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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.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,875 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,875
Reviews: 541
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.28%
Wants: 669
Gots: 524 | 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:
Beer added by: Atron67 on 03-02-2008

Aged for 1 year in used bourbon barrels.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,875 | Reviews: 541 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of billshmeinke
4.07/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Stone Old Guardian glass.

Ruby body that is quite clear. half a finger of off white head. Dies down quick to a ring of foam with wisps of foam on top.

Smells of caramel, toffee, dark cherries, vanilla, oak and bourbon. A hint of spicy/resinous hops as well.

Tastes of caramel, toffee, apples, some dark cherries, and some raisins. Followed by oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Then resinous tobacco, leafy and spicy hops. Quite complex and interesting.

Creamy, medium carbonation, low end of full bodied, but not really syrupy or thick. A bitter/resiny finish that is hot and a tad spicy going down.

Pretty palate wrecking. Would not be able to knock back more than one 12 oz. and still be able to taste much afterwards.

Photo of SykDoc
4.37/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle '09 into a tulip. It pours a very nice clear ruby. A minimal tan head forms and quickly reduces to almost nothing. Carbonation is visible and no sediment.

The aroma is a good blend of caramel malt sweetness balanced by a bourbon/vanilla mixture.

The taste is similar to the nose with a upfront sweetness balanced by a boubon-booziness that seems to be followed by oak. Definitely, some alcohol.

The mouthfeel has a medium body with a crispy carbonation. Syrupy with a potent alcohol burn at the end. Quite good.

Overall, this beer is easy to drink but the potency in flavor and ABV makes it limited as the palate and brain head south quickly.

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

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Big thanks goes out to CaseyK for hooking me up with this one in a recent trade. Split with airohead2001.

A: Murky brown with a hint of red. A vigorous pour yields a 1/3 finger off-white head. As far as retention goes, this one has a bit a swirl of bubbles that lasts the duration of the drink and a nice crown.

S: Rich bourbon notes on the nose. Reminds me greatly of bourbon barrel angel's share. Some maple syrup in there as well, which overall gives this a very nice smell.

T: Wow, there is no shortage of bourbon in the flavor here. Besides the dominance of the bourbon I get some butterscotch, syrup, caramel, and a little alcohol heat. All in all, this is a great tasting, interesting brew.

M: Very nice mouthfeel. I would say this has a nice medium-bodied feel and a great aftertaste. It sits on the palate well.

D: For me, bourbon aged beers are either hit or miss, and this one was without a doubt a hit. The bourbon was pronounced, but not overwhelming as it was in angle's share. This was a delicious, interesting, fun drink. If you haven't tried it, you should.

Photo of airohead2001
4.53/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

glazeman, thanks.

A - Typical barleywine. Thick looking dirty red/copper/brown with a thin film for a head that resolves to a few bubbles that line the walls of my glass. Looks good, but nothing special.

S - Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon, buttery toffee, roasted cashews, malted vanilla milkshake, tiny amount of hops, pecan pie, and harsh booze. This is the best smelling barleywine this nose has ever smelled. Perfect.

T - Harsh and boozy, but delicious. Caramelized sugar up front with tons of bourbon. Some bitter hops in the middle and some dark roastiness as well. Just a hint of dark fruits and a ton of bourbon in the finish. Best barleywine I've ever tasted.

M - A bit too bubbly for such a rich bourbon bomb.

D - This is an incredible beer, but it has a ton of booze and a ton of heat. But honestly, despite the heat, it is good enough that I could seriously drink it all night long.

This beer blew me away. By far the best barleywine I've ever had and also one of the best beers in general that I've had as well. I've wanted this one for a while and it surely did not disappoint

Photo of boothbeer
4.07/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Bottled February 2010

A: Pours a copper brown with some redish hues. 1 finger of foamy cream colored head. Reduces slowly to a thin film and ring of bubbles around the edge.

S: Rich caramel malts and sugary syrup. Lots of nice bourbon and oaky aroma.

T: Better than I expected. Great blend of malts and bourbon up front. Maybe a little more hops than I care for in the finish. Alcohol heat is present but doesnt overpower this beer. Good American barleywine, but I prefer the less hoppy English version.

M: Medium body, but a little thin with medium carbonation.

D: Good drinkability but definitely a sipper. Glad I picked this beer up. A little age on this might mellow out the hops and make this really special.

Photo of Inflames
4.19/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Aquired in a trade with overlord, (thanks again)
Pours a deep red-brownish color with a very dark center. Minimal head.
Aroma is nice almond,oaky,roastiness that has a tinge of sweetness.
Taste is malt forward with the bourbon and oaky nutiness leading into a slightly bitter roast, then a lingering of bourbon on the palate.
Mouthfeel of this beer reminds me of a bock, so heavy yet so light.
I could definately find my self drinking a couple of these in a night, so enjoyable all the way through.

Photo of garbercury
3.57/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Huge thanks to Beerwolf77 for this guy, Thanks Todd!!

A--Reddish, burnt orange color, a little lighter than I expected, not any head or retention of note.

S--Definitely a mix of bourbon and barleywine notes. Strong aromas.

T--HOT. This sucker has some burn to it. The alcohol burn just really overtakes this one. The bourbon flavor is a little off/odd.

M--Nice silky mouthfeel, this has a nice feel.

D--This one was a bit of a letdown for me, something just was missing for me on this one. Really glad I got to try it though!

Photo of rhodeska
3.72/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A nice red/ dark amber tint to the beer, very nice head and lacing on the glass as i drink.

This one has a very strong smell, was able to catch a whiff of it as i poured it a couple feet below my nose. Really strong bourbon smell, and the taste is the same. Has some earthy and woody tones to it as well. It doesn't really have that hot or burning feeling as the alcohol goes down, which was slightly surprising, but that's it.

Photo of klikger
4.57/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

100th review
12 oz. bottle served in a Duvel tulip

A - Dark amber in color and slightly cloudy. A modest amount of off white head leaves behind quality lacing as the beer is consumed.

S - Caramel, bourbon, brown sugar, and some floral hops.

T - From 0 to 60 more quickly than a Ferrari, this is in all-out flavor assault from the onset. Bourbon and caramel are apparent from the moment the first drop hits the tongue, with honey and raisins quickly following. The intense and varied malt presence continues throughout and is joined by citrus bitterness in the latter stages. (Note: this is the first bottle that I've had in several months, and, not surprisingly, the hops have died down significantly. Some heat remains.) The finish is simultaneously richly sweet and pleasantly bitter.

M - Heavy-bodied and chewy, but not overly syrupy. The variety of tastes makes this a joy to swish back and forth over the tongue.

D - A sipper without a doubt, but this barleywine is enjoyable from first sip to last. My recommendation - take it slow, savor the complexity it as it warms, and pair with a quality Maytag or Danish blue cheese if you're hungry. Trust me on this.

One of my two favorite beers from one of my two favorite Wisconsin breweries, this is a perennial favorite and a blessing to those fortunate enough to live here. If you're into barleywines and haven't tried this, you should really seek it out. Don't take my word for it, continue reading below.

Photo of Ryan011235
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter on 7/19/10

Vintage 2010

Many thanks to levifunk for the Central Waters brews

Plum colored; dense with highlights of ruby. It's striking just how closely the color of the beer matches the color of the label on the bottle. Poured a one finger head that stayed for a few minutes but ultimately dissipated to a skim & bubbles, plus one string of lace. Swirling revives ephemeral retention & coats the glass with splotchy lace.

Cracking the bottle, bourbon & vanilla were well apparent. Once in the glass, it's no different. Bourbon, charred oak & vanilla are all at the front of the nose. Booze is appreciable, but doesn't seem like too much; rather befitting, actually. While the barrel notes are more notable, I'm amazed at how well they lead in to the aromatic aspects of the base beer. Notes of caramel, toffee, brown sugar & toasty sweet bread notes. Maybe a touch of butterscotch. Hints of dark fruit; raisins & prune. Faint wisps of earthy hops.

One sip tells me this will be slow going. A quick, sharp prelude of whiskey hits upfront, giving way to the sweeter aspects of the beer rather quickly. Toasty brown sugar, caramel, toffee & a touch of hops provide a steadfast platform upon which the barrel aging can shine & indeed it does. After the whiskey teaser & malts subside the barrel swoops back in during the latter half of mid-swallow. Bourbon, a hint of vanilla & lots of charred oak finishes this one out. I must say this has the most distinctive charred note I've encountered in a barrel-aged beer, which I think is great.

Full bodied, though I'm trying to decide if the heft of the beer or its intensity makes it seem so formidable. My inclination is the latter. Carbonation is at the lower end of the spectrum. Grittiness makes this a beer inclined to hang around. Some heat is apparent, though seemingly never too hot (or slick, for that matter). Quite warming, though. As mentioned above, bourbon & charred notes linger for quite some time.

Ah, what's left to say? Central Waters did an outstanding job with this one. I have to surmise this will do extremely well with various years on it. For some folks it might be too brash at this point, but I certainly enjoyed it as is. Highly recommended.

Photo of msubulldog25
4.4/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle (2009 edition) sent last fall by alctradamus (thanks, Adam). Poured at cellar temperature to a snifter, enjoyed on a glorious mid-summer 72°(!) Saturday.

A little poem on the label:
"Flavors of bourbon, malt and hops meld quite good
Served at cellar temp like it should
Unified in one voice, Our fans can rejoice
Charlie now comes aged in wood!"

A: A rusty-ruby gem, perfectly clear and replete with bubbles as streaming tendrils. Not much of a head, maybe 1/8" of sandy tanness at best; holds, however, as a perfect ring with an amorphous blotch at the center. Crawling lace, like a snail's mucous trail...a beauty to behold.

S: Strong with the Booze is this one, a warm blend of vanilla, berry fruit and charred wood that spins a Bourbon Barrel tale. Brown sugar/candy notes compete with toasty nuts, raisins and a healthy dose of spiced hops.

T: Sweet with bourbon-laden fruit and toasted grains, loads of dry/earthy spice (nutmeg) and vanilla. Has a 'Sugar Daddy'-caramel quality, borderline *too* sugared, then brasher roast and enough hops reign it in with a fine bitterness and subtle tang. Remarkable, tightrope-worthy balance.

M: Creamy smoothness defined. An initial burst of carbonated prickle followed closely by a soothing warmth, full of spice and malt and woody bourbon. Medium feel that grows/thickens. Fleeting spicy tingle in the finish.

D: A fine sipper that could use a bit more to time to mellow to the point that I write songs to pay tribute to its amazing-ness. In the meantime, I'll write a BA review to record the moment this damn fine barleywine hit my taste buds and to encourage you, dear reader, to seek it out. Glad to have a second bottle (2010 edition) for the cellar.

Photo of e11a627
4.58/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pumpkin orange, brown color, translucent

S: Aged fruit, aroma of cherry twizzlers

T: Fruity, but not overwhelming at all.
Chocolate, bourbon, cherry.

M: Great flavor, tingle post-swallow, feel
warm while drinking it - yummmm.

D: Tastes amazing. Don't taste the ABV at all -goes down surprisingly smooth. I could drink more than one of these easily. I've had some bad barleywine experiences in the past and this changed my mind about barleywine completely. SO GOOD!

Photo of newk340
4.65/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: a rosy mauve color that is slightly opaque that leaves no head after a slow pour.

S: a twinge of bourbon burns the nostrils while a faint aroma of cherries lingers in the back of the mind. phenomenal smell accurately predicts the exceptional taste.

T: a fantastic bourbon taste with black cherries lost in an oaky combination of flavors. simply wonderful.

MF/D: gives off a slight heat that coats the mouth and throat with a smooth finish. a great special occasion beer. no wonder this is in such high demand. thought about trading the rest of my stock, but also contemplating saving it...

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

12oz bottle via trade, served in a DFH signature glass

A - pour yields about half an inch of frothy yellowish colored foam. the beer is crystal clear ruby in color (very pretty). head sticks around for most of the drink, leaving the glass covered.

S - smell fills the room when poured. big biting bourbon, dark figs, plums, dark chocolate, toffee, brown sugar. very sweet but the bourbon heat balances nicely. faint earthy hops at the finish.

T - begins with some massively sweet barleywine characteristics...dark fruits, caramel, toffee. bitterness from tobacco, ash and somewhat piney hops. bourbon-heavy throughout, very hot...to a fault at the end when everything gets lost in alcohol. still yummy though.

M - medium bodied and syrupy, but carbonation cuts through (both body and flavors) nicely. goes down easy until alcohol kicks in.

D - a *very* good barleywine, no doubts about that. so glad I have another bottle as this definitely needs to sit and mellow. i will be looking forward to that.

Photo of d0ggnate
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours to my glass a rich, murky brown/purple color with a 1/2 finger off-white head that fades quickly to a lasting ring around the glass. My glass stays laced throughout. The aroma that arises from this beer is nearly divine. A great, sweet bourbon hits me first. Next I find notes of brown sugar/caramel and a little molasses. The taste is similar to the nose here. Less bourbon and more malty flavors. Warming does this beer a lot of good, too.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. Just the right amount of present alcohol. Not too boozy, but enough to let you know it is bourbon-barrel aged. Drinkability, in my opinion, is great. I picked this up tonight thinking I would just slowly enjoy the one bottle I had, but think if I had more than one, I could put down another. A great drinking, great tasting, stand out in its class beer. Lived up to any hype or preconceived notions I had about it.

Photo of AgentZero
3.93/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired in a trade with levifunk

A - A brownish orange color with a lot of yellow that comes through. Very minimal head that dissipated quickly and didn't anything on the sides.

S - A lot of charred wood and brown sugar. Caramel and some vanilla from the barrel influence. Some bourbon in there as well, the smell is good but there is a little too much burnt wood in here which is taking the taste down.

T - The taste has some nice brown sugar and caramel complete with the vanilla from the barrel aging. The bourbon is nicely there but does not drink hot. This actually tastes very good except there is too much burnt wood in there, that is a real downer on this.

M - Medium bodied, syrupy, needs a little more carbonation.

D - Don't get any alcohol on this, and very smooth, highly drinkable for the ABV.

Photo of jrallen34
3.36/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to AgentZero for this.

12zo bottle into my Rochefort glass, 2010 version.

Pours a murky light to medium brown, very light for a bw. Not much carbonation, light tan around the sides, poor lacing...Nice aroma, malty to start nice caramel and dark fruits with lots of wood and bourbon mellowing it out. Light cherry finish with a little more wood...The first thing on the taste is tons of wood, very bitter wood, too strong. The second is less wood but its still too much, at the end a bitter wood/grain alcohol finish. Not very sweet, not super complex. The taste is a big disappointment. Maybe needs a couple years to chill out...The feel is ok, very warming, lastin feel...Tough to drink because of the wood.

Overall, can't believe this a top 100. Not a great beer, has potential down the line maybe. This is unbalanced and totally too woody.

Photo of hu5om
4.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

split 12 oz in 2 6oz tasters with newk340
a- translucent rosy amber, little foam

s- wood, smoky, ripe dark plum, slight heat.

t- bourbon smokiness, ripe, ripe fruit, a bit of heat with sweet malts lingering

m- low/med. carbonation. active boozy tingle on the palate, but not as much as i'd expect with the abv as it is. a gorgeous lingering sweet smokiness.

d- any time, any place, i'll drink this. i traded away way too much, but i hope everyone is enjoying it. god knows i did. definitely belongs in the top 100. it's in my top 10 easily. yum. super delic. call your sconsin ba's and get yourself some!

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

Review #900

Thanks to Craig for sending me several of these. I've had both the 2009 and 2010 now, both delicious! This review is of the 2010 batch.

A: The pour is a crystal clear copper color with a mild white head.

S: The first sniff gives off plenty of sugary goodness. Caramel and burnt sugar lead the way and as the beer warms up, a very pleasant vanilla note comes through. Just a bit of bourbon and some nice dark fruits as well.

T: A really fantastic combination of caramel, toffee, burnt sugar, and vanilla comes through right away. The bourbon/barrel character is there, but not overpowering at all. There is, once again, a mild (but very ripe) fruit component that works quite well.

M: The body is medium to full with a moderate level of carbonation.

D: Even at 11.5%, plus barrel aging, there really isn't too much alcohol to this beer. One of the best barrel aged barleywines I've had.

Photo of flexabull
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle courtesy of klikger, thanks again!

Pours a bright amber color with a small white head.

Aromas are of ripe figs, sugars, cereal grains, and booze.

Flavors are full and outstanding. Tastes like sweet cereal grains almost like grape nuts soaked in bourbon. Grainy with almost a rye bread like flavor as well as some dark fruit flavors. Finish is warm and boozy.

Mouthfeel is decent, but seems a touch thin.

Drinkability is quite good. This is a tasy powerhouse of a barley wine. It has a few flaws, but they were easy to overlook when I take a sip...

Photo of cpetrone84
4.3/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A-pours a clear ruby red liquid with a tight khaki head.

S-the nose starts with the barrel, notes of oak, vanilla, and bourbon. caramel, carmelized brown sugar and cherries in the back.

T-the taste is quite boozy and hot. the wood is much less pronounced, light notes of oak and vanilla, much more bourbon. caramel, caramelized brown sugar, sweet, cherries, hint of raisin and heat in the finish.

M-very smooth and syrupy on the palate, a good carbonation, full bodied.

D-this is quite tasty and has a great nose. a little heat in the back but nothing that crushes the beer at all. great oak presence, a little more bourbon in the flavor but still very nice.

Photo of DmanGTR
4.8/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Joe for sharing this. What a nice treat! Review from notes on 6/12/10.

Deep garnet with lovely clarity in the light. Off-white head that lasted throughout most of the experience. Bourbon wafts through the air as it's being poured. Oh the luxury! Oak, rum, vanilla, hint of toasted nuts, and figs fill my nares and makes my mouth water. Delicious caramel, vanilla, and a touch of cocoa makes for an immediate loving of bourbon aged barleywines. Followed by toffee, black currants, and a touch of berry. Nicely full bodied and smooth carbonation. Out of this world.

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.65/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to Bobby8405 for the hook-up. As always, you are the man.

2010 vintage.

A - Beautiful ruby-amber, perfect translucence, nice off-white head that reduces to a thin cap but leaves good lace for a BA brew.

S - Phenomenal barrel, cinnamon-raisin, a pickled cherry aroma, and a vague earthiness.

T - Huge raisin-malty-dark bread flavor, finishing with a big and lingering maple impression. Big cherry and Bourbon flavors creep up, as well. Also a bit of chocolate. Just a great tasting brew all-around. I imagine this will age very well.

M - Very nice balance of booze, viscosity, and effervescence.

D - This is one of the nicest examples of a Bourbon barrel treatment I've come across.

Photo of sweemzander
4.34/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Bottled in Feb. 2010 vintage. Huge thanks to beerwolf77 for this one!

(A)- Pours a hazy pale/blush red color that produced an off-white head that dissipated quickly down to bubbles.

(S)- A rather fruity nose of ripe fruits; I am getting bits of cherry, cranberry, fig, and raisin. Some warmth of vanilla with a light spicy note of a ginger/cinnamon woodiness.

(T)- Pretty much just like the smell. Has a robust bitterness in the middle, but goes along great with the sweet vanilla and fruit.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Sweet and rich, but is counterbalanced well with the fruits and bitterness. Not as thick as I was expecting, but its actually not a bad thing. Rather smooth despite the ABV and bitterness.

(D)- A great barleywine with a great future ahead of it. Tastes great now, but age will continue to work wonders on this guy. Rather fruit driven, but goes well with the bourbon barrel aging. Reminds me almost of a port wine. Great stuff; seek this out and buy a case to set aside and drink over the next 4 years at least.

Photo of BarrytheBear
4.02/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 from cellar to snifter

Caramel colored with reddish highlights, minimal white froth puddles and recedes to the edges

Really nice on the snoot: sweet bourbon, dark fruits, and coconut shavings that hints at german chocolate cake...nice

It seems that my recommending this to a recent poster in search of a rich, malty, non hoppy barleywine may have been misguided. Bitter hop grip from the get-go, followed by a massive dose of hot bourbon in the form of vanilla, and rich maltiness. Hot damn, this beer is a load. The oak barrel is very present, as the woodiness and booziness of the bourbon barrel really make their appearance. This is an 11.5% monster that makes herself known.

Carbonation level is low but appropriate. The drinkability suffers a bit due to the heat. For me, CWBBW is difficult to figure. Last summer we had a two year old bottle that had aged horribly. Not sure if there is a bottle to bottle variance, but this beer could use some aging, but for how long before a decline is unknown.

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,875 ratings.