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 | website

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: 645 | Ratings: 2,357
Photo of kbwalters
4.39/5  rDev +5%
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 BoJengs
4.6/5  rDev +10%
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 br3wmeister
4.43/5  rDev +6%
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 -0.2%
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%
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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Photo of WankelEngine
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours opaque, dark brown. There is a tiny light tan head which fades to a few bubbles fairly quickly.

S: Coffee and bourbon leap out of the glass. Sweet vanilla, toffee and milk chocolate follow.

T: Sweeter than the smell. Opens with strong notes of vanilla and milk chocolate. The bourbon is subdued but delicious; it complements the sweetness perfectly. Coffee notes in the background which increase in potency as the beer warms. It finishes vanilla sweet with coffee.

M: Moderately thick with a decent amount of carbonation for a big stout. Slick and pleasant.

O: Fantastic. Vanilla, milk chocolate, bourbon and coffee all share the stage here. Well balanced and drinkable.

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Photo of oregonskibum
4.19/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a small snifter glass. 2010 version.

A: Color is a dark black that pours with a very thin, tan head. Disippates quickly, leaving just a Coke looking liquid in the glass.

S: Bourbon, bourbon, and more bourbon. Smells hot. As it warms, some faint vanilla, caramel and dark fruits or raisin show up faintly. But this is really all about the bourbon. I think this needs a little more time in the bottle.

T: Far more balanced on the taste. Still a lot of bourbon, but not as overwhelming as on the smell. Picking up some chocolate and coffee flavors along with the vanilla and wood flavors from the bourbon. Some chewy, bready flavors mid-taste. Some fairly pronounced heat on the finish. But finish is long and mellow.

M: Very low carbonation and a little on the thin side for the style.

D: I think this would improve with six months to a year of aging. Bourbon is a little overwhelming and should mellow a little bit. But this is a solid beer and quite enjoyable to drink. WOuld like to see a little more body.

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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!

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Photo of hawks10
4.12/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz - Bottled January 2010 - Poured into my Central Waters pint glass...

Pours a not quite opaque dark brown with crimson edges when given some light. One finger of light tan head forms and recedes quickly leaving no traces...

A delicious, strong, sweet bourbon aroma to start with bits of vanilla, very sweet and inviting. Slightly boozy with some oak and roasty hints...

Slightly sweet at first, bourbon warmth hits initially. Very oaky, almost a drying effect from the strong oak presence. Beer becomes bitter, a strong roasted/coffee taste in the finish is a stark contrast from the initial flavors. A tiny bit of vanilla comes forward as the beer warms...

Heavy bodied with low carbonation, creamy and delicious. The bitter coffee aftertaste lingers a bit longer than I'd like, but still a very good beer!

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Photo of thegoon55
4.4/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

vintage 2012

A- pours a black maybe dark brown light tan nice head.

S- amazing. bourbon forward, than chocolate followed by carmel and vanilla. Smells absolutely fantastic.

T- following the nose, lots of bourbon up front followed by a heavy dose of chocolate with hints of caramel and vanilla.

M- medium carbonation, full body.

O- absolutely fantastic. i love this beer. Im glad a have another, can't wait too taste fifteen since this beer is so fantastic.

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Photo of SeanBond
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
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 DabblinWiscCraft
4.45/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of Slack
4.11/5  rDev -1.7%
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 dasmusik
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bought a 2011 four - pack, opened one bottled in December of 2011 with the plan to age the others over the next couple of years. Poured the 2011 bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance - Pours fast and light, almost dark amber color. Little to no head, just around where the beer meets the glass. The beer itself is very dark once it accumulates in the glass.

Smell - Bourbon! Hints of burnt malts, alcohol, and dark chocolate.

Taste - Delicious! Nutty and chocolate on the front, and finishes with strong and smooth bourbon taste, but not overwhelming. The flavor stays on the tongue, but not in a syrupy way.

Mouthfeel - Smooth and light to begin, slight fizzing in the middle, and smooth and light to finish.

Overall - Great beer - very boozy at this point, but balanced and the bourbon doesn't overwhelm the stout characteristics, I can't wait to try it with 6 months to a year on the bottle.

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Photo of MarcatGSB
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 12 oz. bottle into Founder's snifter. 2011 vintage. Got in trade from Billakowski. Thanks!

A: Pours a straight black color with a big white flothy head, but it doesn't stay around long. No legs to speak of, but the lacing is fun and playful.

N: Nice, light, bourbon notes. Some soft creamy vanilla rise up. Some slight oak, but on the sweeter notes like caramel and even some milk chocolate.

T: Taste is very similar. Milk chocolate, light bourbon profile, and a bit of caramel. Minimal amount of roast and bitterness, just straight sweet cream. Very enjoyable. Hardly any of the drying oak.

M: It's a sweet bourbon barrel stout. Really nice mouthfeel. Light, a bit light. Nice drinking, higher carbonation than expected.

D and O: Easy drinking, solid bourbon barrel aged stout. In the ilk of Dragons Milk, very similar.

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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 Mateo2699
4.46/5  rDev +6.7%
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 TheDudeRules
4.27/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my oversized Southampton snifter.

Thick khaki head that is a plus size finger thick. Dissipates by the time I turned around and back from recycling my bottle. I can hear Mother Earth whispering a thanks. A light ring remains on the perimeter of my glass. I am struggling to call this black. Darkest brown ever.

A five sided fistagon of smell is pouring from my fishbowl. Roasted toasted coconut. Cocoa nib. Sweet bourbon. Slight alcohol. Vanilla even. That's right five sided. It's quite intoxicating.

I've been letting this bad son of a bitch open up in my glass for awhile now. My wife has been telling me some boring stories during the breathing process. Sweet bourbon at the forefront. Barrel aging is shining. Cocoa nib. The toasty coconut. This a fine drink my friends.

I think the biggest knock on this for me is the thin mouthfeel. It could lift some weights and bulk up. Drinking it without much age on it, I would consider it a sipper. Bourbon is biting but I really am enjoying it.

An outstanding beer. No wonder I've bought loads of it this year.

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Photo of OmahaKF
4.21/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Smell is burnt caramel, strong bourbon notes, oak, vanilla, and a bit of coffee roast and chocolate.

Taste is heavy on the bourbon and barrel notes and is still fairly hot for a 2014 vintage.

After having this year's Bourbon County I definitely appreciate this beer more. While I like BCBS more, this beer is a close second for me as a favorite bourbon barrel-aged stout.

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

Pours a very dark black with a hint of ruby on the edges. At first it looks like there won't be any head, but eventually builds up a good inch. Thick, wide splashes of lacing remain while drinking.

Aroma is slightly woody with a harsh, straight-up bourbon smell.

Flavor is quite boozy, not blended or balanced at all with the other flavors. Since bourbon is one of the few hard liquors I like anyway, it's not much of a problem for me. Other flavors that make up the base and fall into the background is vanilla, oak, and cream. Aftertaste slaps you in the back of the bouth with a bite of alcohol and harsh wood.

Mouthful is thick and creamy.

Drinkability is good for its heft. It might be a bit strong for some, and it's not as well balanced as some.

This is an enjoyable beer. It cost $15 for a 6-pack, which means I can't drink this every day. Luckily this beer is quite rare in supply, and was a surprise to show up this year at the store I bought it at. While enjoyable, strong, and tasty, it doesn't compare to something as well crafted as Goose Island's Bourbon Barrel. (Which I might add costs $20 for a 4-pack). But I'm proud to live in a state where this was made, and only 2 degrees of separation from the brewers.

It looks like this year's release is using the brown labels found in the picture for the 1-year aged Bourbon Barrel. However, it does not have a green sticker, so is considered the 'regular' awesome instead of the awesome awesome. Place your reviews accordingly.

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Photo of kajerm
4.07/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark opaque brown with less than a finger of white carbonation that quickly fades leaving a few tracks of lace.

Barrel-aging is relatively subtle in the aroma, which mostly consists of malts. Some dark chocolate, but malt notes are mostly a little lighter than I would have expected. There is some vanilla and molasses in the background.

Flavor opens light, with sweetness and malt coming mid-palate. Finishes with coffee and some slight malt bitterness, with bourbon barrel flavors lingering afterwards. Almost no alcohol flavor.

The mouthfeel is quite a bit lighter than the average bourbon-aged imp, and along with the lack of heat and the subtle barrel-aging, it makes for a suprisingly drinkable and beer. Great balance-- this is definitely one of the better attempts at the style.

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Photo of eclipse54
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A 12 ounce bottle from fvernon; December 2011 vintage. Thanks man! Poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a dark brown color that appears black in the glass. A thin veil of bubbly, almost soapy beige head forms, dissipating quickly to a ring and scattered patches of bubbles. Scattered patches of bubbles cling to the glass as lacing.

Upon opening the bottle, the aroma of ethanol is immediately noted. Once in the glass, a bouquet of vanilla, bourbon, oak, and toffee open up. Some cane sugar, caramel, and faint molasses are notable as well.

Flavors of vanilla, oak, hazelnut, and whiskey lead, with toffee, caramel, and sugar following suit. Some roasted grains and dark fruits pull through towards the rear, and ethanol appears at the finish.

Mouthfeel is thick, coating the palate and offering several lingering flavors. A syrupy texture lingers, and a dry finish is accentuated by a slight ethanol burn. Ample carbonation helps cut through the viscocity.

Overall, this is another solid offering from Central Waters' barrel program, but I think some more time in the bottle would have helped it improve further.

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Photo of Spica66
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Generous bottle from BarrytheBear- Thank you!!

A: Completely black color. Not much head to speak of at all. Minimal carbonation.

S: Bourbon first, then roasted malt and slight coffee.

T: First taste (when still chilly) was more coffee and malt with a bourbon overtone. As soon as it had warmed, the bourbon came up front and so did the alcohol heat.

M: Smooth, somewhat creamy, but the alcohol gets to you after the first few sips.

D: Maybe if this were cellared for a while, the heat back off a little.

Overall, though, a very good beer.

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Photo of PlinyBeMiney
2.8/5  rDev -33%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle to snifter. As I poured I could not help but notice the thinness to the depth in this beer. Imperial Stouts IMO should be dark, with no light shining through. This beer was dark, but not dark enough. The light passed through it too easily, something I would expect from a standard stout, not an imperial. The smell was just ok. Faint bourbon, no vanilla, no malt or indentifying nuances that stood out. I'm a fan of bourbon stouts, this beer lacked substancially in comparison. The base beer stands out in no way to me. It's awfully thin and watery. The bourbon barely helps. I like my beers to be big and heavy on the bourbon. This one just didn't do it for me. I appreciate the trader who got this to me. Cheers.

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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.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.18 out of 5 based on 2,357 ratings.
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