1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks - Heavy Seas Beer

Not Rated.
Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below DecksHeavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
89
very good

293 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 293
Reviews: 105
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 8.77%
Wants: 35
Gots: 57 | FT: 4
Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer visit their website
Maryland, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: John_M on 05-18-2010

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 293 | Reviews: 105
Photo of MorganMessersmith
4.44/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Not too harsh for a barley wine

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%

2011

Nose of medium-toasted malts, brown sugar, and liquid caramel. Traces of light, raw wood occasionally emerge in the background. Hints of toffee and vanilla when it warms, and brown sugars take on more of a molasses. I like how the wood in the nose gets darker, too.

Lots of luscious caramels on a foundation of whiskey wood. Hints of vanilla in the finish. ABV is quite well hidden, but emerges soon enough warming the tummy. After it really warms in the glass, the malts take on a dark molasses flavor. There's also some dark, bitter fruit in the finish after it warms and opens. In fact, this is what becomes the lasting impression of the latter half of the bottle.

Overall, a solid bourbon barrel-aged barleywine that impresses by the quality of its even execution rather than any single memorable aspect. Not a go-to like Insanity is, but definitely worth consideration.

Photo of jzeilinger
3.89/5  rDev -2.5%

In review is a 2010 vintage.

A - When cold, pours an opaque burgundy brown color, as the beer warms in the chill haze subsides and leaves a nice, clear dark burgundy amber color, no carbonation, very little head retention, and very viscous when the glass is swirled.

S - Sweet toffee malt aroma, some bourbon, brown sugar, and dark fruit.

T - Very mellow and evenly blended: bourbon, toffee/caramel malt, dry oak, vanilla, raisins, and bourbon soaked plums. At 10%, there is alcohol effervescence, but no burn.

M - Medium body (on the heavier side of medium), slippery, sticky, and coats the mouth.

O - Held up pretty well for being four years old and enjoyably mellow.

Photo of crewfan16
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2012 vintage bomber poured into a central waters snifter. had several different varieties of this beer, including the base beer and have all been good so I have high hopes for this bottle. thanks again runner440 for the good trades over the past few years.

a- dark ruby brown in color with very little light showing through. a little darker than the average barleywine. not a ton of carbonation as the slightly off-white head fades quickly.

s- lots of bourbon booziness and oak character on the nose. a bit of fruit, maybe raisin. a bit of caramel and vanilla.

t- follows the nose. lots of bourbon barrel initially followed by a tinge of fruitiness. some caramel, breadiness, a bit of bitter hops then the boozy bourbon on the finish. really tasty but seems to lack a little bit of balance. booze is just a tad overpowering

m- slick feel really sticks in the palate. very little carbonation. some boozy tingle at the end.

overall, a little disapointed because it didnt reach the heights i was hoping it did, but overall a pretty good beer. perhaps i need another one to lay down for another year or two and see if the booze mellows a bit and try it again. anyone want to trade :)

Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2012 vintage. Pours slightly cloudy deep ruby red color with a 1 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, toast, toffee, vanilla, oak, clove, bourbon, brown sugar, and light booze. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, raisin, brown bread, vanilla, toast, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, light chocolate, and toasted earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, brown bread, raisin, vanilla, toast, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, light chocolate, and toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible balance and complexity of dark malt and barrel flavors; with a fantastic malt/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a moderately creamy, slick, and lightly syrupy moutfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic BA Barleywine! All around awesome complexity and balance of malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

Photo of JdoubleA
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Served into a Maudite snifter

Appearance - medium-dark reddish brown. Small temporary head with some lacing present.

Smell - Alcohol, caramel, toffee, oak, and bourbon.

Taste - Intense bourbon alcohol. Caramela nd molasses with a small note of coffee.

Mouthfeel - Slick and coats the tongue a bit.

Photo of delta490
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- a deep clear ruby red. A slight bit of head is present on the pour but there is almost no head retention.

S- deep dark fruit and oak.

T- this is where this beer shines. Notes of chocolate, dark fruit, and oak bounce off and play with each other. The interplay is fantastic.

M- silky smooth with no carbonation or bite

O- a delicious and complex beer with great depth. Aged for about a year and it seems to have made this beer great.

Photo of Daktyls
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from a 22oz bottle into a SA PP glass. Beer is a medium brown color, very hazy, with a one fingered mocha head that quickly recedes leaving a fine lacing in the middle of the beer and around the edge of the glass.

S: The bourbon notes from the aging process are fairly aggressive here with little of the traditional barleywine notes making their way through. Some dark fruits are present in the mix with a tiny bit of spice as well.

T: Delicious notes of sweet caramels, oaked vanilla and of course the bourbon meld together in the primary taste with hints of spice and some dark fruits present closer to the finish.

M: Somewhat thick and oily on the tongue with a low amount of carbonation combines well for this full-bodied beer. There is definitely a boozey quality after the finish with the alcohol making itself present, but not obtrusive.

O: Overall, great. I'm really enjoying this beer, it's definitely different than a traditional barleywine, but for a bigger, heavier beer, this is delightful.

Photo of BethanyB
3.52/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: A very clear, very dark ruby, with a soft, fizzy, light tan head.

Smell: Spiced rum is at the forefront, with dark fruits close behind. a harsh phenolic smell warns that the bourbon quality to this beer may be strong enough to detract from its other qualities.

Taste: The bourbon taste is almost too obvious, with sticky sweet molasses and caramel sundae topping barely balanced by the mild bitterness. Dates and plums add some complexity, but also add to the overt sweetness, heightening an unbalanced flavor profile.

Mouthfeel: Medium light, with medium carbonation. The tongue gets coated in numbing bourbon before the alcohol warmth moves on to the back of the throat. Could use some more bubbles to balance out the sweetness.

Overall: A decent barleywine, but one that lacks the complexity of other versions, partly because its bourbon character is distractingly high. There are many tasty flavors present, but most of them are too sweet, creating an unbalanced combination.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

"2012 Vintage" 22oz bottle at fridge temp poured into a snifter.

Pours out a deep mahghony, dark brown, with slight hues of deep red. A decent looking light tan colored head, average head retention. Not a whole lot of lacing. Lots of small carbonation bubbles rushing to the top. Some legs is noticeable however.

Smells of warming bourbon booze, toffee, caramel, a bit of butterscotch, ripe dark fruits with some fruity esters. As it warms the booziness almost becomes solvent like.

Nice taste, lots of sweet butterscotch and caramel but some nice warming bourbon as well, somewhat boozey, some oaky vanilla and a bit of ripe dark fruits. A butterscotch sweetness really lingers with the warming bourbon into the finish.

Mouthfeel at first was pretty thin, seemed to get a little better as it warmed.

Not a bad bourbon aged barleywine, has a really nice sweet butterscotch flavor that I loved. A bit more body and this could have been up there with the best of them.

Photo of metter98
4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is quite hazy caramel in color and has a light amount of carbonation visible near the sides of the glass. It poured with a thin off white head that quickly died down, leaving large wispy patches of bubbles on the surface and a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of oak and vanilla are present in the nose along with some hints of bourbon.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has some underlying hints of caramel and toffee malts from the underlying barleywine. No bitterness from the hops is detectable, although there's enough hops to mask out any sweetness or stickiness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. The alcohol—particularly the bourbon—provides a little warming in the finish.
O: This beer is very easy to drink considering its strength and manages to hide its alcohol very well (except from the bourbon flavors). The bourbon barrel aging definitely makes this beer a lot more interesting compared to its regular version and I particularly liked how the bourbon flavors are not too strong.

Note: 2012 vintage

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Ontap, medium amber colored brew. Off white foam leaving some lace. Aroma of dark fruits, spiced apple, bourbon, more fruit. Flavor has a base Barleywine sweet maltyness, accented nicely by big oak and moderate bourbon. Rummy raisin notes are more than welcome here. Alcohol is warming but not overdone in the flavor profile. Dry oaky tannins round out the finish in a full bodied ale. The carbonation is at a healthy medium. Overall quite satisfying. Let this brew warm, it took on a new dimension. A fine job of barrel aging, this is a good Barleywine.

Photo of jondeelee
4.31/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks opens to a sweet, fruity nose bearing loads of fruit esters, including very nice bits of plum, fig, orange, grape, and berry, as well as a touch of raisin and prune. These aromas – especially the darker ones – mix well with a light overtone of vanilla, oak, and bourbon from the barrel aging, lending the beer very strong tawny port overtones. In fact, in a blind smelling test, this could be easily mistaken for a light, sweet port, with just a faint hint of extra-vanilla-laden bourbon about the edges. The grains also bring in supporting layers of pie crust and floury baguette, as well as touches of multigrain toast crust, to help offset the sweetness, and touches of brown sugar and amber agave nectar add further dimension to the sugars. As a whole, the nose here is very nice, bearing little in the way of beer aromas, but boasting a full-bodied port-like aroma that is very enticing. The nose can be almost too sweet at times, the fruits coming across like Jolly Rancher candies, but there’s just enough darkness and breadiness to prevent it from becoming cloying.

On the tongue, the beer’s bourbon barrel aging is immediately obvious, the opening notes being a shot of heavily vanilla-laced bourbon that mixes almost instantly with a huge array of fruits, including plum, cherry, berry, orange, fig, and prune, lending the beer an immediate cocktail-cum-tawny-port overtone that is quite delicious. Further sugars make themselves known after a few seconds, including brown sugar, agave nectar, wildflower honey, and even thin threads of super sweet confectioner’s sugar. These sweet notes are lightly held in check by woody overtones from the barrel aging, as well as toast crust, cereal grain, biscuit, and yeasty rising whole wheat dough, though the bready notes occupy much less than half of the flavors. There is an alcoholic vapor that hangs over everything, but it mainly passes off as bourbon – though it can border on vodka. The aftertaste is a continuation of the main mouthful, with a stronger bourbon vapor presence, lingering on the tongue in fruity, alcoholic goodness for a good while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is a very nice Barleywine, and the bourbon barrel aging has added a nice layer of complexity that was sorely needed in the basic Below Decks version of this beer. There is perhaps a bit too much sweetness in here (admitting that such a profile fits with the style), and the alcohol vapors do get very strong after a few sips, but on the whole this is very worth trying.

Photo of DrDemento456
4.23/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - A nice deep amber brown with a 1/4 inch of foamy mocha head.
S - Not very bourbon heavy but still pleasant with caramel, toffee, melon rind, and some sweet sweet vanilla.
T - Far from the most bourbon based beer I had from these guys (damn greater Pumpkin was like straight up booze) this beer taste of balanced boozey awesomeness mixed with syrup like caramel, vanilla highlight, and some more bourbon.
M - Heavy for sure but not as heavy as Backwoods Bastard. Very tasty.

Overall after having two bombers for 8 bucks a pop I am convinced this is the best bourbon barrel beer ever made! Even at 10 bucks its a steal.

Photo of Jeffo
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bomber of this stuff from SliverX. Cheers man!

From a bomber into a snifter

APPEARANCE: Pours a small, medium looking, light tan or off-white head with decent retention. Mahogany or rust in color, transparent with medium levels of carbonation. Head fades to a splotchy wisp and ring. A ring remains until the end and leaves some dots of lacing down the glass.

SMELL: Nice bourbon, vanilla, oak, with some caramel and toffee notes as well. Light melon notes as well. Well integrated barrel and bold enough as well.

TASTE: Caramel and toffee up front with bourbon and oak flavors through the middle into the finish. Bold and lingering aftertaste fo bourbon, oak, vanilla, leather notes and some toffee, nutty sweetness. Melon flavors from the hops as well. Pretty well integrated, much like the nose.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. A little light perhaps and only semi-creamy on the palate, goes down okay and finishes a touch sticky. A bit of a burn lingers on the palate. Too light, unfortunately, but creamy and smooth enough.

OVERALL: Pretty solid for sure. This one is certainly enjoyable, complex, and very well balanced with a good blend of barrel flavors and base beer. A thicker, heavier feel would make this outstanding. Still, it's very nice as it is and I would definitely drink this again. Thanks again SliverX. Recommended.

Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.33/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bomber (2012) in to an oversized snifter.
Amber colored with ruby red hues and a thin film of a head that dissipates fairly quickly.
Aroma is extremely bourbony; with notes of vanilla, coconut and some alcohol sweetness. The aroma is pleasant, not overwhelming.
Taste is similar to the aroma, very bourbon forward. Slight sweetness upfront, giving way to subtle bitterness all the way from the middle to the finish. Some char notes towards the finish. Alcohol is very well hidden and its surprisingly easy to drink.
A very good barrel aged beer, one of Heavy Seas better servings. Definitely worth a try.

Photo of McUbermensch
4.04/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle.

This beer is underrated. I was unsure of it when I purchased it but after I had it I got a few more for my cellar. Anxious to see how it ages. Strong vanilla notes. A wonderful and readily available barrel aged barley wine. Also, for the price 7.99, it's at least worth a try.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.86/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 2/23/2013 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a dark coppery reddish brown color, with a short dense off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains brown sugar, caramelized malts, bourbon, dark fruit and some hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit and bourbon followed by some creaminess. The hops presence is mild but complementary and the malt character is hearty creating a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, it’s a little bit better than the regular version but not enough to make it an upper echelon barley wine.

Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.6/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - pours a dark amber/caramel. A thin but sticky head goes patchy pretty fast.

Aroma - lots of toasted coconut and caramel and toffee.

Taste - biscuity, chewy malts are quickly covered by sweet caramel and coconut. Some balancing hops at mid-palate. Plenty of abv warmth here, but this is not hot at all. Amazing how the coconut is so forward without an excess of wood or whiskey flavor. A late bourbony bit to the finish. Nicely warm in the belly during tonight's winter storm warning.

Mouthfeel - very smooth, average carbonation, and a plenty big body.

Overall - very unique. I can see this being niche-like to barreling fans, but I like the uniqueness in flavor. This would cellar well provided I could keep it in storage.

Photo of Mongrel
4.22/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very boozy, both in taste and in fact. Needs to mellow out for a little while in the glass, otherwise the first several sips taste like a Jack and coke. Starts out thin, but develops a nice full mouthfeel. Tasty, complex and warming. A must-try for bourbon fans.

Photo of Gmann
3.75/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a clear light brown color, similar to iced tea. The head is quite small and settles into a light ring. Kind of flat looking.

The aroma is sweet with a big caramel and toffee scent. Some golden raisin and honey. The bourbon is subtle, comes through in the end and provides some vanilla and oak.

The taste is quite smooth. Velvety caramel mixes nicely with the vanilla from the bourbon. The bourbon flavor is more noticable than in the aroma but is not overly strong. Golden raisins provide a fruitiness to the brew. A bit of a solvent flavor in the finish and ends a little thin.

Light to moderate body with tingly carbonation. Not slick at all on the palate which is surprising for such a sweet beer. It does feel a little thin for the style. Sweet on the palate but has some hoppy bitterness to offset.

The beer started off really well but towards the finish it felt a tad thin and simple (for a BA Barleywine). Its enjoyable though.

Photo of facundoCNB
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a beautiful clean deep amber pour with 2 fingers of fluffy creme colored head which left behind excellent lacing. scents of oak, vanilla, caramel, bourbon. the flavor is very sweet thanks to the malt profile, which also enhances the bourbon, oak, and vanilla flavors properly. holy hell this is like carbonated bourbon!

medium/full body, moderate carbonation, nice warmth. an excellent bba beer. i do wish it had a bit more of a hop profile since it's still a barley wine, but to hell with it.

Photo of Kendo
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bomber into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. I figured the Piraat glass was appropriate given the skull and crossbones pirate theme on the bottle. . . . Anyhoo. . . Body is brownish (more reddish-brown when backlit) with a small off-white head.

S: Toffee, brown sugar and bourbon. Pleasant. The bourbon is the primary scent, but it doesn't overwhelm in an "ohmigod this is SOOO boozy" sort of way.

T: First impression: sweet. Lots of butterscotch and toffee. I don't think I've ever had a beer that tastes this much like butterscotch - and that's quite a feat given the bourbon. Which brings me to the second impression: bourbon. It adds a nice flavor, offsetting the sweetness nicely. There's also some dried fruits present (figs come to mind - I'd love to pair this with the blue-cheese-stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped appetizers that I made for barleyine night at BA pboegel's house last year). Finishes a tad bit hot, with that 10% ABV felt on the way down and into the belly.

M: Thick, slightly syrupy. This one is full bodied.

O: Solid. A sweeter barleywine - appropriate for the "English" moniker (this is no SN Bigfoot or other hop-forward American Barleywine), with the bourbon adding a nice flavor to the overall experience. Thanks to my brother-in-law for bringing this one north from Baltimore. . . .

Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750mL bottle from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Enjoyed shortly after the Ravens' first touchdown at the Super Bowl.

Poured into a red wine glass. Dark caramel copper, little bit of head to this, recedes into a fine ring.

Sweet, pleasant nose - really can get the bourbon barrel on this. Sweet malt, lightly burned sugar, mild hops.

Nice barleywine, sweet bourbon entry, finishes with a dry, slightly rough puckery hop character.

Carbonation a bit sharp, medium bodied.

Might be nice to hold on to for cellaring. Enjoyable barleywine.

Photo of Michael_D
3.28/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Smells sweet like a barley wine, but also has the bourbon nose. Nice red pour with a small white head that doesn't do much of sticking around. Has the barley wine sweetness without any hops really to balance it, which is strange. The bourbon is thrown on top. Not sure it works, but it’s good enough.

to view more.
Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
89 out of 100 based on 293 ratings.