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: 678 | Ratings: 2,506
Photo of Wadsey
3.14/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2010 12 oz bottle poured into DFH signature glass. 

A: Deep brown with deep amber highlights. Not much of a head, which is unsurprising.  Excellent clarity. 

S: Smells of bourbon, damp wood, and maybe a touch of vanilla. The base imperial stout is indiscernible. The barrel has bowled over the base beer.

T: Bourbon booziness assaults the palate: bourbon, oaky woodiness, a hint of vanilla and sweet malts. Bitter, boozy and drying finish. No dark fruits. No coffee. No chocolate. No roasted malts. 

M: Low carbonation and thin. Slightly astringent and definitely warming. 

D: CW Bourbon Barrel Stout is a sipper, but i find it to be too simplistic for a barrel-aged imperial stout.  This beer is to that style what Backwoods Bastard is to barrel-aged scotch ales, except a bit more direct and one-dimensional. I wouldn't seek it out but I wouldn't reject it if someone offered me a pour. 

Thanks to joshuaseresse for the generous extra!

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Photo of Kelly88
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks go out to wisconsinbeer1 for the great beer in a great box. Poured from the bottle into my Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

A- pours like an ice tea and settles into a dark cola brown. No head at all, kind of disappointing. Just small scattered bubbles and then nothing.

S- great Bourbon smells! Lots of woody vanilla. Also a nice blend of chocolate and Bourbon. Really strong smells that make for a treat.

T- chocolate and dark sweet fruit initially. The chocolate is a perfect segway to the full Bourbon tastes. Vanilla and a disease of alcohol. The finish is a tasty dance of wood and cherry cordial ice cream. Very faint bitter coffee on the swallow. Nice example of the power of Bourbon barrels.

M- medium bodied. Not very thick for a stout, especially barrel aged. The combo of alcohol bite and tangy carbonation make for an aggressive swallow. Nice in the sense that it is easy on the palate but just a bit off.

Overall the taste of this beer really trumps its other shortcomings,appearance and mouthfeel. Almost the perfect balance of good Bourbon and good beer. Since I like both I love this beer.

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Photo of mjpolzin
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25


This beer was a little too much bourbon for me but that doesn't mean it isn't a good beer; just a little too much for me. I would say for sure it is something that you would want to sip. I made the mistake of having it after I had already had a few. I still have three more of them so I think the next time I have one, I will start with it and see if I feel differently

EDIT ON 12-10-11
I don't know if I am supposed to do a whole new review or not. Also, I wish this beer had each vintage seprate so you could review them as different beers (like Trader Joes holiday ale). I just cracked open a bottle of 2011 and really liked it. I have two bottles of 2010 left so I will have to go back and drink one again to see if-
A. 2011's batch is just better than 2010's or
B. I just have a better taste for this brew now than I did last March

The taste of bourbon was not as strong this time and it complemented the stout taste quite well. It was still a little too overpowering for me and it drowned out the nice dark fruit taste I usually enjoy in a stout. There was a nice sweetness and warmth with is as well. I now look forward to aging this years along with last years and creating a nice vertical collection for this brew.

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Photo of biggred1
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage. Many thanks to Heliosphann for the hook up.

Dark brown, almost black with a thin sand colored cap that leaves some fine lace on the glass. Bourbon barrel and roasty coffee-like malt and vanilla oakiness in the aroma. Molten fudge, cocoa and coffee flavors with a decent bit of whiskey flavor. Smooth, full bodied and slightly sticky. A fantastic stout with a year on it, now I need a fresh one.

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Photo of pokesbeerdude
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle courtesy of levifunk. Into a Stone IRS glass.

A: Very deep brown with a light tan head, not quite an inch thick that slowly recedes to a layer of bubbles that is slightly thicker around the edge of the glass. A few gobs of lacing.

S: At first a large note of coffee and burnt malts, underneath that there are some pretty distinct notes of bourbon and vanilla. As it continues to warm a large note of caramel and burnt sugars really come to shine. A few powdery cocoa notes really tie things together. A lot going on, and it smells great.

T: Initially there is a large burst of sweetness with a lot of components that I can't pick out, just this huge chocolatey/brown sugar/caramel/vanilla/molasses combination that fades into a long coffee roasted malt profile that lingers in the mouth for quite some time. A nice bit of oak on the finishes that dries out the big sweetness on the front end of it. Light bitter hoppy finish mixes well with the barrel and roasted malts. Pretty darn nice beer that isn't overwhelmingly bourbon or overwhelmingly stout.

M: Nice velvety mouthfeel, carbonation is a touch high, but is about right, helps make things a little creamy. Fairly sticky on the lips and in the finish, just a touch of booze that warms the whole way down.

O: Overall, nicely done, a very well made stout that is enhanced by a touch of bourbon and a little time aging in the cask. One of the better examples out there, as it isn't extreme in one direction or the other. Nice balance and blend, and I would love to try this again.

Thanks Levi!

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Photo of ShogoKawada
3.58/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to the generous trader who threw this in as an extra. Poured into newport storm pint glass.

A- Coffee brown, looks like a heavy brown ale with a 2cm thick brown sugar head. Really nice lacing on this one, too.

S- Bourbon! Lots of oak, mild vanilla, dark roast coffee.

T- Oakiness is very bold. Bourbon, toffee/caramel, and brown sugar come through in varying degrees. Stout is coffee and chocolate milk, rather sweet but it works with the oakiness.

M- Hefty body, good carbonation, would like to see the oak dialed in a bit and the other flavors boosted but that's nit-picking.

D- Moderate. Heavy, took my time, but enjoyed the whole pint. One I would not hesitate to revisit- a tasty -bal aged stout.

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Photo of herman77
3.97/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Near black with a small light tan head. Kind of surprised that the head was so light in color. Decent retention and lacing.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, chocolate and some oak. The oak notes really come through strong. Smells awesome.

T: Sweet bourbon and roasted dark malts up front. Some vanilla, a bit of chocolate as well. More bourbon flavors than anything else, this is too fresh. Finishes boozy and hot.

M: Just below a full body. Seems a bit thin for a big impy stout, but still feels smooth with soft carbonation.

D: This is still pretty fresh, bottled in December 10' so some age will do this well. Right now its pretty low drink because of the hotness. Will have to come back and review this one with aged, hopefully it will round out nicely and other flavors will be more noticeable.

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Photo of jhimstedt
3.98/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

served into a Glencain. extra from a trade...can't remember from who! if it was you BM me so I can add your name.

A - poured cold, and very little head at all. not completely opaque and mostly a cloudy brown color rather than black.

S - very sweet nose, cola, vanilla, little bourbon and a some oak, dark chocolate and roast

T - tons of dark chocolate up front, roast and slight smokiness, cola-like syrup, no real fruit, alcohol melded nicely and bourbon component is married better than a lot of bourbon stouts.

M - creamy and thick, carbonation fits nicely

D - very drinkable. the chocolate and roast might be a bit much for some, but I find it very tasty. will seek out again and recommend it highly.

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Photo of gregshead
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra from mnbearsfan. Thank you for all the amaxing beers. Tasted on 2/24/11. Reviewed from notes:

A: Dark brown almost black with a nicer thicker look to it.

S: The bourbon heat is noticable right away on the nose. Sweet bourbon and stout grain smells are right there after the heat. Smells great.

T: Nice sweet bourbon taste and some roasted grains. The balance is tilted pretty hard in the bourbon direction. The grains just aren't there enough. I prefer a little more roasted grain to keep up.

M: A little thin feel for something with this much heat. Heat feel is very noticable, very much like a shot of bourbon would be in some ways. Not quite that level though. Really good carbonation for a bourbon barreled beer in my opinion.

D: While drinkable, the didn't seem as put together in comparison to other bourbon barreled beer of its type. Still a good brew worth trying to see if it hits your fancy. Would have another one.

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Photo of billab914
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip glass. It poured a dark brown color with a thin and spotty tan head scattered across the top.

The aroma has a very nice chocolaty, bourbon flavor to it. I get some of the oak and vanilla from the barrel, but the chocolate and bourbon are really what catch my attention. Some caramel and cocoa flavors start to come out more as it warmed. Pretty modest on the alcohol for the style, and very nice overall.

The taste shows a little more of the barrel and bourbon character to it then the aroma did. I get some woody oak right off the bat, while the bourbon kicks in soon after. The stout flavors come through as a sweeter, cocoa like chocolate flavor with a bit of caramel to it as well. The finish brings a little more bourbon, with a modest alcohol presence.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied for the style and carbonation is a little below average. The carbonation fits my tastes for the style pretty well. Drinkability was good, I thought it was a very good barrel aged beer. I really liked the chocolate and bourbon flavors that came together in it. Very nice beer overall.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.67/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured in to Duvel tulip.

A - Dark brown with one finger of light brown head that very quickly disappeared. Expected this one to be darker.

S - Very sweet at first. After a few smells the sweetness settles down and is replaced by a very noticeable bourbon flavour that seems to be the perfect strength. Some vanilla and oak come through as well.

T - Bourbon dominates the palate with some light vanilla and oak coming through as well. Not much else is evident in the palate, making this stout somewhat one-dimensional. That said, the bourbon flavour is in a good overall strength in this beer and it has a good overall taste. Maybe some age will bring out some of the other flavours.

M - Medium body, lightly carbonated.

D - A good beer but somewhat one-dimensional.

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Photo of tewaris
4.04/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle of 2010 vintage poured into a wine glass after an year of aging. Dark, but not dark enough looks with good clarity and a small head. Poor head retention. Aroma is creamy with oak-bourbon, chocolate and vanilla. Tastes dark, smooth, slightly bitter and deliciously sweet, with chocolate-vanilla notes and some acidity, but none of the coffee flavor that I usually associate with the said acidity.

The bourbon barrel flavors abound and would have worked even better with a creamier and thicker body, and lower carbonation. Still a very good beer.

Scores: Appearance 3/5; Aroma 4/5; Taste 4.5/5; Mouthfeel 3; Drinkability 4/5

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Photo of wagenvolks
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Jan 2010 12oz bottle into a Ranger Creek tulip. Thanks to crossovert for the killer extra!

Bourbon Barrel Stout pours with a Nutella-colored body, but with the thinness of a soda. A small head forms and dissipates just as quickly, and a ring of tan foam builds as the carbonation seeps up from the murky beer below. Soy sauce greets the nose with a backdrop of bourbon-flavored chocolate and English toffee. A little roast in the mix as well.

The flavor does well to present boozy, spicy notes of dark fruit, rum, and sherry sweetness, but the alcohol is really a bit too hot for my liking (even after a year of age). This is slightly unfortunate, really, because after tasting how well Central Waters does with their big-ABV'd Bourbon Barrel Barley Wine, I had high hopes for this stout. It does improve as it warms, however, and the supporting cast of roasted malts and chocolate is tasty. Mouthfeel is heavy on the palate with a tightly-packed carbonation level and lingering, almost sticky finish. Overall, I found this beer to be a little rough around the edges, but still worth seeking out and giving it a try.

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Photo of zeledonia
4.01/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

From notes: Pours very dark, nearly black, with a small tan head that remains throughout. Smell is mostly whiskey, not much else. Taste is again heavy on the whiskey, with some vanilla and roasted malts in the background. Nice complexity, but dominated by the bourbon. Mouthfeel is excellent, syrupy and smooth with a bit of carbonation.

Generally too heavy on the whiskey for my tastes, but pretty darn good. Would probably improve a lot with age - this one was from the most recent bottling.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.39/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into my New Belgium globe. Received in the Birthday BIF thanks to zimmerbloke; thanks Matt!

a - Pours a pretty deeo mahogany brown color with two inches of tan head and moderate carbonation evident. An inch od creamy tan head lasts throughout drinking the beer and leaves a little lacing on the glass.

s - Smells of bourbon, vanilla, oak, chocolate, roasted malts, toasted malts, vanilla, toffee, and caramel malts. Wow, I was surprised how complex and great this one smelled. I expected the bourbon up front, but I didn't expect so much going on. The bourbon doesn't dominate the nose at all; this one smells amazing.

t - Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, oak, coffee, roasted malts, and vanilla. While I liked the taste a lot, it seemed a tiny bit light in some flavors, almost slightly watered down. Good, but a definite step down from the great nose.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. The body is super smooth and creamy, and goes down very easy. Not hot at all, and a bit later than I was ecpecting for a barrel aged stout.

d - Overall I really liked this beer. I found the nose amazing and complex; everytime I took a sniff I got something different and equally good. The taste was good, but a little bit of a let down after the nose, but for 9.5%, it was very drinkable. Glad I have another bottle of this one and might have to try and get more.

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Photo of JAXSON
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

December 2010 bottle. Pours a deep mahogany chestnut with a medium head. Nose is mostly a marriage of roasted malt and bourbon with an annoying touch of metal. Mouth is roasted coffee, some charred malt, Irish cream, and a fairly light bourbon. Kind of thin and soda-like at times. Finish is dry and not very expressive. Some good flavors in here, it's well integrated, but flawed and not very exciting.

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Photo of alpinebryant
3.92/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark brown with translucence at the edges. I was surprised for a boubon barrel stout to not see so much black in here. Also pretty happy about the fact that it appears more brown after tasting it.

Aroma is primarily bourbon, with lots of vanilla and sweetness.

Taste of bourbon whiskey barrels, oak and vanilla. Once you get through the bourbon flavors which are pretty prominent, there is not a ton of depth. I love bourbon which causes me to probably rank this a little higher than it should be . This is primarily a brown ale with whiskey in it. There is a slight whiskey burn in the taste but just a bit of brown malt flavors behind the vanilla oak and bourbon.

There is no ashiness in this at all which I prefer for a stout however It is more of an Imperial Brown ale with Bourbon barrel aging. Very similar Imperial Naughty Goose from Goose Island aged in bourbon barrels and very delicious stuff overall. Easy sipper with medium carbonation and a light mouthfeel.

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Photo of AleBlager
4.64/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy with a bit of lacing around the glass, it brings a sharp bourbon smell, shooting up your nose and warming up your face. A second whiff adds a slight chocolate sweetness that causes salivation. From the get-go, you can tell that you are in for a heavy beer. This is where the BBS throws you for a loop. A solid bourbon taste along with a chocolate backbone show you that this beer is not heavy, but kicks out some big beer flavors. A sweet and warm chest feel. The BBS coats the tongue and touches the bitter buds. This beer is big, and would compliment a big meal.

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Photo of jpmclaug
3.77/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into my Bruery snifter. I believe this is a Dec 2010 bottles which makes it 2 months old. Served at room temperature

A - really dark brown with a nice sized tan head. Kind of surprised that this one isn't blacker

S - Smooth bourbon smell. Slightly sweet with hints of vanilla and oak.

T - Smooth bourbon notes, bakers chocolate, slight oaky, dark fruit notes are subtle in the finish. Slightly boozy but not too much. Finishes fairly sweet.

M - a bit on the thin side for a imperial stout, a nice low carbonation level

D - This is a nice beer but not a mindblowing one. Slightly thinner than I would like and the base beer seems to be lost a bit in the barrel flavor. That said I enjoyed this one and look forward to opening my other bottle of this down the road and possibly getting more, though I wouldn't go crazy trying to obtain it.

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Photo of boomer31
4.44/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage...bottled December. Other 2010 vintages bottled in April.

A - Pours a dark brown, near black with brown around the edges. Tiny dark beige bubbles. No lacing.

S - Bourbon nose, roast coffee and chocolatte though the bourbon is the standout.

T - Bourbon sweetness followed by a resiny sugar, molasses then chocolatte in the back. Some fig characteristic as it warms. Chocolatte comes thru in the back as I drink more. Nice bourbon flavor

M - More rich than I anticipated given the appearance of the body. Nice carb, sticky sweetness in the back

D - A very nice beer at 9.5%. Don't get any alcohol.

Overall a very good barrel aged beer from CW. Not my favorite of the 3; Barley wine and Peruvian Morning top this but not by much.

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Photo of drewba
3.14/5  rDev -24.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

A - Super dark brown with a head that has loads of big frothy bubbles sitting on a base of tiny bubbles. Lacing is here, but breaks quickly.

S - Sublime; lovely vanilla, candied sugar sweetness, soft oak, mellow bourbon, a touch of maple. Reminds me a lot of Backwoods Bastard, perhaps Silva stout.

T - Shit. The nose barely translates to the taste. Right away, I'm hit with an unusual harsh woodiness. Slight char, but then some semisweet & dark chocolate, vanilla extract, a bit of artificial cherry and cheap bourbon. The bourbon somehow is able to impart a nice vanilla sweetness, but then goes back to tasting cheap, winey/tannin-y and watered down. The finish has a milk chocolate and coffee finish, that is a bit of a saving grace. After a nose that gave me a half chub, this feels like I've been had. This is a muddled and unrefined. Nothing seems to work or blend together, it's kind of everything on it's own.

M - Oily, medium body with a fantastic amount of carbonation.

D - I don't hate this, but the taste is just so disappointing. I'll just take 2 sniffs for every sip and I'll be all good here.

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Photo of xnicknj
4.1/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into snifter - 2010 vintage - thanks to philhyde

Pours a stark black with a nice fluff of beige head on top. Slowly fades to a thicker layer of film with a nice collar of lacing around the glass.

A nice smack of vanilla in the nose, followed by sweet bourbon with dark chocolate molasses. Some lighter tones of leather and alcohol.

Slightly bittersweet up front with a nice mixture of chocolate and vanilla. Light earthiness and roasty warm malt flavors. Caramel with faint leather tones towards the middle. Decent booziness, but not over the top as the bourbon swirls in with some of the sweeter flavors. Finishes slightly boozy and sweet.

Slightly thinner body than I'd expect with a little higher carbonation. Drinks well, as the alcohol is under control to the point where I can taste the bourbon without it wrecking the other flavors. A solid bal aged stout, but not quite on the upper end.

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Photo of weatherdog
3.52/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a tulip

It pours a nearly pitch black with a decent sized tan head. Retention is medium with minimal lacing.

The nose is just great. It's rich, sweet with a heavy bourbon presence without a heavy alcohol aroma. On the end a nice subdued coffee roast is there.

The flavor kind of falls off from there, an alcohol presence is there the entire sip which is very distracting. The roast goes away and there is an increased vanilla flavor.

The spirits thin out the body too much for my liking in an imperial stout. The carbonation level is nice though, a bit lively in order to take away from the bourbon. Drinkability is decent but the alcohol flavor really doesn't meld well with the rest of the beer.

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Photo of Bung
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz., 2010. Dark brown pour, quite light actually for an imperial, thin layer of light tan head. Does lace all right.

Nose is nice and malty, limited roast but nice caramel, vanilla and light barrel, molasses and chocolate.

Taste is well balanced malt inclined stout and barrel. A little boozy at first but that fades quickly. More caramel, vanilla than roast and chocolate. The oaky barrel just accents a bit. Finishes with vanilla, toffee a light milk chocolate.

Mouthfeel is medium, a tad thin, but it coats very well and is almost sticky. Carbonation is subdued to help this out. Definetely a good warmth to it, but the alcohol is only marginally present.

Certainly seems a bit young yet, but this is and will be solid. Can see how this could be confused for some sort of hybrid style at this point.

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Photo of leakyfaucet12
4.24/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

a- dark black and brown with a head that doesnt last to long. The head is much closer to white that i would have liked.

s- I small dark chocolate. mocha, caramel and tons of coffee. There is definately a smkokey character to this beer, almost like a bonfire.

t-bitter hops meets malt perfectly. I can taste a ton of mokahlike coffee flavors. The beer is a very good example of why I like Bourbon Barrel aged.

m- nice and thick without feeling like syrup. The beer is perfectly carbonated and creamy

d- This beer was really a stunner for me . I really enjoyed this beer and will definately drink another one, but not tonight.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.18 out of 5 based on 2,506 ratings.
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