Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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.

571 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 571
Hads: 2,105
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 9.11%
Wants: 708
Gots: 639 | 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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 571 | Hads: 2,105
Photo of pcstuck
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is more of a dark auburn with a fairly tall head. Smelled the bourbon right when i cracked it open. Great aroma. Bourbon with earthy hop notes along with chocolate. The bourbon is upfront in this, so if thats not your style you may not like it. Almost a sweet taste to the bourbon. Maybe a caramel. Great brew all around.

 326 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Medium brown body, one finger white head that quickly drops into a thin white film. Not much of a collar or lacing.

S- Caramel, bourbon, brown sugar, oak. Rich vanilla. Lots of complexity.

F- The vanilla isn't as strong here as it is on the nose, but it is there. Lots of caramel, sweet lighter malt, and bourbon barrel flavours. Its certainly hot, but it brings all the bourbon barrel you'd want in a barleywine.

M- Medium body, low carbonation, slick and drying finish with plenty of bourbon.

O- Very bourbon-forward barleywine; sometimes I find this one to be a bit too hoppy but time always does this beer well.

 622 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Murky looking crimson. Thin, creamy beige head. Good retention and lace propensity. Nose is quite sweet and quite bourbony. It really just drips caramel and nougat and a little booze with the vanilla like bourbon notes. Really good aroma. Pretty hot feel to it right off the bat. But also nice traits of bourbon, caramel malt, nougat and passion fruits. It's got a little of that spiked punch feel to it but it's not overboard. Spicy alcohol lingers. It's lightly carbonated and about medium bodied. I think this beer needs to sleep for a few years to take the edge off. Nowhere near as good as the fresh Kosmyk Charlie or especially the aged Charlie I've had in years past. But then again, those were as close to perfection in a beer as I've ever seen.

Props to BA nflmvp for this beer on the day the NFL MVP said his good-bye.

 830 characters

Photo of jnn4v
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Amber hue with no sediment or haze. No head.

S: Caramel, molasses, and some citrus. Alcohol burn.

T: Caramel, toasted oak, vanilla and alcohol. Moderate hop bitterness. Some sourness on the tail end. Sort of hot.

M: Good body for the style. Very nice texture. Not very carbonated and medium overall body.

D: The 11.5% ABV is evident. I think the drinkability is relatively good with all factors considered, but others at the same tasting thought it was too hot.

 472 characters

Photo of Odysseyalien
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Aroma: caramel, bread, alcohol,woody.

Appearance: brown, cloudy, tan foam, frothy.

Taste: medium sweetness, virtually no bitterness.

Palate: medium body, thin feel, soft carbonation, subtlely bitter.

Overall: I don't think this is an American barleywine. It's more akin to a British barleywine. A nice barleywine, not too unlike Weyerbacher's Insanity though thinner; not unlike Lost Abbey's Angel Share but half the price. I picked this up in Pennsylvania last week but only got one. I'lll buy more if I get back down there sometime soon.

 543 characters

Photo of jeonseh
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 Bottle poured into a Kuhnhenn tulip

A - Deep cherry wood color with a light brown accent. Had a one finger light brown head that settled down to a few rocky spots of foam on top.

S - Big malty barleywine with strong caramel, toffee, and vanilla. There is also a big bourbon accent that comes through strong. This is one of those big noses that just brings the flavor to you.

T - Really strong alcohol and slight orange peel hits you up front. As it carries on, I get slight toffee, caramel, and vanilla that comes through to give it a slight presence. Strong bourbon comes along near the finish to bring both sweetness, roasted oak, and a slight booze. The finish is astringent as the booze and its heat carries along. This is one really bourbony beer as you get a ton of barrel presence, but it may actually be a bit too much as you get more bourbon than beer sometimes.

MF - Medium, slightly syrupy body. Light carbonation in this. It has a warming alcohol presence near the finish. The finish itself is astringent, has a alcoholic kick, and light tingle from the oak

O - Solid BA Barleywine for the price with a lot of barrel presence. This is definitely a sipper and with all of the bourbon one to have on a cold night. It's main downfall is that the bourbon really shines and make the beer a bit too hot instead of blending in well with the base beer.

 1,367 characters

Photo of papat444
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

***2010 Vintage (bottled Feb.)***

Thanks to grub for this one.

Poured from a 12oz. bottle.

Appearance: Body is a mix of brown and red, like a light leather. Hard pour reveals less than half a finger that disappears pretty fast. No lacing to speak of.

Smell: Sweet bourbon, dark fruits and wood. Quite strong and nice.

Taste: Dry cherries ,aged wood, bourbon with traces of leather. Sweetness balanced with some bitterness. Rich flavors.

Mouthfeel: A bit rough with some residual bitterness from the alcohol heat. Smooths out as it warms.

Overall: A bit rough around the edges but ends up being good. Drinkable and not too heavy

 634 characters

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Nice ruby color with solid retention but does dissapate to nothing as it settles down and warms up.

Fantastic notes of bourbon with a good backing of darker fruits and a little medicinal hop kick. Even the oak is apparent in the nose,subtle but does pop its head up.

Heavy caramel and fruit upfront. Nice vanilla following that makes way for the huge bourbon blast that takes over the ride.

Full bodied and a little too flat. A slight chew as well.

Not a bad beer, a little bit much as warms up.

 524 characters

Photo of zac16125
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter
2012 bottle, notched as Feb bottling

A big thanks goes out to haveanother1 for this great extra!

A: Pours a fairly transparent light reddish brown that gives rise to only the slightest whisp and outer ring of head that doesn't even hang around long enough for me to note the color.  Does leave very slight patches of lacing.  

S: Big bourbon notes are immediately noted, then toffee,  a nutty character, burnt toast, dark fruits in the form of raisin and plum, booze.  Pretty awesome.  

T: Again, big bourbon notes right up front, oak, booze, hint of bakers chocolate on the finish, burnt toast.  Real nice at first.  Booze becomes quite dominant as I continue to drink though.  Each sip starts with a nice flavor or toffee, or bourbon, or nuts, then halfway through the sip its overtaken by a big boozy smack that dominates and lingers in the aftertaste.  Unfortunate, because this has the potential to be something special.  

M/D: Over carbonated for my liking, and a touch thin, although not too bad, and the carbonation is much more of an issue for me.  Slightly chewy, but again the carbonation distracts from the mouthfeel.  Its real boozy (this is coming from someone who really enjoys boozy beers) and is pretty hot going down.  Some time would do it well.  

O: Awesome nose, and potential for a great flavor profile, but this one needs some time on the shelf for the booze to mellow out.  It really is quite dominating throughout most of the drink, and takes away from the flavor intricacies.  Interestingly, I recently had the non barrel aged version of this beer, and didn't note it to be particularly boozy at all.  I do however, think that one was a 2011 bottle.   I would like to get my hands on a couple more of these, throw them in the cellar and come back in a year or two,  I think they could be great then.  

 1,888 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a clear pure light-medium amber with mild white head, good head retention, limited lace.

S: Sweet malt, vanilla, pastry, a delight to sniff.

T: Vanilla and malt, but with a prominent American hop character all the way through. Some molasses type notes as well.

M: Very smooth, creamy, lightly boozy.

D: An impressive beer from Central Waters. Good flavours and something methinks to age for a while.

 428 characters

Photo of tempest
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer took a lot of the same flavor cues from the non-bourbon ale. This adds a light whiskey element near the end. The aroma is pleasant, with the oak and vanilla, but still too weak. The drinkability was pretty good and unlike many other barleywines. Worth a try, very tasty.

 280 characters

Photo of tut2528
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage from MatttYCE. Thanks man!

A: pours a murky caramel in color, with touches of ruby tints, with about 1/2 fingers worth of head formation. without much lacing.

S: big caramel/toffee and vanilla right up front. there is a some oak and bourbon barrel presence as well, but it takes a back seat to the primary characters. i also pick up a slight hop note.

T: caramel sweetness right up front with a oaky bourbon presence coming out much more. i also pick up on more hop qualities here than what I was expecting from the smell. and the finish is vanilla creaminess. alcohol is definitely present.

M: flat, very thin for its style, and it doesnt quite coat the palate as it should.

O: its a nice brew. and this would be a great introductory barleywine to people who aren't familiar with the style.. and it has high drinkability.

 841 characters

Photo of boralyl
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

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

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

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

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

 762 characters

Photo of mjn5036
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into my Piraat snifter. This beer pours a thick looking, dark honey color with bright ruby colored highlights. A massive, thick, sticky, off-white head rises up out of nowhere in a beautiful cascading effect. The head lingers around for approximately seven minutes before receding into a white cap floating on top and a ring around the circumference. Soapy lacing is sparingly left around the sides of the class.

The nose on this beer is a lot of bourbon, caramel, roasted malts and toasted grains and maybe some bittering hops. Slightly floral and definitely sweet to the nose, this one smells great.

Taste is heavy on the bourbon, and like the nose full of caramel. Toffee and brown sugar make an appearance making this beer sweeter than I thought it was going to be. The lack of astringent, over the top hops found in the other big American barely wine is nice. There is quite a bit of boozy notes in the taste as well. This one could use a little time.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, like sipping on liquid caramel. It is actually fairly hot on the palate, possibly from the alcohol, possibly from the bourbon barrel aging. Like I said, I think some time will certainly help mellow this beer out and bring out some more of its subtle complexities. I didn't realize the abv on this bad boy was 11.5% until I pulled it up on here. With this alcohol content the heat isn't much of a surprise, and this is actually fairly drinkable considering that.

 1,471 characters

Photo of TheDTrain
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow 11.5 abv! A very sweet barley wine. Pours a cloudy mahogany with great amber highlights. Taste is hot from the bourbon but gets overpowered by the sugars. As it warms, the awesome flavors of burnt caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, and bourbon whiskey really shine.

The sweetness is a bit fatiguing and could be toned down a notch. This one will probably get better with age. Nevertheless, a great barley wine that will keep the D train warm along the tracks.

 470 characters

Photo of BarrytheBear
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
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.

 1,013 characters

Photo of GJ40
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled from a 12ox bottle. Thanks Surge1311! This is a big, boozy beer. In fact it might be a bourbon with a hit of beer. The aroma is strong bourbon. The flavor follows with a rich malt backbone. This beer is flavorful and intense. I think the bourbon dominates too much but it's a fantastic beer that leaves you with a lot to think about.

 341 characters

Photo of corby112
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage.

Pours a deep dark chestnut brown color that is completely opaque with slight caramel colored edges. Half finger yellowish head that quickly fades into a thin lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing left behind and visible carbonation bubbling up.

Earthy, leathery malt aroma with hints of caramel, chocolate, toffee and biscuit as well as some subtle hops and boozy alcohol sweetness. The barrel aging is evident in the aroma with a nice amount of bourbon, earthy oak, vanilla and marshmallow. It's refreshing to encounter a bourbon BA beer that is complex and doesn't smell like a complete booze bomb.

Medium bodied with tight carbonation up front and a good bit of alcohol heat that lingers throughout and warms the chest. Lots of sweet caramel malt with earthy, leathery notes and slight bitter hops. Hints of caramel, chocolate, toffee and biscuit countered by the bourbon barrel notes. Sweet and boozy but not too hot with plenty of bourbon, oak and vanilla. As it warms the heat tones down a notch and the silky caramel, toffee, vanilla and marshmallow flavors become more prominent. Very complex but a bit just a touch too hot at this stage. I would love to see how this is doing in another year or two. Very good but definitely a sipper.

 1,260 characters

Photo of jbwimer
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
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 rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer pours an dense body of aged copper red with a thick creamy tan head that has a few tiny bubbles sticking to the glass. The head last for a good bit.

S- The sweet smell of rich caramel malt has a nice pine and herbal hop hint at the finish.

T- This beer has a rich malty flavor with a soft sweetness and a hint of caramel to it. This finish is a big pine note with a soft wood hint that lingers after each sip.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with no alcohol heat at all.

D- This beer is all about the big caramel sweet malt with some nice support from the pine hops and a very faint hint of barrel only after each sip. This beer does not have much depth of flavor but the flavors it does have are big and robust. I kind of miss the alcohol kick that cleans out the sweetness at the finish but it still goes down smooth.

 866 characters

Photo of thagr81us
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Massive thanks goes out to the person (BM me if it was you and I will give you proper credit) who shared this one with the group at the "Evening Wood" tasting graciously hosted by cmrillo! 2011 Vintage! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller flute. Poured a deep red-orange with a minimal off-white head. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, wood, and alcohol. It had a medium feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. However there wasn't anything really interesting going on in it to make it overly memoriable. The flavor did however mix and compliment each other quite well. Pretty smooth for an 11.5% heavy hitter. Definitely worth trying!

 791 characters

Photo of jegross2
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the 2012 vintage of the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Company. It is no secret that Central Waters is my favorite brewery in Wisconsin.
Score: 90

January 2012 vintage bottle served in an oversized brandy snifter glass and enjoyed on 02/15/12.

Appearance: Pours a deep and mostly opaque mahogany color with some highlights at the top of the beer when held to light. Pours a finger-plus of tan sea foam head that settles into a thin foggy layer atop the beer and ring around the glass. Above average, oil lacing. 4/5

Smell: Strong notes of vanilla and molasses. Sweet and malty vanilla extract, light and fluffy vanilla cake, and a little tiramissu. Sweet raisin, caramel malt and astringent alcohol too. 4/5

Taste: Very strong and malty-sweet vanilla extract flavor throughout. Molasses/brown sugar, sweet raisin and alcohol flavor/warmth on the midpalate. Lingering caramel malt and vanilla in the finish. There is a light barley flavor in the back half of the beer as well. As the beer layers and warms, increasing amounts of raisin and alcohol come out. This brew grows in sweetness as it warms and layers as well. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied, low carbonation. Super malty and sweet, but not sticky. 4/5

Overall: Bold, malty-sweet flavors render this one a sipper. The barrel aging here has vastly improved the quality of the base beer (the Kosmyk Charlie Y2K).

Recommendation: Especially for those who missed out on King Henry and/or do not have access to upcoming re-release of Abacus, this is a barrel aged barleywine worth seeking out. The bold flavors might turn off some casual beer drinkers, but I feel that the flavors if this brew are balanced and mass-appealing enough to likely intrigue the majority of casual beer drinkers.

Pairings: Pretzels.

Cost: $11.99 for a four pack.

 1,851 characters

Photo of VashonGuy
4/5  rDev -6.5%

This beer is easy.

It's easy on the pocketbook ... under $4 for a barrel aged beer.

It's easy on the palate ... incredibly smooth. The bourbon aroma and flavors are there, but they are not overpowering. The underlying barleywine is more subtle than many barleywines ... a wonderful mix of flavors, but not something that knocks you in the face.

And it's easy to miss the alcohol in this one. Somehow that 11.5% ABV gets masked by the wonderful flavors. But the flavors call for sipping, not guzzling, so you should be OK.

Easy to love this one.

Serving from a 2014 bottle into a snifter.

 599 characters

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

Shared by Chico1985, reviewed from notes. Bottle is about a year old.

A- Hazy deep red with a small cloud and bubbly ring. Legs fall and a minimal spot or two of lace sticks behind.

S- Oak and whiskey spice atop of dark fruit and a deep stale caramel old ale profile.

T- Old ale malt with some whiskey flavor and spice. Nice oak flavor and some dark fruit/cherry. Good ol' stale caramel, probably from the age on the bottle.

MF- Nice moderate carbonation with good alcohol warming and thickness to the body.

DB- Good balance of oak, barleywine malts and Bourbon flavors. I would like to try this one again in the future.

 625 characters

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

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

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

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

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

 492 characters

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