Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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.
very good

88 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 88
Hads: 180
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 17.65%
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: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 88 | Hads: 180
Photo of Meerkey
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: a finger or two of pale beige head. Very cloudy chestnut.

S: Smells like red wine. Sweet, dark fruit. Some bready malts. Nice.

T: I like it. More red wine. Fruity and malty. Alcohol. Maybe a little spicy and slightly vegetal?

M: Hint of carbonation, but creamy and smooth, heavy. Nice, but nothing exceptional.

O: I'm surprised by how much it tastes and smells like red wine. I enjoy it, I'll have another. Recommend.

 425 characters

Photo of AgentMunky
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a BrewDog cervoise glass. Vintage 2010.

A: A finger and a half of head. Murky, dark brown beer with a ruddy tint. Not particularly susceptible to light. Nice lacing.

S: Winey-tart and very pleasant. Reminiscent of the brandy barrel Angel's Share, but less intense. Some funky old ale style yeast? Maybe not, but an odd sourness nonetheless.

T: Hrm, much more malty-sweet than yeasty-sour. Definite red wine character to the beer. The mild tartness, a large amount of grapiness, and a wine-like/dry aftertaste with lingering tannin/grapepeel. I wonder if the Cabernet ageing hasn't overpowered the beer. Still, good barleywine, and the alcohol barely shows. Vague hops are never really an issue.

M: Smooth, lightly carbonated, and drying. Nice.

O: Good beer. Recommended; will have again. I still think it was a little heavy-handed with the wine barrelling, but it was an interesting twist. I continue to appreciate the Heavy Seas range. Yum.

 981 characters

Photo of ShogoKawada
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to.... AleWatcher, I think. Can't remember. Poured in to an imperial pint glass.

A- A murky brown with purple and ruby red highlights. Small but respectable sandy tan head.

S- Boozy.. brandy soaked figs and toffee. Noticeable alcohol presence.

T- Dark fruit is strong on raisin. Not sour but tart, for sure. Barrels express grapes several ways- mild brandy/cognac which is complimented by the English malt. Interesting and ultimately successful flavor profile.

M- A bit syrupy/sticky and lethargic. Would benefit from a bit more carbonation.

O- Weird, but enjoyable. YMMV. Not for the unadventerous.

 613 characters

Photo of stakem
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

From a bomber that I believe I found in a shop near the finger lakes in New York last year. Opened this with a couple friends for a side by side tasting with the bourbon version.

Poured into a snifter, this brew appears a gazed ruby amber color with particulate stuck hanging in suspension. A creamy finger of tan head forms and retains well. A swirl revives the cap and forms spotty lacework on the glass.

The smell of this brew is tangy with Brett. It smells of a combination of scents that include cheese, minerals, sulfur and citrus hops. The alcohol stings the nose. Underneath are sweet undertones of caramel malt that accent a minute amount of mellow oakiness and vanilla smoothness.

The taste is brett'd with a tangy kick that includes citrus hops, sulfur and minerals. There is a toasted malt flavor that includes some vanilla smoothness that is sweet underneath the more bold flavors previously described. The aftertaste includes bitter herbal hops.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest amount of carbonation. It is an interesting take on the style that is complex and enjoyable but in limited quantities. I'm glad I shared the bottle because I don't know how much more I could tolerate beyond 6 or so ounces. For 10% abv it is incorporated very well. I could see the cabernet choice of barrel aging here being something that is not for everyone however I enjoyed it. In the side by side comparison though, I favor the bourbon version as it melds with the base flavors moreso than the clashing cabernet.

 1,523 characters

Photo of clickpush
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour: 22oz bottle to tulip. Found this at The Andersons in Dublin, OH, after not being able to find it in Baltimore. Pours a 1.5 finger off-white head over gorgeous red hued body. Lots of carbonation visible within. Head recedes slowly, sticks all over every inch of the glass and leave a soft cap of lacing.

Nose: Caramel malts, a raspberry type sweet/tart to it. A touch of oxidation.

Mouth: Dry yet malty flavors. Some lingering hoppiness. Spices & a touch of tartness. A lingering warmth in the finish. Creamy yet firm carbonation.

 537 characters

Photo of ne0m00re
1.2/5  rDev -69.3%
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.

 647 characters

Photo of srandycarter
3.87/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Reddish murky brown, near white head leaves to ring fast. Some spotty lace.

S - Booze, malt and wine. Cabernet is there. It's pretty nice.

T - Malty, silty, wine notes at near finish followed by malt and hops. Interesting.

M - Medium body, very different flavors meld well together.

D - Even at high ABV, pretty easy to drink!

 334 characters

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of markwise over on ratebeer. It pours clear mahogany with tan head. The aroma is nice with sweet musty pine hop enhanced malts, wood spiciness, sweet / tart raspberries and molasses. The taste begins with sweet malts, molasses, thick sludgy malts, some caramel and pine hops. I dig this. By midway I get modest levels of red skinned berry fruity, cherry, faint red wine notes and some woody barrelness that provide a pleasing balance to the sweetness. Well done.

 472 characters

Photo of DIM
3.67/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

a: This was a coppery golden color and it poured with a medium sized off-white head. There were lots of suspended particles.

s: I've only tried a few wine barrel aged b-wines and this might be my least favorite. I found toffee, grassy hops, a decent amount of naked oak, and muted, musty wine aromas.

t: I liked this well enough, but it didn't quite come together for me. The toffee and caramel of the b-wine were subdued by the wine barrel, but still kind of clashed with it. The finish was dry, with oak, fairly strong heat, and light grassy hops.

m: Nice velvety body on this one.

d: Very glad I got to try this one but, this didn't work as well as I'd hoped it would.

 675 characters

Photo of dirtylou
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
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

 672 characters

Photo of Cylinsier
4.17/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a dark reddish brown, mostly opaque.

Smells of caramel and brown sugar malts, hints of dark fruit.

Taste is stout-like in ways, but the wine barrel flavor comes through adding a fruitiness. Buttery malt flavors round out the taste.

Full mouth, minimal carbonation.

A real treat, powerful but decadent. Not something to have a lot of, should be treated like a scotch or a bourbon. But very enjoyable.

 412 characters

Photo of jrallen34
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

2010 batch, from the bottle poured into my Narke glass...A medium brown with lots of dark amber in the light, unique. A watery light tan head, not much there...Sweet aroma, distinct english barleywine backbone, but lots of wine comes through. Toffee, red wine, caramel, mild hops....The taste is pretty mild shows off the barrel more than anything, vanilla with lots of red wine. This barleywine was too light to hold up, but its qualities, but tastes good none the less.

I can't recommend this, but I drank the bottle pretty easily.

 534 characters

Photo of Pencible
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: This poured a hazy mahogany with a bit of tan head.
S: It smelled like copper hops and toffee, with oxidized sourness and oak and red grapes.
T: It tasted like mellow toffee and brown sugar and orange, with notable red grape and oak. It had a super smooth bittersweet aftertaste.
M: It was somewhat thick with subtle carbonation. Not heavy, but not too light.
D: This was an interesting and enjoyable beer, but it didn't have too bold of a difference from the standard Below Decks (maybe aged 1-2 years). Cabernet was more apparent in taste than scent, which was nice. And the alcohol was decently hidden, so it was pretty easy to drink. Probably not a candidate for aging.

 676 characters

Photo of jnn4v
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottling.

A: Copper / chestnut color with a hint of orange. Slightly ruddy as well.

S: Sweet caramel / toffee malt backbone with a grape and oak undertone. Smells more grape juice than wine.

T: Good cabernet grape / wine taste that both comes before and after the strong toffee flavors from the barleywine. Tastes great at cellar temperature. Oak comes out more and more as it warms.

M: Good viscosity but is lacking some of the carbonation that it could have had.

D: Decent drinkability overall. The alcohol isn't too forward in the flavor.

 556 characters

Photo of TheHoppiest
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into an oversized snifter. Pours a cloudy, ruby-mahogany with a persistent thin tan head.

Smell is weak; slight sweet grape and darker fruits; faint yeast; and sweet malt.

Taste is tannic, yet it quickly smooths out. The grapes are quite prominent, tart and sweet. Some slight bitterness on the back of the tongue as it goes down, but overall not that bitter. As much a wine as it is a beer, this is by far the best Heavy Seas offering I've had to date. Plums, concord grapes, and raspberries are present, with an earthy, leafy finish.

Mouthfeel is thin to medium, with a bit of sharpness as it enters the mouth.

Rather drinkable, I'm looking forward to sipping this through the evening.

 720 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a tulip. Initial pour brings a pretty good off white head plus some legs. Color is copper, tending a bit toward brown. Nose brings some nice cabernet and oak notes. The taste brings some more complexity with cabernet, oak, grape, hints of dark fruit, and a bit of light roast and general fruit. Really nice feel with a bit of a tannic character. Drinks well and is a solid offering.

 416 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Jason for this one.

A: The pour is a dark amber color with a thin layer of khaki colored head.

S: A very wine forward nose. Lots of red fruits, vinous notes, and plenty of oak (sort of tannic). There is a mild alcohol presence and a decent amount of chocolatey oxidation.

T: Sweet caramel and chocolate (oxidation) start things of. The wood and wine provide a spicy, peppery, note and some sweet red fruit. The alcohol comes through a bit strong at moments, but for the most part it's mellow.

M: The body is medium with a low to medium level of carbonation. Overall, a pretty smooth mouthfeel.

D: The alcohol can be slightly on the harsh side at times, but overall it's pretty enjoyable. I'm not usually the biggest fan of non-sour wine barrel aged beers, but this was good.

 789 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

 1,056 characters

Photo of Daniellobo
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice Cabernet aged barleywine, a great step for the regular Below Decks, and one of the better big offerings from the Heavy Seas series.

Presentation: 22 oz brown bottle. Perfunctory pirate skull themed label on this occasion with a predictable badly designed barrel and a bottle of wine. Side narrative goes over the intent of the brewing series, pirated themed inspiration, main description of the brew, and succinct cellaring notes. Notes vintage date (2010) Shows Alc. by Vol. (10%) Served in a snifter.

A - Clear amber brown pour, with a fair bubbly head, average retention with a nice surface memory and persistent touches of lace.

S - Caramel notes over sweet malts with a fruity vinous hit. Rather pleasing.

T - Caramel and malt with a nice fruity touch, light woody vanilla hint in the distance, woven back with a light vinous sense.

M - Medium-full body with a nice smoothness over medium to low carbonation.

D - Actually the flow with the cabernet barrels works very well, it is evident and yet subtle, providing a nice range.

Notes: Surprise, surprise, better than any of the other Below Decks offerings, either the regular, or even the Bourbon one, which was good but this is the one I would go for if I had another chance.

 1,245 characters

Photo of mattcrill
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma: Moderate fruity esters up front. Dried cherries, burnt sugars, carmel aromatics all appear as the beer warms. No hop aroma noted.

Appearance: Cloudy deep amber pour with a thin off white cap. Foam doesn't last long but rings the glass nicely.

Flavor: More fruity esters. Lots of plum, raisin, and cherry notes. Some caramel sweetness noted but balanced well with some earthy hop bittrness and alcohol flavors that are well knit. Just a hint of woodiness but the esters dominate. Balance is towards the malt.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium high carbonation. Definite alcohol warming on the back of the palate. I do get a bit of astringency that I attribute to the barrel aging.

Overall impression: Not sure I get much of the barrel-aged presence about this beer but that's fine with me. A little too bitter to be an English barelywine but a nice American spin.

 878 characters

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

 420 characters

Photo of geryeb624
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bomber poured into my DFH Signature Glass.

A- Dark brown with not much head, just a film of off-white foam. Pours fairly opaque, but with lots of bubbles around the sides of the glass. Head eventually dissipates into a ring of foam.

S- Malty, but some some dark fruit and some acidity. It would appear that the Cabernet is definitely present in the nose.

T- Dark, roasty, somewhat bready malts in the beginning, with a bit of bitterness. Finishes with some nice dark fruit and a bit of acidity from the barrels. Not over-bearing in the fruit department either. Nice balance here. Also some warming alcohol towards the very end.

M- A bit thinner than I would expect for this ABV, but nicely carbonated, which goes well with the fruit component.

D- Pretty intense stuff, so drinkability suffers a bit. Not overly harsh though.

I'm impressed with this stuff. The fruit is overdone, nor is the alcohol or woodiness from barrel aging. A nice barleywine with an interesting twist from the wine notes.

 1,007 characters

Photo of ThaBobfather
4.4/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a great brown and ruby hue with a nice tan thick bodied head.
Smell is deep syrup and malts with a light wine.
Taste hits malts and strong syrup that mellows with cabernet esters.
Finish is long lasting and the flavor of dark fruit pits.
Drinks amazingly at 10% with too sweet and smooth taste to hang up anyone.

 318 characters

Photo of LordAdmNelson
2.8/5  rDev -28.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Pours a dark muddy brown color that raises a bit of taupe head. Smell is a bit odd, the cabernet comes through with some vinous qualities to it, but the underlying sweet barleywine seems to fight with the cabernet. Caramel, toffee, and a bit of booze is there.

Taste just continues the problems for me, I feel like these flavor combos make for a hot mess. The cabernet struggles to peek out from under the sweet barleywine, and when it does, the wine tends to assert itself as an off-flavor rather than an integral part of the beer. I just don't really like the flavor profile here.

Mouthfeel is thick and sticky, making this already difficult process more difficult. I can't really fault that too much, however, as thick is typically the name of the game with English barleywines. Drinkability is dramatically hampered due to the flavor on this one. They just don't seem to meld together. It's got some promise to it, but largely I thought this beer was a mess. I would not buy it again.

 990 characters

Photo of jgasparine
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Poured from the bomber with a 1/2" light tan colored head, which was proteinaceous with little bits of lacing, nicely retained, over an optically clear garnet colored body. No visible carbonation.

S- The aroma is quite vinous with some faint dark fruit esters. A little boozy. Any particular malt or hop aroma is unidentifiable at this point. Overall, I would have expected a bigger, richer nose from a 10% ABV brew such as this.

T- Wow- that's big flavor (unlike the nose). Up front you get a fleeting glimpse of crystal malt, and that's quickly overtaken by a moderate flash of dark fruit esters, and then a tannic bitterness emerges and builds in intensity through the finish. Impressions of oak lactones, tannin, a little bit of vanillin, and some vinous notes that linger in a substantially long finish... a little booziness at the end too. Overall a powerful and dynamic flavor. Note: as the beer warmed up, a note of leather emerged in the flavor as well.

M- Body overall is thin. The carbonation is somewhat soft, a good bit of astringency, and some EtOH heat felt retronasally.

D- Very drinkable, especially for the ABV... a slow sipper, but consumable is mass quantity... like a bottle of [barley] wine!

 1,220 characters

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