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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

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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 hopsbreath
2.06/5  rDev -51.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Had a little barrel aged barleywine tasting at MADhombrewer and Witchsbrew's residence last night. Filet mignon's were provided by our host's for TulipSnifter and I. Thanks guys!

In the lineup were Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Hellshire I, BA Hi-Fi Rye, BA Old Ruffian, Abacus, and Alpine Great. Our intention was to also open up Perfect Storm '09, Mother of all Storms '10, Kuhnhenn BBBW, and Arctic Devil but we agreed it best to hold off on those beers for another day due to palate fatigue. Small two ounce samples of the six beers from last night were first tasted and notes were taken before returning to the bottles for more tastes and refined notes.

Thanks to graniteskunk and zimmerbloke for providing me with 2010 and 2011 vintages of this.

A: Golden-tan, fizzy white head falls to nothing. Not particularly viscous looking and we get some spotty lacing. 3/5

S: Honey, grassy hops (slightly stronger in the '11 but very similar between the two vintages), and non-pleasant slightly putrid wood. 2/5

T: All hops and barrel. Any complexity that may be in here is currently hidden behind the more aggressive characteristics. It will need some time to develop complexity and in my opinion, the '10 batch is still very similar to the '11. Three years in the bottle might make this better but for now it's not very good. 2/5

M: Thin and spritzy compared to the other beers in the lineup. 2/5

O: Simply not up to par with the competition. 2/5

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Photo of charlesw
2.14/5  rDev -50%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Beautiful ruby/brown, you can just see through it. A few nice inches of head - nice small bubbles and they hang around a few minutes to leave a lasting covering lace. To make it perfect the head would need to last longer.

Smells fruity and rich like an English barleywine. Sweet prunes and whatnot.

Tastes, well. It doesn't taste English like it smells. Well, sort of. But, see, it's completely buried under an overwhelming woodiness. This is over the top. Yuck.

Other than the over-the-top wood (which really ruins this beer for me), I get English flavors only without the sweetness. Strange, to say the least. And, sure, I get bitterness but I associate that with tannins from the wood and not with hops. A most unpleasant experience. Given another 10 years in the bottle I might think about actually drinking one (as in, when it has mellowed down to something only slightly more extreme than a normal barleywine) but, as it is, neither I nor the wife even wants to smell it again.

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Photo of deebo
2.3/5  rDev -46.3%
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.

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Photo of ibbjamin
2.63/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Paid $3.99 for a 12oz bottle from Discount Liquor in Milwaukee, WI. This is the 2009 vintage and I am tasting in JAN 2010, so it is likely about a year and a half aged (I am unsure of bottling date). I pour into a snifter to review.

A very aggressive pour yields a half inch, tan colored, dense head that leaves a nice ring of lacing after dissipating. Color when held to a light is deep mahogany ruby; certainly opaque in darkness. Some lacing has stuck around.

Aroma is pretty boozy, with bourbon and lots of oak picked up from the barrel it was aged in. Some resinous hops have stuck around, even through the aging and cellaring. Fig, plum and molasses also evident.

Too much bourbon in the taste for my liking. The other characteristics I noted in the nose become quite muted.

Medium full body. Light on the carbonation. Long boozy finish.

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Photo of Jeffo
3.07/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Another Central Waters' brew provided by SliverX. Cheers man!

From a bottle into a snifter
Vintage: 2012

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, very loose and thin, off-white head with wretched retention. Head quickly vanishes to a slight wisp and ring and clings to the sides of the glass. Rosewood red or dark red in color with no visible carbonation. A ring remains but leaves no lacing down the glass. The head is crap, but the rest is alright.

SMELL: Bourbon barrel with oak, vanilla and lots of caramel and toffee. Candy sugars in there and lots of boozy notes.

TASTE: Bourbon, oak and vanilla up front with lots of caramel and toffee sweetness in the middle. A sweet, boozy and bourbon barrel finish; very boozy after the swallow. Bold and lingering aftertaste of sweet-spicy alcohol, lots of bourbon, oak, and caramel flavors. Quite boozy, but lots of good flavor as well.

PALATE: Very light body and medium carbonation. Airy on the palate, goes down fine with a bite at the swallow and finishes slightly sticky. Lots of heat lingers. Too light and airy here.

OVERALL: Didn't live up to expectations at all. Though quite boozy, the flavor is definitely there for the taking. It's a shame that the body is too light and abrasive to really let the flavors take center stage. Again, like other Central Waters' brews, the look and feel fail quite miserably. Still very happy to try this highly acclaimed beer though, so thanks again for the chance SliverX.

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Photo of MCImes
3.1/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

I like bourbon barrel aged anything, but CW goes way too far over the top with this beer. There is literally no beer flavor, its just bourbon nose, bourbon taste, bourbon finish.

I you LOVE bourbon this is YOUR beer. The bourbon is overwhelming. Its just booze, vanilla, and bourbon through and through. Very unbalanced. (this could be a good thing if you love bourbon)

Overall, if you cant get enough bourbon in your beer, this is for you. If you like a more balanced barrel flavor, there are better choices.

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Photo of callmescraps
3.1/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Had at a fun tasting. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance- Much lighter than anticipated. A nice copper color with a thin cap.

Smell- Vanilla and bourbon. Very nice. Caramel is very prominent.

Taste- Hot. Not as much bourbon as I'd like. A hot, stickiness that isn't balanced by anything.

Mouthfeel- Way too thin for my tastes.

Drinkability- No more than one. Probably not even one.

It's caramel. And some wood. And booze. Not a favorite.

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Photo of rvdoorn
3.12/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

2010 vintage
Look: the beer pours a ruby-brown color with almost no head, but a nice lacing.
Smell: Caramel, malts, bourbon, vanilla, oak, herbal hops and alcohol
Taste: Full of bourbon, caramel, vanilla, spicy herbs, fruity and very very alcoholic. The aftertaste is sharp alcoholic. Unbalanced
Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium-low carbonation
Overall: Overpowering sharp alcohol. Not my liking.

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Photo of tewaris
3.12/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle of 2010 vintage poured into a wine glass after an year of aging. Poured dark amber-brown with oddly brilliant clarity for a beer of it's kind. The head was small and did not last too long, and left some lacing on the glass as it receded.

Smelled rich and sweet: dried fruits (mostly dates), residual sugars, and ample amount of oak-bourbon. Nothing too surprising but complex and more importantly, very good. The taste, however, was a a let down - slightly sweet and very bitter on a thin body with not enough malts/sugars to balance out the hops. The excellent aroma elements show up very briefly only in the aftertaste, which is a shame in my opinion.

Too much bitterness, to the point of clashing. Thin, overcarbonated, and hot with fusel alcohols. Seems like it has everything I hate about cheap liquor and very less of what I like about barleywines.

Scores: Appearance 4/5; Aroma 4.5/5; Taste 3/5; Mouthfeel 2; Drinkability 2/5

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Photo of biglite351
3.14/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Very merky dark burnt honey color. Vanishing near white head

S - Bourbon malts, caramel, vanilla. Strong on the bourbon

T - Mostly bourbon, but not actually overpowering. Caramel, vanilla and a

bitter yeast hit in the end

M - Thick but only a medium coating. Mild tingle on tongue with an

alcohol burn in the throat

O - Not bad at all, but not really my thing

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Photo of Tilley4
3.17/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Boozy and hot... Potential is here but this is like barrel aged rubbing alcohol... Perhaps it's too young? Going against the grain here and giving this one a very mediocre OK...

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Photo of vette2006c5r
3.22/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 3

Bourbon Barrel Barley wine pours a deep redish color, with a nice white lacing head. There is a very full sweet wine like smell, very bousey. The taste has a strong wine like grape flavors, and a strong wood like flavor, very strong alcohol flavor. Its way to booze to enjoy another one, and hard to drink. Overall a very interesting barley wine. Might need to be aged for a while.

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Photo of buffs9
3.29/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 version: 12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

murky plum color, with half a finger of off white head. Dies down quick to a ring of foam with wisps of foam on top.

Smells of caramel, toffee, a little figgy, vanilla and bourbon. A hint of spicy/resinous hops as well.

Tastes of caramel, raisins, toffee. Followed by oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Then a tobacco bitterness. complex and interesting, but everything seems a bit muddled to me.

Creamy, medium carbonation, medium body. A bitter finish that is hot and not very enjoyable for me, and I don't mind hot.

Worth trying, I'll have to try another to see if I notice differences. I was expecting more w/ such great reviews.

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Photo of mdwalsh
3.29/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2010 Vintage, should have reviewed fresh, but didn't.

A: A thin, less than one finger head sits on top of a ruby red, hazy beer. No Active carbonation. I didn't expect much in terms of head or carbonation, but this beer just isn't impressive.

S: Sweet, fruity, slightly alcoholic. Sort of a fruit candy. Mambo's? No, Now and Laters. This smells like a Now and Later. And the alcohol is fading away. No hops, no grain. It is actually rather port-like, yet distinct. I like it, but it's a bit too light.

T: This is quite the mess. There's an almost acrid sharpness and it has a soapy taste to it, but soap has never touched this glass. Bourbon and Malty are not words I would use to describe this beer. Acidic, sharp, thin, those are more what I would say. Boozy even. This has been cellared quite well, and beers which are even older have come out of the cellar just fine. I think this got oxidized and it's just yuck.

M: Good, actually. Slight carbonation, but smooth

D: No, not something I'll cellar again. I liked the fresh version much more.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
3.31/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

This is a 2012 version, drank on 2-21-2013

Pours a deep caramel body. White head is minimal and the lacing is thin. Small collar around the glass.

Sweet aroma. Caramel and sweetbread. Vanilla and bourbon. A bit woody. Some faint hops

Thin flavors, but they are good. Vanilla, caramel, wood, bourbon and earthy pine. Sweet baked caramel is ever present. The bourbon barrel provides smoothness. Yet it doesn't mesh well with the other flavors. The hops have faded, to be sure.

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Photo of jrallen34
3.36/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to AgentZero for this.

12zo bottle into my Rochefort glass, 2010 version.

Pours a murky light to medium brown, very light for a bw. Not much carbonation, light tan around the sides, poor lacing...Nice aroma, malty to start nice caramel and dark fruits with lots of wood and bourbon mellowing it out. Light cherry finish with a little more wood...The first thing on the taste is tons of wood, very bitter wood, too strong. The second is less wood but its still too much, at the end a bitter wood/grain alcohol finish. Not very sweet, not super complex. The taste is a big disappointment. Maybe needs a couple years to chill out...The feel is ok, very warming, lastin feel...Tough to drink because of the wood.

Overall, can't believe this a top 100. Not a great beer, has potential down the line maybe. This is unbalanced and totally too woody.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.42/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a copper color with good carbonation and a small white head.

S: Mainly bourbon, hops, booze and caramel

T: I get some dark fruits, caramel, oak, vanilla,the bourbon increases from begininng to end leaving a very prounounced bourbon feel on the end.

M: Tends to be a bit thin for my liking, syrupy end leaving an aftertaste

D: Good but would not want another

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Photo of brentk56
3.48/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: A rising pour managed to bring out the head on this one, albeit only a finger deep, though it did leaves some strands; the liquid itself was a tawny brown color

Smell: Pure wort, with a grainy raisin character

Taste: Grainy fruit cake, up front, with a bourbon accented bitter character that develops by mid-palate; rum-soaked raisins appear as well; after the swallow, the the flavor grows increasingly resinous and boozy; a minty apsect appears in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full body with low carbonation and considerable warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: This beer didn't resonate with me as well as it did for other reviewers; I thought it was too boozy and had an astringent character that cut through both the sweet malts and the hops; I like a bourbon barrel beer where the bourbon adds a subtle element; in this beer it was neither subtle nor dominant and, because of all the other flavors that clashed, I forgot that there was a bourbon element to the beer in the midst of the tasting

Note: Just re-visited with a year+ old bottle of the 2013 and came to the same conclusion even before checking my review so I guess I will go against the crowd on this one

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Photo of justintcoons
3.49/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a reddish brown with pink/red highlights. Initially has 2 fingers of head that reveals webbed lacing. Has moderate carbonation and good clarity.

N: Sweet bourbon, candy sugar, toffee, booze, booze, booze and hints of coconut.

T: There is quite a bit of heat on this. Upfront there is a huge alcohol presence of whiskey along with dirty oak and caramelized brown sugar. Mid-palate brings in molasses, burnt sugars, tobacco, hints of blackberry and suggestions of fig. Finishes very earthy with leather, tobacco, charred wood and notes of coconut.

M: Full bodied, silky, sticky and very warming.

O: Big, sweet, burnt, sugary and boozey. The whiskey character is a little too forward which is obscuring the base Barleywine. Surely some aging is in order. Overall it's a rather tasty English Barleywine even with the booze.

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Photo of jwinship83
3.49/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from 2009 drank out of a tulip glass.

A- this one comes out of the bottle a very dark brown colored body with ruby highlights when held up to the light. an almost non existent khaki colored head forms and lasts a long time, leaving solid rings of lacing on the sides of my glass after every sip.

S- sweet fruity malts upfront. lots of cherries, plums, figs, and raisins/tobacco. lots of alcohol in the nose also. citrus hops at the end. i can detect the barrel with notes of vanilla and oak, but not so much the bourbon. odd and slightly disappointing.

T- woah, the alcohol burn comes through loud and clear. very sweet also. lots of the above mentioned ripe dark fruity malts. cherries, figs, plums, and raisins. a small dose of citrus hops at the end.

M- full bodied and creamy with a low level of carbonation. intense warming from the alcohol as it makes its way down my throat.

D- the strong alcohol presence makes this a slow sipping one and done type of beer. id like to revisit this vintage again in the future, but not for a while.

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Photo of Crosling
3.53/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Label is the same as the regular Kosmyk Charlies Y2K Catastrophe Ale, but with a circle shaped green sticker on the right side of the label that states, "aged in bourbon barrels." Only available at the brewery. Ruby brown color. Fairly powerful nose, mainly dominated by the bourbon barrel (vanilla, bourbon, oak, coconut.) Palate is okay, could be more textured and creamier. Flavor is good, but not sublime. Fairly well balanced, but the flavors don’t come together very well. I’ve had several better bourbon barrel aged barley wines.

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Photo of harrymel
3.55/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled Jan, 2012
Pours hazy graham brown with an etched surface. Smells of bourbon, oak, sweet malts, some nougat and alohol with a hint of candied cherry. Taste is sweet and carries vanilla, bitterness, sharp alcohol, raisin, some oak a bit of toffee and plenty of crystalized malts. Odd body is initially medium, but has a hollow feel with lower carb and a wet finish. This is a decent brew, but nothing I remember being particularly exceptional when staged against MoAS.

Bottled January 2011, reviewed 12JUL11
3/4.5/2.5/4/3.5- 3.28
A: pours a hazy dark caramel ale with two fingers of yellow and creamy head. The head falls to a solid billowy sheet of the same. Spotty lacing. Orange hues sharpen where light passes through this murky ale.
S: Good stuff here. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, toffee, caramelized sugars. Really has a matured nose despite only being six months old. There's only a slight hint of tart smell I get from some BA BW's; but it is not intrusive here.
T: Sharp up front, the alcohol is present, but then it falls quickly to reveal some beautiful toffees, brittle, caramel, oak, bourbon is pretty strong in here IMO. As I've been drinking more of this beer, the alcohol seems to continue to be a little over the top; it overbears the other notes this beer has to offer.
M: chewy. Moderate carb. Sticky leftovers. Good feel.
O: A good beer with plenty of potential, but the heat is still up there IMO. I would like another bottle, but I would like it to sit for a year or two.

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Photo of garbercury
3.57/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Huge thanks to Beerwolf77 for this guy, Thanks Todd!!

A--Reddish, burnt orange color, a little lighter than I expected, not any head or retention of note.

S--Definitely a mix of bourbon and barleywine notes. Strong aromas.

T--HOT. This sucker has some burn to it. The alcohol burn just really overtakes this one. The bourbon flavor is a little off/odd.

M--Nice silky mouthfeel, this has a nice feel.

D--This one was a bit of a letdown for me, something just was missing for me on this one. Really glad I got to try it though!

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Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.57/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Jeff for cracking this one at a recent tasting.

Appearance -- Pours a deep brown, nearly purple hue, with ruby highlights and finger of tan head. Some spotty lacing.

Smell -- Very aromatic. Rum raisin, bourbon, prune, dark brown sugar, and brandy. Overall, quite sweet.

Taste -- Sweet up front with rum raisin, brandy, ripe dark fruits, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla oak sugars. Verging on cloyingly sweet, if not there. Where did the bourbon go?

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body with moderate carb. Slight alcohol bite in the finish.

Drinkability -- Frankly, a letdown. Incredibly sweet with none of the bourbon alcohol character to cut through it. It would be easy to confuse this with, say, a J. W. Lee's Harvest Ale homebrew clone if one didn't know what it was. Certainly not terrible, but does not have the iota of balance needed for a barleywine to be great.

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Photo of Crass3000
3.6/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice reddish-brown with a finger, white head with retention of about half of a minute.

Smell is is definately roasted malts, dark fruits are pretty dominant as well. Really a nice mix of roast and dark fruits that interact really well. Taste is not as nice as the nose. There is definately some strong hops that take over the taste. The hops aren't bitter at all and actually balance things nice. However I think there is just too much hops for me. The hops seem to be too strong. No doubt this would be better with some age. Gonna age the rest.

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