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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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 Cfeezy
4.48/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle
Hop forward barleywine. On the thinner side as a standalone barleywine but in a nice way(similar to the Barrel aged stout) that is complimented nicely by the barrel aging.
It comes across like a lighter fw Sucaba or bcbbw to me(and not as good as an overall brew) but very nice if you want something similar and "lighter" (maybe not the best descriptive word). O well, recommended! (394 characters)

Photo of blankenhoney
4.52/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Local Option. Pours a cloudy amber with a substantial head. The nose is sweet vanilla and rich caramel toffee: at this point, I'm ready to take a bath in this stuff. Taste delivers what the nose promised: lots of sweet vanilla bourbon up front, then transitions into caramel maltiness, and finishes with a strong tart hoppiness. Very tart and hoppy on the end. Mouthfeel was a delight: chewy, creamy, and somewhere between medium- and high-carbed. A fantastic BA barleywine: it has all the best aspects of a english-style BA barleywine up front, and the intense hoppy tartness you see in american barleywines provides a great contrast at the end. So good I had to order another! (694 characters)

Photo of MarcWP
4.33/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into Stone snifter.

Pours dark brown with heavy burgundy tints. Small light tan head that settles to a soapy froth. Plenty of light shows through the beer.

Aroma is big fig and prune primarily, followed by bourbon heat, oak, creme brûlée, brown sugar, and brandied raisin. Smells good and on aroma alone is way above average.

On the palate you get a booze bomb! Heavy bourbon, oak, caramelized sugars, vanilla, fresh fig, burnt raisin, and dark bread. The barrel dominates a bit. I think time can only help bring out the base beer. Aftertaste thins out and is mostly oak, bourbon, and a sugary sweetness.

Body is medium to heavy medium. Carbonation is good. Has a bit of a syrupy feel.

This promises to be one of the elite with the appearance and aroma but falls short in the flavor category. The oak and bourbon heat dominate the palate. Some dark fruit and sugars present themselves mid palate but then fade to just sugar, oak, and bourbon. Still a very good Barleywine, just not in the same league as Sucaba, MOAS, etc. (1,038 characters)

Photo of N_Schleret
4.06/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a dark amber color with a 2 finger tan head that dissipates quickly to a light ring. Blotchy lacing.
S: Big boozy bourbon fills the nose with hints of caramel, vanilla, and toffee.
T: Again sweet bourbon overpowers everything. I get hints of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee.
M: Fills up the palate nicely with a creamy sticky feel.
O: Another good bourbon barrel beer from Central Waters. A little age might mellow this out. (437 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)

Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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. (929 characters)

Photo of Damian
4.34/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Drank from a 12 fluid oz bottle acquired in a trade with surge1311
Vintage: 2013
Served in a snifter

The nearly crystal clear, copper-mahogany liquid was topped by small, light tan crown that quickly faded to a ring of bubbles. Droplets of lacing clung to the glass.

The aroma was really intense and complex. Candied fruits came through strong. Quite sweet and boozy overall with a robust caramel malt presence. Lots of toffee and brown sugar. Good dose of vanilla. As the beer warmed, the bourbon and vanilla notes really intensified.

A stiff, caramel malt backbone led things off in the flavor profile. Toffee, brown sugar and candied fruits were apparent. Bourbon notes hit hard mid-palate. Loads of vanilla as well. The bitter, boozy finish was super hoppy and contained strong notes of pine sap and orange peel. A bit sharp for my liking.

The mouthfeel was somewhat lighter than I anticipated, but the super fine and zippy effervescence lent the beer an exceedingly creamy and smooth frothiness. After every sip, the liquid left a slightly sticky film on my lips.

Central Waters's Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale is an interesting and complex beer that makes for a perfect sipper on a cold winter night. I aged my bottle for a year, but I feel that even more time might help mellow out some of the booziness and the bitterness on the finish. (1,349 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.36/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

so there does exist a barley wine that lives up to its hype, and it is this central waters offering. hazy and rich caramel colored beer with an awesome white head over an inch tall and lasting all the whole time. it smells like caramelized grain sugar, raw sugar, toffee dessert, and booze, but only just enough. the nose and taste both suggest ridiculous barrel influence, i mean, tons of vanilla, tons of char, tons of everything, sugars too but its not too sweet. i get good bourbon all the way through, with that oaky earthen character and all the vanilla in the world, while the booze remains way back, but persistent enough for me to want to let this warm and drink it slowly, although neither the body nor the sugar makes this hard to drink. smooth down, long vanilla finish, like creme brûlée in many ways, to rich for a ton of it, but highly appreciated in reasonable doses. a good twelve ounce to share, and finally a central waters beer worthy of its high praise, this is wonderful barleywine, as good as american made english style gets. (1,051 characters)

Photo of twperman
4.31/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Lots of bourbon flavor, especially vanilla, but the hops cut into the sweetness making it extremely drinkable. not as dry or hoppy as some other american barleywines so it can taste a little sweet, but this is great. almost no head whatsoever. Hopefully i can manage to age a few of these. (289 characters)

Photo of Mdog
4.31/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Cloudy dark amber, good head.

Smell: Big caramel, lots of barrel wood, vanilla.

Taste: Sweet caramel and vanilla. Plenty of barrel influence. A decent amount of citrus hop bitterness gives it another dimension.

Overall: Very tasty, boozy barleywine. The wood and vanilla flavors are offset somewhat by the hops so it's not just a bourbon fest. Nice changeup from the bourbon stouts I've had during this long winter. (430 characters)

Photo of Docrock
3.9/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 bottle

A: nice caramel brown color, minimal head with no retention, not that I expected much.

S: a slight hint of vanilla and just a touch of booziness, not smelling much at all..

T: nice caramel, vanilla, a touch of date. Not picking up much hop character at all.

M: a bit hot. There is a definite burn from the booziness on the roof of the mouth and the throat.

O: overall I enjoyed this beer. I am going to lay several down as I think 9 months to a year will do wonders. I am have been disappointed by most of Central Waters beers but this one is by far the best I have had from them and with a touch of cellaring, this has potential to be awesome. (662 characters)

Photo of BoJengs
4.43/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2014 bottle reviewed 2/27/2014. Purchased from Woodmans, fresh... Just reviewed the 2013 a few nights ago and loved it. Lets roll on this one.

A- Lighter appearance than the one yr old version. Has the same color as a typical whiskey, copper, reddish, can see the light of day through the beer (could not see through the one yr old) Good looking brew here.

S- Sweet smells right away. sweet bourbon, vanilla, caramel. sweet

T- Follows the nose. Very sweet. Much sweeter than the one yr old although still complex. Sweet bourbon and vanilla dominate, alcohol is there but still enjoyable. After tasting the one yr old the other night I expected this beer to be harsher. Somehow the fresh beer is sweeter and less resinous than the beer with a yr on it, confusing to me considering the nature of hops.

M- its a good mouthfeel although I feel the beer with a yr on it had more/better carbonation and mouthfeel, although totally subjective.

O- Great beer. I will buy at least 1-2 4 packs of this every yr - consuming a few fresh and laying a few away for good times later. After comparing the fresh to the 1 yr old I would have to say that I do prefer the brew with a year on it. It matured nicely and became a more balanced beer after the year. I suspect this will continue to improve at least to the 3 yr mark and I look forward to enjoying the journey.
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2013 bottle reviewed 2/25/2014 after 1 yr in cellar.

A- murky reddish copper. Not much head if any at all. Even though this beer is more red/copper colored, when held up to light, barely any passes through. Looks good.

S- bourbon right away, then maybe a lil cherry. Definitely smell the bourbon radiating off the glass though.

T- Bourbon up front, slight tastes toffee, cherries, and a little vanilla. Can definitely taste the alcohol although it is very pleasant.

M- amazing mouthfeel. Although appearance doesn't lead one to believe there is carbonation the mouthfeel certainly feels like there is, and just the right amount. Very solid.

O- this beer was great fresh, and is still great after one yr in cellar. I have 2 more bottles of the '13 that I will open after 2 and 3 yrs and see how they progress (I am thinking this beer is only going to get smoother and smoother with time). Delicious offering as always from a great Wisconsin brewery. Nicely done Central Waters. (2,350 characters)

Photo of jbwimer
4.02/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An extra from a trade with Jaycase. Great trader. Excited to try this. 2014 variant, so it's pretty fresh. Let's do this.

A- Poured aggressively from a 12 oz. bottle into a Great Lakes tulip/snifter. Finger and a half of creamy beige head. Has great retention and sticks to the glass. Deep, clean amber color.

S- This is pretty fresh, so there is still some hop presence. Not smelling too much barrel. Bourbon and wood are faint. Mostly hops, caramel, and some booze. Underwhelming.

T- Again, not much barrel character. Definitely get more oaky flavors, but not much bourbon. Still tastes great! Just not quite what I want in a BA barleywine. Other flavors include caramel, toffee, candied figs. Faint alcohol presence. I'd just really love some more barrel.

M- Nice, smooth feel to this beer. This is probably the highlight of this beer. Oily and smooth. Alcoholic warmth. Medium mouthfeel. Light carbonation. Well done.

O- This is not a bad beer by any stretch of the imagination. I did enjoy it. However, it was too similar to a standard barleywine. If this was a standard barleywine, the smell and taste scores would be higher. However, reviewing it for what it is, this beer leaves me wanting more influence from the barrel. Perhaps age helps this beer. If I get my hands on more, I'll lay a couple down for a year. A good beer. But not amazing. (1,360 characters)

Photo of Jas45678
4.27/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle courtesy of Roger85

Pours a murky brown with a small off white head. Smell has tons of bourbon with vanilla, toffee, carmel and sweet malts. Taste is like the nose, lots of bourbon with the other flavors in the background. A little boozy. Medium to light mouthfeel with lower carbonation. Overall a very good Barleywine that if I had access to would buy a lot. (377 characters)

Photo of Timmah11
4.64/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Reddish brown. A bit murky. Carbonation bubbles along glass and a few bigger khaki bubbles on top. Carbonation and head recede fairly quickly.

Smell: The bourbon is dominate for sure. Sweetness-caramel, toffee and vanilla.

Taste: Strong bourbon flavor to start. The Sweet malt follows with flavors consistent with the aroma - toffee and caramel. Light vanilla. All the flavors are melded together. Really smooth.

Mouthfeel: Not as full bodied as many other barleywines. Creamy and smooth. A tad thin as I have found CWs other barrel aged styles.

Overall: I look forward to this release every year. A wonderful boozy but balanced sweet take on a barrel-aged barleywine. (684 characters)

Photo of JayCheG
4.42/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 bottle

A: an earthy brown, almost muddy waterish color. Poured with a one finger head and had quite a bit of lacing.
S: Huge burst of bourbon, smells delicious. Also vanilla, brown sugar and plums.
T: Sweet bourbon and vanilla mainly. Hints of the brown sugar and plums from the smell as well.
M: Creamy in the beginning and a fizzy carbonated feel at the end.
O: Big smell and flavor. Very nicely balanced. Only negatives is it sort of looks like I'm drinking sludge water and wish it had a smoother drink.

Have another 4 pack in the cellar and looking forward to seeing what its like at 6 months and on! (614 characters)

Photo of Ri0
4.16/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

poured 12oz bottle into chalice.

A - Muddy brown with some amber tones with a thin khaki head and no lacing.

S - Bourbon is not as strong as I would have believed and there are complex aromas. Notes of thick caramel, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, dark fruit, malt, and bourbon make it a treat to inhale.

T - Sweet bourbon, vanilla, thick caramel, dark fruits dusted in brown sugar. Toffee and butter scotch and also hidden in teh back. Slight bit of alcohol and I do not notice any bitterness from the hops.

M - Medium body with light carbonation. It is smooth and rich on the palate.

O - I had this to do a comparison with Insanity. This was less harsh and more mellow and sweet compared to Insanity. I would have thought Insanity would have been less bitter since it is an English style, but the bourbon was too prevalent in it. Going to age both and see how they are. I do recommend this one. (903 characters)

Photo of shadetree67
4.2/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle - 2014 vintage

Appearance - Dark amber in color. Pour yielded 1/2 finger of head. Slight lacing

Smell - Toffee, caramel, boozy bourbon, slight vanilla.

Taste - Bready Malts, caramel, vanilla. Not getting much barrel in this though the bourbon flavor is present.

Mouthfeel - Medium to thin mouthfeel. Slight carbonation. The alcohol warms the back of my throat for quite awhile. A bit too hot for my tastes

Overall - This is a pretty good BB barley wine and hopefully the booze mellows out with some age on the bottle. It has a lot of potential. (563 characters)

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.28/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Superb drinking BA barleywine. Despite the abv, it doesn't seem overly hot to me, although you do feel it as you chug it down. (Sip, don't chug.) To say this is well balanced is correct. All elements come together nicely, preventing it from being too hoppy, too boozy, too sweet, or too anything else. Just a solid and delightful beer that's more drinkable that you'd expect. Very nice. (386 characters)

Photo of JohnG190
4.46/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thank you, pmarlowe for this outstanding extra. Pours a deep amber with a thin tan head. Good retention and lacing. Heavy bourbon on the nose along with dark fruit and biscuity malt aromas. Sweet bourbon throughout the palate, offset by faint hop bitterness. Heavy mouthfeel with lots of alcohol heat and little carbonation. Overall, this great BA barleywine is one that could lay down for a few years. (402 characters)

Photo of JerUrbans
4.5/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage just picked up. Also had this on tap at Central Waters anniversary party over the week end.

Amber orange and cloudy with light tan head. Smells is super sweet bourbon with alcohol coming through. Taste is fantastic!! Sweet brown sugar, big bourbon with slight tang. Heat lingering well after swallowed. Mouthfeel is clean and a little silky, not as silky as their Y2K, but very nice. Overall this is another Central Waters to seek out if you like this beer style you will not be disappointed. Picked up a case and will be aging some of this one. (560 characters)

Photo of don1481
4.58/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First review of the 2014 vintage! WOOT! 12oz bottle poured into my pint glass.

Appearance: Dense, khaki colored head that subsides fairly quickly (albeit a little slower than most of the other high ABV beers I've been drinking of late) on top of a rich, deep reddish brown beverage. Hold it up to the light and see a fair amount of bubbles.

Smell: The moment I opened the bottle, I smelled the bourbon. Now that it's poured, this has a pretty complex nose to it. Notes of brown sugar, toffee, caramel, vanilla, raisins, malt, and a splash of the bourbon all dance together in this one. This smells beautiful.

Taste: YUM. The bourbon notes are the strongest here, but this has a good amount of complex sweetness to balance that out quite nicely. Definitely get the toffee, brown sugar, and vanilla here. I bet this is going to age spectacularly. Not hoppy at all, which I think allows the other flavors to truly shine here.

Mouthfeel: Smooth on the whole; not as smooth as say a Skull Splitter, but this goes down nicely. Body feels a little thinner than I expected. Carbonation doesn't really get in the way of this one, though, so no complaints there.

Overall: Woodman's only had 2 cases of this dropped off on Thursday; I bought two 4 packs and think I may need to go find more to age. I recently had a couple samplers of the BC Barleywine and this definitely is right there with it in terms of overall quality and complexity. VERY impressed. (1,451 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 4thelvofbeer
4.58/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Update, May 12, 2014. Opened another bottle....absolutely awesome!

Another awesome Central Waters beer! So nice and smooth, this is one of the better barleywines I have enjoyed lately. Pours a reddish brown with a small head. Big notes of bourbon and mash! I soo wish that CW was distributed in my area! Overall....awesome!! (325 characters)

Photo of guityler83
4.52/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: A dense tan colored head was poured about a finger tall into a snifter glass. Head retention was good for such a high gravity beer, a thin coat of lacing was left on the side of the glass as it was being consumed. Alcohol legs can be shown when swirled. The beer is a dark mahogany brown color, very murky with not much light coming through.

S: Big nose composed of prunes, raisins, plums and other dark stone fruits. A woody character melds with the complex malt profile so well it seems very organic. Fairly moderate dank and dark piny hop aroma.

T: Very complicated malt profile similar to the aroma. Prunes, plums, raisins, tobacco and pomegranate. The balance is on the malt side with a moderate sweetness, almost a syrup like flavor, but there is a medium bitterness at the beginning with an earthy, pine flavor. Last but not least the oak, vanilla, slightly coconut flavored barrel flavor develops throughout and melds very well and naturally. Very tasty.

M: Big warming sensation from the alcohol on this one, definitely a sipper. Big body with moderate to medium carbonation. The woody/oaky tannins are left on the pallet giving a slight drying sensation.

O: A big malty barley wine with an organically natural tasting barrel flavor thats great for sipping on a cold winter night. Cheers CW, keep up the good work. (1,332 characters)

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