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

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

565 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 565
Hads: 2,062
rAvg: 4.26
pDev: 8.69%
Wants: 703
Gots: 633 | 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: 565 | Hads: 2,062
Photo of wisrarebeer
3.77/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Deep copper color, slight haze, nice head that dissipated.
S: deep bourbon and roasted malt, some heat
T: deep bourbon taste, bourbon dominates over roasted malt, a bit too much bourbon that makes it unbalanced for the style
M: warm, roasted, full (250 characters)

Photo of shbobdb
3.75/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I don't know why this beer isn't lighting up the trade charts. A really fantastic, sweet barleywine balanced by alcohol and the woody bite of bourbon. What isn't to love?

Just a fantastic pour. A huge head that lingers. A nice bit of lacing too. The beer is a little cloudy when it is too cold to drink, but a signal for when it the beer is warm enough to drink is OK by me!

The beer smells like toffee, cough syrup, and bourbon.

The taste is really pretty fantastic. Toffee, caramel, chocolate, a nice alcohol warming sensation, carob, and a hefty dose of bourbon. I mean, who can argue with that? There is also a vague citrus to the beer from the hops, maybe? I'm not even sure, it could just be the alcohol.

Yeah, this beer is nice. In terms of a downside, the beer does have a sort of cough-syrup flavor to it. But I find that is pretty common amongst barleywines, let alone bourbon barrel aged ones.

Good stuff. (925 characters)

Photo of trappistlover
3.74/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(12oz bottle courtesy of guyinchicago!). Pours cloudy amber color with sediment and off-white head. Aroma of candied sugar, dried 'pit' fruit and bourbon. Taste is sweet almost like a tootsie pop with a bitter pop at the end.. Full bodied and slick texture. Alcohol is noticeable, but not overpowering. This is a pretty interesting beer. (337 characters)

Photo of ZAP
3.74/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love bourbon barrel aged beers but it is real tough to mess up the aroma....this one has everything you'd expect when you take your first smell...nougat, vanillla, oak, bourbon, dark fruits, caramel...the only off note if you want to call it that is a little red apple....

First sip brings a velvet like smoothness....full bodied but not immense...flavors are more muted on the taste...vanilla....oak...dark fruits...a good dose of bittering hops (perhaps chinook?)....

This is a BW and it has a little booziness to it as expected...the red apple notes are also evident on the taste...

I expected more out of this beer. That is not to say this is bad. Just seems kind of muddled and overall does not stand up to some of the better barrel aged beers I have had.

Certainly worth trying but this falls a little short for me. (827 characters)

Photo of getkrunkhoe
3.73/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

App- pours a really rich red almost burgundy color with brown hues. A thick and big as FU*k creamy tan head just stares at you. Looks like it'll fade quick.

Ar- I get vanilla and bourbon and a hint of plum(?). also the alc. is present.

taste- BOOZY, sweet, red fruit, a bit of caramel, and brbn of course.

mf- is creamy and lush, big and forward. Very inviting

Dr- needs time to age, a year or 2 will open this big bold beer imensely.Lots of potential.

I recommend this ish. (480 characters)

Photo of rhodeska
3.72/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

This one has a very strong smell, was able to catch a whiff of it as i poured it a couple feet below my nose. Really strong bourbon smell, and the taste is the same. Has some earthy and woody tones to it as well. It doesn't really have that hot or burning feeling as the alcohol goes down, which was slightly surprising, but that's it. (428 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Once again I find myself in the awkward position of not being able to remember the BA who sent me this beer. I need to write these things down. Whoever you are, let me know so I can acknowledge you!

2010 vintage. This brew pours a mostly clear garnet amber topped by a short wisp of white bubbles. The nose comprises whiskey, oak, caramel, biting citrus, and a touch o' booze. The taste is a richer version of the smell, though the alcohol really busts its way through, Kool-Aid Man-style. I'm not so sure I'd say "Oh yeah!" to this with as much enthusiasm as that glass bastard. The body is a hefty medium, with a light carbonation and rather thick feel. Overall, a decent BBBW, but decidedly too boozy right now. Perhaps this guy will be calmer with some years on him, but he's too damn hot today. (835 characters)

Photo of Arbitrator
3.7/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2012 vintage, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Pours a crystal clear dark amber body with a pinky finger of light beige head. Retention isn't great, but there is a thick swirl of bubbles on top of the brew for quite some time, with a thin collar that leaves a little ring during a swig. No lacing that sticks.

S: Bourbon... This is very bourbon-forward, wow. Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, brown sugar, molasses. Lots of sweet things. Vanilla, even some oak. Very pungent, very nice.

T: Almost a metallic bent to it, which recedes but doesn't fully vanish as the beer warms. It's very caramelly and sweet. Lots of toffee, butterscotch, and nuts to accentuate the bourbon character. Vanilla and oak are also found. Hops are quite strong in this beer, contributing bitterness but no particular flavor. Instead of balancing the rest of the beer, the bitterness clashes oddly. Somewhat poorly integrated. It starts off great, but the finish is metallic and astringent.

M: It is viscous, resistant to swirling in the mouth. Full-bodied in flavor, with low carbonation and a creamy presence. It's drier than expected, and the bitterness/metallicity helps prevent this from tasting too sweet as well. I detect the ABV only subtly as a warming effect.

D: This is an excellent deal. However, it could use a little more work to integrate the flavors properly. I'll definitely keep chasing it down in the future, but it's not a beer I need in large quantities. I like this approximately on par with Abacus; this one is more flavorful and less boozy, but Abacus has a better finish. The cost tips it in CW's favor. (1,653 characters)

Photo of infestaxion
3.65/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From my notes

A - Murky dark red with a thin white head that fades quickly into a ring around the glass.

S - Big bourbon and sweet dark fruit. Nice malt presence.

T - Bourbon is much less in the taste. Huge malt and dark fruit. Apple. Alcohol. Very sweet aftertaste with a bit of burn.

M - Medium body and low carbonation.

D - Going to be slow drinking this thing. (369 characters)

Photo of ArrogantB
3.63/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of HopsMatt, thanks bro! Initial smell of the bottle is the same as sniffing a Jack Daniels or Crown Royal bottle: pure whiskey. The beer was an amber color, scant head. The aroma from the glass was more subdued bourbon with notes of vanilla. Flavor was vanilla, heavy booze, whiskey, caramel, decent but not great. Mouthfeel was a bit thin. I would not put this in the upper echelons of bourbon barrel barleywines but it was a decent offering overall. (473 characters)

Photo of mulder1010
3.62/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Notes

12 oz bottle

A-- Poured a hazy, dark golden color. Very little obvious carbonation. Short lived white head that went to film that was very spotty. Better on swirling as got half a finger. Very noticeable
legs to this.

S-- Oak, vanilla, bourbon, raisin, plumb, and toffee. Very buttery smell. Rich and thick.

T-- Prickly carbonation on the tongue. Whole lot of vanilla and toasted coconut. Lots of alcohol in the taste and quite sweet.

M-- Full and heavy Oak in the mouth. Also vanilla and coconut again. Much higher carbonated than what I thought this would be. Very sweet and very boozy. Hard to distinguish the base beer at times.

O-- Good but a bit sweet and booze driven at times. Barrel hides the base beer for a good portion of drinking. honestly thought a little too hot at times. (809 characters)

Photo of shleepy
3.62/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 2012 bottle into snifter glasses.

A: Lightly hazy medium-brown. Small head.

S: Pleasant, subtle notes of vanilla and sour berries.

T: Vanilla, toffee, light liquoriche. Almost gives away the alcohol in the finish / aftertaste, but stops just short.

M: Creamy texture. Very heavy body - definitely a slow sipper.

O: I'm not generally a huge fan of the super-heavy beers, but I appreciated this one as a kind of nightcap, sipping it over a long period of time. (475 characters)

Photo of wchollif
3.61/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Stone tulip, a gratis bottle, thanks ewright! This -bal barleywine pours with almost zero head. The color is a murky darkish reddish brownish?!? The smell here makes the beer. Again with a great smelling, fair tasting bb barleywine. I love the oak, vanilla, caramel on the nose. To a lesser degree I get some piney hoppiness and orange peel as well. The flavor doesn't back it up. The flavor is dominated by malts, which should be good, but I'm not getting the balance of hops I thought I smelled. It has a little caramel but not much vanilla and is intensely bitter and alcoholic on the finish. The mouthfeel is good, mild carbonation, creamy milky coating, not syrupy cloying. (693 characters)

Photo of Crass3000
3.6/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice reddish-brown with a finger, white head with retention of about half of a minute.

Smell is is definately roasted malts, dark fruits are pretty dominant as well. Really a nice mix of roast and dark fruits that interact really well. Taste is not as nice as the nose. There is definately some strong hops that take over the taste. The hops aren't bitter at all and actually balance things nice. However I think there is just too much hops for me. The hops seem to be too strong. No doubt this would be better with some age. Gonna age the rest. (558 characters)

Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.6/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2014 Vintage. I got this in a trade but have since forgotten the trader. Thanks to whomever sent this.

Pours from the 12oz bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Emerges a ruddy brown color with minimal head, sporadic lacing, and little carbonation present. Slight amber hues through the light.

Aroma is nice. Perhaps a little heavy on the bourbon for some, but I like the in your face aromas of borbon. Vanilla, oak, pineapple, raisins also join the olfactory party.

I am a little lost in the last half. The flavor is decent. In this case, the bourbon IS too powerful. I like bourbonn beer as much as the next guy but the bourbon here needs to take a chill pill. Bourbon, alcohol, and tobacco are about all I get.

This one finishes super hot. The alcohol is certainly tangible and is in no way perfunctory. I like the chewiness but the hot finish and bourbon sucker punch kind of make this a one hit wonder.

Not bad overall but I think another year on this would do wonders. (981 characters)

Photo of drewba
3.6/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Murky, dirty rusty-brown colored with a thin cream colored head.

S - Huge nose - plenty of rum raisin which seems to add a lot of sweetness and a hint of yeast. This smells remarkably similar to a brandy angels share.

T - Sweet rum, rum raisin, toasty malt, a slight citrusy hop character and some alcohol presence. Unrefined flavors compared to the huge, outspoken aroma. Where is the bourbon? This is coming off much more like rum or brandy.

M - Sticky, sweet, slightly cloying with a medicinal finish.

D - Though this does taste good, the overwhelming sweetness without anything counterbalance and the lingering cloying sweetness brings this way down for me. (670 characters)

Photo of garbercury
3.57/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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

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

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

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

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

D--This one was a bit of a letdown for me, something just was missing for me on this one. Really glad I got to try it though! (530 characters)

Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.57/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Jeff for cracking this one at a recent tasting.

Appearance -- Pours a deep brown, nearly purple hue, with ruby highlights and finger of tan head. Some spotty lacing.

Smell -- Very aromatic. Rum raisin, bourbon, prune, dark brown sugar, and brandy. Overall, quite sweet.

Taste -- Sweet up front with rum raisin, brandy, ripe dark fruits, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla oak sugars. Verging on cloyingly sweet, if not there. Where did the bourbon go?

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body with moderate carb. Slight alcohol bite in the finish.

Drinkability -- Frankly, a letdown. Incredibly sweet with none of the bourbon alcohol character to cut through it. It would be easy to confuse this with, say, a J. W. Lee's Harvest Ale homebrew clone if one didn't know what it was. Certainly not terrible, but does not have the iota of balance needed for a barleywine to be great. (885 characters)

Photo of harrymel
3.55/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled Jan, 2012
Pours hazy graham brown with an etched surface. Smells of bourbon, oak, sweet malts, some nougat and alohol with a hint of candied cherry. Taste is sweet and carries vanilla, bitterness, sharp alcohol, raisin, some oak a bit of toffee and plenty of crystalized malts. Odd body is initially medium, but has a hollow feel with lower carb and a wet finish. This is a decent brew, but nothing I remember being particularly exceptional when staged against MoAS.

Bottled January 2011, reviewed 12JUL11
3/4.5/2.5/4/3.5- 3.28
A: pours a hazy dark caramel ale with two fingers of yellow and creamy head. The head falls to a solid billowy sheet of the same. Spotty lacing. Orange hues sharpen where light passes through this murky ale.
S: Good stuff here. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, toffee, caramelized sugars. Really has a matured nose despite only being six months old. There's only a slight hint of tart smell I get from some BA BW's; but it is not intrusive here.
T: Sharp up front, the alcohol is present, but then it falls quickly to reveal some beautiful toffees, brittle, caramel, oak, bourbon is pretty strong in here IMO. As I've been drinking more of this beer, the alcohol seems to continue to be a little over the top; it overbears the other notes this beer has to offer.
M: chewy. Moderate carb. Sticky leftovers. Good feel.
O: A good beer with plenty of potential, but the heat is still up there IMO. I would like another bottle, but I would like it to sit for a year or two. (1,495 characters)

Photo of Crosling
3.53/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Label is the same as the regular Kosmyk Charlies Y2K Catastrophe Ale, but with a circle shaped green sticker on the right side of the label that states, "aged in bourbon barrels." Only available at the brewery. Ruby brown color. Fairly powerful nose, mainly dominated by the bourbon barrel (vanilla, bourbon, oak, coconut.) Palate is okay, could be more textured and creamier. Flavor is good, but not sublime. Fairly well balanced, but the flavors don’t come together very well. I’ve had several better bourbon barrel aged barley wines. (538 characters)

Photo of justintcoons
3.49/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter.

A: Pours a reddish brown with pink/red highlights. Initially has 2 fingers of head that reveals webbed lacing. Has moderate carbonation and good clarity.

N: Sweet bourbon, candy sugar, toffee, booze, booze, booze and hints of coconut.

T: There is quite a bit of heat on this. Upfront there is a huge alcohol presence of whiskey along with dirty oak and caramelized brown sugar. Mid-palate brings in molasses, burnt sugars, tobacco, hints of blackberry and suggestions of fig. Finishes very earthy with leather, tobacco, charred wood and notes of coconut.

M: Full bodied, silky, sticky and very warming.

O: Big, sweet, burnt, sugary and boozey. The whiskey character is a little too forward which is obscuring the base Barleywine. Surely some aging is in order. Overall it's a rather tasty English Barleywine even with the booze. (856 characters)

Photo of jwinship83
3.49/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from 2009 drank out of a tulip glass.

A- this one comes out of the bottle a very dark brown colored body with ruby highlights when held up to the light. an almost non existent khaki colored head forms and lasts a long time, leaving solid rings of lacing on the sides of my glass after every sip.

S- sweet fruity malts upfront. lots of cherries, plums, figs, and raisins/tobacco. lots of alcohol in the nose also. citrus hops at the end. i can detect the barrel with notes of vanilla and oak, but not so much the bourbon. odd and slightly disappointing.

T- woah, the alcohol burn comes through loud and clear. very sweet also. lots of the above mentioned ripe dark fruity malts. cherries, figs, plums, and raisins. a small dose of citrus hops at the end.

M- full bodied and creamy with a low level of carbonation. intense warming from the alcohol as it makes its way down my throat.

D- the strong alcohol presence makes this a slow sipping one and done type of beer. id like to revisit this vintage again in the future, but not for a while. (1,060 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.48/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: A rising pour managed to bring out the head on this one, albeit only a finger deep, though it did leaves some strands; the liquid itself was a tawny brown color

Smell: Pure wort, with a grainy raisin character

Taste: Grainy fruit cake, up front, with a bourbon accented bitter character that develops by mid-palate; rum-soaked raisins appear as well; after the swallow, the the flavor grows increasingly resinous and boozy; a minty apsect appears in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Full body with low carbonation and considerable warmth in the gullet

Drinkability: This beer didn't resonate with me as well as it did for other reviewers; I thought it was too boozy and had an astringent character that cut through both the sweet malts and the hops; I like a bourbon barrel beer where the bourbon adds a subtle element; in this beer it was neither subtle nor dominant and, because of all the other flavors that clashed, I forgot that there was a bourbon element to the beer in the midst of the tasting

Note: Just re-visited with a year+ old bottle of the 2013 and came to the same conclusion even before checking my review so I guess I will go against the crowd on this one (1,184 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.42/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a copper color with good carbonation and a small white head.

S: Mainly bourbon, hops, booze and caramel

T: I get some dark fruits, caramel, oak, vanilla,the bourbon increases from begininng to end leaving a very prounounced bourbon feel on the end.

M: Tends to be a bit thin for my liking, syrupy end leaving an aftertaste

D: Good but would not want another (372 characters)

Photo of jrallen34
3.36/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to AgentZero for this.

12zo bottle into my Rochefort glass, 2010 version.

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

Overall, can't believe this a top 100. Not a great beer, has potential down the line maybe. This is unbalanced and totally too woody. (852 characters)

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 565 ratings.