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

Not Rated.
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel StoutBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

628 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 628
Hads: 2,285
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 17.46%
Wants: 419
Gots: 761 | FT: 87
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout | 9.50% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Skidz on 05-28-2004

American-style stout aged for 1 year in used 12 year bourbon barrels.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 628 | Hads: 2,285
Photo of Stinkypuss
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark oily brown with a brown head. Lacing is left behind but the bulk of the head does die down to a ring. Good clarity for such a dark beer, or shall I say there is no haze or sediment.

Aroma has malty cocoa, toffee and of course big time boozy bourbon. Vanilla comes to mind as does dark chocolate and smores.

Lots of malty bourbon in the flavor, oak is big and the blended barrel notes carry the right flavor across. Dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and slight dark roast coffee. Good flavor from just a stout and bourbon barrel, no need for additives here.

Full bodied, smooth syrupy feel. Flavor sticks with you. Overall, this was a very good example of the style, and one worth getting. Highlights the bourbon well without it overpowering the base beer at all.

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Photo of dolomite128
4.3/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

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Photo of TBonez477
4.49/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful brown-ruby pour, nice khaki head.

S: Strong bourbon aroma along with the expected vanilla and caramel notes.

T: Taste is quite the same, bourbon is well integrated with the chocolate and marshmallow flavors of the base stout.

M: Mouthfeel is my only minor criticism of this one. A bit thin for what I was expecting.

O: Overall this is a great beer! Really true to the style and delivers!

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2014 vintage as noted by the notch on the label. I got this in a trade with someone, whose name I have forgotten. Thank ye to whomever ye may be {takes a bow, front leg outstretched, foot pointed upward}.

Pours a bit too cold from the fridge into a New Belgium snifter. The first sip was underwhelming to say the least, so I let this one rest a bit while unpacking the groceries. After warming, things improve. Aroma is a wonderful mix of bourbon, vanilla, black cherries, oakiness, smoke, and alcohol. As I do this, I am reminded of the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial that stated something to the effect of "Our beer isn't meant to be sniffed. Its meant to be drunk!" I got a chuckle from that. Anyhoo....

Flavor is pretty nice as well. Nice balance of bourbon and stout, with a slight leaning toward bourbon being the more dominant flavor. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, figs, alcohol.

Mouthfeel is a bit of a letdown. As others have said, it is a bit thin. Could be much more chewy. There is a slight hop bitterness which I really like. Alcohol is present. This is one of the only beers, for me, that had alcohol as a strong flavor without feeling like I was sucking on a vodka soaked rag. The alcohol tastes different, which I think is great. Smooth and warming, with a strong alcohol finish and a "hop bitterness after finish".

A solid attempt at the style. Add some oats or or something to make the mouthfeel more chewy and this would stand out as a top notch example. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
3.84/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

decent,but wasnt blown away by it, and im a big bourbon barrell stout fan. there are better options around and even their barleywine bourbon barrel was better in my opinion.

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Photo of CoffeePorter
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Midnight black with a white lacing.
S: straight up bourbon, some caramel, mild chocolate/vanilla, maybe some caramel.
T: Bourbon galore, some roasted maltiness, caramel, medium bitterness.
M: Silk like, very thin.
O: Not bad, similar to BCBS, but perhaps not as complex.

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Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of tpgraham
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Friend brought me a bottle from the 2104 batch, poured in to a standard tulip.

L: I noticed that the pour came out quickly and could tell that the body would be much thinner than most standard stouts and BA stouts. Very little head on the pour. What was there receded quickly. Pours a cola brown.

S: Sweet bourbon and vanilla on the nose, not much nose from the stout.

T: A good, standard barrel-aged ale. The barrel flavor comes through loud and clear but I hoped to get more complexity from the base beer. Comes across more like a porter than a stout as far as the base beer goes.

F: This is where they lose me. The carbonation and thinness of the base beer give it a cola feeling in the mouth. Not a huge fan. Would love some more body on this beer.

O: As mentioned above, it is a good effort, just nothing stellar. It actually reminds of the regular Karbach Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter, which lists itself as a double porter. However, I would reach for the Karbach most times over this one.

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Photo of majorbase2
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark brown color, really more of a black. Good sized brown head which recedes to nearly nothing, leaving a thin ring of lacing around the edges.

Aroma is bourbon, vanilla bean, molasses, coffee, and dark fruits. Fig and black licorice.

Taste is smoky, followed by some bourbon, wood,roasted chocolate and coffee, and sweet, melty molasses. A bit of dark fruit presence, notably licorice and aged cherry, lending it a sweet, bitter bite. The wood and malts come through stronger as it warms. The bourbon is not overpowering in this beer, which is good because thats the downfall of many BBA beers I've had. The bourbon actually results in a supremely pleasant and surprising sweetness that lingers on the tongue throughout the tasting.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for a BBA/Imp. Stout. I think it actually works very well because it allows some other flavors to be showcased that typically don't shine in BB beers. Makes it one of the most drinkable BBA beers that I've ever had. Low carbonation. Medium-heavy body, goes down smooth, with surprisingly little bite from the alcohol.

Overall, a well done BBA beer. Not the most complex example you'll find, but the bourbon isn't overpowering, which is a trait I particularly enjoy. If you enjoy a BBA beer where bourbon doesn't dominate, give this beer a try!

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Photo of danh53
3.07/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is bourbon, vanilla, espresso, malt, and dark fruit. Taste is malt and fruit forward. Bourbon is there, but it feels out of balance to me. Needs more dark roast to balance the dark fruits. Its too sweet with a thin mouth feel.

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Photo of Sandalwood
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage, in April 2015 - pours a very dark brown to black color with a thin off white head. There is some lacing and a little carbonation. The odor is strong, fruity, coconut, dried fruits, fig, plum, raisin, sweet, malty, bourbon, woods. The taste is rich, bourbon, vanilla, woods, malty, fig, dried fruits, coconut, chalky, not bitter, some alcohol burn.

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Photo of kbwalters
4.39/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured cold into Libby stout glass. Bottled on 11/11/14, consumed on 12/3/14.
Look = 4.0 Pours brown into a pitch black in the glass. Only 1/4 finger of brown head fades quickly; light, spotty lace gets denser after sitting a while.
Aroma = 5.0 Great aroma, bourbon leads the way with vanilla and oak notes. Base stout is secondary but sweet chocolate and mild roasted malt aroma are there and comes out more as it warms. Some booze.
Taste = 4.25 Significant bourbon flavor throughout the taste but it lessons as it warms. Sweet dark chocolate with a mild coffee bitterness. Big bourbon burn in the finish and into the aftertaste.
Feel = 4.0 Medium bodied with medium to high carbonation. Higher carbonation and less creamy compared to some, might be the category it lags behind in the best.
Drinkability = 4.0 Very tasty and drinkable BBA stout.
Overall = 4.3375 Holds it’s own very nicely. Great barrel aged stout from Central Waters but I think a step below the top tier.

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Photo of BeersOverBaghdad
4.71/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage (drank in March 2015)

Look: black as night. not a full 5 bc the head wasn't as robust, but that might just be due to the age on the bottle.

Smell: bourbon, chocolate, hint of coffee. Love love love

taste: amazing. liken to BCBS with slightly more chocolate. no taste of booze, which was great. delivered on everything i anticipated from the smell.

feel: no heat or harshness that I've come to expect from a bourbon barrel stout, which was fantastic. Granted its a low ABV for the style (9.5 v ~15 for BCBS), but i prefer it that way. lighter than BCBS, which has its pros and cons

overall: would 100% get this again and will look out for it in the years to come. most drinkable BA stout that I've had thus far

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Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From taste notes. Appearance: Brilliant black with a 1” tan tinted persistent and lacy foam cap. Smell: slight bourbon, fruit, dark malt, dark fruit – prunes, raisins, Taste: Flavor: Creamy, bourbon and caramel quickly joined by chocolate and then espresso and some vanilla notes. Mouthfeel: Medium full body, carbonation medium but so soft as to suggest nitro beer. Overall: A very drinkable and enjoyable bourbon barrel stout.

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Photo of mlorfeld
4.85/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage

Ar - Lots of bourbon, chocolate, with a hint of vanilla. Some booziness, but not overpowering. Malt in the background behind these strong aromas is still evident, no hop aroma at all. No off aromas

Ap - Black with slight brown on the edges when held up to the light. Brown head that lingers through.

T - A wonderful balance of bourbon, dark chocolate, with vanilla, cherry, plum, and slight anise notes. Malty sweetness provides a great base. No hop taste or off flavors. Some slight oxidation, but that is to be expected with a cellar aged beer, it has held up quite well.

M - Medium body that seems to hit the mark on the head. Slightly more carbonated than other barrel aged stouts. There is a slight viscosity at the finish which leaves lingering chocolate and bourbon notes.

O - I tried this when it was first released and thought it was an average BA stout, now with age, I'd pick this over a BCBS without even thinking twice. Wish I had even more in my cellar.

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Photo of Sparty1224
4.44/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Cigar City snifter. Bottle on 12/9/14, making this 3 months old.

A: Pours a thin, almost completely opaque black. Subtle, light brown, bubbly head around the edges. No motor oil here, but still a nice body.

S: Lots of sweet, dusty milk chocolate. Some vanilla, coconut. The bourbon aroma is more like whiskey, and it's very clean and fresh.

T: Lots and lots of oak and bourbon here. Doesn't taste fully integrated, and it's almost like it's "poured in". Also in there is coconut, vanilla and a hint of freshly brewed coffee.

M: Kind of falters here for the style. It's quite thin and watery. Alcohol is quite noticeable and the finish is rather boozy.

O: So I've heard people refer to this as BCBS Jr., and I can kind of see that. It's thinner, smaller, less boozy, but still packs a great union of flavors and aroma. It's very balanced and well put together. Reminds me a lot of Dragon's Milk or Arcadia's BBA Imperial Stout. It's not that huge, thick, boozy beer BCBS is, but it's a nice, more mellow alternative. It's done well, and if you're in the mood for nice BBA Imperial Stout and you don't want to get super buzzed or work hard to finish a bomber, this is your guy.

Recommendation: A bit easier to find than you're average BA Imperial Stout. So at this quality, I'd definitely recommend grabbing a 4-pack if you can. It's pretty cheap, too.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.34/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L (4) - Nice dark thick pour into the glass. A little head, not a lot, though.
S (4.25) - Nice earthy, malty, bourbon-y smells.
T (4.5) - Plenty of bourbon taste, right off the bat. You also get some of that faint chocolate and coffee of a quality stout. I haven't had their stout, so I can't compare.
F (4.25) - Good creamy feel. A little alcohol (bourbon) burn, but not too much.
O (4.25) - I really like this beer. I've been really into these bourbon barrel aged beers, and this is towards the top of that list. Will defintely buy again, and may consider aging some of them.

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Photo of MartzMimic
4.56/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours from the bottle a dark brownish black. Nice chocolate aroma, and the bourbon makes me think of warm fudge. The chocolate and bourbon predominate the taste, followed by creamy spice. I really enjoy how the bourbon doesn't overpower the beer. Instead, it compliments it. Medium mouth. This is easily one of my favorite barrel-aged stouts.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.52/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Central Waters Brewer's Reserve bourbon barrel aged stout
Original rating Appearance -3.75 Smell -4 Taste -4 Feel 4 Overall -4
March 3 2015

Re-review 2013 bottle enjoyed chilled in a snifter.

The color is almost black with opaque clarity and thin biege head with tiny compact beads with lace wavy w/ very good retention. The smell is excellent with bourbon domiance and woody scent with vanilla from the barrel mixed with dark toffee and mild cocoa perhaps with a smidge of coconut and light alcohol. The feel is medium high in carbonation with medium sweetness and woody texture with moderate alcohol warmth for the listed strength with relatively dry and spicy finish.

The taste is excellent with toasted malt and bourbon with some stone fruit from yeast with slight woody tannin. There is an almost blackberry or plum-type taste as it warms with chocolate covered caramel flavor and slight nutty vanilla-like influence with bourbon taste that augments the grain base with dark toast and chocolate truffle element with some sweet wood in the flavor and light smoke accent in the semi-dry finish yet still manages to retain a light alcohol flavor at almost 2 years old. This is a WOW! I had this beer about 365 days ago and it has really developed into a great example of what can happen when you age a beer of this style. I consider this one of the best barrel aged stouts I have had recently -lots of bourbon and malt with the 'green' quality all but gone it has morphed into a rich bourbon and stout dessert-like prize.

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Photo of portia99
4.09/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle (2010 vintage) poured into a snifter.

A - Bottle opens with a small wisp of carbonation and pours an extremely dark brown color with no head, a slight collar of white bubbles and no lacing.

S - Sweet smelling overall with notes of caramel, toffee and brown sugar, mild molasses, fair amount of bourbon booziness, slightly herbal/minty.

T - Bourbon tingle up front, mildly sweet with caramel and molasses, oaky vanilla, roastiness, faint burnt/char.

M - A bit thin in body, medium at best...light carbonation. Sweet and bourbon, mildy roasty overall. Chocolate notes creep in subtley.

O - Good bourbon barrel stout, but doesn't really stand out to me as especially impressive. I would certainly have another, but this is a crowded style with lots of really good entries. An older vintage, so perhaps I waited a bit too long on this one - will have to try a newer vintage and compare.

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Photo of mabermud
4.51/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

An innocuous , mocha looking head. Light black head.
Nice bourbon smell with medium roasted malts and 73.9% dark chocolate. Cookie dough and cold sweet bread.
Bourbon barrel is prominent in the taste. It tastes like some old school bourbon. Not the new age bourbon I drink. Classic bourbon taste. The barrel is first. The stout is pushed to the back. The sweetness comes out as the beer warms.
Good, dense carbonation up front and in the middle. The body isn't too thick, which is nice. The finish smoothly fades away.

Overall - Extremely well put together. Again, the bourbon barrel is up there. When they say Reserve Bourbon Barrel, they do not mean they are reserving the bourbon barrel taste for the birds. Definitely World-Class stuff. Nice and soft at toward the end.

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Photo of CHickman
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

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Photo of Chico1985
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Cam for gifting me this bottle, and thanks to Cam once more for sharing this beer with me some time ago. I love CW's Bourbon Barrel Barleywine so this is a treat. 2013 vintage 12 oz.

A - Pour into a snifter is just about black (some translucence) with a small tan head forming to a ring after a minute. Remains as such for most of the duration leaving bits of lace behind.

S - Lots of bourbon and bourbony spice, wet oak, surprisingly light roasty chocolate, bourbon & coke.

T - More stout here with generous chocolate and roasted malt. Still quite bourbon+oak forward but integrates well, bringing vanilla and caramel icing decadence during the finish. Some licorice+dark fruit.

M - Definitely on the lighter side but not a bad thing. Smooth with good medium carbonation and bourbon heat.

O - Big on the bourbon barrel and kind of lighter in size than your average BA stout, but pretty nice flavors, good to have this in a minus 10% beer as well.

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Photo of SomethingClever
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: very little head very dark off white mocha head that did appear

S: smells like whiskey soft leather

T: velvet toffee caramel very light bourbon leather tastes

M: pretty standard for a BA stout a little thin

O: this beer is fantastic it has very little nose but it has a taste that goes for miles. it's rich with soft vanilla and toffee notes this beer is excellent

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Photo of Gebrau
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Perfect brew. Have had very few to this standard. Vanilla at the front then very oaky. Chocolate and coffee to finish. Very nice brew to warm you right up after a cold South Dakota day.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 628 ratings.