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

Not Rated.
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

Educational use only; do not reuse.

574 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 574
Hads: 2,123
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 9.11%
Wants: 715
Gots: 641 | FT: 77
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: 574 | Hads: 2,123
Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.94/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A- Ruby amber. Tan cake like head

S- Huge bourbon and toffee. Lots of vanilla as well. Cheesecake like sweetness detected in the aroma.

T- Rich, true to form English style barlywine. Lots of vanilla again, subtle hops, earthy wood, brown sugar, caramel. Warms really well in the finish. It is pretty damn good, but not big on the aftertaste.

M- Little bit of a bite initially, but settles in. Creamy, silky, yet late bitterness. An interesting tingling or numbing effect.

O- right there with Sucaba.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.94/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard unbranded gold pressure cap and simple straightforward label served into a flared stem-tulip glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Acquired from Duff27 in a recent trade; thanks, buddy! "Malt beverage aged in used oak bourbon barrels." 2013 vintage. Label is an orange-brown and differs from the photo currently used on this webpage. Expectations are quite high; I loved the Y2K barleywine I had from Central Waters.

Served slightly chilled; I like my barleywines a bit warmer. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a 1.5 finger light khaki colour head of nice cream and thickness, and very good retention (~5-6 minutes) for the high ABV. Even lacing sticks to the sides of the glass as the head slowly recedes. Body colour is a refined rich amber. Looks like a fine brandy. Semitransparent. Translucent. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. I'm impressed with the head. It looks as a barleywine ought to; understated and classy. Though the translucency/transparency is atypical of the style.

Sm: A bit of candi sweetness, candied fruits, subtle vanilla from the bourbon barrel, light toasted oak (less prominent than I'd like), caramel, toffee, maple, and rich malts. Refined and appealing, but I'm concerned about the sweetness. No yeast character or alcohol is detectable; this is shockingly un-boozy for its ABV. I like the fruits and vanilla. They play well together. A mild strength aroma.

T: The candi sweetness is problematic, but not to the degree I feared. Light vanilla. Very buried toasted oak notes. Caramel, toffee, and a heavy rich malt build. Sweet up front. Fruity on the climax, but these notes really fall off towards the finish, never quite feeling seamless in the build. No hop notes are detectable; maybe some minimal floral hopping at most. Some syrupy maple on the finish. ABV is decently hidden; some alcohol does come through. No yeast character. I want more from the oak; the bourbon notes are well integrated but shallow. It's balanced, if overly sweet. Well built for the style with good barrel aging execution.

More aggressive hopping is needed here to add bitterness and thereby balance the malty sweetness.

Mf: Silky. Refined. Smooth and wet. Even a biteen creamy. Good presence on the palate. Good thickness. Perfect carbonation. A well done texture for a barleywine. Good body.

Dr: Drinkable for the ABV, but I can tell this one needs some time to age. The sweetness is just too high at the moment. Don't get me wrong though; this one is definitely a sipper - you couldn't chug it. It'll probably take me a good half hour to finish the bottle. It's a fine barleywine with good bourbon notes, but it just needs to develop more. I'd like to revisit this one with some age on it - no more than five years. Fans of the style will love this one - even fresh. Another solid brew from Central Waters. There's serious potential here. Thanks for the bottle, Duff27!

High B+

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Photo of Davepoolesque
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Did a 2013 and 2014 side by side. 13 is more caramel, toffee, and vanilla forward. 14 has more booze and oak flavor. Like it better with a year plus on it. I'd imagine it would probably be even better with another year on it. Definitely less sweet and thinner than say BCBBW or Sucaba.

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Photo of Florida9
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4


A: Mildly hazy dark red-brown in color, but still fairly translucent. Forms a small off-white head that quickly reduces to just the thinnest ring around the edges. No lacing.

S: Fairly strong aroma of bourbon, raisin, and caramel along with a bit of oak and a hint of vanilla.

T: Starts off with a bit of an alcoholic pungency, peppery and spicy. Then a good hit of bourbon with lots of oak, vanilla, and caramel mixed with a mild sweetness. Flavor falls off before becoming dry and earthy (and somewhat dirty tasting). Long, gentle finish.

M: On the heavier side of medium. Lower carbonation. Mouthfeel is a bit odd as it starts off alcoholic and pungent, then turns sweet and finishes with a good bit of heat.

O: Not quite the beer I was expecting, but I must admit, it is much more drinkable than most bourbon barreled beers.

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Photo of Verecund
3.95/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage, consumed on 11.21.2010. Thanks go out to madtowndmb1 for this surprise.

Pours a reddish-brown, earthy color [sinopia]. Somewhat opaque, with almost no visible head, though the beer leaves tiny, tiny bubbles as lacing. (Second pour yields a darker, richer red body and, more importantly, a nice nearly one finger, mostly dissipating head. Bumped from 3.5 to 4.0.)

Truly appetizing nose. Sweet, sticky toffee and caramel, dark brown sugar, vanilla custard, and a soft bourbon wood.
Toasted oak comes through most in the taste, with some combination of nuttiness, caramel, and vanilla rounding out the flavor profile. There's a citrusy/resinous hop bitterness on the finish which is swallowed by a wave of strong bourbon alcohol heat.

The nose is strangely soft and finessed, like that of a younger English barleywine, but CW BBBW packs a punch in the mouth.

All of 11.5%. Appropriately sticky, with low-medium carbonation.

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Photo of Czarkazm
3.97/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015 Vintage. Appearance in the glass is a very unattractive murky brown color with a thin khaki head. When held up to the light the beer transforms, displaying a very cloudy yet magnificent ruby red body. Caramel and toffee dominate the nose, dark fruits, booze, subtle barrel notes. Taste is extremely boozy, unbalanced. Seems like a beer that requires at least a half year to develop in the bottle. Getting the same toffee and dark fruits on the taste with minimal bourbon and vanilla. There is an earthy/musty bitter hop aftertaste. Need to track down another bottle to age and (hopefully) appreciate more.

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Photo of illidurit
3.97/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy bulletrain76. Pours a muddy reddish brown color with a smallish off-white head. Huge bourbon aroma with really no other notes. Vanilla and coconut. Flavor is bourbony as well, not much beer to be found here. Finish is dry and slightly bitter. Definitely too heavy on the barrel here but it still tastes good.

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Photo of Agold
3.97/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This ber is a ruby red rusty color. Short just off white head recedes to a film and then a ring around the glass fairly quickly. Aroma is very caramel and burnt sugar forward, with some coconut and vanilla from the bourbon barrel. There is also some toffee and a bit of fruitiness. The flavor is very sweet. Bourbon and caramel forward with some nice biscuity malted milk ball character. The main attraction here however is the big sweet caramel paired with a more vanilla and coconut bourbon character. Mouthfeel is big, heavy and sticky, but a nice bit of carbonation lifts the beer up and keeps it from being cloying.

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Photo of Pencible
3.97/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: This poured a clear reddish copper with a bit of tan head.
S: It smelled like cherry and toffee and caramel, with some citrus and alcohol.
T: It tasted like sharp citrus and rich caramel, with some toffee and biscuit and toasted oak. It had a bitter aftertaste with strong alcohol.
M: It was slick and oily with moderate carbonation.
D: This had a great scent and taste, somewhat similar to Gratitude, but rough around the edges. Definitely too hot and fresh, with dominant alcohol presence that made this a bit tough to sip. The bourbon barrel didn't come through very much either, with only subtle toasted oak notes. With some age, this could develop into a fantastic brew that contends with the top barleywines. But I don't recommend even trying it fresh.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a clear, mahogany-hued body encircled by a ring of white bubbles.

Smell: Heavily fruity caramel aroma and all of the obligatory bourbonesque notes with some coarse wafts of that bourbon (Old Grandad) creeping into the nose.

Taste: Sweetish, sugary caramel maltiness with a slight toastiness to it. Tastes of wood and spiced vanilla from the bourbon. A little bit of maraschino cherry syrup. Medium-high bitterness. Bittersweet finish with a further hint of wood delivers plenty of warmth.

Mouthfeel: Medium-full body. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: This is pretty, Central Waters. I'll cheerfully admit that.

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Photo of maedhros09
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Pours deep ruby amber mahogany with a couple fingers if head that settle to a film spicy caramel and dried fruit
Smell: Spicy caramel and acidic dark fruit with a hint of vanilla and char.
Taste: Sweetness dominates with moderate hops presence. Complex and spicy. Feel: Thick, tingly and warm, smooth
Overall: I was a little wary of the barrel aging, uncertain of how strong the bourbon flavors would be, but actually it came out as a traditional, nicely balanced and complex barleywine. The alcohol is definitely a big player here and is stronger than I prefer. Especially considering the price I would rather get a pack of SN Bigfoot, but this is a nice sipper.

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Photo of DearthVader
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12oz bottle provided by my new found trading partner DoctorRock. Thanks for this big time want Andy!

Pours a cloudy maroon-ish brown with a slightly off white head that falls insanely quickly to just a swirl of film on the top. No legs are left behind on my NOLA snifter.

Smell is great, granted it's hard to mess up the beautiful aroma of a bourbon barrel aged barleywine. All the usually suspects clock in here. Bourbon, vanilla, oak, caramel, and dark fruits.

Taste is well balanced with the vanilla, dark fruits, and bourbon. I really wish there was more barrel characteristics in it. I like some good oakiness in BA BW's. Very nice flavor profile nonetheless.

The mouthfeel is decent. Slightly too light for my liking.

Overall this was a good beer. Unfortunately the only other two BA Barleywines I have to compare it to is Abacus and BA Decadence. Both are among my favorite beers and some of the top in the style. Very enjoyable though.

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Photo of BZero007
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Shared by Starrdogg at a BA tasting for the DC area. Thanks!

Pours a very mixed amber color, seems to be confused as to weather it is red or orange. The head forms with a bit of work and head is a nice tan color. The aroma is honestly what threw me for a loop. Nice sweet malts power through with a slight hop and bourbon aroma in the background. A very nice aroma and it made the brew all the more enjoyable. The taste was a bit un balanced for me, nothing that age can't fix. I feel with age this brew would eventually balance out. The sweet malt and body I felt was great but the Hops and Bourbon were a bit over the top. The body I felt was perfect and overall was a very enjoyable brew.

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Photo of Sparty1224
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Cigar City snifter. Bottled on 1/15/15, making this exactly 2 months old.

A: Pours a nice, dark mahogany. Turns a reddish-orange up to the light. Thin, off-white head rings the beer.

S: Caramel, butterscotch, pecan. Lots of fresh oak and bourbon.

T: Lots of caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, maple, oak. Very, very boozy and hot in the finish. Not like a bourbon heat, just pure alcohol.

M: Full. Good carbonation. Way imbalanced with the booze on this one. Very spicy and alcoholic on the finish.

O: Not sure if this was left in the barrels too long or what, but this thing is hot. Recently had BBS, and that was way more enjoyable and balanced compared to this. The heat just overshadows the base beer, that I think is otherwise pretty good. Nice, English-style Barleywine. Great nose on it. Just way to spicy and boozy on the finish.

Recommendation: Somewhat overhyped for me. Way better BA Barleywine options out there. Would try to get a hold of their Bourbon Barrel Stout or Cherry Stout instead. Those are fantastic.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of Sean9689
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to joe1510 for hooking me up with some of the latest CW offerings. We popped this while watching the Final Four games at my place. 12oz bottle split two ways into nonics.

A - Pours brown with a reddish hue, off-white head, no cap on top after the head disipitates. Some lacing here and there along the sides of the glass but not a whole lot.

S - Burnt candy/sugars, hot bourbon. The sweetness melds with the bourbon pretty damn well. For being a 2010 vintage, the beer is put together nicely.

T - Lots of bourbon, sweetness, candy notes, burnt sugars. Maybe a tad too hot for me right now, but impressive again, considering it just been put into the bottle. Sweet sugary finish with some nice hot alcohol.

M - Medium to full bodied, rich and smooth, syrupy finish.

D - Half of the bottle was enough for me right now. I have a couple of bottles left to cellar and will see how they improve as they get a chance to age.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A very interesting barley-wine. It pours a murky reddish-brown with not much head. Aroma is intensely malty with some cereal-ness, which is not unexpected from the style, but didn't get me very excited (I am not a big fan of cereal-y or grainy dominated flavors). Aroma is something different altogether. Generally I find barley-wines fall into two categories - a very hoppy beer that could be called a DIPA, or a malt-monster. This was something different altogether. While this beer is more malt-monster than DIPA, it offers two other characteristics. It is both intensely fruity (much like a wine made from grapes might be) and a bit bourbon-y (no doubt due to the aging). It is really a good tasting and unique barley-wine.

I would recommend this beer. I found it different than other barley-wines and really good-tasting. I bought this 12oz bottle at Discount Liquor in Milwaukee.

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Photo of jamie2dope
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I received a dingle bottle of this as an extra from kbutler1, many many thanks for the chance to try this beer, which was on my wants list by the way. It pours a reddish orange color, with about one finger of white heading. From the nose there is big bourbon, and some maple syrup. More of the same from the taste, except the hops come through to add a bitter element to the experience. There is also a nice caramel sweetness that accompanies everything. Mouthfeel is thick, and pretty boozy, but does not get in the way of drinkability too much. If you want a clear picture of this beer taste wise, it is very similar to the Lost Abbey Angel's Share Bourbon Barrel Aged beer, just a bit hotter and more bitter. With a few years in the cellar, it might even pan out to be a better beer. Centrsl Waters made a great Barleywine here. Cheers

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Photo of Jparker37
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter glass. Bottled in 2013 is all that is described. Excited to judge this versus the y2k barleywine.

A - Hazy brown in color with some amber highlights. Smaller vanilla colored head from a gentle pour. Left some bits of lacing.

S - That barrel smell is beautiful. Toasty malt holds up well to those smells though. I get some cigar tobacco mellow tones.

T - Has a short bit of caramel and toasty malts early on but the barrel flavors begin to take over. Midway through some hops try to peek in but are overwhelmed by the huge whiskey barrel flavors. A lot of the toasty oak and spicy booze warmth last well into the aftertaste.

M - Full bodied, medium carbonation, a touch of sweetness early that dried up at the finish.

O - This beer seems a little young and could use a bit of time to really tame down and let some maltiness come through better. The booziness is getting a little too much for me. All in all, the beer has complexity and I would love to age one of these bottles to see what it can morph into.

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

Bottle shared by Thorpe429 and Amyliz4. Thanks Mike and Amy!

Served in a blind taste test with Alpine Great and Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barleywine.

A: This beer appears umber hued and very slightly hazy, with a thin, wispy head that leaves a just a touch of lacing on the glass.

S: Bourbon, molasses, sweet malt, dark fruits, toffee, caramels, oak.

T: Dark fruits, caramels, oak. Nicely done. Rich and flavorful.

M: Medium-thin in body, with a fairly low carbonation level.

D: I found this beer to be similar in many regards to the Kuhnhenn brew I had alongside it, albeit 3% less abv. I'd definitely have it again.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 574 ratings.