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Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale - Central Waters Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Barleywine AleBourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,855 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,855
Reviews: 535
rAvg: 4.31
pDev: 9.28%
Wants: 661
Gots: 518 | FT: 56
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
American Barleywine |  11.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

(Beer added by: Atron67 on 03-02-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,855 | Reviews: 535 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of biegaman
4.43/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A mucky nutmeg colour with antique brass gloss. There is absolutely no head. None. The beer may appear dull, but hold it up to the light and appreciate all the liveliness that is otherwise concealed; warm fiery tones of pomegranate will greet you.

The aroma is almost equal parts bourbon and barleywine; the blend is sublime. It seems like the hops themselves were soaked in bourbon and then dipped in caramel before being used. This fusion of resiny hops and butterscotch-like malt is masterfully orchestrated into the domain of buttery oak and lots of dark honey.

The barleywine shines through foremost. The malts impart caramel and butterscotch that are so sticky and rich you'll find yourself licking your lips after every sip. The hops, in true American fashion, border on excessive and add a whole bucket of resin. Charred oak and plenty of dark honey ring out.

The bitterness is surprisingly high, I'm sure this could take a couple more years in the cellar. The alcohol is present, as it should be, but not overwhelming. A smaller sample size would be ample but I'm happy to have the whole 12oz bottle to myself. I doubt I'll have any problem finishing it.

Flavours are seamlessly blended but the barleywine is never drowned out. This is a beer foremost, and rightfully so! A lot of brewers who experimented with barrel aging couldn't quite find the balance. Often the beers become overwhelmed by whatever was inhabiting the barrel before it. Not in this case...

This is a wonderful little brewery from Wisconsin and this is the second simply spectacular barrel aged beer I've had from Central Waters (their bourbon-barrel aged stout being the other). I owe a big thanks to the Packers Fan who made both possible, thanks nflmvp, this was one serious treat!

Photo of John_M
4.24/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Last of my central water beers from my trade with Garrett. This is the 2012 version of this beer.

The beer pours a fairly dark brownish amber color with pretty good head retention and lacing. The beer is quite attractive on the nose, as I pick up light milk chocolate, noticeable vanilla, toffee and butterscotch. The flavor profile replicates the nose pretty closely in this sweet, excellent beer. Also, maybe it's from the extended aging in my cellar/closet, but there's a soft creaminess on the palate this is very, very nice. The finish is long as well, and there is a hint of heat from the alcohol on the finish. Otherwise, the alcohol is pretty well integrated into the flavor profile.

Very nice beer from Central Waters (which is what I've come to expect from them). My only complaint is that I really didn't pick up a whole lot of bourbon, etiher on the nose or the palate. Otherwise, this is a very fine beer from CW.

Photo of ppoitras
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle obtained in the No BS 4 BIF via dirtylou. Thanks for the opportunity. 2009 edition.

Poured into Chimay chalice, formed a 1/4" tan head over the cloudy red brew. Head is quickly down to a swirly skim, with heavy legs and light but lasting lace. Aroma is syrupy sweet, with prominent alcohol.

Taste begins sweet, passes through some leathery tannins in the middle, barrel character near the close, and then alcohol comes on full bore at the end. Numb lips, warming down the gullet, it's all there. Mouthfeel is way smooth, and drinkability is good in the I want another sometime sense, not the I want another bottle or three right now sense. At least not if you have any sense, with abv such as it is.

Photo of KAF
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of billab914
3.85/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured from a 12oz bottle into my Dogfish snifter. It poured a lighter brown color with a little bit of an orange tint to it. A very thin, white ring clung to the edges of the glass. It actually left a decent amount of lacing for how little of a head it had.

The aroma has a lot going on in it. I get some juicy, fruity, citrus like flavors coming out, with a bit of an orange juice, pineapple flavor to it. The bourbon is there and gives it some woody, boozy bourbon flavors. I'm getting a little bit of a dark fruit soaked in vodka quality to it as well. A little boozy overall and not as smooth as some of my favorites in the style, but not bad overall.

Things come together better for me in the taste. I get more of the malty, caramel flavors mixing with the bourbon up front. Midway I start to get more of the juicy, citrus bitterness to it with some grapefruit and pine present in the finish. A little bit of the woody, oak and vanilla flavor comes through in the finish. Again, a little boozy in the finish overall but not too bad.

The mouthfeel is on the heavier side for the style and carbonation is moderate. Overall it was a pretty solid beer, but didn't really wow me like some barrel aged barleywines have. It felt a little too juicy, citrusy and bitter as well as boozy at times, but then also smooth and drinkable at times when the malty flavors came out more. It had some very nice high points to it and was a very nice sipping beer this evening, but fell a little short of being a truly world class beer of the style.

Photo of Kelp
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of HopHead84
4.47/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Received as an extra in a trade with eyncognito. 2008 Vintage. Pours the color of rust with a 3/4 inch head. Retention is good and there's some lacing on my glass. The aroma is sweet and malty. Toffee and caramel notes are strong. Some earthy hops are present but are not prominent. The bourbon aroma is nice and strong. The bourbon is strong in the flavor and complements the sweet toffee. There's a medium level of hop bitterness, as well as some vanilla and caramel. The alcohol is quite strong. Mediumfull bodied with good carbonation.

Update: Received the 2009 vintage in a trade with eyncognito and bumped the drinkability up to 4.5

Photo of sendbeer
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of ShanePB
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of Zaphog
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of liamt07
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%

Photo of PEIhop
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.13/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage received from abents a long while back.. Thanks Adam. Trying to only drink from the cellar for a bit ... and I realized I hadn't reviewed this one.

Poured into MNFG.. 2 finger light khaki head.. great lace atop a crystal clear perfectly amber brew.

Nose is very rich ABW... tons of maltiness with still quite a bit of citric hoppiness. the barrel really comes across more as a fairly thick vanilla essence as opposed to bourbon..

Flavor begins the same as the nose.. thick .. rich .. and blankets the palate .. less vanilla and more oak than the aroma.. bunches of caramel.. and still a definite citric hoppiness.. medium body and a lighter than expected carbonation tilt toward a silky mouthfeel... the alcohol is there, but not bad at all..

This is pretty damn nice right now.... I don't know if any more age is gonna help it though.. I think with another year, the malts may become a bit cloying and leave the hops behind and not be as balanced.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.05/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into an Allagash chalice. 2012 bottle.

Appearance - Deep ruby. Pours clear until some sediment comes through and I pull back the bottle. Holding it up reveals suspended silt like sea monkeys in red wine. Yum.

Smell - Very nice bourbon aroma with a shot of grapefruit hops. Caramel and vanilla shine through, but brown sugar is subdued by the hop presence.

Taste - Health barrel up front. Bourbon mostly. Vanilla compounds blend with the caramel backing to all of it. Brown sugar a little more prevalent here. Hops come back with a vengeance in the aftertaste. Combine with a sharp oak flavor that is a bit harsh.

Mouthfeel - Boozy. Barrel hot and a hot beer. I enjoy older vintages of this a little more. Sharp hops, booze, and barrel make for an intense beer that I'd rather was more subtle in all categories.

Overall - Excellent beer, if not the best BA barleywine out there. A consistent standby that I almost always have in my fridge.

Photo of Cynic-ale
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of Viggo
4.38/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to grub for opening up this treat.

Pours a hazy dark orange, pumpkin colour, light bit of brown, thin off white head forms, drops immediately to a ring around the glass, not much lacing, looks okay. Smell is crazy, tons of bourbon, toffee, oak, vanilla, very buttery, alcohol, rum raisins, very malty, bourbon really complements. Taste is intense, big toffee, rough alcohol edge, bourbon, vanilla and oak, coconut, more toffee, raisins, bananas Foster, toasty butter finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with low carbonation, very smooth. This stuff is great, right amount of bourbon and great oak flavour, need to get some more of these. Thanks Russ!

Photo of Rhettroactive
3.83/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 12oz bottle to Bruges hybrid glass on 5/8/12
*From notes

-- This review is for the 2012 vintage only --

A: Unflitered honey comb in color. An elegant, straight pour down the center of the glass yields a 1.5 finger off-white, bubbly head.

S: Sweet bourbon, wild field flowers, sherry and ripe vine fruit.

T: Pretty on point, though not entirely. Pleasant sweetness hits first and lingers from start to finish. I should say that it becomes overly cloying as I continue drinking the beer. A jolt of juicy, almost tart hops hit the mid. Creamy malt rides to the back, and the bourbon packs a lot of heat on the finish. It doesn't linger long, and it feels a bit watery the longer I wait between sips.

M: A lighter BA Barleywine. Sure it's pretty thick, and the carbonation is alright. It just doesn't pack the punch you'd hope for in a big beer like this.

O: Certainly the best brew I've had from Central Waters, yet it doesn't reach the echelon of the best in-class. It gets to be too much, as the residual sugar is overly cloying and makes this hard to put back. An above average offering.

*I had a 2010 next to this. My notes are as follows:

A: 3.5 / A bit darker, though overall it's extremely similar.
S: 3 / Not nearly as pungent or rich. Not a lot of fruit or spirit to it.
T: 4 / Dryer. Less imediate heat, and the bourbon is much more subdued. Heavier on the char.
M: 4 / A touch more weight, though it's almost spot-on.
O: 3.5 / I preferred it fresh.

Photo of Bighuge
4.03/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Murky looking crimson. Thin, creamy beige head. Good retention and lace propensity. Nose is quite sweet and quite bourbony. It really just drips caramel and nougat and a little booze with the vanilla like bourbon notes. Really good aroma. Pretty hot feel to it right off the bat. But also nice traits of bourbon, caramel malt, nougat and passion fruits. It's got a little of that spiked punch feel to it but it's not overboard. Spicy alcohol lingers. It's lightly carbonated and about medium bodied. I think this beer needs to sleep for a few years to take the edge off. Nowhere near as good as the fresh Kosmyk Charlie or especially the aged Charlie I've had in years past. But then again, those were as close to perfection in a beer as I've ever seen.

Props to BA nflmvp for this beer on the day the NFL MVP said his good-bye.

Photo of Derek
4.5/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had this after the Y2K Catastrophe, and this one completely blew it away.

A: Hazy amber-brown, light tan head, good retention, slight lacing.

S: Alcohol with hints of bourbon, very woody, nice caramel.

T: The wood aging really shows, while the bourbon is pleasantly subdued. Some caramel, nut & spice with hints of fruit & dark chocolate. Good bitterness. Alcohol is slightly warming. It's between a 4.5 & a 5, so I'll be generous.

M: Moderate body, slight residual sweetness, carbonation on the low side of moderate.

D: An awesome sipper.

Photo of chippo33
4.75/5  rDev +10.2%

Photo of tobelerone
4/5  rDev -7.2%

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.25/5  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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.25/5  rDev -1.4%

Photo of glid02
4.6/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle shared by Grant - thanks!

Pours a bright copper color with a one-finger cream-colored head. The head slowly recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving thick lacing.

Smells of sticky caramel malts with good amounts of butterscotch, toffee, bourbon, and vanilla, in that order. Also present are hints of deeper chocolate malt aromas.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Rich caramel malt flavors with loads of bourbon flavors joining in shortly thereafter. Butterscotch and toffee flavors lead the pack with amounts of vanilla that are larger than that in the aroma. The sweetness subsides just a bit midway through the sip but other than that there is really no influence from hops. The ending is sticky and mildly sweet, leaving bourbon flavors lingering on the palate.

Mouthfeel is very good. It's thickness is on the more viscous side with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is great. I finished my glass very quickly and could drink a whole lot of these.

Overall I was very impressed with this beer and even more so when I discovered the low price. This beer is a steal and well worth a shot.

Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
96 out of 100 based on 1,855 ratings.