I wish it came in a bomber so I couldn't wake up for work tomorrow. A sipper that demands to be gulped, Dew-style. It's a bit hot, but who gives a rip? I can't imagine age doing anything good to this, it's so good already.

OK, I knew this was an A+ beer after the second sip. This, along with the Perfect Storm, are the pinnacle of barrel-aged barleywines. Absolutely fantastic, borderline perfect, & I'm delighted I have a few more in the basement. Epic beer. Damn.

maximum12, Mar 03, 2011
Photo of woosterbill
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2009 bottle into a Birra del Borgo tulip. Huge thanks to Knifestyles for sharing this fantastic beer.

A: Practically still, hazy orange body. While the lack of carbonation is a bit off-putting at first, closer observation reveals how richly the beer coats the glass with rich, symmetrical legs. This looks more like a fine whisky than a beer, and it's intoxicatingly appealing.

S: So rich, so insane. Vanilla and bourbon are the predominant notes, but it's so much more than that. The complexity is so great it calls for a narrative to explain it: this beer smells like a marshmallow that got toasted and lightly burnt in a cherry-wood fire, was extinguished in moist, leafy soil, and was then kept in a raw oak box full of fine small-batch bourbon. Yeah, it's that awesome.

T: How can something so boozy be so good? Smooth, rich, and sweet. Bourbon, vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, earthiness, tobacco, leather, and straight alcohol. Terrific.

M: Slick, substantial, and prickly with alcohol heat.

O: This is the third time I've been fortunate enough to taste this beer, but my encounter with the '09 vintage. It's significantly more complex and drinkable than the '10, but of course the '10 is a bit stronger, and also amazing. Whatever crazy things the Kuhnhenn people do to make this beer, they need to keep on doing it. I've never had a barrel-aged barleywine that manages to be so ridiculously dense with flavor while reining in the booze so elegantly; even though a couple ounces of this beer lasts a long, long time, I have no doubt that I could easily put back an entire bottle without losing the least bit of interest and excitement. It's only rival in this class of beer is Kuhnhenn's own Bourbon Barrel 4th Dementia, and I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite. I guess I'll just have to try to them side-by-side someday!

Cheers!

woosterbill, Mar 22, 2011
Photo of FosterJM
4/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1171st Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter
12 oz

2011 vintage

Thanks to BdubleEdubleRUN for this one

Shared with GuruDel, jazzpatel, MrHirschybar and BdubleEdubleRUN

App- Pours a very dark orange with pockets of amber and yellow. No head or cling at all. Looked a bit too thin in the glass. Some body was missing.

Smell- Very sweet on the nose. Had a punget sweet booze note that was masked by a malty background with a ton of sugary citrus.

Taste- So somehow after not looking or smelling the part this monster comes to play. The vanilla is upfront with a decent amount of tempered citrus and the malts mellow everything out. The barrel adds some good background flavors to this small but big beer.

Mouth- A well layered medium body with a low medium carbonation. A good amount of oaky sweet vanilla remains.

Drink- In the end, this was actually very tasty. Had a few flaws but was tasty, boozy, grainy and oaky vanilla

FosterJM, Mar 20, 2012
Photo of tpd975
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.

tpd975, Mar 11, 2010
Photo of Holland
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%

Holland, Jul 26, 2014
Photo of Reagan1984
4.47/5  rDev +0.7%
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.

Reagan1984, Oct 01, 2011
Photo of bpfrush
4.75/5  rDev +7%

bpfrush, Jan 25, 2014
Photo of tom10101
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%

tom10101, Mar 20, 2013
Photo of hopdog
4.43/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle acquired in trade with hopscotch (thanks!).

Poured a medium mahogany color with a very small sized off white head. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, citrus, toffee, raisins, plums, and cherries. Tastes of bourbon, caramel, cherries, dark fruits, and toffee. Light alcohol finish. Perfect for our night cap beer!

Notes from and tasted on 7/3/07

hopdog, Nov 07, 2008
Photo of muskiesman
4.75/5  rDev +7%

muskiesman, Feb 24, 2013
Photo of tommy5
4.25/5  rDev -4.3%

tommy5, Sep 18, 2013
Photo of williamjbauer
4.5/5  rDev +1.4%

williamjbauer, Jan 12, 2014
Photo of cosmicevan
4.63/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

big thanks to bierenutz for hooking this one up. put a 2010 and 2011 in the fridge, starting out with the 2010 and will hopefully move onto the 2011, but after 15.1%, not sure i'll be able to tackle a 14.5%, but hey, it IS monday...isn't it? enjoyed out of my kuhnhenn snifter.

2010
a - popped the bottle and filled my glass, the brew poured a rich mahogany caramel color with a fingers worth of greyish creamy head that fizzled away in less than a minute leaving a small ring of bubbly head around the surface of the brew. no lacing to speak of whatsoever. pretty much what i'd expect for a beer this big.

s - as soon as i popped the bottle i could smell this gem. in a word perfection. caramel soaked in bourbon. a really perfect blend. great sweetness. nuttiness. really just a magical blend. the heat is invisible in the nose.

t - the taste is just as spectacular as the nose, but the heat is a bit more evident. for a 15.1% beer though, this is WELL hidden. excellent english barleywine with toffee and caramel like malts.

m - the heat can really be felt in the aftervibe. my mouth tingles with delight of the booze that has just gone down my gullet. SUPER smooth...super amazing.

o - overall, i am blown away. all this talk of king henry and abacus/sucaba, and even BB4D to a large extent. where are the people screaming from the rooftops about BBBW (i do know that there are a few of you out there though). can't wait to rip open the 2011...the plan is to open it when i have an ounce or two of this left for comparison. fingers crossed that i can handle all that dynomite brew tonight.

*** ** ***
2011 (side-by-side with a few ounces of 2010 saved for comparison)

a - 2011 looks a bit deeper and darker and more purple.

s - there is a distinct difference in the smell, the 2010 clearly carries more booze when compared to the 2011, but both hide it magnificently. the 2011 has a stronger sweetness presence, but the 2010 is far more complex (and also warmed up a bit, so perhaps things will change). much more nutmeg in the 2011.

t - wow, the 2011 might taste better. in the side-by-side, the 2010 tastes much more boozy. the 2011 is just phenomenal (both are really). both are balanced amazingly. both exhibit everything you want in an english barleywine and HUGE ABVs that are well masked and masterfully crafted.

m - just as smooth as the 2010, the booze is just as well hidden. the 2011 clearly has less booze in a side-by-side.

o - choosing a favorite between the two is like choosing a favorite child...just not possible. they each have characteristics that are amazing and both have similarities that are just top of the heap.

ISO more of this beer.

cosmicevan, May 15, 2012
Photo of DavoleBomb
4.65/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter. 2011 vintage. Big thanks to Urbancaver for hooking me up.

3.5 A: Murky dark brown color. Just a quarter finger of tannish head than falls quickly and leaves very little lacing. Kuhnhenn has little time to worry about their beers asthetics.

5.0 S: Aggressive, complex, yet extremely complementary. Thick, rich caramel and toffee. Huge raisin, tobacco, plum, prune, and date slap the smell receptors silly. Only mildy boozy despite the huge ABV. Bourbon and barrel add more complexity to an already superbly complex base. Leather, light peat, earth, and melon fruits in addition to oak and vanilla from the barrel.

4.5 T: Tastes like the nose, but isn't as aggressive (how could it be, really?). Huge raisin, prune, tobacco, plum and all that jazz. Again the booze is hidden very well. Big sweetness, but nothing out of hand and definitely not Bruery level. Leather, peat, earth, melon, vanilla, oak. Wonderful taste.

4.5 M: Heavy body. Carbonation is on the lower end of acceptable. Rich, palpable thickness without necessarily being overly chewy.

5.0 D: A taste could have also been a 5.0, so I'll add it here. Really wonderful beer. Kuhnhenn are masters at hiding booze while delivering the amount of flavor that you can only get from a huge ABV beer. Not quite as good as BB4D, but damn close.

DavoleBomb, May 29, 2012
Photo of Bung
4.05/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. Nicely murky dark brown/orange/amber pour. There was a pop from the cap, but next to zero carbonation appears. A few bubbles around the edge. Really, for a big English BW, not offensive.

Aroma, Caramel, sugar daddy, vanilla, oak, all heavily present. You can smell this from a good foot and a half away.

Taste, Malt, molasses, rum cake. Vanilla, some roast that comes across as peat/oak, hefty booze as well. Vanilla oak finish.

It's warm and a sipper, coating, heavy side of medium bodied. Could use maybe just a tad more carbonation, but with the heat that may not work either.

As a few others have said, the heat keeps this a step down from the 4Ds, but it's pretty solid. Worth grabbing, just grab 2.

Bung, Jan 29, 2012
Photo of prototypic
4.33/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

prototypic, Aug 08, 2010
Photo of scottfrie
4.28/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottle into snifter. Thanks for sharing Justin.

Pours a near flat caramel color without any head or sign of bubbles. Caramel, vanilla, leather and tobacco fill my nose with a decent splash of bourbon. Taste follows suit with very smooth flavors. Tobacco and bourbon are warming in the aftertaste. The alcohol is hidden very well despite being nearly 15% and this drinks crazy well. A rich, smooth and sweet (but not cloying) barrel aged sipper. Thanks again Justin.

scottfrie, Feb 03, 2013
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
99 out of 100 based on 526 ratings.