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

For Trade:
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Reviews: 672 | Ratings: 2,476
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

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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 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 glazeman
3.42/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5


Extra from jcnd9803 in a recent trade. Thanks! Poured into a snifter.

A: Dark brown in color. Some light mocha colored head, but not much. Poor head retention, no lacing.

S: Lots of bourbon on the nose, and not too much else to be honest, but there is some coffee a little deeper.

T: Again, like the nose, there is a lot of bourbon, but the taste seems a little watered down. There's not much interesting coffee, vanilla, or chocolate that I have grown accustomed to in other bourbon aged stouts.

M: Too thin for my liking

D: Overall, the thinness, and simplicity of this beer make it quite drinkable. The alcohol content is hidden well and is not all that high to begin with.

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Photo of hopsaplenty
3.62/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

12oz brown bottle, no date information.

Solid black core with just the thinnest edge of cordovan. Towering head of densely packed tiny espresso crema bubbles. The head settles slowly, from the bottom up and left no lacing, but maintained a thick cap of foam all the way down. Rich, sweet aromas of bourbon, chocolate, coconut, and a touch of vanilla. This smells like it should be served a la mode. The alcohol aromas are well masked behind the fudgey sweetened coconut. The bourbon is prominently placed front and center, middle, and end in the taste. It is warming across the tongue and the chocolate roast is dominated by the prickly alcohol heat. The finish is warm and bourbon filled that sticks to the tongue. I found most of the stout character completely dominated by the bourbon, as if I were drinking a shot of bourbon kissed with a hint of stout, rather than the opposite. Medium-full body with restrained carbonation, this has a warm and slightly slick mouthfeel. The tongue holds onto the bourbon and maintains its steady warmth. The aromas were enjoyable, but I found the bourbon to far outweigh the stout in the taste department. I’m sure this was intended, but I found it difficult to appreciate the stout. Perhaps the heat will have diminished in future batches with the same barrels.

Thanks to Stonecrusher for adding this into an already overflowing box.

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Photo of lurpy1
3.33/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Tis the season for bourbon-aged stouts. Great buzz in the area for this one, but I'll believe it when I drink it, thanks. Picked up a single solitary 12 oz.-er, split into 2 pints.

The pour does not impress. I've seen dubbels darker than this. This looks like slightly weakened coca-cola. What it does NOT look like is a stout.

The smell is gentle and sweet, picking up the boozy bourbon and a little bit of vanilla. If the taste matches the aroma, we have a winner (note the foreshadowing).

But....more than any other BB stout I've had, Central Waters' version tastes phony. Yes, I can pick up on the bourbon and the vanilla that goes along with it; there's just a sense they came out of a bottle of bourbon extract. The taste, however, does cause me to vacillate. With one sip I want to drink it forever, with the next, I want to send it down the toilet.

The drink does do a good job of masking the alcohol - very little burn. But I found it way too thin for a stout.

I would continue to drink this beer. But the vast majority of the brewers I've had who have stuck their neck out to try barrel aging a stout have offered something better.

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Photo of PerHops
4.44/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A- To be perfectly honest, a little lighter looking than I expected and a fairly high amount of carbonation from the looks of it...

S- This is where it starts to improve, immediately. The vanilla, bourbon and chocolate were immediately present and worked in nearly perfect harmony. My first thought was chocolate cookie dough ice cream. Doesn't smell as "bourbony" as expected, but that absolutely works in this particular beers favor.

T- The taste is nearly identical to the aroma. The only difference is I can taste the bourbon slightly more than expected from the aroma.

M- There is a pretty active amount of carbonation here, which I am still trying to decide if it makes the beer more or less enjoyable.

O- For the style I knocked a couple of points off due to it being a little thin, but the aroma was spot on and the flavor was nice I just wish there was a little more body. In the same breath, it's kind of refreshing to enjoy a beer of this style without committing to such a high abv. Very good beer overall.

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Photo of rodkin
3.65/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours almost pure black, with some red and brown hues at the edge. Tiny bit of head that fades pretty quickly, minimal lacing.

Smell is big sweet chocolate and roasty bitterness, some barrel, faint vanilla, hint of dark fruit.

Taste is dark bitter chocolate, coffee, some astringency, with sweetness coming through at the back end. Vanilla and caramel mostly. The barrel character doesn't seem very strong.

Mouth is medium thick, pretty heavy carbonation. I'd prefer it a bit thicker with slightly less carbonation.

It's a BA stout all right. Pretty good, nothing to write home about.

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Photo of vic21234
3.89/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2011 Reserve 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pulled from fridge and allowed to warm at room temperature for 20 minutes.

A- Pours dark with a nice cream colored head that quickly fades. Some lacing is seen on the side of the glass. Overall it looks rather thin and watery for an Imperial Stout.

S- Hints of bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate all coated by an overall roasty aroma.

T- Starts off with the taste of roasty malts. Then it leads to some vanilla and maybe hints of coffee. The overall bourbon taste is there, and finishes the sip. The alcohol taste isn't overly powering though at all. I thought it would have been more apparent.

M- Surprisingly light for an Imperial Stout. Some carbonation. The alcohol warming comes in but not much. I would have liked some more bite, especially being a fresh bottle.

This is a good bourbon aged stout, and for the price, you really can't beat it. I'm going to sit two of the bottles down to see how it does with some age.

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Photo of 3Vandoo
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pitch black beer with a shy head retention.

Smell is of dark and burnt chocolate, candy like flavours followed by a toffee, roasted coffee and malt flavours.

taste is of sweet toffee then followed by hops which are quite mellow and a shy coffee sourness.

interesting beer

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Photo of vobr0002
4.92/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

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Photo of roger617
4.14/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into snifter.

A: Pours deep black with less than a finger of khaki color head that reduces fairly quickly and leaves a collar around the glass. No lacing left behind through the glass.
S: There is a strong, and welcome aroma of bourbon wafting from the glass. Hints of chocolate and roast linger in the background.
T: Very similar to the aroma, I get a good amount of bourbon up front. The background flavors compliment nicely, and are more so prominent than in the aroma. What I think is going to be a bourbon bomb up front turns into a well balanced stout on the end. Granted, I love bourbon, so being a bit bourbon heavy throughout is very nice to me.
M: Feel is thin in comparison to what I've come to expect from comparables. However, at 9.5% and having seen the pour, this was expected.
O: This beer for me was tempering expectations. I had only heard good things, so I knew I was in for a treat. I went in thinking it would be good, and it exceeded my expectations for sure. It's definitely a small dark horse in a world of big whales. I enjoyed it from first to last sip.

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Photo of BoJengs
4.6/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 bottle coded 31415 will cellar a few bottles of this...

Pours dark black almost no head

Definitely can smell the bourbon in this one

Smooth bourbon barrel stout, hints of tobacco

Smooth feel

It's a no brainer every year to grab as much as possible

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Photo of ptykozoon
3.76/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours Coca Cola brown, no head and a ring of mediocre lacing.

Heat - Bourbon, brown sugar, vanilla, maple syrup.

Lots of vanilla, tons of sweet sugar. Alcohol heavy, dry and vicious bourbon and loads of it hit in the finish.

Lighter mouthfeel than expected. Lots of carbonation, vivid mouthfeel. ABV at 9.5 seems exactly right if not surprisingly low. The aftertaste is bourbon, after a few drinks, your breath will smell exactly like a whiskey bottle.

This beer is bourbon heavy, to date probably the most I've ever tasted the influence of it. Definitely recommended.

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Photo of MarkIntihar
4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got tossed this one randomly at DLD and figured I'd crack it at our mini-tasting tonight.

A - Pours an opaque brown with thin, lacy cream colored head that quickly dissipates. Retention is there around the edge of the glass.

S - Smell is bourbon vanilla dominated. Maybe some hints of dark chocolate, but not overly complex, and the bourbon definitely dominates.

T - Initial taste is very bourbon. The bourbon is followed by a roasty coffee and dark chocolate taste. The finish returns back to the bourbon vanilla at first, with the final lingering taste being almost pure bourbon.

M - Mouthfeel is very nice. Slightly too carbonated for my liking but not terribly so. Feels a bit silky on the tongue, which is always a bonus.

O - Overall a very solid beer. Kudos to Central Waters!

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Photo of boatshoes
3.75/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Was lucky to happen upon 8 bottles of this recently as a result of a trade with my buddy Roburg and also a friend of mine from Wisconsin bringing me down a 4-pack. Thanks to both!

Appearance- Pours an opaque black out the bottle with a thin brown half finger or so of head in the glass that dissipates to a ring around the edges in pretty short order. Carbonation appears adequate but not overly active.

Smell- Not overly complex for the style but containing a lot of the usual nice ingredients. Primarily smells of dark roast, vanilla, and a little bit of wood.

Taste- Very similar to the nose. I get mostly vanilla, some medium to dark roast, and a little bit of the bourbon/wood. There is a little bit astringency on the finish and a somewhat sharp bit of alcohol.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Mouthfeel is decent but leans towards a touch on the thin side, particularly on the finish as a result of the evident alcohol. Drinkability is average for the style, but I found the alcohol bite to wear on me as I moved towards finishing the beer.

Overall, a decent bourbon barrel stout, but I find Central Waters bourbon barrel barleywine to be a far superior example of their barrel aged beers.

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Photo of zander4dawin
4.27/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Wow, what an amazing and underrated bourbon barrel stout. The beer has a delicate almost buttery texture and a smooth finish. The bourbon barreling is present in the taste adding oak and vanilla flavors to a solid base beer stout. Worth a try if you can get it.

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Photo of darklordlager
4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage

A: Pours a dark brown colour, with minimal head. I was told at the brewery that they use Satin Solstice as a base for this, but it looks substantially lighter.

S: Intense dark fruit, caramel, bourbon. Vanilla, light herbal hop backing. Really nice layered malt, interesting corn-like smell as it warms.

T: Lots of woody bourbon up-front. Raw 2-row and corn, sweet malt, with nice caramel in the finish. A bit of warmth appears throughout.

M: Light carbonation (appropriate for the style) & slightly "spirit-y" element.

D: Very nice complexity to this one. Intriguing corn taste adds to this element.

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Photo of iadler
3.5/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2011 bottle poured into tulip

A- Pours a dark brown with a one finger off white head that dissipates into a thin cap with no lacing left behind.

S- Oak barrels are prominent upfront with cherries, dark chocolate, roasted malt and a hint of vanilla.

T- Strong oak presence upfront follow by red cherries, dark chocolate, roasted malt and vanilla with some sweet bourbon.

M- Medium carbonation with a thin mouthfeel. Finishes with some heat.

O- Not bad, but the oak is a little dominant in the taste and the abv makes itself known. Maybe a little aging could help, but I was underwhelmed with this beer.

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Photo of SeanBond
4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this last year and wasn't blown away, but I liked it enough that I grabbed another 4 pack. At $14.99 for 4 bottles, you can't really beat it, especially when Dragon's Milk goes for the same.

The beer pours a deep dark brown, almost black, with a decent amount of head. Smell is pretty similar to BCBS: Boozy, with some prunish notes wafting up.

This is a great tasting beer--Lots of chocolate and vanilla running around, and the whole thing is integrated very well. The only thing that bothers me about BBS is how thin the mouthfeel is. I get that this is probably intentional, because the beer is only 9.5% ABV(which is pretty low for a BA stout), but I still think the beer would do well at a higher ABV, which a thicker mouthfeel.

Hopefully CW wouldn't be offended by me calling this BCBS Jr., because this stuff really does taste like a "smaller" version of BCBS. Not quite as complex, and definitely not nearly as thick and oily as BCBS, but this is a great beer, and certainly worth grabbing at its price point. I would imagine this would be a great "training" beer for those trying to get into BA stouts as well, since nothing about is overwhelming, and you get a great sense of what bourbon barrels can add to a beer. Great job by Central Waters!


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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.

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Photo of Boccu
4.23/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pots nice and dark with a lite head. The head fades fast. Has a nice bourbon aroma. Coffee and bourbon. Not over powering at all. Very smooth. Not as complex as other bourbon stouts but very good.

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Photo of br3wmeister
4.43/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- Nice silky light brown head about an inch thick. Great head retention and nice lacing. The beer is a deep black color.

S- Lots of dark chocolate, light charcoal and some good bourbon aromas. Roasted malts, molasses and caramel come through in the middle. Some hints of wood and and light nuttiness.

T- Lots of dark chocolate and and roasted barley, light charcoal and some woodiness. Lots of alcohol with a nice sweet backbone. Some molasses and other sweet flavors. There is a lot of bourbon flavors present in this beer. Nice rounded complexity none of the flavors are overwhelming and all are enjoyable.

M- This is a full bodied beer that is one of the smoothest and thickest I have ever drank. It is almost like drinking whole milk only way better. This beer coats your mouth with delicious silky. This is one of the best mouth feels I have ever experienced.

Overall- This is a magnificent beer, good aroma and flavor with an awesome mouth feel. I wish I had a good supply of this beer.

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Photo of bertram
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2011, poured into a snifter, CW BBS pours a nice and dark - nearly black - with a decent amount of tan head that never quite dissipated entirely but left little lacing behind.

The smell has very little booze to it, instead dominated by notes of chocolate and some vanilla.

The taste follows the smell - chocolate dominates, with the booziness coming in the aftertaste. The booziness is light with little heat to it.

The mouthfeel is a bit of a letdown here - while the carbonation is solid, the beer is a little thinner than I prefer in a stout.

Overall this is a very good barrel-aged stout that I look forward to trying again with a bit of age on it.

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Photo of sidetracked
3.93/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark, almost opaque brown with medium brown head that lingers. Mahogany highlights.

Aroma of bourbon, wood, and alcohol--sweet. Alcohol is light. Not that complex, but very inviting.

Upfront taste is bourbon and vanilla with a slight caramel sweetness. Sweet roasty malt middle. Slightly sweet finish of bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, and a little chocolate. Some bitter roastyness.

Medium to full bodied with low carbonation. Clean finish.

The aroma and flavor are really dominated by bourbon, vanilla, and wood. Nice sweetness. Very drinkable. Body could be more substantial. Drinks more like a barrel-aged porter.


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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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