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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: 2,284
Avg: 4.18
pDev: 9.09%
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: 2,284
Photo of CoalCellar
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into my chimay goblet....

A: Pours a rich, thick, black. Builds a brown head that fades to traces of tan lace on the glass.

S: High quality bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate.

T: Sweet oaky bourbon, with a rich roasted grainy finish. A trace of coffee and chocolate round this baby out.

M: Thick RIS goodness.

D: Bourbon barrel stouts are not known for their quaffability. This one is a sipper, and a great sipper at that.

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Photo of Beerisheaven
4.2/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured during a big beer tasting this past weekend. Generously supplied by one of BA's great traders, wisconsinbeer1. Thanks much for allowing me to try this one.

A - Dark, dark, dark. Pours thick and oily with a small tan head.
S - Very interesting and very complex if that makes sense. You can tell just by the nose that it has a lot going on. Bourbon, vanilla, fruit, it is all in there.
T- I really enjoyed this beer. The taste has a lot to it and it is very enjoyable. You pick up so much with everything trying to catch your attention. Nothing dominates and nothing is hidden. A real combination of great flavors. You can certainly taste the bourbon, the vanilla, the fruits, etc.
M- Very enjoyable. Not thin for sure and a nice level of carbonation.
D - I am not sure if you could do a lot of these but for drinking one or two, this is a really fine beer.

Thanks again for letting me try this beer. My friends and I really enjoyed this.

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Photo of natasharai
4.23/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured with 2 fingers of creamy frothy tan head that dissipated to a thin later after about 5 minutes leaving some lacing. The beer is black in color and lets no light through.

Smell: Smells just like chocolate cake, and like buttery toffee. There is no alcohol smell in this beer.

Taste: Creamy sweet, then huge bourbon flavor, with a strong toffee flavor, and leaving the mouth with a slightly burnt bitterness like charcoal.

Mouthfeel: Creamy with some alcohol sting, leaves mouth with a sweet silky coating.

Overall: Great bold flavors in this! Pretty easy to drink considering the style. The bourbon is very noticeable but the alcohol aspect is not overpowering.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.95/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Deep black color with a very small, tan head. Big bourbon aroma and major oak tones to it. Bourbon and oak dominate the flavor. So much "fresh" oak i feel like I am gnawing on a chair leg! Very new and fresh tasting when it comes to the oak character. More bourbon then most beers I have had. Sharp, acrid roasted flavor. Ok body, could be heavier for me. Good beer overall. I was not impressed first sip but it really has come into it's own. A real sipper and the oak is a bit much but still a damn fine effort.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.29/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle picked up in WI on a recent trip. Shared with the wife in FOBAB mini-pint glasses.

A - One finger of quick-dissipating mocha foam and negligible lace. Dark brown - one shade away from black.

S - Bourbon, wood, sweet caramel, roasty malts, vanilla. There's also hints of dark chocolate and coffee. Very intense smell - intensely delicious that is!

T - Sweet and roasty malt barley with a touch of vanilla. The bourbon/wood pushed is further in the background, but really shows up in the aftertaste. There's also a bready quality to the taste that wasn't apparent in the smell.

M - Lighter and more carbonated than I expected. The carbonation complements the whiskey tingle, but the mismatch in viscosity and flavor bothered me a little. Good residual stickiness.

D - Definitely too boozy for sessions, but it's easy to drink a 12oz bottle or two. The aftertaste and residual mouth-coating are also pretty intense.

Eerily reminiscent of Bourbon County Stout, but not quite as huge.

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Photo of br3wmeister
4.43/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice silky light brown head about an inch thick. Great head retention and nice lacing. The beer is a deep black color.

S- Lots of dark chocolate, light charcoal and some good bourbon aromas. Roasted malts, molasses and caramel come through in the middle. Some hints of wood and and light nuttiness.

T- Lots of dark chocolate and and roasted barley, light charcoal and some woodiness. Lots of alcohol with a nice sweet backbone. Some molasses and other sweet flavors. There is a lot of bourbon flavors present in this beer. Nice rounded complexity none of the flavors are overwhelming and all are enjoyable.

M- This is a full bodied beer that is one of the smoothest and thickest I have ever drank. It is almost like drinking whole milk only way better. This beer coats your mouth with delicious silky. This is one of the best mouth feels I have ever experienced.

Overall- This is a magnificent beer, good aroma and flavor with an awesome mouth feel. I wish I had a good supply of this beer.

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Photo of Pauly2X
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Opaque black, thin quarter finger head.

S- Rich dark raosted malt aroma coupled with toffee and notes of vanilla.

T- Great complexity in terms of the malt showcasing toffee/chocolate notes along with a deep roasted and caramel character as well. A decent dose of hops comes out mid point to bring it all in. Very little alcohol in the rich finish.

M- Very rich, good smoothness.

D- Quite welcoming.

A very approachable "big" stout. Relatively mild for the style yet still packed full of flavor.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another 12oz tonight received in trade from NFLMVP... and another thanks to Steve for hooking an Idaho BA up properly... poured into my New Belgium snifter... not sure of the vintage, but the trade was from 12/08.

3/4" head dies pretty quick.. only splotchy lacing atop a very very dark brown/but not black brew..

Nose is chocolate and coffee spiked with a small amount of bourbon.. vanilla and dark fruits are fairly abundant..

Flavor is on the light side for a bigger stout.. more fruitiness than the expected dark malts.. I think a bigger body would help my overall review.. the taste is vanilla with sorta boozy soaked dried cherries and raisins.. maybe some fig.. lite chocolate and coffee.. bourbon finish is lending toward the cherry essence.. nice but I may be not appreciating the overall package.. as it warms.. the wood shows up as a sorta drying tannic finish.. better balanced when warmer than cool.

The body is on the lite side for the style for sure.. yet the carbonation is about right... a sorta slick mouthfeel is coating but not full..

I remember liking this one alot more.. that said, it is still pretty nice.. I just want a little bit more "stout" flavors... Thanks again to NFLMVP.. I appreciate it.

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Photo of gford217
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of iowaherkeye poured into a tulip.

Pours a dark chocolate brown that settles in close to black in the glass underneath a large tan head that dissipates to a healthy ring and leaves spotty lacing.

Aroma is big and sweet with dark chocolate malts and bourbon complementing it well without dominating too much. The oak presence is there as well.

The bourbon kicks it up a notch in the taste and is more prominent throughout. There is the vanilla and chocolate sweetness up front with some dark fruits in the middle before the bourbon burn comes back in the finish.

The mouthfeel is slick and has decent carbonation. It may be a little thin but that's nitpicking.

This is a very good bourbon stout and very drinkable as the bourbon is strong but not overpowering. Tasty.

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Photo of hopdog
4.59/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle (good thing Rich had a bunch of these to open up and pass around).

Poured a dark and cloudy brown color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of bourbon, wood, vanilla, chocolate and roasted malts. Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, roasted malts, roasted malts and coffee. Call me a BA sucker (especially Bourbon), but I liked this one.

Notes from: 12/12/05

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Photo of srandycarter
4.28/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

A - Pours the blackest brown you can imagine. Small ring for head, nice clingy lacing.

S - Deep cocoa, malt, some coffee. Smells like falling into something major.

T - Does not disappoint. Wonderful blend of coffee, chocolate, booze and malt.

M - Hits all the marks in coating, carbonation and balance.

D - For the style, very. Overall, too big.

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

Another beer sent via my SS08 dmeadows, thanks Denis!

Let's go straight to the aroma - smooth bourbon with that deep rich malty backbone. If bourbon barrel was a style, it would be my favorite! The bourbon, cherry, vanilla and beer - just nothing better, IMO. This one seems to be Maker's Mark, usually I find Jim Beam barrels are used.

A tad thin for a stout, the only small gripe.

Whoo! Is this beer loaded up with da bourbon and beer - it will probably be too much for some. But for me - two thumbs up.

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Photo of kajerm
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark opaque brown with less than a finger of white carbonation that quickly fades leaving a few tracks of lace.

Barrel-aging is relatively subtle in the aroma, which mostly consists of malts. Some dark chocolate, but malt notes are mostly a little lighter than I would have expected. There is some vanilla and molasses in the background.

Flavor opens light, with sweetness and malt coming mid-palate. Finishes with coffee and some slight malt bitterness, with bourbon barrel flavors lingering afterwards. Almost no alcohol flavor.

The mouthfeel is quite a bit lighter than the average bourbon-aged imp, and along with the lack of heat and the subtle barrel-aging, it makes for a suprisingly drinkable and beer. Great balance-- this is definitely one of the better attempts at the style.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.25/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

*2009 vintage*Scores reflect this vintage until I get a chance to verify that the excellent bottle I had wasn't a fluke.

I received what is hopefully an uninfected bottle from someone in the midwest, probable eyncognito? Thanks, Ian!

Dark brown with reddish brown highlights, this beer has a thin beige head that recedes to a ring rather quick. The nose is interesting in that it's rather unconventional for an imperial stout and more like a brown ale with caramel, brown sugar and some vanilla from the bourbon barrel. Mildly woody, I get some tannin character. Some cocoa is evident as well. The palate opens with a grainy sourness, not really infection-like, but with a mild but medicinal character. Not particularly pleasant, this also has flavors of cherries, some cocoa and a little roast. This tastes off too, and I'm dropping my scores.

**Original review dated 02 Jan 2009
12oz bottle received from nflmvp in a recent trade. Thanks a bunch, Steve! Split with largadeer after lunch on day 3 of our decadent tasting.

A: Black with reddish brown highlights. Thin beige head that recedes to a ring rather quickly 3.5

S: Mild bourbon with a strange sourness and funk. Some chocolate and oak. There's a pleasing roastiness and coupled with the funk, it's kinda refreshing 4/5
T: Opens up with some bourbon and oak before some chocolate and roasted flavors come in. Mildly bitter and rather tannic on the finish, along with some acetic sourness 3.5/5

M: Rather light, decent carbonation, OK finish - average at best3/5

D: Meh.3.5/5

** Edit 16 Oct 2010**

I got a couple of bottles from asmokingoat and CaseyK. Thanks, guys! This is the 2010 vintage
This one looks pretty nice. Again, dark brown with a light brown head with excellent retention and lacing. With this vintage, the barrel really overwhelms everything else. Plenty of vanilla and coconut are present, obliterating the base beer. Moderately sweet, I wonder if they used Elijah Craig barrels this time around. Only some dry cocoa is apparent from the base beer.
It looks like they've ironed out some inconsistencies from previous batches by whelming the base base beer with a really nice barrel character. Coconut and vanilla are present in rather large quantities, and the base beer seems bigger with some chocolate and cocoa present. The base beer also seems sweeter and less ashy and dry than I remember it being. Booze is moderately restrained, and tannins appear on the finish, drying up the palate. Mildly fruity towards the finish, this is a pretty remarkable turnaround for a beer I expected to dump. Very well done:

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Photo of largadeer
3.35/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2008 bottle kindly shared by dyan.

Appearance: Clear dark brown, light in color for the style and a bit thin looking. Pours with a fairly small tan head that settles to a disc fairly quick.

Smell: Musty barrel and a hint of funkiness, as if it's starting to sour. There's a good share of molasses and roasted grain as well. Bourbon makes itself known once the beer reaches room temperature.

Taste & mouthfeel: Mildly acidic initially, followed by a strong roasted bitterness. Sweetness is present more in the form of fruit and caramel than the typical chocolate and molasses notes of this style. The body is on the light side, a touch thin for the style. The finish is oddly tannic and vinous. This one tastes like it's in the early stages of infection.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large medium brown faomy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of vanilla and bourbon is dominating with some black chocolate notes. Taste is also a nice mix between some vanilla and bourbon with some black chocolate but without any alcohol ester. Full body with some oily texture and good carbonation. Very well done and well balance overall.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a St. Feuillien goblet. Thanks to neubernie for the hook-up!

Bottled Dec. 11 2008

A: Pours a tarry black (with faint ruby highlights) with a creamy, 1 finger, mocha colored head that doesn't hang around for too long and leaves a nice assortment of lacey specks and splotches on the glass. Pours a little on the thin side.

S: A heavenly combination of aromas. Bourbon, chocolate, over ripe dark fruit, caramel, cherry, molassas, vanilla, char, alcohol, and a pinch of coconut.

T: See above. Bourbon and chocolate compliment each other and don't allow one another to get stepped on. Rum soaked raisins, alcohol, dark chocolate covered cherry, vanilla, figs, pan seared molassas, espresso, plums, and wood.

M: Appeared thin upon first pour right out of the fridge. As it came up to temp it thickened considerably. An excellent mixture of sweet, bitter, and alcohol burn.

D: Fantastic! Drinks like a stout with half the abv. I was afraid that its' booziness would get in the way and affect the drinkability. No sir! The alcohol here knows its' place and does what it's told.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A: Black with some brown around the edges. Minimal white head.

S: Tons of bourbon. Sweetness in the nose. Chocolate and molasses.

T:Cloying sweetness up front. Bourbon is more in the back. Hints of malt as well. Chocolate is in there as well. some hints of fruit in the middle.

m: Medium body that feel heavy.

D:Very drinkable for the style and ABV. The bourbon is well balanced and does not dominate this beer as so often happens. Well done.

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Photo of drseamus
3.67/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Dark brown. Light passes through it. That shouldn't really happen with a stout.

S: There might be some bourbon in there. Probably only 6 ounces per bottle.

T: Bourbon is not nearly as prominent in the flavor. There is a very intense sweetness though that completely dominates the flavor.

M: Smooth and silky.

D: Sweetness is too intense.

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Photo of kickapoodude
4.53/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This stuff is prized here in Wisconsin, so if you get ahold of a bottle, snatch it up. Strong and rich brown head above a pitch black brew. I drink at room temp with a snifter. Rich burbon, cherry, coffee, chocolate flavors witha velverty finish. This beer should be in every true wisconsinites winter emergency kit.

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Photo of ncvbc
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This one is nearly pitch black with a creamy tan head. Solid retention and spots of lacing down the glass. Good smell with a warming bourbon, that's for sure. There is a light roast and chocolate. Vanilla and light nutty sweetness. Taste is much of the same. Not a huge roast character to this brew, especially up front. Some good malt balance along with the bourbon. Caramel and chocolate, small dose of coffee becoming more pronounced toward the finish. Big vanilla while bourbon flavor isn't overwhelming. Some dark fruits. Light sour dryness in the mouth along with an otherwise more full feel. Seems like something you'd find in a wine or wild ale. Of course it's on lesser volume but it's still present. Overall, quite drinkable. A unique brew that I'm happy to have tried. Thanks go to MuenchenerKindl for the extra long ago...and you're damn straight I spelled your BA name right first attempt!

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Photo of kasper
3.18/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Big props to DRINKNDRIVE for throwing in this extra from my wants list.

A: Pours dark brown -- almost the same shade as the bottle it came in -- with a light and frothy single finger head that doesn't stick around. Some leg lace patterns as I sip.

S: Initial whiff was all oak, somewhat sour bourbon. As it warms, hints of creamy vanilla make an appearance. I was actually expecting a stronger bourbon aroma.

T: Taste is sour bourbon that leads into a somewhat dry oak- and alcohol-filled finish. Creamy vanilla not showing through on taste.

M: Much lighter than I'd had hoped. I wouldn't even call it full bodied. Mild carbonation, but almost too much for the intended style.

D: Not sure how old this bottle was, but it really doesn't stand up to similar-styled stouts like BCS in any way shape or form. I'm not even sure I'd call this a stout. There's just this lingering acidity and thinness that kind of lets down.

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Photo of tpd975
3.9/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer poured black with slight ruby highlights and a tan head that fell slowly to lace the glass.

S: The aroma was oaky vanilla bourbon with chocolate, coffee.

T: Nice chocolate flavors with hints of the barrel. Vanilla oak, and choclate. Hints of fresh espresso and a touch of dark fruit.

M: Full bodied smooth and creamy.

D: Very drinkable for a barrel aged brew. I really liked it.

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Photo of WeisGuy
4.05/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to nflmvp for this bottle.

a - pours black with a large light brown head, good retention for a big stout, moderate lacing

s - charred wood, dark chocolate, alcohol/bourbon notes, light vanilla

t - quite sweet up front, milk chocolate and plum, very light bitterness, coconut and vanilla along with oak, finish has a little bourbon heat with some lingering creamy vanilla and light bitterness

m - full-bodied, low carbonation, fairly dry finish, alcohol warming on the palate

d - somewhat drinkable for a big bourbon-aged stout, finish is pretty dry, but the taste is overall fairly sweet rather than bitter, alcohol is not overwhelming

Nice effort from Central Waters...my second favorite of their stouts (after the superb Coffee Stout) I've tried. Well worth seeking a bottle out.

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3.99/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours thick and jet black as it crawls out of the bottle. Head is an inch and a half of dark tan striped with some darker brown notes. Head has nice retention and leaves a solid crown as it fades. Nose is absolutely delicious with strong tones of vanilla bourbon, coconut, leather and carmalized malts. Sweet bourbon and vanilla notes greet the tongue first quickly followed by a sour and tart bite that twings on the back of the tongue. This turns to a lenghty bitter feel that lasts long on the taste buds. Warms the belly well and has a bit of a bourbon bite twords the end of the palate. The sour feel does tone down a bit as it warms. Nicely drinkable overall. Mouthfeel is a bitter, sour battle.

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