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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,700 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,700
Reviews: 551
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.46%
Wants: 348
Gots: 513 | FT: 60
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:
American-style stout aged for 1 year in used 12 year bourbon barrels.

(Beer added by: Skidz on 05-28-2004)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,700 | Reviews: 551 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DMBTattoo
5/5  rDev +18.2%

DMBTattoo, May 08, 2013
Photo of greid
5/5  rDev +18.2%

greid, Feb 26, 2012
Photo of jokemon
4.98/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I feel bad writing such a simple review but there is not much else to say but "this is a very good beer and you should try it.

Had it on tap at the Malt House in Madison, WI.

Dark as night, and taste like bourbon milk chocolate with a bit of coffee.

jokemon, Jul 06, 2012
Photo of badbeer
4.95/5  rDev +17%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 Bottle

Pours out black with a tan head that retains well; leaves a nice lacing, especially for a high gravity brew. Smell is splendid. A rich scent of bourbon, vanilla bean, chocolate, and roastiness make up the aroma. This is not overdone like almost all other bourbon barrel beers are; it is amazingly well done. Bourbon taste is strong, but smooth; noticeable, but in no way overpowering. Perfectly blend of flavors. Carbonation is a little higher than medium but does a good job holding this one together. Mouthfeel is medium, with a dry, roasty, bourbon-y, and vanilla finish. BA Dark Lord, Kentucky Breakfast, and Bourbon County Stout are just a few examples of very good bourbon aged stouts; the one that comes closest to this one is BA Speedway. Yes, I did just say that, this is the king of bourbon barrel stouts, in my opinion.

badbeer, May 17, 2007
Photo of 312HopBomb
4.95/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 batch in a 12 oz brown bottle. Served in a Goose Island Belgian Tulip (silver goose).

Dark brown with garnet highlights. Not much head, it falls to a ring.

OMG the smell is the best I have ever experienced. It is the most intense, complex blend ever. I am struggling to wrap my brain around all the aromas mixed together. First, the blast of bourbon then vanilla and toffee, molasses, caramel and brown sugar. Booze with dark fruits and some oak. Fig, date, and plum. I can't believe how great this smells.

Each sip is a pool of concentrated flavor swirling around my tongue. This is almost better than the smell if that is even possible. The bourbon, vanilla, caramel, toffee, molasses, dark fruits and booze continue on and on leading one to take the sips in increasingly rapid bursts. This is not the way to sample an imperial stout but oh well.

The mouthfeel is like velvet. Fine carbonation that lasts to the final sip.

Overall: At this price point this is the best value on the planet. I am kicking myself for not buying all I could get my hands on because it's gone now. I only got two or three four packs. I can't wait until next year's release. Central Waters knocked this style out of the park.

312HopBomb, Jun 06, 2012
Photo of nflmvp
4.93/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a nice thick two inch head of mocha foam which left a sticy lace as it subsided. Pitch black in the glass.

Smell: HEAVENLY.... smoky bourbon, coffee, molasses, dark chocolate.

Taste: WOW. Homerun! Again, bourbon, coffee, etc.

Moutfeel: Amazingly smooth for the higer than average ABV. Thick and coating...even creamy. Very light alcohol tingle. I find this stuff to be amazing.

Drinkabilty: Simply outstanding. I can't seem to get enough of this amazingly smooth, yet complex BBS. Likely the highest rating I've given to any beer.

nflmvp, Jun 18, 2006
Photo of Wasatch
4.93/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to beerwolf77 for this brew.
2010 Edition
Bottled: Jan
Revisted: 7 Nov 10

DAMN! This is one tasty brew.

Poured into a chalice a black color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy/fizzy tan head, some islands and sticky lacing follows. The nose is big on roasted malts, oak/bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate/toffee. The taste is simply delicious, it hits you right in the face with a big bourbon/malt/chocolate/toffee notes, with some really nice vanilla sweetness. The warmth from the alcohol comes in next, and leaves the tummy nice and warm. Full body, well-rounded brew. Very drinkable, MAN! I wish this was available in Utah. One of the best brews I've had to date, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thanks to autumnaldave for this brew.

DAMN! This is one tasty brew.

Poured into a tulip a black color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, some islands and sticky lacing follows. The nose is big on roasted malts, oak/bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate/toffee. The taste is simply delicious, it hits you right in the face with a big bourbon/malt/chocolate/toffee, with some really nice vanilla sweetness. The warmth from the alcohol comes in next, and leaves the tummy nice and warm. Full body, well-rounded brew. Very drinkable, MAN! I wish this was available in Utah. One of the best brews I've had to date, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Wasatch, Oct 14, 2007
Photo of gkatsoris
4.93/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Darkest of brown; border-lining black. No head and no lacing. No bubbles either.

S: Chocolate Jack Daniels. Vanilla whiskey. Chocolate coffee whiskey. Butterscotch.

T: Butterscotch!!! Coffee whiskey!!! Chocolate whiskey!!! Bourbon-licious!!! Vanilla whiskey. Expresso on the very very end. Ground coffee beans.

M: Thick and rich. Coats the tongue beautifully. Yum!!!

O: As big and bold as this is, I could drink these/this all night; usually a beer this big is a one-and-done...NOT THIS ONE!!!

gkatsoris, Apr 14, 2012
Photo of vobr0002
4.93/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- dark brown with creamy tan head that last a while

S- caramel, chocolate, vanilla bourbon, oak. Smells fantastic

T- chocolate, roasted, vanilla oak, bourbon, and coffee.

M- full body, thick and very smooth.

O- one of the very best bourbon barrel stouts I have ever had.

vobr0002, Apr 21, 2012
Photo of Jimmeekrek
4.91/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Truly an epic Bourbon Barrel aged imperial stout, at a price point that defies the industry standard. Basically the same componentry as 1414, which won gold at the GABF, this spends a year in heaven hill bourbon barrels, and the result is nearly perfect. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and a hint of coconut make for an outstanding beer. Do yourself a favor, get a bottle or two if you can.

Jimmeekrek, Mar 11, 2013
Photo of IMFletcher
4.91/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

We were on vacation in Wisconsin, determined to find a Central Waters barrel-aged beer before we left. After much searching, we ended up at Stubby's in Milwaukee, where they had this on tap, and served it in a goblet.

That's a good thing, because this is among the best BBA Imperial Stouts out there, and should be treated as royalty.

Cannot wait for the next time I encounter something barrel aged from these brewers.

IMFletcher, May 30, 2014
Photo of Chaney
4.91/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

BeerFMAndy sent this to me way back in the day. Thanks, Andy!

A: Poured black as night with no real head to speak of.

S: SOOO much chocolate on this that it's not even funny. Kinda reminds me of Caldera "Mogli."

T: This is the 2011 Vintage and it's tight, tight, tight!. Seriously, the molasses content makes me drool to even think about it. I love high-grade soy sauce!

M: This is dark snot, chocoholic paradise, and infinitely thick.

O: One of the best I've have so far in 2014. Can't imagine a better example of the style,

Chaney, May 06, 2014
Photo of GehenHerzog
4.9/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a Mother Earth Snifter. 2011 vintage Bottle received from beerwolf77. I'm pretty sure this is my new favorite

A- Pours a deep brown, almost black. About a quarter inch head, no lacing at all.

S- The smell is strong bourbon, vanilla and an ever so slight coffee scent on the back end.

T- Very strong vanilla and bourbon up front which I love. On the back end I get a little bit of chocolate, coffee, toffee, and a little bit of alcohol. Very balanced and one of my favorite beers (comparable to Event Horizon).

M- It's a full bodied beer, medium carbonation.

D- Very drinkable. Very slight heat/alcohol detected which I prefer.

I absolutely love this beer, which is the reason why I traded for it again. This beer and Olde Hickory Event Horizon are neck and neck as my favorite beers. If anyone wants to send me more of these, I will not mind at all.

GehenHerzog, May 01, 2011
Photo of martyl1000
4.88/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm not sure how much my Wisconson partiality is involved in this score. But I'm just as impressed with this as I am BCBS or Mikkeler Black Hole or Founders Imperial Stout. It puts into perspective Tier 1 vs. Tier 2 imperial stouts. Now relegated to Tier 2 are: Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Founders Breakfast Stout, Southern Tier Mokah/Jahva/Creme Brulee, Weyerbacher Tiny, and Goose Island Big John.

The aroma may be the star, here, though how could one choose any awesome feature over any other? It pours an opaque black, rivaling the darkest brown head I've ever seen. Perma-lacing sticks to the tulip glass like meringue.

My wife loves the bourbon booziness. I feel like I'm having another 16% fume-bomb, like Hebrew Jewbilation 16--but in the best way. The sweet malt mingles with the bourbon spice so well it creates the mirage of Neopolitan ice cream (chocolate and vanilla at once), w/o the strawberry of course.
This is the "2012" from my cellar, 11 months of aging.

Pours nearly perfectly black with a rim of tanned leather at the 2mm fast-dissipating khaki foam, plus bits of lacing and legs of running alcohol on the glass.

In the nose it's an umami cocoa, first and foremost. How choco-wonderous. Then aromas of toast, burnt sugar, and bourbon, with hints of coffee and vanilla. But one really has to work to get this complexity, as the aromas are whisper quiet. (In fact, I've demoted the aroma score.) The oak barrel is nice. People talk about toasted coconut in the aroma, but that's one note I've been unable to fathom.

In the mouth it's a spumoni ice-cream cross of vanilla and chocolate. It's so good, one tends toward big mouthfuls to swish from side to side, front to back. It's nearly the vanilla heights of Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout. Perhaps it's the aging, but the bourbon comes muted. (But my wife feels the bourbon is highly present.) Roasty malt and charred oak walk with maple syrup, burnt caramel, and chewy biscuit. Then the dried fruits come, some raisin or prune, and a candied cherry. A subtle pine-hop and anise twist the thumbscrews of complexity. It all washes down with coffee and cream on the backend.

Medium- to full-bodied, fabulously smooth, with a modest carbonation and a mild boozy heat.

Decadent, delicious. It goes down fast. Something this rich, you would expect it to be a one-and-done deal. But I feel I could have several. Perhaps that's the beauty of a sub-10% abv.

This is the "2013", I've picked up four 4-paks to put in the cellar. Just testing this one bottle.

Pours an opaque absence of color into a tulip glass, with a half-finger of brown head. Some lace-speckles stick to the glass.

Even ice cold, there's a wonderful cocoa aroma, we're talking total Cocoa Wheats hot cereal. Need to let it warm up a bit, as there's not much else going on. Ah, now that it's warmed a bit, some vague allusions to bourbon make themselves known. Vanilla wafer cookie and coconut shreds, meet burnt coffee. Working at it, one can pick out the oak barrel amidst the sweet grain. Way in the background is a surprising citrus.

The big surprise is how subdued and mellow this is in the mouth. The cocoa is just jaw-dropping. It's the chocolate pleasure of being a child and biting into your favorite chocolate candy. But the bourbon flavor comes across soft-spoken, shy, even, especially relative to that of the 2012. The complexity is also very quiet and reticent: vanilla, coconut, diacetyl toffee, plus dark fruit (mission fig) and molasses. The spice contingent steps forward, as well: licorice and black pepper attempt to dry out the sweetness.

The mouthfeel comes off as two steps lighter than the 2012. The alcohol is much more hidden this year, too. Still viscous and creamy, just not as liqueur-like and decadent as the 2012.

martyl1000, Dec 11, 2013
Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a Central Waters tulip.
9.5% ABV, Vintage: 2012 notched.

A - Pouring out almost black, this barrel-aged stout appears the same in the glass. Very small highlights of dark brown around the edges underscore a quickly dissipating tan head that leaves wisps of thin lace here and there.

S - Bourbon barrel-aging is strong and robust with oaky wood notes and vanilla pouring out around the mellow bourbon which is neither hot nor solvent-like. Light notes of semi-sweet chocolate chunk and a drizzle of molasses develop around this stout's roasted malt base.

T - The roasted malts really pull through the barrel-aging and come out in a big way, offering milk chocolate and mocha with very smooth and finely roasted coffee beans. Right away the profile shifts gears to a relaxed vanilla cream and deliciously smooth bourbon barrel flavor with minor hints at the barrel's wood. The inherent alcohol adds warmth but little in the way of solvent flavor or bite.

M - This is one of the smoothest barrel-aged stouts around, as if plush velvet meets baby's butt meets James Brown smooth. It just glides down the throat with finesse despite it's full, robust body. Soothing, warming alcohol finishes with a touch of roasted malt bitterness for an expertly balanced beer.

O - All too often I find bourbon barrel-aged stouts high in alcohol and overshadow their actual beer base with an outlandish punch of booze. Central Waters has expertly balanced this Bourbon Barrel Stout to be both drinkable fresh (sans that typical heat) and worthy of further aging. It's incredibly smooth body and robust flavor profile combine for an unrivaled, easy-to-obtain barrel-aged stout experience.

BeerFMAndy, May 27, 2013
Photo of CraftFan5
4.85/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

CraftFan5, Apr 11, 2014
Photo of JerUrbans
4.83/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pour form 12 oz bottle to regular pint glass

Served at cellar temp

Aggressive pour yields beautiful dark creamy color with big bubbles. Very dark chocolate color.

A sweet bourbon smell, like brandy

Wow, this tastes fantastic! Smooth, light vanilla flavor and has a big bourbon taste that hangs on. Today it's 30 degrees below zero and this is the perfect cure for the bitter cold.

Mouthfeel is rich and smooth, slight bitterness at the end.

Overall this is probably the best bourbon barrel stout I have had. If you like bourbon barrel imperial stouts I bet it would be hard to find a better one. I would seek this beer out. Will be aging the rest as I have heard this beer gets better with age. This was bottle on 3-25-13.

JerUrbans, Jan 06, 2014
Photo of klewis
4.83/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to ThomasHardy for this extra!

A: Pours a solid black with a bubbly off-white head that subsides to a thick frothy ring around the glass. Moderate lacing.

S: Malty smell with chocolate, raisins, and a strong but pleasant bourbon aroma.

T: A dry taste of coffee with an earthy quality. Nice complexity from the barrel aging with flavors of vanilla, burnt wood, and quite a bit of fine bourbon flavor.

M: Full-bodied and dry with light carbonation.

D: Quite a fine brew. Normally I don't like beers in which the bourbon is this noticable, however, the brewers at Central Waters have found a way to combine the stout with the bourbon barrel so that both flavors compliment each other while still retaining their characteristic tastes. Every sip gets better andbetter. Highly recommended.

klewis, Apr 06, 2007
Photo of bitterbeerguy
4.83/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It's been a pretty good day so far...Pliny and some fresh BBS from Central Waters

Beer pours black as night, with off-white head that subsides very quickly. Small stream of bubbles does come up throughout the entire time I drink this beer. Slightest rim of foam still present

Smell hits the bourbon highlights: nut, whiskey, and vanilla. Not the heaviest aroma, but definitely present once you get your nose into it.

Flavor is top notch. You might expect a very thick feel to it, but very well balanced that way. Bourbon flavor throughout, but turns into a creamy toffee flavor on the end. Honestly, one of the best finishes I have ever had in a stout. The vanilla linger is beautiful.

This brew makes it on my list of favorites without any effort. The real question is: how can I get a hold of a case?

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

bitterbeerguy, Dec 24, 2011
Photo of joeseppy
4.8/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had on-tap @ Beer Bistro, Chi-town. Thanks Bob and Chris for scoring a barrel.

Kinda dark in the bar but a black pour with a one inch creamy head. At any time, putting this down, you could rouse up a thin vanilla cream topping by agitating the pint.

Aroma of sweet cream, vanilla and trace bourbon.

First sip is CHOCOLATE decadence. Not too sweet to hurt your teeth. Picking up on dried coconut flakes, vanilla and just the right amount of bourbon. The malt bill is spectacular. Simple saying-this is a Coke float with vanilla ice cream and a shot of choice bourbon. Medium density but this doesn't need to be thick, IMO.

This is my fourth BA from Central Waters and they have their barrel program nailed this past year. This brew right here is the pie'ce de resistance : )

joeseppy, Mar 27, 2013
Photo of Josh012012
4.79/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Just bottled 2013
12oz bottle via snifter

A: An assertive pour resulted in a large light colored head that dissipated at an average rate. Head did not have the dark oily look I prefer in big stouts. Beer itself a very dark brown almost black.

S: Bourbon up front then sweet dark fruits and molasses. Smells excellent!

T: Bourbon... smooth bourbon slowly gives way to its stout flavors.

M: lighter than other big BBS and perhaps slightly more carbonated as well.

O: WOW! One of my highest rated beers. I usually dislike stouts with too forward a bourbon flavor or lighter body. Yet, I love this beer! somehow the balance is perfect and these characteristics do not detract from it in the slightest. A MUST try for any lover of barrel Aged Stout!

Josh012012, Feb 03, 2014
Photo of EdwardK77
4.78/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Jet black stout under a significant head which dissipates to a pleasant foam ring leaving nice lacing behind.

S- Beyond awesome, caramel and vanilla explosion. Not to mention bourbon and some killer buttery toffee.

T- Extremely well balanced, no booze burn. This is all richness, "I'll just have this for dessert thanks" kind of stout.

M- Medium bodied and really well balanced.

O- This is a fantastic bourbon barrel stout, I'm enjoying it as much as Goose Island BCBS and I'll mark it up some additional points for not being owned by InBev.

EdwardK77, May 20, 2014
Photo of TheSSG
4.78/5  rDev +13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light, loud hissing, tan head that collapses to a thin edging. MASSIVE nose of woody vanilla with a noticeable booziness behind it. Black. Starts out aggressively woody and vanilla-y, with that booze behind it; almost as forceful as a bourbon. Moves to a medium bitterness as an AMAZING, deep, toasted coffee flavor comes through, switches to dark chocolate, and finishes with roasted malt and chocolate. This has a nice, thick, viscous consistency.

This is AMAZING. Simply stunning. This is everything a bourbon barrel stout should be; the bourbon flavors lead the way, but the stout is equally strong and these flavors blend so well with the wood notes to create a sensationally complex, toasty, coffee/chocolate character.

TheSSG, Feb 13, 2013
Photo of NWer
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

NWer, Jan 03, 2013
Photo of SD-Alefan
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

SD-Alefan, Feb 15, 2014
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 1,700 ratings.