1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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.
BA SCORE
94
outstanding

1,817 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,817
Reviews: 533
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.28%
Wants: 658
Gots: 526 | FT: 54
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,817 | Reviews: 533 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of vacax
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Twelve ounce bottle vintage 2009.

Pours a rich dark color somewhere between copper and black but nicely translucent. The head is present but not too lively, which is expected at 11.5% ABV, but has an unexpected high level of retention and a fine layer of microubbles that carpets the glass when swirled and leaves a surprising amount of lace. The aroma is luxurious with malt, sweet oaky bourbon, brown sugar, molasses, maple, and a touch of vinous character to mellow it all out.

The flavor begins on a note of delicate balance between rich malts and assertive bitterness that carries through gracefully to the finish. The initial profile starts with maple, brown sugar, and oak the develops on the midpalate with plum and bourbon. The finish has the duality of lasting tongue prickly bitterness along with a bready cookielike lingering next to some masked flora. Feel is chewy with a feeling of full but soft carbonation that pleases the palate just right, hard to get better for a barleywine.

A few people I trust have told me that this beer is the real deal, including Overlord and Mikedashg (thanks Mike for this bottle). They were right. Deliciously complex, rich, balanced, elegant, and flat out tasty.

vacax, Mar 20, 2010
Photo of Wisconsinality
4.78/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured from 12oz bottle into Duvel tulip.

A- Pours a deep ruby red with a slight purple tinge to it. Semi transparent with just a little bit of light that shows through. About a half finger's worth of head that leaves a little cap on the top and leaves some good lacing on the side of the glass.

S- A good sweetness that is similar to a sherry or port. Some dark fruits are very apparent and a touch of oak in there as well. The deeper you smell the beer, the bourbon starts to peak its head out but never over powering. A hint of grape comes out as it warms along with the alcohol but not in a pungent, burning way found in some BA beers.

T- Well balanced and pretty complex come to mind right away. Some fig and dates to go along with a brown sugar sweetness but not cloying or syrupy. A touch of bourbon and some oak to make this a smooth beer. The alcohol is barely even noticeable and just adds to the overall smoothness and greatness of the beer.

M- Smooth and almost creamy. The carbonation is barely even noticeable but it works very well. There is a little heat on the tail end at the back of the throat as it goes down. A medium to full bodied that goes down smooth after every sip.

D- Exceptional. Goes down nicely and very well balanced. This is definitely a sipper which cuts down on the drinkability but this one is meant to be cherished. I would have to say that one is all you really need in a sitting. This would be great for after dinner or right before bed. Central Waters again shows why it is an up and coming brewery.

Wisconsinality, Mar 16, 2010
Photo of bound4er
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage.

A. Redish amber color, off white two finger head with good staying power for a barleywine. Decent amount of carbonation bubbles and loads of lacing.

S. Almost Sherry-like on the nose with a caramel nuttiness that hits first followed by brown sugar, molasses and vanilla. Very complex for a beer - might a say nearly perfect - with the barrel aging adding complexity without overpowering anything.

T. After how nicely this poured and its intoxicating aroma, I was salivating anticipating my first sip. Wow, this is no wimpy beer. Lots going on here with Fino Sherry flavors (vanilla nuttiness) and some booze hitting you at first followed by some hop bitterness and a bit more booze on a long, long finish. While present, the alcohol is not off-putting by any means - it actually adds to the enjoyment of this beer - something I normally wouldn't say.

M. Very creamy and an excellent mouthfeel without the "syrupiness" one might expect from such a big beer.

D. This style of beer is meant for slow sipping. One and done for me. I am not a big barleywine guy but this is a very good beer and one that I will enjoy drinking from time to time. CW delivers again.

bound4er, Mar 16, 2010
Photo of Soneast
4.2/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Bottled February 2010.

Pours a clear, burnt copper in color, developing a small fizzy head that disappears immediately leaving just a thin, bubbly ring.

The aroma has a lot of malt character, almost (but not quite) overwhelmed by the bourbon qualities. Some brown sugars and caramel aroma are evident, with a touch of wood and marshmallows coming through but mostly dominated by a rich bourbon smell.

The flavor is intensely delicious! Brown sugar, malt characteristics stand out first, rich caramel and creamy vanilla qualities are less perceptible, the barrel aged qualities come through in an oakey, bourbony flavor that encompasses everything else. A very nice, smooth finish, without much heat nor overly bitter. I dig it!

The mouthfeel is spot on for the style, very mild carbonation with a rich, creamy texture. The flavors of this beer combined so nicely, nothing really overwhelming the other components (unlike some other barrel aged beers, that basically taste like carbonated Maker's Mark). CW's Bourbon Barrel Barleywine is well balanced and delicious. I have high expectations for this beer with some age on it.

Soneast, Mar 14, 2010
Photo of darklordlager
4.85/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 Bottle

A: Pours a very dark ruby, with a small, light tan head.

S: Oak, sweet vanilla, layers of delicious caramel and bourbon.

T: Layered caramel, candied dark fruit, big vanilla, bourbon. Not one dominating characteristic--very complex. Very nice warming and toasty malt flavour in the finish.

M: Smooth and velvetty. It may be the slightest bit sticky/syrupy, but it remains exceptionally smooth and pleasant.

D: So smooth, with a complexity that keeps it very interesting and enjoyable throughout. I look forward to "more of the same" from Central Waters. Fantastic.

darklordlager, Mar 13, 2010
Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.83/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks goes out to KeefD for this!

A vigorous pour produces a fine white layer of bubbles. Moderate carbonation suites this style perfectly. When held to the light, a deep, clear garnet color is visible through my Dogfish Head oversized snifter.

I so love the nose of this beer! Plums, cherries, caramel, various unrefined sugars are all present in this amalgam of malt flavors. Nice overtones of bourbon notes including vanilla, oak and a very slight, almost imperceptible smokiness.

The taste is an explosion of sugary flavors. Caramel, dates, slightly overripe grapes (not quite full fledged raisons) - this is what Imagine what a liquid high quality fruit cake (is there such a thing;) should taste like. This is almost cloying - almost! (said in my best Johnny Dangerously impression).

Mouthfeel is lush and expansive. Sticky sweet malt coats you lips after each luxurious sip.

Drinkability is very good, but more than two bottles might put you in a diabetic coma or, at the very least, make the room begin to spin.

Overall, a fantastic elixir that joins the pantheon of great barleywines that includes MS Arctic Devil, The Perfect Storm, Xyauyù, Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel, J.W. Lees and Old Ruffian.

Rochefort10nh, Mar 12, 2010
Photo of beerwolf77
4.93/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage. Poured into my duvel tulip the beer is a muddy brown orange. The cream hued head hits about one finger berfore receding to leave a thick lace ring around the glass.

The aroma is spot on perfection. Sweet and sour playing tug of war with my olfactory senses. Apples and pears along with plums, dates, raisins and cherries. A nice burst of bourbon shines through along with a heavy dose of malt. Then just when you think it can't get any better the hops come in and tickle your nostrils.

The flavor is heavy on the malt up front. A nice hoppy fruity blast follows the malt. Warm bourbon mellows everything out in the finish. I have a feeling with some age the flavor will be epic.

Medium to full creamy body. Light carbonation.

Overall a great beer that I assume will become legend with time. I have a bottle of 09 and 08 that I will have to crack soon and see what the years have done. Stay tuned.

2009 vintage.

After having a bottle of 09 I will bump my scores slightly seeing as with one year this beer is now of mind blowing status.

beerwolf77, Mar 11, 2010
Photo of Wasatch
4.83/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2012 Vintage
Bottled: Jan
Revisted: 1 Jun 12

Thanks goes out to dsgolovin for this brew.

Poured into a chalice a very nice brownish color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger creamy tan head, with some very nice oil slicks and sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with some very nice notes of figs, raisins, plums, cherries, nice little touch of bourbon/oak. The taste is awesome, malty, sweet, lots of dark fruits, and some bourbon/oak notes. Full/Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well on this one. Very Drinkable, this is a exceptional brew, highly recommended. Thanks David!

2010 Vintage
Bottled: Feb
Revisted: 18 Nov 10

Thanks goes out to beerwolf77 for this brew.

Poured into a Westy chalice a very nice brownish color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger creamy tan head, with some very nice oil slicks and sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with some very nice notes of figs, raisins, plums, cherries, nice little touch of bourbon/oak. The taste is awesome, malty, sweet, lots of dark fruits, and some bourbon/oak notes. Full/Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well on this one. Very Drinkable, this is a exceptional brew, highly recommended.

2009 Vintage

Thanks goes out to beerwolf77 for this brew.

Poured into a chalice a very nice brownish color, nice carbonation, very nice one-finger creamy tan head, with some very nice thick creamy sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with some very nice notes of figs, raisins, plums, cherries, nice little touch of bourbon/oak. The taste is awesome, malty, sweet, lots of dark fruits, and some bourbon/oak notes. Full/Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well on this one. Very Drinkable, this is a exceptional brew, highly recommended. Thanks Todd!

Wasatch, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of Wisconsin
4.78/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After months of storage I can wait no longer to crack this 2009 version. A snifter glass would be nice here, but a pint glass is what were going with. Chilled for months and now served around 50 degrees, this is ready to roll.

A - A steady pour delivers a brown body that has some reddish tints to it when held up to the light. Somewhat translucent, this beer also has faint amounts of carbonation racing up to the head. A half finger head rises and fades to a ring around the glass after a couple of minutes, which is more than I have seen compared to other barleywines.

S - The smell is an intoxicating blend of bourbon whiskey from the oak barrels and dark fruits. Cherries, plums, figs, and apricots all rush through your nose along with the initial shot from the bourbon barrels. Trace amounts of caramel malts are also present and seem to keep the booziness of this beer down.

T - Absolutely the smoothest barleywine I have had, which will be appropriately reflected in the mouthfeel score. As expected, plenty of bourbon whiskey up front. The beer settles in nicely with the dark fruits, which I assume are cherries, plums, and apricots among others. Malts with a sweet caramel aspect are noticeable, but subtle in comparison to the other characteristics. I've struggled in deciding whether this beer should get a 4.5 for taste, but I have decided to kick it up to a 5.0. Right now, as this beer is warming there is just so much coming at me. The new aspect I didn't pick up from before was the hops that are now starting to come to life as this beer warms.

M - As I stated in the the taste, this is by far the smoothest barleywine I have had. Silky smooth entering the mouth with a nice full body coming in behind it. A light amount of carbonation presents the early oak whiskey barrels well and culminates nicely with the caramel malts and dark fruit notes. The dark fruit carries this beer from the initial oak whiskey taste to the caramel malted finish. Very smooth and enjoyable. No strong boozy taste either.

D - This an exceptional beer and probably the best barleywine I have gotten my hands on to date. The smoothness is undeniable and really separates this beer from other barleywines I have had. After about six months in the cellar this beer is great, so I am curious to find out what a fresh version of this beer would taste like along with one that has seen some extended cellar time. Unfortunately, this was my only 2009 bottle so I will have to hope some 2010 versions are available for my indulgence. Amazing beer.

Wisconsin, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of alcstradamus
4.4/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The rating I gave this beer is an average between the 2009 and 2010 vintage. There was a confirmed recipe change between these two vintages, and I believe that the 2009 and earlier vintages are clearly superior. My text below is for the 2010 vintage

2009 Vintage: 4.85
2010 Vintage: 4.1
---

Pours a ruby/brown color with about a half finger of head using a hard pour. The aroma is a potent assault of vanilla, oak, toffee, resiny hops, powdered cocoa, and some alcohol heat.

The taste is huge on the hops and booze....in the past I've only ever drank bottles that were at least 6 months old and both of those aspects were toned down significantly. Rich oak and caramel flavors are underneath. The vanilla is really pronounced after warming.

The mouthfeel is medium and the carbonation is where it should be. Drinkability of this fresh batch is fairly low due to the alcohol heat.

Overall, I must say that this beer is a most likely a shell of its future self right now. Sit on this for at least 6-12 months if you want to experience the full complexity of this barleywine. That being said, it is still very tasty even in this young state.

alcstradamus, Mar 03, 2010
Photo of beertooth
4.33/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 vintage pulled from the cellar.

This beer pours a dark cherry with a finger of off white head that melts into a thin collar and leaves some decent lacing in it's wake.

The nose is really nice. Notes of bourbon, vanilla, toasted malts, brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, raisins, and some nice hop spice. The alcohol is there, but it isn't harsh.

The taste follows with layers of burnt sugars and dried cherries, raisins, black licorice, and dates soaked in bourbon and vanilla. The malt bill on this beer is really holding up against the barrel. It's really tasty and finishes a little sticky, dry, and sweet.

Mouthfeel is full and creamy with a medium to low level of carbonation.

Not quite as good as Wooden Hell, but a damn fine bourbon barreled American barley wine that's worth picking up. Good job Central Waters!

beertooth, Feb 03, 2010
Photo of Thorpe429
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to bmanning for bringing this to a recent tasting.

Pours a dark brown with some crimson highlights. Not quite hazy and not quite opaque, but definitely not at all translucent. The smell is of bourbon, molasses, brown sugar, and caramel. The taste is equally impressive, with an absolutely gorgeous bourbon character and flavor without adding too much alcohol heat. Also picked up a little bit of oak. Moderate to full body with the perfect level of carbonation for the style, and just a little bit of alcohol heat. This one was absolutely fantastic and was perhaps the best bourbon barleywine that I've had to date, rivaled only by Kuhnhenn's version.

Thorpe429, Jan 27, 2010
Photo of weeare138
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 bottle...
Appears a crimson toned amber with a a small, off white head that slowly fades.
Smell is of big bourbon and oak up front with caramel, toasted nuts, and fruit.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a mild citrus hop bite that joins nicely with the toffee and caramel flavors.
Mouthfeel is medium-full bodied with a small amount of CO2 leading to a smooth finish.

weeare138, Jan 21, 2010
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Edition. Dark cherry red that lightens to maraschino cherry red with sunshine behind the snifter. A two finger slice of pale golden foam looks great after the pour... and even better as it melts. No more than a short collar of sudsy lace sticks, which is no surprise given the ABV and the barrel aging.

The aroma is a pleasant combination of toasted-earthy malts, dried cherries and whiskey. This isn't a 'bourbon bomb', though, which will please some and disappoint others. CWBC BBB is shaping up to be good, drinkable beer that will fall just short of special. Only one way to find out if that's true...

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine is much closer to special than expected. First things first: this bottle of 2008 is drinking mighty fine right now. It has plenty of power, without being hot or harsh, and doesn't taste the least bit long in the tooth. Today was a fantastic day to crack it open... <pats self on back>.

Barleywines that contain something darker than pale malt have always been my favorites. This one is toasted bready, nutty and steely caramel-like. Other flavors include ripe figs, cherries, orange peel, bitter grapefruit pith, vanilla and oak. The beer is still amazingly hoppy-tight and complexity is oozing out of the woodwork with warming.

Again, this big bruiser is more of an American barelywine accented with bourbon than it is a bourbon-soaked beast that tastes like the spirit was splashed into the kettles. Thankfully, I had the foresight to buy a handful of bottles back in 2008. Here's hoping all of the others haven't been traded away.

The mouthfeel is lightly luscious. Time may have stolen some of its original chewiness, but what remains is still a sensory delight. Lightly sparkly bubbles work well, thanks to the softening action provided by mucho malt sugars.

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine (2008) is damn good beer that tastes like it's at the peak of its considerable power right... about... now. Even if there are no more bottles in my cellar, I plan to stock up on this amazing elixir during the next trip up to Madtown.

BuckeyeNation, Jan 13, 2010
Photo of bret27
4.35/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

bottle courtesy of Diomede

S: vanilla, bourbon, malt, booze

A: medium ruby brown. minimal head

D: Vanilla, wafers, biscuit, oak, maybe a little tannins

M: medium, syrupy

D: Sweet w/medium body. Alcohol presence is warming but not overwhelming or burning.

Overall: Really impressive. In the top 5 bourbon barrel BW's I've had... I think.

bret27, Jan 11, 2010
Photo of nickd717
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle.

Pours a mostly clear dark brown color with reddish hues and a small off-white head.

Great aroma with bourbon, oak, vanilla, and caramel.

Flavor is similarly awesome, very bourbony but not too much som with caramel and toffee, raisin and prune, brown sugar, vanilla, and oak.

Medium-bodied and smooth on the palate, not too boozy.

Drinkability is pretty high. This one really kicks ass overall. Phenomenal BBBW, up there with Perfect Storm. A damn fine beer.

nickd717, Jan 11, 2010
Photo of crossovert
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

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 afausser
4.63/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of nflmvp--an amazing trader. Thanks so much for giving me another chance to try this one!

A: Pours an amber-tinged mahogany with one and a half fingers of fluffy, bubbly, creamy tan head. Nearly opaque where the glass is thickest, and hazy where it is thinnest. The head dissipates into fluffy mocha bubbles, the consistency of which you might find in a mug of hot cocoa, and soon thereafter, a fine ring around the edge of the glass, where a few of the larger bubbles are still persistent. Very little lacing, but the lacing that is there is the same foam consistency as the head at first. As it calms down, this changes to very nice, fine, fluffy lacing.

S: Delicious. Very sweet, with HEAVY candy, brown sugar, caramels, and molasses, as well as--no surprise--plenty of bourbon. Heavy raisins, rum, and prunes in the nose do not drown out the more subtle scents of chocolate, juicy raspberries and a very slight hint of strawberries. There's also a nice vanilla scent which is easy to miss since it blends with the rest of the beer so well, but is a huge element in the smell.
As it warms, slightly metallic notes come out as well as hints of licorice and cherry. Though these hints come out more and more, so do the raisins, prunes, bourbon, and caramel, which end up smelling wonderful after sitting for a bit. Mmmm.

T: Immediately noticeable are earthy, oaky and metallic tastes that were not predominant in the smell, as well as some heat from the alcohol. This aside, the bourbon is even bigger in the taste than in the smell, but I'm also tasting brandy and a slight hint of rum. The large amount of vanilla in the taste blends well with the alcohol, somewhat tempering it and providing a very smooth and creamy element to the taste. Heavy raisins, prunes, caramel and molasses are still present, as are yeasty, light breads, dessert coffee, chocolate, and raspberries. A bit syrupy (though only in taste--not at all in texture) but in a good way. The bourbon balances nicely with the sugar so that it is not at all cloying despite being so sweet. Even the aftertaste is complex and delicious here--there is still some sweet caramel and vanilla but also a bourbon-like warmth, metal, and slight anise. As it warms, this develops into brown sugar and vanilla. Throughout the life of the beer, the hops make themselves present in the aftertaste, adding in grapefruit as one additional element of the complex yet easily drinkable beer. This one gets so much more complex in flavor as it warms that the heat from the alcohol is actually far less obvious in the taste as it sits due to the other flavors warming up a bit (and blending VERY nicely!). 4.5

M: When I cracked open this beer, I thought that the mouthfeel was going to get ranked much lower than it ended up--it improved SO much as it warmed! A little warm at first, which usually bothers me, but for some reason I don't mind. In a way, it's almost the warmth you get from drinking liquor--particularly whisky, though not nearly as strong--and the heavy bourbon taste in this one blends nicely with the warmth of the mouthfeel. Also, as noted above, the alcohol heat actually disappears a little bit as it warms, and it ends up creamy and easy to drink, though it leaves your mouth tingling a bit. Medium bodied with tons of extremely small carbonation bubbles--I'd say the carbonation is near perfect on this one, which impresses me quite a bit. Delicious.

D: I'm very partial to this beer--it was one of my introductions to craft beer through a friend, which I didn't feel comfortable reviewing at the time. I have been wanting to try this one again and get a review out of it for quite a while now to see if it was really as good as I had remembered (as opposed to good in comparison to, well, pretty terrible beer). Central Waters did not fail me on this one--I can now say that I absolutely love it. It's one to sip, but for the style (and what I'd guess the ABV to be) it's incredibly refreshing and drinkable. I enjoyed this one over a couple hours, but only through the sheer willpower of wanting to get a good review out of it and the selfishness of wanting to save it for as long as possible. I often wish that we could easily get Central Waters stuff in Virginia, but really, really wish we could get this one specifically--I would definitely love to have this one over and over again.

afausser, Jan 08, 2010
Photo of MPLS
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 mandoskippy
4.72/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. I passed on this beer last year when it came out as I my first impression of the barley wine (non-bourbon barrel) was a little strong for me. That being said, I found a 2009 bottle of this and was blown away. The time and the bourbon barrel really mellowed the original barley wine in to something very special.

A: Nice Dark Amber color with a little bit of head. A nice lacing that disappears pretty quickly

S: Wonderful bourbon smell. What's neat about this smell is it evokes lots of bourbon aromas without coming across as "alcoholly" if that's a word.

T: Wow. Carmel, bourbon, toffee all in perfect balance. This doesn't taste like a high alcohol drink. Wonderful flavor.

M: Crisp as many high alcohol drinks feel to my palette. This one is clean and crisp rather than heavy and sharp. Very nice.

D: While this beer went down easy, I wouldn't call it "sessionable" to high of alcohol. Still, a very drinkable beer. One to share with "those you like" :)

mandoskippy, Dec 04, 2009
Photo of portia99
4.22/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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 FtownThrowDown
3.8/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Alcstradamus.

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

FtownThrowDown, Nov 12, 2009
Photo of jwinship83
3.5/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from 2009 drank out of a tulip glass.

A- this one comes out of the bottle a very dark brown colored body with ruby highlights when held up to the light. an almost non existent khaki colored head forms and lasts a long time, leaving solid rings of lacing on the sides of my glass after every sip.

S- sweet fruity malts upfront. lots of cherries, plums, figs, and raisins/tobacco. lots of alcohol in the nose also. citrus hops at the end. i can detect the barrel with notes of vanilla and oak, but not so much the bourbon. odd and slightly disappointing.

T- woah, the alcohol burn comes through loud and clear. very sweet also. lots of the above mentioned ripe dark fruity malts. cherries, figs, plums, and raisins. a small dose of citrus hops at the end.

M- full bodied and creamy with a low level of carbonation. intense warming from the alcohol as it makes its way down my throat.

D- the strong alcohol presence makes this a slow sipping one and done type of beer. id like to revisit this vintage again in the future, but not for a while.

jwinship83, Nov 09, 2009
Photo of boatshoes
4.28/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Received this as an extra from alcstradamus in a recent trade. A serious want of mine, thanks for the hookup!

Appearance- Pours a very dark amber brown that borders on opaque. A minimal cap of tan head off of a very aggressive pour. However, some carbonation present beading up the side of the glass throughout the drink and head remains throughout. Lots of sticking lacing left as well.

Smell- Huge notes of bourbon and vanilla coming through in a big way on the nose. Lots and lots of malt with a touch of fruitiness. Some sharp alcohol astringency with perhaps just a very subtle touch of underlying hop bitterness.

Taste- Pretty unlike any barleywine I've had thus far. Very prominent bourbon and vanilla with a touch of tobacco. Lots of underlying sweet malt that comes across like candied fruit. Some warming alcohol on the way down and maybe just the slightest bit of hoppy resin on the backside.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Very nice levels of carbonation with a thick and slick mouthfeel. Drinkability suffers just a bit because of the overwhelming sweetness of this one. Quite nice on the whole though.

Overall, very interesting and quite nice. An excellent barleywine worth picking up if you get the chance.

boatshoes, Nov 05, 2009
Photo of morimech
4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2009

Pours a dark brown with minimal head. What head that did form, disappeared in a few seconds. Very little lacing is left on the glass. Aroma is very complex. I detect bourbon, vanilla, coconut, and some dark fruit. Alcohol is noticed. A nice flavor as well. Surprisingly the bourbon is not the prominent flavor. It is vanilla with dark fruit mostly until the bourbon comes into focus. The finish is very warm with alcohol but not harsh. Unfortunately there is not much flavor that actually comes from the base beer. It is all barrel. Full bodied with low carbonation that lends a nice texture. A good example, not great. I wonder how an older example would taste?

morimech, Nov 03, 2009
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 1,817 ratings.