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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.

120 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 120
Hads: 671
Avg: 4.29
pDev: 17.95%
Wants: 72
Gots: 176 | FT: 25
Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co. visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy |  9.50% 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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 120 | Hads: 671
Photo of DavidHume
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A 2014 bottle which had been forgotten in the back of my fridge poured into an Adroit Theory teku.

Pours very dark, nearly black. Almost as dark as the imperial stout my SO is drinking. A khaki head dissipates to a sticky lacing around the edges and a Milky Way of bubbles scattered over the surface.

Aromas of caramel, toffee, and vanilla, with slight hints of dark fruit and bourbon.

The flavor starts with sweet caramel, followed by plums, figs, vanilla, bourbon, and a little cinnamon spiciness, finishing with toffee sweetness balanced by a nutty/coconut dryness.

It's more like a barrel aged barleywine than a wee heavy, but that doesn't matter to me, as the two styles aren't all that different. What does matter is that it's a delicious barrel aged strong ale which has only gotten better after a year in the back of the fridge.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.11/5  rDev -4.2%

2013 bottle as a trade extra. Pours murky brown amber color with a small off white head that recedes quickly. Beautiful bourbon aroma with plenty of vanilla, oak, toffee, caramel, brown sugar. Flavor is lots of brown sugar, raisins, vanilla and marshmallow finish, bourbon, toffee, oak, a tad of metallic oxidization. Big body, some booziness, medium plus carbonation, smooth long finish. Nice brew and deserved love in the style.

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Photo of TWStandley
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%

Poured from the bottle into my large snifter.

Appeared a dark brown, nearly black color with a half finger light brown head. Left some nice syrupy looking lacing on my glass.

Smells of vanilla, brown sugar, and a bit of dark fruits.

Taste is heavy on the vanilla (which I love). Also a bit buttery. The barrel aging on this is superb.

Mouthfeel was velvety and smooth. Alcohol was hidden pretty well.

Overall an awesome BA Scotch ale. I love what CW does in their barrels.

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Photo of dar482
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

The beer comes in a copper reddish rust color.

The aroma has caramel sweetness, sweet dark fruit, slight bourbon, and woodiness.

The flavor follows with the sweetness of bourbon, caramel, and dark fruit in the front. The woodiness of the beer attacks on the middle. A good amount of woody bitterness and drying.

An incredible brew that has lots of similarities to Backwoods Bastards with a hint more mouthfeel and sweetness.

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Photo of PBRmeasap1980
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%

12 oz bottle at Top Hops from frigde into snifter at bar

Warmed with hands for a while

A- Deep, dark brown
S- Bourbon, Carmel, sweet notes typical of a scotch ale.. amost butter scotch. Smells so good as it warms.
M- Great balance of the bourbon barrel with the base beer. You still get the scotch malts and sweetness, but amplified in the perfect way by the bourbon
M- Creamy and just on the prefect side of heavy

O- This is a great beer. So glad I had it and would always try it again.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.8/5  rDev -11.4%

12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep brown body. Medium off-white head. Settles to a thin collar.

Smell - Bourbon, but it's kinda light. Oak and vanilla are stronger. Toffee malt. Light butterscotch.

Taste - Bourbon permeates throughout and comes off stronger. Oak also persistent. Sweet toffee flavor. Butterscotch is pretty strong here. A little overwhelming. Finishes woody with a bourbon aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - Medium heavy. A little sweet. Slick and creamy. Medium low carbonation.

Overall - It's very slick and the butterscotch flavor almost takes over. The bourbon keeps it pretty interesting, though.

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Photo of fischgaard
4.59/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a fantastic beer. The bourbon barrels worked overtime on this majestic offering. The nose is as expected with rich toffee and a classic bourbon scent. The smooth, almost creamy beverage is a comfortable on the tongue. The flavor is sweet, with a sense of higher abv than the beer offers. The nice tingle in the back of the mouth is reminiscent of a well aged bourbon. This one is a case purchase and store.

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Photo of metter98
3.99/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: The beer is black when viewed from afar, but upon closer inspection the edges are dark reddish brown when it is held up to a bright light. It poured with a a thin tan head that died down, leaving lacing on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of bourbon and vanilla are present in the nose.
T: The initial taste has some flavors of caramelized malts, but most of the taste and the entire finish us dominated by the bourbon.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. Slight bits of warming are present in the finish.
O: This beer is really pleasant to drink, but there seems to be a bit too much bourbon and you can't taste much of the scotch ale. It isn't clear how much alcohol is in this beer from the label, but it doesn't get in the way of the taste.

Note: 2014 vintage

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Photo of ksimons
4.06/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-very dark mahogany color with a fingers worth of tan head that leaves a layer of lace around the top

S-lots of bourbon, vanilla sweetness, and caramel malt

T-not as much bourbon in the taste as the smell, very sweet tasting with vanilla and caramel and maybe even a bit of milk chocolate. Not sure what the ABV is on this, but alcohol is well hidden, no alcohol burn.

M-medium to full body, light carbonation

Overall really nice smell, nice body, and a good blend of flavors. Would happily drink again.

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Photo of robear
4.48/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into 4oz Stone inverted triangle taster

Appearance: Dark ruby brown.Thin layer of foam quickly dissipates completely. No particularly impressive in the glass. You can tell it's a Scotch Ale, but I was expecting a bit more foam.

Smell: Caramel, leather, cherries, but all muted really nicely by a punch of bourbon. Something vaguely metallic, possibly driven by the malts.

Taste: Same level of bourbon as BBA Stout. A ton of sweetness. Sweet cherries, figs, maybe even roasted plantains hiding in there. I gotta say, the bourbon is a little bit strong right now, but the toffee and caramel flavors remind us that this is a Scotch Ale.

Mouthfeel: I swear this is thicker than last year. It has more body than BBA Stout for sure. Remains thick without getting chewy.

Overall: So glad I picked this up again. I didn't fall in love with it last year, but this fresh bottle is fantastic. If it's in your market, it is well worth the $13-ish 4-pack price. I'd rank it ahead of this year's BBA Stout but just behind BBA BW. Would be awesome if this were aged in some Highland barrels.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.37/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle purchased at AJ's Beer Warehouse in Henrietta, NY.

Pours a medium dark brown, slightly hazy, with a small quarter inch or so head, and no real lacing.

Smells absolutely incredible, very sweet bourbon forward, lots of vanilla, some chocolate, root beer, coconut. Just awesome.

The taste is similar, but not quite as good. Still tasty, though. An over-riding bourbony rootbeer flavor. There is the aforementioned vanilla, chocolate, and coconut, a tiny bit of oak. Very sweet and silky flavor- doesn't taste much like a traditional scotch ale, but still tastes good..

Medium bodied, a bit thicker than some of CW's other main line of BA beers. There is a low level of carbonation. This is one is really drinkable.

CW brings it again, it seems like they can't miss on their barrel program.

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Photo of Mantooth
4.21/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Picked up in trade from @FlandersNed

Drank this at nearly room temp and was fairly well blown away. This viscous concoction pours a dark amber, with minimal head and oily lacing. The nose and taste are an explosion of vanilla and caramel and just the right amount of booze. This brew was good enough that I actually had regret after drinking it - I should have shared it with a buddy. One hell of a good scotch ale.

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Photo of don1481
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12o bottle bought at Discount Liquor. Poured into pint glass.

Appearance: Pours a very dark caramel color with some carbonation that sticks to the side of the glass. Off-white head that retains decently.

Smell: Toffee, caramel, vanilla all come right on through. And the bourbon. Who can forget that? Some peatiness. Pretty complex.

Taste: Very much an in your face beer. The bourbon and peat smack you right away, followed with the sweetness of carmel and vanilla. This is a beer that means business.

Mouthfeel: Pretty thick, somewhat syrupy. Little boozy aftertaste.

Overall: $3.49 for a bottle well spent.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle opened on 4.23.14

A - Pours a very dark brown-amber with a fluffy dark tan head that bubbles away slowly.

S - Bourbon, caramel-toffee, vanilla.

T - Caramel, then some bourbon heat, malty finish.

D - Good carbonation with a medium body.

O - Lots of bourbon presence, a touch of heat as well.

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Photo of foobula
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle. Bottlecap and seal in good shape. Dark brown pour with a one-finger tan head. Cloudy appearance with lots of visible sediment throughout the beer, not just in the bottom of the bottle. Aroma features lots of sweet bourbon. A bit of sourness in the background. Nose is decent and reminds me of CW's BB Barleywine. Taste is sweet & bourbon up front that really pops. Some tanginess on the sides. A little roasty in the finish. Mostly the taste is about the sweet & bourbon. Mouthfeel is nice, pretty thick, a little syrupy. Below average carbonation. Overall it's a nice beer. 1.5 years of age haven't altered it much, from my recollection. Lots of sweetness, a little roast. Nice barrel presence.

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Photo of zappoman
3.97/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: 3.5
A dark, murky brown. There are fine bubbles coming to the surface. There was minimal head, but I poured about 5 oz into my snifter.

Smell: 4.5
Smells like whiskey/scotch mixed with a bunch of caramel. There is a huge licorice scent. It smells so sweet! A lot of malty, barrel-aged beers also have a chocolate scent, to me, apparently. Spoiler... the smell ended up being better than the taste!

Taste: 4
At this point, the bottle is getting to be around a year. The flavors are melded, but not muddled. The base beer is more apparent compared to the last time I had this beer, around 3 months ago. The scotch and its peet (or the cherrywood smoked malt) balance with the caramel flavor of the scotch ale. This is kind of in the barrel-aged barleywine territory with the caramel and barrel flavors.

As the glass warms up, the beer ends up tasting like a toasted marshmallow (with the burned coat and gooey filling... hey, you... get to salivating!), with bourbon. There is more heat from the barrel flavors or alcohol in the warmed up beer. There is also a slight tea or grassy flavor that appears, later on. There is vanilla, but also chocolate!

I cannot detect the hop presence, nor a yeast note. What is the ABV?

Mouthfeel: 3

Scotch ales tend to have that soda-like carbonation for me. This beer foams up in the mouth very easily, thickening the mouthfeel. There is a stickiness, for sure.

Overall: This beer is good to great, but the smell was the best part. I like how the flavors work in tandem, with nothing being too overwhelming. Now, I must try Backwoods Bastard one of these days in order to compare!

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Photo of d5001986
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into Spiegelau tulip.
2013 vintage.

A: Pours a dark shade of brown with minimal tan head.

S: Bourbon, toffee, caramel, and a little buttery.

T: A nice bourbon presence up front that complements, rather than overpowers. Notes of toffee, coffee, dark fruit, and once again that buttery characteristic.

M: Medium-light body, the CW norm. Normally I would prefer a heavier body, but this is smooth as silk.

O: So drinkable it's crazy. I think I even prefer this to Backwoods Bastard.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.45/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

super solid extra from an IP swap recently. enjoyed from a central waters snifter.

a - brew pours a watery crimson brown. real nice reddish highlights when held to the light. the khaki colored head was gone as fast as it formed and lacing was spotty.

s - nose is really nice with lush caramel and toffee. barrel adds some hints of chocolate, but leads with the nougat.

t/m - taste is rich and full. my mouth coats with a boozy tingle as the toffee and caramel dominates my taste buds. the beer is chewy and wonderful.

o - overall, excellent beer. a great take on a great style. would love to have more of this.

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Photo of Chaney
4.41/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I got this awesome brew from BeerFM Andy many months ago. Rock on!

Served in a Boulevard tulip.

A: Poured a dark, bark brown color, with some ruby poking through around the edges. Head? We don't need no stinking head! However, we got one…….. about 1/8 head worth.

S: Chewy, caramely, nougat center in this bourbon, coconut-infused bad boy. Nice! This was a caramel tiramisu.

T: So smooth and delectable, with a strong bourbon character that played section leader to the rest of the trumpet section. Bourbon, grape juice, and tons of malty goodness.

M: More carbonation than I was expecting, but that made it all the more drinkable. Think Winter Warmer. Nothing sweet or cloying.

O: I loves me some BBA Scotch Ales! This was truly an awesome one!

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Photo of MacQ32
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep dark rich near black chocolate color, with the slightest hints of red around the outside of my BCBS snifter when held up to the light. A full and perfect, dense finger of mocha colored head still has about a half a finger of depth 5 minutes in. Thick outer ring on top of the slightly dissipated head crawls up the perimeter of the glass.

S - Extremely scotchy and peat aromas, rich molasses, malty boozy aromas, oak, vanilla. Smell is a bit faint overall but wonderful.

T - Caramel, mollases, scotch, peat really really wonderful - i almost get a raisin like taste as well. As the initial sweetness begins to subside oak vanilla and a bit of boozyness take shape. The initial sweetness taste is probably damn near a 5. The boozy/oaky/vanilla give it a relatively (key word) clean finish. Doesnt linger too long, alcohol is minimally warming but does not burn in any way. This is just fantastic.

M - Thick, creamy, minimally carbonated. Soooo friggin good. The lingering taste on my lips begs for another sip.

O - I think I covered this, its frigging fantastic

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Photo of zac16125
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into a snifter
2013 vintage

Thanks to haveanother1 for sending this one over in a trade!

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with 1.5 fingers width of tan colored head which dissipates down fairly quickly. Leaves a few small patches of lacing.

S: Interesting aroma. First notes are a big bourbon and big scotch-like peat characters. As silly as it sounds Ive never had a scotch ale thats actually smelled like scotch. I also get oaky vanilla from the barrel and caramel malt.

T: Caramel and roasted malt, herbaceous, bourbon oak, peat. There are some stout like characters, including cocoa. A bit of booze as well.

M/D: Smooth, carbonation on the lower end, ABV well masked (although Im not sure how big the ABV is since its not listed), drinkability is good for the style.

O: Scotch ale's arent my favorite style, but this one is really good. Definitely worth a try. Thanks again John for sending this one my way.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.63/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

I received this well-needed treat in the mail today as part of a trade with Duff27. Thanks, buddy! 12 fl oz brown glass bottle with classy navy blue label and unbranded pry-off pressure cap served into an Avery stem-tulip in me gaff in low altitude Austin, Texas. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery, whose work I've been impressed with in the past. Reviewed as a bourbon barrel aged scotch ale because the label identifies it as such. 2013 vintage.

Served chilled and allowed to come to room temperature over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a one finger wide head of plump khaki colour. Nice thickness and creaminess without going overboard for a scotch ale. It's got an even consistency. Complexion could be shinier and sleeker. Head retention is average - about two minutes on the dot. Little lacing clings to the sides of the glass as the head recedes, and what does is inconsistent.

Body colour is a predictable opaque dark black - not quite a jet black. No floating yeast particles or sediment is visible. Appears adequately carbonated.

I notice no overt flaws. While not unique or special for a scotch ale, it's certainly an appealing one and I'm looking forward to trying it.

Sm: Bourbon seizes me from the get-go. It's overt. Warm booziness, lightly toasty oak, and vanilla are all here in spades. Of the bourbon notes, the vanilla dominates, which compliments the beer's malty sweetness well. Dark malts are abundant, with some toasted malt in there too. I also pick up a bit of sugarcane, maybe even some fleeting wisps of rum-soaked dark fruits. Cream. Raisin. A kiss of vinous character. There're plenty of residual sugars here suggesting a low attenuation yeast.

No yeast character itself comes through, through, and I don't find any evident hop profile either.

Overall, the bourbon notes seem to overwhelm the base beer. But the bourbon character is so en pointe I'm reticent to criticize. Let's hope the taste delivers.

I'd call it a pleasant if somewhat intimidating aroma of above average strength.

T: There's much more fruit in the flavour profile than the aroma suggested - light plum and prunes are most prominent. I also get some marshmallow hidden amongst the toasted malt notes. Dark malts. A kiss of sticky raisin. Unbecoming hints of vinous character are thankfully quite buried. Cream. Coconut. Ample residual sugars. Of course, bourbon is dominant here, but it's also well-integrated - moreso than the aroma suggested, anyway. There's plenty of bourbony vanilla as well as a bit of oak wood and some alcohol-induced warmth. I'm not finding as much of the typical scotch ale toffee as I expected to.

There's no obvious hop character here, which is apt given the style. The booziness found on the aroma is quite checked in the flavour profile. No yeast character is noticeable.

Overall, it's a balanced if somewhat timid bourbon barrel scotch ale, and while I do like it I don't think it's among the the best in its style. It's got a very cohesive almost gestalt build with lots of interesting elements, but they don't quite come together to form an exemplary brew. It's complex and subtle enough, with some nuance from the fruit and bourbon. Not the most intricate scotch ale I've had. Hard to dislike.

Mf: Lightly creamy. A bit supple. Smooth and wet. Has a nice body and presence on the palate. Good thickness. The texture doesn't seem to be a perfect match for the taste, but it does complement it nicely. Well carbonated. A bit sticky.

Not too rough. Not astringent, oily, gushed, or hot - though it does have some pleasing warmth.

Dr: It isn't the sipper I expected it to be, and I won't have any trouble putting the bottle down inside 20-30 minutes at a natural pace. This is another brew from Central Waters that strains against the upper limits of "good" without ever quite moving on to "great." Any fan of the style should give this a try, but I don't think it's quite on par with something like Founders' Backwoods Bastard. Really glad I got to try it.

The highlight for me was the unexpected marshmallow, which is seamlessly integrated and fits perfectly into the build. Constructively, more toasted oak would really make it better.

Thanks again, Duff27!


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Photo of jbaker67
4.16/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours deep reddish brown, medium light tan head, decent lacing built up around the glass. Aroma is sweet buttery raisin, red fruit, earthy toffee and hint of fudge, vanilla and bourbon finish. Taste is bourbon, toasted oak, brown sugar and cola, mild caramel sweetness, boozy bitter finish. Medium body, could use a bit more filling out.

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Photo of Bartos
4.44/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter

A - Dark brown, opaque body

S - Delicious bourbon aroma, some sweet notes of wood, caramel, chocolate and toffee; Aroma is complex and balanced

T - The taste is quite nice, but doesn't match the aroma. The scotch ale overpowers the barrel aging. Tastes thin and not well developed. Like it need more time to age to allow for that boozy barrel flavor to come through. Alot of heat on this one.

M - Definitely medium-bodied, and perhaps a bit thin

D - Smells great, lets you down on the taste. Doesn't live up to its description or hype. Felt that it needed more barrel aging. Probably would have liked it better in a blind taste test (not knowing it was barrel aged) or if I hadn't smelled it first.

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Photo of NCalement
4.59/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Tulip.

A- Pours a murky brown color with a fast head that dissipates quickly. The lacing is nice and it looks rich and thick.

S- Bourbon, toffee, vanilla, burnt sugar, and caramel. The booze is apparent on the back end. As it warms leather, tobacco, and molasses begin to show up. Very nice.

T- Caramel, toffee, marshmallow, and bourbon. Booze, leather and vanilla are found on the after taste. Slight oak throughout. This is one of the best barrel aged scotch ales I've had, what a treat.

M- Perfect. It has good carbonation with heavy body. Very drinkable and booze is hidden well. Leaves you wanting more.

O- Another gem from Central Waters. One of the best scotch ales I've ever had and its shows that they really know their barrel aging. Want more.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 120 ratings.