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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale - Central Waters Brewing Co.

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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine AleBourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,629 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,629
Reviews: 526
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.28%
Wants: 632
Gots: 511 | FT: 48
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

(Beer added by: Atron67 on 03-02-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,629 | Reviews: 526 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of flagmantho


4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from 12oz bottle into a pint glass. This is the 2012 vintage.

Appearance: medium amber-brown hue with a huge haze and a thin finger of tan foam. Looks pretty decent for the style!

Smell: big, rich malty aroma with lots of great dark-fruit complexity: dates, raisins and cherries especially, with a generic alcoholic fruitiness to boot. On top of this are some very nice vanilla and only tangentially bourbon-y notes; quite well put-together indeed.

Taste: strong, strong, strong. More of those great malty, fruity flavors right up front with an approachable bourbon character and plenty of alcohol burn. This might be a good one to mellow out with age, although this January 2012 bottle is still hot to trot. Tasty, but dangerous!

Mouthfeel: plenty of body, but relatively light carbonation, so not a huge creaminess. Still, pretty nice.

Overall: I like this beer, although it is hard-hitting in the strength department. I'd say, though, that it needs more than just one or two years to mellow.

Serving type: bottle

10-10-2013 22:54:28 | More by flagmantho
Photo of ColForbinBC

New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, poured into a snifter; Jan 2012 bottling

A somewhat murky mahogany body, with a small, ecru colored cap that fell quickly. Just some bubbles remain along the edges.

The nose is of figs, caramel, dates, maple syrup, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, and some cocoa powder. Big and bold, assertive in all the right places.

On the palate, toffee and caramel with figs/raisins/dates quickly in tow. Some brown sugar and cocoa powder through the middle before a huge wave of bourbon and oak seal the deal. The finish is sugary and full of toffee and bourbon.

The body is on the lighter side of full with low carbonation. I felt this needed a little more body to really put it over the edge. A little undercarbonated as well.

This is a tasty beer in all aspects. Big, bold flavors and with a fuller body and better carbonation, this beer would really shine.

Serving type: bottle

08-27-2012 21:09:14 | More by ColForbinBC
Photo of cdkrenz


4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Loud light brown head standing about an inch tall. The body a deep purple to reddish dark brown color with a thick haze. It appears dense.

S - Apricot, anise and alcohol soaked yeast.

T - Sweet black licorice with pungent fruity notes. There is a pungent hops here that really makes this special.

M - Smooth feel with a light bubbles texture. It goes down bitter-sweet.

~ This is a good beer. I've been a fan of the Central Waters brand and I have to say, "they haven't let me down here either." I'm thinking they may never let me down. I appreciate that. Thanks CW.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2009 02:29:42 | More by cdkrenz
Photo of ATLbeerDog


4.13/5  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!

Serving type: bottle

05-03-2008 21:54:21 | More by ATLbeerDog
Photo of TK5150


4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage.

A- Pours a nice opaque burgundy color with a small beige head. Leaves some nice lacing on the glass. Looks just like a barleywine should.

S- A nice shot of caramel, vanilla, barrel, and alcohol. The caramel and vanilla show nicely.

T- A big shot of caramel and bourbon hit me first. Loads of raisin and dark fruits appear after...grapes as well. The flavors come in waves. Lingering bitterness.

M- Full bodied, with a surprisingly spritzy carbonation.

O- A very nice barleywine; recommended. Would like to have this again.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2011 19:54:06 | More by TK5150
Photo of rye726


4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to milwaukeeclassic for throwing this in as an extra.

Pours a deep woody brown with a thin tan head. Very rich color.

The nose has a collection of bourbon, oak, vanilla, fruity malts, mellow hops and caramelized sugars.

The taste is more subtle, a tasty blend of whiskey, wood, toffee, pitted fruits and bitter hops.

Top knotch, I think I am starting to prefer bourbon aged strong ales over bourbon aged stouts. At least until my next BA stout. The residual sugars in this barleywine really pick up the complexities created by the barrels.

Serving type: bottle

11-05-2008 02:24:07 | More by rye726
Photo of kirok1999


4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Only a green label to indicate the barrel aging. We did a side by side tasting with the regular version and this is a whole different experience. Pours a nice almost cloudy reddish brown. Smell is mostly sweet malts, caramel.
Taste is really more than a 4.5, more like a 4.75. My buddy said it tasted like buttered popcorn and in a small way he was right. There was a buttery taste to it that went really well with the caramel sweetness. Very smooth and thick, very little carbonation and it went down really well.
This is a really well crafted beer, the bourbon notes really made it great. Highly recommended.

Serving type: bottle

08-20-2007 00:23:41 | More by kirok1999
Photo of koopa

New Jersey

4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

February 2010 bottling

12oz bottle received as anA extra in a trade with my most frequent trade partner thanks!

Appearance: Pours an attractive medium iced tea with red/honey folds. The crown is 1 finger, slightly off white, shows moderate retention and some lace.

Smell: Sweet malt with a hint of lightly toasted oak and a whisper of bourbon. Nothing bad but nothing exciting either.

Taste: Same as nose. Nice sweetness toward the end that subsides a bit quicker than the lingering bourbon.

Mouthfeel: Thick side of medium bodied with decent carbonation. Works with the flavor profile.

Overall: A pretty solid brew that I probably should have tried fresh first to get a baseline on.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2011 00:52:02 | More by koopa
Photo of Ri0


4.14/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

poured 12oz bottle into chalice.

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

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

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

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

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

Serving type: bottle

02-09-2014 21:39:12 | More by Ri0
Photo of emerge077


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark crimson with two fingers of tan foam. Creamy consistency and long lasting retention. The deep crimson color is nice. Stewed prunes in the nose, not as nice. 2009 bottle, but it smells aged. Cotton candy, brown sugar, sweet and syrupy.

Some heat at first that's soon eclipsed by a gargantuan battle cruiser of bourbon and malt flavors. If you like those two things, you can't go wrong. Sweet vanilla aftertaste, plenty of rich malt and some residual hop bitterness. Drying finish, somewhat concealed in the booze department. Rich and syrupy feel, thankfully dry on the end like Y2K and not a sickly sweet aftertaste like so many barleywines. The barrel is integrated here, and it's not too hot, but you know deep down this is a booze bomb. Plenty of warmth, but not in the taste. Very well done overall, one to look forward to every year.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2009 03:30:54 | More by emerge077
Photo of n2185

North Carolina

4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a murky, orange-brown with a finger of off-white head. The head recedes into a thin layer with a little lacing.

S: Sweet caramel malt with touches of maple along with strong aromas of vanilla, oak, and bourbon.

T: Similar to the aroma, there are sweet caramel malts up front with a touch of maple flavor as well. Then the vanilla, oak, and bourbon kick in. The finish has a fairly strong alcohol burn along with a lingering bitterness from the hops.

M: Medium-thick body with low carbonation, this beer is sticky sweet at first but finishes a bit lighter than expected with the alcohol burn and bitterness.

O: A pretty good barleywine that thankfully doesn't suffer like their two bourbon barrel stouts. The original barleywine flavors still come through the barrel aging process, which is a quality their bbal stouts unfortunately lacked.

Serving type: bottle

04-23-2011 03:57:58 | More by n2185
Photo of yamar68


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy burgundy with a modest off-white and lovely, thin beading. The nose is pretty massive - caramel, dark fruit, booze, toffee, some licorice, sweet grains, quite a bit going on, evolving with warmth. The taste is big on the sweeter, darker malt notes. The barrel does play a very dominant role but it definitely brings the beer in a different direction. The booze hits harder than I would expect which was also the case with their BA stout. Very good, nonetheless.

Serving type: bottle

04-09-2012 02:15:08 | More by yamar68
Photo of Etan


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle (2012) into a brandy snifter.

A: Pours a dark brownish-red with a small off-white head.

S: Raisin, brown sugar, strawberry shortcake, vanilla, a bit of oak and perfumy alcohol. Smells like dessert.

T: Sweet wave of barleywine malt - sugary prune, raisin, cherry, a bit of dark grain, cidery hop. Vanilla and spicy dark alcohol behind. Some hot tannic oaky bitterness. Throat-warming alcohol, vanilla, and coconut in the finish.

M: Medium-bodied with a nice tingle to it.

O: I'd be happy drinking this all year. Very solid -bal barleywine.

Serving type: bottle

05-29-2012 01:22:24 | More by Etan
Photo of brewmudgeon


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

3/2011 (2011 vintage): very similar to the 2010 after a few months, except the figs and dates are even more buried by the booze--can't wait to try the 2010 later. On a side note, mixing a few ounces of this about 50/50 with red's rye p.a. turned out amazingly well.

9/2010 (2010 vintage):
a 4 slightly haz coppery amber. film lasts a modest while.

s 4.5 at first the deep fig and date aromas i remember from regular charlie, then the bourbon hits me bigtime.

t 4 the bourbon is big on the palate as well. this beer is slick, hot, and boozy. wow, this might really benefit from some age, whereas i like the y2k just the way it is.

m 4.5 thick, slick, enough carbonation of fine quality.

d 4 will have to crack another open in a year or so and see if the bourbon settles down at all. right now this is huge and impressive, but i don't like it as much as the regular charlie.

Serving type: bottle

09-26-2010 23:50:50 | More by brewmudgeon
Photo of waltonc


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked this up thanks to a gentleman visiting from Milwaukee thus week. Tastes like a clone of Abacus, which is to say I think it's delicious. Pours dark brow/ruby with a creamy white head. Smells outstanding - vanilla, toffee, and bourbon predominate. The flavor follows, but is a touch too hot and boozy for my taste, resulting in a slightly diminished score. Body is fairly thick with perfect low to medium carbonation for this style. Overall, a great beer. I wish it was just a little less hot.

Serving type: bottle

08-17-2012 02:55:55 | More by waltonc
Photo of Morey


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a murky dirty brown color with one finger of beige colored foam following a medium aggressive pour. The head settled extremely fast to nothing but a thin and spotty layer. There's definitely some alcohol legs on the sides of my snifter, but the lacing quickly retreats back into the beer.

Aroma: Plenty of bourbon up front is followed closely by a huge wave a caramel malts. Smells sweet and sugary with a hint of sticky earthy hops. I'm also getting raisins in there as well.

Taste: In your face bourbon/alcohol up front gives way to caramel and earthy malt flavors. There's some sticky hop bitterness towards the middle. I'm also getting some dark fruit like sweetness towards the back-end. Plenty of bourbon along with a good dose of alcohol heat on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with a sticky feel. Low level of carbonation.

Morey's Bottom Line: A BIG BAD Barleywine to be sure! If you don't like big beers, this isn't for you. Plenty of bourbon and warming alcohol following each sip. A bit more on the earthy side than most English-style Barleywines. It's somewhere in between American and English.

Serving type: bottle

09-09-2012 17:40:36 | More by Morey
Photo of Zachtheporter


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Taken from notes written down 3 days ago.

Poured from a 12oz bottle into What is either a tulip glass or a sifter with an extra long stem. It's a very funny looking glass that I cannot really describe but I digress.

A- Pours a semi-dark rich amber red/brown. Has a light off-white head that forms and then dissipates right away leaving a thin ring around the edges of the glass. There are a few bubbles that are rising to the top, and so it is a noticeably carbonated brew; Especially since this is a bba brew. (strange)

S- The is a strong scent of bourbon permeating through out this beer melding with a sweet fruity aroma. There are notes of caramel and sweet fresh grapes as well as some light cherry notes.

T- This barley wine taste's very strongly of alcohol especially at the beginning. It is semi-sweet and fruity as well as a bit malty. the perfect combination. There are notes of both raisins and grapes among the cornucopia of malty and fruity flavors. The beer finishes with the rich taste of malty bourbon.

M- Medium to high carbonation give it a crispness that I find somewhat odd in a barley wine. The beer has a thick malty, almost grainy feel to it as well. It coats the tongue at the end of each sip.

O- Much like Central Waters other Bourbon barrel aged beers this is a brew that Whiskey/bourbon lovers will truly fall in love with, especially if hard liquor is there go to drink, because this beer definitely packs a noticeable punch. While I did enjoy this beer I find that I don't really care for the taste of bourbon in a barley wine. I would personally say that the bourbon flavor almost slightly ruins the delicious taste of Charlie's Y2K catastrophe ale (which I am pretty certain is the barley wine used for this). Because of the high price of this beer I don't think I'm going to buy this again, although that all depends on how this turns out since I plan on aging a bottle for a good few years.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2012 18:55:51 | More by Zachtheporter
Photo of sprucetip


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintatage. Kind of a chestnut brown color, definitely darker than amber. Backlighting reveals good activity and chunks of yeast. If I hadn't poured the the last half ounce, I think it would be pretty clear. Very little head and no lacing.

Boozy esters, oak and bourbon are strong. I also get some light vanilla and caramel malty sweetness.

The taste is a little more balanced, but the barrel and bourbon are dominant. The sweet malty backbone is more prominent, and there is some vanilla and mild hop bitterness.

Strong warming, good carbonation, full body, and some lingering bitterness. Burns a little bit. Still pretty hot I guess.

Despite the misperceptions listed above, this is a really good beer that I'd like to have again, with a little more age on it if possible. Just my second beer from Central Waters, and I look forward to more.

Serving type: bottle

10-24-2011 04:20:17 | More by sprucetip
Photo of monitorpop


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2012 bottling

A: Thick, ruby caramel with a half finger off white head.

S: Candied sugar, malts, bourbon.

T: Bready malts, faint vanilla, dominant bourbon. Lingering bitter sweet finish.

M: Thick body, mild carbonation with warming alcohol.

O: A solid barely wine, but a bit overly bitter in the finish for me.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2012 03:50:23 | More by monitorpop
Photo of ptykozoon


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pretty, burnt orangeish brownish. Okay head, okay lacing.

Bits of hops, orange, caramel, burnt sugar, nice.

Yum. Lots of caramel and candy in this one. Hops are dominated, mainly just dessert: vanilla and chocolate wrapped in an easily drinkeable, lightly hopped dessert beer.

Rich, full mouthfeel, well done. Leaves a pleasant sweetness on the tongue. Alcohol controlled masterfully.

This is a truly great beer. Best I've had from Central Waters. Very impressed, seek out.

Serving type: bottle

05-04-2011 23:04:41 | More by ptykozoon
Photo of ChugginOil


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks for the hook-up Brophmonster!

This fine brew pours a dark amber and settles a ruby infused brown color. Oily legs cling to the glass after an inch of off white head dissipates. The nose smells very sweet with notes akin to caramel apples. There is a bit of a hop presence in the aroma but nothing too strong. The taste is also very sweet with a well masked alcohol level. The oak and vanilla bourbon characteristics offered by the oak barrel are shining through in this beer but not overpowering. You can still taste the caramel and light hop offerings as well. Some butter notes are also picked up in the flavor that add to the sweetness. The mouthfeel is full-bodied with a suiting low amount of carbonation. Overall, pretty damn smooth for such a brew and damn tasty as well.

Serving type: bottle

06-01-2011 04:22:37 | More by ChugginOil
Photo of lstokes


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at the Norse, this came out dark with red highlights and smelled like woody cherries and bourbon. Taste is very sweet, with ripe fruit flavors, vanilla, lots of caramel and oaked wood. I like the fact that the bourbon isn't overwhelming, and that the beer gets more and more complex as it warms. I'm also genuinely surprised at the 11.5 ABV--this was so smooth! So light! So easy to drink! I don't normally love this style, but this I would have again in a second.

Serving type: on-tap

01-24-2012 04:48:50 | More by lstokes
Photo of larsenju


4.15/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A-Rich amber, almost maroon body with a short off white head. Decent retention and good lacing.

S-Big load of caramel backed up with some biscuit, behind all that I started to get some sweet bourbon and a light oak character. I also got some light fruity and almost floral notes that added a really nice depth to all those rich aromas that you normally get.

T-Again, rich caramel and some biscuit, but this time with a sweet chocolate flavor, and the bourbon comes up sooner. I feel like the bourbon is better blended in this than in their bourbon stouts. The oak and hop flavors are pretty tame, the only oak I got was a light almost vanilla like flavor, and there is just a touch of a bitter kick at the finish, overall though it is very malt driven. There is some heat, especially evident at the finish, but its pretty well hidden.

M-Smooth and sugary with very low carb.

D-I felt that this was a great use of a bourbon barrel, Very nice and balanced flavor, decently complex, and the mouthfeel was very good for what it is. Drink this one fresh, I don't see much need for age.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2011 19:01:24 | More by larsenju
Photo of langchops


4.16/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 oz. Bottle poured into snifter

2013 Vintage

I was expecting more bourbon based on the reviews I've read here, but was a little disappointed by the lack of this. It's a smooth barleywine but I would not say this is a bourbon bomb by any means.

Solid barleywine, would drink this again

Serving type: bottle

05-14-2013 18:18:47 | More by langchops
Photo of bsp77


4.18/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Serving glass: Poured from bottle into Snifter.

Appearance: Dark ruddy orange with moderate light tan head and light lacing.

Smell: Mostly sweet vanilla with some overripe dark fruit (plum, raisins), toffee and oak. Somewhat boozy as well.

Taste: Fairly sweet and fruity with a big blast of vanilla. While there is some definite toffee, plum and raisin driving home the malt base, this is mostly about the bourbon barrel aging, which imparts vanilla, coconut and light oak. Some light spicy hops on the finish.

Feel: Sweet, full and boozy body with moderately low carbonation. Finish is barely dry, struggling against the sweet taste.

Overall: More so than most Bourbon Barrel beers (which are often Stouts), this is truly a showcase for the Bourbon, making the beer secondary. This makes for a mighty tasty Barleywine, but one that is slightly hampered by sweetness and alcohol.

Serving type: bottle

03-04-2012 15:06:16 | More by bsp77
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,629 ratings.