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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.

1,693 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,693
Reviews: 551
rAvg: 4.23
pDev: 9.46%
Wants: 347
Gots: 512 | FT: 59
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: 1,693 | Reviews: 551 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of feloniousmonk
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black, black, black, nothing but deep darkness from out of this bottle, with a nice espresso-tinged brown layer of foam, settling into a nice, tight rings, which never quits, just hangs in there.
Aroma, in just one word? Wow! impressive! Thick, huge, pervasive alcoholic aroma, vast, expansive, heady, full of rich whiskey notes, dark flavors, coffee, brandy, licorice.
big presence in the mouth, too, big in alcohol, as well, a flush with flavors of chocolate, dark rum, molasses, spices. Ful bodied, but thins out some in the middle, becoming not quite so much of the powerhouse that we like from our IS's, though the bourbon character is prevalent throughout and really is the key to the enjoyment of this terrific stout. Has a true luxurious feel from that flavor, a real beastly, though well-mannered, presence in the mouth, with a rich, boozy kick on the lips with every sip!
I'd like to go back to another bottle of this one, for sure! Thanks go surely to that sweetheart cokes, and I nod, too, to drinkin' buddy tavernjef in whose company I reveled in this fine stout.

feloniousmonk, Jun 16, 2004
Photo of drabmuh
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage, no one will notice but I'm leveling up on this review. YAY ME!

Beer poured from a bottle into a Delirium tulip. Beer is black / brown with a thin broken brown head of tiny bubbles that leaves a little lacing on the glass (doing the halo thing). Carbonation low.

Lots of wood and liquor in the aroma...nice! Sweet, balanced...nice strong.

Beer is nice, it's sweet up front with great bourbon character and has a medium to light body. The finish is a little dry but its a very nice beer. The liquor character is really well balanced into the overall beer. There is a mild tannic character and vanilla from the oak, I really like it.

drabmuh, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of jlindros
4.56/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

jlindros, Jun 28, 2013
Photo of oline73
4.43/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this on-tap at Capone's during the Black Friday event. Served in a tasting snifter.

Appearance: The beer pours a very dark brown color with a layer of light tan head. The head fades to a ring around the pour.

Smell: Smooth roasted malt up front with a slight sweetness. I'm getting some dark chocolate and a mild caramel note.

Taste: This is an incredibly smooth beer. I'm getting some mild bourbon and carmel along with a stronger dark chocolate note. The sweet flavors come together and star in the finish. There is also a nice roast component in the finish.

Mouthfeel: The body is medium to thick with smooth carbonation and a finish that is a bit dry.

Overall: This is an incredibly easy to drink beer. I love the sweet desert like flavors. I would definitely have more in the future.

oline73, Nov 24, 2012
Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: bottle share at Beermongers, Portland, OR
Thanks to writerLJberg for the share!

Appeared black, opaque, with a thin layer of tan head that laced a little bit. Oaky bourbon in the aroma, roasted chocolate malts. Taste is dark malts, dark chocolate, and yes, bourbon, with notes of oak, black cherries, Sugar Daddies; moderate alcohol warmth. Smooth and on the heavier side of medium-bodied. Not the best of its class, but still good overall.

Rifugium, Jan 12, 2012
Photo of mendvicdog
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

mendvicdog, Sep 08, 2014
Photo of Mora2000
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

2010 vintage. The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is awesome with chocolate, oak, bourbon, vanilla and alcohol. The flavor is just as good. I get notes of bourbon and oak as well as coffee and a lot of milk chocolate. Medium to thick mouthfeel and low carbonation.

Mora2000, Jun 05, 2010
Photo of mdfb79
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my New Belgium globe. Received in the Birthday BIF thanks to zimmerbloke; thanks Matt!

a - Pours a pretty deeo mahogany brown color with two inches of tan head and moderate carbonation evident. An inch od creamy tan head lasts throughout drinking the beer and leaves a little lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of bourbon, vanilla, oak, chocolate, roasted malts, toasted malts, vanilla, toffee, and caramel malts. Wow, I was surprised how complex and great this one smelled. I expected the bourbon up front, but I didn't expect so much going on. The bourbon doesn't dominate the nose at all; this one smells amazing.

t - Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, oak, coffee, roasted malts, and vanilla. While I liked the taste a lot, it seemed a tiny bit light in some flavors, almost slightly watered down. Good, but a definite step down from the great nose.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. The body is super smooth and creamy, and goes down very easy. Not hot at all, and a bit later than I was ecpecting for a barrel aged stout.

d - Overall I really liked this beer. I found the nose amazing and complex; everytime I took a sniff I got something different and equally good. The taste was good, but a little bit of a let down after the nose, but for 9.5%, it was very drinkable. Glad I have another bottle of this one and might have to try and get more.

mdfb79, Feb 23, 2011
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +18.2%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of DrunkinYogi
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

DrunkinYogi, Mar 30, 2014
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.8/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep, dark amber-brown color that is approaching black, but not as close as one would expect from a typical Imperial Stout. The head is frothy, light brown color that quickly disappears from an initial one and a half finger thick head. The aroma is nice with notes of buttery oak and vanillin. The buttery note almost makes the aroma seem creamy in some way. The aroma is also a bit hot, with notes of higher alcohols, a bit of astringent oak and something like that bourbon form the barrel. There is also something here that seems a bit like musty scrambled eggs.

The beer is light up front, with a bit of richness that starts to come into play in the middle of the beer. The oak is definitely here, though not so much that it is too distracting. Buttery oak leads to a light tannic oak note that has a nice light, lingeringly astringent note that is a mix of bourbon and the barrel. This beer has a nice roast character to it that is noticeable, though perhaps not as much as I would like. Notes of espresso, dark chocolate, and chalky roast grain are noticeable underneath the oak character.

This is actually much better tasting than I would expect from this mix of flavors. The oak is just light enough that it is pleasant and not too intruding. All of the notes in this beer are on an incredibly subtle level, if only for an Imperial Stout. I think that it is the subtlety of this beer that makes it work. The flavors meld quite well, with none being so dominating as to drown out the other flavors or be objectionable in and of themselves.

Gueuzedude, Mar 28, 2006
Photo of MarkyMOD
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

MarkyMOD, Apr 24, 2014
Photo of XmnwildX12
4/5  rDev -5.4%

XmnwildX12, Nov 22, 2013
Photo of Halcyondays
4.08/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a dark brown with a mild off-white head, good lace.

S: Molasses, coffee, cocoa nibs.

T: Dark chocolate with a lot of upfront fresh bourbon barrel character with a considerable coffee play. A real nice mix of flavours.

M: Smooth, creamy, soft carbonation, moderately high viscosity, full-bodied for sure.

D: A very enjoyable big stout from this Wisconsin brewer. A definite buy if I'm ever in the area.

Halcyondays, Dec 11, 2010
Photo of kojevergas
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Got this goodie from the very gracious Duff27 in a trade. Thanks again, buddy! This is my first real beer from Central Waters; I had Shine On before but that's it. 2012 vintage. I wish I had a snifter to serve this in, but the best I can do while away from my glass collection in Colorado is to serve it in a conical Samuel Smith's pint glass. Reviewed live. "Malt Beverage Aged in Used Oak Bourbon Barrels." Expectations are through the roof, current ratings are great, it sounds great, and it's got quite a reputation. I don't see an ABV listed on the label. Label art is simple and appealing. 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard gold pressure cap.

Served cold and allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Not paired with food.

A: Pours a lovely two finger khaki-tan colour head of very good creamy character, great thickness, and great (8+) minute retention for the high ABV. Soft, frothy, creamy, and appealing. Body colour is a very dark solid black - not quite a jet black - but certainly black. Nontransparent and opaque; no yeast particles are visible. No bbuble show. Light attractive lacing as the head slowly recedes. Looks exactly as it should, with an impressive head. I'm excited to try it. I imagine it'd look even better in a snifter.

Sm: Pungent bourbon - complete with subtle vanilla and oak notes - exactly what I want from a bourbon barrel aged stout. There'd be no mistaking the bourbon if I handed this to you blind. The execution seems good, if strong. Wow. Dark malts, cream, maybe chocolate. It's all buried beneath the bourbon. I wouldn't call it a woody aroma, but the oak is certainly there with depth and subtlety. I get a hint of alcohol off the aroma, but I wouldn't call it a hot or boozy aroma. Just a touch of appealing warmth. Love the bourbon notes here, but constructively I could use a bit more toasty character. A pretty strong aroma. So far, so good. Can't wait to try it.

T: Wow. Extravagant bourbon notes are right up front here, with subtle vanilla and rich oak really ringing distinct. Little alcohol presence if any; it's got the great flavour of a good bourbon but none of the alcohol burden. Body is a touch roasty - though not quite as much as I'd like. Milk chocolate hits on the climax, blending well with the already luscious vanilla for a fantastic flavour. Creamy throughout, complementing the smooth chocolate. There's no bothersome caramel malt here, and no bitterness from the chocolate. A hint of coconut - it took me awhile to place that note; I'm not sure it's doing the beer a service, but it's interesting. Any hop character is unnoticeable. No yeast character comes through. I fancy the foundation is comprised of dark malts, but they don't intrude. Oak is the guiding body of this beer, and really lends it a cohesive, whole feel. I will say the flavour falls off in the third act; it just fades. This isn't a bad thing per se. Impressively well balanced and built. A very successful marriage of a good stout with bourbon notes. I quite like it. Now that it's warming up a bit more, I do get some buried roast in the third act.

The more and more I drank, the more a tiny nagging feeling came on that it was a touch too sweet. This is a nitpicking criticism, but - I think - a valid one.

Mf: Nicely creamy. Smooth and wet. Great body - not too thick or overbearing. Complements the flavour profile really well. Carbonation is just a biteen overdone. Silky. Good presence on the palate, enabling full delivery of the complex depth of flavour. Chewy.

Dr: Quite drinkable considering the high ABV, which is itself noticeable but not unpleasant. It's best enjoyed as a sipper; this one deserves to be savoured. A lovely bourbon barrel aged stout all around. A smashing success for the style. I'd definitely get this again if I was so lucky. I'd love to try this one aged. I'll enjoy finishing the bottle alone, but I'd recommend ideally that you share it with a friend. Thanks again for the chance to try this one, Duff27!

Low B+

kojevergas, Mar 26, 2013
Photo of beernads
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

beernads, May 08, 2013
Photo of imperialking
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

imperialking, Feb 16, 2012
Photo of corby112
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage

Pours a dark chestnut brown color that appears pitch black in the glass with a one finger beige head that quickly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Wow, the aroma of this beer is incredible with a complex barrel presence that's perfectly integrated into the characteristics of the base beer. Very nice bourbon presence with dry oak, vanilla, toasted coconut and marshmallow followed by roasted malt, silky chocolate and a dessert-like fudge cake quality. Very complex and although the bourbon barrel is the strongest component, the dark malts and stout notes aren't overpowered at all. Smells incredible! I could see some folks wanting more bourbon in the nose but to me the aroma is nearly perfect.

Full bodied with a blast of bourbon heat that lingers over the other barrel notes and roasted malt into a slightly spicy, dry finish. A bit boozier and heavier on the bourbon flavors th an the nose suggests, but the barrel character remains complex and is nicely integrated into the base beer. Some dry, charred oak followed by a strong sweet and spicy bourbon presence that's followed by a smooth vanilla bean flavor before the roasted and sweet malt notes come in. Not as sweet or dessert like as the nose hinted at but there's still some subtle silky chocolate flavor countering the intense roast. The rost compliments the dry oak and spicy spirit with hints of dark chocolate, burnt toast, oatmeal and espresso bean. Slightly hot with some warmth in the finish but after the palate adjusts, the high ABV is relatively well masked. Definitely a sipper but the complexity and intense flavors make it a very enjoyable drink.

corby112, Mar 12, 2013
Photo of weeare138
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Much thanks to hopdog for this one in a trade...
Appears a black with a dark caramel hue around the edges. A nice, 2 finger tan head slowly fades out into a gentle cap. Scattered spots of lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of oak, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, cocoa, and sweet, warmed, brown sugar.
Taste is of the same aromas highlighted by the oak, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and cocoa flavors that is a blend that's certainly worthy of any beer/bourbon lover's time.
Mouthfeel is creamy, bourbony bite, chocolate sweet, and perhaps just a shade of sourness that is buried far in the background and not noticeable enough to penalize.
If anyone has any more bourbon aged brews that they would like to trade, or sell...please let me know. These always seem to be a sure fire winner in my book.

weeare138, Aug 27, 2006
Photo of yourefragile
3.83/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz 2010 bottle poured into a snifter

Dark brown, near black color, vigorous pour produces a quickly fading thin tan head that settles into a crown with little lacing. Aroma is sweet and boozy, strong influence from the bourbon. Vanilla and roasted malt. Body is thinner than expected with low-medium carbonation and a strong boozy lingering finish. Flavor is very heavy on the barrel aged notes, strong vanilla and bourbon making it difficult to pick up the original beer. Some dark fruits are noticeable, but overall lacking in balance and complexity, drinks much rougher than the 9.5 abv suggests.

yourefragile, Feb 26, 2010
Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -5.4%

drewone, Jul 15, 2013
Photo of tempest
3.78/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this back to back with the bourbon barrel cherry stout. There isn't much stout coming through over the bourbon, though more than in the cherry stout. And although the bourbon element is pretty nice, the overall beer isn't as rich as you'd expect from a double stout. There's a mellower, chocolatey, maybe Russian imperial stout taste, while the aroma is of wood and whiskey. Also reminds me a bit of Magic Hat's Chaotic Chemistry in that the whiskey dominates.

tempest, Apr 24, 2007
Photo of stakem
3.44/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle into a tulip. A rough pour down the middle of the glass yields a dark brown to black brew with slightly less than a finger of khaki head. The cap fades quick leaving some patchy lace on the glass.

The aroma has a strong vanilla scent that is almost beyond natural smelling and somewhat perfume-like to artificial in nature. A bit of bourbon is present accenting the alcohol burn in the nostrils. Some raw tannic wood along with roast and earthen aspects breaks up the vanilla essence.

The taste is primarily boozy with a hint of bourbon and raisony to prune-like alcohol aspect. The dark fruit aspect gives way to some roast, earth and raw wood. Unfortunately, just like the aroma, it is somewhat overkill with vanilla that seemingly goes beyond what one might expect in a natural sense. The base stout here gets somewhat lost behind what feels like a cheap sort of flavored spirit addition.

This is medium to lighter bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is boozy and enjoyable but I think there are better barrel aged stouts out there with a little more complexity and body. Not to say this isnt enjoyable, because it is but I would not rush out to buy lots of this. Certainly worth a try though.

stakem, Jun 27, 2013
Photo of Billolick
4.21/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

32 ounce growler filled at DeCicco's in Ardsley, NY

Pour near black, minimal dark mocha head/thick film, leaves a lasting collar and low, slippery and ringed bits of lace.

Nose of bourbon, chocolate , and vanilla.

Full flavor, waves of dark chocolate, vanilla and heavy bourbon. Delicious, with the strong alcohol obviously present but somewhat muted for the strength.

Moderate body and enjoyably smooth mouth feel.

World class sipper, happy to be able to enjoy it on tap, via my growler.

Billolick, Mar 17, 2014
Photo of akorsak
4.38/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Edit: Cracked open a bottle from the same 2007 DLD trade with nflmvp. Incredible. The ale has matured nicely, bringing out more bourbon and stout elements. The stout is nutty, full of chocolate the nicely contrasts with the vanilla of the barrel. The barrel is neither strong nor cowering, settling in the perfect middle. The vanilla is strong, licking at the tastebuds. Another winner from Central Waters.

Taste was upped from 4.0 to 4.5; mouthfeel from 3.5 to 4.5. Overall moved from 4.05 to 4.30.


A 12 oz bottle from a Dark Lord Day 2007 trade with nflmvp.

A: The stout is a deep amber color, black from a distance with dark red up close (really up close, that is). A finger of head resulted from the pour but it did not last long.

S: The first sniff damn near blew me away. This beer is practically bourbon. The aromas are so full and strong, replete with vanilla and pepper, chocolate and roasted malt. The nose really sets the stage for the taste.

T: As soon as the beer hit my lips, I was in love (or at least lust). This one packs a wicked punch with enough bourbon flavor to make you forget it is a beer. The oak aging has added a vanilla and buttery chardonnay flavor. Surprisingly, for the big taste the alcohol doesn't grab you by the throat. The bourbon is met nicely by the stout body, one of the few times that both components work together. The stout body has roasted chocolate and burnt toast but is rather fleeting, it is somewhat less robust than I would have hoped. The flavors don't last long, which is too bad.

M: The bourbon is strong, deliciously intense but it doesn't last long. While the flavors last though, this is a great sipper.

D: The abv is so well hidden that I'd gladly enjoy several over the course of a day, assuming that someone will send me a few more bottles.

akorsak, Jan 01, 2008
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 1,693 ratings.