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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine AleBourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,853 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,853
Reviews: 534
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.28%
Wants: 660
Gots: 519 | FT: 56
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: 1,853 | Reviews: 534 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of chicagobeerriot
4.78/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In the glass, this barrel-aged beauty appears as lightly veiled ruby/amber. An inch of lemon-cream colored head settles down quickly to a thin film.

The smell is a bourbon lover's delight. The bourbon, oak and vanilla notes come through clean and clear (unlike in an imperial stout where coffee and chocolate notes can reshape the smell of the barrel). The only supplement is a strong caramel base that smells as sweet as a bear claw pastry.

The mouthfeel is appropriately full with enough carbonation to provide just a bit of tang.

The flavor is bourbon forward as expected, but the flavors are well-rounded, preventing the alcohol from overwhelming. Don't get me wrong, this is a very big beer. But the vanilla and caramel notes help moderate the alcohol in such a way that the hop bitterness is given room to perform. As it warms, some dark fruit flavors emerge along with just a slight citric tang from the hops. The finish has a lot of bourbon warmth, but the prolonged hop fade is given equal billing.

Wonderfully complex, this beer rewards repeat visits by revealing new depth with every sip. May be my favorite barleywine.

Photo of domtronzero
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Slightly hazy deep copper colored with a long lasting whitish head. Little lacing.

S - Caramel, sweet bready malts, earthy hops. Vanilla and bourbon aromas are subtle yet noticeable.

F/M - Sweet caramelly, bready malts lead into a subtle vanilla oaky flavor. Moderate earthy hop flavors with moderate bitterness. Clean, sweet finish with a slight lingering vanilla bourbon flavor. Medium full bodied with moderate carbonation.

D - Good, full flavored, delicious and quite satisfying. I can't wait to try some of the other offering from CW.

Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429 and Amyliz4. Thanks Mike and Amy!

Served in a blind taste test with Alpine Great and Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barleywine.

A: This beer appears umber hued and very slightly hazy, with a thin, wispy head that leaves a just a touch of lacing on the glass.

S: Bourbon, molasses, sweet malt, dark fruits, toffee, caramels, oak.

T: Dark fruits, caramels, oak. Nicely done. Rich and flavorful.

M: Medium-thin in body, with a fairly low carbonation level.

D: I found this beer to be similar in many regards to the Kuhnhenn brew I had alongside it, albeit 3% less abv. I'd definitely have it again.

Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An old Kosmyk Charlie bottle with a green 'Aged in Bourbon Barrels' sticker affixed. From NFLMVP if my notes are reliable.

A: The barleywine is a dark reddish hue, one that looks brown from afar. Up close, the crimson shades are difficut to miss. A small head accompanied the pour, leaving no lace behind.

S: The nose has a rustic barleywine nose, quite sweet with caramel grains. The bourbon barrel is no slouch, adding light vanilla and a strong boozy streak. The bourbony sweetness needs some time, but it comes through nicely.

T: Sweet bourbon, sweet, sweet nectar. A bourbon barrel may have been made for a beer like this. The barleywine is big and strong, plenty of malts creating a dark, fruity landscape. The nearly cloying malts benefit from the barrel, adding vanilla and coconut. Vanilla is stronger and has a bit of pepper behind it. The barleywine and barrel together are a nice package, albeit one that packs a huge punch.

M: The mouthfeel is malty sweet, chewy before the bourbon sets in. Once it does, the ale picks up steam. It becomes a sweet, liquory drink from there. I'm not sure how old this bottle is but it has done quitely nicely.

D: At 11% or so, it is a nightcap. A nice blend of bourbon and barleywine.

Photo of sisuspeed
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to levifunk for the bottle!
Bottled February 2010

Poured into a Rock Art tasting glass. Clear ruby-red body with about a finger of foamy white head on top. A few patches of lacing. One of the better looking barleywines I've seen.

The nose is bourbon, hops, sweet malts and a touch of alcohol. Some vanilla and light ripe fruits. Hint of oak. Quite good, but not at the same complexity level as J.W. Lees.

Hops and oak mix with sweet malts and a bit of booze on the tongue. Sweet overall, but the hops definitely make themselves well known. Bourbon seems much stronger in the nose, but comes through a little bit in the flavor. Tastes more like oak barrel, than bourbon. Slightly fruity. Pretty good stuff.

Mouthfeel is smooth and almost creamy. Just the right about of heaviness and carbonation. Almost perfect for an American barleywine.

Drinkability is good. This glass went down pretty easy, especially for 11.5% ABV. However, I think this beer will be even better with a few years on it. Definitely another stand out brew from Central Waters and worth seeking out.

Photo of abuliarose
3.85/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010, poured into a tulip glass, revealing ruby gold body under a finger and a half of yellowed head. Decent amount of head for a strong barleywine. Some lacing. Very nice looking. Smells a little alcoholic with a good bit of bourbon in there. Light malts and a slight floral presence underneath. Simple smells.

Tastes sweet up front with a decent bourbon vanilla presence and some milky caramel, devolving into a decently strong bitter dryness. If you like your barleywine bitter this one is still going strong. Fine for the style for sure, but it has lost much of the aromatic pine and citrus qualities in the bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth and a little syrupy up front and drying at the end with a thin, prickly carbonation. Just over light-bodied. Decently drinkable, decently sip-able.

Overall it's quite nice. I don't know if it's on the outs or has yet to reach its peak but I would love to try some different vintages to see where I like it better.

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.43/5  rDev -20.4%
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

Photo of Halcyondays
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a clear pure light-medium amber with mild white head, good head retention, limited lace.

S: Sweet malt, vanilla, pastry, a delight to sniff.

T: Vanilla and malt, but with a prominent American hop character all the way through. Some molasses type notes as well.

M: Very smooth, creamy, lightly boozy.

D: An impressive beer from Central Waters. Good flavours and something methinks to age for a while.

Photo of jampics2
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter. This is the 2010 version I traded for at Dark Lord Day then cellared for a while. I had to crack into this to see how it's coming along!

The beer looks good in the glass, but it's nothing exceptional. It has a caramel color with a touch of gold and red around the edges. The film of a head dissipates and I'm left with a random bubble or two. The beer is murky and could look better, but it's not going to make me think twice about consuming it.

The smell is great - Central Waters ages their barrel-aged beers for the perfect amount of time IMO and they get such great notes from the oak instead of straight wood and bourbon. In addition to the sweet malt and dark fruit typically noted in Barleywines, this has some wonderful injections of bourbon, vanilla and coconut. There's also a touch of toasted malt in the mix which certainly adds to the complexity. Very expressive. Little to no hoppiness - just a touch is left after the aging and adds some earth and a touch of citrus.

The taste is fantastic. This is easily one of the best -bal aged American Barleywines on the market, especially considering its price. The huge malt base is sweet and gives great caramel and toffee notes with a touch of toast. Some cherry, fig, and prune skin deepens the complexity. The bourbon comes in next and has a touch of sting but is well integrated. The oak lends some vanilla and coconut to round out the experience. There is some booze, but that's to be expected with a beer this big, and it's not something that defines this or jumps out too much. The hops aren't prominent but add some bitterness to round out the flavor.

The mouthfeel is defined by a creamy carbonation and medium to heavy body. The beer is decadant as it should be, but that hurts drinkability a bit. Just a fantastic brew and one I will stock up on every year when it's available.

Photo of Urbancaver
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- murky orange goodness with minimal head

Amora- smells like barlwywine with vanilla and oak hints

Taste- dark fruit flavors with subtle hints of vanilla oakiness. Tastes like the best barley wine I've had in a while but with added wonderfulness of bourbon :)

Mouthfeel- smooth, strong, potent, amazing

Drinkability- very drinkable for the strength

Photo of drewba
3.6/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

Photo of JAXSON
4.1/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle. Pours a clear, medium ruby with a scant head. Nose is nice, round malt, fruit sugars, bourbon, oak barrel. Mouth is fairly straight forward, but is good in its simplicity. Mostly bourbon, oak, burnt sugar. I feel like this is somewhat in the "American" vein after having some maltier, heavy ones like the Old Stock Reserves. It's the same idea as Wooden Hell but without the amazing complexity and depth. Impressive.

Photo of Verecund
3.95/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage, consumed on 11.21.2010. Thanks go out to madtowndmb1 for this surprise.

Pours a reddish-brown, earthy color [sinopia]. Somewhat opaque, with almost no visible head, though the beer leaves tiny, tiny bubbles as lacing. (Second pour yields a darker, richer red body and, more importantly, a nice nearly one finger, mostly dissipating head. Bumped from 3.5 to 4.0.)

Truly appetizing nose. Sweet, sticky toffee and caramel, dark brown sugar, vanilla custard, and a soft bourbon wood.
Toasted oak comes through most in the taste, with some combination of nuttiness, caramel, and vanilla rounding out the flavor profile. There's a citrusy/resinous hop bitterness on the finish which is swallowed by a wave of strong bourbon alcohol heat.

The nose is strangely soft and finessed, like that of a younger English barleywine, but CW BBBW packs a punch in the mouth.

All of 11.5%. Appropriately sticky, with low-medium carbonation.

Photo of GregSVT
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter 2010 vintage, traded courtesy of Exiled.

A: Pours a murky reddish brown with a small off-white head that fades to a ring pretty quickly and leaves the tiniest bit of lacing.

S: The nose is the best I've ever smelled from a barleywine. You're immediately hit with aromas of burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, and charred oak. As soon as I took a big whiff I thought "wow this is the GIBCS of Barleywines." The aromas the bourbon lend to the beer are almost exactly the same.

T: Initially the first thing you taste is bitter hops which took me by surprise. I smelled the beer again after my first taste to see if I could detect the hops but they are no where to be found until you take a sip. After that vanilla, toffee, and carmalized sugar take over with the hops showing up again on the finish.

M: The feel is creamy and thick with just the right amount of carbonation.

D: The bourbon barrel takes this from being a good American Barleywine to an exceptional one. I would probably drink this again if I could track it down. 11.5% is pretty high but the 12oz bottle size means you aren't drinking a lot of it in one sitting.

This is like Bigfoot in a Barrel. First time I've had a hoppy barleywine aged in bourbon barrels and it was an experience! I'd love to try a later vintage to see if the hops fade enough for more barrel and malt flavors come out.

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.55/5  rDev -17.6%
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.

Photo of callmescraps
3.05/5  rDev -29.2%
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.

Photo of brentk56
3.48/5  rDev -19.3%
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

Photo of johnkale
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A - 3 Deep amber, minimal head that quickly dissipates

S - 5 plums, raisins, brown sugar, vanilla, oak, hint of spicier hops and alcohol

T - 4 very woody with dark fruits, caramel, and some winey characteristics. The alcohol is apparent in the finish, along with a hint of bittering hops. Booze taste is nice and warming, does not overpower other flavors. The barleywine seems to be complimented more by the barrel aging than the stout, though not as much as the Peruvian Morning, which is hands down my favorite Central Waters beer.

M - 5 Luxurious, dense but not too sticky and with a very clean finish.

D - 4 I feel like an old man, but I think this beer could have been helped if they dialed back to maybe 9.5% or so. Still an excellent beer, especially to share after a meal when it's getting colder out. Drink while wearing a sweater.

Photo of ncmussell
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

First actual beer rating so don't have the lexicon down but this was very tasty. Poured a nice dark amber color. Not much head but the server may have poured some off. Great nose with the bourbon integrated well on the nose. Taste was outstanding. Definitely could taste the bourbon barrel aging on this but thought the malt and barrel aging had really integrated well. Had this a couple times from the bottle a couple months ago and I thought it was somewhat disjointed. On tap it was so much better. The bourbon added some nice sweetness to it. To me this almost tasted and smelled like the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout but in a barleywine.

Photo of Pencible
4/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: This poured a clear reddish copper with a bit of tan head.
S: It smelled like cherry and toffee and caramel, with some citrus and alcohol.
T: It tasted like sharp citrus and rich caramel, with some toffee and biscuit and toasted oak. It had a bitter aftertaste with strong alcohol.
M: It was slick and oily with moderate carbonation.
D: This had a great scent and taste, somewhat similar to Gratitude, but rough around the edges. Definitely too hot and fresh, with dominant alcohol presence that made this a bit tough to sip. The bourbon barrel didn't come through very much either, with only subtle toasted oak notes. With some age, this could develop into a fantastic brew that contends with the top barleywines. But I don't recommend even trying it fresh.

Photo of brewmudgeon
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

3/2011 (2011 vintage): very similar to the 2010 after a few months, except the figs and dates are even more buried by the booze--can't wait to try the 2010 later. On a side note, mixing a few ounces of this about 50/50 with red's rye p.a. turned out amazingly well.

9/2010 (2010 vintage):
a 4 slightly haz coppery amber. film lasts a modest while.

s 4.5 at first the deep fig and date aromas i remember from regular charlie, then the bourbon hits me bigtime.

t 4 the bourbon is big on the palate as well. this beer is slick, hot, and boozy. wow, this might really benefit from some age, whereas i like the y2k just the way it is.

m 4.5 thick, slick, enough carbonation of fine quality.

d 4 will have to crack another open in a year or so and see if the bourbon settles down at all. right now this is huge and impressive, but i don't like it as much as the regular charlie.

Photo of Axic10
4.65/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Barrythebear and notCreative for bottles. I'm not sure which one this came from, so I'll thank them both. 2010 vintage poured from 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a nice copper/amberish with no head on it at all.

Smell: Bourbon, oak, sweet malt, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla.

Taste: Bourbon upfront, vanilla, molasses and very sweet caramel malt.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and creamy.

Drinkability: Have one more bottle of this. I loved this beer and I'm curious as to what some age will do to this.

Photo of jnn4v
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Amber hue with no sediment or haze. No head.

S: Caramel, molasses, and some citrus. Alcohol burn.

T: Caramel, toasted oak, vanilla and alcohol. Moderate hop bitterness. Some sourness on the tail end. Sort of hot.

M: Good body for the style. Very nice texture. Not very carbonated and medium overall body.

D: The 11.5% ABV is evident. I think the drinkability is relatively good with all factors considered, but others at the same tasting thought it was too hot.

Photo of MbpBugeye
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The amazing extras from AleWatcher just kept coming and coming. This is another off of my most wanted list that I was floored to see as I pulled bottle after bottle out of a heavy box.

2009 vintage, shared with my girlfriend who has a new found love for bourbon barreled stuff.
A- Not much head, but I wasnt expecting that at all. The beer is a semi murky brownish color. A little bit of purple, a little bit of red. Really nothing out of the ordinary.

S- Right off I can tell that this probably should be an English Barleywine or that the time this beer spent in the bottle made it mellow out A LOT. Either way, the bourbon here is pretty laid back. It doesnt fuss too much with the smooth caramel and raisiny stuff going on. Im getting nice amounts of wood and vanilla as well.

T- Yeah, really mellow. Not much in the way of hops. Its tasting like one of the best American takes on an English barleywine, only with a nice subtle bourbon aging. Nice vanilla and bourbon tones. The bourbon is very much incorporated.

M- Low carbonation, full body and an ABV that is a secret to anyone tasting it.

This beer in one word: Venerable

Photo of TMoney2591
3.68/5  rDev -14.6%
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.

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,853 ratings.