Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout | Central Waters Brewing Co.

679 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel StoutBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout

Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
American-style stout aged for 1 year in used 12 year bourbon barrels.

Added by Skidz on 05-28-2004

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 679 | Ratings: 2,507
Photo of Alex_Sutherland
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Single best BBA I have had. A: black as night, w/ 1 finger head if poured properly. S: harsh, but calming for anyone who enjoys a good snifter of bourbon. T: didn't get enough time to really delve into the individual favors, but it is fantastic. F: The name of the game here is SMOOTH. Unlike BCBS, this starts smooth from sip one without cell wrong. Could be because it's only 9.5 instead of 14 for the BCBS.

 409 characters

Photo of Gebrau
5/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Perfect brew. Have had very few to this standard. Vanilla at the front then very oaky. Chocolate and coffee to finish. Very nice brew to warm you right up after a cold South Dakota day.

 185 characters

Photo of jokemon
4.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I feel bad writing such a simple review but there is not much else to say but "this is a very good beer and you should try it.

Had it on tap at the Malt House in Madison, WI.

Dark as night, and taste like bourbon milk chocolate with a bit of coffee.

 252 characters

Photo of badbeer
4.95/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 Bottle

Pours out black with a tan head that retains well; leaves a nice lacing, especially for a high gravity brew. Smell is splendid. A rich scent of bourbon, vanilla bean, chocolate, and roastiness make up the aroma. This is not overdone like almost all other bourbon barrel beers are; it is amazingly well done. Bourbon taste is strong, but smooth; noticeable, but in no way overpowering. Perfectly blend of flavors. Carbonation is a little higher than medium but does a good job holding this one together. Mouthfeel is medium, with a dry, roasty, bourbon-y, and vanilla finish. BA Dark Lord, Kentucky Breakfast, and Bourbon County Stout are just a few examples of very good bourbon aged stouts; the one that comes closest to this one is BA Speedway. Yes, I did just say that, this is the king of bourbon barrel stouts, in my opinion.

 845 characters

Photo of 312HopBomb
4.94/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 batch in a 12 oz brown bottle. Served in a Goose Island Belgian Tulip (silver goose).

Dark brown with garnet highlights. Not much head, it falls to a ring.

OMG the smell is the best I have ever experienced. It is the most intense, complex blend ever. I am struggling to wrap my brain around all the aromas mixed together. First, the blast of bourbon then vanilla and toffee, molasses, caramel and brown sugar. Booze with dark fruits and some oak. Fig, date, and plum. I can't believe how great this smells.

Each sip is a pool of concentrated flavor swirling around my tongue. This is almost better than the smell if that is even possible. The bourbon, vanilla, caramel, toffee, molasses, dark fruits and booze continue on and on leading one to take the sips in increasingly rapid bursts. This is not the way to sample an imperial stout but oh well.

The mouthfeel is like velvet. Fine carbonation that lasts to the final sip.

Overall: At this price point this is the best value on the planet. I am kicking myself for not buying all I could get my hands on because it's gone now. I only got two or three four packs. I can't wait until next year's release. Central Waters knocked this style out of the park.

 1,214 characters

Photo of nflmvp
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured a nice thick two inch head of mocha foam which left a sticy lace as it subsided. Pitch black in the glass.

Smell: HEAVENLY.... smoky bourbon, coffee, molasses, dark chocolate.

Taste: WOW. Homerun! Again, bourbon, coffee, etc.

Moutfeel: Amazingly smooth for the higer than average ABV. Thick and coating...even creamy. Very light alcohol tingle. I find this stuff to be amazing.

Drinkabilty: Simply outstanding. I can't seem to get enough of this amazingly smooth, yet complex BBS. Likely the highest rating I've given to any beer.

 550 characters

Photo of Wasatch
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to beerwolf77 for this brew.
2010 Edition
Bottled: Jan
Revisted: 7 Nov 10

DAMN! This is one tasty brew.

Poured into a chalice a black color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy/fizzy tan head, some islands and sticky lacing follows. The nose is big on roasted malts, oak/bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate/toffee. The taste is simply delicious, it hits you right in the face with a big bourbon/malt/chocolate/toffee notes, with some really nice vanilla sweetness. The warmth from the alcohol comes in next, and leaves the tummy nice and warm. Full body, well-rounded brew. Very drinkable, MAN! I wish this was available in Utah. One of the best brews I've had to date, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Thanks to autumnaldave for this brew.

DAMN! This is one tasty brew.

Poured into a tulip a black color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, some islands and sticky lacing follows. The nose is big on roasted malts, oak/bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate/toffee. The taste is simply delicious, it hits you right in the face with a big bourbon/malt/chocolate/toffee, with some really nice vanilla sweetness. The warmth from the alcohol comes in next, and leaves the tummy nice and warm. Full body, well-rounded brew. Very drinkable, MAN! I wish this was available in Utah. One of the best brews I've had to date, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

 1,335 characters

Photo of gkatsoris
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Darkest of brown; border-lining black. No head and no lacing. No bubbles either.

S: Chocolate Jack Daniels. Vanilla whiskey. Chocolate coffee whiskey. Butterscotch.

T: Butterscotch!!! Coffee whiskey!!! Chocolate whiskey!!! Bourbon-licious!!! Vanilla whiskey. Expresso on the very very end. Ground coffee beans.

M: Thick and rich. Coats the tongue beautifully. Yum!!!

O: As big and bold as this is, I could drink these/this all night; usually a beer this big is a one-and-done...NOT THIS ONE!!!

 501 characters

Photo of vobr0002
4.92/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A- dark brown with creamy tan head that last a while

S- caramel, chocolate, vanilla bourbon, oak. Smells fantastic

T- chocolate, roasted, vanilla oak, bourbon, and coffee.

M- full body, thick and very smooth.

O- one of the very best bourbon barrel stouts I have ever had.

 276 characters

Photo of IMFletcher
4.91/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

We were on vacation in Wisconsin, determined to find a Central Waters barrel-aged beer before we left. After much searching, we ended up at Stubby's in Milwaukee, where they had this on tap, and served it in a goblet.

That's a good thing, because this is among the best BBA Imperial Stouts out there, and should be treated as royalty.

Cannot wait for the next time I encounter something barrel aged from these brewers.

 420 characters

Photo of Chaney
4.91/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

BeerFMAndy sent this to me way back in the day. Thanks, Andy!

A: Poured black as night with no real head to speak of.

S: SOOO much chocolate on this that it's not even funny. Kinda reminds me of Caldera "Mogli."

T: This is the 2011 Vintage and it's tight, tight, tight!. Seriously, the molasses content makes me drool to even think about it. I love high-grade soy sauce!

M: This is dark snot, chocoholic paradise, and infinitely thick.

O: One of the best I've have so far in 2014. Can't imagine a better example of the style,

 531 characters

Photo of Jimmeekrek
4.9/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Truly an epic Bourbon Barrel aged imperial stout, at a price point that defies the industry standard. Basically the same componentry as 1414, which won gold at the GABF, this spends a year in heaven hill bourbon barrels, and the result is nearly perfect. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon and a hint of coconut make for an outstanding beer. Do yourself a favor, get a bottle or two if you can.

 387 characters

Photo of GehenHerzog
4.89/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

12oz bottle poured into a Mother Earth Snifter. 2011 vintage Bottle received from beerwolf77. I'm pretty sure this is my new favorite

A- Pours a deep brown, almost black. About a quarter inch head, no lacing at all.

S- The smell is strong bourbon, vanilla and an ever so slight coffee scent on the back end.

T- Very strong vanilla and bourbon up front which I love. On the back end I get a little bit of chocolate, coffee, toffee, and a little bit of alcohol. Very balanced and one of my favorite beers (comparable to Event Horizon).

M- It's a full bodied beer, medium carbonation.

D- Very drinkable. Very slight heat/alcohol detected which I prefer.

I absolutely love this beer, which is the reason why I traded for it again. This beer and Olde Hickory Event Horizon are neck and neck as my favorite beers. If anyone wants to send me more of these, I will not mind at all.

 880 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.86/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into a Central Waters tulip.
9.5% ABV, Vintage: 2012 notched.

A - Pouring out almost black, this barrel-aged stout appears the same in the glass. Very small highlights of dark brown around the edges underscore a quickly dissipating tan head that leaves wisps of thin lace here and there.

S - Bourbon barrel-aging is strong and robust with oaky wood notes and vanilla pouring out around the mellow bourbon which is neither hot nor solvent-like. Light notes of semi-sweet chocolate chunk and a drizzle of molasses develop around this stout's roasted malt base.

T - The roasted malts really pull through the barrel-aging and come out in a big way, offering milk chocolate and mocha with very smooth and finely roasted coffee beans. Right away the profile shifts gears to a relaxed vanilla cream and deliciously smooth bourbon barrel flavor with minor hints at the barrel's wood. The inherent alcohol adds warmth but little in the way of solvent flavor or bite.

M - This is one of the smoothest barrel-aged stouts around, as if plush velvet meets baby's butt meets James Brown smooth. It just glides down the throat with finesse despite it's full, robust body. Soothing, warming alcohol finishes with a touch of roasted malt bitterness for an expertly balanced beer.

O - All too often I find bourbon barrel-aged stouts high in alcohol and overshadow their actual beer base with an outlandish punch of booze. Central Waters has expertly balanced this Bourbon Barrel Stout to be both drinkable fresh (sans that typical heat) and worthy of further aging. It's incredibly smooth body and robust flavor profile combine for an unrivaled, easy-to-obtain barrel-aged stout experience.

 1,697 characters

Photo of martyl1000
4.85/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm not sure how much my Wisconson partiality is involved in this score. But I'm just as impressed with this as I am BCBS or Mikkeler Black Hole or Founders Imperial Stout. It puts into perspective Tier 1 vs. Tier 2 imperial stouts. Now relegated to Tier 2 are: Stone Imperial Russian Stout, Founders Breakfast Stout, Southern Tier Mokah/Jahva/Creme Brulee, Weyerbacher Tiny, and Goose Island Big John.

The aroma may be the star, here, though how could one choose any awesome feature over any other? It pours an opaque black, rivaling the darkest brown head I've ever seen. Perma-lacing sticks to the tulip glass like meringue.

My wife loves the bourbon booziness. I feel like I'm having another 16% fume-bomb, like Hebrew Jewbilation 16--but in the best way. The sweet malt mingles with the bourbon spice so well it creates the mirage of Neopolitan ice cream (chocolate and vanilla at once), w/o the strawberry of course.
This is the "2012" from my cellar, 11 months of aging.

Pours nearly perfectly black with a rim of tanned leather at the 2mm fast-dissipating khaki foam, plus bits of lacing and legs of running alcohol on the glass.

In the nose it's an umami cocoa, first and foremost. How choco-wonderous. Then aromas of toast, burnt sugar, and bourbon, with hints of coffee and vanilla. But one really has to work to get this complexity, as the aromas are whisper quiet. (In fact, I've demoted the aroma score.) The oak barrel is nice. People talk about toasted coconut in the aroma, but that's one note I've been unable to fathom.

In the mouth it's a spumoni ice-cream cross of vanilla and chocolate. It's so good, one tends toward big mouthfuls to swish from side to side, front to back. It's nearly the vanilla heights of Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout. Perhaps it's the aging, but the bourbon comes muted. (But my wife feels the bourbon is highly present.) Roasty malt and charred oak walk with maple syrup, burnt caramel, and chewy biscuit. Then the dried fruits come, some raisin or prune, and a candied cherry. A subtle pine-hop and anise twist the thumbscrews of complexity. It all washes down with coffee and cream on the backend.

Medium- to full-bodied, fabulously smooth, with a modest carbonation and a mild boozy heat.

Decadent, delicious. It goes down fast. Something this rich, you would expect it to be a one-and-done deal. But I feel I could have several. Perhaps that's the beauty of a sub-10% abv.

This is the "2013", I've picked up four 4-paks to put in the cellar. Just testing this one bottle.

Pours an opaque absence of color into a tulip glass, with a half-finger of brown head. Some lace-speckles stick to the glass.

Even ice cold, there's a wonderful cocoa aroma, we're talking total Cocoa Wheats hot cereal. Need to let it warm up a bit, as there's not much else going on. Ah, now that it's warmed a bit, some vague allusions to bourbon make themselves known. Vanilla wafer cookie and coconut shreds, meet burnt coffee. Working at it, one can pick out the oak barrel amidst the sweet grain. Way in the background is a surprising citrus.

The big surprise is how subdued and mellow this is in the mouth. The cocoa is just jaw-dropping. It's the chocolate pleasure of being a child and biting into your favorite chocolate candy. But the bourbon flavor comes across soft-spoken, shy, even, especially relative to that of the 2012. The complexity is also very quiet and reticent: vanilla, coconut, diacetyl toffee, plus dark fruit (mission fig) and molasses. The spice contingent steps forward, as well: licorice and black pepper attempt to dry out the sweetness.

The mouthfeel comes off as two steps lighter than the 2012. The alcohol is much more hidden this year, too. Still viscous and creamy, just not as liqueur-like and decadent as the 2012.

 3,849 characters

Photo of mlorfeld
4.85/5  rDev +16%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2014 vintage

Ar - Lots of bourbon, chocolate, with a hint of vanilla. Some booziness, but not overpowering. Malt in the background behind these strong aromas is still evident, no hop aroma at all. No off aromas

Ap - Black with slight brown on the edges when held up to the light. Brown head that lingers through.

T - A wonderful balance of bourbon, dark chocolate, with vanilla, cherry, plum, and slight anise notes. Malty sweetness provides a great base. No hop taste or off flavors. Some slight oxidation, but that is to be expected with a cellar aged beer, it has held up quite well.

M - Medium body that seems to hit the mark on the head. Slightly more carbonated than other barrel aged stouts. There is a slight viscosity at the finish which leaves lingering chocolate and bourbon notes.

O - I tried this when it was first released and thought it was an average BA stout, now with age, I'd pick this over a BCBS without even thinking twice. Wish I had even more in my cellar.

 985 characters

Photo of uwmgdman
4.83/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This bourbon barrel stout pours black with a moderate tan head that diminished to a skim and left a small but consistent lacing down the glass. The aroma is moderately roasty, bittersweet, a good amount bourbon and a bit of oak. Very nice. The flavor initially hits as bourbon, then chocolaty, roasty malt and finally oak with reemergence of bourbon at the swallow. The mouthfeel is full and velvety smooth with a pleasantly dry finish. Overall a treat, do yourself a favor and pick it up.

 489 characters

Photo of JerUrbans
4.81/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pour form 12 oz bottle to regular pint glass

Served at cellar temp

Aggressive pour yields beautiful dark creamy color with big bubbles. Very dark chocolate color.

A sweet bourbon smell, like brandy

Wow, this tastes fantastic! Smooth, light vanilla flavor and has a big bourbon taste that hangs on. Today it's 30 degrees below zero and this is the perfect cure for the bitter cold.

Mouthfeel is rich and smooth, slight bitterness at the end.

Overall this is probably the best bourbon barrel stout I have had. If you like bourbon barrel imperial stouts I bet it would be hard to find a better one. I would seek this beer out. Will be aging the rest as I have heard this beer gets better with age. This was bottle on 3-25-13.

 729 characters

Photo of Zatch90
4.81/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Great bourbon barrel stout! It doesn't beat bourbon county but to be honest, I don't think anything will. My number two behind the bourbon county it has a great bourbon taste that doesn't overshadow the delicious stout flavor. Great mesh of the two. Definitely recommend it! One of my top 5 favorites!

 301 characters

Photo of klewis
4.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to ThomasHardy for this extra!

A: Pours a solid black with a bubbly off-white head that subsides to a thick frothy ring around the glass. Moderate lacing.

S: Malty smell with chocolate, raisins, and a strong but pleasant bourbon aroma.

T: A dry taste of coffee with an earthy quality. Nice complexity from the barrel aging with flavors of vanilla, burnt wood, and quite a bit of fine bourbon flavor.

M: Full-bodied and dry with light carbonation.

D: Quite a fine brew. Normally I don't like beers in which the bourbon is this noticable, however, the brewers at Central Waters have found a way to combine the stout with the bourbon barrel so that both flavors compliment each other while still retaining their characteristic tastes. Every sip gets better andbetter. Highly recommended.

 807 characters

Photo of bitterbeerguy
4.8/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It's been a pretty good day so far...Pliny and some fresh BBS from Central Waters

Beer pours black as night, with off-white head that subsides very quickly. Small stream of bubbles does come up throughout the entire time I drink this beer. Slightest rim of foam still present

Smell hits the bourbon highlights: nut, whiskey, and vanilla. Not the heaviest aroma, but definitely present once you get your nose into it.

Flavor is top notch. You might expect a very thick feel to it, but very well balanced that way. Bourbon flavor throughout, but turns into a creamy toffee flavor on the end. Honestly, one of the best finishes I have ever had in a stout. The vanilla linger is beautiful.

This brew makes it on my list of favorites without any effort. The real question is: how can I get a hold of a case?

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

 835 characters

Photo of EdwardK77
4.79/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A- Jet black stout under a significant head which dissipates to a pleasant foam ring leaving nice lacing behind.

S- Beyond awesome, caramel and vanilla explosion. Not to mention bourbon and some killer buttery toffee.

T- Extremely well balanced, no booze burn. This is all richness, "I'll just have this for dessert thanks" kind of stout.

M- Medium bodied and really well balanced.

O- This is a fantastic bourbon barrel stout, I'm enjoying it as much as Goose Island BCBS and I'll mark it up some additional points for not being owned by InBev.

 549 characters

Photo of joeseppy
4.78/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had on-tap @ Beer Bistro, Chi-town. Thanks Bob and Chris for scoring a barrel.

Kinda dark in the bar but a black pour with a one inch creamy head. At any time, putting this down, you could rouse up a thin vanilla cream topping by agitating the pint.

Aroma of sweet cream, vanilla and trace bourbon.

First sip is CHOCOLATE decadence. Not too sweet to hurt your teeth. Picking up on dried coconut flakes, vanilla and just the right amount of bourbon. The malt bill is spectacular. Simple saying-this is a Coke float with vanilla ice cream and a shot of choice bourbon. Medium density but this doesn't need to be thick, IMO.

This is my fourth BA from Central Waters and they have their barrel program nailed this past year. This brew right here is the pie'ce de resistance : )

 779 characters

Photo of TheSSG
4.76/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light, loud hissing, tan head that collapses to a thin edging. MASSIVE nose of woody vanilla with a noticeable booziness behind it. Black. Starts out aggressively woody and vanilla-y, with that booze behind it; almost as forceful as a bourbon. Moves to a medium bitterness as an AMAZING, deep, toasted coffee flavor comes through, switches to dark chocolate, and finishes with roasted malt and chocolate. This has a nice, thick, viscous consistency.

This is AMAZING. Simply stunning. This is everything a bourbon barrel stout should be; the bourbon flavors lead the way, but the stout is equally strong and these flavors blend so well with the wood notes to create a sensationally complex, toasty, coffee/chocolate character.

 735 characters

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From taste notes. Appearance: Brilliant black with a 1” tan tinted persistent and lacy foam cap. Smell: slight bourbon, fruit, dark malt, dark fruit – prunes, raisins, Taste: Flavor: Creamy, bourbon and caramel quickly joined by chocolate and then espresso and some vanilla notes. Mouthfeel: Medium full body, carbonation medium but so soft as to suggest nitro beer. Overall: A very drinkable and enjoyable bourbon barrel stout.

 432 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.18 out of 5 based on 2,507 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.