Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine | Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
BA SCORE
96
world-class
202 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley WineKuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
Michigan, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 14.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 02-17-2003

BEER STATS
Reviews:
202
Ratings:
724
Avg:
4.34
pDev:
16.36%
 
 
Wants:
1,239
Gots:
159
For Trade:
27
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 202 | Ratings: 724
Photo of KevSal
4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

been waiting to try this guy, finally got a chance tonight. big thanks to dblab33 for the hook up. i need to get my hands on more kuhnhenn brews!

12oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

a- very little head. looks a lot more like a ba wee heavy, like bog water. murky reddish orange brown with nearly no head. doesn't look too spectacular, but its expected.

s- tons of sweet malts, hint of cherry, toffee and a nice whiff from the english barelywine base.

t- loads of flavor on this one! some sweetness from the malts and vanilla from the barrel. not too much Bourbon on htis one but a enough to hint its there. slight alch burn in the finish along with a bit of cherry, which isnt very much at all. these guys hold the secret. certain flavors in there keep this one from beering great, cant put my finger on it.

m- thick bodied, almost chewy. the heftiness works great to layer the flavor on the tongue.

o- very good beer! theres a few things i wish were present, that "something" (which ba 4d seems to nail it just right). if you got the chance, go for it, very nice treat.

edit: woa 14.5! i didn't realize this guy was that high. man these guys are the king of disguising the booze

 1,191 characters

Photo of JAXSON
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. Pours a clear plum/orange with a thin ring around the edges. Nose is wonderful -- thick malt, spicy oak, a nicely weaved sweet bourbon, and a vinous note with plums, raisins. Flavor begins with sweet brown sugar and a light hop note, then rolls into the oak, dry and spciy, and the bourbon. I like the marriage of base beer and bourbon barrel here -- not so overt but powerful, nicely done. There are some faults here, as the booze is a bit heavy on the finish, and there's kind of a hole in the back palate. In style this is akin to Wooden Hell in a way, but it's not as nicely realized.

 601 characters

Photo of hoppymeal
4.67/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark amber to brown and clear with the slightest flash of some cream colored carbonation that fades back in an instant. Aroma is rich sweet maltiness, prunes, raisins, cherries, aged overripe fruit, and coconutty alcohol. Nose is a good indicator of taste here as the beer is incredibly rich and sweet. Bourbon comes thru in the taste but only very lightly, a little cola flavor is evident which mixes with the sweet sugary fruity and pruney maltiness. There is alcohol evident in the taste as well, no real bite, just a nice mellow warmth. Fairly full in body, the carbonation is definitely low as evidenced on the pour, there is a nice tingle on the tongue that balances the sweetness and some dryness in the warming finish. This beer was absolutely incredible for me, one of those that every smell was as good as the first and every taste made me say wow. A nice sweet night cap, and even though the alcohol content is quite high I savor each drop and know I could definitely drink more of this.

 1,006 characters

Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

355ml bottle 15,1% Abv.
Served chilled in a snifter.
2010 Vintage

Appearance: Kuhnhenn BBBW (I’m not sure I like this abbreviation) appears mahogany brown in the glass, with a backlight revealing a beautiful deep ruby colour with bright golden edges. A rough pour yields a good sized beige coloured head that fizzes away quite quickly, leaving nothing in the way of lacing. A swirl coats the glass in heavy alcohol legs.

Smell: Mmmm, this smells phenomenal. Big bourbon notes, soft vanilla and buttery caramel just leap out of the glass as soon as the beer is poured. As the beer warms, the nose begins to open up, with notes of toasted coconut, oak, butterscotch, toasted malts, alcohol soaked raisins, cherries, brown sugar and an earthy, almost leathery note. The beer manages to hide its alcohol incredibly well, even at room temperature, there is almost no trace of the 15%.

Taste: Delicious, just delicious! The initial flavour is dominated by bourbon, vanilla and caramel, with brown sugar, oak, toasted coconut, bourbon-soaked raisins, cherry and toasted malt soon becoming apparent. As the beer warms, a lovely sweet maple syrup note emerges, alongside a little alcohol. About the only flaw in an otherwise world class flavour is the finish – it is lightly bitter and seems a little flat.

Mouthfeel: Kuhnhenn seem to nail the mouthfeel on all their big beers and this is no exception – full bodied, with a medium-low level of smooth carbonation.

Overall: Another phenomenal beer from Kuhnhenn – these guys seem to nail it every time! I hope I will be able to get this again in the near future.

 1,620 characters

Photo of s1ckboy
4.5/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Bottle. Another amazing extra from Jack.

A - light brown body, less than a finger of off white head.

S - Sugary candy, caramel, alcohol (bourbon).

T - Bourbon, caramel, toffee, some dark fruits, a tiny bit of citrus on the back end (from the hops?). Very sweet.

M - Medium. Low carbonation, works good for the style.

Fantastic. Probably the best barleywine I've tried so far. Took me by surprise.

 408 characters

Photo of waltonc
4.44/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed a few glasses of this with JoeySchlitz on tap at Kuhnhenn last night. Fantastic stuff. Served too cold in a snifter glass, this poured hazy caramel without much head. At first I wasn't very impressed by this beer, but once it warmed to a proper temperature, it was great. Smells and tastes of bourbon barrel aged goodness, with woody, caramel, toffee, and vanilla notes, as pretty much every bourbon barrel aged barleywine does. But where this really shined in my view is the simple fact that it is so well done - clean, polished, not too much bourbon, not too sweet, not too thick or thin. Everything is just right. And it's really high in alcohol. JoeySchlitz and I were pretty tipsy upon leaving Kuhnhenn last night. Great stuff.

 740 characters

Photo of mikey711
4.32/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Deep brown and a bit cloudy, similar look to apple cider. Their is some inital head that forms but it soon fades to nothing making it look even more like apple cider.

S: Nice bready and biscuit notes and some caramel malt sweetness. The bourbon is not as aggressive in the nose, but there are some nice wood notes. A slight hint of vanilla and dark fruits as well

T: Heavy bourbon notes that provide some smokiness. Also some hints of wood that provide some earth qualities. As it sits in the mouth it has a nice biscuit note along with some cherries and sherry notes. Very similar to perfect storm but not as intense

M: Creamy rich body in feel, plenty of boozes, but really it is just the whiskey. I like that there is no graininess and that it is not overly sweet.

D: after a few sips I already started feeling it but it is not super thick and I felt it was easier to drink than the listed abv

 903 characters

Photo of ChadQuest
4.62/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010-label says 15.1%
Clear with a brownish amber color, finger of head, looks great.
The aroma has prominant but not hot alcohol, it really is a full strong bourbon but not fusel at all, fantastic. Light vanilla with some earthy molasses. Just great aroma, this is awesome stuff.
Ah, take a sip and you will want to sip this every night, it's like a very refined and gentle bourbon, so gentle with alot of warmth. notes of brown sugar incorporate with the bourbon and vanilla and create the best 15%+ beer i think i have ever had.

 531 characters

Photo of perrymarcus
4.42/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served in a snifter.

pours a murky, deep amber / mahogany tone while yielding no head. as others have noted, for a big EBW this comes as no surprise.

nose is outstanding with a huge bourbon wallop right off the bat followed by bold notes of caramel, brown sugar, then some vanilla, oak, and a dark fruit presence.

taste follows the aroma. lots of bourbon-y, caramel-y, brown sugary goodness with the vanilla, oak, and dark fruit joining in the background. very sweet, though doesn't cross the line into cloying. boozy in the finish, but that 14.5% ABV is hidden well. chewy, full bodied mouthfeel with low carbonation.

overall, outstanding. very tasty barrel aged EBW. definitely a sipper. many thanks to abanton for the opportunity.

 749 characters

Photo of Lothore
4.86/5  rDev +12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- Pours a ruddy, brownish hue with little to no head.

S- Smell is absolutely phenomenal. Tons of brown sugar, hints of bourbon, fig.

T- Wow. Before describing the taste my first thought is ... smoooth. Starts off slightly fruity, possibly hints of cherry mixed with figs, brown sugar sweetness comes in to balance. The end is an alcohol warming balanced exquisitly with very sweet, sugary notes.

M- Thick with a good bit of carbonation left for a beer this old.

D- This is another out of the park brew by kuhnhenn. I truly hope they produce more so I have another chance to drink this one. The main thing I truly loved about this one was the balance. It was huge yet seemed to balance the alcohol perfectly with rich sweetness that a lot of other "extreme brews" fail to do. Totally lives up to the hype in my opinion. Although there probably aren't many bottles left in circulation, if you have a chance trade whatever you can for this one.

 946 characters

Photo of auroracrisis
4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 12oz into two snifters.

Amber color with rose highlights and a thin film around the edges of the liquid. Pretty thick and hazy but not opaque by any means.

Toffee and vanilla greet your nostrils then quickly moves into oak and notes of coconut. More bourbon influence is introduced as it moves into a touch of heat and more vanilla. Less sweet than I had anticipated which is a good thing.

Opens with sweet toffee and decadent coconut sweetness. Moves into the more savory barrel and oaky flavors, then onto more bourbon. The bourbon in the beer never becomes boozey at all, and remains a nice compliment to the base beer.

Creamy and full bodied with moderate carbonation.

Great notes of toffee and warming bourbon. Not boozey at all which is a feat for a beer of this abv. Trade for this if you can, it will not disappoint.

 835 characters

Photo of BBP
4.21/5  rDev -3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark dark chestnut color with a bit of ruby in the depth of it. Carbonation is nearly nonexistent, however a little bit of lace forms.

The aroma is bourbon and more bourbon. It has a bit of toffee sweetness and spiciness to the aroma as well, but they really struggle to get through.

The taste is really quite nice. The bourbon definitely brings some heat with it, but with the intensity of the flavor it brings, its completely warranted. Surprisingly with all the bourbon, there's still a considerable amount of flavor that breaks through. There's raisins, figs, and more dark fruits, as well as candied sugar, caramel, and spicy hops. I think I prefer this to Kuhnhenn's BB4D as it seems that more flavor can break through, and these flavors seem to work a bit better with the bourbon. I don't feel like this was overpowered by the bourbon, but the idea that the base beer was prominent was questionable.

The body is full with a medium/full weight. The finish is dry and considerably sticky. Carbonation is much more evident in the feel than it is in the appearance, but it's still slightly less than I'd hope for.

Overall, this was a very solid drink. The serving size of this is quite generous as well. I could happily share one of these bottles with somebody else and still get my fill. The alcohol definitely is enough to keep you sipping at this one, but I didn't think that it interfered with the drinkability as long as you slow down and respect it.

 1,474 characters

Photo of Jules11788
4.61/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a murky mahogany brown; no head, no lacing

S: Smells of sweet sticky bourbon-infused caramel/toffee; strong woody notes pervade the background with hints of bananas, figs, and leather. Smells incredible

T: Deliciously sweet bourbon-y maple syrup, candied dark fruits, smoky wood. The flavors are strong and perfectly balanced

M: Med-thin viscosity, oily, slick; very slight hint of booze on the tongue, but warms nicely as it goes down. This is the only aspect of this beer that falls short, as I would have liked a thicker, chewier mouthfeel

O: This beer is beyond fantastic, definitely the second best barleywine I've ever had behind King Henry. Highly recommended

 679 characters

Photo of Jmoore50
2.86/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

I have been waiting to try this one for a while. I don't really understand it, just like I did not understand Perfect Storm. I have had a few barrel aged barelywines, but this one is too hot. Not balanced, and muddled. It is the 2009 vintage. It needs about four more years to develop into something special. Potential is there, just not yet.

The appearance is nice, with a great brown copper color that has a great clarity. It has a few bubbles and a film is present on the top.

The aroma is brown sugar, whiskey, sweet malts, brown sugar, and lots of ABV. The smell burns the nostrils, and not in a good way. Does have hints of a good barleywine.

The taste is of solvents, fuel, sweet caramel malt, low quality bourbon and wood, peat. It has some strong rubbing alcohol burns, with wood make it very interesting. It has a presence of a barleywine base, but is so overwhelmed by the barrel that it makes it confusing.

The mouthfeel has a few sharp heat characters, strong wood, sweet sugars. This needs a few years to shape up. If you have the most recent batch, in my opinion it would be a good idea to put into the dark corner of your cellar and forget about it.
J

 1,176 characters

Photo of justinp444
3.97/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter it pours a hazy darker amber brown with a quickly dissapating beige head. Smell is cherry, bourbon, leather, sweet malt, caramel and vanilla. Taste is much the same with earth, caramel, molasses, cherry, vanilla, oak, leather, lots of bourbon, sweet malt, toast, and a bit of chocolate. I am getting a little bit of butter, diacetyl, I think this bottle was infected. It has a crisp full mouth feel and a body.

 432 characters

Photo of glazeman
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to my brother for picking this up from the Kuhnhenn winter solstice release! This is the 2010 version coming in at 15.1%

A: Murky brown in color with a ¼ finger light tan head that fades quickly into a swirl of bubbles and a crown that remained for the duration of the drink. Pretty much what I had expected from this beer and near perfect.

S: There's a lot of bourbon on the nose. Other than that there's some oak, maple syrup, and cabernet.

T: Nice balance of caramel, vanilla, and bourbon. What surprised me the most was that the finish was pretty dry. There's a tad of alcohol head here, but not very much. There's also a little bit of nuttiness here.

M: Low carbonation, but that's how I like a 15% ABV beer. This one is smooth and sits well on the tongue.

D: There's no real alcohol presence in the taste, but there's a warming sensation that goes down my throat and into my stomach as I drink this beer. Perfect for a winter night. With the excellent taste and feel this has "dangerous" drinkability.

 1,025 characters

Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.64/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Purchased at the brewery - summer 2007. I've been looking forward to trying this. The aroma can be detected from across the room. There is a great play between dark fruity goodness, sweet caramel, hints of alcohol and woody bourbon-ness. The flavor is a sweet kiss on the lips with figs, dates, minced raisins soaking in molasses and an absolutely delicious river of caramel candy. A pleasant warming sensation does show up around the finish. Competing with the barleywine flavors but a couple notches below in strength is a bourbon and wood sensation. Very nice compliment creating an enjoyable experience. The after taste is a mix of dark fruit, caramel and hints of wood. The only knock I could find would be the body. It's a bit too thin. Sure hope they plan on making more this next winter.

 795 characters

Photo of boralyl
4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage.

A - Poured into a tulip glass. The beer produces virtually no head, and what does appear fades away quickly. The beer is dark brown with a reddish tint. It's somewhat murky looking.

S - The aroma is full of sweetness and booziness. There is a huge caramel component along with some vanilla and bourbon. The bourbon isn't too strong and I"m surprised I don't get more alcohol in the aroma, based on the high percentage.

M - Full in body and lightly carbonated. The feel is just right, not too thin and not too thick.

T - The alcohol content is a bit more noticeable in the taste. The bourbon is pretty forward with the caramel sweetness taking the back seat. There is a little vanilla present as well.

Kuhnhenn does some amazing barrel aged beers. I didn't really notice any oxidation, despite the ~3.5 years of age. This is a great barrel aged English Barelywine ale, although I prefer their barrel aged 4th Dementia.

 936 characters

Photo of LAp
4.77/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle poured into a nearly-snifter-size-and-shaped wine-glass (the closest thing to a snifter I have on hand right now). Pours a beautiful, viscous, cola color, with a thin miniscus of rapidly dissipating head. Nose is sweet white wine, currant, and honey; strawberry jelly, and caramel. The nose is tremendously complex, with layer upon layer of scents. Palate is corn syrupy malt, with a distinct but not overpowering undertone of bourbon. There's a boozy warmth here, befitting the bold 14.5% abv, but once again it is subdued (I expect it will develop as the beer warms). The mouthfeel is almost creamy. Overall, perhaps the best entry in this style I've tasted. This beer nails the beautiful complexity possible with barleywines, without straying from the distinct palate of flavors that make the style to distinct. A beautifully crafted beer.

 864 characters

Photo of jethrodium
4.19/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle generously shared by colonelforbin. Thanks Mike. Pours a dark brown with very small white head that settles to a ring and leaves close to no lacing on the glass. The aroma is big caramel, toasted marshmallow, bourbon, toasted oak, and vanilla. The taste is sweet with oak, caramel, bourbon, toasted marshmallow, and vanilla. The finish has a bit of lingering oak. Medium-full body. Low carbonation. Quite enjoyable.

 428 characters

Photo of MarcatGSB
4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage. Thanks to Mike for sending this to me. Poured into DFH Signature glass.

A: Vigorous pour yields a frothy thin cap on top of a very dark mahogany/brown color. Beautiful lacing remains on the side of the glass, slowly moving it's way down. Some super tight, thin legs.

N: Nose is a big hit of bourbon, with not alot more coming through. I'm getting a bit of sweet caramel, toffee, and even some dark dried fruits.

T: Man, this puppy is complex. I'm getting all sort of flavors coming through, and not overpowered by that beautiful bourbon. Vanilla, toffee, caramel, some of that prune/dried candied fruit, followed by a nice mellow chocolate sensation at the end. Almost a bit of bitterness, I'm detecting some nice anise notes. Wow. Really enticing and spectacular.

M: A bit hot, but not to it's detriment. It's 14.5%, what do you expect? What I didn't expect was the extremely creamy character. Absolutely mind blowing.

D and O: Man...just a great English Barleywine. Really easy drinking for the ABV, and extremely enjoyable. Fantastically balanced, well rounded, very deep amount of flavor.

 1,116 characters

Photo of tjthresh
4.16/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours murky muddy brown with large bubbled brown head. The nose is huge with loads of toffee, hops and oak. The flavor is a fantastic blend of toffee and booze. The mouthfeel is thick but very drinkable. The heat from the booze lingers just for a bit.

 251 characters

Photo of timc100
4.61/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage

Deep mahogany, dark dirty brown/ruby - completely opaque. A surprisingly long-lingering creamy head with big alcohol legs. Aroma isn't huge but fantastic - very soft, sweet vanilla and marshmallow from the barrel as well as very smooth toffee and caramel. Taste is huge and mouthfeel is perfect. Very smooth and full bodied carries the sticky caramel, toffee, vanilla, and lots of oak.

I'm not getting a ton of bourbon off of this, but the barrel/beer blend is fantastic - incredibly smooth and well balanced.

 525 characters

Photo of montageman
4.47/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Did a tasting of 4 beers yesterday evening over a few hour span. This was the first. Brought to me in a 10 oz tulip. The color is gorgeous - deep red almost like blood (it's necessary for survival) and a small tan head that disspates leaving lacing around the sides of the glass. Smells like bourbon (of course), caramel, chocolate, dark fruit/grapes - no messing around here. Taste is sweet, almost cloyingly so, also some port character, brown sugar, bittersweet chocolate, and alcohol. Mouthfeel is thick & rich, almost chewy with some little carbonation. Aside from the sweetness, this a drinkable BW - very complex. Highly recommended.

 640 characters

Photo of SacoDeToro
3.87/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Carlos for sharing @ the Ballast Point 12th!

Poured a deep ruby with a small off-white lace.

The aroma was full of rich caramel malt, bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Some alcohol was present.

The flavor of the beer had a rich caramel maltiness appropriate for the style. It was well infused with prominent notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak, which added tremendous complexity. Some medium dried fruits came through in the palate as well. It did, however finish too sweet, IMO. This bottle was a tad past it's prime. I prefer just a tad bit of oxidation in my American barleywines, but this had gone past that point. The hoppiness was too low for the style.

The mouthfeel was pretty heavy. The body was full and creamy. The carbonation was delicate and was appropriate for the style.

A solid barleywine that exhibits a good barrel character, but not the best example I've had.

 885 characters

Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 202 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe