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Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series) - Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)

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520 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 520
Reviews: 223
rAvg: 3.6
pDev: 15.56%
Wants: 18
Gots: 121 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company visit their website
Oregon, United States

Style | ABV
Winter Warmer |  9.40% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
Bitterness: 40 IBU
Alcohol by Volume: 9.4% ABV
Original Gravity: 20° PLATO

Released: September 2010

(Beer added by: BarrytheBear on 09-24-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 520 | Reviews: 223 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Brenden
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%

This looks similar to the original, a thick but opaque orange-brown with maybe slightly more brightness, perhaps slightly more thinness in the edges. It develops a little less light orange head, just under one finger with pretty good retention but less heaviness or stick to it, though it puts down some decent spotting and patching.
The bourbon comes first on the nose, ethanolic but with a bit of vanilla and wood to it. Dark fruits are there, though covered over a little, while, interestingly, the note of grains is lessened. There's still a sturdy hops presence by way of resin and citrus rind, while The toffee and spiciness and toffee are somewhat enhanced, though the spiciness is more heat here.
In the flavor, the wood seems to overtake most of the other elements. I like wood, but I like it to be integrated for depth rather than overshadowing everything else. I do still get a hint of tobacco leaf, and I like the sweeter hints of vanilla, toffee and caramel. Hops take their place in the overall profile, and the sulfuric note I got in the buildup is diminished.
The sturdy malt backbone in this medium-bodied beer seems to have been thinned slightly by alcohol. Carbonation is still light but enough to support, but the transition from crisp in the front to smoother in the middle isn't as good. The finish does remain dry.

Brenden, Jan 09, 2014
Photo of DavoleBomb
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%

Poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage.

3.0 A: Opaque mahogany brown color. About one finger of frothy beige head. Retention is a bit below average and a very short ring of lacing is left.

3.5 S: Bourbon is the lead character in the nose. Earthy and musky with a sharp fruitiness. Vanilla and oak from the barrel. The base beer offers a tangy caramel, a light toastiness, and a sugary doughiness. Not overly complex, but good enough to be pleasant.

3.5 T: The base comes out more in the taste. Toasty malts with caramel and brown sugar. Sweet, but savory, like a thick flan of sorts. Sugar cookie dough. Hints of tobacco and plum. Bourbon is now more complementary, but still adds the earthen muskiness and vanilla and oak.

3.5 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Could use some more creaminess, but good enough.

3.5 D: I haven't had this fresh, so I can't comment on how it's aged, but it's tasty in its current state. Well balanced with a decent amount of depth.

DavoleBomb, Aug 12, 2012
Photo of VaTechHopHead
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%

A - Golden orange, a little cloudy, and small strands of carbonation climbing to the top. Zero head and not much for lacing either, so i'll go middle of the road on this one.

S - Smell is promising although it is almost completely bourbon, but not a strong scent by any means...just enough to drown out all the other aromas. I'll give it a 4 because I like bourbon.

T - It's definitely drinkable, but again, the taste mirrors the aroma...pretty much bourbon. If you took Jim Beam, cut it in a third with water, that's kinda the same flavor you get in this beer. There are some woody notes in the background from the barrel aging and juuust a hint of sweetness from the malts. Hops...?? Fuggeta 'bout it. Solid 3.5

M/D - Lighter body than expected but carbonation is on point for the style. ABV isn't really noticeable given it weighs in over 9% and no warmth from it either...even though it's a winter warmer?? Easy to drink, if you like watered down bourbon.

The beer has potential but not worth the $10 price tag for a bomber. Would like to see this one revisited but beef up the base beer first.

VaTechHopHead, Jan 25, 2011
Photo of JackieTH
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%

Bottle dated Aug-20-11.

Poured a clear lighter shade of amber with a thin layer of tan foam that receded quickly and didn't leave much if any lacing. Smell was light elements of bourbon wood- vanilla and cherries and a bit of alcohol. Taste was quite the same with vanilla and cherry elements, mild maltiness reminds on this is a beer and not the leftover watery remnants of an inexpensive Kentucky bourbon on the rocks.. Mouthfeel was medium and held together okay however my overall impression was as somebody else mentioned 'bland'. There is just enough of an initial hint of bourbon elements to get a person excited...but like that...it's gone.

JackieTH, Dec 09, 2011
Photo of mentor
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%

Pours nearly two fingers of light tan head over a mahageny-colored liquid. Smells bourbon, vanilla, oranges, caramel, raisins, bright cherry, figs and leather. Pretty nice with a clean alcohol just zipping the nostrils a bit.

Tastes strong barrel, some cherry, some raisin, but finishes with a strong butterscotch that I find off-putting. There is a candy-like fruit/sugary sweetness. Salty and lotsa light fruits, such as plum meat (not tangy skin). No evidence remains of the winter warmer character of this beer. The bit of spicy zip, I attribute to the oak and alcohol.

Md-light body with some dextrinous and creamy character. I like the clean alcohol sting at the end. It carries with it some baby aspirin flavor to dry out the finish.

mentor, Dec 16, 2010
Photo of philosobeer
3.48/5  rDev -3.3%

Bottled on 30th August 2010. Enjoyed on 24th December 2010. (Way to go for including the bottling date, Widmer!) Poured into a goblet and a tulip glass. Allowed to warm a bit before drinking.

A // Looks... like bourbon. Except cloudier, a little darker, and maybe a tad more red. This might be reasoning by association. Head is thick and white, but does not retain well. Lacing is also pretty good. Cloudy, but definitely appealing.

S // Smells .. like bourbon. A lot of those oak and whiskey notes just jumping out at me. I can smell the malt down there somewhere, and I'm getting some spiciness. Hey, I do like bourbon.

T // Ok, so the oak is very present on the tongue. And the whiskey, of course. The sweetness of the hops really stays there. The alcohol is a bit hot. It's also fairly warming, and the bitterness is ok. Taste closes with... yep, bourbon.

M // Heavy-ish. Not more than you'd expect from a beer of this character though, and I found it fairly nice, with some carbonated sharpness.

D // Well, it is bourbon aged and around the 10%abv level, so... no, not the easiest drinker in the world. But, grading to the style, it's probably very close to average, and there's no 2.75 here.

This lost a few points because anyone can just put beer in bourbon barrels, provided they have the funds to do so, and the rest of the beer's character isn't showing through much. Don't get me wrong, I can't say I disliked drinking this with a friend at all.

philosobeer, Dec 24, 2010
Photo of gregshead
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%

A: Pours a copper color with a finger of head that dissipates quickly.

S: Bourbon and Caramel/Toffee Smell.

T: Reminds me of a barleywine with a bourbon shot dropped it in. Caramel and coffee taste with a bourbon bite to it. Alcohol heat is more prevalent as it warms up.

M: Very little in carbonation present. A little on the syrupy side.

D: Don't get me wrong. I love bourbon barrel beers. But if I want something like this, I'll grab either a bourbon barrel stout for more pronounced bourbon taste or a barleywine.

gregshead, Nov 20, 2010
Photo of HattedClassic
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Sam Adams pint glass.

Appearance: Poured one finger of light head, which dissipated very quickly. The beer pours a nice clear amber red. The beer leaves some light to no lacing.

Smell: Bourbon dominates the nose with piney hops adding a little bit of variety. I could also smell a hint of vanilla mixing with the bourbon to create an interestingly sweet smell.

Taste:The bourbon definitely dominates the palate in this case. I can get some hint of hops balanced by some malts but the bourbon is the first and last thing that you taste. The hops and malts tend to act the Robin to the bourbon's Batman. Unfortunately, the bourbon gets really strong towards the end, which covers up the hops.

Mouthfeel: The drink has some very light carbonation and goes down smoothly.

Drinkability: I think that the Brrbon is fairly drinkable. I think the drink is a little unbalanced with the bourbon taking over too much of the taste. However, I would not say the beer is undrinkable but the bourbon makes it harder to finish the bottle because of the strong bourbon taste. Otherwise, I thin it is a fairly okay drink for a cold winter day.

HattedClassic, Mar 15, 2011
Photo of coldmeat23
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%

GLASS: Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours a medium shade of brown with light hints of crimson and mahogany. Looks almost like bourbon, actually (except for the bubbles). A finger and a half of loose, cream colored, foam makes the head. This dissipates to a surface covering foam. The lacing is thin, but nicely sticky.

This is not a big nose kind of beer, apparently. The bourbon notes are here, but they are somewhat muted. They blend nicely with the warming, holiday-esque, spice notes. Light traces of cherries and butterey caramel and vanilla.

The taste falls a touch flat, after the mildly complex nose. A generic maltiness aligns with some wood and earthy notes. Light traces of vanilla and some mild caramel sweetness. The spices and bourbon notes come through on the end, almost as an afterthought.
Not horrible, but somewhat disappointing.

Medium-bodied with a high level of carbonation make this one fairly crisp. It is bright and sharp, around the edges.
This ought to be thicker and smoother.

It's okay and I guess that technically it's drinkable, but I'm not in a hurry to track down some more of it.
My least favorite of the Brothers Reserve Series, so far.

coldmeat23, Nov 18, 2010
Photo of tlazaroff
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%

On the nose it smells pretty good. Its a complex mesh of caramel, burbon, and vanilla.

Hazy dark amber in appearance with a somewhat tan head which doesn't last as long as it should. The beer highlights a wonderful clear light orange when light strikes it.

This tastes like bananas foster without the banana! I get brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, and burbon (with some alcohol taste and burn), and slight vanilla on the finish.

Decent amount of carbonation in this one with a full body. I get a bit of alcohol burn on the first sip, but it's replaced with a menagerie of flavors that just overwhelm the palate and make you forget that it's slightly syrupy. Overall, not a bad effort.

tlazaroff, Jun 01, 2012
Photo of feloniousmonk
3.45/5  rDev -4.2%

Widmer Barrel Aged Brrrbon '11. Widmer Brewing, Portland, Oregon, since 1984. Alchemy Project. Seasonal Ale aged in bourbon barrels. "This smooth, chilly winter warmer goes through a secondary fermentation as it ages in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. After months of maturation in the barrels the brew is allowed a tertiary fermentation for final conditioning before release." "Flavored Ale." "Combine inspiration and experience. Repeat often." "Prost! To improving with age!"

Okay, I'm going against all this and trying this out young. Maybe I'll buy more to save for later…if this one is good. We'll see. For now, let's open it up.

Clear, bright crimson coloring, slim, but lasting off-white froth.

Aroma: bourbon. Oak and vanilla. Whatever particular aromas Brrr gives us, it's drowned out by the bourbon barrel-aging. Very nice, but I wish it was deeper, and more complex. Rather simple, overwhelmed by the barrel aging.

Taste: boom, here comes richness, raisins, grapes, cherries, oak and vanilla, and, of course, bourbon. Really rich, really thick, much malt, covered in bourbon and oak. Yet not as full bodied, as I'd like for this treatment, perhaps because the base beer just is not thick and full enough to hold up for this type of treatment. Those flavors return sip after sip, but they're just not enough. Bourbon barrel-aging is best done with imperial stout or barleywine, but not necessarily winter ales or winter warmers that may have a certain heft, but not enough to carry this extra weight.

Will this one really improve with age? Maybe, a little?

I don't know for sure, but it's not good now. There's a flurry of flavor at first, mostly on the sweet side, but after that, the pleasures dwindle. A light bourbon-y flavor lays over this very average winter ale. Sweet, whiskey-ish, vanilla-y, and utterly boring. Completely forgettable. Far too sweet, too much bourbon barrel work, without enough dry, roasty malt below. Maybe bourbon barrel-aging a winter ale is not an awesome idea. Maybe you need a bigger beer, to make it worthwhile? Maybe after 28 years, they'd know that?

Eh, I keep giving them chances, and I keep trying them out, and, dammit, I keep spending my money on them, but I'm starting to wise up.

feloniousmonk, May 22, 2012
Photo of Deathwray3927
3.44/5  rDev -4.4%

Deathwray3927, Aug 17, 2014
Photo of silver0rlead
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Pours a slightly cloudy amber color with a thin tan head, and leaves nice lacing. The aroma consists of overwhelming bourbon notes, along with some caramel and brown sugar, dark fruit notes, piney and citrusy hops and a big whiff of alcohol. The flavor is also dominated by bourbon notes, with some caramel and toffee and brown sugar, along with piney hops, dark fruits and alcohol. The mouthfeel is thick and drinkability is pretty limited. Really this just tastes like a slightly toned down bourbon, and the alcohol overwhelms anything else going on in the beer.

silver0rlead, Nov 10, 2010
Photo of TempeBeerMan
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Poured from a bottle into a nonic pint

A - Clear light copper hue with a wispy, white, one-finger head. Dissolves into some pretty decent lacing of tiny bubbles, but after a while was left with a completely flat looking beer with zero bubbles anywhere.

S – Powerful woody aroma. Some esters of vanilla and sweet malt as well.

T – Taste follows the nose. Whiskey, vanilla, oak, ash, and sugary malt. Some hint on winter spices like juniper, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Slight amount of piney hops rolling around in the finish. Finishes hot. This brew just revels in its 9.4% abv. Overall the bourbon character pretty much slaps you in the face, and the overall flavor is brash.

M – Low carbonation. Thin bodied, and I found it a little sharp and syrupy. Kind of hangs on the palate.

O – Huge bourbon punch both a plus and a minus. At times this tastes like decent bourbon that someone just poured some beer into. Overall, everything doesn’t really come together very well. A solid idea, but probably could have been better executed. My bet is that this beer is a little young. Would like to taste this once it has had a chance to age and mellow and lose some heat.

TempeBeerMan, Feb 25, 2012
Photo of laituegonflable
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Pours a rich red-amber colour with decent crown of cream-coloured foam, sinks to a cloud of bubbles. Lace is lovely and sticky. Nice.

Don't get a whole lot from the nose. Actually smells fairly ethanoic, with a sharp boozey aroma. Hint of vanilla, fresh straw and maybe some caramel sweetness. Would like more aroma, it's a bit lacklustre, although inoffensive.

Taste is far more sweet but still very lacking. Lots of toffee, touch of caramelised pecans for nuttiness, and some slight citric/herbal notes just taming the sweetness late and making it a bit dry. Booziness on the back with oaky bourbon notes, but it ultimately tastes like the sweetness is just swimming in an otherwise empty palate. Nice back, but otherwise uneventful and uninspiring.

Yeah, it's a light-tasting brew, but there's enough body there to keep it going; very dry and boozey at the back.

Feel like this beer misses the mark. There might have been a really nice palate here but it's just gone missing, and you're left with little more than warm booze notes and some sweetness around the edge.

laituegonflable, Oct 04, 2011
Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Pours a suprisingly light reddish copper/amber colour, with a filmy, but relatively firm head of almost-white. Lacing is speckled and patchy in places, but it exists at least. Body is solid, and holds some large bubbled carbonation when swirled, or tilted. Looks alright.

Nose is slightly spicy, with undertones of vanilla oak and a touch of aniseed. It's a little thin overall, and the oak characters start to seem a bit sharp without some sweetness or body to back it up. It seems a little bit like it's an oak beer done for the oak and very little else.

Taste is similar, with oak and vanilla underpinning... well, very little else. Slight boozy twinges around the edge, again with a slight hint of spice, but it's all very hidden and underhanded. The only character that is confident enough to make itself felt is the oak, and that's always felt like a character to complement or accentuate other characters, not to be the be all and end all.

Drinkability suffers because of the heat, and the lack of complexities and characters to make it really worthwhile. I love bourbon oak in things, but maybe this beer is telling me that I just really like the base beer in others.

lacqueredmouse, Oct 01, 2011
Photo of VelvetExtract
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

2012 Vintage

A-Pours a clear, amber color. Head is mild, it makes the beer look flat. Minimal lacing.

S-Aroma is where you'd expect it to be. Bourbon-forward with a complement of sweet, Winter Warmer aromatics. I'm actually impressed with the intensity if the oak.

T-Bourbon lays it on heavy. It doesn't seem to match well with the beer's base surprisingly. The bourbon lingers and dries out the palate. Dried out oakiness and Christmas spice. Very sweet.

M-Softer carbonation. Booze isn't very well integrated, even after a year. Too sweet. It isn't a mess but it's nearing one.

O/D-Didn't love the feel all too much but aside from that it could be worse. Bourbon seems to disagree with the other flavors.

VelvetExtract, Feb 01, 2014
Photo of arizcards
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Picked up a bomber from Total Wine in late January 2011 for $10.99. Sat in the Wine Cooler since purchase.

Beer poured a garnet color with not much of a head. 3.0
Nose was pretty strong bourbon upon initial pour but has faded after about 10 minutes. 3.5
Taste is a big dose of warming bourbon to go on top of the big malt base. Oak and vanilla are present. Northwest hops have faded over time and are just a hint in the back of the palate. 3.5
Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied and not really smooth. 3.0
Overall this is not a bad beer but definitely not worthy of the price. 3.5

arizcards, Feb 12, 2012
Photo of barleywinefiend
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

A: Poured a ruddy dark red color with good carbonation and dirty white head

S: Light bourbon, wood, vanilla

T: Follows nose very well, wood, vanilla, caramel

M: Thin. Carbonated well, sticky, bourbon dominates booze not feeling like 9+ ABV

D: Not a bad beer at all, pretty tame on bourbon and all. Still drinkable for price

barleywinefiend, Oct 16, 2010
Photo of yemenmocha
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Pours barleywine-like in appearance with larger tan head than expected. Nose has some woody toffee notes, and perhaps a whiff of mixed nuts. Alcohol warmth is noted right away on palate with the bourbon influence revealing itself right away. Some of that woody toffee comes through on the palate as well, but not terribly sweet. Black tea flavors there too. Finishes semi sweet with boozy quality.

yemenmocha, Nov 25, 2010
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.43/5  rDev -4.7%

Candied orange peel with brighter Sunkist edges and an expansive crown of khaki colored foam after a spirited pour (pun intended). Tiny divots are appearing on the upper surface as tiny bubbles pop-pop-pop. Pretty nice lace too, considering the ABV and barrel-aging.

The nose is too subdued and features bourbon whiskey much more prominently than the base beer. Equal contributions would have been fine. Warming does nothing of note and the whole thing strikes me as merely average.

Q: is Barrel Aged Brrrbon be as good as Brrr? A: no, it isn't. I'm not sure what happened here, but this is an experiment that Widmer Brothers doesn't need to undertake again. The one-off nature of the Brothers' Reserve Series means that that isn't likely.

Barrel-aging appears to have taken something away from the caramel malty and fruity hoppy nature of Brrr, rather than adding something to it. Truth be told, bourbon isn't even that great a contributor, at least in terms of quality. The list: toffee pudding, grapefruit zest, burnt sugar, a small splash of vanilla, hints of oak.

There is not a palate punch of flavor, which is unusual in a 9.4% ale that has spent time in bourbon barrels. Even though warming brings out a little more depth and intensity, it's too little, too late. Good sweet-bitter balance is a quasi-positive.

The mouthfeel is thinner than expected (though not thin) and doesn't have the lush and creamy quality that it should have. The bubbles are neither too many, nor too few, but don't impress either.

Widmer Barrel Aged Brrrbon is a classic example of the adage that it's best not to mess with success. I'm sure the brewery's goal was to improve upon an already good beer. Sorry, but mission *not* accomplished.

BuckeyeNation, Feb 02, 2011
Photo of HopHead84
3.4/5  rDev -5.6%


On tap at Churchill's.

A: Dark orange and transparent. The white head fades quickly.

S: A pleasant blend of caramel, vanilla, oak, and bourbon (faint). There's earth and a dash of grapefruit. Smells nice but it's not very expressive. Takes a lot of coaxing and swirling to bring out the aroma. Butterscotch comes to mind.

T: Caramel and restrained bourbon notes. There's a lower moderate bitterness and a little citrus. Vanilla is faint. Alcohol is quite strong.

M: Upper medium body with upper medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is silky and sticky.

Overall: A decent barrel aged Strong Ale, though a bit inexpressive.

HopHead84, Feb 11, 2012
Photo of bagpiper2005
3.4/5  rDev -5.6%

Pour: Clear red-amber in color. Small ring of tan head with minimal lacing left on the glass and OK retention.

Smell: Rather subtle aroma with a definite bourbon note up front. Underlying tones of vanilla and some other sweetness which I can't make out. Will move on to the taste to figure it out.

Taste: Once again, bourbon notes are more or less the forefront in this brew. Small hint of vanilla on the palate, and a slight spice note. The finish is very warm and very alcoholic. A bit bland overall, however.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body, medium carbonation. Kind of thin given the ABV. A bit of smoothness despite the alcoholic back end.

Drinkability/Overall: It's an alright beer. The taste is pretty good, and it's definitely warming. It's palatable, but it doesn't blow me away by any stretch of the imagination.

Final Notes: Just doesn't live up to the intense brew that a good winter warmer should. It has the ABV but not the bold, assertive flavors to back it up. Quite enjoyable otherwise. Not worth the hefty price tag, but you might want to check it out if you're a fan of bourbon.

bagpiper2005, Dec 06, 2011
Photo of Vdubb86
3.4/5  rDev -5.6%

Served in a SA perfect pint glass

Thanks to TMoney2591 for sharing some bourbon up in hurrr!

This beer looks a nice orangish amber color with a fluffy white foam that laces well. The smell is citrus and oak. There is a slight malt aroma mixed with the pleasant hop aroma. The woodsy aroma is mirrored in spades with this beer's flavor. There is a strong boozy flavor with this beer that bites on the tongue. I really don't like the fact that I have wood in my mouth. The mouthfeel while spicy isn't that bad. The overall drinkability comes into question here solely due to the taste here, the rest of it is the saving grace. Holy crap this is intense. If you like barrels you can taste this one. Enjoy!

Vdubb86, Nov 10, 2010
Photo of RDHerm
3.4/5  rDev -5.6%

Pours a deep copper color with yellow highlights. Has a thin white head that dissipates almost immediately, leaving a thin ring with average lacing.

Strong smell of bourbon, with notes of malt, nuts, and dark fruits and hints of vanilla and oak. Lots of alcohol in the nose.

Strong flavors of bourbon and alcohol up front, with a very oak-y finish. There finish also has hints of caramel, vanilla, dark fruits. The alcohol presence gives it a bit of a bite.

Medium in body, light/medium carbonation level. A bit strong upfront, but finishes quite smooth. The carbonation level is good, and the flavors linger nicely on the palate, but it's also a bit drying.

I feel like I would have enjoyed this a lot more on a cold winter night than on a balmy spring one. Not bad by any means, but not particularly spectacular either. Overall, it's worth giving a shot.

RDHerm, May 06, 2011
Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series) from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
82 out of 100 based on 520 ratings.