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

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean StoutBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Stout
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Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States
Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #779
Ranked #2,501
4.24 | pDev: 5.66%
Mar 09, 2022
Aug 13, 2017
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean StoutBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Stout
Notes: The latest beer off of our pilot system - a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Vanilla Bean Stout! This is a new stout recipe that we aged for 1 1/2 years in bourbon barrels and added vanilla beans.
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Photo of craigbelly
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by craigbelly from Iowa


Mar 09, 2022
4 by TMoney2591 from Illinois on Dec 02, 2021
4.57 by matt-evans2 from Wisconsin on Jan 25, 2021
Photo of jkblr
4.17/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by jkblr from Indiana

12oz bottle with 2019 notch poured into a snifter at fridge temp, no ABV listed on label. The beer pours dense, extremely dark brown with minimal light penetration and light brown head. The head recedes to an irregular ring of bubbles of various sizes. Minimal spotty lacing. The aroma is mild with a mix of vanilla and charred malt along with hints of bourbon and oak. The taste is bittersweet malt featuring chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla and moderate final bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with average carbonation and a mostly dry finish. No alcohol in the aroma or flavor, but it's slightly warming to let you know to proceed with some caution. Overall, very good. For a stout at least a year old the vanilla has held up well. Would jump at the chance to try one fresh. Thanks @basaywhat

Nov 29, 2020
4.25 by a77cj7 from South Dakota on Nov 12, 2020
Photo of GoBearsWalter34
4.09/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by GoBearsWalter34 from Illinois

Two year old bottle.
Pours a Dark Brown with next to no head.
Very sweet molasses smell. Bakers chocolate and marshmallow smell. Slight coffee.
Taste follows nose. Add licorice and malt. Roast and bitter comes hard in the end.

Jun 13, 2020
4.25 by EMH73 from New York on May 19, 2020
Photo of csheridan
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by csheridan from Illinois

The pour is thick, sits almost black in the glass, with a thin head. Smell is roasted malt and bourbon, a hint of vanilla, but not much in the smell. The vanilla comes through a bit more in the taste, along with the bourbon and roasted malt, slight alcohol burn from the bourbon, but not too strong. Really thick and creamy feel, this is a great one for sitting around a fire on a cool evening outside.

May 01, 2020
4.5 by Scott17Taylor from Iowa on Feb 02, 2020
4.21 by Phoodcritic from Michigan on Jan 20, 2020
Photo of Franziskaner
4.15/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Franziskaner from Missouri

Black in color with minimal light penetration. There’s a tiny wisp of beige covering a quarter of the top. The aroma is of bourbon, vanilla, and dark malt. I’m tasting vanilla, bourbon, and dark malt. The mouth is thick, chewy, and boozy.

Jan 18, 2020
4.23 by mgundy32 from Wisconsin on Jan 12, 2020
4 by Shy5 from Oregon on Jan 06, 2020
Photo of SierraNevallagash
4.19/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by SierraNevallagash from Maine

12oz bottle - courtesy of The-Adjunct-Hippie (thanks!!) - poured into a short stem at room temperature.

Pours a mahogany reddish brown, sitting midnight black in the glass. A vigorous pour yields two fingers of tan head, which quickly and loudly fizz out to a thin cap that never fully disappears. The beer seems to be a touch thin (it's also single-digit ABV), and interestingly, if help to a strong light, the beer is quite ruby, and remarkably clear in the thinner spots. Quite a bit of visible effervescence for the style.

Nose: As soon as I cracked this, I could smell it from several feet away. Diving in nose-first, Vanilla Bean Stout produces a ton of bourbon barrel on the nose. Very classic BBA imperial stout aroma. Vanilla bean can be subtle, but as a big fan of vanilla bean BA stouts, I can definitely spot it in here. Aromas of rich roasted malt, dark chocolate, vanilla bean, bourbon-soaked charred American oak, caramel, a little bit of dark fruit, and the faintest hint of marshmallow fluff. A rare and welcome note in BA stouts - almost always from vanilla bean. It isn't the deepest, most complex BA stout, but it's mature, handsome, and inviting, with no aromatic flaws at all.

Palate: This beer greets the palate with some very robust dark roast. Blackened malts leading into baker's cocoa, dark roast espresso grounds (not coffee that has been made - the flavour of dry grounds), vanilla, burned toffee, and something I can only describe as umami. It isn't soy sauce, so don't even go there. It's a slightly savoury note, presumably from either heavy roast, or super wet barrels - likely the latter. The bourbon barrel is very present here, and while the bourbon isn't hard to find, I find that the barrel itself particularly sticks out. That dry charred oak. At first, I would say in terms of BA stout sweetness, this one starts off at a 5 or 6 of 10, but after that char comes in and does it's thing, by the time the finish rolls around, it's down to about a 3 of 10, and ultimately finishes dry and roasty, with a bit of vanilla still lingering. It isn't a bitter stout, and while roasty, it never turns acrid or ashen. Somewhat clean finish for the style.

Mouthfeel/Body: I don't get the reviews that say this is a thin beer. It isn't 2018 BCBS or Parabola, but for less than 10% ABV, I'm actually surprised how full-bodied and heavy it is. It's slick, fairly viscous, with a little bit of chew. Not thin at all, unless your standard is pure maple syrup. Not a lot of effervescence, but it isn't at all flat. A bit sticky, as it shoukd be, particularly around the lips.

Overall: This is just a very good barrel aged stout, simple as that. It's quite roasty, but it has the sweetness to back that up, which is important (to me). The addition of vanilla bean really adds an extra layer of nuance, which I find benefits the beer. The body is spot on, especially for the ABV, it's super full of flavour...especially for the ABV, and because of that lower ABV, there's no struggle to drink it over the course of a few hours - fighting down the last sips even though you like it. Can't speak for value, as I don't know the pricing, but it's a great beer, and if it's somewhat reasonably priced, then that would really be something. Regardless, it's an enjoyable BA stout for when you don't want to make a production of opening a special bottle, but you still want to thoroughly enjoy it.

Dec 29, 2019
4 by imperialking from Illinois on Dec 27, 2019
Photo of pkalix
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
by pkalix from California

sweet vanilla on the nose! harsh, dried oak barrel on the tongue...

Dec 26, 2019
4.25 by Bum4ever from California on Dec 20, 2019
4.33 by SayBoom from Ukraine on Dec 14, 2019
4 by AyatollahGold from Indiana on Dec 01, 2019
Photo of Lingenbrau
4.21/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by Lingenbrau from Oregon

Big thanks to Joe for this bottle. Anything from Central Waters is extremely welcomed.

Pours pitch black, and I'm noticing the need to heavy my hand as it's coming out pretty flat. Snapping like cola, it manages to produce a very thin tanned foam that disappears in a moment. Needless to say, no lacing.

Not much vanilla on the nose, but plenty of chocolate, oak, and booze. You can argue some molasses or brown sugar, but if say this is a pretty straight forward (and inviting) aroma.

Flavor is actually quite a bit nutty. Like chocolate covered almonds, dusted in some holiday spices, then laid to rest in a barrel of booze. Very nice.

A bit thin, zero carbonation, well balanced and smooth. The burn is light and welcomed on this cold afternoon. Has a bit of a spicy tingle to it too. Also welcomed.

I've used "welcomed" more times in this review than I've ever used it before. You're welcome.


Nov 27, 2019
Photo of q33jeff
3.94/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by q33jeff from New Jersey


Bottle top tulip glass.

Jet black. Healthy beige head. Very Good retention.
Lots of vanilla in the nose.
Chocolate notes come with the vanilla and roasty malt and barrel character mellow this out nicely.


Stream of Consciousness speech to text review of 8 BA Central Waters beers.
Tasting with DC listening to Dread Zeppelin.

Predisposed rank from Memory:
1. Coconut Rum Porter
2. Peruvian Morning
3. Barleywine
4. Cassian Sunset
5. Scotch
6. Quad
7. Vanilla Bean Stout
8. Stout

Actual Pre-rank (upon edit)
1. Coconut Rum Porter
2. Peruvian Morning
3. Barleywine
4. Vanilla Bean Stout
5. Cassian Sunset
6. Scotch
7. Stout
8. Quad (not rated).

First pour is 2017 Stout and 2019 Vanilla Bean.
Vanilla Bean is a little sweeter though the vanilla is weak.
2017 Stout is roasty and very smooth, but maybe a touch flat, but to be expected at 3 years old.

Adding in 2018 Peruvian Morning next. Moved to weird mashup videos on youtube.
Coffee still hanging in, best so far.

Adding Cassian Sunset 2018. Cinnamon and Vanilla are muted from what I remember.
Peruvian has definately aged better.
As it warms, cinnamon and vanilla meld a bit more, but they give a sharp astringent finish.

Fresh glasses. Now pouring 2016 Scotch Ale, 2017 Barleywine and 2017 Quad.
Remnants of first 3 are combined as a "stout chaser" to balance the other beers.

Barleywine is nice: apples, brandy, fruit cake, grape, lots of oak the nose and late in the taste. Hearty.

LOOK: red/brown, off white head, good retention.
AROMA: spice, perfume, wood,
TASTE: black pepper, wood, bread, light hint of baking soda.
FEEL: medium to full body. impressive carbonation after 3 years for style.

4, 4.25, 4.25, 4.5, 4.25

peaty, smokey, smooth, magnificaent
4.5, 4.25, 4.75, 4.5, 4.5

Coconut Rum Porter.
rum and coconut are fantastic,
light body compared to most others tried, but medium at least.

Post Rank
1. Scotch, 4.5
2. Coconut Rum Porter, 4.45
3. Peruvian Morning, 4.4
4. Barleywine, 4.25
5. Quad , 4.1
6. Stout, 4.03
7. Cassian Sunset, 4.02
8. Vanilla Bean Stout, 3.95

Nov 19, 2019
4.15 by GOBLIN from Ohio on Nov 16, 2019
4.08 by Sammy from Canada (ON) on Nov 15, 2019
4 by MTKATL from Georgia on Nov 04, 2019
Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.99/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4
by GreesyFizeek from New York

This one pours a fairly dark black color, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like boozy vanilla, oak, bourbon, dark chocolate, and tobacco.

Like most CW stouts, this run a touch thin, but the flavor is just about right. There's a moderate amount of vanilla here, with some bitter oak and dark chocolate, and a touch of sweet bourbon. There's some bitter hops in here, almost comes off like dark tobacco type flavors along with the barrel and stout base.

This is medium bodied, a touch thin on the finish, and pretty creamy. It's not very boozy at all.

This isn't my favorite of their barrel series, but it's still certainly worth a look.

Nov 03, 2019
4.27 by Chilmer from Iowa on Nov 03, 2019
Photo of Pray_For_Mojo
4.26/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by Pray_For_Mojo from Colorado

Appearance: thin when poured; very similar to coffee in body and color. A bit thin for the style. Wonderfully bright - odd for the style. Dark ruby highlights, as if a mix of wine and coffee. Very little head with the thinnest collar. Legs when swirled, syrupy almost.

Aroma: I hate to say it, but generic bourbon BA stout. There's nothing wrong with the aroma - very well done - but there is not standout characteristics. Semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla. I can't determine if the vanilla is from the actual vanilla addition or from the bourbon and oak.

Flavor: vanilla and bourbon headline as you'd expect. The bourbon threatens to become overpowering and hot, but stops abruptly and mellows.

Mouthfeel: light-heavy, much heavier than suggested by its appearance.

Overall: well executed, but again, generic. This beer has all you'd expect, and no standout flaws, but there are no standout flavors. No "wow".

Nov 02, 2019
Photo of mngermanshepherd
4.08/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by mngermanshepherd from Minnesota

Pours a dark black coffee colour. Head goes away rather quickly, leaves a small ring. Taste is vanilla and coffee bean, leaves an espresso/chocolate coffee taste that lingers. Some carbonation.

Oct 25, 2019
Photo of Bshaw22
4.07/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
by Bshaw22 from Wisconsin

pours thick black with a little white head. I don't get a ton of vanilla on the noise. A little chocolate malt and touch of vanilla.
Flavor is roasty, bourbon, dark fruits up front and then vanilla on the finish. The finish is very nice.
MF is pretty thin which I like.
Pretty good beer.

Oct 14, 2019
4.16 by BirdsandHops from Oregon on Oct 07, 2019
4.41 by Cwarwick812 from Massachusetts on Oct 03, 2019
4.41 by BIGPOPPAS from New Jersey on Sep 22, 2019
Photo of zeff80
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
by zeff80 from Missouri

Bottle purchased in July 2018. Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, tan head of foam. It smelled of vanilla beans, chocolate, oak and bourbon. Sweet chocolate, toffee and toasty caramel with vanilla and a balanced booziness.

Sep 14, 2019
4.38 by TheGent from New Jersey on Sep 11, 2019
4.65 by Dougwillhike from New Jersey on Sep 02, 2019
4.5 by Dutchcraftbeergeek from Netherlands on Aug 26, 2019
4.35 by EdFed from Illinois on Aug 24, 2019
4.08 by captainkrad from New Jersey on Aug 24, 2019
4.49 by NolaHopHead from Louisiana on Aug 20, 2019
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Bean Stout from Central Waters Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 162 ratings