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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.

571 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 571
Hads: 2,101
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 17.52%
Wants: 706
Gots: 640 | FT: 75
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 571 | Hads: 2,101
Photo of martyl1000
5/5  rDev +16.8%
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 . . .
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.
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.

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Photo of nickapalooza86
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured 2012 Vintage into a New Belgium snifter. It is a very amber colored cloud.

smell is sweet dark fruit... plum, dates, and a small alcohol burn. maybe some bourbon and sugar in it to.

Taste is where it all gets awesome, first vanilla, brown sugar, bourbon, nice dark fruit, alcohol is strong at end.

mouthfeel is perfect fot the style.

Wow this beer is another one that makes me happy to live in Wisconsin. I would put this up against pretty much any other barlywine that is out. The bourbon really works nice. If you are a Bourbon aged fan this is just about perfect

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Photo of kickapoodude
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I love my wife, my guitars, my car and my own homebrew, but this beer is my favorite thing. It is very limited and hard to get aholf of, basically because I buy it all up whenever I see it. It takes me about an hour or two to finish a bottle. I think they use the same barrels as thier cherry stout, so expect slight cherry flavors to come through when it is warm. Drink at room temp. Wash over your tongue. This beer changed my freakin' life!

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Photo of ubenumber2
4.95/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from 12oz bottle into glass , deep mahogany color to this beer , thin head with little lacing , might have been some residue in the glass or just might be on par for this brew.

The aroma is outstanding , the heavy malty sweetness hits you at the start , then you pick up on the hints of vanilla , oak and the bourbon with a whiff of alcohol at the end. Just makes your mouth water

The mouth on this beer is the best I've had in a Barleywine , it is not to heavy and not too thin with just the right amount of carbonation

The taste is just flat out spectacular , the malty sweetness hits you at the start and rides all the way through this brew , you can taste the flavors of the malt , the bourbon barrels and the hops really working together to make wonderful taste.

Overall this was my first ba barleywine , and I'm hooked , I will for sure be on the hunt for more of this great brew , just an outstanding beer

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Photo of CraftFan5
4.94/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This should be a treat. A 2012 bottle. Let's see how she aged.

A - Like a typical barleywine, a very hazy burnt orange/light brown. Not very attractive, but so it goes.

N - Whoa, huge aroma of bourbon, vanilla, chewy caramel, more bourbon, with a slight bitterness. Luscious.

T - Yowza. The same as the nose but multiplied. Lots of caramel, bourbon sweetness, and that slight hint of bitterness. I get a little bit of booze. Honestly, it's not much different than a fresh bottle, but that's still amazing.

M - This might be where the cellaring added a little something. This is superb on the palate. I'll mention the chewy caramel again, because it's almost that thick. It's rich, decadent, and completely coats the mouth. So good.

O - Yep, this one certainly bears aging well. Maybe next time I'll wait 5 years.

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Photo of KellyScottMad
4.93/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Excellent!!! I am not a Barleywine fan to say the least, but when I tasted this beauty it changed my mind. This by far was the easiest and smoothest Barleywine I have had yet.

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Photo of beerwolf77
4.92/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage. Poured into my duvel tulip the beer is a muddy brown orange. The cream hued head hits about one finger berfore receding to leave a thick lace ring around the glass.

The aroma is spot on perfection. Sweet and sour playing tug of war with my olfactory senses. Apples and pears along with plums, dates, raisins and cherries. A nice burst of bourbon shines through along with a heavy dose of malt. Then just when you think it can't get any better the hops come in and tickle your nostrils.

The flavor is heavy on the malt up front. A nice hoppy fruity blast follows the malt. Warm bourbon mellows everything out in the finish. I have a feeling with some age the flavor will be epic.

Medium to full creamy body. Light carbonation.

Overall a great beer that I assume will become legend with time. I have a bottle of 09 and 08 that I will have to crack soon and see what the years have done. Stay tuned.

2009 vintage.

After having a bottle of 09 I will bump my scores slightly seeing as with one year this beer is now of mind blowing status.

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Photo of CharlatanSin
4.92/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had a few of these on my Wisconsin trip, and it certainly wins best in show. Wonderful beer.

A: Pours a rusty reddish brown color. Clear. It's got a small white head that dissolves into a splotchy cap that never quite goes away and leaves light lacing.

S: Killer. Terrific deep caramel malt is the backdrop for oak, vanilla, and the other hallmarks of bourbon aging. All of the smells blend together wonderfully -- this is a big point for me. I love bourbon beers, but often the booze overwhelms the nose.

T: World-class. Again, the big caramel malt holds it all together. The vanilla is very strong, as is the booze from the bourbon. A little less oaky than the nose. There's a significant hop presence in the finish, but it doesn't stray into DIPA territory like so many of its American Barleywine comrades. And again, it's all balanced beautifully, as if an engineer had spent years calibrating it perfectly.

M: Thick and smooth, with low carbonation. A total mouth-coater. A decent amount of alcohol burn, but that doesn't bother me at all with this style.

D: Brilliant. I weep that I can't walk a quarter mile and pick up a four pack of this anymore. Truly, Madison, WI was forged by the gods themselves.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage into a Flying Mouflan tulip.

Pours light brown with some caramel hue. Big foamy head with excellent retention and lacing. One of the best looking beers I've ever seen.

A lot of the barrel shows through in the aroma. Sweet bourbon, oak and vanilla with some toffee. Barrel character comes through, but doesn't smell incredibly boozy.

I could sum up the flavor in one word: fantastic. Very similar to the nose. Notes of oak, vanilla and coconut along with a little bit of sweet toffee. Bourbon flavor is presently but not overpowering.

Rich and chewy. Integrates the bourbon well masking almost all alcohol heat and despite the components comes no where near to being cloying.

Absolutely one of the best -bal barley wines I've ever had. Despite it's rich character, it never gets overpowering sweet and the bourbon is integrated perfectly.

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Photo of hawks10
4.87/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage - 12oz. bottle poured into my Central Waters pint glass, enjoyed at cellar temp...

Pours a thick glowing burnt orange with some ruby highlights. Slightly hazy with a thin one finger of soft white head that leaves a cap of haze on top of the beer for the whole drink...

Caramel, toffee and a nice boozy bourbon aroma with hints of vanilla and some wood scents as well. Sweet and complex, smells absolutely fantastic...

This beer sure is green! Heavy bourbon flavor with a distinct alcohol burn up front, undesirable to some, for me however, it is smooth and delicious. Lots of vanilla and small hints of all those smells; oak, caramel, toffee, bready, just overall thick and malty. Having a hard time picking out any hop bitterness at all...So complex, so smooth, feel like I am sipping on some liquor...

Thick and creamy, very slick from the low carbonation. Coats the entire palette and leaves behind a nice sting from the booze...

This beer is very fresh and ready to drink now, it will mellow out and change with age, but it is fantastic as is and if you're patient, it will also be fantastic down the road. Had a 2009 vintage about a month ago and it had calmed down a bit but was still quite boozy and nice...the 2010 picks up right where the 2009 left off, great beer from Central Waters, gonna drink one of these every few months for the next 2 years or so...

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Photo of YodersBeerEmporium
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is one of my all time favorite Barleywines! I have had it on draft quite a few times and have a bottle from 2014 aging in my cellar for a special occasion. This BW is so damn smooth you wouldnt know the ABV is so high....HUGE Caramel notes that round out the finish and make it oh so memorable!

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Photo of scream
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 Release bought today. I had 1st had this last year and was waiting for this years release. Pour some into a snifter, put your feet up in your favorite chair and just enjoy. It does not get better than this in my experience. Not for the faint of heart, but oh so good on a winter's evening.

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Photo of joe1510
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75


I got this one a few months back from the man, d0b, thanks bitch! I have to pour this puppy with some height to conjure up a slow growing khaki head. When the bottle is empty the head sits at one finger in height atop a deep brown body with heavy tones of mahogany. When lifted to the light the body shows surprising clarity and a bright ruby glow. Carbonation bubbles creep from the bottom of the glass and pick up speed as they rise, eventually keeping the head in place throughout the drink. Sheet lacing splashes down the sides of the glass and shows great staying power.

Damn, this is a fine smelling barleywine! It's sweet right off the bat with loads of toffee and brandy soaked raisins. The nose is so sweet and rich it nearly puts me in a diabetic coma of pure bliss. Mild but noticeable candied citric notes come through the middle and the bourbon barrel adds notes of vanilla and spicy oak. Rich brown sugar, caramel, and a soft sweet note of bourbon make for a deeply complex nose on this English barleywine.

The flavors complexities are on par with those of the nose and may even surpass them. This barleywine starts off already in its prime. Deep, rich caramel and toffee wash of the tongue and stick around through the entirety while a lasting flash of the sweet candied citrus come through mid-palate. The bourbon barrel characteristics and dark brown sugar bring up the rear. Spicy oak and soft vanilla combine with rich brown sugar and mild but sweet bourbon. There's a touch of alcohol heat on the swallow that adds complexity instead of detracting from the overall flavor. This beer is a gem.

The weight is on the heavier side of the spectrum with a tongue and cheek coating viscosity that leaves me tasting this beer a minute or two after each drink. The carbonation seems soft on the front and middle of the tongue but the back has a surprising frothiness, well as close to frothiness as a beer this heavy could have. The aftertaste is highly enjoyable and seemingly everlasting.

A bottle of this is easy to kill by myself but it is without a doubt a sipper. The sheer complexity, depth, and viscosity keep me drinking this slowly and would limit me to one with each sitting. With all that said I will slowly and greedily drink this bottle all to myself and love every last drop.

Central Waters can do no wrong with their special releases. This is a gem from a lineup full of gems. Next time I'm up north a few more of these bottles will be picked up without a doubt. I can't recommend this enough if you're a fan of English barleywines. Thanks again for the bottle, Dave!

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Photo of Lothore
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A- Pours an orangey brown hue with very little head.

S- Smell consists of very dark fruits, raisins, figs, plum and a hint of bourbon.

T- Taste is excellent. A couple nights ago I had a Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barleywine and was worried this wouldn't hold a candle to it but it is pretty great. Lighter fruity notes to begin with followed by strong raisin and fig and a sweetness mixed with alcohol warming toward the end. Absolutely delicious.

M- Thick with ample carbonation.

D- This is an excellent bourbon barleywine. Great to sip on anytime. I will certainly seek this out again in the future.

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Photo of wiscokid920
4.84/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle poured into Snifter. Vintage 2013

A- Deep rich copper/amber color. Small 1/2 finger tan head which fades fast....most likely due to the high alcohol content! Not a lot of retention or lacing.

S- HUGE bourbon booziness! Vanilla and sweet rich malt, caramel and toffee notes.

T- Big time malt flavors with bourbon booze without being dominant. Notes of vanilla, oak, and smooth bourbon finish.

M- Velvety smooth. This bourbon barrel barleywine has a huge malt sweetness with excellent boozy balance. The alcohol is nice and warming but not overwhelming. Extremely well balanced.

O - A FANTASTIC barleywine! A FANTASTIC BEER! One of the best beer's I have had. Extremely well balanced! Great fresh, but can't wait to put a few years of age on the bottle.

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Photo of brian23456
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This review is for a 2009 bottle

A- Medium reddish color, minimal head with OK lacing, medium thickness.

S- Complex sweetness with a very noticeable bourbon barrel smell. Also some toffee, figs, plums and a little breadiness.

T- Rich, sweet, full flavor. Smooth and mellow sweetness followed up with a nice bourbon/wood flavor and very little hops, more malt than hops for sure. The sweetness and bourbon barrel follow into the after taste accompanied by a little vanilla and grapefruit. Alcohol is hidden, no astringency.

M- A little syrupy, not bad though. More carbonation than expected but still not much, just enough to help make the brew perfectly balanced.

D- Very smooth and a little alcohol warming. Too much flavor for a night of heavy drinking but perfect if you are only having one or two.

Everything about it is complex, great example of a barrel aged barley wine. Phenomenal beer, especially for the price, after trying one on tap at the release I bought a case. I hope I have enough.

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Photo of nflmvp
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pulled from the cellar and aggressively poured into a snifter (is there any other way?). A nice two finger khaki head of light foamy bubbles faded into a creamy skim coating. The color is a nice shade of ruby/mahogany and light reflects off it like rare gems.

The aroma is SO nice. All I want to do is keep my nose in the snifter. I can wait to drink it. It's not going anywhere. I just don't want to stop sniffing this. Lots of vanilla and bourbon and perhaps some caramel. Seriously, is this dessert?

The taste is a nice meld of Vanilla and some dark fruit, along with carmel and bourbon. The balance seems just right. Not too much of anything.

The mouthfeel is a nice medium to full body that feels smooth and rich with just a light alcohol tingle on the tongue. I swear, this could be SO dangerous because the alcohol doesn't jump out at you.

Drinkability is also top notch and again, possibly dangerously so. It's a beer that I like to let linger on my palate.

A sipper for sure. This one is gonna keep me from getting to bed on time tonight but then again, with snifter of this beauty in hand, who really cares?

Wow, HUGE hit from the guys at Central Waters. Too bad this one is so limited. It sounds like we may see this one again next winter. Damn, I sure hope so!

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deep,deep mahogany color with a nice tight head-bordering on black but not quite so. Huge sweet malt aroma with a heavy hand of bourbon to boot. Very sweet, almost spirit sweet like one of the trendy "schnapps"...Big and heavy malt flavors-raisens, figs, caramel, dried fruit. Huge caramel and toffee like flavors. Enough hops to be there but this is certainly all about the malt here. Still holds a touch of grain flavor. Lingering spice-almost cookie like. Huge body and lick the lips sweetness going on. A big sticky, sweet mess that I simply love. Body goes on for miles. Just a great, great beer all around. A true sipper in every sense of the word. Just great. 2009 vintage. Don't know if this is done each year but oh what a cellarable beer...

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Photo of darklordlager
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 Bottle

A: Pours a very dark ruby, with a small, light tan head.

S: Oak, sweet vanilla, layers of delicious caramel and bourbon.

T: Layered caramel, candied dark fruit, big vanilla, bourbon. Not one dominating characteristic--very complex. Very nice warming and toasty malt flavour in the finish.

M: Smooth and velvetty. It may be the slightest bit sticky/syrupy, but it remains exceptionally smooth and pleasant.

D: So smooth, with a complexity that keeps it very interesting and enjoyable throughout. I look forward to "more of the same" from Central Waters. Fantastic.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks goes out to KeefD for this!

A vigorous pour produces a fine white layer of bubbles. Moderate carbonation suites this style perfectly. When held to the light, a deep, clear garnet color is visible through my Dogfish Head oversized snifter.

I so love the nose of this beer! Plums, cherries, caramel, various unrefined sugars are all present in this amalgam of malt flavors. Nice overtones of bourbon notes including vanilla, oak and a very slight, almost imperceptible smokiness.

The taste is an explosion of sugary flavors. Caramel, dates, slightly overripe grapes (not quite full fledged raisons) - this is what Imagine what a liquid high quality fruit cake (is there such a thing;) should taste like. This is almost cloying - almost! (said in my best Johnny Dangerously impression).

Mouthfeel is lush and expansive. Sticky sweet malt coats you lips after each luxurious sip.

Drinkability is very good, but more than two bottles might put you in a diabetic coma or, at the very least, make the room begin to spin.

Overall, a fantastic elixir that joins the pantheon of great barleywines that includes MS Arctic Devil, The Perfect Storm, Xyauyù, Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel, J.W. Lees and Old Ruffian.

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Photo of dsuedbeck
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage

A: Reddish brown, murky, really thin white head that disappears quick.

S: Big bourbon notes, sweet caramel malts, some banana.

T: Starts off with a big malt taste, caramel, toffee, dark fruity notes up front. On the back end you get the bourbon and oak. Definitely a little boozey beings it is so fresh.

M: Great bourbon flavor lingers, small amount of carbonation, perfect amount of body to hold up to the alcohol.

O: Fantastic beer right now, super excited to let a few age. Definitely one of the best barleywines I've ever had.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 Vintage
Bottled: Jan
Revisted: 1 Jun 12

Thanks goes out to dsgolovin for this brew.

Poured into a chalice a very nice brownish color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger creamy tan head, with some very nice oil slicks and sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with some very nice notes of figs, raisins, plums, cherries, nice little touch of bourbon/oak. The taste is awesome, malty, sweet, lots of dark fruits, and some bourbon/oak notes. Full/Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well on this one. Very Drinkable, this is a exceptional brew, highly recommended. Thanks David!

2010 Vintage
Bottled: Feb
Revisted: 18 Nov 10

Thanks goes out to beerwolf77 for this brew.

Poured into a Westy chalice a very nice brownish color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger creamy tan head, with some very nice oil slicks and sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with some very nice notes of figs, raisins, plums, cherries, nice little touch of bourbon/oak. The taste is awesome, malty, sweet, lots of dark fruits, and some bourbon/oak notes. Full/Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well on this one. Very Drinkable, this is a exceptional brew, highly recommended.

2009 Vintage

Thanks goes out to beerwolf77 for this brew.

Poured into a chalice a very nice brownish color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger creamy tan head, with some very nice thick creamy sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with some very nice notes of figs, raisins, plums, cherries, nice little touch of bourbon/oak. The taste is awesome, malty, sweet, lots of dark fruits, and some bourbon/oak notes. Full/Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well on this one. Very Drinkable, this is a exceptional brew, highly recommended. Thanks Todd!

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Photo of sacrelicio
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 vintage.

Just when I thought that Central Waters Y2K barleywine couldn't get any better...

Poured into a Tripel Karmeliet tulip. The color is a nice rosy-brown amber, with a nice even khaki colored head. The smell is rich and meaty, with vanilla, bourbon, caramel, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

The taste follow suit, but with some muted floral hops and alcohol, hot and spicy. Somehow boozier than the 2012.

Mouthfeel is soft and slick, a little thin for the style, but a sign of good attenuation.

Overall, an excellent barleywine and I hope it gets even better with more age. If only I can hold on to this a little longer.

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Photo of StoneTSR
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

APPEARANCE: Typical mahogany color for a Barleywine with a surprisingly nice head of about a full finger. Unlike some others who have reviewed this beer here, the head hung in there for a while. The lacing was also quite nice.

SMELL: Very complex and delicious smeller with cherry, vanilla and wood leading the way. Some caramel and a touch of bread were also present.

TASTE: Everything from the nose is here in the taste as well. The cherry is dominant along with vanilla and wood. Adding to the caramel and bread is a little chocolate. The one thing missing from a typical Barleywine here is banana. It may be that the bourbon barrels overwhelm it, and either way, it doesn't need it, just a note that it isn't there as I expected it to be. The beer is delicious.

MOUTHFEEL: Like the smell and taste, the mouthfeel is very complex as well. While it starts out sweet, the hops in the middle create a small pucker of bitterness and the beer dries throughout each sip.

OVERALL: With all the flavors here it would have been easy to allow one to take over and tip the balance, but at no point does this delicious masterpiece go too far in any direction. Beer Advocate encourages reviewers only to use 5s when a beer is truly exceptional - and this is one of those cases.

EDIT: Not changing the above review at all, but adding notes for the 18 month-old bottle I cracked:

Appearance is pretty much the same. There is a ton more chocolate on the nose to me now (or I missed it last time), either way, this would be a 5 on smell now as opposed to the original 4.5 I gave it. Taste is still a five, the chocolate is more pronounced and that banana that seemed to be missing is lingering in the background now. There isn't much hop bitterness and ZERO pucker now, mouthfeel would probably remain the same. Overall, though, after 18 months, this is a better beer. I wouldn't wait much longer on this one, it's close to perfect beer.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 571 ratings.