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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: 2,124
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: 2,124
Photo of langchops
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
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

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
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

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Photo of MCImes
3.1/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.75

I like bourbon barrel aged anything, but CW goes way too far over the top with this beer. There is literally no beer flavor, its just bourbon nose, bourbon taste, bourbon finish.

I you LOVE bourbon this is YOUR beer. The bourbon is overwhelming. Its just booze, vanilla, and bourbon through and through. Very unbalanced. (this could be a good thing if you love bourbon)

Overall, if you cant get enough bourbon in your beer, this is for you. If you like a more balanced barrel flavor, there are better choices.

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

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

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Photo of tbryan5
4.51/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to pmarlowe for sending me this in a trade.

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a dark cloudy bronze color with minimal head that dissipates pretty quickly. It does leave a little lacing on the glass.

S- Wow! Is this whiskey or beer? The bourbon hits you as soon as the bottle is cracked open. Even more huge bourbon notes as I poured it. As this brew mellows and warms, I can start to notice more sweetness and the dark fruit aromas come out.

T- Again, more bourbon. But I like it. I almost want to say that CW did not empty the barrels out completely before they added the beer. The bourbon, oak, sand barleywine mesh well in my opinion and produce a very flavorful brew. I can see how it may be too overpowering for some but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

M- Medium carbonation and it goes down easily. Definitely has an alcohol bite to it.

O- Not for the faint of heart. If you do not like bourbon, you will not like this one. I, for one, found it to be delicious and would pick it up again if I had access to it here in Louisiana.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of deebo
2.3/5  rDev -46.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Nothing like saying FU to snow on May in Minnesota with a big ass beer. Will go with Central Waters BB Barleywine. 2013 vintage.

A-Poured into a snifter this beer has a murky light brown color with a thin tan head that quickly recedes.

S-Aroma of bourbon is quite strong. Also notes of oak, dark ripe fruits (prune-like) jump out of the glass.

T-Also bourbon heavy. The bourbon dominates this brew. Sure there are other flavors in here (ripe fruity malt, oak and a hint of vanilla) but the bourbon is overpowering.

M-A slick mouthfeel, plenty of carbonation and an alcohol sting in the finish.

O-A barleywine for the bourbon drinker. Too bourbon forward for me. This one is too much like a shot of bourbon in every sip to be enjoyable. Big time sipper.

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Photo of thebigredone
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I've had this beer ever since attending the CW Anniversary party earlier this year, not sure what took me so long to give it a try.

Appearance is pretty cool, verry reddish when held to the light.

Smell is great, typical CW bourbon barrel treatment.

Taste is excellent, a slight bitterness on the tongue and then the bourbon takes over. Roasty malt notes take over, and then a tinge of sweetness on the finish.

Mouthfeel is solid.

Overall, and excellent beer, and definitely a sipper. I enjoy the dominance of the bourbon and roast, as opposed to the cloying sweetness sometimes found in a bareywine. Well done CW!

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Photo of Clonies720
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. 2013 vintage. No freshness date. Gold cap. Poured into tulip glass

Appearance: Pours a dark-reddish-orange tint. 1/2th inch tan-colored head. When held up to the light, none passes through this fearsome brew. (It clears up as it gets warmer)

Smell: A spicy woody character hits my nose first. It's quickly followed by notes of dark, bourbon-soaked fruits. Medium hints of vanilla. Caramel and rich toffee titillate my senses as this beer warms up. It's very malt forward. Perhaps even a touch bready. Slight earthy hop aroma.

Taste: It's an explosion of flavor! A light sweet honey gently skates upon my tongue. Then the symphony of flavors melds into huge vanilla and a strong, spicy bourbon flavor. Finally, the concerto climaxes with a smooth, rich toffee & caramel presence.

The alcohol heat is there, but it's not overpowering or overdone. Perfect for a cold night.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium-high carbonation. Somewhat chewy. Velvety and luscious

Overall: Bravisimo to the conductor of this symphony! I stood up and applauded furiously to express my gratitude and appreciation of the music that was presented to my tastebuds.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 4.15.13

A - Pours an opaque reddish-amber with a one inch tan head that fades quickly.

S - Bourbon up front, subtle oak and some toffee.

T - Tons of carmel and toffee with vanilla and al ittle bourbon in the finish. Very good.

D - Lower carbonation with a medium body.

O - Great carmel and vanilla with a hint of bourbon. Stellar!

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Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. 2013 Vintage.

Appearance: Pours a very deep and hazy brownish copper amber with some hints of ruby. Moderate amount of bubbles and about one finger of off white head which fades into a thin creamy layer. Decent amount of lacing.

Smell: A sweet and rich aroma of whiskey barrel hints, toasty caramel malt, and fruit undertones. Big barrel presence upfront with hints of bourbon whiskey, vanilla, oak, and wood. Burnt brown sugar along with some hints of maple syrup. Sweet bready toasted malts with big hints of caramel, toffee, biscuit, yeast, butterscotch, and grain. Fruit esters of dried apple and banana as well as dark raisin, fig, cherry, and dates. Hops are kind of subtle with some hints of grass. Some booze scents as well. A huge and complex aroma.

Taste: As big and complex as it smells with a mix of sweet malts, barrel notes, and fruits. Big bourbon barrel notes with a taste of whiskey, oak, sweet vanilla, and wood. Adding to the sweetness is some brown sugar and maple syrup. Bready toasted malts with a taste of caramel, toffee, biscuit, butterscotch, grains, and yeast. Dried fruit taste of apple and banana. Undertones of dark fruit with notes of raisin, fig, dates, and cherry. Earth hop notes along with some grass in the background. A fair amount of alcohol taste. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Big full body with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, rich, and somewhat chewy. Starts sweet but has a fairly drying finish. There is some alcohol heat as expected.

Overall: A really great Malt forward Barley Wine. The barrel aging adds some great notes. Sweet but far from cloying.

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Photo of mtbdonn
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Received a 2013 from mishuggah as an extra in a trade; thank you sir!
Enjoyed in my favorite DeMolen tall tulip glass.
A-The coloring was red-orange and foggy, lingering white head with light, lacing.
S-Super welcoming, warm aroma of dark fruits, caramel, toffee, bourbon.
T-Sticky, brown sugar, candied bourbon, sweet caramel, very appealing and relaxing flavors as a whole, malts and some floral aspects. The abv flavor was very subdued. The taste develops nicely as it warms up.
M-Medium bodied, low carbonation, thick and chewy.
O-Excellent, top notch beer that does well in a style that’s crowded with competition.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.28/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dark brown-red with small yellow-ish head.

Tons of oaked vanilla, almonds, nutty, creamy, lactic. . . Odd, yet unique.

Lots of resinous raisin, sticky, biting, bitter, perky amount of vanilla, high bourbon heat, carbonation is a bit too much for me. A touch on the overly sweet side.

Recommended. but not overwhelming... Thanks for this one mr. parker.

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

2012 Vintage from MatttYCE. Thanks man!

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

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

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

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

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

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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 KFBR392
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Hits all the checkpoint that a great barleywine should. Very dark brown amber color. Light lacing on the edge of the glass as this one was enjoyed. Thin head on the pour which quickly dissipated. Some of the most active carbonation I've seen in a barleywine, extremely active carbonation throughout for a barleywine.

Smell: Simply outstanding. The front is a rounded and full caramel and molasses brightness. They standout but are perfectly balanced, do not overtake the aroma. Some smokey malt and perfect accents of bourbon on the undertones. All of the major players in this aroma are in perfect balance. The high abv fits in perfectly, adding a little danger and intimidation to this brew.

Taste: The front of this brew is an extremely bright molasses thickness very similar to the aroma. The sweetness builds up and reaches a strong crescendo as you hit the body of this brew. Once you are in deep, a medium bodied hop bitterness clings to the palate. The finish is a dry alcohol and some slightly funky/sticky hops continue to bound around. I think the body could be a bit stronger but overall really fantastic.

Mouthfeel: Quite a widely varying experience. Goes from a full bodied front to a slight thin dry feeling toward the end. Enjoyable but could be slightly better.

Overall: One of the better barleywines I've had in a while. As a bourbon fan, I really enjoy the barrel accents in this brew. It stands out but is in no way offensive. By far the best Central Waters product I have had. They will get some more opportunities after how much I enjoyed this one.

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Photo of mltobin
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 bottle, poured into a wine glass.

The appearance is dark red-brown with a thin tannish head. Its` nose comes off with malts, a good deal of bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar and raisins. Tipping this one back and it tastes of caramel, syrup, more malts, alcohol. Mouthfeel is rich and full bodied, finishes with oak and bourbon. A nice barleywine from this brewery out of Wisconsin, had to pick this one up while passing through PA.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This poured out as a hazy brown color with a cream colored head. There was a decent retention as well as some lacing for a while. There was some oily legs on the glass as well. The smell of the beer is boozy, lots of ethanol on the nose, hints of vanilla and caramel. The taste of the beer is sweet, malty with more vanilla and some subtle hop bitterness. The mouthfeel smooth, oily, moderate carbonation and kind of thick. Overall this beer is really quite good, big amounts of flavors. Has a lot of the characteristics of a solid barley wine. Worth trying for sure!

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Photo of Beerandboards
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a large wine glass. 2012 vintage I think.

A - kind of a brown ruby red color. Very dark in the glass, when held to the light the red shows through. Minimal head, but a crown retains for quite a while, good amount of lacing.

S - lots of caramel and vanilla. Fairly boozy.

T - follows the nose with vanilla and caramel, bourbon booziness, there is a hint of dark cherries. There is a large hop bite, almost acidity in the bitterness. That being said, not offensive, but it doesn't really blend with the mellow flavors up front.

M - quite good. Medium body, low carbonation. Good.

O - I think this will really round out in about a year. The hop bitterness is not bad, but the front it so mellow that the moderate hop bit at the end seems more pronounced. I think with some time, this will move from an A- to an A/A+

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Photo of davey101
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage, 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Huge thanks to ObiWanKushnobi!!

A - Pours a dark and murky red body. A quick pour yields three fingers worth of dense khaki foam. Settles into a thin cap with super sticky lacing and long lasting retention. Looks pretty damn good.

S - Ohhhh, this beer is not messing around. Rich dark fruits, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, and a huge bourbon burn. This is the BCBS equivalent of bourbon barrel barley wines. Just a solid barleywine base with a HUGE and unrelenting bourbon presence. Its really brash, bold, and boozy, and quite excellent.

T - Layers of butterscotch and vanilla bourbon intertwine with a rich and decadent toffee and dark fruit rich base beer. A bit of oak, vanilla, and piney hops thrown in for good measure. This is really tasty, but the alcohol catches up quick. Medium bodied with solid carbonation.

O - The best 12 oz. BA BW I have had to date. Not as refined or complex as the rarer examples, but this is a totally unforgiving bourbon bomb of a barleywine and I like that a lot!

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Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.85/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into two snifters. Big thanks to Ethan for two bottles of this; I asked for four Abrasive, and instead I get three and two CW BBBW. What a great friend!

A - good looking brew. Looks more like a scotch ale than anything, super brown with little head on the forced pour. The carbonation is constant and visible, but, unlike most BBA beers, it's very translucent.

S - a lot of bourbon and a lot of alcohol. If I was doing a blind taste testing, I wouldn't guess that this was a barleywine. Harsh throughout.

T - the harshness continues. CW BBBW pounds the senses with intensity: alcohol, bourbon, and only a hint of the hops that one normally would expect from a barleywine. The malt and barley really hit hard, not in a good way. This baby needs at least a year in the cellar.

M - again, the alcohol really detracts here. Too much booze and carbonation, which isn't faithful to the other brews in the style. It's a harsh drinking experience.

O - this is a perfect candidate for the cellar, but I don't think I'd get another one fresh, even on tap. It hits hard and bitter.

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Photo of lunarbrew
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 12oz bottle.

The beer pours clear amber red with about an inch of cappuccino-colored head. Head died quick with only a little lacing. Sweet, smoky, fruity and exciting. I can clearly smell honey, vanilla, and oak. A full, rich nose. Flavor is pretty boozy at this point. Not a ton of heat, but there is a huge bourbon flavor. The flavor also matches the smell, but I love that the barleywine is not too sweet. Very good profile which will be amazing with some age. Creamy, medium-bodied, and leaves syrup on the tongue. Already and very good beer. I can't wait for the booze and heat to mellow out. It will be fantastic.

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Photo of MCain04
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Half Acre 12 oz snifter. $15/4pack.

A: Dark dark ruby body with a light tan head of less than a finger with quick dissipation leaving a rim of foam and a small amount of lacing.

S: Bourbon-forward with sweet malty notes, vanilla, and some hops on the nose that complement well.

T: Sweet malts are the first on the palate, vanilla and oaky notes, and the barrel characters blend nicely into a bourbon finish. Lots of heat on the back end of this. A little bitter and dry on the finish, representing some of the hops of the brew.

M: Very smooth, medium carbonation, sticky and dry finish. Very nice and drinkable.

O: A fantastic barleywine that is complemented very nicely by bourbon barrel aging. Best bourbon barrel aged barleywine I've tried to date, although I do have Sucaba and barrel-aged Bigfoot waiting in my cellar. I inherently hate Central Waters for their terrible customer service, but they make a damn good BBBW

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Photo of Jimmys
4.13/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into tulip. 2013 vintage.

A: dark orange/ terra cotta hued body. slightly hazed. head pours a bit underwhelming with a light brown/orange/white hue. retention is limited, but present. spots of lacing left behind.

S: dark fruit. plums. a lot of bourbon oak. a LOT of oak. but good, the wood is welcomed and works great with all this sweetness. no hop aroma at all, not that I mind one bit, this thing is all about big beer and bourbon.

T: holy hell, the first sip is fucking rocket fuel. straight ethanol. hope a few more sips will get me better acquainted. ahh, that's a little better. bourbon warmth/flavor for sure. similar to the nose, lots of bourbon-y oak flavor. a little bit of caramel sneaks out when it can. lingering brown sugar and alcohol heat.

M: carb is mellow and works well with this big guy. full bodied to the gills.

D: this would definitely be a prime candidate for cellaring. as soon as I took my first sip I thought maybe I opened this too soon. oh well, live and learn. regardless, there are some really good aromas/flavors going on here that im sure would develop some nice complexities over time. grab a few if you can.

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Photo of SadMachine
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes from 3/14/13

A- Pours a deep amber with ruby hues, a decent sized head with impressive retention for being barrel aged. Also excellent lacing is left in the glass.

S- The aroma is incredibly alluring, instantly bringing to mind ripe figs, raisins, sweet prunes, caramel, toffee, thick dark breadiness, and maybe a hint of dried apricot. There's also smooth vanilla from the bourbon barrel, and definitely some hefty booze in the aroma.

T- The taste is a malt lover's dream, with thick breadiness, toffee, dark honey, and caramel dominating. The vanilla is mild, but it is present just enough to mellow this out alongside the bourbon. The fruits noticed in the nose are present, but you have to search for them in this complex brew. Lastly there is just a bit of earthy/spicy hop bitterness to prevent this from being overly sweet.

M- The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, and chewy, with only slight carbonation. It has a bite of bitterness and booze at the end, but it fades to mellow bourbon/vanilla aftertaste.

O- Overall this is one of the better BA Barleywines I've had, and I can't wait to have some more!

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