Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

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

2,046 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,046
Reviews: 577
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 9.03%
Wants: 700
Gots: 630 | FT: 73
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: 2,046 | Reviews: 577
Reviews by nhindian:
Photo of nhindian
4.47/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a large snifter. Bottle provided by brian23456, thanks Brian!

2011 vintage.

A - Pours a murky orangish-brown color, really cloudy but not with sediment. On top sits an eggshell white, 1-fingered head with surprising retention given the high ABV of this beer. Following that is some awesome lacing as well that is spattered around the glass and actually sticks. How Central Water does it with this gravity is impressive.

S - The first smell I'm getting from this beer is a metric ton of vanilla oak that is incredibly enticing. There's bourbon as well, but it plays more of a support role. The vanilla has a sweetness that lends itself fantastically to the rest of the nose, which has lots of sweet malts. It has a nice, hoppy bite to it as well which is reminding me of Stone's Old Guardian. Think of OG in a bourbon barrel and that's this beer.

T - Given the great nose, I'm bracing myself for this beer to not live up to it as so many beers have done before. Thankfully I am redeemed after my first sip as this beer is incredibly smooth and bursting with flavor. Again, the vanilla hits hard in this beer and it actually has more of a presence here than in the nose in the sense that it has a much fuller flavor, almost with a sweetness and characteristic reminiscent of a slightly toasted marshmallow. The bourbon is again a transitional flavor between the flavor, malts, and hops, but I think it's achieved nicely. Speaking of the malts, they are here in full force, aiding in the smoothness and giving it some chew. The hops that were present in the nose are also in play at the end, bringing back the comparison to Old Guardian. In the finish, a pretty noticeable alcohol heat comes through, but it adds another layor to this beer without being a deterrent, just a warning to take it slow with this beer. Oh, and when I say sips for this beer, I literally mean it. Just a small mouthful is packed with flavor where anything more would just be overdoing it.

M - Mouthfeel is moderately heavy with low carbonation. Very creamy and the head, while it lasts, acts as a nice buffer. The finish is long and it leaves a thick coating on the mouth.

D - Drinkability is high. Although this is a sipper to a 'T', I didn't once think of finishing this beer and not regretting having more. I would love to see what this develops into, but fresh it's still a great beer.

More User Reviews:
Photo of martyl1000
5/5  rDev +15.7%
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 -4.2%
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 +11.1%
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 +7.4%
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 +7.6%
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 +1.4%
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%
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%
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 tbryan5
4.51/5  rDev +4.4%
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 +5.1%
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 +2.5%
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 newk340
4.65/5  rDev +7.6%
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 SD-Alefan
4.41/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle poured on 3-7-15
Pours a caramel-red color with a tan head and lots of residue.
The aroma is all caramel and booze with hints of dark fruit and molasses. A hint of earthy hops in the background and a bit of spice.
The taste wallops you alongside the head. Even with a year on it, there's still a big bourbon boozy bite with caramel, vanilla and dark fruits following. Figs and dates. As it warms, hints of vanilla and oak and a bit of bitterness.
Full bodied and sticky.
A really good American Barleywine.

Photo of sponberg
4.62/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep reddish amber, slightly cloudy, with a thin offwhite head that is gonna do some lacing, you knows it.

Yeah, this one's hit the barrel - big, butter/smoke/vanilla/bourbon aroma with slight pepperiness; almost more of an anejo tequila note than bourbon in here. Diggin' it.

Starts out with this vast bourbon malt attack - huge flavor going on. Really get the bourbon barrel in this one - almost but not quite too much. Woody, spicy (pepperiness again) with big dark carameliness but dry as can be. Not cloying in the slightest. Finish is almost dominated by the combination of that smoky bourbon maltiness and the growing alcoholic presence. I like vanilla, but this one's got the bean well under control and all for the better of it. Big, warm, round, smooth, with a warming surge o' in the finish that almost numbs the tongue. A beer made for sipping, Two of these would be plenty - but I'd enjoy every sip.

Thanks to theFatKid13 for the bottle - :thumbup: F'n Furley!!!

Photo of badbeer
4.54/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Hazy amber brownish color with a beige head that has decent retention and lacing. Aroma just amazes me; I absolutely love their bourbon beers, haven't had anything else that compares. Sweet caramel, bourbon, and vanilla; just such an amazing aroma. Taste echoes the aroma. Whatever they do, the flavors just hit me perfectly. Thicker than medium body, somewhat light carbonation, but goes down very smooth. Another excellent barrel aged beer from Central Waters. Keep it up!

Photo of Mora2000
4.32/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to exiled for sharing this bottle.

Pours a murky reddish-brown with a white head. The aroma is bourbon, caramel, brown sugar and chocolate. The flavor is chocolate, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, alcohol and molasses. Low carbonation and medium mouthfeel. An excellent barleywine that is enhanced by the bourbon-barrel aging.

Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.22/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to nflmvp for this bottle. Cheers!
Pours with a thin head. Dark amberish in color. Has a big nose of sweetness with a hint of the booze. Taste is a nice mix of fruit and malt flavors with the bourbon. Mouthfeel is smooth but there is a bit of an etoh burn on the way down. A great sipper.

Cheers.

Photo of bsp77
4.15/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Dark ruddy orange with moderate light tan head and light lacing.

Smell: Mostly sweet vanilla with some overripe dark fruit (plum, raisins), toffee and oak. Somewhat boozy as well.

Taste: Fairly sweet and fruity with a big blast of vanilla. While there is some definite toffee, plum and raisin driving home the malt base, this is mostly about the bourbon barrel aging, which imparts vanilla, coconut and light oak. Some light spicy hops on the finish.

Feel: Sweet, full and boozy body with moderately low carbonation. Finish is barely dry, struggling against the sweet taste.

Overall: More so than most Bourbon Barrel beers (which are often Stouts), this is truly a showcase for the Bourbon, making the beer secondary. This makes for a mighty tasty Barleywine, but one that is slightly hampered by sweetness and alcohol.

Photo of deebo
2.3/5  rDev -46.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Nothing like saying FU to snow on May in Minnesota with a big ass beer. Will go with Central Waters BB Barleywine. 2013 vintage.

A-Poured into a snifter this beer has a murky light brown color with a thin tan head that quickly recedes.

S-Aroma of bourbon is quite strong. Also notes of oak, dark ripe fruits (prune-like) jump out of the glass.

T-Also bourbon heavy. The bourbon dominates this brew. Sure there are other flavors in here (ripe fruity malt, oak and a hint of vanilla) but the bourbon is overpowering.

M-A slick mouthfeel, plenty of carbonation and an alcohol sting in the finish.

O-A barleywine for the bourbon drinker. Too bourbon forward for me. This one is too much like a shot of bourbon in every sip to be enjoyable. Big time sipper.

Photo of ehammond1
4.29/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2012)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, stig!

Hazed, muddy ruby with nearly no head. This leaves the glass somewhat messy with irregular webbed lacing.

Very, very nice aroma, with tons of caramel and toffee, along with what I can only call Cinnamon Toast Crunch. A very nice combination, with wood notes coming out more and more as the beer warms.

The flavor is very nice too, with good amounts of caramel and toffee, oak, sweet malts, bread, and a fairly low level of bitterness. The alcohol is nicely hidden. My only complaint would be there's occasionally a vegetable flavor lingering somewhere right before the swallow--that being said, it's not at all distracting! This is great stuff.

Medium bodied with moderate to high carbonation for the style. Very drinkable, though there's just a bit too much apparent carbonation, interestingly enough.

An excellent bourbon barrel-aged barleywine.

Photo of boatshoes
4.27/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Received this as an extra from alcstradamus in a recent trade. A serious want of mine, thanks for the hookup!

Appearance- Pours a very dark amber brown that borders on opaque. A minimal cap of tan head off of a very aggressive pour. However, some carbonation present beading up the side of the glass throughout the drink and head remains throughout. Lots of sticking lacing left as well.

Smell- Huge notes of bourbon and vanilla coming through in a big way on the nose. Lots and lots of malt with a touch of fruitiness. Some sharp alcohol astringency with perhaps just a very subtle touch of underlying hop bitterness.

Taste- Pretty unlike any barleywine I've had thus far. Very prominent bourbon and vanilla with a touch of tobacco. Lots of underlying sweet malt that comes across like candied fruit. Some warming alcohol on the way down and maybe just the slightest bit of hoppy resin on the backside.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Very nice levels of carbonation with a thick and slick mouthfeel. Drinkability suffers just a bit because of the overwhelming sweetness of this one. Quite nice on the whole though.

Overall, very interesting and quite nice. An excellent barleywine worth picking up if you get the chance.

Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. 2013 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a very deep and hazy brownish copper amber with some hints of ruby. Moderate amount of bubbles and about one finger of off white head which fades into a thin creamy layer. Decent amount of lacing.

Smell: A sweet and rich aroma of whiskey barrel hints, toasty caramel malt, and fruit undertones. Big barrel presence upfront with hints of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Burnt brown sugar along with some hints of maple syrup. Sweet bready toasted malts with big hints of caramel, toffee, biscuit, yeast, butterscotch, and grain. Fruit esters of dried apple and banana as well as dark raisin, fig, cherry, and dates. Hops are kind of subtle with some hints of grass. Some booze scents as well. A huge and complex aroma.

Taste: As big and complex as it smells with a mix of sweet malts, barrel notes, and fruits. Big bourbon barrel notes with a taste of whiskey, oak, sweet vanilla, and wood. Adding to the sweetness is some brown sugar and maple syrup. Bready toasted malts with a taste of caramel, toffee, biscuit, butterscotch, grains, and yeast. Dried fruit taste of apple and banana. Undertones of dark fruit with notes of raisin, fig, dates, and cherry. Earth hop notes along with some grass in the background. A fair amount of alcohol taste. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Big full body with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, rich, and somewhat chewy. Starts sweet but has a fairly drying finish. There is some alcohol heat as expected.

Overall: A really great Malt forward Barley Wine. The barrel aging adds some great notes. Sweet but far from cloying.

Photo of GOBLIN
4.34/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Absolutely fantastic ! Really, this is what fans of BA beers are looking for. Wish I would have had this around a month ago when it was -15 degrees . . . Warming. Been sipping this for an hour and fifteen minutes now.

Photo of HoppySeb
4.54/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter after being stored overnight in a fridge at roughly 45 degrees. The pour is brown to dark brown and hazy. As the beer is poured into the glass the flow is clean and constant, the stream against the light is amber in color. As it settles in the snifter, a crackled bubbly head makes a brief appearance and disappears swiftly. There is also an effervescent sound that lasts for a few seconds.

If you would ask me to describe what a great example of a barrel aged barleywine smells like from memory, this beer is what I would describe. Dominant scents are roasty malt, molasses, bourbon and brown sugar which form a sweet and sharp medley of aromas, very inviting. Taking a backseat are dried fruit, rum-soaked raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. The combination of aromas remind me of fine Venezuelan rum.

First few sips are unapologetic and make sure you notice the booziness of this brew. However, clocking in at 11.5% ABV its dangerously balanced. The rest of the flavors mimic very well its aroma (as do most barleywines in my experience). An oaky bourbon taste leads a diverse parade of flavors, followed by sweet caramelly malt, molasses, moist brown sugar, cinnamon, a vanilla bean touch and lastly a spice that strikes the same chords with me as a chili powder. The finish is mostly oaky bourbon in a very pleasant way. The nose on this beer and its aftertaste are hand-in-hand, making every sip a vicious cycle of aromas and flavors – in my opinion, this makes for a fantastic drinking experience.

Mouthfeel-wise its a bit tongue numbing initially - the bourbon screams at you to recognize its presence. Lightly astringent but very well balanced. Very light carbonation that complements its syrupy consistency quite well.

Overall – I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and it is a great example of what a barrel aged barleywine ale should be.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 2,046 ratings.