Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine by selecting auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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: 2,125
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 17.52%
Wants: 716
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: 2,125
Photo of cbeer88
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted blindly in the Blind BIF. Poured into Duvel tulip.

Apperance: Dark orange, bordering on brown. Decent finger and a half head on an aggressive pour, lots of carbonation bubbles. Light spotted lacing.

Smell: Caramel malt, oak, and a bit of a hop profile. Also a good amount of alcohol presence on the nose. Bourbon I do believe.

Taste: Really hot, the alcohol dominates the palate on this one. Bourbon barrel for sure. Underneath I get some caramel, some sweet bread-y flavor, and a good amount of pine flavored hop punch.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, moderately carbed.

Drinkability: Very low - this beer is really hot and needs some time to mellow.

Overall: I do think there is a very good beer in here, but it is so masked by the alcohol that I'm having a hard time tasting what lies underneath. I'll get through it alright without a struggle, but I would lay this down for a bit before attempting it again.

 917 characters

Photo of trappistlover
3.74/5  rDev -12.6%
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 glazeman
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter. Big thanks goes out to CaseyK for hooking me up with this one in a recent trade. Split with airohead2001.

A: Murky brown with a hint of red. A vigorous pour yields a 1/3 finger off-white head. As far as retention goes, this one has a bit a swirl of bubbles that lasts the duration of the drink and a nice crown.

S: Rich bourbon notes on the nose. Reminds me greatly of bourbon barrel angel's share. Some maple syrup in there as well, which overall gives this a very nice smell.

T: Wow, there is no shortage of bourbon in the flavor here. Besides the dominance of the bourbon I get some butterscotch, syrup, caramel, and a little alcohol heat. All in all, this is a great tasting, interesting brew.

M: Very nice mouthfeel. I would say this has a nice medium-bodied feel and a great aftertaste. It sits on the palate well.

D: For me, bourbon aged beers are either hit or miss, and this one was without a doubt a hit. The bourbon was pronounced, but not overwhelming as it was in angle's share. This was a delicious, interesting, fun drink. If you haven't tried it, you should.

 1,123 characters

Photo of lurpy1
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The pour is a funky murky amber. No head, but a depth to it that screams "drink me". Spectacular aroma of bourbon, caramel, and sugar. Taste is a similar line, with more of a fruity vibe (not that it's a bad thing), with raisins and a little bit of apricot.

Mouthfeel is simply hit out of the park. Thick, sticky. I'll gargle with this stuff, thanks.

One of the best beers I've had. If King Henry is a clear cut above this...I really gotta try King Henry.

 457 characters

Photo of rodkin
3.89/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage.

Very small head, that quickly dissipates. A thick, translucent dark red. It's got some yeast sediment or something in there that's pretty gross looking.

Smell is vanilla, oak, dark fruit, caramel. Very sweet, but not cloying. The bourbon comes through with some added complexity, but it doesn't smell boozy at all.

Smell is vanilla, oak, cherry, booze, raisin. Some leather, kinda. Hint of caramel. Boozier than the nose.

Medium thickness, decent carbonation. A little more carb and a little less body than I'd like.

A fine barleywine. Probably the best thing I've had from Central Waters.

 609 characters

Photo of tjkinate
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage

A: A hard pour into a large snifter produced a 2 fingered frothy yet creamy tan colored head. It displayed good retention and some lacing settling atop this deep red bodied, semi-transparent brew.

S: Loads of caramel and dark fruits, only little hints of bourbon. Good smell that lacked in complexity.

T: Follows the caramel found in the smell, but the new found complexity elevates this beer to the next level. Dark fruits were less prominent and blended nicely with the oak from the bourbon barrels.

M: Heavy, creamy, still pretty hot. Gonna hold onto my remaining bottles for later.

O: A surprisingly great Barleywine that I can see only getting better with time.

 685 characters

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yep, that guy Gillard is up to his old tricks by sharing amazing WI brew offerings. Thanks buddy.

Pours deep copper with light tan head. Nice aroma with tasty wood and bourbon notes that don't really over shadow the fruity esters and faint maltiness. The alcohol heat does build up and singe the nose a bit. The taste starts with mildly sweet maltiness and roasty malts that then becomes wood and barrel like flavors before a formidable vanilla flavor takes hold. There's also dark fruity esters of grapes, cherries and prunes before the alcohol hotness builds to a distracting level. It could use more age. Darn tasty now though

 630 characters

Photo of muttyd
4.09/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Wisconsinality for this amazing extra.

Poured into a stemmed chalice with an apple-cider / hazy amber body and thin, offwhite head that settles into about a 1/8 inch thick haze. Very cloudy, decent lacing.

Aroma is all over the place. I get a caramel-dipped apple up front, some cinnamon & sugar toast, and vanilla/oak. The aroma really changes as the beer warms up and as you take a deeper whiff. Finishes with a burnt sugar, alcoholic presence. The flavor brings out the barrel a bit more than the nose with a pleasant vanilla frosting combined with wet oak flavor. Some citrusy/pineapple hops in there as well. Rich dark caramel sweetness makes this one sweet, without being too cloyingly sweet. Medium carbonation with a heavier body that finishes very sticky, coating the mouth.

Very generous extra, huge props again to Winsconsinality. Would love to get a hold of this one again.

 898 characters

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

A pretty delicious and deliciously drinkable powerhouse of a beer. Beautiful looking: a cloudy orange-ish brown. It looks like your dream of a barrel-aged barley wine. Mouthfeel is somewhat thinner than many barleywines but wonderfully creamy. Taste is surprisingly smooth - the aging seems to iron out the coarseness I find in many barleywines. Vanilla is the most prominent flavor. There's really just a hint of bourbon, which is a big plus in my mind, and the alcohol taste is slight as well.

 495 characters

Photo of Yesac
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 fresh vintage

A- Opaque murky orangy red in color with a small bright white head.

S- Fruity nose.. cherries come to mind. Not much bourbon aromas present. Some caramel malt.

T- Right along with smell. Fruity notes on the nose and throughout. Sweet caramel malt and some candy sugar. Earthy tones and a saltyish finish. Very slight hints of bourbon. ABV is very well hidden.

M- Full bodied. Medium carbonation. Not sticky.

O- I'm glad to see something with "bourbon" on the label and it not taste like it's over powered by it. This brew is a good blend of barelywine aged in bourbon barrels and made for some interesting sipping. A little on the bitter-sweet side for taste however.

 694 characters

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

12oz bottle from a couple of awesome MN BA traders!

Ruby red elixir poured into Hoppin' Frog snifter. Clear liquid, minimal lacing, thin, white rim hugs the edge.

Wonderful complex aromas: oak, vanilla, dried fruit, bourbon, caramel. Could sniff this all night.

The caramel and vanilla are right up front, then comes a nice bourbon bitterness that really balances the brew. The bourbon pleasantly lingers.

Medium body, smooth, sticky, like toffee.

This really hits the spot. Complex melding of flavors. Was thinking of sitting on a couple, but really drinking well right now.

 581 characters

Photo of boatshoes
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Received this as an extra from alcstradamus in a recent trade. A serious want of mine, thanks for the hookup!

Appearance- Pours a very dark amber brown that borders on opaque. A minimal cap of tan head off of a very aggressive pour. However, some carbonation present beading up the side of the glass throughout the drink and head remains throughout. Lots of sticking lacing left as well.

Smell- Huge notes of bourbon and vanilla coming through in a big way on the nose. Lots and lots of malt with a touch of fruitiness. Some sharp alcohol astringency with perhaps just a very subtle touch of underlying hop bitterness.

Taste- Pretty unlike any barleywine I've had thus far. Very prominent bourbon and vanilla with a touch of tobacco. Lots of underlying sweet malt that comes across like candied fruit. Some warming alcohol on the way down and maybe just the slightest bit of hoppy resin on the backside.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Very nice levels of carbonation with a thick and slick mouthfeel. Drinkability suffers just a bit because of the overwhelming sweetness of this one. Quite nice on the whole though.

Overall, very interesting and quite nice. An excellent barleywine worth picking up if you get the chance.

 1,219 characters

Photo of N_Schleret
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a dark amber color with a 2 finger tan head that dissipates quickly to a light ring. Blotchy lacing.
S: Big boozy bourbon fills the nose with hints of caramel, vanilla, and toffee.
T: Again sweet bourbon overpowers everything. I get hints of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee.
M: Fills up the palate nicely with a creamy sticky feel.
O: Another good bourbon barrel beer from Central Waters. A little age might mellow this out.

 437 characters

Photo of darklordlager
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 Bottle

A: Pours a very dark ruby, with a small, light tan head.

S: Oak, sweet vanilla, layers of delicious caramel and bourbon.

T: Layered caramel, candied dark fruit, big vanilla, bourbon. Not one dominating characteristic--very complex. Very nice warming and toasty malt flavour in the finish.

M: Smooth and velvetty. It may be the slightest bit sticky/syrupy, but it remains exceptionally smooth and pleasant.

D: So smooth, with a complexity that keeps it very interesting and enjoyable throughout. I look forward to "more of the same" from Central Waters. Fantastic.

 583 characters

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

Aroma: caramel, bread, alcohol,woody.

Appearance: brown, cloudy, tan foam, frothy.

Taste: medium sweetness, virtually no bitterness.

Palate: medium body, thin feel, soft carbonation, subtlely bitter.

Overall: I don't think this is an American barleywine. It's more akin to a British barleywine. A nice barleywine, not too unlike Weyerbacher's Insanity though thinner; not unlike Lost Abbey's Angel Share but half the price. I picked this up in Pennsylvania last week but only got one. I'lll buy more if I get back down there sometime soon.

 543 characters

Photo of hopsbreath
2.06/5  rDev -51.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Had a little barrel aged barleywine tasting at MADhombrewer and Witchsbrew's residence last night. Filet mignon's were provided by our host's for TulipSnifter and I. Thanks guys!

In the lineup were Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, Hellshire I, BA Hi-Fi Rye, BA Old Ruffian, Abacus, and Alpine Great. Our intention was to also open up Perfect Storm '09, Mother of all Storms '10, Kuhnhenn BBBW, and Arctic Devil but we agreed it best to hold off on those beers for another day due to palate fatigue. Small two ounce samples of the six beers from last night were first tasted and notes were taken before returning to the bottles for more tastes and refined notes.

Thanks to graniteskunk and zimmerbloke for providing me with 2010 and 2011 vintages of this.

A: Golden-tan, fizzy white head falls to nothing. Not particularly viscous looking and we get some spotty lacing. 3/5

S: Honey, grassy hops (slightly stronger in the '11 but very similar between the two vintages), and non-pleasant slightly putrid wood. 2/5

T: All hops and barrel. Any complexity that may be in here is currently hidden behind the more aggressive characteristics. It will need some time to develop complexity and in my opinion, the '10 batch is still very similar to the '11. Three years in the bottle might make this better but for now it's not very good. 2/5

M: Thin and spritzy compared to the other beers in the lineup. 2/5

O: Simply not up to par with the competition. 2/5

 1,465 characters

Photo of br3wmeister
4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Lightly hazed dark brown liquid. Small bubbly off whit head that dissipated quickly. No lacing.

S- Lots of sweet malt and woody oak aromas up front. Hints of chocolate honey and bourbon are also present. Some good alcohol sting and light citrus hops.

T- Very sweet up front, lots of molasses, hint of honey and some vanilla. Great roasted barley notes as well, chocolate, nuts, and bitter roasted flavors. This beer also has a good hop presence giving it some nice bite. Thought the whole experience there is a large bourbon and boozy alcohol presence.

M- This is a full bodied beer that coats your mouth with an oily feeling. Good balance and prefect carbonation.

Overall- This does not taste much like a barley wine to me. The bourbon and oak character kind of take over letting the original beer be a subtle after thought. With that said, this is still a great beer. Great flavor, aroma and mouth feel.

 914 characters

Photo of boralyl
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 2011 vintage poured into a snifter. The beer produces a small light tan head that quickly fades away . The beer is clear and ruby red in appearance.

S - There is a very strong bourbon presence in the aroma along with hints of oak and vanilla. As it warms slightly the dark fruit aromas become apparent.

M - Medium in body with light-medium carbonation and some creaminess.

T - A little bit of vanilla up front followed by dark fruits, plum sticks out in my mind. A huge bourbon flavor mixes in with the dark fruit and overpowers it leading to a hot alcohol heat in the finish.

Pretty good, but the bourbon flavor was a bit too strong for me. It may be that this vintage was too fresh for my tastes. I'll have to give an aged vintage a shot sometime soon.

 762 characters

Photo of NolaHopHead
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle, 2014 version. Pours deep caramel brown, off white head fades to thin layer that coats the glass. Roma is full of bourbon, vanilla, wood, raisins. Big sweet malty flavor up front. Followed by vanilla and bourbon, lots if it, ends with lingering oak. Nice soft mouthfeel. Overall really tasty Barleywine, maybe a little heavy on the bourbon, but quite good.

 369 characters

Photo of CharlatanSin
4.92/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had a few of these on my Wisconsin trip, and it certainly wins best in show. Wonderful beer.

A: Pours a rusty reddish brown color. Clear. It's got a small white head that dissolves into a splotchy cap that never quite goes away and leaves light lacing.

S: Killer. Terrific deep caramel malt is the backdrop for oak, vanilla, and the other hallmarks of bourbon aging. All of the smells blend together wonderfully -- this is a big point for me. I love bourbon beers, but often the booze overwhelms the nose.

T: World-class. Again, the big caramel malt holds it all together. The vanilla is very strong, as is the booze from the bourbon. A little less oaky than the nose. There's a significant hop presence in the finish, but it doesn't stray into DIPA territory like so many of its American Barleywine comrades. And again, it's all balanced beautifully, as if an engineer had spent years calibrating it perfectly.

M: Thick and smooth, with low carbonation. A total mouth-coater. A decent amount of alcohol burn, but that doesn't bother me at all with this style.

D: Brilliant. I weep that I can't walk a quarter mile and pick up a four pack of this anymore. Truly, Madison, WI was forged by the gods themselves.

 1,215 characters

Photo of vic21234
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2013 Vintage. Was happy to get my hands on a 4 pack of this today.

A- Pours a dark red, almost brown color. A small amount of off-white colored head quickly fades.

S- Nice aromas of bourbon and dark fruits. Some sweetness and caramel is noted too.

T- Really nice stuff. Starts very smooth with tastes of dark fruits and sweet malts. Then comes the bourbon and oak notes, which takes over the back half of each sip.

M- Low carbonation, drinks hot, a great sipper.

This is a great barleywine. Drinking kind of hot right now but not a bad thing at all. I'm anxious to see how it mellows out.

 633 characters

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

Finally getting around to reviewing this. 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

appearance - auburn-brown liquid. little to no head.

smell - fantastic. smell is so sweet and caramelly. can smell the booze too.

taste - caramel & bourbon. enough said.

mouthfeel - syrupy feel. kind of coats your tongue. very smooth.

overall - great beer. the bourbon barrel aging is very prevalent.

side note: I had a sample of this at the beer store, and it was served quite cold. When I drank this bottle it was served at cellaring temp and I enjoyed it much more. I would recommend letting it sit out of your refrigerator for a while before drinking.

 642 characters

Photo of hu5om
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

split 12 oz in 2 6oz tasters with newk340
a- translucent rosy amber, little foam

s- wood, smoky, ripe dark plum, slight heat.

t- bourbon smokiness, ripe, ripe fruit, a bit of heat with sweet malts lingering

m- low/med. carbonation. active boozy tingle on the palate, but not as much as i'd expect with the abv as it is. a gorgeous lingering sweet smokiness.

d- any time, any place, i'll drink this. i traded away way too much, but i hope everyone is enjoying it. god knows i did. definitely belongs in the top 100. it's in my top 10 easily. yum. super delic. call your sconsin ba's and get yourself some!

 608 characters

Photo of hawks10
4.87/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage - 12oz. bottle poured into my Central Waters pint glass, enjoyed at cellar temp...

Pours a thick glowing burnt orange with some ruby highlights. Slightly hazy with a thin one finger of soft white head that leaves a cap of haze on top of the beer for the whole drink...

Caramel, toffee and a nice boozy bourbon aroma with hints of vanilla and some wood scents as well. Sweet and complex, smells absolutely fantastic...

This beer sure is green! Heavy bourbon flavor with a distinct alcohol burn up front, undesirable to some, for me however, it is smooth and delicious. Lots of vanilla and small hints of all those smells; oak, caramel, toffee, bready, just overall thick and malty. Having a hard time picking out any hop bitterness at all...So complex, so smooth, feel like I am sipping on some liquor...

Thick and creamy, very slick from the low carbonation. Coats the entire palette and leaves behind a nice sting from the booze...

This beer is very fresh and ready to drink now, it will mellow out and change with age, but it is fantastic as is and if you're patient, it will also be fantastic down the road. Had a 2009 vintage about a month ago and it had calmed down a bit but was still quite boozy and nice...the 2010 picks up right where the 2009 left off, great beer from Central Waters, gonna drink one of these every few months for the next 2 years or so...

 1,385 characters

Photo of kbwalters
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Warmed up some before pouring into tulip glass. Bottled on Jan 21st, 2014, consumed on 1/7/15.
Look = 4.75 Pours a deep mahogany color with red highlights and 2 fingers of thick off white head. Great lace and retention. Big time sediment, including big chucks. Usually a bigger negative but it seems to fit fine here.
Aroma = 4.5 Big sweet aroma at first, malty toffee and caramel, complimented by the bourbon and vanilla notes. Boozy.
Taste = 4.5 Big sweetness upfront and through the middle of the taste. Sweet malt toffee and caramel, a really good barelywine. Then come the bourbon! On the backend with deep notes of vanilla. The bourbon in the finish is the strongest I’ve ever come across. At first the tastes are really separated but after a few sips it all blends together very well.
Feel = 5.0 So velvety and smooth, thick and creamy. Very substantial mouthfeel.
Drinkability = 3.0 Wow, the bourbon is really overpowering at first. Combined with the big ABV, drinkability of this is low.
Overall = 4.4625 Crazy good barelywine combined nicely with significant bourbon profile. After it all starts to blend it really is something else.

 1,157 characters

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