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

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

565 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 565
Hads: 2,063
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 8.69%
Wants: 707
Gots: 633 | FT: 76
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: 565 | Hads: 2,063
Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.6/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2014 Vintage. I got this in a trade but have since forgotten the trader. Thanks to whomever sent this.

Pours from the 12oz bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Emerges a ruddy brown color with minimal head, sporadic lacing, and little carbonation present. Slight amber hues through the light.

Aroma is nice. Perhaps a little heavy on the bourbon for some, but I like the in your face aromas of borbon. Vanilla, oak, pineapple, raisins also join the olfactory party.

I am a little lost in the last half. The flavor is decent. In this case, the bourbon IS too powerful. I like bourbonn beer as much as the next guy but the bourbon here needs to take a chill pill. Bourbon, alcohol, and tobacco are about all I get.

This one finishes super hot. The alcohol is certainly tangible and is in no way perfunctory. I like the chewiness but the hot finish and bourbon sucker punch kind of make this a one hit wonder.

Not bad overall but I think another year on this would do wonders. (981 characters)

Photo of drewba
3.6/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Murky, dirty rusty-brown colored with a thin cream colored head.

S - Huge nose - plenty of rum raisin which seems to add a lot of sweetness and a hint of yeast. This smells remarkably similar to a brandy angels share.

T - Sweet rum, rum raisin, toasty malt, a slight citrusy hop character and some alcohol presence. Unrefined flavors compared to the huge, outspoken aroma. Where is the bourbon? This is coming off much more like rum or brandy.

M - Sticky, sweet, slightly cloying with a medicinal finish.

D - Though this does taste good, the overwhelming sweetness without anything counterbalance and the lingering cloying sweetness brings this way down for me. (670 characters)

Photo of wchollif
3.61/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Stone tulip, a gratis bottle, thanks ewright! This -bal barleywine pours with almost zero head. The color is a murky darkish reddish brownish?!? The smell here makes the beer. Again with a great smelling, fair tasting bb barleywine. I love the oak, vanilla, caramel on the nose. To a lesser degree I get some piney hoppiness and orange peel as well. The flavor doesn't back it up. The flavor is dominated by malts, which should be good, but I'm not getting the balance of hops I thought I smelled. It has a little caramel but not much vanilla and is intensely bitter and alcoholic on the finish. The mouthfeel is good, mild carbonation, creamy milky coating, not syrupy cloying. (693 characters)

Photo of mulder1010
3.62/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Notes

12 oz bottle

A-- Poured a hazy, dark golden color. Very little obvious carbonation. Short lived white head that went to film that was very spotty. Better on swirling as got half a finger. Very noticeable
legs to this.

S-- Oak, vanilla, bourbon, raisin, plumb, and toffee. Very buttery smell. Rich and thick.

T-- Prickly carbonation on the tongue. Whole lot of vanilla and toasted coconut. Lots of alcohol in the taste and quite sweet.

M-- Full and heavy Oak in the mouth. Also vanilla and coconut again. Much higher carbonated than what I thought this would be. Very sweet and very boozy. Hard to distinguish the base beer at times.

O-- Good but a bit sweet and booze driven at times. Barrel hides the base beer for a good portion of drinking. honestly thought a little too hot at times. (809 characters)

Photo of shleepy
3.62/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 2012 bottle into snifter glasses.

A: Lightly hazy medium-brown. Small head.

S: Pleasant, subtle notes of vanilla and sour berries.

T: Vanilla, toffee, light liquoriche. Almost gives away the alcohol in the finish / aftertaste, but stops just short.

M: Creamy texture. Very heavy body - definitely a slow sipper.

O: I'm not generally a huge fan of the super-heavy beers, but I appreciated this one as a kind of nightcap, sipping it over a long period of time. (475 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
3.63/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of HopsMatt, thanks bro! Initial smell of the bottle is the same as sniffing a Jack Daniels or Crown Royal bottle: pure whiskey. The beer was an amber color, scant head. The aroma from the glass was more subdued bourbon with notes of vanilla. Flavor was vanilla, heavy booze, whiskey, caramel, decent but not great. Mouthfeel was a bit thin. I would not put this in the upper echelons of bourbon barrel barleywines but it was a decent offering overall. (473 characters)

Photo of infestaxion
3.65/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From my notes

A - Murky dark red with a thin white head that fades quickly into a ring around the glass.

S - Big bourbon and sweet dark fruit. Nice malt presence.

T - Bourbon is much less in the taste. Huge malt and dark fruit. Apple. Alcohol. Very sweet aftertaste with a bit of burn.

M - Medium body and low carbonation.

D - Going to be slow drinking this thing. (369 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Once again I find myself in the awkward position of not being able to remember the BA who sent me this beer. I need to write these things down. Whoever you are, let me know so I can acknowledge you!

2010 vintage. This brew pours a mostly clear garnet amber topped by a short wisp of white bubbles. The nose comprises whiskey, oak, caramel, biting citrus, and a touch o' booze. The taste is a richer version of the smell, though the alcohol really busts its way through, Kool-Aid Man-style. I'm not so sure I'd say "Oh yeah!" to this with as much enthusiasm as that glass bastard. The body is a hefty medium, with a light carbonation and rather thick feel. Overall, a decent BBBW, but decidedly too boozy right now. Perhaps this guy will be calmer with some years on him, but he's too damn hot today. (835 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
3.7/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2012 vintage, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Pours a crystal clear dark amber body with a pinky finger of light beige head. Retention isn't great, but there is a thick swirl of bubbles on top of the brew for quite some time, with a thin collar that leaves a little ring during a swig. No lacing that sticks.

S: Bourbon... This is very bourbon-forward, wow. Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, brown sugar, molasses. Lots of sweet things. Vanilla, even some oak. Very pungent, very nice.

T: Almost a metallic bent to it, which recedes but doesn't fully vanish as the beer warms. It's very caramelly and sweet. Lots of toffee, butterscotch, and nuts to accentuate the bourbon character. Vanilla and oak are also found. Hops are quite strong in this beer, contributing bitterness but no particular flavor. Instead of balancing the rest of the beer, the bitterness clashes oddly. Somewhat poorly integrated. It starts off great, but the finish is metallic and astringent.

M: It is viscous, resistant to swirling in the mouth. Full-bodied in flavor, with low carbonation and a creamy presence. It's drier than expected, and the bitterness/metallicity helps prevent this from tasting too sweet as well. I detect the ABV only subtly as a warming effect.

D: This is an excellent deal. However, it could use a little more work to integrate the flavors properly. I'll definitely keep chasing it down in the future, but it's not a beer I need in large quantities. I like this approximately on par with Abacus; this one is more flavorful and less boozy, but Abacus has a better finish. The cost tips it in CW's favor. (1,653 characters)

Photo of rhodeska
3.72/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A nice red/ dark amber tint to the beer, very nice head and lacing on the glass as i drink.

This one has a very strong smell, was able to catch a whiff of it as i poured it a couple feet below my nose. Really strong bourbon smell, and the taste is the same. Has some earthy and woody tones to it as well. It doesn't really have that hot or burning feeling as the alcohol goes down, which was slightly surprising, but that's it. (428 characters)

Photo of getkrunkhoe
3.73/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

App- pours a really rich red almost burgundy color with brown hues. A thick and big as FU*k creamy tan head just stares at you. Looks like it'll fade quick.

Ar- I get vanilla and bourbon and a hint of plum(?). also the alc. is present.

taste- BOOZY, sweet, red fruit, a bit of caramel, and brbn of course.

mf- is creamy and lush, big and forward. Very inviting

Dr- needs time to age, a year or 2 will open this big bold beer imensely.Lots of potential.

I recommend this ish. (480 characters)

Photo of trappistlover
3.74/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(12oz bottle courtesy of guyinchicago!). Pours cloudy amber color with sediment and off-white head. Aroma of candied sugar, dried 'pit' fruit and bourbon. Taste is sweet almost like a tootsie pop with a bitter pop at the end.. Full bodied and slick texture. Alcohol is noticeable, but not overpowering. This is a pretty interesting beer. (337 characters)

Photo of ZAP
3.74/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love bourbon barrel aged beers but it is real tough to mess up the aroma....this one has everything you'd expect when you take your first smell...nougat, vanillla, oak, bourbon, dark fruits, caramel...the only off note if you want to call it that is a little red apple....

First sip brings a velvet like smoothness....full bodied but not immense...flavors are more muted on the taste...vanilla....oak...dark fruits...a good dose of bittering hops (perhaps chinook?)....

This is a BW and it has a little booziness to it as expected...the red apple notes are also evident on the taste...

I expected more out of this beer. That is not to say this is bad. Just seems kind of muddled and overall does not stand up to some of the better barrel aged beers I have had.

Certainly worth trying but this falls a little short for me. (827 characters)

Photo of shbobdb
3.75/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I don't know why this beer isn't lighting up the trade charts. A really fantastic, sweet barleywine balanced by alcohol and the woody bite of bourbon. What isn't to love?

Just a fantastic pour. A huge head that lingers. A nice bit of lacing too. The beer is a little cloudy when it is too cold to drink, but a signal for when it the beer is warm enough to drink is OK by me!

The beer smells like toffee, cough syrup, and bourbon.

The taste is really pretty fantastic. Toffee, caramel, chocolate, a nice alcohol warming sensation, carob, and a hefty dose of bourbon. I mean, who can argue with that? There is also a vague citrus to the beer from the hops, maybe? I'm not even sure, it could just be the alcohol.

Yeah, this beer is nice. In terms of a downside, the beer does have a sort of cough-syrup flavor to it. But I find that is pretty common amongst barleywines, let alone bourbon barrel aged ones.

Good stuff. (925 characters)

Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Alcstradamus.

Pours a dark ruby brown in color. No head on the pour. Smell is bourbon, some very dark fruits and a little bit of alcohol as well.
Taste is more of the bourbon, but whatever the dark fruit flavor is coming through more in the flavor. It has the bite of cranberries, but could be dates as well. Really dominant in the flavor.
The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth, and just a tad thin. Tastes more like a brandy barrel aged beer than a bourbon barrel aged beer.
Tasty. (501 characters)

Photo of wisrarebeer
3.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Deep copper color, slight haze, nice head that dissipated.
S: deep bourbon and roasted malt, some heat
T: deep bourbon taste, bourbon dominates over roasted malt, a bit too much bourbon that makes it unbalanced for the style
M: warm, roasted, full (250 characters)

Photo of CUBS09
3.78/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a 2013 into 3Floyd's teku.

Good clean toffee color, rich white brown head and lacing.

Strong alcohol smell. Hot boozy bourbony.

Great creamy mouthfeel. Taste of caramel, toffee and still a prevalent alcohol aftertaste which heightened as it warmed. Not unexpected for an 11.5 beer.

Maybe I'm crazy but feel like this has lost a little of the rich caramel flavor I remembered. Still a great beer and can't wait for the 2014 release. (444 characters)

Photo of Yesac
3.8/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 fresh vintage

A- Opaque murky orangy red in color with a small bright white head.

S- Fruity nose.. cherries come to mind. Not much bourbon aromas present. Some caramel malt.

T- Right along with smell. Fruity notes on the nose and throughout. Sweet caramel malt and some candy sugar. Earthy tones and a saltyish finish. Very slight hints of bourbon. ABV is very well hidden.

M- Full bodied. Medium carbonation. Not sticky.

O- I'm glad to see something with "bourbon" on the label and it not taste like it's over powered by it. This brew is a good blend of barelywine aged in bourbon barrels and made for some interesting sipping. A little on the bitter-sweet side for taste however. (694 characters)

Photo of cbeer88
3.8/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted blindly in the Blind BIF. Poured into Duvel tulip.

Apperance: Dark orange, bordering on brown. Decent finger and a half head on an aggressive pour, lots of carbonation bubbles. Light spotted lacing.

Smell: Caramel malt, oak, and a bit of a hop profile. Also a good amount of alcohol presence on the nose. Bourbon I do believe.

Taste: Really hot, the alcohol dominates the palate on this one. Bourbon barrel for sure. Underneath I get some caramel, some sweet bread-y flavor, and a good amount of pine flavored hop punch.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, moderately carbed.

Drinkability: Very low - this beer is really hot and needs some time to mellow.

Overall: I do think there is a very good beer in here, but it is so masked by the alcohol that I'm having a hard time tasting what lies underneath. I'll get through it alright without a struggle, but I would lay this down for a bit before attempting it again. (917 characters)

Photo of nicnut45
3.81/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into arrogant bastard snifter. 2013 vintage

A- A muddy red pond water appearance. Almost no head on an average pour. A slight tan head bubbles to the surface.

S-Upon warming, she really starts to come to life. Carmel, bourbon, peppercorn, floods the nostrils. Digging a little deeper, I catch a whiff of scotch tape. Weird I know, but I smell it none the less.

T-This is way too bitter and harsh if your just pulling it out of the fridge. Needs to warm up a bit. Upon warming shes a bit alcoholic, and bitter as wormwood. Hot and spicey down the gullet with a soothing burn. The hot alcohol covers up the subtle flavors that will reveal itself with time. Flan, caramel, and alcoholic sweetness are major flavors now but give it 3-4 years and I think she will really shine.

O- Lay her down and I think this will be great in a few years. She is surely hot to say the least and strongly bittered to boot. (926 characters)

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.82/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 5/8/12
*From notes

-- This review is for the 2012 vintage only --

A: Unflitered honey comb in color. An elegant, straight pour down the center of the glass yields a 1.5 finger off-white, bubbly head.

S: Sweet bourbon, wild field flowers, sherry and ripe vine fruit.

T: Pretty on point, though not entirely. Pleasant sweetness hits first and lingers from start to finish. I should say that it becomes overly cloying as I continue drinking the beer. A jolt of juicy, almost tart hops hit the mid. Creamy malt rides to the back, and the bourbon packs a lot of heat on the finish. It doesn't linger long, and it feels a bit watery the longer I wait between sips.

M: A lighter BA Barleywine. Sure it's pretty thick, and the carbonation is alright. It just doesn't pack the punch you'd hope for in a big beer like this.

O: Certainly the best brew I've had from Central Waters, yet it doesn't reach the echelon of the best in-class. It gets to be too much, as the residual sugar is overly cloying and makes this hard to put back. An above average offering.

*I had a 2010 next to this. My notes are as follows:

A: 3.5 / A bit darker, though overall it's extremely similar.
S: 3 / Not nearly as pungent or rich. Not a lot of fruit or spirit to it.
T: 4 / Dryer. Less imediate heat, and the bourbon is much more subdued. Heavier on the char.
M: 4 / A touch more weight, though it's almost spot-on.
O: 3.5 / I preferred it fresh. (1,469 characters)

Photo of Grohnke
3.82/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cloudy, burnt orange/gold/brown. Quarter inch head, dissipates quickly, leaving a fine, thin scattered film, and perfect perimeter

Impressive bourbon aroma that lends to vanilla and some soft oak, rich caramel, prominent dark cherry. Sweet malty characteristic 

Carmel, cherry, vanilla, a spicy characteristic that could be attributed to the warming alcohol, at times it comes off hot. Great sweetness and dry wood on the finish.

Full body, light carbonation. Slightly sticky and creamy mouthfeel. Finishes surprisingly a bit dry, with a hot alcohol and light hop bitterness.

An enjoyable, heavily bourbonized, sipper of a barley wine. Fruits and caramel sweetness come out very well, with the hops and wood providing a nice finish. Bourbon notes are clear and complex. The big drawback here is how hot it is. And that it is represented in the aroma, flavor and finish...it constantly reminds you how hot the beer is. Maybe some time in the cellar would have helped. Too bad I only have one. (997 characters)

Photo of Brez07
3.82/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing from notes. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A: Dark cherry red color. Partially opaque. Small amount of cream head that stays for a few minutes

S: Great smooth bourbon presence up front. Combined with vanilla and some oakiness. Light citrus sneaks it's way through, mostly in the form of zest/rind. Notes of cherry and caramel. Sweet malt towards the end

T: Booze soaked caramels. Vanilla and dark fruit (still going with cherry). Definite bourbon presence. Subtle hop bitterness. Wood-like dryness

M: Medium bodied. Pretty high carbonation for the style. Fairly strong hop and alcohol finish

D: Might have opened this one a little early. With a little time I could see this being great. Decent now, but I'll sit on the other one I have (753 characters)

Photo of billab914
3.83/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured a lighter brown color with a little bit of an orange tint to it. A very thin, white ring clung to the edges of the glass. It actually left a decent amount of lacing for how little of a head it had.

The aroma has a lot going on in it. I get some juicy, fruity, citrus like flavors coming out, with a bit of an orange juice, pineapple flavor to it. The bourbon is there and gives it some woody, boozy bourbon flavors. I'm getting a little bit of a dark fruit soaked in vodka quality to it as well. A little boozy overall and not as smooth as some of my favorites in the style, but not bad overall.

Things come together better for me in the taste. I get more of the malty, caramel flavors mixing with the bourbon up front. Midway I start to get more of the juicy, citrus bitterness to it with some grapefruit and pine present in the finish. A little bit of the woody, oak and vanilla flavor comes through in the finish. Again, a little boozy in the finish overall but not too bad.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side for the style and carbonation is moderate. Overall it was a pretty solid beer, but didn't really wow me like some barrel aged barleywines have. It felt a little too juicy, citrusy and bitter as well as boozy at times, but then also smooth and drinkable at times when the malty flavors came out more. It had some very nice high points to it and was a very nice sipping beer this evening, but fell a little short of being a truly world class beer of the style. (1,552 characters)

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.84/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Great Lakes snifter. The pour is reddish, coppery-amber color with a fair amount of clarity and a very thin layer of foam that doesn't stick around for long (common for barrel-aged beers). The nose is quite sweet and boozy. I get notes of vanilla and bourbon, but the hops and some fusel alcohol notes assert themselves over the subtler toffee notes.

The beer has a full body and a nice slick feel. There's a brief bready sweetness up front that is quickly overpowered with hops and a sharp boozy heat, lending the beer a slightly metallic, medicinal tang. The heat intensifies towards the back of the palate and drowns out the caramel-like sweetness of the malt, which is fighting like hell to break through but doesn't quite make it all the way to the fore.

Beers like this are difficult for me to rate. It's clearly a well-crafted product with an abundance of intense flavors and marvelous aromas. Unfortunately, even though I enjoy American Barleywines, I'm just not a huge fan of aging these in bourbon barrels. I find that the bitter hop flavors clash a bit on my palate with the sweet, boozy notes and the malt is not allowed to work its magic. (Now English Barleywines - good gracious! Those are custom-made for bourbon-barrel-aging!) Nevertheless, I continue to try these as I come across them (or as wonderful traders - like Ri0 - bless me with their generosity) in hopes that my palate will eventually accept them. (1,455 characters)

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 565 ratings.