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

Not Rated.
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch AleBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

529 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 529
Reviews: 76
rAvg: 4.21
pDev: 7.84%
Wants: 66
Gots: 113 | FT: 15
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  ABV ?

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: tourdot on 07-15-2013

Cherrywood smoked Scotch ale aged in used 12 year old bourbon barrels.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 529 | Reviews: 76
Photo of hardy008
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours dark black with brown highlights. Has a 1/4 finger tan head with nice retention and lacing. The aroma has bourbon, vanilla, peat, and toffee.

Has a nice sweet malty flavor with bourbon, vanilla, toffee, peat, and caramel. The bourbon is there, but it does not make the beer taste overly boozy, which I appreciate. This is very well made, as the bourbon blends in nicely with the rest of the beer.

Medium bodied, smooth, easy to drink, with perfect carbonation. A very well made beer, which I would buy again gladly.

Photo of MattyG85
4.4/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

Appearance: Pours a very deep and dark blackish brown with a slight hint of ruby. Moderate amount of bubbles and one finger of tan head that recedes into a thin patchy layer. Leaves a lot of lacing around the glass.

Smell: A dark and toasty malt driven aroma with a big bourbon barrel presence. Upfront and strong bourbon whiskey with hints of oak, vanilla, and wood. Bready and toasted malts with big hints of sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, grain, and yeast. Also some subtle hints of roast chocolate, coffee, and peat. Dark fruit hints of fig and dates. Earthy hop hints in the background. Slight scent of alcohol as expected. A very good aroma.

Taste: Lives up to the good aroma, a bourbon whiskey soaked dark and toasty caramel malt taste.Big barrel presence upfront with notes of bourbon whiskey, oak, vanilla, and wood. Toasted malts with notes of sweet caramel, toffee, biscuit, toast, grains, smoke, and yeast. Also some undertones of dark chocolate, coffee, and peat. Dried dark fruit undertones of fig and dates. Subtle background of earthy hops and some alcohol taste. Very big with the bourbon barrel presence. Pretty good taste.

Mouthfeel: Body is on the heavier side of medium. Carbonation is moderate. Creamy, silky, and somewhat syrupy. A little alcohol heat is felt but things are pretty smooth.

Overall: A very good barrel aged Scotch ale. Bold barrel presence and some good toasty caramel malt flavor.

Photo of Vonerichs
4.21/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Deep mahogany color with a little clarity. LIttle head.

Sweet bourbon smells of oak, vanilla, toasted coconut. There's a light earthy tobacco smell.

The taste is moderately sweet with vanilla and lightly toasted coconut. Earthy, wet leaves. Toffee. Light milk chocolate.

On the lighter side of medium body. Low carbonation. Sweet and smooth, not boozy at all.

It's a very solid barrel aged beer. The scotch ale contributes a nice sweet side with earthy tones. Very enjoyable.

Photo of ZAP
4.81/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A-Deep brown color....nice tan head and lace

S--Huge bourbon aroma...sweet caramel, toffee, vanilla, nougat, oak...

T-Tough to match the aroma but this comes close....I debated hard between a 5.0 and 4.75 and settled on the later as I feel the aroma also helps the flavor as you drink it....on its own the flavor is big on the bourbon, vanilla, toffee and caramel....much the same as the aroma but not as intense....just a hint of dark fruits as well...light peaty malts emerge late...

M-Nice velvety lush feel to this....I'd call it high side of medium bodied or light side of full bodied...splitting hairs....

OThis is an elite offerings. One of the my favorite beers of all-time. These fuckers do the bourbon barrel aging right....

Photo of RoamingGnome
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale.

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a CBS snifter. Served lightly chilled.

A) Dark brown with a bit of a shimmer. A finger of tan head, which slowly settled to a collar. Spotty lacing, and some traction on the swirl.

S) A pleasant amount of vanilla on the nose. A whiff of caramel as well. The oak barrel is also noted, along with just a little alcohol.

T) Starts out with malt and vanilla sweetness, followed by a nice touch of bourbon, blending well with a woody flavor. Finishes slightly sweet with just a little alcohol heat.

M) Lighter medium body, with lighter carbonation. Some light alcohol warmth, but really a nice smooth sipper.

O) Highly enjoyable offering from Central Waters. Admittedly, I wasn't the biggest fan of their regular Scotch Ale, but doggone it, they aged it in some bourbon barrels, and it tastes fantastic.

Photo of flexabull
3.98/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of maximum12, thanks again!

Pours a deep dark brown color with a really thin white head. Really still looking as well.

Aromas are of coconut, bourbon, and toasted oak. Smells good, not much in the way of beer notes here though.

Taste is of bourbon, brown sugar, and coconuts up front. Notes of oak, roasted nuts, light booze, cola and a general warm feeling from the alcohol. Tasty and complex beer.

Mouthfeel is a on the thin side, but it's smooth and soft.

Overall, a very tasty beer with a few minor flaws.

Photo of morimech
3.65/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dark color, almost stout like darkness, with two fingers of dense head that had excellent retention. The head settles to a creamy cap. Thick coating of lacing is left down the glass.

Very pleasing aroma. A lot of barrel comes through with heavy doses of bourbon and vanilla. Other things that come out is caramel, wood, and earth. Pick up some alcohol as well.

This beer is a little harsh in flavor. Booze upfront with a somewhat unpleasant wood flavor. Bourbon is represented but it does not meld into the beer very well. The finish is a particular disappointment as it ends with a bitter, harsh astringency.

Feels full with a carbonation that seems to change character. Feels smooth and creamy at the front of the mouth, but as it works its way back, it livens up.

Has some great qualities, but fails where it matters most. Still a worthwhile drinking experience but it is no Backwoods Bastard.

Photo of Fcolle2
4.57/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown with a very faint red hue. Head is tan and dissipates somewhat quickly.

Smell is great, dark fig and date like fruity notes over a great toffee, caramel malt. Nice hints of bourbon and oak are also present near the end.

Date like fruit is the first flavor to hit the tounge followed by a nice bourbon alcohol bite with hints of oak in the exhale. Malt is rich and caramel like.

Mouthfeel is great. Has a medium body, caramel like thickness and medium carbonation.

Overall this was a great scotch ale. I would love to put some of these away. I have had some great experiences aging some central waters bourbon barrel brews and I'm sure this will be no exception.

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

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

Deep, dark copper with no head. Very murky with no clarity.

Caramel, bourbon, toffee, vanilla, nuts and cocoa.

Copious amounts of caramel and candy sugars. Notes of nuts, peat smoke, toffee and cocoa nib. Has a good bourbon presence that adds to the sweetness. Hints of charred oak and vanilla.

Medium bodied, silky and smooth.

Spot on Scotch Ale + nice barrel aging = a quality beer.

Photo of pmarlowe
4.2/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 vintage. Tulip glass.

A: Pours a very dark coffee brown, opaque, with a thin film of tannish head. The quickly receding head forms a persistent ring. Some dots of lacing.

S: Rich, delicious liquid caramel candies. Wow, unique. A bit of barrel character (bourbon, coconut), sweetness, cola, plum/dark fruit.

T: Caramel, mild bitterness, a little dried fruit (cranberry), just a tinge of bourbon and oak, finishing mostly dry.

M: Medium body and medium, sharpish, cola-like carbonation.

O: Very nice aroma. The taste is almost very good but not quite there--the bitterness is not really complementary, and I think it could use some richness.

Photo of zeledonia
3.81/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

A new barrel-aged beer from CW! Picked up a single. Tasted 27 August 2013, reviewed from notes.

Pours dark brown, the color of "black" coffee. Clear brown at the edges. One finger of medium tan head, okay retention, not much lacing. Decent.

Smell is sweet bourbon, rich and grainy, and backed by a hefty sweet malt base. It's really nice, kinda popping out at me. It comes on strong, then lets the complexity shine through. Like a little brother to Backwoods Bastard (which it certainly can't match, but it's in the same league at least).

This stuff is potent, with a hefty kick that makes me think the ABV is up there. Makes me wince a little, too. Flavors are hard to dig out of it. Really earthy, black mud, and the bourbon seems to bring alcohol more than anything else. Mostly lacking the brightness that I want from the barrel. Moderate to high bitterness in the back, which I think is alcohol.

Medium-heavy body, carbonation that starts out too low and slowly raises up to peak at only a little too low. Needs more vibrancy.

Tasty stuff. There are other, better, bourbon-barrel scotch ales around, but not many. I'd definitely drink it again, though only when I'm in the mood for such a thing.

Photo of WankelEngine
4.26/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours an opaque, dark mahogany color with a light tan head that fades to almost nothing over the course of a minute.

S: The sweet scent of coconut and vanilla leap out of the glass. Almost reminiscent of a macaroon. Followed by toffee and candied walnut. A mild, sweet bourbon and a hint of oak join the aroma as the beer warms.

T: Caramel and toffee lead, followed by fig, cherry and vanilla. Bourbon is apparent in the mid-palate which combines with mild alcohol to counter the overall sweet flavor. Some roasted notes. Oak tannin builds in potency during the sip, further countering the beer's sweetness and leading to a relatively dry finish compared to the rest of the beer.

M: Medium bodied with low, fizzy bubble. A little sticky.

O: I am surprised by how sweet the beer manages to be while still remaining balanced. The first things I notice are all sugary: vanilla, coconut, caramel, toffee, candied nuts, etc. Even the bourbon is sweet. But then a light roasted flavor, oak tannin and relatively small, sharp carbonation come together to keep it from being cloying. Still sweet, but not quite a dessert beer. Great take on a scotch ale.

Photo of Etan
4.09/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz into a snifter.

A: Pours pretty much black, a little darker than most scotch ales, with a nice tan head.

S: Nose brings smooth bourbon, light roast, egg cream, some moderate notes of chocolate and fig.

T: Taste brings thick, pleasant bourbon, drying charred oak tannins, caramel, a bit of raisin, toasted grain, slight smokiness.

M: Thick-bodied with moderate carbonation, very creamy. Spot-on.

O: A very nice barrel-aged scotch ale. More on the dark, roasty side than I'm used to for scotch ales, but a good beer nonetheless.

Photo of homebrew311
3.7/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into Darkness glass. Appearance is a deep dark amber with minimal light passage. Some tan head upon pour with moderate retention. The nose starts with mellow bourbon notes, mainly vanilla. Some malt base is present at the back, a touch of smoke and peat paired with caramel. Taste starts out with smooth vanilla and a bit of oak. The oak seems to add some acidity to the flavor, not sure if this is intent all or what. Light bitterness present next with strong caramel and a metallic twinge on the finish. I can't help but perceive the beginnings of the infected flavors I experienced in Peruvian Morning. Perhaps this is just from some astringency from the oak, As it stands, this is a tasty brew, but I'm not sure how long this one will hold up.

Photo of beatenbyjacks
4.07/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Appearance - very dark with a caramel colored head that recedes quickly leaving no lacing

Smell - lots of Oaky deliciousness. Hints of vanilla come to mind as well. Just a great smelling beer. Lots of bourbon as well!

Taste - musky, wooden, oak flavor with a bourbon finish. Wow this little bottle packs a punch! Nicely done

Mouthfeel - leaves a bit of bourbon on the tongue with some bitterness.

Overall - job well done. Nice balance to this complex beer

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

A- pours a dark brown color with black cherry striations a fast receding tan head leaves a small fresh cap
S-bourbon and wood with hint of vanilla and toffee
T- smooth bourbon with creamy vanilla malts caramel butterbread in the back
M- bourbon is up front but it also has a smooth creamy malt taste that mellows the alcodolheat
O- another great BB offering from CW this one is outstanding

Photo of MasterSki
4.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On-tap at Local Option. Served in a chalice.

A - A big tan foam settles to a thick cap and glass-coating lacework. Very dark brown, opaque body.

S - Massive bourbon aroma, large doses of vanilla and coconut, light wood, some sweet toffee and treacle; definite Scotch Ale character that punches through the barrel flavors. Nice balance, not overly cloying, and not overly boozy either.

T - The taste is quite nice, but doesn't match the aroma. A bit more milk chocolate, caramel, and nougat and less of the vanilla and coconut flavors. There's a touch of astringent wood in the finish, but the alcohol is well-hidden on the whole.

M - Definitely medium-bodied, and perhaps a bit thin although without an ABV it's hard to tell. A tad watery, but with lots of residual stickiness after a moderately tannic, oaky finish. Perhaps a touch of light alcohol warming here.

D - Smells great, although I think a 12oz bottle would be a pretty hefty serving; it took me awhile to work through my chalice. Still, it's pretty nice stuff and a definite return to form for Central Waters after some middling and 'off' beers.

Photo of vic21234
4.29/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into a snifter, cooled in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving.

A- Pours a dark brown, borderline black with a small amount of light being let in along the top. A small amount of cream colored head quickly fades to the sides of the glass. Lacing is also apparent.

S- The smell is heavy on bourbon and oak. I also get some caramel and toffee notes as well.

T- Starts very smooth with caramel malts. Notes of toffee and dark fruits come about as well. The bourbon and oakiness are prevalent and work well with the other flavors.

M- Medium bodied, low to medium carbonation, very nice sipper with slight alcohol warming with each sip.

Central Waters has yet another fine BA offering here. I plan to age 2 of my bottles to see how it develops.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.05/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank this on August 4, 2013 as an after steak and 4wheelin' (quad) excursion in Imlay, NV.

Looked like a sturdy brown ale, kind of dirty looking, but far from unappealing or unprofessional. Thin brown head on it, of a lighter variety color.

Aroma was impressive, minimal peat, a nice mellow bourbon and wood barrel existence, mild. Very mild, but very appropriate and inviting. Taste, wow, its damn good too. I don't know why, but I thought this would be all "scotchy" but its actually a very malty, mellow existence. Equal parts everything kind of beer. Except hops. Almost none of those, as per style. Stays away from too much dark fruit and subsequent bitterness those entail. The non sweet caramel and toffee is a nice touch too.

Subtlety is strong in this one (oxymoron).

Photo of groovy24
3.15/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

2013 Fresh
Serving Type: 12 oz bottle poured into a Central Waters snifter

Appearance: Opaque with ruby color on the edge

Smell: Straight up bourbon...masks any other potential aromas

Taste: Again, a lot of bourbon with hint of burnt caramel/toffee

Mouthfeel: A little thin with good carbonation

Overall: The bourbon is overpowering the base beer here. I'll sit on a few of these and see if that will fade over time

Photo of NewGlarusFan
4.78/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had at Minocqua Beer fest on tap in sample glass.

A) Dark brown leather, bourbon, and a good amount of red around the edge and light coming through the glass. It's a very pretty beer with coco colored head.

S) Bourbon very intense, alcohol, soda bread, malt,

T) bourbon perfect balance too. Malty finish and little fusal alcohol after taste

M) Not as thick as I expected Medium carbonation not

O) Great on tap, wish I remembered this one more, but I'll wait to buy in bottles.

Photo of mjpolzin
4.15/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Another spectacular offering from Central Water's bourbon barrel series...

I am not a huge fan of Central Water's regular scotch ale and you can definitely taste that base beer come through in this barrel aged variation. In my opinion though, Central Waters could age just about anything in bourbon barrels and I would drink it. (I say somewhat sarcastically)

The smell and taste of the bourbon is ever present and very familiar as it is a similar taste to everything else in their bourbon barrel series. I have had some barrel aged beers that just aren't that great but CW seems to have the process down as their bourbon taste is overpowering but subtle at the same time. The maltiness of the base scotch ale blends quite well with the bourbon but as I said at the start of this review, I am not the biggest fan of the Slainte' (the regular scotch ale) so I am left wanting a little more on the finish of each sip.

At the end of the day though, Central Waters knocks another one out of the park in their Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Series.

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.19/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

poured into Tulip glass.

Appearance: black cola bodied beer with a thin cap of white head resulting from a hard pour. The cap drops quickly to a thin ring around the outside of glass. 3.75

Smell: This is like most central waters barrel aged offerings its fairly barrel forward. A nice bourbon note that is mellow and smooth while still being the main focus of the beer's nose. The bourbon is sweet, woody, and did mention... smooth? If you could smell smooth it would smell like this! A slight hint of dark fruits and smokey malts. Also getting notes of milk chocolates and vanilla. Really digging the nose of this beer. 4.75

Taste: Substantially big bourbon notes start this beer off. The taste is both sweet and woody just like the nose of the beer expressed, but the bourbon has a little bit of a burn to it. So thats interesting enough, that the bourbon is mellow in the nose, but got a decent amount of a booze kick that I would say is just short of a moderate booziness. In the middle of the beer the bourbon notes recede and thats when some chocolate and vanilla flavors begin to surface. The beer finishes with a hint of smoke and fruitiness that is overshadowed by more sweet and woody bourbon notes. 4.25

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with low carbonation levels. Mouthfeel is slick, sticky, slightly creamy and silky too. The beer drinks at its ABV; its got a decent amount of booziness that could be mellowed out a little bit more. 3.75

Overall: On the negative side...the base beer got lost in the overall effect of this beer. It is hard to tell that the beer is a barrel aged Scotch Ale. The barrel notes hide most of the Scotch ales smells and flavors. On the positive side... the barrel notes in this beer are stellar as always with anything that Central Waters puts in bourbon barrels. So I guess its kind of a draw. I still really enjoyed this beer, but in my opinion it needs two tweaks:

1. the scotch ale needs to be more promintent player in the beer, in other words more balance of barrel aging with the base beer.

2. More time in the barrel to mellow out the boozey burn found in this beer, a perfect example lies in what central waters did this year with all the barrel aged offerings... 2013 vintages of the CW brewers reserve beers (Bourbon Barrel Stout, Peruvian Morning, Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, & Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout) in the barrel for a full year instead of the 6 months (which is what they previously practiced). This made such a remarkable difference in the quality of CW's final product is was really impressive to speak honestly. 3.75

Photo of Stevedore
3.72/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle (bottling code is 19013, suggesting July 9 bottling which makes this 13 days old) poured into a Bell's snifter today, 7/22/2013.

Sniffing the beer does not give me any reason to think it is a particularly complex one. Yet, the smell of sweet bourbon is dominant. There is a small bit of vanilla and oak in the background. Not smelling a whole ton of the base beer itself. This is basically the bourbon barrel and nothing else.

It pours a very dark cola coloured body, with a substantial cream coloured head starting at 1cm and dissipating to a thick collar within minutes. Not much lacing to be seen. A very dark body for a scotch ale, I thought.

The taste itself manifests as an initial but brief malt sweetness, making me think toffee and caramel that is quickly followed by a charcoal bourbon sweetness that can't help but dominate the malt portion of the beer. There is a good creamy vanilla flavour accompanying the bourbon, but not a whole ton of wood or oak.

The feel on this beer is substantial. A thicker medium body with decent carbonation. It feels creamy and smooth, but of course it is not a full bodied beer. Despite that, I think that it does the job. It is a resinous, somewhat syrupy beer that coats the palate in charcoal bourbon sweetness.

I don't drink bourbon but I don't mind bourbon (e.g. BCBS). If I wanted straight up bourbon, I would invest in a good bottle of bourbon. The bourbon is strong here but it is at the expense of the base beer, which I can barely taste. I can't help but think that Central Waters just threw Slainte into used bourbon barrels as a money grab. Slainte is a fine scotch ale on its own, but it does not get much of a chance to shine here. As a style comparison, this is nowhere close to being in the neighborhood of Backwoods Bastard or BA Big Sound. As a local comparison, I consider Shaggin in the Wood to be significantly better. I can't recommend this beer to most, but if you enjoy a strong bourbon flavour, this is probably your beer.

Photo of Ri0
4.39/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured 12 oz bottle into Duvel tulip. This was bottled one week ago.

A - Dark caramel brown with a thin khaki head. Thin collar that leaves minimal lacing.

S - Bourbon and oak with a sweet, rich caramel aroma. Hints of vanilla and dark malt. This is less bourbon forward than their other BB beers, but it is awesome.

T - Good amount of bourbon and oak up front, but a bit subdued. Sweet malty flavors of caramel, and vanilla. The wood blends in nicely with the malt flavors are pretty to make it sweet and rich.

M - Medium bodied with decent carbonation, rich and creamy finish with a lingering woody taste.

O - Almost as good as BWB and great to have in the summer time when very few BA beers or Scotch Ales are available. I'm not aging this because I think it is perfect to drink right now.

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
94 out of 100 based on 529 ratings.