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

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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

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Reviews: 672 | Ratings: 2,476
Photo of Webzombie
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Being from the State love to see Central Waters making good beers. I am more of a hop head, but this is a great sipping beer. Smell is almost pure booze. Flavor is as expected...stout mixed with bourbon/whiskey. Got a little chocolatey stout type flavor with strong bourbon booze finish. Tons of boozy flavor and considering the price compared to others an excellent value. Great beer to sip on, large swigs are very difficult due to the booziness. A nice change of pace but nothing i could drink on a regular basis.

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Photo of GreatStoutman
4.36/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2016 bottle

Excellent bourbon barrel stout, with all the right wood and bourbon flavors. The vanilla dominates the nose and taste, but rather light roasty flavors. My only complaint is that its carbed up and the feel is a little off for this style, but its still excellent.

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Photo of Bartleby91
4.44/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 vintage poured into a snifter.

Appearance is black with a mahogany hue around the edges of the glass. Still has a good amount of carbonation. Nice lacing along with alcohol legs lingering.

The aroma is bourbon, dark fruits, chocolate, vanilla, oak, coffee and roast malts.

The taste is dark fruit, bourbon, vanilla, oak, chocolate, roast malt and a bit of coffee.

The palate is medium plus with lingering bourbon spice and chocolate malt sweetness. Nice and smooth from aging.

Overall this is an excellent barrel aged stout from one of the best breweries in Wisconsin.

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Photo of ukwildcat1995
3.65/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The look is dark with minimal head upon pouring. Minimal lacing as well.

The smell is the faintest of bourbons. Almost not there.

The taste follows the smell. I'm not getting any bourbon flavor and there is a substantial alcohol burn on the end.

Not much there in the feel. Almost like water.

Overall, I just am not a fan. And bourbon barrel aged stouts are my go to. I see all the other reviews, so maybe this is a bad bottle? I don't know. This just is a big miss for me.

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Photo of woemad
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle of the 2015 vintage, received courtesy of the generosity of @Ri0. With this one down, his boxed beer tour of the upper Midwest is down to three.

Poured into an Iron Goat snifter, this looks a coal-black color until held up to light, when the faintest mahoganyish edges can be seen. There was a modest, tan colored head that quickly receded to a bubbly foam collar.

Rich, woodsy, vanilla aroma from the barrel aging dominate the nose, initially. As it warms, there are notes of chocolate, toffee, coffee, leather, and a tiny bit of dark fruit aroma.

When this hits the taste buds, I’m reminded of the nickname of Mel Tormé. It’s rich, velvety and decadent tasting. The bourbon barrel aspects are better balanced with the other elements I noted above in the aroma. In particular, a chocolaty flavor jumps up about midway through. It doesn’t drown out the other aspects I noted there, but it’s “large and in charge.” The finish is slightly dry.

Big, full body to this, to no one’s surprise. The mouthfeel is rich, velvety and creamy.

1PM was perhaps not the greatest time to have this. It would have been better after a rich meal, as it’s practically a dessert all on it’s own, yet it’s not cloyingly sweet. This is a great beer. I’d love to have access to this regularly, and be able to set some down and see what a little aging does to it. Thanks, Ri0!

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Photo of dohm179
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Black with relatively frothy head for the style
A: Bourbon, similar to BCBS but less intense
T: Really nice, full Bourbon flavor, especially for lower abv (compared to BCBS)
F: Love how light and drinkable this is. Medium bodied
O: Great taste and great value. Extremely drinkable relative to others in the style.

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Photo of bbtkd
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Central Waters Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout, one of my favorites. An excellent beer at a great price, paid about a fourth of the cost of BCBS for a beer that is 93% as good (by BA rating). Bourbon taste is not overpowering.

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Photo of Peepskp
4.67/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

4 of us had this beer at a cigar/ poker night. We were all blown away. Great coffee and chocolate flavors with notes of vanilla and roasted malt. I wont hesitate to pick this up again given the chance. I do wish I picked up more bourbon flavor since I am a whiskey lover but that is being a bit too critical. We all enjoyed it fresh, overall excellent beer.

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Photo of JohnPaulJone5
4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

Really well made bourbon aged stout! The nose on is fantastic and the feel is amazing. It's missing that bourbon punch, so it's very subtle. Otherwise, it's still a home run.

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Photo of Mateo2699
4.46/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Jet black pour, holding up to the light, a slight red hue near the head. But that's about it. Khaki colored ring of head, nice sticky lacing.

Definitely getting some bourbon in the nose. Some milky chocolate and slight coffee. Oakiness and wood isn't quite as profound as the straight bourbon. Smells delicious.

Initially getting some milky (not dark) chocolate. A sweet flavored chocolate, back door with some subtle bourbon and oak. Back end consists of coffee and more oak.

Mouthfeel is very velvety and slick. Not necessarily oily. Medium carbonation.

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Photo of JebBeerFish
4.02/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Very dark brown, 1/4 inch head in gentle pour.

S: Coffee, bitter chocolate.

T: Strong High quality coffee presence, oatmeal stoutish
flavor. Coffee is the main star here, followed by some chocolate
and bourbon.

F: Solid.

O: Quite good. While the bourbon takes a distant back seat
to the coffee, well executed, enjoyable.

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Photo of Beginner2
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

What to think of these guys in the middle of nowhere producing great beers, many of them imperials and most of them renditions of barrel-aged stout.
I think it's cold and snowy and gets lots of wind from Canada, and they need to stay warm.
This stout achieves that and much more.
I have one left from a 4 pack from a year ago and I wonder how I ever restrained myself.
On this St. Paddy's Day, I had one of my favorite stouts.
Flavorful and balanced from smell to finish and beyond... never too dry, never burnt and certainly not hoppy. A smooth, velvety texture. Where's my ice cream ?

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Photo of CoreyC
4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had on tap
A - Dark with rich strong head
S - Dark roasted, sweet malts
T - Wow, this is great - sweet and smooth
M - nice and thick
O - This is one of the best fresh BA stout I have had, big sweet flavor but no barrel harshness

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.74/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75


Body : Pours a chestnut color from the bottle, forming a dark coffee roast color.
Head : The head is minimal to start with about 1/2 finger and tapering off at a small bubbly ring.
Retention : Not much to speak of here.

Initial : This is my first stout in awhile and honestly I'm getting a lot of coffee out front. Some black strap molasses as well as hints of oak and licorice.
With Agitation : A little more liquor added here.

Front : Well, this stout brings it all around in the taste. Off the bat I get mineral water, bourbon whiskey, sap, and a touch of sweet lactose.
Back : Lots of coffee.
Finish : As it finishes, the stout becomes more of a syrup and ends with probably the best damn medium roast coffee note I've ever tasted in a beer.

Pretty heavy but not overdone. I'd say it's on the heavier side of medium bodied. The stout turns to a very light syrupy consistency as it floods to the back of the palate and leaves a dry alcohol slurp on the finish.

Overall : The Bourbon Barrel Reserve Stout was one I actually went out of my way to find (another state). It's not the knockout that their BB Scotch Ale is, but it really grabs its strengths from the barrel and soft coffee notes.


An edit on giving this a little more time (6 more months to be exact). The aroma is pure bourbon, and the flavor is just alcohol burn and stale bourbon. Some stale ash/cigarette/tobacco also surfaces. Feel is thick and syrupy. Just not happy. Drink this fresh, scores adjusted accordingly.

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Photo of superspak
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled in fall 2015. Pours nearly opaque dark brown/black color with a small dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass, with some light streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of big milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, molasses, toffee, raisin, fig, date, bourbon, vanilla, toasted oak, coconut, light coffee/leather/tobacco, and oak/roasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel notes; with great strength. A bit of booziness as it warms, but nothing significant. Taste of big milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, molasses, toffee, raisin, fig, date, bourbon, vanilla, toasted oak, coconut, light coffee/leather, and oak/roasted earthiness. Light-moderate roasted bitterness and bourbon/oak spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, molasses, toffee, raisin, fig, date, bourbon, vanilla, toasted oak, coconut, light coffee/leather/tobacco, and oak/roasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; with a great roasted bitter/sweet and oak spiciness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Light dryness from roasted bitterness/oak spice as well. Light carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very smooth, moderately creamy/silky, and slightly sticky/chalky balanced mouthfeel that is awesome. Alcohol is well hidden with only a small warmth lingering after the finish; with minimal booziness. Overall this is an outstanding BBA stout. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. This was very unique for a stout; as it seemed to have a lot of characteristics related to barleywines, but still remained roasty enough to feel like a stout. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of DudMan
4.56/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark with a nice 2 finger head and nice lacing. I primarily smell chocolate and some sweet vanilla and bourbon. Tastes jus like it smells. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Easy drinking. This is a great beer!

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Photo of gibgink
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black. Smells like nice barrel aged stout. Initial dark fruit taste that turns into a choclate aftertaste ion the palate. Very well crafted beer.

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Photo of smanson56
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured a very black color into my snifter glass. Lots of nice soft bourbon overtones in the nose along with some nice roasted malts. The taste is even better than the nose with the wonderful bourbon and over flavors smoothly blended together. The mouthfeel was smooth just the right carbonation. A really nice BBA Stout.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
4.62/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Good black beer with a full half inch of tan head on it, looks pretty. Amazing rich chocolate and bourbon aroma, nothing hot or heavy for the sake of being the biggest beer, they went with soft touches here and it works magnificently.

Taste just keeps establishing this as the #1 when it comes to cost/benefit analysis in the barrel aged stout world. Good size, not in the double digit range, not trying to be the biggest, allows the base and the barrel to equally shine. Mouthfeel brings out little notes of oak, vanilla and smoke in the tiniest way imagineable.

This stuff is so gangster. I can never have enough of this beer. If it was $20 a bomber, it would be just another beer, but you can get more than twice that much of this for less than that, so dope.

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Photo of Gables
4.69/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Quickly becoming my " go to" beer. For the money this is one of the best and readily available BA stouts you can buy. There's a good reason I have over a case in the cellar. Highly recommended

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Photo of eifster82
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016. The smell had nice bourbon nose on it and the appearance was a descent IS stout. But the taste didn't really have as much bourbon as I remember the 2015 having, and the feel was rather thin. However, don't get me wrong: for the price point and quality, it's still quite solid and would gladly pick up again. Just not quite the level of BCBS or BA Ten Fidy, if that's what people expect.

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Photo of Slack
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Ruby brown to deep brown in color with little head and some lacing.

Aromas of bourbon and booze with notes of vanilla, oak, coffee, and malt.

Taste is sweet malt, bourbon, booze, oak, black coffee, and vanilla.

Mouthful is medium and a bit creamy with moderate carbonation and a warming finish.

Overall a solid bourbon forward beer. The flavor profile is moderately complex but simple. The aroma is nice. The best feature (for me) was the mouthful. Try this.

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Photo of laketang
4.29/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

pours ink black with smooth bubble ring good legs

roasty chocolate notes and some vanilla as brewer suggests, its all there

chocolaty flavors are there from the dark malts.not hot or bitter.i get refined flavors.the suggested roast bourbon and vanilla notes are present as advertised and play very well together

medium body perfect creamy richness.some warming in the finish, just a bit.not too viscous.

a nice clean stout, glad I have more!

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Photo of joe1510
4.41/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz Bottle
$10.99 4-Pack
4 Seasons Liquors - Morris, IL

2015 Bottling

Central Water's Bourbon Barrel Stout pours as it should, menacingly black. No light escapes this body, it seems to darken the room as a matter of fact. The mocha foam is easy to rise, growing to a finger in height on the pour and settling comfortably at a thin crown while leaving silky sheet lacing down the glass. Each drink leaves behind pure silk lacing.

The nose is decadent, but not with sweet notes like other stouts. It's a moderately roasty base beer with rich cashew and macadamia nut. There's even some walnut pith. Slight boozy alcohol presence with caramel, vanilla and coconut from the barrel. It's complex with layer after layer of delicious barrel aged stout-i-ness. Each inhale unfolds the layers in different progression. Good.

As complex and deep as the nose, the flavor profile trumps it. The barley is moderately roasted and a ripe, dark berry maceration joins the fray. The nuttiness comes through in spades. I always think of macademia nuts as being almost creamy and richly decadent. This beer mimics that. A cashew richness as well. The barrel brings caramel, vanilla, coconut, and cotton candy in the order of intensity, most to least. A clean, boozy, somewhat brandy-like alcohol brings up the rear. This is a really great beer!

The body sits squarely between moderate and heavy on the scale. While the carbonation adds a touch of frothiness. It gets the beer moving so the alcohol present doesn't linger but it lingers long enough to give the idea that you're dealing with something not to be taken lightly. With that said, this beer drinks incredibly easy, dangerously easy.

This beer was once great. Central Waters had some infection issues a while back that hampered my purchases over the last handful of years. They're back to their old quality. The barrel aging is expertly executed, done to enhance an already good beer. The flavors pulled from the aging and blending are spectacular. The dense nuttiness, the coconut, the huge vanilla. The carbonation and mouthfeel are near perfect. This is good beer.

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Photo of Cannibalgasm
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12oz. bottle.

A: Pours a completely opaque black with one finger of creamy beige head. Retains very well and leaves behind some beautiful lacing.

S: Aromas of dark roasted malts, chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, and charred oak bombard the nostrils. Then you get notes of roasted nuts, raisins, caramel, molasses, coconut, leather, and tobacco. As it warms the flavors continue to come alive and hazelnut, and fudge aromas mix with slight earthy notes to provide a truly fantastic aroma. The bourbon is prevalent throughout providing a nice booziness that is very inviting.

T: Chocolate, roasted malts, vanilla, bourbon, roasted nuts, caramel, and a charred oak flavors initially, then you get some coconut, molasses, dark berries, raisins, coffee, brown sugar, and figs. Finishes earthy and pleasantly boozy.

M: Full bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Smooth and slightly creamy it has some thickness to it and some pleasantly noticeable alcohol warmth. A great sipper on this winter night.

O: An absolutely fantastic BBA Imperial stout. Honestly I don't understand how there brewer's reserve series isn't more recognized and appreciated. In the stout you find ever thing you could hope for and it can truly hang with the hyped up big boys of the style. I love this beer and always make sure to stock up with it and it's counterparts as they are truly world class brews. I would recommend seeking this out and enjoy it as I do, and come on people it's time to show Central Waters the love they deserve, they are one of the top under the radar breweries in my opinion.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,476 ratings.
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