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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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BA SCORE
88
very good

106 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 106
Hads: 298
rAvg: 3.92
pDev: 5.1%
Wants: 37
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

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 106 | Hads: 298
Photo of twaddlac
2.56/5  rDev -34.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Very beautiful. Dark amber color with a nice creamy head. The carbonation in the beer is what I really like about the looks of this beer - I haven't seen this many before.

S- Very sweet and nutty with a hint of banana

T- It has a strong metallic note to it that lingers throughout. You can definitely taste the alcohol which is mildly unpleasant. A very nutty flavor with a strong hop bite at the finish.

M- Very nice (Borat voice). Finishes very dry and the carbonation isn't too bad. Medium bodied.

O- I didn't think that bourbon barrels would complement a barleywine well.. I was right. I would have much rather had the cabernet barrel for this brew.

To note: I don't know if it's just me, but the barrel aging process that Heavy Seas uses seems to not be the best... It's always overly sweet with a very nutty overtone and not much for a bourbon taste. I remember having their octoberfest (or one of their fall beers) and it was almost indistinguishable from this beer. Just something the take caution about. (1,021 characters)

Photo of chicagobeerriot
2.93/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours dark copper with a medium veil. One inch of head quickly settles to a thin gauze on the surface.

The smell is very bourbon forward. With some toffee and caramel underneath. There's a little vanilla and oak, but I'm getting much more straight bourbon than I am getting some of the more subtle characteristics from the barrel.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side. With only light carbonation, I would prefer that the mouthfeel be fuller.

The taste is much like the smell: very bourbon forward without strong complementary flavors to provide balance. To put this in perspective: I like bourbon in my beer. But here, there is not enough of a malt or hop backbone to provide depth (and heft). I'm left with the sensation of just drinking watered down bourbon. That's not the end of the world, but it keeps this beer from fully succeeding.

I'd recommend aging this one for a couple of years to restore balance. The alcohol bite should retreat and some of the sweet malt should develop to give this beer a more rounded and complex flavor profile. (1,044 characters)

Photo of bruachan
3.01/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

the deep froth in my glass already makes me suspicious of the "english" qualifier to this barleywine. good lacing

aroma is lightly of bourbon and oak. slightly wild smelling and also slightly smelling of brown sugar

tastes mostly of bourbon, to be sure. bigtime cola thing going on. heat, but very little beer character. where is the barleywine under the bourbon? no vinous element, no diacetyl, no roasty, no fruity. i taste what basically amounts to a brown ale...in fact this resembles very closely Tyranena's Rockey's Revenge (a bourbon brown)

my fears this might be an american barleywine were allayed, i suppose, but it doesn't exactly inspire thoughts of an english barleywine, either (694 characters)

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.15/5  rDev -19.6%
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. (386 characters)

Photo of Prince_Casual
3.22/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- I cringe looking at all Heavy Seas labels, and this one is no different, looks like a highschooler made it in M.S. Paint after watching Pirates of the Caribbean + few too many...sorry, let's get to the point:

Once into a tulip this beer looks exactly as it should. Half inch head, nice dark color. Not much to improve on in this department.

S- A lot like smelling a dropper of vanilla extract. Not "bad" but not very beer'ish at all. I've had the non-aged HS barley-wine and this doesn't really remind me of how that one smelled, at all. For me, absolutely no alcohol vapor to speak of, which is more than can be said for a lot of barley wines.

T- Quite sweet. Of course more alcohol is often countered with sweetness, but here the sugars have really taken over, and not very "bourbon-y" at all, more reminiscent of a (melted, quality, Breyers?) vanilla ice cream. No hops to speak of, which I detected in the non-barreled version (and kind of miss). Not perfect but I appreciate what they were going for. It feels "finished" which barley wine doesn't always, for me. ZERO inclination to hang onto this one and "see how it ages." This is ready to drink.

M- Really excels here. While I love a BB-Stout, the way they stick to the back of your teeth, I know it comes with the territory, but it's not something I cherish. Here the added carbonation "keeps it moving" and while I know there's booze there, it doesn't really burn in one spot and it's quite pleasant. The barreling is much more apparent here than in taste, and I remember something like markers mark here. I like that. Barley wines usually "hang out in my mouth" too long and I feel like I just took a shot of rail whiskey... not here, cleans up nicely.

O- I'd easily take this over the Heavy Seas non-aged brethren, by a long shot. This is my first BB barley-wine, although I've had nondescript ales, stouts, porters, etc. from that ilk. Without something to (personally) directly compare this to, I'd say its worth a sip or two. Interested to track down and try the Cab barreled one and compare.

I feel the same way about Heavy Seas as I did before this beer, they're not "world class" but you know what you're getting anytime you order/open one: slightly sweet, minimal hops, low-key (but high-ish) alcohol content.

Would recommend to a discerning friend. If it sounds good to you, worth a shot, not over retail though. (2,394 characters)

Photo of Michael_D
3.28/5  rDev -16.3%
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. (302 characters)

Photo of b3shine
3.42/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Deuce to tulip. 2010 vintage. Looks good; deep amber with very thin lacing. Smell is almost nonexistent. Pretty underwhelming, actually. Tastes good; nothing too complex, but a nice journeyman's attempt at a BA barleywine. Mouthfeel is good; little carbonation. It's a tasty brew and a good value for the price. (311 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: The pour is a surprisingly clear amber color with just about no head and minimal visible carbonation.

S: I don't really pick up much bourbon, but some hints of vanilla do make their way into the nose. The nose is mostly toffee, molasses, and a bit of caramel. The usual aromas, but somewhat muted.

T: The flavor is just as flat and one-note as the nose (if not a bit more). There is more bread than anything else on the nose with molasses and a hint of vanilla, along with some alcohol.

M: The body is quite thin for a barleywine and the carbonation is minimal.

D: A rather bland effort for a barrel aged barleywine. I would not really bother with this one. (664 characters)

Photo of harrymel
3.47/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage

Moving on from the virgin version, we come to the BBA version. It appears lighter in color than the first and has excellent clarity of a toasted honey graham color. No head to speak of. The nose is not dominated by the bourbon character, and actually takes time for me to find. As it warms this character comes through a bit more, but the base still stands: cocoa, english toffee malts. Simple and satisfying.

The flavor is more bourbon infused than the nose. There is a substantial bourbon flavor, but sans boozy tones. Nice toffee and caramel flavors with a little smidge of prunes in the finish. Nice flavor with medium body and light carb.

A nice beer, but to be honest, if this was more than 10% the cost of the original, I would likely pass it up for the original. (786 characters)

Photo of ATLbeerDog
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thin rust color with an average tan head that dissipates fairly quickly. Smells boozy, oaky, bourbony w/plenty of sweet malt adding to the nose. First sip is super malt sweetness layered in a ton of oak. There is bourbon in there too but the oak unfortunately is much more dominating. The sweetness that hits first fades rather quickly leading to a bitter finish highlighted almost entirely by the mighty oak. Though very thin bodied there is just enough carbonation to warrant a decent mouthfeel. The 10% ABV is not well hidden at all. It is in your face making one to think it is stronger than it really is. (617 characters)

Photo of mrandypandy
3.49/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

32oz growler purchased at Hop City in Atlanta.

A - Pours a deep, clear mahogany. Thin white soapy head. Pretty.
S - Caramel sweetness, but not much else. Expecting a bigger bourbon nose on this.
T - Nice malty backbone with a toffee sweetness. Not much bourbon. Almost a buttery aftertaste though.
M - Medium to full body but not too heavy. Surprisingly smooth.
O - Very subdued bourbon treatment on this. A bit on the sweeter side for a barleywine, but still tasty. Doesn't taste boozy but I can feel the alcohol sneaking up on me. Overall, wished there was more bourbon in both the nose and flavor. (606 characters)

Photo of BethanyB
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
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. (998 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottling

Appearance: Pours a tawny color with a rather small head that fritters away rather quickly without leaving much of a trace

Smell: Toasted oak aromatics joined with toffee and vanilla

Taste: Nutty caramel, up front, with the bourbon and vanilla flavors building into the middle; toasted oak and booze wraps up the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation

Overall: Nothing particularly wrong with this beer but it lacks the overall depth and power I would expect from a barrel-aged barleywine; the lack of a hop presence is also a detractor (568 characters)

Photo of billshmeinke
3.58/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Stone Old Guardian glass.

Has a dark ruby body that is semi-opaque. Two finger slightly off white head. Dies down to a slim layer of foam on top. Nice lacing.

Smells of caramel malts apple and apricot esters. Reminiscent of Gratitude.

Taste is fairly subtle and follows smell. Caramel/toffee malts, apple/apricot, some dark berries, subtle vanilla/oak. Bourbon is barely noticeable.

Mouthfeel is on the high end of medium bodied. Low carbonation. Smooth, but too light on the palate for such a big beer IMO. I like my big beers to be a little more assertive.

No heat which is a bit odd. I actually might like a bit more heat. Deceptively easy to drink. Wish it were more flavorful. (701 characters)

Photo of russpowell
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
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... (732 characters)

Photo of oberon
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
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. (467 characters)

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
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. (647 characters)

Photo of crewfan16
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
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 :) (1,184 characters)

Photo of Jadjunk
3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

"This English style barleywine ale has been aged in American bourbon barrels. Enjoy now or cellar it "Below Decks" as it will become more complex as it ages." Brewed in the style of an English Barleywine ale. Released parallel to the Below Decks Barleywine standard ale in 2012, available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Served above 56 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a frothed creamy head of an ecru tan color over a medium brown body with moderate sediment in tow, ample lively visible carbonation. Retention is below average and lacing is light and spotty. 3.25

(Smell) Faint caramel grain and bread, trace toffee character with a light impact of oak, trace vanilla and bourbon for a reserved sweetness. 3.5

(Taste) More bourbon impact up front in the flavor, lots of corn sweetness, drying toasted oak, hints of vanilla. Alongside the mellow Below Decks recipe, it is a dominating impact of flavor but a welcome one. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, residual, lightly sticky, moderately dry. Carbonation is modest, generating a mild frothiness and a mildly crisp finish. Body is medium for the style, medium overall. Balance is slightly boozy and sweet over bitter. Alcohol presence is moderate and there are no off characters. 3.75

(Overall) The simplicity of Below Decks barleywine makes it a good enough candidate for Oak aging to create a significant impact of bourbon oak and bourbon flavor. It's not nearly the most complex of barrel aged beers from the barrel nor the base malt, but it's drinkable and generally enjoyable, and I favor this version over the standard Below Decks ale as it creates enough of a flavor profile to keep things interesting. 3.75

Heavy Seas Beer's
Below Decks Barleywine Aged in Bourbon Barrels
3.66/5.00 (1,814 characters)

Photo of argock
3.69/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz brown bomber into a clear glass snifter. 2011 vintage. Purchased at Market Street Wineshop (Charlottesville, VA) for $7.99.

A: Chestnut brown with thin cap of off-white tightly bubbled that dissipates quickly.

S: A wide range of succulent aromas arise from this brew including coconut, pineapple, bourbon, alcohol, caramel, and toffee.

T: The flavor is pretty one-dimensional of bourbon, coconut, and vanilla flavors. The maltiness is way too subdued to matter although therer are some musty, leathery notes in there.

M: Way too light for the style Carbonation is low and does not help the drinkability of this brew.

O: A simply good beer but for the price I can do a lot better many other ways. (720 characters)

Photo of AgentMunky
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. 2010 vintage.

A: Light off-white forms bubbles before migrating to the sides of the glass. The beer is a murky, reddish sienna. Not particularly translucent. Good lacing!

S: Strong smelling. Boozy fruits, bready chocolates, and a bit of funk that might come from yeast. It smells a bit like a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie. Bourbon isn't particularly present, but alcohol is.

T: Meh, it's alright. The flavours are muted...perhaps because the beer was inexpertly stored before purchase? The maintaste is as murky as the appearance, betraying only a hint of chocolate and a gentle alcohol. A touch of red grape. The end/aftertaste is strongly reminiscent of whisky, not bourbon but some of the older single malts I've encountered -- it's old leather, pleasantly musty and enduring.

M: Sturdy. Musty and musky.

O: Not as good as I expected, but still worth the money I paid for it. I generally enjoy all of Heavy Seas' Mutiny Fleet productions, but this is a qualified exception. I guess it didn't age well. I will withhold any recommendation, positive or negative. I won't buy another it, even if I ever see one. (1,176 characters)

Photo of Gmann
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
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. (944 characters)

Photo of Florida9
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to neorunner for this one:

2010 Vintage

A: Deep mahogany brown in color, yet still fully translucent. Forms a thin, light tan head. Little retention though causes it to reduce to just a thin ring around the edges. Some spotty lacing. 4.0

S: Vanilla and oak. Caramel malts. Aroma was quite pronounced at first, but it seems to have burned off as it warms. 3.5-4.0

T: Lightly sweet caramel malt. Vanilla and oak. A bit earthy with a stewed tea quality. There is a slight bit of alcoholic heat on the end. Finishes rather quick, with even more oak and vanilla. 3.5-4.0

M: Medium in body, but feels thinnish. Lower carbonation level. Oddly clean for a barrel aged beer. Just a little bit of heat on the finish. 3.5

O: A good BA Barleywine. Vanilla and oak are quite pronounced, possibly more so than unsual because the underlying beer seems a little thin. I imagine this one has some age on it as seems to be quite mellow. 3.5-4.0 (942 characters)

Photo of gamwich
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Rust colored, with a dun-colored head. As the head disappears it leaves sheets of lacing. The nose has strong bourbon notes, vanilla, alcohol, and oak. The flavor is good, with lots of bourbon and vanilla backed up by sweet caramel and molasses/brown sugar notes. Also there is a good bit of heat, but hey, it's 10%. There is just enough carbonation, although I feel like the beer could have a touch more body.

Overall, for $7.99 a 22oz this is a pretty tasty bourbon barrel aged barleywine. (493 characters)

Photo of nezelrac
3.78/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The only information I had about this was that it was "wood aged" - given what I found in the glass I am fairly certain it was the bourbon not the cabernet...

12oz snifter, draft

A - a chestnut-auburn topped with a minimal off-white head that quickly dissipates leaving little on the glass

S - strong woody notes, vanilla, plenty of malt and toffee, hints of dried fruits

T - woody and malty with hints of nuts and more toffee, balanced but favoring the barrel

M - lightish for a barleywine, quite appealing, the wood gives it a dry edge

D - quite easy for the style, the wood may put some off, I would have another (621 characters)

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Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
88 out of 100 based on 106 ratings.