Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks - Heavy Seas Beer

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Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below DecksHeavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks

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very good

297 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 297
Reviews: 107
rAvg: 3.99
pDev: 8.52%
Wants: 38
Gots: 56 | 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

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 297 | Reviews: 107
Reviews by Jesstyr:
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Photo of oberon
3.63/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an imperial nonic a deep rich amber with a thinner but well formed off white head atop.Aromas of deep vaniila,and caramel eally stand out,the vanilla tinged oak is a bit heavy handed in my opinion.Somewhat boozy and very oaky on the palate,vanilla and caramel flavors add more sweetness,it is very smooth going down though.Another barrel aged beer that gets a little to much of the "aged" flavors,its not bad but it could be better with less aged flavors.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.15/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In a tulip this beer was a dark amber color, a little on the red side. There was no head.

The aroma was that of some sweet fruit and vanilla.

Average taste. A little bit of everything, but just a little bit. Some dark fruit, some caramel, some vanilla, some alcohol.

I expected this to be a little more assertive than it was. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't that much of a barleywine.

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.9/5  rDev -2.3%


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 Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours an amber color with a white head. The aroma is a lot of bourbon and oak, with some brown sugar, maple and alcohol. There is no doubt that this beer was bourbon-barrel aged. The flavor is also heavy on the bourbon. I get a lot of maple, vanilla and brown sugar, as well as some bourbon and oak notes. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

This was sampled alongside the cabernet barrel-aged version, and I thought this was the superior beer.

Photo of frenchblood21
4.38/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into a goblet. Allowed to sit for approx. 20 minutes outside of fridge before opening.

Appearance- Deep dark ruby red brown color. A beautiful light tan one finger head. It takes its time going away, and leaves a surprising amount of lacing.

Smell- Fruity and malty...barely a hint of bourbon. Apple, pear and fig are present.

Taste- I'm getting way more bourbon in the taste than in the nose. Bourbon, oak and apple in that order.

Mouthfeel- way more thick than it looks. This beer was born to be bourbon barrel aged. Just a slight burn from the high alcohol, but who doesn't like a good bourbon burn?

Overall- There is obviously a good reason people are requesting BA beers. This is a grandslam Heavy Seas! They also make this beer non-barrel-aged, I recommend getting both and doing a vertical.

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 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 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 glid02
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Joe - thanks!

Pours a slightly hazy copper color with a one-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts, toffee, vanilla, and bourbon. As the beer warms the sweetness subsides just a bit.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Syrupy caramel malt flavors with large amounts of toffee and lighter amounts of vanilla kick things off. Midway through the sip the bourbon really shines as the vanilla flavors intensify and the oak adds a bit of an edge to the flavor profile. The ending is mildly bitter, leaving sweet caramel malt and vanilla flavors lingering on the palate.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall this is a very nice bourbon-barrel-aged beer for a relatively low price. Definitely worth a shot.

Photo of CloudStrife
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2012.

A: Pours a clear ruby with a 1 finger off white head. Some visible carbonation in the body. Just a few spots of lacing.

S: Sweet malts and fermented dark fruits blend gracefully with the bourbon. Certainly get the alcohol kick. Plenty of oak, vanilla and toffee to this. Very nice.

T: Am impressed with this malt forward barleywine take on a bourbon barrel aged beer. Kicks with some bourbon on the front, then the malt makes and appearance leaving you with a bourbon aftertaste.

M: Very smooth body with low carbonation. Is really not too hot considering the ABV. Nice sipper here.

Overall Heavy Seas keeps knocking their barrel aged beers out of the park. Give this one a go, or set it down for a few years. Would easily get again.

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 augustgarage
3.85/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage. Big thanks to ShogoKawada for this extra - enjoyed lightly chilled on a frigid (well, by L.A. standards) eve. Poured from a 22oz bomber into my snifter.

Portland orange highlights suffuse the ambiguously colored dark liquid, topped by a lacy pearling yet meager head with a popped dirty snow collar.

Bourbon assails you at first sniff - the mildly acrid tobacco notes are backed by a touch of vanilla, butterscotch, and a light fruity/floral scent. Very slight oxidative notes seem derived from the barrel - though with bourbon this doesn't make a lot of sense.

Candied fruit, chocolate, moderately bitter hops, loam, brandy, and a sharp almost solventy finish. Brown sugar and maybe a hint of maple come out mid-palate. Aftertaste is long and evolving, suggesting burnt sugar, orange peel, plums, and bourbon.

Medium-bodied, slick, and a touch hot with moderate carbonation.

The ABV is unapologetic in this brew - even reaching your sinuses; this makes the flavor distribution that much more potent, yet reduces the drinkability somewhat.

A hefty powerful barleywine - while not overwhelmed by barrel notes, it certainly doesn't seek to balance them.

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark amber with a thin brown head that has great retention

S - caramel, candy sugar, big malt presence

T - baked apples, caramel, candy sugar, bourbon, vanilla, alcohol

M - full bodied, well carbonated, warm

This is another delicious version of the Below Decks. The beer is fantastic on its own, but the bourbon adds depth and mellows the alcohol. The barrels impart not only bourbon, but also some vanilla notes. The maltiness of the beer is balanced, fruity, and sugary - just the way I wanted it to be. This is definitely a beer worth trying.

Photo of zaphodchak
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The keg was dated 11/19/11, and I had it earlier this week, less than 2 months later. I was fooled; the taste suggested something that had been patiently cellared and matured well thereby.

A finger of tan head, ruby/amethyst body (almost purple!). Nice lace.

Plenty of bourbon, sticky toffee malt in the nose.

Magnificent bourbon character. Coconut, oak, malt.

Everything I ever wanted in a bourbon-barrel barleywine, and it turned out to be magnificent fresh.

Photo of prototypic
3.95/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bourbon Barrel Below Decks pours a darker copper color. It's a little hazy, and has a deep red look with backlighting. A modest off-white head caps it, and stands about a finger tall. It recedes relatively quickly, and leaves a light, sticky coat of lace in its wake.

The nose is good. It starts out with a light bourbon scent. That's followed by a healthy dose of caramel and toffee. The bourbon scent complements the malts nicely. It's not overbearing at all. Oak and vanilla emerge and add nice depth. Light fruit notes are noted. Smells like apple and pear, rather than the typical citrus notes found in American Barleywines. Alcohol is blended pretty well for this big boy. Smells good.

The flavor is probably a little better than the nose, but not enough to trigger a score bump. Sweet caramel and toffee flavors are abundant initially. A light cocoa-ish flavor is also noted. The barrel aging really imparted a nice bourbon flavor. It's light to moderate in strength, but works extremely well with the other flavors. Vanilla and oak are also notable additions. Light apple and pear flavors are noted throughout. Alcohol is barely noticeable in this big boy. Finishes sweet with a touch of bourbon.

This one has a body that's on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation is light, and it is nearly smooth. More body would certainly be a good thing though. Drinkability is good. Despite its stature, it goes down relatively easy. A bomber is probably enough given its strength, but it's deceptive.

Bourbon Barrel Below Decks is good beer. I've enjoyed the bomber and don't have much to complain about at all. It would benefit from a little more body and just a little bit of a hop presence. But, it's good stuff as it is. I like the approach with the barrel aging. I have no idea how long it was in barrels, but it was the perfect time. There's just enough bourbon, vanilla, and oak to make things really click. Easily recommended.

Photo of russpowell
3.62/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Picked this up a Peabody's in Boone NC, sadly the last of my NC mini-haul

Pours chestnut with a finger of tan head. Average head retention & above average lacing

S: Pears & Bourbon, fades a bit as this warms

T: Rich bourbon notes, cakyness & a touch boozey warmth up front. Jammy notes (apricot & pear ) wrap with vanilla, oakyness, a touch of leafy hops & dryness as this warms. Finishes with fruitty notes, nice Bourbon flavor, oaky dryness & a touch of butterscotch

MF: Slightly over carbonated & a touch thin, warming & smooth once nearer room temp

Loved the flavor on this, but other areas fell flat. For the money I'll take Schlafly's Barrel aged BW at a fraction of the price any day. Still, I was thrilled to try it...

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 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 claaark13
3.91/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottles served at cellar temp. Sent as an extra from Brad in a RB trade. Awesome.

A - Dark brown with a reddish hue. Thick off-white head turns to some nice lacing. The lacing retention is fantastic.

S - Sweet malts, slight oak, slight vanilla.

T - Much like the aroma. Sweet malts, dark fruits, then hints of vanilla and sweet oak push through. Very smooth throughout. There is a little bit of a drag in the flavor before the barrel picks up. The vanilla/caramel/oak almost shows a candy-like flavor from middle to end. The finish gives the slightest amount of heat and dryness, but is fairly smooth.

M - Medium, feels a little thicker and has some carbonation. Pretty nice.

O - Good flavors, not too hot, good finish, good beer. I'm really enjoying this one.

Photo of Bung
4.07/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. Murky brown with orange hint pour. Nearly no head, some white bubbles.

Aroma has malt, yellow raisin, vanilla, hint of barrel. Improves as it warms.

Taste shines a little brighter than the aroma. Heavy does of caramel, brown sugar, vanilla. Some oak, raisin and light red fruits later. Finishes with a nice bourbon barrel vanilla and caramel finish.

Smooth mouthfeel, lighter body than it appears even. Just slightly warming, but goes down very easy.

Best thing I've had from these guys in a while, maybe ever.

Photo of smakawhat
4.05/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2011. Poured into a large snifter glass.

Barely any head off the pour, with little faint off caramel and tan color whisps of foam. Barely a collar remains. Color is a real nice looking clear and chestnut hued brown with red edges. Lots of red throughout the body too. Too bad the head doesn't really seem to make an appearance other than leaving some whispy top and a little bit of a collar. Really like the body color, but no so much absence of foam.

Nose is sort of strange. A faint hop of tea like sense, some noticeable heat, light sense of malt and body coming perhaps? A bit musty and dark raisin fruit but light.

Taste however is a big improvement. Light dusted brown sugar, and fruit cake tasting palate. Nice light candied and dark coat fruits with a faint molasses sense. A slight sense of playful tight carbonation in feel. Very fruity, with a little caramel tasting action.

Overall pretty solid, but also real easy drinking too. Surprisingly not much barrel aging bourbon character here but no complaints.

Photo of jegross2
3.97/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer.
Score: 90

2011 vintage bottle served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 02/29/12.

Appearance: Pours a rich, dark mahogany color -- cognac-like, albeit in a darker tint, in appearance. Pours one finger of creamy cream colored head at pour that settles into a thin ring around the glass. Appearance falls between translucent and opaque. There is a dark brown center surrounded by thick globs of reddish brown highlights when held up to light. Minimal lacing, minimal retention. 3.5/5

Smell: First impression is caramel, vanilla and booze. More wafts reveal brown sugar, dark fruit, barley, plum and "birthday cake." There is also an aroma of sweet red grape that is not in the least tart or acidic. Also detecting what can only be describes as the smell of a "leather belt." 4/5

Taste: This brew is very bourbon barrel-forward on the palate, and the taste is pretty much dominated by three flavors: bourbon soaked raisins/fig, vanilla and sweet red grape that is neither tart nor acidic. There's also a distinct "whiskey-like malt" flavor and boozy caramel. Some brown sugar too. Huge bourbon soaked raisin backbone. This one is super malty, but it's not very "grainy" in flavor -- which is great. The 10% ABV definitely shines through and renders this one is a sipper, but it is far from the type of beer that burns on the way down or makes you cringe. To the contrary, it is quite the pleasant brew to sip and the kind of beer that should be enjoyed as it warms. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with low/minimal carbonation. There is just enough carbonation to make some of the alcohol flavor prickle the tongue and make the "whiskey malt" flavors shine through. This brew has a syrupy mouthfeel and seems to have a chloraseptic lozenge "rigid numbing effect" on the throat. Finsh is a little dry and sweet -- even a little sticky at points. 4/5

Overall: Like the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, this is a super solid barrel aged barleywine at a very reasonable cost. For under $10 a bottle, I would certainly seek this one out again.

Recommendation: The flavors of this beer might be a little aggressive for the casual beer drinker, but beer geeks and those who like whiskey/bourbon should give this one a whirl.

Pairings: Lamb.

Cost: $7.99

Photo of Greywulfken
3.87/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: into a snifter, deep amber ruby brown, little-to-no head or lace

S: faint malty toffee and bourbon, some oak and wood aromas

T: I let the beer warm for a good 20 minutes out of the fridge before drinking... rough, unpolished flavor lent the beer a certain rugged character; medicinal toffee, semi-sweet, barley grain comes through nicely, whiskey aftertaste

M: slick, thin, slight alcohol taste, imperceptible carbonation, drying finish

O: Good for a try, but for me, a one-and-done.

Photo of Bierguy5
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, 22 oz bottle, 10% abv. Mahogany in color, with ruby highlights. Thin white head disappears quickly, but leaves a collar around the sides of the glass, along with a few random spots of lace.

Bourbon and oak shine through first in the nose, but do not dominate. Candied fruit, toffee and caramel notes follow. A bit of vanilla and a spicy note round things out.

Toffee and candied fruits show up first. Nice amount of fruit up front. A bit of a dry note, then the wood and bourbon flavors round things out. Bourbon lingers in a nice way.

Medium body, soft carbonation. Warming alcohol present. Very nice that the barrel does not overwhelm this beer, but I feel like there is something missing in the middle. Still a good beer, for a very reasonable price.

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

Appearance: mahogany. Strong ruby highlights. Off white head, about the size you'd expect from a 10%'er.
Smell: pleasant but quite meek for a big barly, especially a bourbon barrel aged one. Bourbon is present but barely. Some vanilla and pleasant bready hints. Nice enough but frankly weak for a big barrel aged barley.
Taste: different from the nose in that the booze is more present. Similar to the nose in flavor profile. On the plus side it's quite mellow other that a little booze sting.
Overall: a tasty beer but honestly a pipsqueak in the barrel aged barley field.
Edit: had to go in an up the overall a bit. This got better as it warmed.

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Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
89 out of 100 based on 297 ratings.