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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout | Central Waters Brewing Co.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel StoutBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
American-style stout aged for 1 year in used 12 year bourbon barrels.

Added by Skidz on 05-28-2004

User Reviews
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Reviews: 644 | Ratings: 2,339
Reviews by eclipse54:
Photo of eclipse54
3.8/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle from fvernon; December 2011 vintage. Thanks man! Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a dark brown color that appears black in the glass. A thin veil of bubbly, almost soapy beige head forms, dissipating quickly to a ring and scattered patches of bubbles. Scattered patches of bubbles cling to the glass as lacing.

Upon opening the bottle, the aroma of ethanol is immediately noted. Once in the glass, a bouquet of vanilla, bourbon, oak, and toffee open up. Some cane sugar, caramel, and faint molasses are notable as well.

Flavors of vanilla, oak, hazelnut, and whiskey lead, with toffee, caramel, and sugar following suit. Some roasted grains and dark fruits pull through towards the rear, and ethanol appears at the finish.

Mouthfeel is thick, coating the palate and offering several lingering flavors. A syrupy texture lingers, and a dry finish is accentuated by a slight ethanol burn. Ample carbonation helps cut through the viscocity.

Overall, this is another solid offering from Central Waters' barrel program, but I think some more time in the bottle would have helped it improve further.

 1,119 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of CHickman
4.75/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2014: Pours pitch black opaque color with a thick foamy 2-3 finger dark tan head that faded slowly, had a ton of bubbles in it and left great spider web foamy lacing coating the sides.

Smells of bourbon up front, with deep woody oak notes, cocoa powder, burnt malt, charred wood, dark chocolate, roasted grains, molasses, some light vanilla and a boozy sweetness. The wood and barrel accents are very influential and earthy and mix well with the chocolate and booze sweetness. This is very complex but minimal in that the main characteristics are the entire aroma with variations of the nose slightly changing with each whiff.

Taste is delicious, with a lovely combo much like the nose with dark chocolate, roasted grains, molasses, deep woody oak notes, bourbon, cocoa powder, toffee, burnt malt, charred wood, vanilla, a boozy sweetness and chocolate milk or chocolate syrup which makes it smooth like a milk stout and not an imperial bourbon barrel aged bad boy. Super smooth and very similar to Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout in many ways, but not as strong with less heat and more oaky notes. The wood almost tastes like cedar chips, and the booze is evident but not hot or abrasive – damn good stuff.

Mouthfeel is very smooth, creamy or velvety depending on the sip, with a medium to heavy chewy viscous body and feel that leads to a sweet bourbon infused aftertaste that has a slight bitterness and traces of coffee grinds. As stated above it’s very similar to Goose Island BCBS, but like it’s younger brother that may not have the bad ass reputation but is better looking; this brew is not as strong as BCBS and has more oaky and earthy/peat moss notes, but it’s an outstanding imperial stout in its own right and one I will seek out as well as highly recommend.

 1,801 characters

Photo of don1481
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage. 12 oz bottle poured into my trusty pint glass.

Appearance: Pours nearly pitch-black with a khaki tan head. Based on other reviews, I expected the head to dissipate quickly, but it's lingering a bit longer than expected.

Smell: Smells of caramel, chocolate, vanilla and - obviously - bourbon flow out of this one. A little sweeter smelling than the BCBS i recently reviewed. If this tastes anywhere near as good as it smells... I'm in for a good time!

Taste: Hmm. Pretty freaking good. A little boozier than the BCBS, a little more in-your-face with the flavors. Definite vanilla and chocolate aspects poke through. Not as complex as the BCBS, but the flavors still play very well with one another.

Mouthfeel: Definitely a warming, almost hot, mouthfeel. That said, it's quite... soft and smooth at the same time. Doesn't linger too strongly in the mouth.

Overall: Very delicious. Very drinkable. I'm gonna stash at least 2 of the bottles in my cellar and see what happens as it ages. Very excited to see where this goes - got another bottle of BCBS stashed alongside this, so I can do a direct comparison.

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Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.51/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Drank 2013 release after aging for one year.

L: Thick, egg-white head that maintains at 1/4-finger width around the glass. Dark red tinted black. Pours like silk with a delightfully bouncy swish.

S: Sweet, sweet bourbon. Rich warmth. Subtle chocolate. Brown sugar. Cream. Almost a hint of rum or other sugary liquor.

T: Bourbon is the predominant flavor with a creamy dark chocolate finish. Roasted flavor lingers after sip. Bourbon cake, or rum cake. A definite creamy, milky lactose presence.

F: Bouncy, pillowy in the best way. Creamy. Silky, but not thin at all. Substantial.

O: One of my favorite stouts. Rivals BCS, but resembles a world-class upgrade of Dragon's Milk.

 680 characters

Photo of richj1970
4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter. 2014 vintage.

A: Pours ink black but has amazingly clarity for a stout. One finger light tan head that settled to a thing ring around the edge and leaving some stringy lacing. A slight oily sheen to the surface.

S: Big bourbon mixed with slight coffee, caramel, and roasted malts.

T: Mostly bourbon up front. Some faint coffee flavors, and a dark fruity quality. A fair amount of warming alcohol at the end.

M: Full bodied tending towards a bit thin but not expected from BA stout. Finish is smooth, and very easy drinking.

O: Very nice stout especially if you enjoy bourbon forward beers. I would be very interested to get another of these to age for a while.

 719 characters

Photo of Catracho5
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle poured into a Belgian style tulip glass

A: Not very dark for a barrel aged imperial stout, lots of ruby on the edges, pretty clear when being poured into the glass, nice creamy tan head that faded, got some lacing.

A: Big bourbon upfront, very big, after this a strange drop on the aroma. Didn't' get much else. Some coffee roasted notes, not much alcohol.

T: Big bourbon, some coffee roasted bitterness, some alcohol burn on the end, but the bourbon seems unbalanced with the other flavors.

M: Medium mouthfeel, lots of carbonation, not alcohol burn.

O: Starts out really big, lots of bourbon, some stout aromas and flavors but the beer kind of drops off at the end, doesn't blend well. I think they need to bump up the ABV, maybe that will help balance the beer with the bourbon, but not bad at all, would definitely purchase, seems a little raw compared to other BA imperial stouts, but really good, definitely worth a try and I would put this in top 10 of my own personal BA stouts.

 1,008 characters

Photo of DannoP
4.57/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Central Waters never let's down with barrel aged beers! These guys have been doing if for over 15 years and it really pays off! This is my go to beer all winter! Great nose of bourbon - not too heavy - subtle sweetness and bourbon present! Love it!

 252 characters

Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I picked this one up at the local Trig's grocery store. Taken from the fridge, allowed to stand for a while, and poured from the 12 oz bottle into a Samuel Smith pint glass. The bottled on date reads 3/17/14 (13 months ago).

L: Pours a coffee black with a substantial two inch khaki head that really stays put. After about five minutes, there's still about a half-inch of frothy head and lots of lacing.

S: Sweet caramel and vanilla, more subtle black licorice, and an undertone of whiskey oak in the bouquet. It's got a nice aroma, though it isn't particularly strong.

T: Very sweet at the front: lots of vanilla and caramel coming through with some subtle roasted malt. The black licorice is right on their heels, and this flavor runs up against some great bourbon notes into the finish. There's clean alcohol that emerges with the licorice/bourbon, and this sticks around into the aftertaste, where you really get the sense of sipping a whiskey. The individual tastes are assertive, but they all work very nicely together.

F: Creamy, though lacking much discernible carbonation. This one is a bit more watery than I was expecting, though it's far from feeling water-down on the palate. I like that it leaves the mouth fairly cleanly: there's no syrupy residue left around, though the flavors linger for a good long while.

O: This is another fine offering from the folks at Central Waters, who really seem to understand how to barrel a beer. I'd definitely like to see how this one tastes after being cellared for a while. A word of caution, though: if you're not a fan of sweeter stouts, this one is probably not for you. I find that the sweetness works very well to hide some of the clean alcohol flavor and also accentuate the bourbon notes. If you make it to Wisconsin, I would highly recommend seeking this one out.

 1,827 characters

Photo of getatmeimevil
4.46/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely loved this BBA stout, everything I was expecting from BCBS came through in this. All the things I wanted to have a punch did and all the things I wanted to be subtle were.

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Photo of dolomite128
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage - Poured into a Night Shift Tulip / Snifter

Decent head about 1/4" and light tan with whispy dark swirls. Disappears to a small ring of light bubbles within a few minutes.

Aromas of brown sugar and oak barrel. Some light / matured vanilla / bourbon notes.

Tastes are considerably more subdued than one would expect from the nose. Flavors of rich chocolate dominate with hints of light bourbon. Carbonation / fizz keeps this from being cloying. Nice balance of flavors but the bourbon plays a back seat to the chocolate and long oaky finish.

Mouth feel is a bit thinner than most BA stout bodies, at 9.5% this definitely could use a bigger presence.

Overall a solid and very well balanced stout. If heavy chocolate and oak barrel are your thing, this is worth the effort to locate. Would have benefited from a bit more body and less carbonation.

 870 characters

Photo of arlo19
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Local Option in Chicago. Compared this side by side with BCBBS.

Aroma is great, chocolate and bourbon. Taste is good and oaky but some fusel off flavor in aftertaste. Mouthfeel is good. Overall very solid, would like to try more from this brewery.

 258 characters

Photo of woemad
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle of the 2015 vintage, received courtesy of the generosity of @Ri0. With this one down, his boxed beer tour of the upper Midwest is down to three.

Poured into an Iron Goat snifter, this looks a coal-black color until held up to light, when the faintest mahoganyish edges can be seen. There was a modest, tan colored head that quickly receded to a bubbly foam collar.

Rich, woodsy, vanilla aroma from the barrel aging dominate the nose, initially. As it warms, there are notes of chocolate, toffee, coffee, leather, and a tiny bit of dark fruit aroma.

When this hits the taste buds, I’m reminded of the nickname of Mel Tormé. It’s rich, velvety and decadent tasting. The bourbon barrel aspects are better balanced with the other elements I noted above in the aroma. In particular, a chocolaty flavor jumps up about midway through. It doesn’t drown out the other aspects I noted there, but it’s “large and in charge.” The finish is slightly dry.

Big, full body to this, to no one’s surprise. The mouthfeel is rich, velvety and creamy.

1PM was perhaps not the greatest time to have this. It would have been better after a rich meal, as it’s practically a dessert all on it’s own, yet it’s not cloyingly sweet. This is a great beer. I’d love to have access to this regularly, and be able to set some down and see what a little aging does to it. Thanks, Ri0!

 1,391 characters

Photo of joe1510
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz Bottle
$10.99 4-Pack
4 Seasons Liquors - Morris, IL

2015 Bottling

Central Water's Bourbon Barrel Stout pours as it should, menacingly black. No light escapes this body, it seems to darken the room as a matter of fact. The mocha foam is easy to rise, growing to a finger in height on the pour and settling comfortably at a thin crown while leaving silky sheet lacing down the glass. Each drink leaves behind pure silk lacing.

The nose is decadent, but not with sweet notes like other stouts. It's a moderately roasty base beer with rich cashew and macadamia nut. There's even some walnut pith. Slight boozy alcohol presence with caramel, vanilla and coconut from the barrel. It's complex with layer after layer of delicious barrel aged stout-i-ness. Each inhale unfolds the layers in different progression. Good.

As complex and deep as the nose, the flavor profile trumps it. The barley is moderately roasted and a ripe, dark berry maceration joins the fray. The nuttiness comes through in spades. I always think of macademia nuts as being almost creamy and richly decadent. This beer mimics that. A cashew richness as well. The barrel brings caramel, vanilla, coconut, and cotton candy in the order of intensity, most to least. A clean, boozy, somewhat brandy-like alcohol brings up the rear. This is a really great beer!

The body sits squarely between moderate and heavy on the scale. While the carbonation adds a touch of frothiness. It gets the beer moving so the alcohol present doesn't linger but it lingers long enough to give the idea that you're dealing with something not to be taken lightly. With that said, this beer drinks incredibly easy, dangerously easy.

This beer was once great. Central Waters had some infection issues a while back that hampered my purchases over the last handful of years. They're back to their old quality. The barrel aging is expertly executed, done to enhance an already good beer. The flavors pulled from the aging and blending are spectacular. The dense nuttiness, the coconut, the huge vanilla. The carbonation and mouthfeel are near perfect. This is good beer.

 2,115 characters

Photo of Cannibalgasm
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle.

A: Pours a completely opaque black with one finger of creamy beige head. Retains very well and leaves behind some beautiful lacing.

S: Aromas of dark roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, and charred oak bombard the nostrils. Then you get notes of roasted nuts, raisins, caramel, molasses, coconut, leather, and tobacco. As it warms the flavors continue to come alive and hazelnut, and fudge aromas mix with slight earthy notes to provide a truly fantastic aroma. The bourbon is prevalent throughout providing a nice booziness that is very inviting.

T: Chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, bourbon, roasted nuts, caramel, and a charred oak flavors initially, then you get some coconut, molasses, dark berries, raisins, coffee, brown sugar, and figs. Finishes earthy and pleasantly boozy.

M: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Smooth and slightly creamy it has some thickness to it and some pleasantly noticeable alcohol warmth. A great sipper on this winter night.

O: An absolutely fantastic BBA Imperial stout. Honestly I don't understand how there brewer's reserve series isn't more recognized and appreciated. In the stout you find ever thing you could hope for and it can truly hang with the hyped up big boys of the style. I love this beer and always make sure to stock up with it and it's counterparts as they are truly world class brews. I would recommend seeking this out and enjoy it as I do, and come on people it's time to show Central Waters the love they deserve, they are one of the top under the radar breweries in my opinion.

 1,595 characters

Photo of aszatk01
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%

Photo of DanGeo
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of tectactoe
4.16/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of DavyJones
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of t2grogan
4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of CavemanRamblin
4/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of Schlais
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of cjn40277
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of weatherdog
3.52/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip

It pours a nearly pitch black with a decent sized tan head. Retention is medium with minimal lacing.

The nose is just great. It's rich, sweet with a heavy bourbon presence without a heavy alcohol aroma. On the end a nice subdued coffee roast is there.

The flavor kind of falls off from there, an alcohol presence is there the entire sip which is very distracting. The roast goes away and there is an increased vanilla flavor.

The spirits thin out the body too much for my liking in an imperial stout. The carbonation level is nice though, a bit lively in order to take away from the bourbon. Drinkability is decent but the alcohol flavor really doesn't meld well with the rest of the beer.

 727 characters

Photo of SanFranJake
3.63/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Photo of ricksrealm
4/5  rDev -4.5%

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 644 ratings.