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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

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571 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 571
Hads: 2,103
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 9.11%
Wants: 706
Gots: 640 | FT: 75
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: 2,103
Photo of JohnGalt1
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage received from abents a long while back.. Thanks Adam. Trying to only drink from the cellar for a bit ... and I realized I hadn't reviewed this one.

Poured into MNFG.. 2 finger light khaki head.. great lace atop a crystal clear perfectly amber brew.

Nose is very rich ABW... tons of maltiness with still quite a bit of citric hoppiness. the barrel really comes across more as a fairly thick vanilla essence as opposed to bourbon..

Flavor begins the same as the nose.. thick .. rich .. and blankets the palate .. less vanilla and more oak than the aroma.. bunches of caramel.. and still a definite citric hoppiness.. medium body and a lighter than expected carbonation tilt toward a silky mouthfeel... the alcohol is there, but not bad at all..

This is pretty damn nice right now.... I don't know if any more age is gonna help it though.. I think with another year, the malts may become a bit cloying and leave the hops behind and not be as balanced.

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Photo of Beerandboards
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a large wine glass. 2012 vintage I think.

A - kind of a brown ruby red color. Very dark in the glass, when held to the light the red shows through. Minimal head, but a crown retains for quite a while, good amount of lacing.

S - lots of caramel and vanilla. Fairly boozy.

T - follows the nose with vanilla and caramel, bourbon booziness, there is a hint of dark cherries. There is a large hop bite, almost acidity in the bitterness. That being said, not offensive, but it doesn't really blend with the mellow flavors up front.

M - quite good. Medium body, low carbonation. Good.

O - I think this will really round out in about a year. The hop bitterness is not bad, but the front it so mellow that the moderate hop bit at the end seems more pronounced. I think with some time, this will move from an A- to an A/A+

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Photo of nyyfanatic213
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Super dark out of the bottle, billowing tan head that slowly faded while clinging to the sides of the glass. A very smooth yet intense beer, and not exactly something that I would have frequently, for ABV, flavor, and cost reasons. This may as well have been carbonated whiskey. Seek it out if you like the style

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Photo of JAXSON
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours dark orange red with a slight 1/16 inch head and low lacing. Very lightly carbonated. Strong bourbon malt smell. Bold bourbon-malt flavor that is smooth and balanced. This is very good and the 11.2% ABV is certainly in your face. The malt tastes goes very well with the bourbon. This is worth buying. Very enjoyable! World Class!

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Photo of nrbw23
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- A pours a rich red color with an off white head. Head has ok retention and leaves a bit of spotty lacing.

S- Smells of caramel and bourbon, dark fruit and vanilla. A bit of sweetness, and a good amount of wood.

T- Quite a bit of caramel, nice piney taste that came out of no where, bourbon and vanilla. A touch of booze here too.

M- Medium in body and carbonation.

O- A sipper for sure. Very solid brew for sure. I'll try to hunt this one done again.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I aged a 2012 for about a year and half to see what happens. I though the beer has initially rather harsh.

Appearance - The beer was golden brown color. It is a little lighter in color than I am used to for a bourbon barrel barleywine. No head or lacing was noted.

Smell - The bourbon is noted in a big way, with a certain level of sweetness to the aroma.

Taste - On the initial taste, the warmth of the bourbon bursts. This is still hot. Notes of grassy caramel, burnt malt, and dark fruits follow the burn. The aspect of this one I enjoy most are the caramel notes. The bourbon notes lack vanilla and really do not add much more than a burn. The aftertaste is pretty heavy burn. This bourbon barleywine is not as smooth as some of its counterparts. Aging did little for this one.

Mouthfeel - The barleywine lacked smoothness because of the burn. This also prevents me from suggesting this to be an easy drinker.

Overall - I much prefer Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout to the barelywine. It is far too harsh for my liking.

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Photo of Scotchboy
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz 2012 vintage bottle born in January of this year, poured into a New Belgium Globe. Huge thanks to laymansbeerfan for this one.

A: Pours a prototypical murky dark copper, with minimal tan head but excellent spotty lacing and alcohol feet.

S: Intense to start off - bourbon is prominent, dark sugary caramel sweetness, raisins and dried figs...very malty, and it smooths out as it warms...bits of oak and vanilla as well.

T: Alcohol is definitely there but it isn't overwhelming...bourbon, sugary caramel, dried figs dipped in brown sugar, oak, toffee, hints of vanilla, earthy notes.

MF: Alcohol heat definitely sits in your throat...medium to full mouthfeel, with good bitterness and a creamy body.

O: Intense beer, definitely like how the alcohol plays with all of the flavors, but it makes it hard to kill this bottle. One-and-done for me tonight.

Thanks Aaron!

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Photo of nmann08
4.09/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage

From a bottle, pours a very murky brown with ruby hues. A very thin and wispy head sits on top and there is a fair amount of clumpy sediment.

The smell is dark fruit, sweet malt and a fair amount of bourbon. Even after 3 or 4 years, this still has great barrel character. A little bit of hop content and vanilla still hang around.

The flavor is fruity, berry, not much bourbon at all. This is very mellow, balanced, in line with an aged barleywine. The barrel has faded considerably. Nice citrus hops with a faint taste of vanilla sweetness. This is in a great spot right now. Mouthfeel is clean, refreshing. Not much booze on the flavor.

Drink any 2011's you have now.

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Photo of muttyd
4.09/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wisconsinality for this amazing extra.

Poured into a stemmed chalice with an apple-cider / hazy amber body and thin, offwhite head that settles into about a 1/8 inch thick haze. Very cloudy, decent lacing.

Aroma is all over the place. I get a caramel-dipped apple up front, some cinnamon & sugar toast, and vanilla/oak. The aroma really changes as the beer warms up and as you take a deeper whiff. Finishes with a burnt sugar, alcoholic presence. The flavor brings out the barrel a bit more than the nose with a pleasant vanilla frosting combined with wet oak flavor. Some citrusy/pineapple hops in there as well. Rich dark caramel sweetness makes this one sweet, without being too cloyingly sweet. Medium carbonation with a heavier body that finishes very sticky, coating the mouth.

Very generous extra, huge props again to Winsconsinality. Would love to get a hold of this one again.

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Photo of Gfunk720
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Out of my Maudite tulip

A- A glowing reddish amber color. Nice 1 finger off white head. The beer is pretty clear.

S- Smells of caramel and bourbon, dark fruit and vanilla. Smells sweet, with a bit of oakiness. I smell some light hoppiness, but nothing crazy.

T- Coats the mouth with a wondeful smooth caramel flavor, which quickly transitions to a prominent piney hop flavor. The bourbon is there, but melds well with the other flavors. A little booze and vanilla too.

M- It's really pretty nice. Could have used some more time to mellow, but it is very drinkable. The hoppiness is a little strong.

D- More of a sipper, but plenty drinkable. A nice and complex barleywine, with a near perfect bourbon blend. Would love to try some of these with a couple years of age on them

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Photo of SteveB24
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very solid beer, sweet but not overwhelmingly so, very complex, has all the delicious flavors one would except from a fine barley wine such as Toffee, Dates, and vanilla. it is just a tad on the boozy side, i think a year on it would go a long way. overall this was a very good beer and i'd definitely recommend it to fans of the style.

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Photo of Brew33
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of sisuspeed
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to levifunk for the bottle!
Bottled February 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of drpdaddy
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance :Tulip dark amber tan creamy head with good lacing.

Smell: Sweet caramel malt, bourbon, alcohol and fruity esters.

Taste: Quite sweet caramel, plum, raisin, some tropical fruity esters, vanilla with subtle but present bourbon flavor

Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation, was not to thick

Drinkability: I am not the biggest fan of barley wine but this one was quite good, I couldn't handle more then one of these in a session but it was quite drinkable. The alcohol was well hidden. I am definitely going to pick up some more of this for the cellar.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into an Allagash chalice. 2012 bottle.

Appearance - Deep ruby. Pours clear until some sediment comes through and I pull back the bottle. Holding it up reveals suspended silt like sea monkeys in red wine. Yum.

Smell - Very nice bourbon aroma with a shot of grapefruit hops. Caramel and vanilla shine through, but brown sugar is subdued by the hop presence.

Taste - Health barrel up front. Bourbon mostly. Vanilla compounds blend with the caramel backing to all of it. Brown sugar a little more prevalent here. Hops come back with a vengeance in the aftertaste. Combine with a sharp oak flavor that is a bit harsh.

Mouthfeel - Boozy. Barrel hot and a hot beer. I enjoy older vintages of this a little more. Sharp hops, booze, and barrel make for an intense beer that I'd rather was more subtle in all categories.

Overall - Excellent beer, if not the best BA barleywine out there. A consistent standby that I almost always have in my fridge.

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Photo of boothbeer
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of Khazadum
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Blind Beer #8 poured into a snifter! I wanted a beer while I played some video games tonight, and I figured I would knock out a blind review as well!

Good amount of creamy froth. Very fine bubble collection and cotton wisp nature. Good retention, great lacing. Hidden carbonation confuses me. There is very little to see and the retention is still amazing... hmmm. The body is a nice copper almost ruby hue.

Oooo is that bourbon I smell? I swear it smells like woodford reserve with the particular sweetness it imparts. There is also this interesting cherry background that makes me imagine just a few drops of maraschino cherry juice was added to create the perfect impression. There is a distinct astringency on the back end that detracts but it is paired with some minor vanilla hues that make me imagine oak barrels.

Flavors open up on the sip with fantastic bourbon sweetness. Its a syrupy type of molasses with very little earthen brown sugar characteristic. Very rich, distinct. Following this is some spiciness in the middle. Almost.. rye? Finish is alcoholic, hot, astringent, and minor bitterness to it. It has a minor upswing of vanilla on the ending. I should make it known that the ethanol characteristics are pervasive. They just peak in the finish making them known even much more. Very volatile.

Creamy. Nice and smooth. However, the ethanol at times becomes biting. Sharp. Very high. It isn't always, but when its on boy is it ON. Sticky flavors, and definitely some treasures are hidden all over my mouth and lips. There is a very very slight carbonation at the start that bursts slow. Like a rising burp, when it finally breaks it is sweet relief.

I like it. Its a pretty solid beer. I'm thinking a bourbon barrel barley wine. The alcohol may need a slight tweaking to work into the beer a bit stronger, however, I think overall it is beneficial. Its strength and heat overwhelm the palate and lead some flavors to be rushed over... lost and missed at times. Needs a bit more carbonation. At 12 ounces, I feel like I can't drink any other beers since it is just absolutely so thick.

Reveal is!!! Holy hell... I've had this. Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine! I've even had this year! It is sitting in a review notebook somewhere... I should find that and compare...

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Photo of 321jeff
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage, poured into my Portsmouth glass.

A vigorous pour yields about 1/8" of tannish head. This beer's hazy reddish brownish color isn't going to win any beauty contests, but it's not too bad looking.

Aroma is dominated by a smoky bourbon with elements of wood and some sweet caramel. Reminds me of Elijah Craig 12yr but without the crazy alcohol bite.

Taste is pretty sweet overall featuring some dark fruits, caramel and some of the same oak and smoke. Fairly well integrated, but I wouldn't elevate it to being particularly special.

Mouthfeel is velvety smooth with just the right amount of prickly carbonation, but it is lacking a little in body. A good -bal barleywine and definitely a sipper, I'll probably let my other bottles go for another year or more and see what develops.

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Photo of SummitVA
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Crystal clear deep auburn with ruby highlights on sides of glass. Light pop when opened, quarter inch white rocky head when poured. Steady carbonation.

S - Booze foremost. Licorice, then vanilla (and vanilla, then licorice after the glass warms to room temp), and wet oak. Lovely caramel and burnt sugar. I'm getting very little alcohol in the nose, strangely enough.

T - Bourbon and huge malt. Some dark caramel flavors, but little crystal sweetness. A little plum and date in the finish, along with a firm herbal bitterness. Alcohol far more apparent here; it is the last, lingering note, and it warms throat.

M - Medium bodied, but a good deal thinner than I was anticipating. Without bigger body, the alcohol in the finish tends to overwhelm.

O - Really happy to have had this at long last. A lovely, complex sipper. That being said, very glad to have another bottle that I can sit on for a year to see if the alcohol heat lessens.

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Photo of Holland
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a slightly hazy brown/orange/red color with a thin tan head that keeps a ring and small lacing.

S: sweet malt, oak, lots of bourbon, and some dark fruits

T: much the same as the smell, but with some alcohol and better balance than the smell. The alcohol takes away from the taste more than most barrel aged barleywines I've had

M: good carbonation, decent body, but not fantastic since the alcohol seems to cut it

O: excellent beer, should have aged it or had it colder than cellar temperature. Will be buying more of this soon.

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Photo of Scrumtralecent
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage, poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a dark amber with a slight off white head that lingers on the sides.

S - First impression is a musty, earthy barleywine, with some notes of bourbon. Little vanilla and oak make their way through as well. The bourbon is actually a little overpowered by that barleywine. As it warms, the aroma becomes more intoxicating, really quite enjoyable.

T - Quite the alcohol kick in the taste. They don't shy away on this one. The barleywine has a bitterness to it, and the bourbon seems to play onto that. A good malt backbone that works well with the oak characteristics. Like the smell, quite earthy and musty, but with a little hop pizzazz left since it's fresh. A big and bold taste, but maybe not the most balanced.

M - Quite hot on the mouthfeel, definitely a sipper. Carbonation was good, just the alcohol burn kind of hurts the mouthfeel.

O - Overall, if alcohol burn isn't a deal breaker for you, this is a good beer. Great for a cold winter night like tonight, warms you up. I'll definitely sit on one and see where it's at later, but a hot barleywine fresh, along with some nice barleywine as well as barrel notes in this beer.

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Photo of billshmeinke
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, label is notched as bottled at Feb 2012.

appears a cloudy muddy color, some copper highlights. no head. big aroma of vanilla and whiskey. brown sugar.

taste is also big on the bourbon flavors. sweet caramel malt, but not cloying. minimal hops. medium thickness, but it coats the tongue, lower carbonation.

overall a well executed example of the style.

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Photo of N_Schleret
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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