Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine | Drake's Brewing Co.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley WineBourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine
Very Good
24 Ratings
Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley WineBourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine

Brewed by:
Drake's Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.10%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by lou91 on 02-02-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 24 |  Reviews: 22
Photo of Dimitrios1976
2.5/5  rDev -34.2%

Photo of t0rin0
4.5/5  rDev +18.4%

Photo of rye726
4.57/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This was the best of the series so far, but I'm told not as good as the Brandy Barrel version. Pours a woody mahogany, thin head. Notes of bourbon, oak, vanilla, plums, cherries, caramel, toffee and nutty malts. Full body, nice carbonation. Nice beer, would love to try the Brandy. Ratman?

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Photo of srandycarter
3.96/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Expensive, 6 oz bottle.

A - Pours the color of prune juice. No head. No lacing. Nada.

S - GREAT smell. Booze, wood, cooked dark fruit, plums prunes and raisins. Looking forward to this.

T - Flavor is beautiful. Completely flat is not. This would be a 5 if it was carbed.

M - Mouthfeel is beautiful. Completely flat is not. This would be a 5 if it was carbed.

D - If it was carbed, I would do this a LOT.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.47/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

HOT DAMN! I have been trying to get my hands on this for a long time and SkinnyElvis delivered(as an extra no less) Thanks!

Poured a deep, dirty, ruddy brown with almost no head, little carbonation. Nose is bourbon, wood, vanilla, malty, hops at subsided a bit. Taste is bourbon, vanilla wood, malty, chewy, alcohol backing still there and it had a strong sourness too. Mouthfel is good and went down pretty easy but going down was a kick and some sourness.

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Photo of tavernjef
4.35/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tiny, gold foiled, 6 oz bottle - Deepest of deep brown, nearly black, and looks fairly inky in most light. No real capping of foam, just a few bubbles presented themselves and quickly lapped away.

Aroma is mostly of whiskey without the extreme burn in the nose of the big stuff. Nice aged quality about it with firm malty sweetness and welcome notes within of vanilla, molasses, and chocolate.

Smooth taster with a hugely deep and earthy warming maltyness, sweet, dark, soothing bourbon traits mixing with some ripe fig and raisinyness and notes of fresh vanilla bean, molasses, tobacco, spent brown suger, and chocolate. Nice chewy finish with a peppy little tang of dark cherry and fig maltyness and a quick underscoring warmth the sets right in.

Nice body and feel with a solid medium soothing smoothness of semi creamy, tangy, chewy malt and one heck of a great tone of bourbon the way through.

Gone in a flash with only 6 oz to be enjoyed. One very nice little Barleywine with a great bourbon character to it.

Thanks Faro!

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Photo of waltonc
1.65/5  rDev -56.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

This is one of the more remarkable beers I have tried. JoeySchlitz and I made a trip up to Monument Liquors in Concord yesterday and found this bottle resting nefariously in the cooler. We've been on a big barrel aged beer kick lately, so Schlitz figured he'd give this one a try.

A: Pours a murky brown color without much head. Fine enough.

S: This is where things went horribly wrong. I'm sorry but this is the worst-smelling beer I have ever encountered. Some beers just have a mediocre scent, or no scent, and therefore cannot be said to smell good. Well, this one smells affirmatively terrible. The two smells that announce themselves most prominently are kimchee (fermented cabbage) and a campground latrine. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I am not exaggerating for effect. This beer literally smelled like that. We kept smelling it over and over as if it were a bad car wreck. And after every smell, we recoiled in horror. I almost dry heaved once too. At one point, JoeySchlitz tried rubbing bacon grease under his nose to mask the smell so he could try to drink it. But it didn't work.

T: Quite honestly, I can't give a very accurate account of the taste because we only took a few sips of this before pouring it out. Couldn't get past the fermented cabbage smell. But there is in fact some bourbon, toffee, dark fruit, and sweet maltiness in here. It's just that it faces extremely strong competition from those lesser olfactory stimulants more commonly found in national park campgrounds and Korean restaurants.

M: Thick and sticky, not a great deal of carbonation.

D: Drinking this is a literal impossibility.

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Photo of BigMcLargeHuge
4.65/5  rDev +22.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

6oz bottle picked up at Ledger's in Berkeley. Pours a brackish brown navy bean soup and almost no head. This is what bold barleywine should look like. The aroma is simply huge to start. It smells like a chocolate rum cake. Wow, amazing aroma. I get creamy toffee, caramel and chocolate. Next I picked up a big ole whiff of alcohol. There's also the standard barleywine dark fruitiness coming from prunes and dates. I even smell that a loud truck drove by while they were bottling this bottle. It smells like an uneven unspoken moment of tension. It's faint but it's there. The flavor does not disappoint after the aroma has set the plate. Smooth and rich with an initial burst of caramel candy. This is gooood. The dark fruitness enters just after with prunes and dates. Then by midway the malt richness returns with toffee, creamy caramel candy and chocolate. There is also an understated woodiness running through the backyard of the flavor experience toting along a splash of booze. It is toasty too. This one really comes together for me.

Hey, there are only two type of people in this world: those that like beer and gave this an A or higher and those that don't like beer. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

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Photo of hopdog
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nip sized bottle acquired in trade.

Poured a dark and muddy brown color with a small sized off white head. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, wood, and tobacco. Tastes of bourbon, caramel, wood, dark cherries, brown sugar, and vanilla. Medium alcohol burn in the finish.

Notes from and tasted on 8/15/07

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Photo of ibbjamin
3.38/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Paid $6.99 for a 6 oz bottle from Monument Liquor in Concord, CA. Poured into a snifter. Hand crafted barrel aged series #4. Bottle indicates 10.37%abv, not 11.1%. Perhaps an earlier series was 11.1%?

Poured as aggressive as possible and it yielded no head; just a couple very large bubbles built up on one side of the snifter. Thick black in color. Seems to lack carbonation altogether. Upon tilting this one back, some sediment is visible on the bottom. No lacing.

The smell of very strong, good barley wine fills the room without getting my nose anywhere near it. Getting a nice whiff of this is like putting your nose near a chemistry experiment; it is almost better to waft this one because the nose is almost overpowering. Hints of the hard bourbon alcohol. A definite woodsy smell as well. Don't forget about the underlying dark fermented fruits in there as well. A bit sweet, maybe even hints of fresh, dark red cherries. Complex, mysterious, inviting and seemingly dangerous all at the same time. Surprised that this one was quite hoppy before being aged (according to the bottle); currently the smoky, roasted strong malts dominate this one. Similar to a good stout even in that regard; some vanilla, dark chocolate and coffee hints. This one has it all!

The strong flavors make it difficult to recognize each of them. I have to trust my nose in this process more than anything.

A definite sipper. More similar to a dessert wine than anything. One sip warmed me right up like a nip of some fine bourbon whiskey. Very thick and coating in the mouth; has the consistency of cough syrup. No carbonation. Finishing a 6 oz bottle is like taking down a bottle of tussin (without the hallucinations of course.)

Ah, that smell is amazing!

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Photo of DrJay
4.17/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this one from fartingdog via BC2. Thanks Dave!
No hiss when I popped the cap, no foam of any kind, although there were a few very fine bubbles that appeared on the sides of the glass. The beer was a hazy brown with reddish edges. Nice aroma - lots of fruity figs and dates, toffee and vanilla, bourbon and alcohol, a hint of chocolate and plum. Rich, malty complexity with lots of toffee and caramel, chocolate, fairly sweet. Bitterness was restrained without being weak. Dried fruit was a little less prominent and more earthy, like peels and skins more than sweet flesh. Plenty of bourbon and oak character, mild vanilla with solid yet mellow alcohol. Lingering toffee and alcohol. Full bodied with just a hint of fine carbonation, lots of warmth going down. A little sugary, but not cloying. Definitely a sipper, but still a pretty easy drinking beer. The warmth just seemed to be there to remind to to take it slow. Very good stuff.

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Photo of grub
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

review #500. woohoo!

got this one from fartingdog as part of BC2. thanks dave!

6oz bottle topped with a gold foil wrapper.

pours hazy red brown with no sign of head or carbonation of any kind.

aroma is good. bourbon. vanilla. dark chocolate. fig and date. alcohol. a slightly musty earthy character too. toasted multi-grain bread. biscuit. bit of caramel and toffee.

taste is good. alcohol. medium-low bitterness level. bourbon. bit of vanilla. nice big caramel. bit of dark chocolate again. date. maybe a little dried cherry. touch of sweetness. there's still a nice earthy component to it, but it's more like a light peaty/smoky character i'd expect in a nice single malt scotch. with the lack of carbonation it definitely makes me think of that. great depth to the light dark fruit. solid malt base. even better as it warms.

mouthfeel is ok. no carbonation at all. medium body.

drinkability is surprisingly good. normally when the carbonation is this low the beer suffers for it, but this one holds up just fine. usually the malt and sweetness needed to balance out the alcohol would feel like too much without the carbonation, but in this one has the sweetness in check and enough depth to keep it interesting. the bourbon is also just right, not overpowering the beer beneath. the alcohol is hidden very well too, only really showing itself as some gentle warmth on the way down.

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Photo of weeare138
4.2/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up at the Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, CA...
Appears a dark mahogany with a light tan head that quickly fades into a mild cap. Spotty lacing is left around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, bourbon, molasses, and ripe fruit.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a sugary, complex flavor that entices the tastebuds.
Mouthfeel is dirty, boozy, clay & earth resonating, meaty, sugary, and full bodied.

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Photo of CharlesDarwin
3.44/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

Purchased at the Hollingshead Deli on May 18th. 6oz Bottle. A blush of rosy currants, cranberry flesh, and warming malt alcohols. Nips of Calvados and tangerine juice. Rich and full. Pours a rusted blood red, with peach fringes. No head, no carbonation. Flavor starts with an intense caramel and sugar rush, with nectarines and toast. Rather hot, almost flagrantly so at 10%. Bits of refined apple character peek through, but get washed away in a sea of mildly oxidized cotton candy. Wood tooth of the barrel creams away much vanilla, detail but it’s there in a Oaxacan sense. Good for a Mole. Extremely vinous and lightly bittered in a grape skin manner. Carbonation would help. But I think time might cut some of the harsher edges. There’s even light percolations of coffee, oak and chocolate towards the back. I think it has the malt character and definition to age up to 15 years and stay interesting. However, it does already taste a bit like it’s at least 8 years old. A light spray of indiscriminate hop dust perks up a long, lightly soyed smack. What I expected. Not sure if it’s worth the dollar.

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Photo of flexabull
3.74/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Tiny little orange silk screened bottle with a not so little price. ($6.99 for a 6 oz bottle)

Pours a deep dark brown color with no head at all. Almost looks like flat cola in the glass.

Aromas are really interesting. At first, I wasn't sure if I liked it, but the more I smelled, the more I enjoyed sniffing this one. Smells of roasted nuts sitting in booze, oak, and sweet dark breads.

Taste is light up front, but the flavors really kick in once this settles in your mouth, and slides down your throat. Beer is very boozy, oaky, and has a roasted nut flavor. There are also some sweet maple malt flavors, and a biting slight alcohol burn on the finish.

Mouthfeel is nice, a bit lacking on the front end, but the middle and the finish make up for it.

Drinkability is so-so for me. It's an interesting and well crafted beer, but not really my cup of tea. Wish there were still some of those "highly hopped" flavors that are mentioned on the bottle, but the 12 months of aging has mellowed them out to nothing. I also didn't notice much from the bourbon barrels, this just seems to be a sweet, malty, boozy brew. Not bad at all... but not my thing.

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Photo of SacoDeToro
2.4/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured a murky dark brown with no head.

The aroma of the beer was of dark rum soaked fruits, some bourbon, and alcohol with vinous accents. Some vanilla and oak was apparent.

The flavor of the beer was somewhere between rum soaked prunes, plums, figs, and soy sauce - not a good combo. The hops were flat. There was a distinct stale cooking sherry-like flavor in the back end. There were some bourbon and oak notes, but so what. This beer's flavors were very muddied and nasty.

The beer essentially had no carbonation. The mouthfeel was thick and viscous.

This is beer is the closest thing I've had to Sam Adams Triple Bock - ghastly. I can only hope this was a bad bottle. I've got two more in my fridge that I'll sample in a few months. Drake's is a fabulous brewery and if the rest of this batch is as bad as the bottle I had, then they seriously missed the mark.

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Photo of mynie
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Adorable little teeny tiny bottle with gold mylar-looking foil over the cap.

Pours like very dark mapel syrup with only a small white head. The sheer thickness of the pour is quite appealing.

Smells of waaay strong sryrup malt and super bitter death hops against just a little bit of bourbony burn.

Tastes very sweet, backed up by alcoholic death hop and a little whiskey burn. Nothing too fancy, though nicely contrstructed for how intense it is.

Majorily intense if a little off balance, this was a nice one-off that probably could have been perfected over time.

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Photo of rallison
4.14/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Cool looking bottle, exorbitant price. I decided to give these Drake's special releases one more try before giving up, as I'd had the Jolly Roger previously and was not a fan of that one.

A: Dark brownish black with basically no head at all.

S: A good bit of dark fruits - make that bourbon soaked dark fruits. Alcohol is apparent, along with a good bit of sweetness.

T: First off, the alcohol is quite apparent. In this beer, as opposed to the Jolly Roger, it actually works. Very much like drinking a cross between a sweeter barleywine and bourbon. I really don't see how this started as a very hoppy BW, as I detect basically no hops. Dark fruits - figs, dates, prunes and raisins - are also quite evident. Quite a bit of bourbon/port alcohol bite and warmth. Intense, but enjoyable - it has the complexity that Jolly Roger so sorely lacked.

M: Extremely rich, and, honestly, a bit cloying. Alcohol is quite apparent. I won't mark down much here though, as it's relatively within style (as much as a bourbon aged BW can be within style).

D: 6oz serving? Probably about right, actually. It's a sipper for sure.

Overall, recommended - but not for the price they are asking.

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Photo of RidiculedDisplay
4.21/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Grabbed this from BevMo's online site probably three or four months ago. Arrived in the mail via a tiny 6 oz. bottle, with gold foil. Basically identical design to the other aged BW from Drake's, except the logo is orange. On the back:


This was an extremely hoppy Barleywine that has been aging in a Bourbon barrel for 12 months. The hops have mellowed in theb arrel and have paved the way for the malt and bourbon notes to take over. Intense vanilla and toffee aromas lead to a deep caramel and chocolate flavor with a touch of maple.

Lightly refermented in this bottle to achieve a small amount of carbonation. Enjoy this as you would any after dinner drink. Cheers!

(Alc/Vol - 11.10%)"

Appearance: A solvent-looking thing. No head whatsoever, completely tepid. No lacing, either. Body is a murky shade of plain brown, but when light strikes it I get some pretty amber/red shades. The latter saves this from being scored lower. I can forgive the lack of head/solventness (it is a barley wine, after all), but the color could use some sense of innovation.

Smell: Like all bourbon-aged beers I've tried, this, well, smells like bourbon, and that aroma/flavor dominates the brew. However, Drake's has managed to to create peaks and valleys of bourbon aroma that dive underneath the rest of the brew continuously, allowing for waves of the other, more subtle aromas to peak through as the bourbon aroma turns "on and off," so to speak. It's a binary sort of thing, in other words. The other aromas I detect: vanilla, white chocolate, medjool dates, woodsiness, and a slight port vinousity.

Taste: Bourbon hits the mouth firmly, but again, keeps modulating its frequency nicely to produce other aromas. Much more vinous character here, apples, some subtle cherry notes on the back end. Really pretty fantastic, both the nose and "mouth." Complex, bold, and yet surprisingly smooth and balanced.

Mouthfeel: Very thin, but saved by some syrupy-ness. Surprisingly not astringent.

Drinkability: This is a sipper, but I enjoyed it's balance.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.34/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

thanks to fartingdog for this via trade! I always love to try a new barleywine.

A - tiny bottle, neat background and gold foil. A very hoppy beer aged for 12 months in a bourbon barrel then bottled conditioned for carbonation. Cool. Pours a cloudy - murky brown without a bubble. I left it in the basement long enough that there shouldn't be a problem with sediment being disturbed.

S - Intoxicatingly sweet rich malts meet dark ripe fruits with a vanilla and oak undertone.

T - Poured into a snifter, the taste is top notch. Harmoniously layered flavors tickle the taste buds and invite you back for another sip. If the smell as good, the taste reveals the remaining 80% of the beer. Rich malts, ripe dark fruits, toffee, vanilla, oak, single barrel bourbon notes.

M - medium to full bodied. A bit murky if that makes any sense.

D - I would definitley sip another fine bottle of this brew.

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Photo of WeisGuy
3.94/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to the venerable trader who is metallitone for this bottle. Wasn't sure whether to review it under this entry or the other one with the picture, as they both seem to fit. The bottle says both 11.10% abv and 10.37% abv.

a - honestly, it's not a very good looking beer, no head at all, a deep murky brown color

s - intense caramelly sweet malts dominate the nose, some toffee, bourbon and oak in there as well, along with some vanilla and alcohol

t - very sweet toffee maltiness up front, body has some big bourbon, oak, and vanilla, finish has an alcohol bit that's mellowed out with vanilla and toffee notes that linger in the mouth for awhile

m - minimal carbonation, full-bodied, mildly dry finish, nice warming

d - definitely a sipper, the 6 oz. bottle was enough for me, but for what this is, it's good as an appertif

Very interesting brew from Drake's. I give them credit for the effort that obviously went into it. Well worth trying if you can find a bottle.

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Photo of Crosling
3.92/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

6 ounce bottle. Fairly vibrant bourbon oak and malt nose, fairly nice. Hints of chocolate pudding and chocolate liqueur, with light notes of vanilla, maple and caramel. A great tasting beer, but it was affected by its poor mouthfeel and poor appearence.

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Photo of stephendr
4.01/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

#4 - 6 oz. bottle - color of prune juice, with no head - nose of broth , paprika , oatmeal cookie , vanilla , malt , iodine , and raisins – taste of raisins , dried apricots , madeira , sweet , and slight wood - body thick chewy, and silky – aftertaste of raisins , and malt

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Photo of lou91
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle #4 in the Barrel Aged Series - aged for 12 months in a bourbon barrel. If you love bourbon and barley wines this is a beer for you. The silk screen label on this 6oz bottle looks like the others in this series and says that an extremely hoppy barleywine was aged for 12 months. The look was more like a much older barleywine or thomas hardy. Dark brown and totally still. The nose was bourbon, vanilla with some oak - all what you would expect. The taste was a perfect match for the nose but the winner here is the rich thick malty mouthfeel and very long finish. Easy to drink as a sipper and would love to see how this one might taste in 5-10 years.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Barley Wine from Drake's Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.8 out of 5 with 24 ratings