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

664 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
Reviews: 664 | Ratings: 2,418
Photo of GOBLIN
4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

All things considered this is a well done BA stout. Though still far from great unfortunately. A careful pour produces no head (was expected) with a deep black appearance along with a mahogany shimmer. Aromas are nice with the bourbon leading the way but not overpowering the roastiness. Mouthfeel is rather thin considering the style and the finish has an unexpected sticky feel as well. The taste is nice, not harsh for the bourbon and other noticeable flavors of vanilla and maple syrup. The sticky feel and maple syrup flavor leads me to be the syrup may have been added at some point or is maybe just an additional taste due to the aging. Overall, I was really surprised to find that this was good but not great.

 717 characters

Photo of creepinjeeper
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 poured into a snifter.
Head is tan, pinky finger thick. Settles into no lacing quickly. Motor oil in color, when I swirl it I get a light brown ring.. Carbonation is light. I get hints of bourbon, wood, coconut, even leather in both the nose and taste. I am just blown away by the overall taste of this beer. Central Waters barrel program rivals them all.

 361 characters

Photo of Awolter
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2014 vintage poured into sniffer. Great bourbon aroma on the nose. Taste is underwhelming and a bit dull. It seems slightly over carbonated for the style. I dont believe I have an infected bottle, and there are no detectable off flavors.

 237 characters

Photo of jds16
4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Half-finger tan head; nearly black with just the faintest bits of red light passing through the glass. Body looks a bit thinner than I expect for the style. Smells great; tons of bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, and caramel. Taste follows the aroma; bourbon, caramel, vanilla, chocolate. Sweet. Body feels thin for the style, but overall a very enjoyable sipper.
2014 vintage

 371 characters

Photo of danieelol
3.73/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Bottle with great thanks to Gasc0igne.

2013 Vintage.

Pours inky black with only very subtly tanned white head. Spotty, minimalist lacing. Looks a lot less viscous than I expected.

Nose is fantastic. Bourbon chocolate milkshake, sweet cream, tiramisu.

Taste can't live up to the nose, it really lacks any roast or chocolate and instead has a faint hazelnut liqueur character, and an insubstantial bit of char. Occasionally you will get flashes of bourbon but it's just very faint.

Again the mouthfeel lacks follow-through, it is very watery as the appearance suggested and while the hazelnut flavour is not unpleasant, it's very insubstantial. There is sometimes a more interesting sweet dark fruit flavour, but also sometimes a slightly off flavour which is hard to get a grip on.

Perhaps this batch went off slightly with the taste/mouthfeel. Nose is great though.

 872 characters

Photo of loubrew
4.65/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2011 model. This is drinking exceptionally well. Any and all edges have been smoothed out. Not much nose but the flavors are all nearly perfect. Light carbonation but works well. Not sure if this could get better with more age.

 227 characters

Photo of larryi86
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Big thanks to garymuchow for this
12 oz bottle, 2014, poured into a tulip

A- Black with a three finger khaki head, nice lacing.

S- Bourbon, chocolate, caramel, vanilla, oak, some dark fruits, pretty sweet.

T- Bittersweet chocolate, caramel, bourbon, vanilla, oak, dark fruits, faint coffee in the finish.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- A nice bourbon barrel aged stout, body is pretty light for the style. I wouldn't hunt this down, but if I could buy bottles near me I would pick this up every year.

 502 characters

Photo of neurobot01
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage. Cellar temp into a snifter.

Look: pours fairly thick and dark with a nice head that lasts awhile.

Smell: chocolate-covered cherries, mild bourbon, strong vanilla.

Taste: a bit harsh; bourbon, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, oak, char. Not especially well-meshed.

Feel: on the thin side, finishes clean with a dry bitterness lingering.

Overall: a decent beer, but not great.

 393 characters

Photo of arlo19
4.32/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Local Option in Chicago. Compared this side by side with BCBBS.

Aroma is great, chocolate and bourbon. Taste is good and oaky but some fusel off flavor in aftertaste. Mouthfeel is good. Overall very solid, would like to try more from this brewery.

 258 characters

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark oily brown with a brown head. Lacing is left behind but the bulk of the head does die down to a ring. Good clarity for such a dark beer, or shall I say there is no haze or sediment.

Aroma has malty cocoa, toffee and of course big time boozy bourbon. Vanilla comes to mind as does dark chocolate and smores.

Lots of malty bourbon in the flavor, oak is big and the blended barrel notes carry the right flavor across. Dark chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, caramel, and slight dark roast coffee. Good flavor from just a stout and bourbon barrel, no need for additives here.

Full bodied, smooth syrupy feel. Flavor sticks with you. Overall, this was a very good example of the style, and one worth getting. Highlights the bourbon well without it overpowering the base beer at all.

 797 characters

Photo of dolomite128
4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage - Poured into a Night Shift Tulip / Snifter

Decent head about 1/4" and light tan with whispy dark swirls. Disappears to a small ring of light bubbles within a few minutes.

Aromas of brown sugar and oak barrel. Some light / matured vanilla / bourbon notes.

Tastes are considerably more subdued than one would expect from the nose. Flavors of rich chocolate dominate with hints of light bourbon. Carbonation / fizz keeps this from being cloying. Nice balance of flavors but the bourbon plays a back seat to the chocolate and long oaky finish.

Mouth feel is a bit thinner than most BA stout bodies, at 9.5% this definitely could use a bigger presence.

Overall a solid and very well balanced stout. If heavy chocolate and oak barrel are your thing, this is worth the effort to locate. Would have benefited from a bit more body and less carbonation.

 870 characters

Photo of TBonez477
4.49/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Beautiful brown-ruby pour, nice khaki head.

S: Strong bourbon aroma along with the expected vanilla and caramel notes.

T: Taste is quite the same, bourbon is well integrated with the chocolate and marshmallow flavors of the base stout.

M: Mouthfeel is my only minor criticism of this one. A bit thin for what I was expecting.

O: Overall this is a great beer! Really true to the style and delivers!

 407 characters

Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2014 vintage as noted by the notch on the label. I got this in a trade with someone, whose name I have forgotten. Thank ye to whomever ye may be {takes a bow, front leg outstretched, foot pointed upward}.

Pours a bit too cold from the fridge into a New Belgium snifter. The first sip was underwhelming to say the least, so I let this one rest a bit while unpacking the groceries. After warming, things improve. Aroma is a wonderful mix of bourbon, vanilla, black cherries, oakiness, smoke, and alcohol. As I do this, I am reminded of the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial that stated something to the effect of "Our beer isn't meant to be sniffed. Its meant to be drunk!" I got a chuckle from that. Anyhoo....

Flavor is pretty nice as well. Nice balance of bourbon and stout, with a slight leaning toward bourbon being the more dominant flavor. Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon, figs, alcohol.

Mouthfeel is a bit of a letdown. As others have said, it is a bit thin. Could be much more chewy. There is a slight hop bitterness which I really like. Alcohol is present. This is one of the only beers, for me, that had alcohol as a strong flavor without feeling like I was sucking on a vodka soaked rag. The alcohol tastes different, which I think is great. Smooth and warming, with a strong alcohol finish and a "hop bitterness after finish".

A solid attempt at the style. Add some oats or or something to make the mouthfeel more chewy and this would stand out as a top notch example. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

 1,504 characters

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

I left my original review below, just as a note to myself that i was incredibly stupid to rate this a 3 .84. Its boozy and strong, very bourbon and vanilla heavy but not too much of either.great mouthfeel to accompany it and in contrast to its slightly thin look. So glad i tried it again, a great ba stout, stupid review corrected.

decent,but wasnt blown away by it, and im a big bourbon barrell stout fan. there are better options around and even their barleywine bourbon barrel was better in my opinion.

 507 characters

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

A: Midnight black with a white lacing.
S: straight up bourbon, some caramel, mild chocolate/vanilla, maybe some caramel.
T: Bourbon galore, some roasted maltiness, caramel, medium bitterness.
M: Silk like, very thin.
O: Not bad, similar to BCBS, but perhaps not as complex.

 273 characters

Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

I picked this one up at the local Trig's grocery store. Taken from the fridge, allowed to stand for a while, and poured from the 12 oz bottle into a Samuel Smith pint glass. The bottled on date reads 3/17/14 (13 months ago).

L: Pours a coffee black with a substantial two inch khaki head that really stays put. After about five minutes, there's still about a half-inch of frothy head and lots of lacing.

S: Sweet caramel and vanilla, more subtle black licorice, and an undertone of whiskey oak in the bouquet. It's got a nice aroma, though it isn't particularly strong.

T: Very sweet at the front: lots of vanilla and caramel coming through with some subtle roasted malt. The black licorice is right on their heels, and this flavor runs up against some great bourbon notes into the finish. There's clean alcohol that emerges with the licorice/bourbon, and this sticks around into the aftertaste, where you really get the sense of sipping a whiskey. The individual tastes are assertive, but they all work very nicely together.

F: Creamy, though lacking much discernible carbonation. This one is a bit more watery than I was expecting, though it's far from feeling water-down on the palate. I like that it leaves the mouth fairly cleanly: there's no syrupy residue left around, though the flavors linger for a good long while.

O: This is another fine offering from the folks at Central Waters, who really seem to understand how to barrel a beer. I'd definitely like to see how this one tastes after being cellared for a while. A word of caution, though: if you're not a fan of sweeter stouts, this one is probably not for you. I find that the sweetness works very well to hide some of the clean alcohol flavor and also accentuate the bourbon notes. If you make it to Wisconsin, I would highly recommend seeking this one out.

 1,827 characters

Photo of tpgraham
3.77/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Friend brought me a bottle from the 2104 batch, poured in to a standard tulip.

L: I noticed that the pour came out quickly and could tell that the body would be much thinner than most standard stouts and BA stouts. Very little head on the pour. What was there receded quickly. Pours a cola brown.

S: Sweet bourbon and vanilla on the nose, not much nose from the stout.

T: A good, standard barrel-aged ale. The barrel flavor comes through loud and clear but I hoped to get more complexity from the base beer. Comes across more like a porter than a stout as far as the base beer goes.

F: This is where they lose me. The carbonation and thinness of the base beer give it a cola feeling in the mouth. Not a huge fan. Would love some more body on this beer.

O: As mentioned above, it is a good effort, just nothing stellar. It actually reminds of the regular Karbach Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter, which lists itself as a double porter. However, I would reach for the Karbach most times over this one.

 999 characters

Photo of majorbase2
4.45/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark brown color, really more of a black. Good sized brown head which recedes to nearly nothing, leaving a thin ring of lacing around the edges.

Aroma is bourbon, vanilla bean, molasses, coffee, and dark fruits. Fig and black licorice.

Taste is smoky, followed by some bourbon, wood,roasted chocolate and coffee, and sweet, melty molasses. A bit of dark fruit presence, notably licorice and aged cherry, lending it a sweet, bitter bite. The wood and malts come through stronger as it warms. The bourbon is not overpowering in this beer, which is good because thats the downfall of many BBA beers I've had. The bourbon actually results in a supremely pleasant and surprising sweetness that lingers on the tongue throughout the tasting.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly thin for a BBA/Imp. Stout. I think it actually works very well because it allows some other flavors to be showcased that typically don't shine in BB beers. Makes it one of the most drinkable BBA beers that I've ever had. Low carbonation. Medium-heavy body, goes down smooth, with surprisingly little bite from the alcohol.

Overall, a well done BBA beer. Not the most complex example you'll find, but the bourbon isn't overpowering, which is a trait I particularly enjoy. If you enjoy a BBA beer where bourbon doesn't dominate, give this beer a try!

 1,327 characters

Photo of danh53
3.07/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Aroma is bourbon, vanilla, espresso, malt, and dark fruit. Taste is malt and fruit forward. Bourbon is there, but it feels out of balance to me. Needs more dark roast to balance the dark fruits. Its too sweet with a thin mouth feel.

 232 characters

Photo of Sandalwood
4.08/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2013 vintage, in April 2015 - pours a very dark brown to black color with a thin off white head. There is some lacing and a little carbonation. The odor is strong, fruity, coconut, dried fruits, fig, plum, raisin, sweet, malty, bourbon, woods. The taste is rich, bourbon, vanilla, woods, malty, fig, dried fruits, coconut, chalky, not bitter, some alcohol burn.

 364 characters

Photo of kbwalters
4.39/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured cold into Libby stout glass. Bottled on 11/11/14, consumed on 12/3/14.
Look = 4.0 Pours brown into a pitch black in the glass. Only 1/4 finger of brown head fades quickly; light, spotty lace gets denser after sitting a while.
Aroma = 5.0 Great aroma, bourbon leads the way with vanilla and oak notes. Base stout is secondary but sweet chocolate and mild roasted malt aroma are there and comes out more as it warms. Some booze.
Taste = 4.25 Significant bourbon flavor throughout the taste but it lessons as it warms. Sweet dark chocolate with a mild coffee bitterness. Big bourbon burn in the finish and into the aftertaste.
Feel = 4.0 Medium bodied with medium to high carbonation. Higher carbonation and less creamy compared to some, might be the category it lags behind in the best.
Drinkability = 4.0 Very tasty and drinkable BBA stout.
Overall = 4.3375 Holds it’s own very nicely. Great barrel aged stout from Central Waters but I think a step below the top tier.

 984 characters

Photo of BeersOverBaghdad
4.71/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 vintage (drank in March 2015)

Look: black as night. not a full 5 bc the head wasn't as robust, but that might just be due to the age on the bottle.

Smell: bourbon, chocolate, hint of coffee. Love love love

taste: amazing. liken to BCBS with slightly more chocolate. no taste of booze, which was great. delivered on everything i anticipated from the smell.

feel: no heat or harshness that I've come to expect from a bourbon barrel stout, which was fantastic. Granted its a low ABV for the style (9.5 v ~15 for BCBS), but i prefer it that way. lighter than BCBS, which has its pros and cons

overall: would 100% get this again and will look out for it in the years to come. most drinkable BA stout that I've had thus far

 727 characters

Photo of pat61
4.75/5  rDev +13.4%
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

Photo of mlorfeld
4.85/5  rDev +15.8%
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 Sparty1224
4.44/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Cigar City snifter. Bottle on 12/9/14, making this 3 months old.

A: Pours a thin, almost completely opaque black. Subtle, light brown, bubbly head around the edges. No motor oil here, but still a nice body.

S: Lots of sweet, dusty milk chocolate. Some vanilla, coconut. The bourbon aroma is more like whiskey, and it's very clean and fresh.

T: Lots and lots of oak and bourbon here. Doesn't taste fully integrated, and it's almost like it's "poured in". Also in there is coconut, vanilla and a hint of freshly brewed coffee.

M: Kind of falters here for the style. It's quite thin and watery. Alcohol is quite noticeable and the finish is rather boozy.

O: So I've heard people refer to this as BCBS Jr., and I can kind of see that. It's thinner, smaller, less boozy, but still packs a great union of flavors and aroma. It's very balanced and well put together. Reminds me a lot of Dragon's Milk or Arcadia's BBA Imperial Stout. It's not that huge, thick, boozy beer BCBS is, but it's a nice, more mellow alternative. It's done well, and if you're in the mood for nice BBA Imperial Stout and you don't want to get super buzzed or work hard to finish a bomber, this is your guy.

Recommendation: A bit easier to find than you're average BA Imperial Stout. So at this quality, I'd definitely recommend grabbing a 4-pack if you can. It's pretty cheap, too.

 1,398 characters

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,418 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

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.