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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine | Kuhnhenn Brewing Company

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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley WineKuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
Michigan, United States

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

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Reviews: 202 | Ratings: 728
Photo of PHBoiler
4.14/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Loads of toffee on the nose. Hints of fig and raisin. Primarily burnt caramel and toffee throughout the taste. Overly boozy and hot. Nearly still. The mouthfeel doesn't have the body to carry the high ABV.

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Photo of siege06nd
4.14/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into my CBS snifter. 2011 Vintage. Huge thanks to ChadlyG for this one!

A: Pours a ruddy brown/copper color. Very murky and cloudy. Absolutely zero head, kinda disappointing, but not surprising considering the ABV on this. Almost zero lacing as well. Beautiful color, but the lack of any head or lacing whatsoever knocks this down a bit.

S: Can smell the barrel on this from over a foot away. The bouquet is filled with ripe dark fruit, caramel, vanilla, raisin, and some hints of tobacco, cherry, and just a hint of leather. Something just a little bit dank and rotten on the back end of the nose here. Detected the same characteristics in BB4D, so perhaps it is the barrels these are aged in. That little "offness" holds this one back just a touch.

T: Nearly perfect. Thick, creamy caramel, ripe figs, plums, and raisins. Plenty of vanilla and bourbon notes, along with rich, dark chocolate and just a bit of oak char. A spectacularly complex flavor profile. As it warms, toasted coconut becomes more apparent. Excellent.

M: Flavors are well balanced. Could use a bit more carbonation, as the finish overdoes it just a bit with the sweetness. A touch more carb would take some of the edge off.

O: There are better barrel-aged barleywines out there, but not many. This doesn't hold a candle to the likes of King Henry or Mother of All Storms, but few things do. On its own, Kuhnhenn BB Barleywine is a good example of quality barrel aging elevating what is likely a fairly pedestrian base beer. I enjoyed this one and will age the other to see what time does here.

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Photo of KAP1356
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to bdberr for this one in a trade. Poured from a 12 oz. bottle from the 2010 release. ABV is listed at 15.1%...

A - Pours an almost opaque dark maroon-brown color. A very thin eggshell white head forms and quickly recedes to a collar of the same color.

S - Wow. Very thick dark malts, caramel, vanilla, oak, and nice bourbon all coming through. There are some dark sticky fruits coming through as well; prunes, dates, figs. Some slight cherry there as well.

T - Nice dark brown sugar and dark malts right away. Right after that is a sweet bourbon, vanilla and spiciness which really adds nicely. The dark fruits are there but much more subdued on the palate; I assume from the presence of the bourbon barrel aging. Really strong bourbon presence, which for a bourbon lover like me, is very very nice.

M - Very smooth and a nice full medium to full body on this one. There is a bit of heat from the alcohol and a slight burn on the back palate. Low carbonation, but not all too detrimental.

D - I think this will be a far superior beer with some age on it. That said, this is quite a solid offering from Kuhnhenn. Such a smooth beer for the high ABV. The nice little bit of bourbon heat adds nicely and I really dig it.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


2009 vintage. Bottle received in a trade with Masterski, to whom I still owe beer. Thanks a lot Alex. The beer pours ruddy rust water with a thin layer of bubbles resulting from a vigorous pour rather than carbonation. Thick legs on the glass presage the ABV.

The nose is of figs, dates, vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar. Bourbon is very powerful and alcohol heat is palpable, stinging my delicate nostrils, an offense I don't take lightly. Other notes are of toffee and wood. It smells excellent.

The flavor is boozy caramel with a heavy dose of bourbon. Sweetness is at an upper moderate level but it's never cloying. Figs and dates are perceivable, and vanilla is prominent. Alcohol is painfully evident in the flavor; I taste every bit of the 14.5%. At first I thought that it was at a very tolerable level, but as I made my way through the 12oz bottle it began to wear on me. I suppose it's partially my fault for drinking the entire bottle myself. Warming is evident in the bourbon laden caramel finish. The beer is nearly flat, but it's something I've come to accept with the higher alcohol examples of the style. The mouthfeel is sticky and smooth.

Kuhnhenn's Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine is an enjoyable, albeit potent barrel aged barleywine. I like a high level of alcohol heat in beers of this style, but this became a bit distracting and detracting. If the alcohol abates with age, and precluding an infection in the bottles, I daresay this will be great.

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Photo of srandycarter
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A - Cola colored, small near white head leaves fast. Some spotty lace.

S - Fruity! Lots of booze, definitely wood, brandy like, burnt candy.

T - OUch. Hot. Boozy, rich and sweet, carbonation and booze burns the taste out dry at the end.

M - Full body, enough carbonation to carry it off, last part of balance is to the sweet.

D - Palate killer and equivalent to almost 3 beers in alcohol. Definitely not a session beer.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour provided by myself at the blind barrel aged barleywine tasting hosted by DarthKostrizer.

Thanks to FINEBEERGUY for this one!

2011 vintage.

Pours a slightly murky brown with a khaki head that fades to nothing. There is no lacing on this one. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, caramel, and some alcohol. Taste is much better with malt, brown sugar, caramel, wood, and bourbon flavors. There is an alcohol kick in the throat with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a nice smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good barleywine that tastes much better than it smells.

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

2010 bottle from splax23 (thanks buddy)!

Pour: Reddish brown hue when held up to the light. The off white head is sparkling like a champagne but quickly disappears. Fine bubbles are left around the edge of the glass.

Nose: Molasses, brown sugar, toffee, slight caramel, vanilla (more as it warms), slight oak, toasted coconut and sweet remnants of bourbon. The alcohol is also quite prevalent in the nose which I've found in every Khunhenn beer I've tried.

Taste: Slightly oxidized malt, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, toasted coconut, sweet bourbon and oak.

Mouthfeel: Slightly drying with an initial alcohol burn. This is between oily and watery, pretty nice actually.

Overall: This beer is pretty fantastic and gets better as it warms. I think the alcohol is over bearing at first but the taste gets better as it warms. The slight oxidation is moderately off putting but that's the only real strike against this beer.

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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.

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Photo of dar482
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A 2014 vintage.

Having this next to Aaron, this was quite disappointing. The beer was hot, watery with some spicy hops on the back. Some sweetness balances this beer out, but in general, tastes more towards an barrel aged American Barleywine.

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Photo of Dactrius
4.11/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.25

Practically completely still. Smell is easily among the best of any barleywine I've had, tons of caramel. Taste follows suit but doesn't quite live up to the amazing nose. Feel is the weak point and I really wanted this to be more carbonated. A great barleywine that could've been one of the best ever with more carbonation.

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Photo of ChrisPro
4.09/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz 2010 thanks to jrallen34

A - dark orange with very little head that dissipated in seconds. A bit of chill haze

S - Tons of caramel, vanilla and a bit of biscuit and popcorn. The sweet smells dominate, but some complex malts there as well

T - Great sweet caramel followed by a huge hit of bourbon. THis is perhaps the strongest bourbon taste I've ever had in a beer. I'd swear there is a shot of booker's in my glass. I wish there was a bit more sweetness to balance it, but if you love bourbon, this is ideal!

M - Despite all the solid bourbon flavor, there is virtually no head. A year has done this beer well apparently. Not too oily, and nice full bodied. Very little carb, but that's exactly what I want in a BA barleywine.

O - Fantastic beer. Extremely well made with no apparent flaws. I wish there was a bit more residual sweetness, but this is a stellar barleywine.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
4.09/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed this blind, thanks to abraxel... 2011 vintage...

A: Pours a murky brown, with absolutely no head at all, just some thin whisps across the top of the beer. No lacing as it drinks.

S: The nose is sweet of malt, caramel, figs, dates, and vanilla. It’s a nice mélange of those notes.

T: It’s sweet to start, with the beer getting a little funky in the middle (but in a good way). I get malt and caramel up front. I get the fruit notes (fig and date) in the middle, and I get some seaweed like funk in the back end. Seaweed notes tend to turn me off, but this is actually really pleasant.

M: Full bodied beer. Sweet and syrupy, coating, and mild linger on the back end. Not an easy drinker, but it’s very enjoyable.

O: Really nice beer. I’d have to be in the mood to want to open this beer, but it’s really good.

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Photo of Bung
4.07/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. Nicely murky dark brown/orange/amber pour. There was a pop from the cap, but next to zero carbonation appears. A few bubbles around the edge. Really, for a big English BW, not offensive.

Aroma, Caramel, sugar daddy, vanilla, oak, all heavily present. You can smell this from a good foot and a half away.

Taste, Malt, molasses, rum cake. Vanilla, some roast that comes across as peat/oak, hefty booze as well. Vanilla oak finish.

It's warm and a sipper, coating, heavy side of medium bodied. Could use maybe just a tad more carbonation, but with the heat that may not work either.

As a few others have said, the heat keeps this a step down from the 4Ds, but it's pretty solid. Worth grabbing, just grab 2.

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Photo of ColdPoncho
4.07/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Winter Solstice 2010. ABV on bottle listed as 15.1%

A - the pour is a light amber color, but the body fills out to a more robust reddish color with a modest ring of foam around the edge. it's mostly translucent, with hints of orange light peeking through.

S - I could smell it as soon as I started pouring - lots of malt. Up close, the bourbon is the first thing you get, then some vanilla, wood, and alcohol.

T - Bourbon and vanilla and wood, and a touch of raisins are the first things you get. If you look hard enough, behind all of this there is a strong malty character of a barleywine. But overall, this tastes like bourbon and booze. There's a dryness to it, which might be hop-induced, but I think it's more from the wood.

M - very smooth and creamy, a really big beer.

D - This is too powerful, and with too strong a taste of alcohol (let alone the effect of it) to be highly drinkable. It is smooth and tasty, of course, but still something that will have to be respected and not drank quickly.

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Photo of mulder1010
4.06/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a tulip
Got in Black booty volume 5
shared with mrkennedy ( good idea in retrospect)

A-- Poured a deep, dark amber brown. Great looking ruby hues to this. Little to no head at all. Just a thin layer of film with this. Lots of spotty lacing on the sides of the glass and ABV legs.

S-- Holy crap!!! Rich bourbon, total kick in the ass smell. Big amounts of bourbon, melted brown sugar, Carmel, vanilla, toasted oak and dark fruits. Spent several minutes just smelling the nose on this.

T-- Matches the nose but bigger. Sublime taste as just blends very well together with the barrel. Still get the dark fruits and bits of strawberry jam. Not a lot of hops so a dead give away that this is more slanted to an English Barleywine. Kick ass beer.

M-- Rich, thick, decadent. Sublime really. Silky smooth. Biggest fault is the obvious alcohol. Very obvious sipper, still quite smooth though. Heavy feel and low carbonation. Honestly a beast of a beer.

O-- Damned good. One is enough though. Heck, honestly this beer is a monster. Would love to have again. Not as good or as rounded as MOAS, or older vintages of Arctic Devil but pretty much a world class beer worth looking for and hording as much as possible

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Photo of womencantsail
4.05/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to hoppymeal for hooking it up with a 2009 bottle of this recently. Shared with friends at an impromptu CBS tasting last night (man, it feels awesome to say that).

A: The pour is a murky dark amber color with very little in the way of carbonation and little to no head.

S: The nose is very heavy on the bourbon, with plenty of sweet molasses, brown sugar, caramel, with a light touch of chocolate. There is also some noticeable alcohol.

T: Like the nose, the flavor is definitely heavy on the bourbon. There are, however, nice brown sugar, butterscotch, caramel, and chocolate flavors with a hint of alcohol heat.

M: The body is fairly full, and due to the low carbonation, quite smooth and sticky on the tongue.

D: While there is a decent amount of heat to this beer, I still really enjoyed the flavors. I think the vanilla and chocolate oxidation flavors go nicely with the barleywine base. Perhaps it would have been good to let this age for a bit, but it's still enjoyable fresh.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.02/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thank you for this long time want, Alex! This is the 2010 version, clocking in at 15.1%. In true Kuhnhenn fashion, the label did not deal with being refrigerated very well.

Decanted into my snifter, this is a clear, ruby red with an off-white head that recedes to a ring rather rapidly. Swirling the beer in my glass leaves some coating. The nose is rather excellent.Plenty of brown sugar, plenty of booze, bourbon and tannins, all really powerful, and a little bit of vanilla as well. Surprisingly fruity, there's a blend of candied orange peel and a light floral character. In addition, there's an almost brandy-like character here. Excellent stuff.

The palate opens rather monstrous - big, boozy, hot and sweet. A friend of mine once commented that he likes his barleywines like he likes his women - hot, boozy messes. Well, this definitely does fit the bill. Brown sugar, maple syrup, a little toffee are present on the malt front, but in all honesty, this is almost entirely about the barrels - hot, bourbony, almost alcoholic burn are present, and it is quite fitting on this rainy, late-winter night. Tannins appear, lingering on into the finish, this does add a light nutty character. Vanilla is moderate, but there's some honey, light and fruity. Full in body with soft, creamy carbonation, this does beer does feel very smooth on the palate. Dark fruit character is quite light, this is more along the lines of a young JW Lees. Warming, this is great stuff, though not the most drinkable.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.01/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured on tap into a snifter glass at Churchkey DC.

A deep mahogany to dark chestnut brown along the edges. Only a thin presence of tan bubbles but very tiny and uniform makes a collar around. Looks a lot like King Henry. Seems it might be a bit thin also.

Quite a warm but not too boozy nose. Light oak, heat, and this large sense of nutty tannic quality.

Palates comes with a bit of a surprise. Big wetness and not much round oak aging character in the feel, for a barrel aged beer. Flavors do come out to play though. Dark chocolate comes out quite a bit more with some alcohol like a bottle of Godiva liqueur. There's a great sense of chocolate macadamia nuts all rolled into this almost like a bottle of Frangelico as well. Subsequent sips come in with lots of stomach alcohol warmth.

Overall though it doesn't have enough beer style character and is slightly heavy on the booze. But it's got impressive flavors to round out everything else going on.

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Photo of webmanspidey
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is the 2008 Barleywine release at 2010 Winter Solstice.. 12 ounce bottle poured into a snifter. Color is a translucent reddish brown without much head whatsoever. Smell is very sweet with lots of caramel, acidity, toffee, bourbon, and alcohol.

Taste is heavy on bourbon with loads of vanilla, caramel, molasses, and oak. Alcohol is intense here, as there is a noticeable burn at the finish. Little to no carbonation in the mouthfeel.

Very tasty, but intense.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429 and Amyliz4. Thanks Mike and Amy!

Served in a blind taste test with Alpine Great and Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine.

A: This beer appears brown and hazy, with a thin, wispy head that leaves a few random traces of lacing on the glass.

S: Bourbon, sweet malt, toffee, caramels, oak.

T: Sweet raisins, plums, toffee, and dark fruits, all soaked in alcohol. This is a potent brew, and well done.

M: Medium-thin in body, with a fairly low carbonation level.

D: A great beer for sharing, or slowly sipping over the course of an hour or two. Perfect for a rainy, wintry day.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Tulip glass.

A cloudy reddish copper color with only a wisp of light stone colored film which mostly fizzles out by the time you've set the bottle down. Apple and caramel are at the forefront of the nose, along with sweet malt, nuttiness, cherry vanilla, whipped cream, but finally a slightly harsh solvent and alcohol aroma at the end. The smell is wonderfully complex but the alcohol harshness definitely detracts from it for me. Tastes like caramel malt and cherry, with some dry oakiness and a dry finish which again features alcohol prominently and a slightly off flavor that I can't place. I'm not picking up any of the bourbon flavors here or on the nose. Carbonation is pretty low but supports the surprisingly medium-light body just fine. Slightly tannic. Overall, this smells quite good, tastes pretty good, but the alcohol presence is a little much and unfortunately the bourbon is MIA. It tasted good enough but I'm not sure I'd reach for it regularly.

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Photo of unclekeith
3.99/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep amber with minimal head. Malty and sweet booziness on the the nose. Not as sweet as I expected. More oak than bourbon. Good backbone with some bitterness. Well balanced. Solid barleywine.

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
3.99/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2013 winter solstice release
The beer pours much darker than the regular barleywine - a very dark brown with a loose off-white/slightly grayish head and no sediment. The nose has deep notes of bourbon, leather & raisins, slight booze, and mild sweetness/fruit when it warms. The taste is a rush of barrel flavors, heavy on the oak tannins and bourbon caramel (definitely more more balanced as it warms) that transitions into the warming caramel/vanilla notes in time. It's full bodied, bold, and slightly syrupy with minimal carbonation with some harsher oak bitterness, which cuts deeply into the beer's bready body and leaves burning ethanol on the palate after each sip. I prefer the regular FGR barleywine in mouthfeel, but think this will not disappoint someone looking for big barrel notes in a bbbw.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.98/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From the 2010 Winter Solstice.

A - Beautiful deep red color that goes amber/yellow on the edges. One finger of white head that instantly disappeared and left a loose ring on the outside. Miniscule traces of lace randomly and sparsely left on the glass.

S - Big caramel smell on this, with deep notes of vanilla and barrel. A lot of brown sugar and roasted malts, with some dark fruits.

T - Nose follows the taste, as it is a caramel and brown sugar bomb. There is a really big nut taste to this, not sure where that is coming from. Vanilla is big on the end, with some oak. Alcohol is buried.

M - Pretty close to full bodied and smooth. Lower level carbonation.

D - Super easy to drink at 15.1% (what this batch says on the bottle). This is a great beer, but having had an earlier version, not nearly as good or complex. Maybe it just needs a bit of time.

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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.

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Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine from Kuhnhenn Brewing Company
4.34 out of 5 based on 728 ratings.
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