Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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.

609 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 609
Hads: 2,184
rAvg: 4.16
pDev: 9.13%
Wants: 411
Gots: 709 | FT: 77
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

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: 609 | Hads: 2,184
Photo of hopdog
4.59/5  rDev +10.3%
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 (370 characters)

Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.59/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I realize that I am in the minority, but I prefer the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout better than the Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine. Take this as a degree of bias if you must.

Poured into a snifter, the stout is a handsome black color. It produces a tan foam. In this particular instance, there were swirls of darker colors mixed in the foam which makes me think I got something extra. The whiskey is evident in the aroma, as is the maltiness of the stout and a hint of vanilla. The aroma is pure magic. Intially, the taste is the maltiness of the stout. A short spell later, the bite of the alcohol tickles the tongue. Moments later, the coffee, tobacco, and chocolate dry the attention of your taste buds. In the aftertaste, the whiskey notes continue. But as the aftertaste fades, a strong chocolately malt favor appears.

Very smooth yet thick enough to linger, this barrel aged stout is pretty close to perfect. (919 characters)

Photo of guityler83
4.59/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013, Vintage

A: A dense finger of tan colored head arose from the depths when poured into a tulip glass. The foam had nice retention and eventually falling back to leave behind a dusting on top of the opaque black liquid. Alcohol legs are swirled up in the glass.

S: Nice prominent oaky, vanilla barrel aroma comes off the top of the glass. Roasty malt character mixed with bourbon and a chocolate undertone at warmer temps. No noticeable hop aroma.

T: Strong vanilla character from the barrel along with caramel and oakey goodness. Dark chocolate, coffee, roasty notes and toffee malts come through distinctly. Hop bitterness keeps the sweetness in check but no real hop flavor detected. There is bit of sweetness but the bourbon quickly over takes it. Very nicely balanced flavors between the stout and the barrel

M: A little bit of a drying on the tongue from the tannins in the wood and tingling from the bourbon. Nice big body with low carbonation. Warming is there to remind you its a big 'un and to warm you up on a -12F WI winter night.

O: Not as big as BCBS and the base beer isn't as complex, but one hell of a substitute. Great clean barrel flavor comes through and the stout is balanced along with it. Can't wait to see how this ages. (1,252 characters)

Photo of jlindros
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Finally a cool day after a week long heat wave, cool drizzy day is perfect for a stout. Thanks to erric for this one a while back, 2011 vintage.

Pours a decent looking darker colored fizzy light head that is a nice surprise for the abv and age, no real lacing though, super pitch black beer with no light getting through at all, and some lacing on the sides.

Nose is heavenly! A great dark chocolate and hot cocoa mix to start, caramel, dark malts without the roast or acrid burnt aromas, a nice wafty bourbon in the background as well rounding it, sweet bourbon. Then the barrel, so much barrel, some toasted oak, some vanilla, lots of toasted coconut, very faint booze in the background, and more baker's choc coming through.

Taste is very good as well, plenty of dark chocolate and creamy cocoa, hot cocoa with a bit of creamy baker's chocolate and creamy oatmeal with dark chocolate melted in the middle. A bit of booze tingles in the middle, but a clean warming booze. Some caramel as well in there, before more barrel takes over, with more vanilla, light toasty barrel, and again some coconut but not nearly as crazy as the nose was, with faint bourbon on the background. Finish brings more dark chocolate, cocoa, creamy oatmeal and baker's choc lingering quite well, a hint of booze warmth, and more coconut and vanilla barrel, touch more bourbon and creamy oatmeal like, fairly dry.

Mouth is creamy and lush, thick, heavy, some warming tingly booze, decent carb for age and style.

Overall awesome beer, great flavors, perfect amazing aromas, good dark chocolate and caramel blended with lots of awesome barrel flavors, with just the right amount of booze. I don't know if the age really kicked it up a notch, or it is usually like this, but I really need to try one fresh. (1,785 characters)

Photo of pagriley
4.58/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage (so 1 year old almost exactly). 12oz poured into a pint

A - Thick and black with a thin creamy tan head that dissipates quickly. Thick legs that are almost oily. No light at all penetrates even when held up to the light - perfect black blackness. Some thick sediment with a healthy chunk of yeast left in the bottom of the bottle. Good sign.

S - The only smell on earth known to bring on my happy face - Bourbon is prominent but with lashings of rich roasted malts, toffee, vanilla and raisins. The depth and complexity keeps bringing me back for another sniff and this is still pretty cold - it still has more to give as it opens up and warms.

T - Happy face 2.0 - oodles of thick malty goodness with a warm waft of bourbon with not much heat left. I have had this fresh and it can be hotter, but 1 year lurking in the cellar has done wonders for this beer. All the same dark fruits and caramel notes from the nose are there but integrated with the malt and the bourbon. Some charred oak still comes through with a nice bitterness (from the roast I imagine) to finish. Rich with some sweetness, but the bitterness in the finish balances perfectly. A little astringent tannin on the finish with the oak coming through, but this helps with the balance as well.

M - surprisingly sprightly carbonation given the thin head. It adds a nice spritz to the soft and creamy mouth feel. For such a big beer there is real softness and roundness to all the edges after a year of aging.

O - Utterly perfect. Not as big as some (like BCBS), but just perfectly balanced such that no flavor overwhelms or dominates. The bourbon is done well, but the 1 year in the cellar really is helping to calm this bad boy down and soften the heat. If you spot this it is a must have - drink a couple if you can't resist but you have to put some down for at least a year. I have had a bottle with 4 or 5 years on it a couple of months back and for me at least, some of the oxidized notes were too much - my guess is somewhere in the 1-3 year mark is perfect. (2,065 characters)

Photo of MattyG85
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. 2012 Vintage bottle.

Appearance: Pours a dark oily black with a moderate amount of bubbles. About two fingers of tan head that quickly fade into a small thin patch. Leaves a decent amount of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A very rich, roasty, and bourbon soaked aroma. Big notes from the barrel up front with hints of bourbon whiskey, oak, vanilla, and wood. Sweet dark roasted malts with good hints of dark chocolate, coffee, toast, burnt caramel, toffee, oats, and biscuit. Molasses and maple syrup add some sweetness. Subtle undertones of dark cherry, raisins, fig, and plum. Also a light hint of anise spice. Hop presence is pretty subdued but there is a earthy scent. Really good BA stout aroma.

Taste: Rich, dark, sweet, and bourbon soaked like the taste. Big barrel taste upfront with notes of bourbon whiskey, oak, wood, and lots of vanilla. Dark bready roasted malts with a taste of dark chocolate, coffee, dark toasted bread, biscuit, burnt caramel, toffee, and oats. Sweet molasses and syrup add some more sweetness. Mild taste of anise spicing. Some nice undercurrents of dark fruits with notes of dark cherry, plum, raisin, and fig. Subtle earthy hop bitterness comes in towards the finish. A really good all around stout taste.

Mouthfeel: Fairly full and thick bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and somewhat syrupy. Booze can be detected bu the heat is fairly mild.

Overall: A really great stout. Very good barrel flavors and good use of dark malts. Sweetness is well balanced. (1,585 characters)

Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle to a pint glass. The liquid is a dark brown/black, with ok carbonation. The head is one finger thick tan that fades to no lace.

The smell is of bourbon.

The taste is a stout washed in bourbon, the barrel must have had some liquid left in it. The strongest I have tasted. As this warms all kinds of good things happen. The BA comes out fading is the bourbon and i'm getting lost of chocolate and coffee notes. Wow What a treat!

The Mouthfeel is very mood this is a fine sipping beer.

The Drinkability is a little slow from the bourbon but oh so good any how.. Many thanks to NFLMVP for sending me this one. Prosit MK (655 characters)

Photo of MasterfulIdiot
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an Ikea snifter. Pitch black with a small brown head that pops up on the pour, but fades to a ring around the glass almost immediately. Little dots of lace start sticking to the side of the glass.

Super nice aroma - lots of little smells mixed together nicely. I guess the main one is the bourbon vanilla & oak, then there's some dark chocolate in there, a little bit of caramel, and a little bit of hazelnuts.

Flavor is really great. Nice bourbon character without being too overwhelming. Lots of vanilla and woodiness. Somehow, this is the beer that tastes the most like actual bourbon to me, but is also the least overbearing with it. Really perfect integration of the bourbon flavors. Nice dark chocolate, and nice dry finish with just a touch of sweetness without being too syrupy. Alcohol presence is there, without pounding you over the head with it. Really great.

Mouthfeel is perfect, too - Maybe on the thin side for the style, but nice and thick, without being too syrupy or sticky.

Overall, a really great BA stout that isn't too over-the-top and is eminently drinkable. I'm super happy I got to try this! I can't wait to try more from this brewery! Thanks to Coirm for the bottle. (1,209 characters)

Photo of craftbeerbyob
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: Jet black with a frothy, white head. No apparent sediment.

S: Chocolate, vanilla, coffee, bourbon. Amazing nose! Make sure to drink this beer in a snifter so you can get your nose in it.

T: You get more vanilla than chocolate, little coffee, and lots of bourbon notes. Phenomenal.

M: This was the worst part of the beer for me, because the beer was too thin and easy drinking for this style. I want a thicker feel for a bourbon stout. This is a small criticism however.

What a beer! It could be right on par with Goose Island Bourbon County until the mouthfeel portion. See if you can get your hands on this great seasonal before it's gone. Cheers! (656 characters)

Photo of sinstaineddemon
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

thanks again to nflmvp for this bottle

A - thie stout pours inky black with a lazy tan lacy head

S - wow, what a complex aroma, very enticing, i can distinguish chocolate, cherry, bourbon, and vanilla aromas, you know, this aroma really reminds me of a new frozen drink im addicted to from a coffee shop called It's A Grind, the drink is called a Triple Chocolate Mocha, very similar smell

T - wicked smooth stout, chocolate and vanilla aromas persist to the flavors and are accompanied by toffee as well, and bourbon taste too, which i am taking my roommates word on since i have never had bourbon, but he says its there

M&D - smooth and savory, an amazing stout, super high quality, great tastes, great mouthfeel, super good, thanks a million times over to nflmvp what a beer (789 characters)

Photo of wyatt13
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a 4-pack of this while I was home in Wisconsin over Winter Break and brought the extras back to college. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a small snifter.

A - Definitely black, but I wouldn't say it's like the dead of the night. A little more head than I was expecting from a barrel aged stout, but I'm guessing that could be because it has a (relatively) lower ABV.

S - Boatloads of vanilla and coconut. Certainly some barrel character and roasted malts. Chocolate and caramel are in there too.

T - Jeez, better than I was expecting here. I'm a big fan of vanilla, and the taste of this was right up my alley. It had the creamy vanilla taste of ice cream almost, with a toasty coconut character. Minimal booze evident, if any. Really enjoyable.

M - A little bit thinner than your typical big stout, but certainly not bad.

O - Really great beer, it sounds like the extra 6 months in the barrel paid some serious dividends here. A really delicious barrel-aged stout, especially at the price. Highly recommended. (1,025 characters)

Photo of coldmeat23
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
I'm fairly certain that weatherdog hooked me up with this one. Thanks!

This pours up a very nice dark brown color. The cappuccino colored head of foam is slight, but remains for awhile. The lacing is quite sticky.

Lots of bourbon, vanilla and oak notes come forward. A very nice coffee presence is just below the surface. Light traces of chocolate and roastiness. Decent amount of booziness comes through, but it's 9.50%abv, so it's kind of expected.

Okay...as you drink this (from a snifter, anyway) you get a nose full of bourbon scents first. Then the liquid flows into your mouth and you get a wonderfully full rush of coffee flavor. It's got a big, dark roasted flavor and has a subtle hint of dark chocolate with it. Then, the vanilla, oak and bourbon notes circle back around and meet you for the finish. Very nicely done.

This is full-bodied and has a light-to-medium level of carbonation. It is nicely smooth and has a good touch of creaminess.

Wow. I can't believe that this beer doesn't get more hype. Really. I'd put this in the same category as BCS or KBS, no problem. This is very tasty and deliciously drinkable to boot!
Excellent! (1,235 characters)

Photo of B33R501
4.57/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

great beer. black, big head, retension, lace. aroma is huge milk chocolate, little bourbon in the background. one of the best smelling beers i have had. tastes milk chocolate, vanilla, wood, lots of bourbon creating a very smooth, creamy, boozy beer. just how i like them. did i say bourbon? and $11.50 per 4, makes this a $5.75 bomber, who needs those $25 bourbon barrel bombers? not me. another superb beer from a very overlooked (at least in my area) brewery. zoom wow. (472 characters)

Photo of robear
4.56/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 release

Appearance: This beer is a touch lighter than most "Imperial" stouts (I usually refer to it as a heavy single stout so folks know what to expect). Pours dark brown with some light getting through around the edges. Really luscious 2 fingers of latte-colored foam.

Aroma: Bourbon hits first followed by a ton of chocolate malt this year. Vanilla and just a hint of baked plums. A little bit of leather.

Taste: Leather, tobacco, chocolate, and bourbon. Tastes like your father's office. A tiny hint of coca cola.

Feel: The slightly lower abv and body help this beer rinse off the palate. None of the stickiness that can happen with bigger BA stouts. Seems like a higher carbonation than most, too (possibly even quite a bit higher than last year). Helps the flavors dance around.

Overall: This is a unique beer. The base stout must be around 9-9.25%, which makes this one of the lightest all-BA stouts on the market. It's better than many special release BA beers that cost twice as much. It's more drinkable than BCBS or Dark Lord, and this year's batch has some extra chocolate flavors to it. CW keeps getting better and better at brewing and barrel aging stouts. (1,182 characters)

Photo of MartzMimic
4.56/5  rDev +9.6%
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. (342 characters)

Photo of zookerman182
4.56/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is black with a half finger light brown head that faded quickly.
Aroma is so luxurious. Oak, vanilla, toffee, caramel, chocolate.
The bourbon in the aroma is the perfect amount.
Flavor is oak barrel and vanilla. Milk chocolate and slight burnt sugar. Slight coconut.
Mouthfeel is medium and perfect. Carbonation is perfect and the lingering roast flavors just tops off this wonderful example of a bourbon barrel aged stout.
I wasnt expecting too much but I'm really blown away....or it's been forever since I've had a BB stout. (539 characters)

Photo of Mmmaibock
4.56/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Red-black. Moderate head.

Smell: Intense, almost to a fault. Like taking a hit from a snifter of bourbon.

Taste: Heavy bourbon. Cola. Caramel.

Feel: Very warming. Comforting.

Overall: Excellent. Light the fireplace and settle in.

Serving type: On tap at Quivey's Beerfest. Best beer of the fest. (312 characters)

Photo of BeerLover99
4.56/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

A: deep brown/black body, finger khaki head,
solid lacing

S: bourbon, roasted barrel, caramel/toffee,
coffee, hint of chocolate.

T: same as the nose, mild roasted finish

M: med/heavy body, smooth mouth

O: Delicious, wish it was little bit thicker and
seemed a tad hot, probably would be divine if I laid
a few bottles down until 2014 Fall/Winter.
I would get again and highly recommend.

FANTASTIC; WORTH GETTING! (421 characters)

Photo of afausser
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an opaque dark chocolate color with an initial swell of carbonation supplying a very small head. There is a circle of mocha colored fine bubbles around the edge of the glass. The bubbles are extremely small to small in size and look like an uneven glass etching. The top of the beer has pretty swirled patterns reminiscent of clouds or constellations. Really pretty.

S: The smell of this one is extremely strong. From the time the bottle is opened, and even from a distance, boozy molasses wafts from the brew. It smells like a mix of booze, tart cherries, vanilla, molasses, caramel, and light chocolate notes. Really excellent, simple flavors, blending together to form a nicely balanced complex nose.

T: Tastes a lot more sour than I would have expected. I seem to remember this from the other bottle I had of this. Maybe both were from the same bad batch, or both got infected (entirely possible given the age, but neither poured like an infected beer). This leads me to believe that this is in fact the intended taste I’m reviewing off of. It’s not bad—just unexpected both times. Instead of the boozy darker notes standing out, the tart cherry notes are most prominent. Which is awesome since I love sours, and this sort of puts that sort of twist on the brew. There’s no heat on this one which is pretty amazing for a bourbon barrel stout. Other notes include vanilla, some heavy roasted notes, particularly in the aftertaste, and then, a slight but almost unidentifiable bourbon taste. Can’t give this top marks if reviewing to style, since quite frankly it doesn’t taste like a bourbon barrel stout. But it’s amazing and incorporates fruit really well, especially as it warms. When it warms, the fruit notes come out more, but in a less harsh way, and blend with an emerging boozy taste and the slightest amount of heat.

M: Mouthfeel is excellent. It’s got an overall low level of carbonation, making it smooth to drink, but not at the detriment of flavor, which is delivered by extremely fine bubbles. I’m kind of a mouthfeel snob and I give this one top marks. Delivers flavor perfectly with a hint of crispness and no extra foam in the mouth.

Drinkability: More of one to sip than a session beer, given the style, but this is extremely drinkable and goes down easily and with far less heat than similar beers, and indeed than most beers that I drink in the winter season. Very nicely done, from one of my very favorite breweries. (2,472 characters)

Photo of SkeeterBoganski
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - a bit of a jet black with some brown tinges towards the top near the bubbly head that dissipates quickly after a pour; surprisingly carbonated but that goes away quick; minimal lacing

S - roasted malts; bourbon; chocolate; burnt sugar; a touch of coffee; vanilla; a bit of coconut; some oak

T - vanilla chocolate bourbon glory; the roasted malts are present again; oak and earth; really tasty hints of maple syrup; roasted oats; caramel; maybe some raisin or plum; that subtle touch of coffee

M - it's a bit thin for sure given the complexity and style, but it still has that thick, boozy stout thing going for it; it's medium-heavy; exceptionally smooth but as it compares to BCBS, better be at only 9.5%; easy carbonation

O - the vanilla-chocolate flavors with the bourbon barrel aging are decadent and delicious; this is the kind of bourbon barrel stout that you can actually drink more than one of; I'm a big fan...this is smooth, easy-drinking, and downright delicious in flavor. (992 characters)

Photo of mnredsoxfan69
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened up a 2013 vintage and poured it into a tulip glass.

Deep ruby-brown, almost opaque with very little head or carbonation. The smell is bourbon, roasted malt, bourbon, vanilla and bourbon. The flavor is sweet bourbon with rich, roasted malt highlights, a little chocolate, a little coffee, a little vanilla and a bit of hop bitterness. Medium bodied and silky on the tongue, it goes down much too easily for a true sipper. The alcohol warms and caresses all the way down.

A top notch example of the brewers art. I'm so glad I've three more in the cellar. (561 characters)

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to my Marquette brethren curtisloew for including this in our trade. Black beer, decent sized 1/2" brown head on it. Smooth, rich bourbon and chocolate aroma, not boozy, not a big waft of alcohol, just dark chocolate, coconut and bourbon in a small way.

Taste, even more decadent, rich, smooth, mild notes of oak, a little more coconut again. Faint smoke noticeable, a little bit more vanilla. Not sweet, just rich and sturdy, avoiding becoming overly thick or roasty, almost zero bitterness. One of the easiest bourbon barrel beers I've ever come across.

Would probably be rated so much higher if it wasn't so easy to get and so relatively cheap. Can't wait for jegross2 to hook me up with some more of these. Very good. Its really become one of my favorites in the world. If you have some of this beer, and you want something from the west coast, hit me up, I trade Black Tuesday, White Chocolate, Pliny, Eclipse etc. . . for this stuff all the time. (962 characters)

Photo of krustster
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One finger of head that quickly fades away, clear, almost cola-like pour. When held up to the light it is clearly more red/brown than black, really looks more like a porter than a bourbon barrel stout. Good amount of fine lacing. It looks nice in its own right, but for the style, it's certainly odd.

Once you get to smelling it, you know they mean business. A huge vanilla overload, with slight booze, milk chocolate and a hint of coffee. Bourbon of course. Not a lot of oak barrel smell. A little bit of roasted nuts in there, but vanilla is the main feature here.

On the actual sip, I was left wondering how I got away with paying $13 for a four pack of this. Again, massive vanilla up front. Bourbon second, not sure what kind of barrels they used for it but I'm a fan. After that comes chocolate and roasted malts, with some hints of pecan pie and "dark fruits". There was booze in the nose, but none in the taste. Just sweet, bourbon-y vanilla all day, with enough chocolate and roast to keep it from being cloying. Awesome!! Lots of bourbon barrel things have that boozy taste, but you don't get so much bourbon. This one is the opposite. It almost tastes like a shot of very good bourbon has been added to the beer.

Mouth feel is where I think most opinions diverge. It's light, some would say thin, but knowing they've been making it for at least 5 years I think it's intentional. It does feel more like a porter so I have to mark it down a tad, but it's nice to get a bourbon barrel stout that has full flavor with a less aggressive mouth feel. Light, thin, higher carbonation, but still sticky enough that you can tell they made it this way on purpose, if that makes sense. Carbonation is fairly sharp for the style but not too much by any means. Again, goes well with the light feel.

Overall, I'm really glad that I picked up a couple packs on my recent trip to Madison. I came back with various BCBS as well, and I will fully admit that those are better, but Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout is a very close competitor, while being a totally different beer. Sometimes you want a massive, booze-laden behemoth, and sometimes you want something that isn't so big, but still packs the full flavor. This is that beer. With something like BCBS I feel like I have to set aside an evening to drink one. With this, I can just break one out any time. (2,362 characters)

Photo of kickapoodude
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
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. (316 characters)

Photo of challenja
4.53/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served On Tap at Church Key DC

A: A bit light with a redish glow. Crimson blood spilt and kept in commemorative jar.
S: Candied Cherries, brown sugar, warm maple sap. Grape Concord? French vanilla is swetting through the cherried oak barrels. Sweet syrupy molassesed malts. Definitely a different profile from most imperial stouts which tend to be coffee and dark chocolate.
T: This is one complex brew that teeters on fruity saison territory. I am at a loss at why this is considered an imperial stout. The bourbon flourish comes after the candied fruit intro which is loaded with candied cherries, strawberry jam, and concord grape juice! The coffee profile is minimal at best it comes racing in after the fruit bourbon and sweet lacing in Fourth place. Not even Medaling! Boo!
But definitely a tasty brew.
M: Very cask in feel. Light to medium carbonation, smooth and creamy with a nice white pepper backbite that travels down the throat cavity.
O: A very tasty brew. Impressive in character and taste profile. Definitely a sneak attack beer to offer your beer geek friends. Highly recommended for the adventurous beer snob (1,130 characters)

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
93 out of 100 based on 609 ratings.