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.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

2,046 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 2,046
Reviews: 577
rAvg: 4.32
pDev: 9.03%
Wants: 700
Gots: 631 | FT: 73
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: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,046 | Reviews: 577
Photo of ptykozoon
4.12/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

Photo of shadetree67
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle - 2014 vintage

Appearance - Dark amber in color. Pour yielded 1/2 finger of head. Slight lacing

Smell - Toffee, caramel, boozy bourbon, slight vanilla.

Taste - Bready Malts, caramel, vanilla. Not getting much barrel in this though the bourbon flavor is present.

Mouthfeel - Medium to thin mouthfeel. Slight carbonation. The alcohol warms the back of my throat for quite awhile. A bit too hot for my tastes

Overall - This is a pretty good BB barley wine and hopefully the booze mellows out with some age on the bottle. It has a lot of potential.

Photo of dsuedbeck
4.82/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage

A: Reddish brown, murky, really thin white head that disappears quick.

S: Big bourbon notes, sweet caramel malts, some banana.

T: Starts off with a big malt taste, caramel, toffee, dark fruity notes up front. On the back end you get the bourbon and oak. Definitely a little boozey beings it is so fresh.

M: Great bourbon flavor lingers, small amount of carbonation, perfect amount of body to hold up to the alcohol.

O: Fantastic beer right now, super excited to let a few age. Definitely one of the best barleywines I've ever had.

Photo of jnn4v
4.05/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Amber hue with no sediment or haze. No head.

S: Caramel, molasses, and some citrus. Alcohol burn.

T: Caramel, toasted oak, vanilla and alcohol. Moderate hop bitterness. Some sourness on the tail end. Sort of hot.

M: Good body for the style. Very nice texture. Not very carbonated and medium overall body.

D: The 11.5% ABV is evident. I think the drinkability is relatively good with all factors considered, but others at the same tasting thought it was too hot.

Photo of klikger
4.57/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

100th review
12 oz. bottle served in a Duvel tulip

A - Dark amber in color and slightly cloudy. A modest amount of off white head leaves behind quality lacing as the beer is consumed.

S - Caramel, bourbon, brown sugar, and some floral hops.

T - From 0 to 60 more quickly than a Ferrari, this is in all-out flavor assault from the onset. Bourbon and caramel are apparent from the moment the first drop hits the tongue, with honey and raisins quickly following. The intense and varied malt presence continues throughout and is joined by citrus bitterness in the latter stages. (Note: this is the first bottle that I've had in several months, and, not surprisingly, the hops have died down significantly. Some heat remains.) The finish is simultaneously richly sweet and pleasantly bitter.

M - Heavy-bodied and chewy, but not overly syrupy. The variety of tastes makes this a joy to swish back and forth over the tongue.

D - A sipper without a doubt, but this barleywine is enjoyable from first sip to last. My recommendation - take it slow, savor the complexity it as it warms, and pair with a quality Maytag or Danish blue cheese if you're hungry. Trust me on this.

One of my two favorite beers from one of my two favorite Wisconsin breweries, this is a perennial favorite and a blessing to those fortunate enough to live here. If you're into barleywines and haven't tried this, you should really seek it out. Don't take my word for it, continue reading below.

Photo of alovesupreme
4.37/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Orange color with a small head. Didnt expect to much head from a bourbon aged beer.
Bourbon and caramel.
Brown sugar, bourbon, caramel dominate. Molasses and fig also play a role with a big rich mouthfeel that is full of sweetness. A slight hop presence but very subtle due to the overwhelming sweetness.
This is a fantastic beer and one of the best barleywines I have yet to have. Seek this out, I will be enjoying this again in the future.

Photo of Odysseyalien
4.05/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

Photo of mikeyv35
4.29/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Date: 03/24/12
Type: 12oz. Bottle
Vintage: 2012
Glass: Ommegang Tulip

Pours a brown mahogany in color w/ a 1/2 finger off white head that left medium lacing. Fantastic aromas of oak, vanilla, bourbon, butterscotch, and brown sugar. The flavor was of butterscotch/brown sugar sweetness up front, transitioning to oak/vanilla/bourbon, and finishing w/ hop bitterness. Medium bodied and lush w/ appropriate carbonation. Definite sipper! Pretty boozy, but nice to contemplate your thoughts with.

Overall, very enjoyable brew! This one could be all-world w/ a few years of age in the cellar, as it was a bit hot for my liking.

Photo of shleepy
3.62/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 2012 bottle into snifter glasses.

A: Lightly hazy medium-brown. Small head.

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

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

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

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

Photo of dukedevil0
4.42/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I'm that guy again...reviewing at the BA gathering at goose island.

A: pours a cloudy yellowish brown with a white colored head that leaves lacing on the glass.

S: smells like sweet malt, spices that I can't pick out, some red/dark fruits, vanilla

T: tastes just like the smell with more vanilla and even bourbon but in a mellow way, like a fruity, sweet, light bourbon..some alcohol flavor too

M: very full bodied, almost to the point of creamy

D: highly drinkable for the flavor but less so for the alcohol kick

Photo of MCImes
3.1/5  rDev -28.2%
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.

Photo of timc100
4.49/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2013 vintage

A: Gorgeous - dark ruby/mahogany, murky and dank - substantial beige head for a barrel aged beer. Great lacing and retention

S: HUGE caramel bourbon notes, vanilla and oak. Some cherry, and raisin. Delicious but very boozy and hot. Needs some time, then I'd imagine perfect

T: Big bourbon - caramel, lighter vanilla and oak. Bitter aftertaste which pairs well with the sweetness. Some dark fruit but it's hidden due to the overly boozy freshness. Could improve greatly, I'd imagine.

P: Smooth - medium to full body.

O: Fantastic barleywine and BA beer. Wish I had a few more to cellar

Photo of Skrypt
4.3/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz pour into a snifter.

A: Pours a thin wisp of head that quickly disappears. Leaves a little lacing inside the glass. Color is that of strong, southern sweet tea (maybe a shade or two darker).

S: This smells great. Lots of oaky bourbon laced with sweet maltiness and vanilla.

T: It tastes just like it smells. Sweet and malty with really strong bourbon barrel characteristics. Very faint notes of vanilla and toffee. Lots of bourbon. The finish is warm and boozy, but surprisingly smooth. There's a strong alcohol aftertaste.

M: Full bodied, low carbonation with a bit of heat from the alcohol.

Overall, this was very enjoyable. Definitely recommend it if you enjoy bourbon because it really shines through.

Photo of bigaltemple
4.2/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz. 2013 Vintage

Pours a dark amber with ruby highlights at edges. Mild, 1/4", tan head disappears immediately leaving only a thin collar. Some spotty lacing.

No mistaking this has seen a barrel. First impression is all bourbon with heavy vanilla and oak notes. Caramel malts and dark brown sugar start to sneak past. Very light earthy hops bitterness is buried in there as well.

Very boozy. Barrel is quite prominent in each sip. Lots of oak. Some caramel and vanilla sweetness mingle with the alcohol. Very low on bitterness. Drinks like a full bodied brew, but seems just a touch thin to me. Very dry finish. Definite sipper.

Thought it was very good. Wouldn't mind having more to open every few months to note any mellowing/changes.

Photo of zoober911
4.59/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L - Pours a coppery golden brown. Little to no head.

S - The caramel is tremendous. Caramel, toffee. Dark fruits. Slight bourbon.

T - Silky caramel. Some dark fruit. As these slowly fade you're hit with bourbon on the tail end. Lots of sweet bourbon.

F - Feel is as expected with the style. Carb is spot on.

O - Overall this is awesome. Easily on par with Firestone's Abacus...easily. And much more accessible. I will pick up more before it's gone this season, and this will be my go to for the style.

Photo of langchops
4.18/5  rDev -3.2%
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

Photo of joefuzz
4.5/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured into snifter.

Pours a deep redish-brown with a tiny white head small bubbles floating up even after the head fades, great lacing. Smells like vanilla toffe with dark fruits and a little oaky scent. Taste is amazing big bourbon vanilla upfront blends very well with the sweet maltyness of the barleywine. Mouthfeel is great for a strong barleywine, not huge carbonation but its nice for the style just enough. Overall amazing beer I really wish I had more than the one bottle, thanks dyan for the hookup.

Photo of Bshaw22
4.59/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is solid.
Lots of bourbon Carmel and some bitterness on the taste.
Nose is bourbon and Carmel.
This is a decimate sipper but so enjoyable. One of the best barleywines I've ever had.

Photo of Mississipping
4.45/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottled in January of 2011. Huge thanks to StayWhatYouAre2 for sending this, along with 11 other Wisconsin brews to me. You're the man!

A: Pours a very hazy burnt orange/amber color with a small off-white head that seeps slowly back into the liquid from whence it came. Beautiful sticky lacing is left behind, creating a webby/stained-glass appearance on the sides as it descends towards the stem of the glass.

S: Huge bourbon smell is undeniable. However, it's not overwhelming because it's accompanied by sweet caramel and vanilla, dark fruits (fig and raisin), and a touch of oak to round out the complexity.

T: The taste is continually transitioning throughout each sip. It's hard to map the transitions, but here's what I've got: starts off with bourbon and wood and then quickly subsides to allow the sweeter characteristics of caramel and vanilla become prominent. The dark fruits almost simultaneously show up, then everything melds together for a finish comprised of each of the complex subtleties. The bourbon and booze are not so subtle at the finish and create a bit of heat. For 11.50%, though, the booze is masked pretty darn well. This is ridiculously tasty!

M: Mouthfeel is on the fuller side of medium, with carbonation that is more evident in the glass than it is on the tongue. Slightly heavy and slightly sticky with just enough carbonation to keep it lively. The finish is quite drying and makes your tongue beckon for the next sip, which creates the whirlwind of tastes and transitions all over again. Pretty exceptional.

D: This is a sipper for sure, however, the smell and flavors make it difficult to just sip. I keep going back for more quicker than I should, and it can catch up with you if you're not careful.

This is a really nice barleywine. I wish this was available to me where I live as it'd be one that I'd go back to as often as I could. Thanks again Alex!

Photo of Cfeezy
4.48/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle
Hop forward barleywine. On the thinner side as a standalone barleywine but in a nice way(similar to the Barrel aged stout) that is complimented nicely by the barrel aging.
It comes across like a lighter fw Sucaba or bcbbw to me(and not as good as an overall brew) but very nice if you want something similar and "lighter" (maybe not the best descriptive word). O well, recommended!

Photo of Shumista
4.75/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Received two bottles in a recent trade at DLD. The only thing better than a barleywine is one that has spent some time in a barrel. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a thick, syrupy dark golden amber with a small rising off white head. Smell is bourbon and oak, dried dark fruits, alcohol. I think the barrel really takes the smell over. Taste is a wonderful intermingling between the natural flavors of the beer and the flavors imparted by the barrel. Charred oak, bourbon, sweet caramel malt, cherries, caramelized brown sugar, then dried dark fruits and a hoppy bitterness. The finish is sticky, warming a slight bitterness. Mouthfeel is soft (that's the only thing I can think to call it), sticky, warming and comforting (an adjective that I think should be more widely used when describing beers like this). Drinkable enough, you're not really supposed to want another. I'd love sit back and relax with this after a great meal then slip into a buzzed food coma and sleep like a baby.

Photo of amphion1065
4.38/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. from 2011, served in a Duvel tulip. Thanks Chris! Reviewed from notes.

Pours a dark ruby, garnet shad with a 1.5-finger tan head that has phenomenal retention. The lacing is wonderful, thick and clingy throughout. Beautiful beer.

The smell is a pleasant combination of malt and barrel. There is a deep, dark fruit aroma, reminiscent of prunes, but also a stone fruit note that reminds me of apricots. Very nice oak, vanilla quality complements this well. Some alcohol phenols, but they're not overpowering.

"Well-integrated" is the best way I can describe the taste. This is fruity and sweet up front - I taste strawberries in abundance, and they're delicious. Brown sugar, caramel. The bourbon really comes through in the finish, and there is an astringent alcohol note, but it's not overwhelming in the slightest. Some leather and oak in the mix, too. There is almost no alcohol, only a little warmth going down.

CW nailed the mouthfeel, and the low-to-medium level of carbonation befits the thick, lush body perfectly. It might sound odd, but in spite of the many big flavors at work this is an incredibly easy-drinking barleywine.

I cannot believe that this bottle was so young, as the flavors have settled so nicely already. An excellent barrel-aged barleywine, one I will absolutely seek out again.

Photo of matttttYCE
4.44/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage. Huge thanks to Timmyj21 for sending me a few of these in our last trade! You're awesome man!

Pours into a large snifter with a murky, amber-brown, slightly purple hue. The head, light tan in color, reaches it's crest at about a finger high and dies out near as quick as it arose. All I'm left with is a small ring around the glass.

My initial thought is that it's very barrel forward and a touch hot with alcohol. Lots of bourbon barrel juice, hearty oak wood, vanilla, toasted coconut, and even some hints of char like charcoal filtering of the bourbon. Behind that is a nice presence of toffee, burnt brown sugar, plum and dark fruits hinting at chocolate covered cherries, caramel and "heavy" smelling malts. Very pleasing aroma, albeit a tad bit strong.

Starts off with a bit of peppery spice and twinge of alcohol, but it never reaches a hot or boozy level. Part of that may be hints of hops as well. Bourbon, dark charred notes, lots of oak barrel, hints at vanilla and coconut comes through a tad from the nose. Behind that are pleasant notes of toffee, caramelized and burnt brown sugar, candied sugars, dark fruits, plums and raisins, hints of light chocolate and chocolate covered cherries, and plenty of strong malt characteristic. Bourbon and spicey charred oak are on a whole other level in this one. Not that they are insanely intense, just a different side of barrel aging I had yet to taste. That is, I've never really experienced a beer that's had as much charcoal, strong oak, and peppery/spicy bourbon influence as this one. Truth be told, I find myself thoroughly enjoying it.

Carbonation is medium, while consistency is viscous and a bit filmy but not in a bad way. The body is nice and medium to medium-heavy. And the finish is a bit dry and leaves you with more of that peppery bourbon spice. Actually, I'm quite enjoying the finish...it's close to sipping on a nice spicy bourbon.

One word - Outstanding! This beer is wholly enjoyable and actually showed me another side of bourbon barrel aging that I hadn't experienced previously. I love it. Do I love it as much as I love, say, King Henry or Mother of All Storms? Well, I'm hard pressed to give an answer on that. I might have to have the three side by side to determine a favorite. In any case, very well done bourbon barrel aged barleywine. Also, I suppose you could call this one "hot" or "boozy" at this stage. Personally, I enjoyed it like that, but I'm thinking it should start to mellow after little while (say 8-12months). Might even hit a sweet spot. Can't wait to try them down the road a bit.

Photo of schwaeh
3.92/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle from January 2011. An extra from readbaron, thanks man.

A: Pours dark mahogany with a little ring of lace, no head. Decent carbonation flowing and an overall murky look.

S: Smells a touch boozy. This rivals Firestone in the barrel aging, it really comes through loud and clear. Soft sweet malt and dark fruits blend with a lofty dose of bourbon. Toffee, dark fruity esters, sweet bourbon, plum, and fig are all showcased here.

T: Toffee, caramel, fig, vanilla, sweet & smoky bourbon, and a good alcohol burn are what I get. I like that the bourbon seems a little more complex than most in this. Stinging sweetness and some hop bitterness on the finish.

M: Full mouthfeel, low carbonation, sticky, and bitter.

O: This was a long-time want of mine in what is becoming one of my favorite styles. I wanted to have this mellowed out a touch more, the bourbon was unmistakable. If you really take your time with this there are lots of complexities that come out. Well done Central Waters

Photo of Jparker37
4/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 2,046 ratings.