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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine AleBourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,735 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,735
Reviews: 531
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.28%
Wants: 650
Gots: 516 | FT: 50
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
Aged for 1 year in used bourbon barrels.

(Beer added by: Atron67 on 03-02-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,735 | Reviews: 531 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MPLS
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

Awaiting the Central waters limited releases (to hopefully come soon!) I cracked this 12 oz bottle open and poured into a snifter.

A: Dark raisin skined body that doesn't give way to much light. Tan 1.5 cm head fades with a thin layer that silkily stays atop to the mud sliding lace.

S: I am a sucker for bourbon: big caramel, vanilla, wood, cream soda, could blind smell the barrel aging in this one. Just fantastic.

T: The nose of the beer is great, the caramel and bourbon make a pleasant introduction. Midway these flavors peak and the finish the beer comes...it's pretty hop 'n' spicy, leather meets leaves and wood chips? ABV has to be above 12, maybe 13%. This bourbon version of their barleywine would mellow more with age, as the y2k suffers from a similar though not as intense hotness.

M: Medium-Thick bodied, creamy head.

D: Awesome looking and smelling beer, just have problems with the hotness and rather spicy leather alcohol finish. I look forward to purchased some more of these and letting them get a little age on them.

MPLS, Dec 04, 2009
Photo of Rifugium
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

First had: bottle share at Beermonger, Portland, OR
Thanks to writerLJberg for the share!

Poured a slightly hazed caramel brown color with an off-white head that reduced to a ringlet. Aroma of caramel and sweet malts, dark fruits, bourbon. Alcohol warning. Taste is sweet and cakey, woody bourbon, rum raisin, figs and black cherries, finishing with a mild, seemingly hoppy fruit character. As in the aroma, alcohol's presence is noticeable...it is a bourbon-aged barleywine, so would you expect it to be otherwise? Heavy-medium body, chewy, and quite drinkable.

Rifugium, Jan 13, 2012
Photo of crossovert
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

2009 Vintage, have a few of these, gonna age the others for awhile.

Pours a dark, dark brown, pretty much black with hues of ruby and magenta when held to the light, a pretty divine looking brew. The head his large and tightly foamed, it is an off white and takes some time to recede leaving some nice lacing.

Smell is ultra sweet and carmally, there is a hint of rasin and of course a nice large hit from the bourbon barrels lending it some vanilla, alcoholic, and oaky notes.

THe mouthfeel is incrediably creamy, thick, and smooth. The carbonation is low but it works very well. This beer is pretty sweet, but not cloying. The bitterness is up there as well, though it mellows out as you go. The alcohol is noticeable but not overbearing. Most of the flavors include bittersweet, tons and tons of caramel, dark fruits, alcohol, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and a small reminder of the hops that once were.

This is an extremely complex brew, and it was suprising to me at how good it was, I wasn't expecting this monster of a beer but I guess I should have. Despite the largeness I find it pretty drinkable, though it is a slow sipper. An amazing brew.

crossovert, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of KeefD
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

Pours a dark amber brown color with a small off-white head that had a lasting cap but no lacing. Aroma is lightly oxidized, plenty of sticky sweet malt, a bit of hoppiness, rounded out by a touch of oak. Taste is mucho oak, vailla, caramel, and dark fruits galore. I can definitely pick out some raisins and over-ripe fruits in this one, a nice kick of piney hops, loads of caramel. Very sweet and becomes even more so as it starts to warm. Bourbon wasn't very present, but the musty, wet oak barrel was. Carbonation is nearly absent, smooth, sippable, delicious. This one tastes pretty good but there's just a touch of oxidation in the nose and in the flavor. Not sure if the bottle was starting to go bad, but it had just a hint of that oxidized cardboard taste. Still pretty darn good and I hope the other bottle I picked will age gracefully.

KeefD, Sep 14, 2009
Photo of portia99
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

12oz bottle poured into a Bruery tulip, 2009 release. Bottle courtesy of nonstick - thanks again, Chris!

A - Pours a deep, dark brown with reddish highlights...almost opaque, but not quite. Short, cream colored head that recedes quickly and leaves a good, thick collar around the edge of the glass. Good looking barleywine.

S - Aromas are little on the light side, but I'm getting a combination of bourbon, molasses and caramel.

T - First impression...very nice. Plenty of bourbon character and flavor, but no hotness from it...a pleasant surprise. Tons of caramel and sugary sweetness. This blends really well with the bourbon flavor...this is very smooth. The bourbon cuts the sweetness and gives a bit of balance. Not much hop character - defninitely malt centered.

M - Medium bodied and medium carbonation. Thick enough to be satisfyin but not so much to be syrupy. No real heat from the bourbon, but I get a tingle on the lips and the roof of the mouth that I typically get with bourbon, scotch, etc. - just a reminder of its time in the barrel.

D - Quite a good barleywine...but no idea of ABV. I'm feeling it about 2/3 through the bottle so I'm guessing it is fairly high. Don't think I could have more than one of these at a time, but it is rather drinkable for what it is. The lack of bourbon heat is a plus and helps make this more drinkable than it could be. Good bourbony flavor without the heat...this is a good thing.

Overall, really enjoyed this beer. Definitely would not mind getting another one of these.

portia99, Nov 15, 2009
Photo of MarcatGSB
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Purchased from Riley's Wines of the World in Madison Wisconsin in early February. Bottled on date is January 2011. $10.99 a four pack.

Appearance: Pours hazy ruby/amber color. Thin foamy half finger head, minimal lacing.

Nose: Dried fruits. Nice bourbony/vanilla nose. Typical barleywine, but wait, theres more to it. Great oak/char back.

Taste: Unique flavor profile. The initial palate is bourbon barrel. Not overly boozy, but you can taste the vanilla and oak...slight charring, only to be washed away by the bitter barleywine flavor. The malt flavor is supported nicely by the bourbon/oak, and drifting away to the hop finish. Real nice balance.

Mouth: Great mouthfeel. I feel the carbonation is right where it should be. And at 11.5% ABV, no need to have a higher carbonation. Very drinkable, the booze isn't completely overbearing.

Drink and overall: Awesomely drinkable, high ABV barleywine. I like the oak barrel aging, it's done alot for Charlie. Fantastic beer, I have a few left and I am going to let them chill for a year or so.

MarcatGSB, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of brewcrew76
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

A - Hazy chestnut amber with a thin beige head

S - Vanilla, brown sugar, molasses, raisins, very sweet malt with slight bourbon notes.

T - Some bourbon heat upfront followed by a big dose of sweet caramel malt, raisins, brown sugar with a lingering bourbon, vanilla finish.

M - On the full side of medium body with slightest touch of syrupy quality, smooth with low carbonation.

D - Slightly on the sweet side for my tastes but a very nice sipper with great bourbon qualities (me likes me my bourbon).

brewcrew76, Jul 02, 2008
Photo of madtowndmb1
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

I got this as a gift beer. Since I like bourbon it was right up my alley, but if it's not your thing beware

A: poured a blackish-red with a nice head.

S: Mine smelled of almost straight bourbon.

T: Did not taste as strong as it smelled. I thought it was very enjoyable. It had the bourbon bite on the flavor but it had a very complex taste. There were fruity notes and maybe some vanilla in there as well. There was so much that I may go get another to see if could pinpoint more.

M: it was a great lingering flavor, a sipper indeed.

D: I really don't think more than one per sitting is doable, but you'll enjoy that one!!!

madtowndmb1, Mar 09, 2008
Photo of gkatsoris
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%

A: Very nice brown, with an ambery red int. The head was very thin, and lasted for a minute or so.

S: Raisins, vanilla, wood, sweet. Malts. Oak. And the bourbon finishes.

T: Alcohol up front, with malts. Then bourbon. And finishes sweet, w/ the raisins.

M: Very nice. Good carbonation. Nice and chewy. Very nice.

D: I wish I had more than one.

gkatsoris, Oct 18, 2008
Photo of samie85
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

A rough pour into a Duvel tulip yields a hazy dark brown color with two and a half fingers of white head.

Smells of oak, vanillin, spicy bourbon notes, and some dark fruit notes with a bit of burnt sugar.

Follows the nose with vanillin from the barrel, spicy bourbon, some dark fruit notes and finishes with that spicy bourbon note.

Medium bodied with prickly carbonation and warm, boozy feel with a warmth that you only get from drinking bourbon straight.

A little bourbon heavy, which I don't mind, but I would like to get a better understanding of the base beer; it's pretty hard to distinguish from the big bourbon notes.

samie85, May 03, 2012
Photo of woodychandler
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

More bottles from my latest Philly run. I am feeling adventurous today and may try to eradicate the bottle backlog that has been an albatross since school started back. Now, I am just running through backlog.

From the bottle (in poetic format): "Flavors of bourbon, malt, and hops meld quite good/Served at cellar temp like it should/Unified in one voice, our fans can rejoice/Charlie now comes aged on wood!"

A beautiful finger-and-a-half of dense, tawny head that left beautiful lacing in its wake as it fell. Color was a hazy deep-amber. Nose caused the back of my head to blow off! Coconut/vanilla bourbon melded with sweet malt to create a hot, boozy melange that seared my nostrils, filled my sinus cavity and when I stupidly struck a match to see what was going on, ignited, blowing out my brain housing group. Wheeee! Mouthfeel seemed to suffer from CWBC Disease, i.e. thinness, but the heat of this darling erased all downfalls. I had a Come-to-Jesus moment as it initially had the heat of strained and lit Sterno on my tongue. I was initially overwhelmed, but upon recovering, I got tastes of coconut/vanilla with a big caramel malt sweetness. Where did I score this? Oh, for another bottle or two to cellar ...

woodychandler, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of FosterJM
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

1482nd Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter

2011 Vintage
Thanks to ErikKoppin for this one

App- A deep and rich coloring intermixed with reds/browns/ambers and a little bit of mahogany. A nice puffy 2 finger head that was a bit tan and eggshell lasted longer than I though. Good lacing as well.

Smell- A bit think for my bourbon liking but was really nice aromatically. Boozy, malty, rich and creamy. A good note of toffee and darker fruits. Not per se quad like but close with figs and dark cherry.

Taste- Its a very good beer. Lots of depth of flavors with nothing really competeing with eachother but working together. Darker fruits and toffee along with boozy notes. Its a bit thick with creamy malts.

Mouth- A thinner medium body with a semi-prickly medium carbonation. Good flavors remain with malts, booze and candy sweetness.

Drink- Its a very tasty and solid 12oz. Love the fact its single serving. The booze is very well layered and doesnt over power. Glad I have a 12 to hold onto until next year.

FosterJM, Sep 02, 2012
Photo of scottfrie
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

12oz bottle into Portsmouth snifter. Feb 2010 vintage. A huge thanks to ipa247 for just handing me this bottle cuz he knew I wanted to try it. Thanks Jeff!

A: Pours a hazy dark ruby with about a finger of dark tan head that faded into a dense film that left bubbly streaks of lacing down the glass.
S: Fragrant notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar and toast, with a touch of bourbon and barrel spices.
T: Follows the nose with sweet notes of caramel and brown sugar balanced out by spicy and warm notes of bourbon, wood, and bread crust. There is a bit of cocoa and fruit in this beer as well, with sweet notes of ripened apples, grapes, raisins, and dates. The finish is sweet with a hint of vanilla, and the aftertaste has a bit of tobacco and is warm and lingering.
M: Medium-thick body with tingly carbonation and a very slick, sticky mouthfeel that is warm from a good dose of bourbon heat.
O: A really rich and complex sipper. The bourbon could maybe use a few more months to calm down even more, but as it stands it’s not all that hot. I definitely wouldn’t mind having a few of these in the cellar. Thanks again for sharing, Jeff, you the man.

EDIT: 7/2012, Just opened another bottle from 2/10 and all the heat I mentioned in my review is gone. Another year in the cellar has done wonders.

scottfrie, Sep 21, 2011
Photo of Qbdoo
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

A pretty delicious and deliciously drinkable powerhouse of a beer. Beautiful looking: a cloudy orange-ish brown. It looks like your dream of a barrel-aged barley wine. Mouthfeel is somewhat thinner than many barleywines but wonderfully creamy. Taste is surprisingly smooth - the aging seems to iron out the coarseness I find in many barleywines. Vanilla is the most prominent flavor. There's really just a hint of bourbon, which is a big plus in my mind, and the alcohol taste is slight as well.

Qbdoo, Apr 17, 2014
Photo of BARFLYB
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

A 2012 vintage bottle into a snifter

A- CWBBBW was a dark red mixing in with hazy brown making for a dark drink in the 12oz portion. It's not the dirtiest BW i've seen but it's pretty dark and difficult to see through. A nice beige cap up above leaving small splotz.

S- This smells amazing, it's really pungent with bourbon scents seeping out the glass. Wow! After getting around that a small candy scent and a big pile of roasty/toasty malt. Even some hop scent reaching out to be sniffed. Oak, vanilla, the works.

T- This is a great barleywine, I've never had the base, but can tell the original is no slouch. Bourbon hits my palate 1st and than the vanilla and oak come a blazing. Sweet caramel middle with malts and than some alcohol and piney hops afterwards. It's boozy still but it's also delicious.

M- Feel is approaching thick and somewhat syrupy, it's also a tad hot. It's also a big ass bourbon barleywine with 11.5%, so theres that. I get a somewhat candy gloss coating my mouth over some time. It's carbed up well.

O- I was really impressed with this one. Worthy of the praise it recieves. The only problem I had was drinking it. It tastes and feels great but it is a sipper in every sense of the word. I m loving sitting down at the crib with this one on a sunday night.

BARFLYB, Mar 31, 2012
Photo of seeswo
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

Reviewing 2011, have had 2008-2011 before.
Pours a translucent cherry brown with a reasonable tannish-white head. Smells just fantastic: caramel, vanilla, bourbon. Just knocks me outta the park. This is a very fresh barley wine, with hops in the finish and big sweetness upfront. A bit boozy, bourbony and just generally, a beer that needs some time to calm down. From experience, it doesn't take long for this beer to mellow quite a bit. Based off of this fresh and generally over time, this is a barley wine for people who like them relatively sweet. Very solid levels of carbonation with a medium mouthfeel. In it's current state, it's not the most drinkable beer. As it mellows, the sweetness emerges, putting a ceiling on the drinkability. In general, this beer has well integrated bourbon without being a bourbon/booze bomb, that is on the sweeter side of an already sweet style. Fantastic, and that's before I mention that you can't pay more than $3/12oz when it's available.

seeswo, Feb 12, 2011
Photo of Resuin
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a goblet. This is a 2014 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a deep caramel color and leaves a finger of off-white head that fades relatively quickly to a layer atop the beer.

Smell: Molasses, sweet dark fruits, toffee, brown sugar. Not overly sweet, but plenty of sweet tones in here.

Taste: Wow - very sweet - sugar coated plums, figs, molasses, toffee, sugar coated pecans, oak, caramel. The sweet flavors mask the alcohol, although some still comes through.

Mouth-feel: Low to medium carbonation with a medium, creamy body.

Overall: A very nice, sweet barleywine. Dark fruits and sugar dominate the flavor, making this a nice, dessert beer.

Resuin, May 19, 2014
Photo of tjkinate
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

2012 Vintage

A: A hard pour into a large snifter produced a 2 fingered frothy yet creamy tan colored head. It displayed good retention and some lacing settling atop this deep red bodied, semi-transparent brew.

S: Loads of caramel and dark fruits, only little hints of bourbon. Good smell that lacked in complexity.

T: Follows the caramel found in the smell, but the new found complexity elevates this beer to the next level. Dark fruits were less prominent and blended nicely with the oak from the bourbon barrels.

M: Heavy, creamy, still pretty hot. Gonna hold onto my remaining bottles for later.

O: A surprisingly great Barleywine that I can see only getting better with time.

tjkinate, May 07, 2012
Photo of inlimbo77
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

12oz bottle of the 2012 vintage. Poured this into my Pinocchio's (Media, PA) brandy snifter.

A: Pours a murky (initially), ruby orange kinda color. It clears out as it warms up. Not a ton of head, but there is carbonation. Wouldn't expect that much head at an ABV this high. See some bubbles off the bottom of glass. Definitely some alcohol feet. Nice lacing.

S: Lots of bourbon notes. Vanilla, toffee, caramel and booze for sure. Digging in you get some char and woodiness. Pulling some sweet malt too.

T: I get a little hop bitterness on the tip of the tongue. It's mild for sure. Then you bombarded by those sweet malt and bourbon notes in the mid palate. They actually just sit there on your tongue for a while. You get that caramel and toffee note that comes with the barrel. Sticky sweet malts. It doesn't taste boozy but you do get a nice warmth in the back of your thought that grows. I actually didn't know the ABV, but really can't believe this was 11.5%. It's there, but just in warmth not boozy flavors.

M: It's full bodied, even though looks can be deceiving. A little chewy.

O: It's a solid beer. A for me, for sure. Central Waters barrel program is killing it for me.

inlimbo77, Apr 19, 2012
Photo of pigc
4.23/5  rDev -1.9%

2012 bottle

A - Pours a medium brown hue with one finger head. Carbonation bubbles rush to the top of the glass.

S - Sweet malt, bourbon, toffee, black licorice.

T - Starts out with a wave of alcohol heat then the bourbon takes over followed by a touch of bittering hops. Notes of raisin, figs, plum and alcohol soaked cherries. Very nice.

M - Full bodied with good carbonation for this style. Coats mouth nicely of bourbon flavors throughout.

O - The bourbon barrel aging takes this beer to another level. Very solid barleywine. Well done.

pigc, May 28, 2012
Photo of joeseppy
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%

2013 Murky brown--soft caramel. Head quickly dissipates.

Wafts of banana walnut whisky bread pudding with raisins, drizzled with caramel.

Sweet, in cloying fashion, from beginning to end. Blast of bourbon alcohol numbs the tongue and the heat goes down into the chest. Grapefruit rind bitterness and overripe tropical fruit. Prunes, maybe raisin in burnt sugar aftertaste.

Medium body, sticky with low carbonation.

This is a dank brew. Reminds me of Burton Baton. The bourbon aging not melding well. For me its a 'meh' at this time.

Review December 2013

After about a year now still maintains caramel pour with the head receding to rim and some lacing is apparent.

I would say this is much more refined and delicious. After having the Goose Island BBW this ain't too bad. Alcohol has toned down considerably and the cloying is abated. Smoother and palatable. Review scores considerably higher with age. Not quite GI English BBW worthy but you know us American barleywines gotta have da high alcohol presence, damn fine nonetheless.

joeseppy, Feb 17, 2013
Photo of Rutager
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%

2012 bottle with a big thank you to Steasy66!

Appearance. Pours a viscous deep amber-orange with a thin off-white head.

Smell. Smooth bourbon and oaky vanilla, caramel, some dark and orchard fruits ...even a little citrus rind.

Taste. Burnt sugar, light bourbon and plenty of oak, vanilla and caramel, grainy malts, and some bitter citrus rinds.

Mouthfeel. Full body with some boozy warmth, smooth low carbonation.

Overall. A great bwine that probably could have stayed in the cellar for another year or two and possibly benefited. Fairly hoppy and still tastes a little young ...in my expert opinion anyways. ;-)

Rutager, Nov 13, 2013
Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%

Last of my central water beers from my trade with Garrett. This is the 2012 version of this beer.

The beer pours a fairly dark brownish amber color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The beer is quite attractive on the nose, as I pick up light milk chocolate, noticeable vanilla, toffee and butterscotch. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this sweet, excellent beer. Also, maybe it's from the extended aging in my cellar/closet, but there's a soft creaminess on the palate this is very, very nice. The finish is long as well, and there is a hint of heat from the alcohol on the finish. Otherwise, the alcohol is pretty well integrated into the flavor profile.

Very nice beer from Central Waters (which is what I've come to expect from them). My only complaint is that I really didn't pick up a whole lot of bourbon, etiher on the nose or the palate. Otherwise, this is a very fine beer from CW.

John_M, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of Krafty34
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Krafty34, Thursday at 01:45 AM
Photo of fenlop54
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

fenlop54, May 06, 2014
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,735 ratings.