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Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks - Heavy Seas Beer

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
88
very good

175 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 175
Reviews: 87
rAvg: 3.93
pDev: 12.21%
Wants: 17
Gots: 34 | 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: 175 | Reviews: 87
Reviews by Mongrel:
Photo of Mongrel
4.08/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Not at all what I was expecting with this one...

Upon pouring, it seems to be somewhat thin in body, as there is little head or lace. But it has body - the mouthfeel is soft but pretty heavy. Pours a very dark brown, almost purple.

The nose was a bit odd and nutty at first, but like most good barleywines, this one grows in complexity as it warms and opens up. Further along, it smells very much of dark fruit.

Not much wine comes through per se, but it's very sweet and fruity. Although my first impression was straight caramel. Caramel, strawberry, dark fruits and hazelnut - sums this one up nicely. Very decadent. Hides it booze better than the bourbon barrel aged version, but you'll feel the warmth from the abv rather quickly.

A very nice surprise, overall. Great for dessert or sipping by a fire.

More User Reviews:
Photo of marvin213
4.48/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another especially dark barleywine for me, I appreciate the frothy head. Head with lasting power and beautiful legs that spread with a swirl, it looks oh-so-appealing.

I like the nose. I reach for more of a Cabernet influence, but something tempers that English-style toffee that predominates most barleywines of this style. I like that.

It's neat. There's more oaky dryness than is typical, and I attribute that to the wine barrels. In fact, I think it balances the barleywine perfectly. Many of us love beer so much because of the seemingly infinite ingredients, and I must say that the wine barrel-aging evidences that beers are the alcoholic cream of the crop! Can you imagine aging a wine in a beer barrel? It's its adaptability that makes a good beer go great. Again, it's the oaky dry touch tampering that sweetness that makes this one spot-on. A well done, mutiny style beer to which I'm likely to return--for me, the flagship of the Heavy Seas Fleet.

Photo of oberon
3.53/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an impy pint glass a hazed amber infused deeper brown with lacey one finger off white head atop.Aromas were of oak and dark fruit mainly,caramel,and a a tinge of nuttiness as well.Flavors seemed to be dominated to much by the oaky-fruity flavors imparted by the cabernet barel's,I would have liked more of the nuances of the barleywine to come thru,oaky and deeply fruity with a little caramel malt thrown in.Its a pretty good flavored brew,I just want more beer flavor in my oaked beers.

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.4/5  rDev -13.5%

2011 Release

Nose is really confused at first. Leads off with big red wine notes with toasted malts and dark caramels trying to push through. Bits of chocolate turn up. Creates a chocolate sundae effect topped with a big maraschino cherry. A fair amount of rough oak from the cab barrels winds up framing the nose as the flavors begin to merge into a cherry-chocolate-covered caramel. It's pretty much a big red wine / imperial robust porter mash-up. Toward the end of the bomber, the caramel malts finally take over, but the cherry only fades, never completely disappearing. It seems that, like wine, this beer needs time to open. Perhaps it's the residual wine itself that needs to oxidize and open.

Moderately toasted malts with nibs of cocoa are front-and-center in the taste. Dark, sweet fruits like dates and red cherries follow. Finish shows off caramels with a touch of silky light milk chocolate, but the wine leaves it dry on the sides of the tongue. The only hint of the ABV is in the full, solid body and rich mouthfeel. The issue here is that the individual taste components clash rather than complement.

Not really my kind of profile; I like the sugars, vanilla wood, and ABV from bourbon barrels over the cherry effect this one has from the cab. It has the structure of a well-made beer, though, so if cherry-chocolate sounds appealing, this approach may work for you. Working through the bomber also revealed an effect common with big, oaked cabs – as they warm and open, they move through various stages that emphasize different characteristics. While certainly not as pronounced, the end of the bomber found much less definition in individual components and considerably more nuance. I have a 2012 version of this beer I'll approach more like wine when I taste. It might not be enough to simply pour at a target temperature; the beer could well also need time for the wine in it to open.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours an amber color with a white head. The aroma is very nice. I get some caramel malt, along with some chocolate, dark fruit and alcohol. I also get a little bit of grape and red wine notes. The flavor is heavy on the caramel, toffee, brown sugar and dark fruit. I also get a little bit of citrus fruit and some alcohol. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Photo of glid02
3.9/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle purchased from Green's on Ponce in Atlanta.

Pours a slightly hazy dark copper color with a half-finger off-white head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving decent lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts with equal amounts of mild toffee and tannins from the wine barrels.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Sticky caramel malt flavors kick things off with good amounts of toffee and lighter amounts of butterscotch. Midway through the sip mild amounts of booze-soaked pears and other muddled fruit flavors from the cab barrels make their way into things. The fruit flavors gradually fade out into an ending that's neither sweet nor bitter.

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

Drinkability is OK. I finished my glass without any problems however I'm not sure about another.

Overall I thought the bourbon version of this was much better as the flavors from the cab barrel weren't very crisp and didn't work as well with the flavors of the base beer. Still, it's worth a shot.

Photo of Brenden
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer is a big ruby-red, leaning brown, dark but with flaming red highlights. The off-white head isn't quite frothy but has a nice structure allowing for good retention and solid lacing overall.
Tannic notes with a red wine juiciness that's also dry in a way very particular to certain bigger red wines, this aroma delivers the expectation. There's toffee and caramel as well, and Heavy Seas always seems to bring out the most from their barrels, with lots of oak in there. A touch of toast speaks to the malts as well, and a little leafiness seems to be the hoppy portion. Alcohol adds lots of warmth without being too heavily fusel.
Tannins come out quite expressly without drying it out too much. There's a lot of toffee and brown sugar with some toast/smoke in its sweetness. It's very interesting, a strong red wine (without knowing, I would say it could be either Cab or Zin) with brown sugar making for a unique blend of flavors. It's mildly vinous, too, with a leafy note that could be the wine, the hops, or both. The wood adds a dryness as well, a good counter to the sweetness. It's earthy all the way, and some dark fruits come out toward the middle and into the finish. Alcohol adds heat the whole way without going overboard, but this is for sure a sipper.
There's a smoothness in this beer's appropriately big body, lightly crisp but with a good balance and proper focus. For all the sweetness, the wood and the wine's tannins work to add a nice dryness that evens it out.

Photo of bensbeers
3.39/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bomber into a wine glass.

This is an interesting looking beer, almost resembling mud when poured out. Had a small head that did not last more than 10 seconds. Smell immediately reminds me of red wine (as expected), chocolate - Tootsie rolls to be exact - as well as toffee, apple and a hint of coconut. Taste is bizarre, yet still enjoyable. First thing I noticed is the cabernet, followed by the caramelly malts. Did not taste one bit of hops. High alcohol content definitely shows in the taste, due to the wine barrel-aging, in my opinion. Wine was a bit overpowering and masked the other attributes of the actual beer. Mouthfeel is actually quite nice. I was expecting it to be smooth and dull like a stout, but it was lightly carbonated and left behind a fruity, oaky flavor on the tongue.

Overall, I really enjoyed the complexity that this brew offered on the nose and tastebuds. I have only tried this style of beer once or twice before, and I think this is a nice interpretation. The wine barrel aging definitely throws a curveball - unlike anything I have ever tasted before, but again it's overpowering. Probably will not try again, but no regrets. Cheers

Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark brownish amber with a thin white head

S - candy sugar, bread, dark fruit

T - caramel, dark fruit, candy sugar

M - smooth, full bodied, sticky, a bit dry

This is a very nice English-style Barleywine. It's exceptionally malty with a big though not cloying sugary present. The dark fruits come through as well. I couldn't put my finger on it, but raisins and figs and possibly dates all made their presence known. I do love a good Barleywine, and this one had it all: balance, hidden ABV, drinkability, maltiness, full flavor, and full body. This is definitely worth a try.

Photo of zaphodchak
4.24/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thinnish offwhite head, murky red-brown body. A bit of lace. Head fizzles away like cola.

Smells like aged malt, some grape must, and a bit of shoe leather. Awesome.

This is definitely on par with the bourbon barrel version-- sweet and slightly tart grapes take the place of coconut, oak is sublime throughout. The toffee and malt backbone is phenomenal.

Nice and smooth, but kinda lingers on/coats the palate, but this is only a slight negative. Just drink water afterwards (which is a good policy anyway).

This ends up drinking like one of the best English style barleywines south of J.W. Lees. And a hell of a lot cheaper at that.

Photo of dirtylou
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber, split and paired with some NFL divisional round playoff action

admittedly, was not looking forward to this one. the base heavy seas barleywine is pretty bad. fortunately, this exceeded all expectations.

appearance: rather light - looks almost watered down, medium amber, rather lifeless bubbly head

smell: very oaky, grapes are potent, a bit boozy but very enticing

taste: the barrel is the show here - extremely vinous, oak, with the cabernet grapes still resonating in a major way. the boring boozy barleywine base is obliterated and saved by the barrel.

mouthfeel: medium, not overdone and not sticky like the base

drinkability: could have drank more

Photo of prototypic
3.85/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This BA release of Below Decks pours a very dark copper color. Backlighting gives it very attractive crimson highlights. It's capped with a modest, off-white head that stands about a finger tall. It's quick to recede and leaves a moderate amount of sticky lace behind.

The nose is a little weak and rather uninspiring. It'd benefit greatly from more strength. Having said that, there's definitely a vinous character to it. The barrel-aging certainly left its mark. Oak is also rather strong in the mix. Honestly, I like both of those elements here. What's missing is any evidence that it's a Barleywine. If you really sticky with it, there's a sugary sweet and light malty scent, but not much else. Alcohol is masked fairly well for 10%. Overall, it smells pretty good. I'm probably being a little generous here.

The flavor is interesting. It tracks the nose closely. The first sip features a big dose of red grapes and oak. Actually, so does every other sip. The barrel aging process works well here. I really like the flavors the process imparted. There's a bit of apple and pear here. Perhaps this is one of THOSE Barleywines. I'm always intrigued to encounter them. They seem to be devoid of any dark fruit or hop flavors (which holds true here). It's sweet and a little sugary. Earthy notes and musk are secondary, but add some character and depth. Alcohol is noted, but isn't overly strong. It's blended well for double digit territory. It finishes oaky and a little fruity.

The body here is medium. Carbonation is dialed down nicely. It's overall smooth and relatively easy drinking. Drinkability is good. This is pretty tasty stuff. I like it. For a big Barleywine, it goes down pretty easy. A bomber shouldn't be too much trouble.

I didn't really know what to make of this beer before I tasted it. It's interesting, but is pretty impressive. It's definitely a different type of American Barleywine. It has a distinct apple/pear flavor rather than dark fruit. There's also no hop presence as far as I can tell. But, it is good. The cabarnet barrels gave it a tasty combo of red grape and oak. It works. The nose could use a little work, but it's good otherwise. Check it out.

Photo of silver0rlead
4.23/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown color with a nice tan head that retains really well for a barleywine. The aroma is very vinous with notes of dark fruit, tobacco, and chocolate as well as oak, vanilla, caramel, coconut, brown sugar and rum. The flavor is a little less vinous than the aroma, with notes of brown sugar and caramel upfront, as well as piney and citrusy hops, grape and plum, oak, vanilla, coconut, dark chocolate, and rum. The mouthfeel is medium, and drinkability is good despite the alcohol and barrel aging. This is a very tasty barleywine, and the cabernet aging really makes things interesting.

Photo of Vonerichs
3.84/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Murky brown with a reddish tinge. The head is fizzy and subsides in a hurry.

Interesting smell of concord grape juice, brown sugar, and prunes. The cabernet barrels add a nice touch.

The cabernet barrel contributes a nice touch of grapes but I wanted more of a tannic quality and it turns out more sweet. Anyway, it's still a nice touch. The finish is a brown sugar with a slightly dirty sweet potato-ish flavor. Slightly boozy, but not to shabby for 10%.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied and has ample carbonation.

I liked this beer. From what I read in reviews of the base beer, that one's not that impressive. I thought the cabernet barrels added a nice touch to the barleywine and would be curious to see what it'd do with an acclaimed base.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.17/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, 2011 vintage. Served in a snifter, the beer pours a murky reddish/brown color with about an inch tan head. Head retention is good, and there's a small amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like red wine, dark fruit, molasses, caramel, brown sugar and some wood. It tastes like red wine/grapes, dark fruit (figs, raisins, plums), molasses, caramel, toffee, and a little bit of chocolate. I thought it tasted better and better the longer I drank it. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's syrupy and slick with moderate carbonation. I think this is a good overall brew, and it's better than the regular Below Decks (I just had a bottle of it before I drank this one). The cabernet barrel aging works well with this brew and makes it better. Definitely worth a try if you come across it.

Photo of EgadBananas
4.02/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Thanks for sharing, David.

Pours a murky brown color with a small beige head, no lacing. Aroma has plenty oak notes and a sharp vinous note with mild acidity, some booze, caramel, toasted nuts and brown sugar. Similar toasted wood notes in the taste, caramel, dark fruits, figs, alcohol. Fairly full-bodied and creamy, low carbonation. Drink surprisingly well.

Quite nice. Wine barrel notes and the sweetness from the Barleywine play well off each other.

Photo of smakawhat
4.04/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass. Vintage 2012.

Really not much of a head produced at all, hits weak, but makes a little tan presence, and leaves a tiny pencil thin collar on the glass while enjoying. Body color is very cola like in presences with a faint red hint, but it does look like Coca Cola. However it is missing the soda giant carbonation, and this manages the thinnest bubbles around the edges.

Nose is quite varied, and different depending on first sniff and subsequent sips. However it's very sticky on first sip. Hints of toffee and caramel thick. Light oak sensations, vinous sense of wine heat, and hints of salt. Very varied and exploratory. After sips bring some vanilla and hints of soy sauce, and some grapey fruit character.

Very unexpected palate. The body shines with a real nice wine like feel, but with a smooth coating character. Malt backbone brings the depth though. Soy sauce salty character comes out a bit but also with a little sweetness. Aftertaste is varied in vanilla, and the caramel and toffee angle comes throughout. Mouthfeel is very light, lowly carbonated, not taking away from anything taste wise.

Overall there's a lot going on here, but it's quite enjoyable, and not too out of balance. It's a very unique barleywine to explore, but it may not be to ultimate tastes. I said a lot, and there's quite a bit to investigate. Also for 10% it is not very boozy, and very easy drinking. I am also not sure how well this would age. Drinking it now doesn't hurt.

Photo of jsanford
4.21/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Snifter. 2011 Vintage.

A - Pours a muddy mahogany with a short-lived off-white head that settles to a very slight ring and precisely 2 spots of haze.
S - Big, rich aromas of dark wine grapes, raisins, oak, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, and caramel. Fantastic nose, already I'm thinking I may have to grab a couple more bottles...
T - Taste is right there with the nose, big, vinous flavors of red wine, oak, dried fruits (prunes and raisins) and vanilla, all backed up with sweet, malty flavors of caramel, brown sugar, and toffee. Incredibly smooth, I'm not feeling any heat from the 10% ABV.
M - This is the only spot that I can really criticize, mouthfeel is a bit thinner and crisper then I'd prefer, with a touch too-high carbonation. Perhaps age would help here, I usually like a bit stickier, syrupy mouthfeel in my Barleywines.
O - Overall an excellent Barleywine, I'm definitely gonna pick up more of these (and give the Bourbon version a try)!

Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

part of the epicness that was the halloween weekend of beer. the last few nights have kicked my ass in every way, but i got to try a bunch of goodies that have long haunted me. served chilled and poured into a 8 ounce taster, this one was consumed on 10/30/2010.

pours a nice ruddy brown color with a small head of off white that came to a climax at about an inch before settling down with a moderate amount of lacing down the sides of the glass.

aroma is interesting. little notes of barrel at first start to come through but then some alcohol an hints of muted hops start to cloud it. warming though brings it through nicely as hints of earthy malts, light touches of dark fruit, an hints of caramel start to take shape. nice clean flavor from the cab barrels gives it just a touch of depth, again very well done here. nothing over the top and takes the heat off the 10% very nicely. smooth finish hit the spot with just the right amount of flavor.

overall a really solid offering and a good treatment on this classic. i would not mind aging a couple.

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.07/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: deep burgundy. Sight off white head. Handsome brew.
Smell: quite intense. The wine is front and center with a strong vanilla, oak foundation. I much prefer bourbon in most cases but this is very interesting.
Taste: not as full and rich as the nose but the Cabernet is again, front and center.
Overall: this one has more depth than prev below decks.

Photo of blackie
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

they're really cranking these special releases out...

thought this one was best as it approached room temp, as much of the wine and malt were muted before that point

a: bottle split - my portion into a unibroue tulip, murky chestnut brown with some deep red hues, light off-white head with average retention

s: toffee with a strong edge of roasted nutshell, sugary after warming but not intensely sweet, oaky cabernet well integrated and complimentary - more fruity than tannic, plum and cherry, sweet alcohol, wine much more prevalent here than on the tongue, it's not huge or assertive but that should be in keeping with the English designation

m: carbonation on the light side but still a touch spritzy, body full but ranging towards the lighter side

t: drier toffee malts with some dark sugars somewhere in the land between caramelized and scorched, full but not too heavily sugared, the mild red wine fruits play a nice compliment to the malt, dark tree fruits, lighter earthy hop finish with a mild bitterness and lingering nutshell and toffee, perhaps a light tannic effect, warming alcohol

d: drinkability is pretty high for the weight, some alcoholic presence but nothing beyond what is expected

bomber from Whole Foods, Vienna, VA

Photo of Kromes
4.12/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A hazy dark brown with a thin tan colored head.

S: A big earthy and malty caramel aroma with lots of oak.

T: Starts very caramel and sweet and then fades to a nice vanilla and oak along with a sweet alcohol flavor and burn. The alcohol lingers in the finish.

M: Medium-heavy body with a good amount of carbonation.

O: I thought it was a good oak aged barleywine. Flavors are very nice and I think that additional aging would benefit the beer and help mellow out some of the sharp alcohol in the finish.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage (which I think is the only one anyway).

4.0 A: Dark brown color. Actually more like a purplish black. One finger of creamy beige head that retains okay given the ABV and leaves

4.0 S: The cabernet sticks out, lending a vinous component in addition to oak and a touch of tannic astringency. The underlying beer adds plum and fig foremost, with caramel and toffee following. Not bad.

4.0 T: Again the cabernet is aggressive yielded an almost tart vinous grape. Lots of oak and little bits of tannins. Dark fruits including plum, prune, date, fig, and maybe some currant. Caramel and toffee underneath that. Absolutely no hints of alcohol.

4.0 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. The slightest bit chewy, but smooth overall.

4.0 D: This is incredibly mellow for a beer only around a year old. Flavors are well integrated and well balanced. Plus, $8 for a bomber of barrel aged beer isn't bad at all.

Photo of ne0m00re
1.2/5  rDev -69.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Live review of a 22 oz bottle.
A: Murky mahogany, it poured with a cream head with lacing.
S: What the hell... this is a very subtle aroma of fetid grapes, corny biscuit malt, chlorine, cranberry juice and mint. I really don't want to drink this, but I do, and...
T: Watery wine like cheap fruit juice, biscuit malt, some caramel with booze, Marshmallows!, a weird wood flavor. Is this poisoned? I think it's poisoned.
M: Thin with a weird froth.
O: Holy hell this is a mess. Terrible, terrible drainpour. This is a barleywine like Natty Ice is a lager.

It doesn't taste like it was infected... it just tastes like they meant it to be this mess.

Photo of ChrisPro
3.41/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have had previously (and enjoyed it much much more), but reviewing blind on 12/23/11 as part of a "BA barleywine" tasting. Finished #5 of 6 for me.

A - Pours medium brown with a nice light tan head

S - Weird nose with saurkraut, dark fruits and a little vanilla and oak

T - A mild sweetness, then a little bitterness but has a fantastic caramel finish. Taste overall is a bit strange, but not inherenetly bad.

M - Medium body and sharp carbonation

O - Okay, but nothing special. Just not that good. The nose is slightly offputting, but otherwise, just a solid barleywine with unique barrel aging.

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Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
88 out of 100 based on 175 ratings.