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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine AleBourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,938 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,938
Reviews: 552
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.05%
Wants: 692
Gots: 560 | FT: 62
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,938 | Reviews: 552 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sprucetip
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintatage. Kind of a chestnut brown color, definitely darker than amber. Backlighting reveals good activity and chunks of yeast. If I hadn't poured the the last half ounce, I think it would be pretty clear. Very little head and no lacing.

Boozy esters, oak and bourbon are strong. I also get some light vanilla and caramel malty sweetness.

The taste is a little more balanced, but the barrel and bourbon are dominant. The sweet malty backbone is more prominent, and there is some vanilla and mild hop bitterness.

Strong warming, good carbonation, full body, and some lingering bitterness. Burns a little bit. Still pretty hot I guess.

Despite the misperceptions listed above, this is a really good beer that I'd like to have again, with a little more age on it if possible. Just my second beer from Central Waters, and I look forward to more.

Photo of dgugliuzza
4.42/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage...poured from 12 oz bottle into a snifter

Vibrant orange color with one inch of thick tan head. Beautiful pour with a more stunning color contrast. A film of creamy head sits atop the body. Very unique for a barrel aged beer.

Smells of bourbon, vanilla and oak. Astringent alcohol presence. Caramel and toasty undertones with a hint of molasses. Fantastic sweet malt and oak bourbon aromas.

Oak bourbon flavor invades the palate. Sweet toasty malt is superbly balanced by bitter oak. Caramel and vanilla notes ties it all together.

Creamy and smooth, medium mouthfeel. Has adequate carbonation. Pleasant warming alcohol finish. This is definitely one to be sip and uncover all the amazing complexities.

A unique and boldly flavorful brew. Full on bourbon oak profile with sweet toasty malts. The only knock is the astringent alcohol presence. Some more ageing should take care of that. Well worth seeking out.

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

2011 Vintage. Bottle to snifter at about 50 degrees. Thanks to Mid for this bottle in our recent trade.

A: Easy pour down the center of the glass produces a creamy off white finger length head that stays around a while. Head ever so slowly dissipates to a nice thin ring that stays a long time. Beer is a dense looking golden caramel colored. This beer looks really great in the glass 4.5

S: Wow smell is simply awesome. So smooth nothing really over powering. Smells of malt, brown sugar, slight alcohol, a little raisin. Vanilla coming through after all the other smells not really detecting any bourbon on the nose. This is one great smelling barleywine. 4.5

T: Lots of caramel and malts. Taste is very smooth but I feel like its missing some punch that I expect from a bourbon barrel barleywine of this abv. It is insanely smooth but I am really looking for that bourbon bite. As it warms to room temperature alcohol becomes more apparent. 4.0

M: Mouthfeel is very nice, good carbonation. Leaves a nice coating and aftertaste lasts forever. 4.5

O: Overall I really like this beer. At 50 degrees the flavors are a bit muted. But the flavors really come alive as this beer reaches room temperature. Really enjoying this one. Despite the abv this one drinks exceptionally well but it's also a great sipper as well. Glad I have a few more of these. 4.5

Photo of Bendurgin
4.36/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared by Andy. The bottle says 2010 on the neck and poured into a tulilp. Pours a clear honey amber color with no head here.

Rich aroma full of caramel, milk chocolate, toffee raisins and bourbon lingering in the background. Fruity and rich in the aroma, really well done here. The pallet gives a rich caramel and toffee flavor on the pallet with some raisins and hints of chocolate. Sweet on the finish with a noticable bite from bitter grassy hops.

The body is good; nice and full with somewhat sharp carbonation.

Really a rocking BA barleywine here. I will require more of these.

Photo of andrewinski1
4.61/5  rDev +7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Sonic Alligator for this nice extra! The neck says 2010; the label says bottled in February. Poured into a tasting glass. The color is very red; I would say pomegranate. There is just a slight bit of haziness. There is no head to speak of.

The aroma is full of sweet toffee, caramel, with a bit of raisins. There is a bit of a doughy aroma as well, emphasizing the malt.

The taste is full of sweet caramel, some cocoa, and lots of dark fruit. To keep from being too sweet, there is a hefty dose of bitterness in the finish that leaves a slightly citrusy hop aftertaste. Awesome awesome awesome!

This is full bodied, and the carbonation is smooth.

This is one of the best bourbon barreled barley wines I have had. I will definitely be tracking down more!

Photo of Jwale73
4.42/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to seeswo for the trade. Served at 53 degrees in a tulip. Bottled on January 2011 indicated on the label. Pours a bright amber hue with candy apple highlights. Clarity is almost translucent, but there's a slight haze. Head is an 1/8th of an inch, loose and cream-colored and immediately dissipates into a thin band around the shoulders. Some short strands of lacing are revealed during the tasting. Love the nose on this beer! Bourbon, buttery notes, sugary and candied fruits. Taste consistent with nose; however, there's definitely an alcohol presence here - it's still a little hot but not in a bad way. There's also some hops bitterness that manifests towards the back. Mouthfeel is medium-light in body with a slightly oily consistency that is somewhat masked by an assertive carbonation. There's definitely some residual alcohol heat. Overall, this is a top notch beer. I'm glad I opened it but would love to see what a few years does to it. That said, if you like the hops character in a your American Barleywines, open it sooner than later; however, this one is really going to open up over time in my opinion.

Photo of DearthVader
3.99/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle provided by my new found trading partner DoctorRock. Thanks for this big time want Andy!

Pours a cloudy maroon-ish brown with a slightly off white head that falls insanely quickly to just a swirl of film on the top. No legs are left behind on my NOLA snifter.

Smell is great, granted it's hard to mess up the beautiful aroma of a bourbon barrel aged barleywine. All the usually suspects clock in here. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, caramel, and dark fruits.

Taste is well balanced with the vanilla, dark fruits, and bourbon. I really wish there was more barrel characteristics in it. I like some good oakiness in BA BW's. Very nice flavor profile nonetheless.

The mouthfeel is decent. Slightly too light for my liking.

Overall this was a good beer. Unfortunately the only other two BA Barleywines I have to compare it to is Abacus and BA Decadence. Both are among my favorite beers and some of the top in the style. Very enjoyable though.

Photo of kawilliams81
4.32/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is my 100th review!

Served in a 16 oz. snifter.

A- Dark caramel, with 1 finger light tan head with lacing that resides quickly.

S- Bourbon, vanilla, oak, caramel, and dark fruits. Great blend of aromas.

T- Strong bourbon upfront along with vanilla, oak, charred caramel. Has a nice hop bitterness to round out this beer.

M- Full bodied. Abv is noticeable and makes this beer a sipper, and a little dry on the finish.

O- This beer did not disappoint. Would love to try a 09' or 10' vintage to see how this beer ages and smooths out. Will be looking for the 12' when it comes out early next year!

Photo of eclipse54
4.55/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 12 ounce bottle that I received for winning rowingbrewer's "Guess My Stats" LIF earlier this month. I cannot say "thank you" enough for including this WANT of mine. A 2011 bottle poured into a DFH signature glass...

Pours a beautiful caramel, mahogany color with some copper hues when held to the light. A inch or so of thick, frothy, cream-colored head grows above the surface and lingers for a long time when considering the alcohol content of this one. Numerous strands of wet lacing cling to the glass as it settles.

It smells of wonderful hazelnut, toffee, toasted malt, caramel, floral and spicy hops, a bit of vanilla, and a hint of bourbon. There is a lot going on in the nose, and it blends together superbly.

The taste begins with the hops, and then the malt takes over. Hazelnut, toffee, and caramel dominate the middle of this brew, before notes of vanilla, oak, and bourbon shine through in the end. Very well done. A warming alcohol sensation comprises the exhale.

The mouth is very rich, yet smooth after the prickly rush of initial hops. It finishes slightly dry, but not at all sticky, and the carbonation seems spot on. As far as feel, this is phenomenal.

Overall, one of the best American barleywines I’ve ever had. The hops seem a bit faded, which is perfect for me. For comparisons sake, fresh Bigfoot has a bit more hop character to it than I prefer, and I picked the perfect time to open this one as they have mellowed precisely. Again, a big thanks to rowingbrewer for this one. I need to acquire more of this now.

Photo of TK5150
4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage.

A- Pours a nice opaque burgundy color with a small beige head. Leaves some nice lacing on the glass. Looks just like a barleywine should.

S- A nice shot of caramel, vanilla, barrel, and alcohol. The caramel and vanilla show nicely.

T- A big shot of caramel and bourbon hit me first. Loads of raisin and dark fruits appear after...grapes as well. The flavors come in waves. Lingering bitterness.

M- Full bodied, with a surprisingly spritzy carbonation.

O- A very nice barleywine; recommended. Would like to have this again.

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

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.

Photo of Gushue3
4.17/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- smaller white head that has a decent retention. Body is a light brown and warming amber. Smaller retenion.

S- sweet malt and hops are all over with sone nice barrel scents too

T- big gigantic sweet malt with toffee and caramel. The wood is nice oaky with some stinky hops in there too. Vanilla becomes more known as it warms, but just a touch. Nice complexity, really glad i got this beer.

M- big thick mouthfeel with smaller carbonation. Really smoith and creamy. Drinks great.

O- really nice barleywine. Sweet, malty, bourbony. Good stuff.

Photo of Gosox8787
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle poured into an Allagash glass. 2010 vintage bottled in February.

Appearance: Light to medium brown in color. Pours a two finger head with good retention considering the ABV. Recedes into a nice thin, beige lacing.

Aroma: Caramel, molasses and a touch of bitter hops. Definitely leans more toward a malty barleywine at this point.Accompanying notes of bourbon, toffee, burnt sugar and vanilla. Really nicely balanced.

Taste: The malt notes really dominate here. Caramel, molasses, toffee and burnt sugar are all tempered by the slightest hint of bitter hops. The booze is very well controlled yet the wood and bourbon notes show through perfectly. Barrel heavy, but not overpowering. Vanilla and oak round this out nicely too.

Mouthfeel: Thick and cherwy, definitely full bodied with lower than average carbonation. Big and warming, perfect for sipping.

Overall, a really outstanding barleywine and exactly what I was in the mood for when I picked it out for tonight. Plenty of barrel and bourbon throughout but without being overly boozy. I really liked the hop note that balanced the heavy malt and kept this from being cloying. Really delicious, the only barrel aged barleywine I can definitively say I enjoyed more was Abacus, but I much preferred the serving size of this at only 12 oz. I will definitely seek out more to drink fresh and for the cellar.

Photo of axeman9182
4.36/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle if the 2011 edition, allowed to warm for 20 or so minutes before being poured into my Duvel tulip.

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine pours a completely opaque mahogany, with a towering pile of light tan foam sitting atop the beer. Its shoots past four fingers in height, settles back down to about that, and just sits there. It legitimately took five mininutes for the foam to recede, and leaves gobs and gobs of lacing down the side of the glass. The nose is very heavy on caramelized sugar and toffee, with the only evidence of the time spent in barrels being a light touch of vanilla that stays in the background. The flavor brings the barrel aging a bit more into focus. Toffee and lightly burnt sugar are still the foundation of the flavor profile, but the vanilla secondary note from the aroma is joined by a pleasant, mild bourbon taste. The mouthfeel is solid, a full, rich body paired with carbonation that just keeps the beer from being syrupy, yet lets the malt shine. I love me a barrel aged barleywine, and this is one of the better ones I've had.

Photo of Brew33
4.08/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage received via trade with CellarSpace.

This beer pours a rich, deep, brick red/amber with orange highlights. Sitting on top of the beer is a thin but rather soapy, white head. The aroma is very good. Bourbon is playing lead here. But malt sweetness, toffee, and a nutty aroma are all very present.

It starts out with a big hit of bourbon in the front. Then Caramel malt takes over and finishes with a slightly alcoholic tinge. Smooth, boozy, and sweet but never too sweet or boozy. Hops are there but son't really show their teeth. The bourbon is a little more forward than I like. A little less time in the barrel may have been better but I'm not complaining too much. This is excellent. It lacks a little bit of malt complexity. The mouthfeel and carbonation were good although this beer felt a little thin for the style. I would have preferred it be a little more full bodied.

Overall, this is a VERY enjoyable beer. Smooth, rich, and big. Something to sip and savor. Worth seeking out.

Photo of joefuzz
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured into snifter.

Pours a deep redish-brown with a tiny white head small bubbles floating up even after the head fades, great lacing. Smells like vanilla toffe with dark fruits and a little oaky scent. Taste is amazing big bourbon vanilla upfront blends very well with the sweet maltyness of the barleywine. Mouthfeel is great for a strong barleywine, not huge carbonation but its nice for the style just enough. Overall amazing beer I really wish I had more than the one bottle, thanks dyan for the hookup.

Photo of jsanford
4.12/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a Snifter. 2010 vintage.

A - Pours a dark orange-brown with a thin white head that fades to a slight ring and whispy haze.
S - Sweet aromas of caramel malt and candied orange peel with strong Bourbon notes of caramel, oak, and vanilla. Reminds me a bit of those sugar-and-caramel candied that I love so much (cept boozier!).
T - Big and malty with lots of caramel, a touch of chocolate, bitter citrus hops, and a whole bunch of Bourbon that lingers on the palate for some time. Still quite boozy, I'm surprised this hasn't smoothed out more, but I'm not really minding it.
M - Sticky and sweet, with a fairly full mouthfeel and lowish carbonation. So decadent.
O - A really nice Bourbon-forward Barleywine, such a treat!

Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.87/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottled on January 2011

A - Nice golden deep red in color and pretty clear. No visible carbonation which leads to a weak head but average to good lacing deposits.

S - It's actually a lot sweeter than I was expecting. The bourbon smells fresh and the wood notes are light which in combo drown out the hops, but the stickiness of the resins can be felt with each sniff.

T - Could use a little age to knock the edge off the bourbon, but again it is a lot sweeter than I was expecting from an American style barleywine. The bourbon is dominant from start to finish and the wood flavors help cut down the harshness. The bitterness from the hops can be tasted at the end but no trace of hop flavor. Finishes with dry wood and a sweet bourbon burn.

M - Definitely a heavy body on this one and the carbonation is kept in check with low volumes. Rough on the palate due to the freshness of the beer but feels smooth on the tongue and almost sweet at the end.

O - I was expecting more of a hop flavor from an American barleywine, especially one this fresh, but this one tips the scales in favor of the malt and bourbon aging. I think with time it will calm down a little and balance out a little more. Either way it big, boozy, and definitely a solid barleywine.

Photo of schwaeh
3.92/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from January 2011. An extra from readbaron, thanks man.

A: Pours dark mahogany with a little ring of lace, no head. Decent carbonation flowing and an overall murky look.

S: Smells a touch boozy. This rivals Firestone in the barrel aging, it really comes through loud and clear. Soft sweet malt and dark fruits blend with a lofty dose of bourbon. Toffee, dark fruity esters, sweet bourbon, plum, and fig are all showcased here.

T: Toffee, caramel, fig, vanilla, sweet & smoky bourbon, and a good alcohol burn are what I get. I like that the bourbon seems a little more complex than most in this. Stinging sweetness and some hop bitterness on the finish.

M: Full mouthfeel, low carbonation, sticky, and bitter.

O: This was a long-time want of mine in what is becoming one of my favorite styles. I wanted to have this mellowed out a touch more, the bourbon was unmistakable. If you really take your time with this there are lots of complexities that come out. Well done Central Waters

Photo of cptnspeed1
4.78/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Review based on a 2010 bottle, poured into a Central Waters tulip. I will say before I start, if this were based on the 2009, it would be a perfect 5.0.

A: A beautiful mahogany color with about a 3/4 inch off white head. Lacing is very present throughout the glass.

S: Lots of butterscotch and caramelized sugar. The bourbon lends some vanilla notes as well as a slight booziness.

T: This is what a bourbon barrel barleywine should taste like. Everything is there, caramelized sugar, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, oak, a touch of bittering hops, just a flavor explosion.

M: This is where the 2009 stands out big from the 2010. The 2010 has a slight hotness that will likely fade with age, but is currently present. Otherwise, it is very smooth and fairly thick and coating.

O: Easily the best bargain in barrel aged beer (alliteration bonus points?). If it was available all year, I'd probably buy two 4-packs a month. A strong showing from the flagship beer of one of the best breweries around.

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

appearance - dark auburn with hints of mahogany. head was small on a controlled pour, lacing stayed.

smell - off first smell, things are a bit mixed. oak dominates, bourbon comes in with heat, and then a bit of vanilla extract and lots of malt.

taste - malts come in too strong with a plain wood taste. bourbon just brings heat and not much bourbon. a bit too fresh i think.

mouthfeel - medium bodied and medium carbonation, drank with lots of other barleys so i felt a sweetness overload.

Photo of rvdoorn
3.12/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

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

Photo of Brez07
3.82/5  rDev -11.4%
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

Photo of mulder1010
3.62/5  rDev -16%
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.

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

A - 2011 vintage poured into a snifter. The beer produces a small light tan head that quickly fades away . The beer is clear and ruby red in appearance.

S - There is a very strong bourbon presence in the aroma along with hints of oak and vanilla. As it warms slightly the dark fruit aromas become apparent.

M - Medium in body with light-medium carbonation and some creaminess.

T - A little bit of vanilla up front followed by dark fruits, plum sticks out in my mind. A huge bourbon flavor mixes in with the dark fruit and overpowers it leading to a hot alcohol heat in the finish.

Pretty good, but the bourbon flavor was a bit too strong for me. It may be that this vintage was too fresh for my tastes. I'll have to give an aged vintage a shot sometime soon.

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,938 ratings.