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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine AleBourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,933 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,933
Reviews: 551
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.05%
Wants: 692
Gots: 554 | FT: 60
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Atron67 on 03-02-2008

Aged for 1 year in used bourbon barrels.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,933 | Reviews: 551 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by JammyV:
Photo of JammyV
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

More User Reviews:
Photo of martyl1000
5/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm having this at midnight, April 3, 2013. I have four 4-packs I bought last December, sitting in storage at 60 deg. for 4 months.

And either I didn't recognize its greatness when it was new, or this little bit of age made this stuff golden. I'm this close to going back downstairs for another one. Aargh--

Good thing I've got a Weyerbacher Insanity in the fridge . . .
---
UPDATE
This is a "2013", drinking it 11-21-2013, so eleven months of aging.

A clear reddish-caramel in a tulip glass, with very little white head even with an aggressive pour (hence the 11.5% alcohol). Lacing is sparse, but with serious stick-to-it-iveness and dripping legs down the glass.

How I miss this aroma. Brings me right back to snowy April of last year. Bourbon in the nose seems nicely muted compared to my memory of it. I remember the bourbon being pronounced in the aroma. The vanilla, too. Oak and char and melted butter. Simple syrup. Brown sugar and raisin. Yeah, baby.

In the mouth the aging is instantly evident, with the hop bitterness knocked way back (though there's still a ghostly, earthy pine bitterness on the back-end, for sure). The flavor is wonderfully round: soft sugar cookie, ice-cream-caramel swirl, fig and prune, then the bourbon. I put more in the glass, and pie crust fills my nostrils. Plus Juicy Fruit Gum and marshmallow. It's massively toffee sweet, and yet the mild hops and tannins from the oak--not to mention the brightness of the still-respectable boozey ABV--bring balance. It's so huge, it drinks like Dogfish Head 120 minute.

Despite a fairly significant carbonation, the smoothness makes me want to cry. It gives the feel of a super-syrupy moscato di asti. Definitely more an English Barleywine profile, at least after the aging. How astonishing to experience true beer nirvana. I feel like I did two years ago sipping a JW Lees Harvest Ale for the first time.

CW's detractors denounce them as a one-trick (bourbon barrel) pony. Not only is this wrong (duh, Illumination? Exodus? La Petite Mort?). But even if true, this is bourbon-barrel aging at its very best. The barrel aging doesn't dominate, it elevates this brew. I'm looking forward to opening a cellared CW Bourbon Barrel Stout to compare it to their non-barrel aged Brewhouse Coffee Stout I like so much.
----
10/11/14
Ok, so the look of this pour makes me immediately worry this beer has gone bad in the cellar. It's about 22 months of cellar aging, now. And the physical appearance is one of cloudy gelatin, thick and murky, like badly-stirred Knox Blocks.

But the aroma. My God. It makes me want to become a bourbon drinker.

Then, holy bejeezums, the flavor in the mouth. If this was a perfect 5.0 a year ago, it's now punched through the ratings ceiling. What I hadn't perceived before was the red wine tartness, which helps push the butterscotch sweetness skyward.

I'm grinning like a psych ward inmate on chocolate pudding day that I have ten more bottles in the basement.

Heck, yeah.

Photo of Roguer
4.14/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Beautiful dirty nut brown brew, fairly dark in the glass, topped by a decent creamy tan head. Retention is so-so; lacing is bubbly but sparse.

Huge malty notes of caramel and toffee erupt from the glass, chased by vanilla and bourbon. The bourbon is much stronger on closer, careful sniffs, but not overpowering; there's plenty of room for pecans and walnuts, prunes, chocolate, vanilla, and a complete toasted malt bath.

Flavor follows the nose, with an added bite from earthy and herbal hops. Bourbon up front; followed by caramel, toffee, and toast; and finished with vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, oak, and some alcohol heat.

Long wet finish allows vanilla, chocolate, and bourbon to dance across your gums and tongue in waves. Brew is relatively thin up front, but with a silky wetness that coats your mouth. Lots of alcohol heat, but it's not unpleasant.

This beer tastes like they took the malt boil, poured it into a bourbon barrel, added some green hops, and called it a day. It's absolutely delicious.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Bottle received in a trade. Thanks jgam115! 1,100th rating or review!

Central Waters Brewer's Reserve- Barleywine Ale. Malt beverage aged in used oak bourbon barrels. Let's go!

Pours a murky brown, with some garnet hues. A small half inch head fizzy head descends quickly. Not a whole lot of lacing, and some visible carbonation.

Smells really incredible- I basically exclaimed "oh fuck" when I first smelled it. Strong brown sugar and toffee, some sweet sultry bourbon, and maple syrup.

The taste is similarly awesome. Just so many flavors from the clearly superior base barleywine, whatever it is, plus so many added flavors from the barrel aging. Strong maple syrup, some candied raisins and plums, brown sugar, toffee, sweet bourbon, rich, strong vanilla, light coconut, and some pleasant wood bitterness. There's a small amount of hop bitterness. The maple and vanilla flavor in this one is so strong, it almost tastes like it was made with them as adjuncts, which shows the strong brewing talents of the folks over at Central Waters.

This brew is medium bodied, but feels light and silky on the tongue. Really quite drinkable, which is a miracle, given the 11.5% ABV. The booze doesn't show up much at first, but as it warms, it becomes a bit spicy, but warming and awesome. Low carbonation, despite it's visible presence after the pour.

This is really awesome. It's barreled perfectly, it's got to be one of the smoothest barleywines I've ever had. It's decadent, and a rare treat to drink.

Photo of BoardwalkBock
4.64/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, ruby red. Light brown hints. Decent head that fades to a messy lacing.

S: Potent but not overpowering bourbon starts it off followed by molasses, caramel, toffee, raisins, dark fruits. Light hint of vanilla as the beer warms.

T: Starts off with big caramel, toffee and dark fruit and finishes off with bourbon, wood and vanilla. Definitely some earthy hops present. Bourbon is not overpowering which allows the base beer to shine, but blends very nicely.

M: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Slight bitterness.

O: This is a very, very good BA Barleywine. The bourbon is not too overpowering, but blends insanely well with the base beer. Bourbon and vanilla become more prevalent as the beer warms. Top 5 BA BW for sure. Easier to acquire and cheaper than Sucaba, and is in a better format for when I want to have a single 12 oz instead of opening a 750 mL. Recommended!

Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.65/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Bottle 2013 vintage courtesy of Wiscokid920

I'm trying another beer given to me by a local BA today. I might say *spoiler alert* this is fantastic! Well let's get to the review. This brew is a little mischievous when it comes to the label. Simple label stating just that it was bottled in 2013 and it's barrel aged. Yet it's not labels that make the brew. Time to pour. This pours gorgeous deep brown body with ruby hues. Small light khaki head, minimum lacing. Very impressive! Time for the sniff test. This brew is money! Bourbon Whiskey all the way. Caramel/toffee, toasted nuts, oak, subtle coconut and vanilla! I mean it's rich! Well I just blew a Bourbon load smelling it, let's go for the taste! Just like the aroma, caramel sweetness that carries the bourbon notes to sublime! Huge coconut, vanilla and toasted oak flavors in the aftertaste. Finishes dry with some booze. The feel on this brew is medium-light soft body carbonation helps to make the flavors pop.

Overall: Heh, this brew gets me excited, every time I smell it. This is one of the best Barrel Aged BarleyWines, no lies no gimmicks. It sucks that I can't get this brew regularly, yet it keeps me hoping for the next release of Bourbon County Brand BarleyWine. The mouthfeel holds this brew back from dominating BCBBW. This is now one of my favorite Bourbon Barrel Aged BarleyWines. This is Recommended.

Photo of MaximalC
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky, burnt honey color akin to apple cider, with a thin cap of khaki foam. The aroma is absolutely delicious, consisting of dark fruit, toffee, molasses, currants, blackberries, bourbon, and alcohol. I'd strongly recommend taking a few minutes to sniff this straight from the bottle...

The taste is sweet and malty up front with bourbon in the middle, along with a hoppy twinge that attempts to make way for itself from middle to back. The sweetness is highly complex and difficult to pin down, but I'd venture to describe it as tasting of wine grapes, raisins, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, and caramel. Dark fruit isn't as present as the nose would suggest, but it does manage to emerge as the beer warms (particularly the currants). The resinous hops, which felt somewhat conflicted initially, also begin to meld better as the beer warms. The woody character of the bourbon barrels adds yet another layer of complexity. The finish is downright profound, as rich, warming alcoholic vapors envelope the back of the mouth and throat like dragon's breath. The immense staying power makes the finish a preternatural entity unto itself (not unlike the aroma). A candied stickiness lingers on the lips with each sip. The mouthfeel is fairly loose and slick for such a big beer, but it doesn't detract at all from the experience.

Overall, this is a damn fine barleywine that affords an extravaganza for the senses. From the seductive aroma to the bombastic taste, there are no false steps here. I appreciate how Central Waters didn't try to go too hop forward like some American barleywines, instead opting to let the malt and bourbon take center stage. A sipper though it may be, that only serves to prolong the enjoyment. The only other barleywine I've tried on par with this is Sucaba, so that comparison should pretty much speak for itself.

Photo of stephenjmoore
4.58/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to nightfly for this awesome extra.

2014 Vintage

A- Reddish-brown body with some sediment mixed in. I tried to keep most of it in the bottle, but some mixed in with the body. Thin tan head that settles quickly into a layer of bubbles.

S- Caramel, sweet sugar, vanilla, oak, sweet bread. Really robust aroma.

T- Big caramel, vanilla, sweet sugary syrup, hints of toasted malts, toasted oak, molasses. Crazy good flavor with just the slightest alcohol presence. Really nice, especially for a barely aged barleywine.

M- Full bodied, somewhat syrupy, big sweetness that coats the tongue. Medium to low carbonation is spot on.

O- Just a fantastic BBBW. Huge flavors, not too sweet, not too boozy, just terrific.

Photo of don1481
4.58/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First review of the 2014 vintage! WOOT! 12oz bottle poured into my pint glass.

Appearance: Dense, khaki colored head that subsides fairly quickly (albeit a little slower than most of the other high ABV beers I've been drinking of late) on top of a rich, deep reddish brown beverage. Hold it up to the light and see a fair amount of bubbles.

Smell: The moment I opened the bottle, I smelled the bourbon. Now that it's poured, this has a pretty complex nose to it. Notes of brown sugar, toffee, caramel, vanilla, raisins, malt, and a splash of the bourbon all dance together in this one. This smells beautiful.

Taste: YUM. The bourbon notes are the strongest here, but this has a good amount of complex sweetness to balance that out quite nicely. Definitely get the toffee, brown sugar, and vanilla here. I bet this is going to age spectacularly. Not hoppy at all, which I think allows the other flavors to truly shine here.

Mouthfeel: Smooth on the whole; not as smooth as say a Skull Splitter, but this goes down nicely. Body feels a little thinner than I expected. Carbonation doesn't really get in the way of this one, though, so no complaints there.

Overall: Woodman's only had 2 cases of this dropped off on Thursday; I bought two 4 packs and think I may need to go find more to age. I recently had a couple samplers of the BC Barleywine and this definitely is right there with it in terms of overall quality and complexity. VERY impressed.

Photo of DanGeo
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of tectactoe
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of Schlais
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of cjn40277
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of tbryan5
4.51/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to pmarlowe for sending me this in a trade.

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a dark cloudy bronze color with minimal head that dissipates pretty quickly. It does leave a little lacing on the glass.

S- Wow! Is this whiskey or beer? The bourbon hits you as soon as the bottle is cracked open. Even more huge bourbon notes as I poured it. As this brew mellows and warms, I can start to notice more sweetness and the dark fruit aromas come out.

T- Again, more bourbon. But I like it. I almost want to say that CW did not empty the barrels out completely before they added the beer. The bourbon, oak, sand barleywine mesh well in my opinion and produce a very flavorful brew. I can see how it may be too overpowering for some but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

M- Medium carbonation and it goes down easily. Definitely has an alcohol bite to it.

O- Not for the faint of heart. If you do not like bourbon, you will not like this one. I, for one, found it to be delicious and would pick it up again if I had access to it here in Louisiana.

Photo of Clonies720
4.54/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. 2013 vintage. No freshness date. Gold cap. Poured into tulip glass

Appearance: Pours a dark-reddish-orange tint. 1/2th inch tan-colored head. When held up to the light, none passes through this fearsome brew. (It clears up as it gets warmer)

Smell: A spicy woody character hits my nose first. It's quickly followed by notes of dark, bourbon-soaked fruits. Medium hints of vanilla. Caramel and rich toffee titillate my senses as this beer warms up. It's very malt forward. Perhaps even a touch bready. Slight earthy hop aroma.

Taste: It's an explosion of flavor! A light sweet honey gently skates upon my tongue. Then the symphony of flavors melds into huge vanilla and a strong, spicy bourbon flavor. Finally, the concerto climaxes with a smooth, rich toffee & caramel presence.

The alcohol heat is there, but it's not overpowering or overdone. Perfect for a cold night.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium-high carbonation. Somewhat chewy. Velvety and luscious

Overall: Bravisimo to the conductor of this symphony! I stood up and applauded furiously to express my gratitude and appreciation of the music that was presented to my tastebuds.

Photo of SanFranJake
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this today (2014 version) after having a 2014 Sucaba last night...CW BBA BW is just as good. Just wish I had access to this as easy as Sucaba is.
But unfortunately I have to trade for this.
Worth the trade though

Photo of delaced21
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of Krafty34
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of bsideone
4.52/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of wrycon
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of Ben7773
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of newk340
4.65/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: a rosy mauve color that is slightly opaque that leaves no head after a slow pour.

S: a twinge of bourbon burns the nostrils while a faint aroma of cherries lingers in the back of the mind. phenomenal smell accurately predicts the exceptional taste.

T: a fantastic bourbon taste with black cherries lost in an oaky combination of flavors. simply wonderful.

MF/D: gives off a slight heat that coats the mouth and throat with a smooth finish. a great special occasion beer. no wonder this is in such high demand. thought about trading the rest of my stock, but also contemplating saving it...

Photo of danthehopslamman
4/5  rDev -7.2%

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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,933 ratings.