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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

571 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 571
Hads: 2,085
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 8.69%
Wants: 705
Gots: 640 | FT: 76
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Atron67 on 03-02-2008

Aged for 1 year in used bourbon barrels.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 571 | Hads: 2,085
Photo of CraftFan5
4.94/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This should be a treat. A 2012 bottle. Let's see how she aged.

A - Like a typical barleywine, a very hazy burnt orange/light brown. Not very attractive, but so it goes.

N - Whoa, huge aroma of bourbon, vanilla, chewy caramel, more bourbon, with a slight bitterness. Luscious.

T - Yowza. The same as the nose but multiplied. Lots of caramel, bourbon sweetness, and that slight hint of bitterness. I get a little bit of booze. Honestly, it's not much different than a fresh bottle, but that's still amazing.

M - This might be where the cellaring added a little something. This is superb on the palate. I'll mention the chewy caramel again, because it's almost that thick. It's rich, decadent, and completely coats the mouth. So good.

O - Yep, this one certainly bears aging well. Maybe next time I'll wait 5 years. (830 characters)

Photo of foobula
4.37/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 bottle. Amber, cloudy appearance, which merits a careful pour. Excellent oaky vanilla nose, slightly pungent, one of the best noses on a beer. Sweet and subtly sour taste, which I think stems from a noticeable yeast component. No hop presence. Oaky sweet finish. Gets sweeter and oakier as it warms to room temp. This beer never disappoints. (346 characters)

Photo of HoppySeb
4.54/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter after being stored overnight in a fridge at roughly 45 degrees. The pour is brown to dark brown and hazy. As the beer is poured into the glass the flow is clean and constant, the stream against the light is amber in color. As it settles in the snifter, a crackled bubbly head makes a brief appearance and disappears swiftly. There is also an effervescent sound that lasts for a few seconds.

If you would ask me to describe what a great example of a barrel aged barleywine smells like from memory, this beer is what I would describe. Dominant scents are roasty malt, molasses, bourbon and brown sugar which form a sweet and sharp medley of aromas, very inviting. Taking a backseat are dried fruit, rum-soaked raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. The combination of aromas remind me of fine Venezuelan rum.

First few sips are unapologetic and make sure you notice the booziness of this brew. However, clocking in at 11.5% ABV its dangerously balanced. The rest of the flavors mimic very well its aroma (as do most barleywines in my experience). An oaky bourbon taste leads a diverse parade of flavors, followed by sweet caramelly malt, molasses, moist brown sugar, cinnamon, a vanilla bean touch and lastly a spice that strikes the same chords with me as a chili powder. The finish is mostly oaky bourbon in a very pleasant way. The nose on this beer and its aftertaste are hand-in-hand, making every sip a vicious cycle of aromas and flavors – in my opinion, this makes for a fantastic drinking experience.

Mouthfeel-wise its a bit tongue numbing initially - the bourbon screams at you to recognize its presence. Lightly astringent but very well balanced. Very light carbonation that complements its syrupy consistency quite well.

Overall – I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and it is a great example of what a barrel aged barleywine ale should be. (1,883 characters)

Photo of Mightykingmalard
4.56/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle in tulip. 2013 vintage.

A: deep, deep brown. Creamy white head burns off quickly. Mosly opaque. A great looking pour.

S: rich bourbon. Incredibly smooth bourbon smell. Also a good amount of caramel.

T: I almost taste some honey. The bourbon is very forward but it's very smooth. Leaves a very alcohol aftertaste, but I'm a bourbon guy, so I like it. I still get the caramel.

M: super smooth and rolls around the mouth. Has a little bite bit it subsides right away.

O: got this in a trade from ba user kevsal and I am super greatful. I will be looking for this again. All bourbon barrel barleywines pretty much win my heart. Has a phenomenal smell and a pretty awesome taste to go with it. (711 characters)

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

12oz Bottle received in trade with iguenard - thanks! 2012 edition

Appearance - Hazy brown colour with a good size frothy beige coloured head. There is a low amount of carbonation showing and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5-6 minutes before it was gone.

Smell - Malts, caramel/butterscotch, wood, anise

Taste & Mouth - There is a below average amount of carbonation and I can taste malts, butterscotch/caramel, and hops. There is also some vanilla, wood/leather, and anise.

Overall - Not as sweet as I expected but that leaves it a little more drinkable for a big beer. A very solid example of the style. I wish more beers like this were available to me locally. Also, for a 2012 beer this has a surprising amount of hop bite. (754 characters)

Photo of Qbdoo
4.22/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A pretty delicious and deliciously drinkable powerhouse of a beer. Beautiful looking: a cloudy orange-ish brown. It looks like your dream of a barrel-aged barley wine. Mouthfeel is somewhat thinner than many barleywines but wonderfully creamy. Taste is surprisingly smooth - the aging seems to iron out the coarseness I find in many barleywines. Vanilla is the most prominent flavor. There's really just a hint of bourbon, which is a big plus in my mind, and the alcohol taste is slight as well. (495 characters)

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

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

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

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

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

Poured into Stone snifter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of deadonhisfeet
3.84/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a Great Lakes snifter. The pour is reddish, coppery-amber color with a fair amount of clarity and a very thin layer of foam that doesn't stick around for long (common for barrel-aged beers). The nose is quite sweet and boozy. I get notes of vanilla and bourbon, but the hops and some fusel alcohol notes assert themselves over the subtler toffee notes.

The beer has a full body and a nice slick feel. There's a brief bready sweetness up front that is quickly overpowered with hops and a sharp boozy heat, lending the beer a slightly metallic, medicinal tang. The heat intensifies towards the back of the palate and drowns out the caramel-like sweetness of the malt, which is fighting like hell to break through but doesn't quite make it all the way to the fore.

Beers like this are difficult for me to rate. It's clearly a well-crafted product with an abundance of intense flavors and marvelous aromas. Unfortunately, even though I enjoy American Barleywines, I'm just not a huge fan of aging these in bourbon barrels. I find that the bitter hop flavors clash a bit on my palate with the sweet, boozy notes and the malt is not allowed to work its magic. (Now English Barleywines - good gracious! Those are custom-made for bourbon-barrel-aging!) Nevertheless, I continue to try these as I come across them (or as wonderful traders - like Ri0 - bless me with their generosity) in hopes that my palate will eventually accept them. (1,455 characters)

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

Last of my central water beers from my trade with Garrett. This is the 2012 version of this beer.

The beer pours a fairly dark brownish amber color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The beer is quite attractive on the nose, as I pick up light milk chocolate, noticeable vanilla, toffee and butterscotch. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this sweet, excellent beer. Also, maybe it's from the extended aging in my cellar/closet, but there's a soft creaminess on the palate this is very, very nice. The finish is long as well, and there is a hint of heat from the alcohol on the finish. Otherwise, the alcohol is pretty well integrated into the flavor profile.

Very nice beer from Central Waters (which is what I've come to expect from them). My only complaint is that I really didn't pick up a whole lot of bourbon, etiher on the nose or the palate. Otherwise, this is a very fine beer from CW. (929 characters)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Appearance: Cloudy dark amber, good head.

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

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

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

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

2014 bottle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 ounce bottle courtesy of Roger85

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014 bottle

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

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

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

poured 12oz bottle into chalice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 oz bottle - 2014 vintage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 571 ratings.