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

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States | website

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Aged for 1 year in used bourbon barrels.

Added by Atron67 on 03-02-2008

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Reviews: 608 | Ratings: 2,233
Photo of jera1350
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Deeper burnt orange, short yet dense head of khaki foam that leaves thick lacing.

Highly complex nose. Very sweet, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, pound cake, maple syrup.

Huge barleywine sweetness intertwined with a huge hot bourbon punch. Underneath lies all of the complex flavors of spiced rum, vanilla, oak, brown sugar, maple syrup and caramel. The warm flavors and alcohol linger forever.

Hot and sticky with deep down heat lingering what seems forever. Full bodied with a sappy feel on the finish.

An absolute knockout of a brew. The price is a amazing for the quality of the product also. A sipper for sure, but an absolute pleasure of one.

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Photo of B33R501
4.69/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Every bit as good as Weyerbacher Insanity, which is simply the best smelling beer I've had. And so is this. Huge aromas of thick cake batter, vanilla, figs, dates, buttered popcorn.

What I've just described above in the aroma is exactly what this tastes like, plus the huge caramel sweetness and wood that moves everything along to a nice dry finish. Pucker up.

Why we drink beer.

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Photo of mjpolzin
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

We live in a society where people are constantly annointing the newest thing as the "greatest ever". Whether it is ESPN with the "greatest fill in the blank ever" or some other media outlet, we are quick to put something on the pedastal as being the best ever. That said, I am saying Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine is my favorite beer ever and if need be, I will modify my score down the road if I decide it isn't up to the hype I am giving it tonight. Coupled with the Peruvian Morning I had after this brew, I may have tasted by top two brews ever tonight.

I really enjoyed the Y2K Barleywine by CW so I expected I would love the BB version. As soon as I smelled it I realized it was going to be great as the smell knocked me on my ass! The fruity, sweet smell of a regular barleywine was accented by a heavy scent of bourbon!

The taste was just as good. I tasted fruit, candy, malts and a rather strong bourbon presence. It was warm and tingly as it went down and I could instantly feel the 11.5 abv.

This beer lived up to the hype for me and I need to pick more up to age for a few months or years! For now, this will be my top beer on beer advocate.

EDIT: Had my first bottle from the 2013 vintage tonight. Central Waters advertised the fact that with this year's Bourbon Barrel Stout, they aged it for twice as long in the bourbon barrels. There were rumors that all of their bourbon barrel beers were aged for twice as long as in previous years. Whatever the case, this year's version of the BB Barleywine is so much smoother than last years! I will have to do a side by side comparison to be sure but as good as last year's was, there was always a slight harshness to each sip. That is totally gone this year as the bourbon integrates so much better with all of the wonderful barleywine flavors in this beer.

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Photo of cokes
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark cherrywood, hazed up sporting a tight buttercream head.
The nose comes in two stages, the first is traditional barleywine Kosmyk Charlie, all full of caramel, toffee, dates, golden raisins, and electric wintergreens hops. Stage 2 (which arrives after subsequent sniffs and with attention) show barrel aging full of hazelnuts, toasted oak, and vanilla.
The taste is inverted compared to the nose. Bourbon-barrel traits hit first, full of toasted coconut, hazelnut, oak, black cherry, and dark chocolate. The later part of the sip see it return to barleywine normalcy (or, more aptly, supremacy) with a deep caramel, honeyed grain, and toffeed maltiness, towing a fruitiness made of dates, figs, and more black cherry. Hopping is moderate, but full of sappy evergreens and citrus piths. There a recurrence of vanilla-laden barrel traits near the close, and it finishes with a convergence and re-explosion of all the preceding elements, along with obvious booze traits.
Full-bodied, with a subtle carbonation, if only to keep it from seeming overly fat or overly sticky. It has the consistency of cotton candy. It coats the mouth, dissolves, the beckons to be re-coated.
To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of bourbon-barreled Barleywines (especially hoppy ones like this), as I often find the barrel aging to be at odds with the hop profile, and the result ends up with a bunch of clashing colors. This achieves glory by compartmentalizing the barleywine and bourbon barrel traits up until the very end. And when they finally do converge, its absolutely harmonious. It's the best example of the style (specifically: booze barreled b'wines) that I've come across. And I can't think of another that even comes close.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #450. Thanks to Ungertaker for the bottle! 12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. 2012 vintage.

A: Pours a deep amber color with an eggshell head that quickly settles, leaving a thin film and some sticky lace on the glass. Slight chill haze, but not offensive by any means.

S: This beer smells awesome! Caramel, vanilla, and some dark fruit notes, along with just a touch of bourbon and oak. Also a slight chocolate aroma in the background.

T: Massive caramel up front, with caramel, prune raisin, and vanilla. Bourbon is present with woody undertones, leading to a slightly dry, grassy hop finish. A bit of booze is apparent as well, with a warming sensation.

Notes: Complex as all hell, with full body and a ton of flavor. At 11.5%, alcohol is definitely a factor in its drinkability. A true sipper. Needless to say, now that I have tried this brew, it is hands down the best release I have ever had from Central Waters. Truly well done! I'll be searching for this one next year, and buy a few to age as well.

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Photo of King_KongDCO93
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: small carbonation, reddish/brown color. Dark enough that you can't see through the glass. Has almost no head.

S: caramel and vanilla aroma are opulent, mixed in with some cherries and toffee

T: Notes of caramel and vanilla just like the smell. some notes of butterscotch and sweet fruits. Really not noticing too much of the oak barrels its very light but you do taste it more as you drink.

M: palate feels balanced, has a large body but really creamy and has some tangginess

O: slightly boozy for 11.2% abv very very nice. the caramel and vanilla flavor is amazing

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Photo of boomer31
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle reviewed 9/09

A - Darker orangeish woody
S - Bourobn all over the place with sweet malt in the background. This bad boy was sitting in a barrel for quite some time. Great smell if you love bourbon, if you're not a fan of it though, steer clear.
T - Again, bourbon everywhere. My first BB B-wine and what a treat. The malt does come forward as you get past the initial bourbon flavor. Wonderfull. This needs to be a top 50 beer.
M - Thick and smooth, low carbonation
D - Bourbon makes this one a sipper especially at the ABV (I'd assume is close to 9%)

Overall a favorite beer no doubt. I love this thing time and time again

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Photo of newk340
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
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...

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Photo of GbVDave
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Loterbol tulip.

2009 vintage

A: Pours a dark caramel-brown that shows off some deep ruby hues when held to the light. Topping this is a dark khaki colored, one-finger layer of creamy foam that takes forever to recede, but as it does it leaves some gorgeous looking sheets of lace behind.

S:Absolutely heavenly aromas of (of course) bourbon, vanilla, coconut, rum raisin bread pudding, dark chocolate drizzled cherries, buttery caramel, cinnamon sugar, and at the very end a bit of solvent alcohol.

T: Well, what can I say about this that I didn't just say above? As it warms, a myriad of spicy dark fruit flavors emerge. Mainly spiced figs and plums. Chocolate covered cherry becomes quite prominant in the finish, as well. Molassas, brown sugar, roasted nuts, and bourbon sodden oak.

M: So rich and creamy and smooth. Bordering on syrupy but the subtly spicy hops and slight sliver of peppery hot alcohol keep that from happening. What I imagine it would feel like to drink half and half fortified with a shot of bourbon or rum. I truly can't believe how thick and rich this is.

D: This has got to be one of the very best BBBW's being produced right now. Hands down. Smooth, complex, and best of all, not overly hot, ragged, or skull crushingly strong. Sure, it's meant to be sipped but those sips were coming pretty quickly for me.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

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Photo of herman77
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Murky dark amber/muddy brown. Small of white head. Very minimal lacing.

S: Lots of bourbon, sweet carmel malt, toffee, vanilla, oak and raisins.

T: Big hints of bourbon up front. Vanilla and oak dominate followed by a rich carmel/toffee malt. The integration between the maltiness and the bourbon is really good. Nice warming alcohol in the finish that lingers. I'm sure it mellows with age, but the heat from the bourbon works really well with this right now.

M: Fuller body, smooth and soft carbonation. Chewy and thick, love it.

O: Very impressive. Pretty damn good drinkability too considering what it is. Bummed I only picked up a single of this and I need to try the base beer.

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Photo of Steasy66
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A Garnet with light head, good retention
S Malt, booze, big bourbon character
T Malt, very boozy, coconut, huge bourbon barrel flavor, really spectacular
M Thick, low carbonation
O Really great beer, especially given its price and availability. I was blown away by the quality of this beer. Drank it next to the base beer, Y2K and, while both great, you can really see the advantages of barrel aging.

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Photo of mnredsoxfan69
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 release, poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my favorite tulip glass.

A dark amber pour, like grade A maple syrup, with half a finger of antique ivory head that quickly dissipates to a thin ring around the edge that leaves some spotty lacing on my glass as I sip it. I swirl the liquid in my glass and smell traces of bourbon, caramelized sugar and faint alcohol. Complex flavors wash over my tongue as I sip it: bourbon and caramelized sugar, vanilla, maraschino cherries, and just a touch of bitterness at the end with a long, protracted finish. Warm, almost hot on my tongue, creamy and strongly alcoholic, reminiscent of amaretto and rich bourbon mixed together.

Overall, I would put this up against any Belgian quad or dark strong for the beauty of its complexity, and overall taste. I've read that it gets even better with age. Well, I've got three more bottles and I may pick up more in the next week or so. This is heading for the cellar.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A heavy murk of the deepest of darkest scarlet brown but mostly black in duller light. Tall and fluffy capping of sandy browned foam bubbles its way to a medium height before finding a skimming and collar replacement slowly after. Elongated portions of sheeted lace angle the glass with a few icicles dangling along the bottom.

Aroma is plummy, rummy, dark orange, and deep with some over ripe date fruityness. Burnt brown sugar, vanilla pod paste, and huge earthen tobacco oak tinged heat perks the nose up with quite a beefy array. The heated esters do grab the impressions of the bourbon barrel aging very well. Nice!

Taste is heavenly lush, creamy, and thick with a huge loft of chewyish malts that drips lots of dark caramel all across a marmalade of dark fruity mushyness that has date, plum, fig, raisin, orange, mixing with tingey oaken warmth that adds a lovely vanilla aspect well within each sip. Partial warming chocolate thickness and burntish butter creep into its warming finish as it cinders with earthy vanilla oakyness. Damn nice taster!

Super creamy, silken medium/fullish body that has exceptional balance and tone the whole way thru as its length in taste is superseded by its well handled wamrth. Finsishes clean, earthy, warm, and like a warm chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough thats been slightly warmed in the oven just before the are comepletely ready to be a cookie; somewhere between cookie dough and its toasty/burnt edges if left unattended. Much like the Kosmyk Charlie Y2K Catastrophe this has alot of dimensions that scream Old Ale while keeping its Barleywine presence maintained.

This was gone in no time flat as its balance was outstandingly nice between its malty chewyness and bourbony hinted, earthy vanilla warming. Remarkable stuff by Central Waters!

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Photo of Overlord
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Unclejedi for sharing this with me! I will try to review quickly, before the memory fades from my mind.

Pours a ruddy brown, some slow bubbling carbonation.

Smell is excellent, with some nice, not overpowering bourbon notes, caramel, and some balancing dark fruits and grapefruit/pine hops.

Taste delivers on the aroma. The citrus profile rounds out to include sweet orange along with the grapefruit and pine, some indescribable dark fruit and tropical notes, and a heavy bourbon and caramel malt base. Mmm... I hadn't heard of this beer before, and it was pretty stunning to try. Quite delicious, and very drinkable. Could have easily had a growler or two of this.

If this was a one-time, brewery only release of about 1000 bottles in a 750 ml bottle, the hype would be insane.

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Photo of Shroud0fdoom
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. Bottle 2013 vintage courtesy of Wiscokid920

I'm trying another beer given to me by a local BA today. I might say *spoiler alert* this is fantastic! Well let's get to the review. This brew is a little mischievous when it comes to the label. Simple label stating just that it was bottled in 2013 and it's barrel aged. Yet it's not labels that make the brew. Time to pour. This pours gorgeous deep brown body with ruby hues. Small light khaki head, minimum lacing. Very impressive! Time for the sniff test. This brew is money! Bourbon Whiskey all the way. Caramel/toffee, toasted nuts, oak, subtle coconut and vanilla! I mean it's rich! Well I just blew a Bourbon load smelling it, let's go for the taste! Just like the aroma, caramel sweetness that carries the bourbon notes to sublime! Huge coconut, vanilla and toasted oak flavors in the aftertaste. Finishes dry with some booze. The feel on this brew is medium-light soft body carbonation helps to make the flavors pop.

Overall: Heh, this brew gets me excited, every time I smell it. This is one of the best Barrel Aged BarleyWines, no lies no gimmicks. It sucks that I can't get this brew regularly, yet it keeps me hoping for the next release of Bourbon County Brand BarleyWine. The mouthfeel holds this brew back from dominating BCBBW. This is now one of my favorite Bourbon Barrel Aged BarleyWines. This is Recommended.

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Photo of Axic10
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Barrythebear and notCreative for bottles. I'm not sure which one this came from, so I'll thank them both. 2010 vintage poured from 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours a nice copper/amberish with no head on it at all.

Smell: Bourbon, oak, sweet malt, molasses, brown sugar and vanilla.

Taste: Bourbon upfront, vanilla, molasses and very sweet caramel malt.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and creamy.

Drinkability: Have one more bottle of this. I loved this beer and I'm curious as to what some age will do to this.

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Photo of CHickman
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

2016 Vintage Bottle: Pours blood red to brown color with a huge thick foamy 2 finger head that was full of tiny bubbles and dissipated very slowly, leaving outstanding foamy lacing rings as it went down, allowing the thick lacing to cling to the sides and coat the glass. A great looking pour for a barleywine.

Smells of caramel, toffee, maple syrup, tobacco, brown sugar, port wine, oak barrels, fruity candy, orange peel, pear, vanilla, candied sugar, light bourbon, sweet malt and a very dynamic array of sweetness combined with barrel influences which are hard to pin down, and then wet tobacco and leather. The nose is spectacular in its complexities while letting some booze sneak through and play a nice part of the experience. Seems like some citrus hops pop up now and again, almost like the hops add balance and play the part of the malt in an IPA. The aroma is outstanding and the best part of this wonderful brew.

Tastes similar to the nose with bourbon and sweet malt leading the way, followed by a wave of sweetness including toffee, caramel, brown sugar, oak barrels, merlot, fruity candy, rum or booze soaked caramel malts, dark fruits, tobacco, vanilla and a bunch of rotting fruit like plum, raisin, cherry, brown pear, fig, and then some sherry or port wine. The alcohol is minor, maple syrup is a constant throughout and there is some hoppy citrus bitterness, but the brew just evolves and gets better and better as it warms. The sweet complexities are bordering on sensory overload as the beer moves from sweet to oaky to boozy to malty, seemingly from sip to sip.

Mouthfeel is very creamy, buttery and slick, with very mellow carbonation, a medium, chewy body, a slight bitterness, a mild alcohol burn and then a finish that is sweet, malty and a mix of bourbon, oak, peat moss and dark fruit that is starting to rot. Chewy like a soup, the sweetness is not cloying as the barrel aging adds so much flavor that it hits your senses with vanilla, oak, dry grass, grapefruit and toffee or syrup. Confusing in a very good and enjoyable way.

This is one of the most delicious barleywines I've ever had, I'm pretty sure the best American Barleywine to date. It's easier to drink than it should be at 11.5% ABV able and less syrupy than most. Rich, malty and full of flavor, this gets better as it warms and will certainly age well. I look forward to having an aged bottle.

3/26/16: Had a second bottle from the 4 pack and it was just as good in every way. Can't wait to try one aged with 6 months on it, which hopefully will make it better.

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Photo of BoardwalkBock
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark, ruby red. Light brown hints. Decent head that fades to a messy lacing.

S: Potent but not overpowering bourbon starts it off followed by molasses, caramel, toffee, raisins, dark fruits. Light hint of vanilla as the beer warms.

T: Starts off with big caramel, toffee and dark fruit and finishes off with bourbon, wood and vanilla. Definitely some earthy hops present. Bourbon is not overpowering which allows the base beer to shine, but blends very nicely.

M: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Slight bitterness.

O: This is a very, very good BA Barleywine. The bourbon is not too overpowering, but blends insanely well with the base beer. Bourbon and vanilla become more prevalent as the beer warms. Top 5 BA BW for sure. Easier to acquire and cheaper than Sucaba, and is in a better format for when I want to have a single 12 oz instead of opening a 750 mL. Recommended!

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Photo of Rawwie
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Really strong barrel notes. Caramel, vanilla, coconut, smokey flavors. Tastes like a smokey almond joy candy bar soaked in bourbon. I like this a lot, definitely a sipper. Cheers!

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Photo of ChimRichels
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Deep ruby body with essentially no head at all. A thin whit film lingers atop the murky body.

S - Smell really blew me away on this one. Very rich, rich sweet dark fruits and some mild citrus hop aromas tying together nicely. Very bold aroma that hints at a thick, doughy body.

T - Bold indeed it is. So many flavors at once I don't know where to begin. Sharp bite from the hops begins the roller coaster of flavors. Bitter dark roasted coffee follows. Sweet fruits follows along with a doughy mouth feel. Bourbon shows itself on the finish. A little boozy.

M- Thick and viscous. Can;t find anything to complain about there.

O - reall impressed by this offering from CW

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Photo of Deuane
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Multiple pours from the CW booth at GToM 2009.

A-Deep, ruby tinted burnt siena color with a small light tan head that vanished into a thin ring and left spotty lace.

S-Rich bourbon notes swirl with sweet caramel, toffee, citrus and dark fruits. A very complex and interesting aroma.

T-Luscious bourbon tantilizes the palate with sweet caramel, grapefruit citrus, prunes and burnt toffee in the finish. Wonderful complexity with no one single flavour dominating the others.

M-Medium bodied, smooth and creamy. Long lasting flavours with an astringent finish.

D-About as good as a BBA barleywine can get. The folks at CW sure know how to barrel aged beers. I am surprised they remain under the radar, but in a way I am glad they do! A well kept Wisconsin secret! Keep up the great work CW!

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Photo of branddetroit
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. 2016 Bottling.

Look: Rich brown with a reddish hue. Small amount of khaki head that went away fairly quickly.

Smell: Very strong sweet caramel/toffee smell, smelled amazing on the pour.

Taste: Lots of caramel up front with a smokey, oak finish on the back that fades away and leaves the sweet caramel as an after taste.

Feel: Rich, sticky mouth feel. Sweet but not syrupy. Moderate carbonation. A bit boozy. Strong barrel notes linger.

Overall I really enjoyed this barleywine. Its a long sipper, but the mix of sweetness and booziness is the perfect dessert.

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Photo of afausser
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of znichols
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Nutty, dark auburn color. Very faint little head that is gone in seconds. Not a ton of lacing but this beer has a mystique look to it. Slightly hazy, i'm expecting this to pack a punch.

S- Wow, big, sweet maltyness with a heavy bourbon backing. Ripe cherries, vanilla, oak, and citrus hops round out the aroma. The smell on this thing is real nice.

T- Holy cow! This is a great Barleywine. Be warned, this is a sipper! Tastes like Bourbon, vanilla, toffee, subtle coffee, brown sugar butter, Booze, and earthy wood. The finish is soft, grassy hops and alcohol. There is a ton of flavor here and its just about as good as you're gunna get with a Barleywine. Moderately bitter.

M- Heavy mouthfeel with a sticky texture. Little carbonation with a slight cloying finish. Very nice, though.

O- This is a really good Barleywine. All the big, sweet, malty, biscuity, hoppy flavors are present in mass quantities. The touch of oak and bourbon finishes it our really nicely. For how hefty and boozy this beer is, its pretty drinkable.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 608 ratings.