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

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine

Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Aged for 1 year in used bourbon barrels.

Added by Atron67 on 03-02-2008

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Reviews: 617 | Ratings: 2,269
Photo of EMH73
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a medium brown with virtually no head. Smells of malts, bourbon, toffee, caramel and vanilla. Taste follows the nose only the flavors really pop as the beer warms. The beer finishes with a little bitterness and the alcohol is noticeable. Medium bodied and lightly carbonated and a smooth mouth feel. Excellent beer.

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Photo of Ozzylizard
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Received from @Josholson666 in NBS BIF #4 –what a great BA!
Bottle dated 2016at 42 degrees into a hand washed and dried JK snifter
Aroma – brown sugar, light malt - not picking up any bourbon or vanillin.
Head small (Maximum two cm, aggressive pour), light brown, frothy, diminishing to an irregular three to five mm ring and thin partial layer
Lacing – a couple of small islands of tiny bubbles hanging on the side of the glass
Body – dark brown, cloudy
Flavor – begins sweet but not cloying, toasted malt, ends with some alcohol and a little bitterness; no distinct hops and no diacetyl; not picking up either bourbon or barrel
Palate – medium, creamy, soft carbonation

Josh is switching me to a barley wine fanatic! This is the third excellent one from his BIF box!

Appearance 3.5, Aroma 4.25, Flavor 4.5, Palate 5, Overall 4.

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Photo of 911CROFT
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

355ml bottle into a Snifter. Paid £5.50 for a single bottle.
2016 vintage.

Pours an opaque, very dark, crimson-brown body, which transforms to a bright beautiful ruby when held to the light, in turn allowing plenty of fine carbonation to be observed. A dense, foamy, one-finger in height, off-white head with excellent retention slowly reduces to a thin film and collar, leaving behind ample amounts of sticky, soapy lace.

The relatively simple nose predominantly comprises of toasted malts, caramel, toffee and faint aromas of dark stone fruit. Traces of vanilla and bourbon-like alcohol become perceptible towards the back end. Taste roughly follows suit, but as a more intense and complex version. Lightly sweet caramel and toffee profiles lead alongside an abundance of rich and robust warm toasted malts. Mid palate, semi-sweet, juicy raisin-like dark fruits are joined by plenty of fleshy cherry, red berries and vanilla, before hints of darker, drier roasted malts and lightly citric hops enter to provide well-balanced bitterness. Medium to full-bodied, carbonation feels lower and softer in the mouth than expected from its visibly lively appearance, pleasingly resulting in a smooth, slick and rich texture despite being a little thinner than ideal. The beers extensive bourbon barreling becomes evident towards the back end. Primarily adding a bite of warming alcohol, (that although easily perceptible, is not fully representative of the 11.5% ABV) but also some astringent notes of oak, earth, leather and red grape skins, finishing dry and bittersweet, leaving traces of vanilla to linger on the palate.

Overall this is an excellent beer. Smooth, rich and indulgent, it is undoubtedly well crafted. The bourbon barreling integrates flawlessly with the Barleywines robust, bittersweet flavour profile, adding complexity and interest without overshadowing the base. Ultimately this is a beer easily worthy of sipping and savouring. Recommended.

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Photo of Masonz223
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Smell: sugar coverd rasins figs brown sugar toasted malt
Taste: vanilla Chared oak rasin plum figs toffe burnt brown sugar coverd walnuts also some hop biterness.
Feel: medium smooth mouthfeel dry in the finish.
Overall: a nice sweetness that's balanced out nicely with great barrel notes lots of Chared oak and burnt flavor. the sweetness could come through a little more in my opinion but still an outstanding beer!

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Photo of peensteen
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

chestnut brown colour, one finger of off white head, some lace. Smell is of bourbon, sticky toffee, caramel and oak, vanilla with a rich malt and buttered toffee. Taste starts rich and malty, oak and butterscotch with caramel, vanilla and toffee, bourbon throughout with a touch of alcohol heat into the aftertaste, sweet finish and aftertaste. Lightly carbonated, medium body. Simply outstanding, very drinkable and worth repeat visits to.

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Photo of Immortale25
4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a teku pint. Appears to be some numbers on the bottleneck, but they're smudged.

A- Pours a light brown color with a 1/2 inch tan head that retains well before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a mostly full sheet of surface foam. Resilient lacing leaves a broken ring behind.

S- Rich boozy aroma of brown sugar, caramel and vanilla. Quite bourbon-forward with the heat rising off the bouquet.

T- Excellent bourbon character with lots of marshmallow, more vanilla and more caramel coming through along with a nice tannic, woody finish. Heat on the back end but only slightly so. Man this is so tasty and smooth but I've got to go slow since this is a hefty 11.5%. Also a nice pecan nuttiness in the aftertaste.

M- Velvety smooth with medium-low carbonation and a fullish body.

O- If it has the words "Central Waters" and "Barrel" on the label, you know it's gonna be fantastic (unless there are also the words "Peruvian" and "Morning" on the same label but I know nothing about that from firsthand experience). Anyways, expectations met and exceeded as usual. Definitely very bourbon-heavy with some heat, but welcomed all the same. Cheers!

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Photo of frozyn
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A beautiful mahogany color with a good sized white head that falls to a thin ring. Slight lacing.

Bourbon sweetness hits the nose prominently, but not harshly.

Flavor follows the nose. The bourbon is a wonderfully mellow bourbon, not biting, that melds well with the overall barleywine notes. Caramel evolves as the beer warms along with a slight vanilla, as well as some great plum notes.

A fantastic feel for a barleywine -- very smooth, nicely chewy full body.

Really great beer. I originally rated lower on taste and overall, but as the beer warmed, the flavor profile expanded to something incredibly enjoyable. Wish I had more to try over time!

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Photo of metter98
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is very hazy dark brownish amber in color. It poured with a quarter finger high dense beige head that died down, leaving some webs of bubbles down the sides of the glass, a collar around the edge, and delicate lacing on the surface.
S: Moderate to strong aromas of oaky vanilla are present in the nose from the bourbon barrel aging.
T: The taste has flavors of bourbon, oak, and vanilla along with underlying notes of caramel malts. A bit of alcohol (separate from the bourbon) is also noticeable.
M: It feels full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation along with some warming from the alcohol.
O: The taste of this beer has an excellent balance between the bourbon and the underlying barleywine. It definitely tastes strong—making it a slow sipper—but the alcohol doesn't really detract from the taste. The smell is really nice if you like the vanilla associated with bourbon barrels.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of FBarber
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Feb. 2016 batch.

Pours a deep crisp ruby hue. Momentarily there was a thin off white head that dissipated to just a thin ring of off-white foam around the outside of the beer. Lots of yeast floating around in this - like an abnormally high enough amount that I noticed it.

Smell has a pungent aroma of bourbon and oak. This smells hot. Beyond that, there are some toffee and caramel aromas followed by tons of dark fruits - dried plums, dates, overly ripe cherries. Just lovely.

Taste initially is just tons of bourbon and oak. As that wears off, the dark fruit notes really shine through with lots of overly ripe cherries, plums, dates and raisins. Just a tinge of vanilla provides some sweetness and there is a slight bitterness on the finish that is fleeting and leaves a mellow barrel flavor lingering on the tongue.

Medium carbonation provides a slight tingle on the tongue initially. You get an immediate warming sensation within the first couple sips. This is an 11.5%, but it feels like you're drinking some bourbon. Smooth, buttery, slight sweetness coats the mouth but the bitter finish quickly cuts it.

Overall this is a great barrel aged barley wine. However, I think it would be better with some age on it. Fresh its a bit hop and the barrel sort of overpowers the barley wine's really outstanding flavors. I'll be aging the other three I have and revisiting them in the fall/winter.

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Photo of FriedSlug
4.21/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Deep reddish caramel color with an off white to light tan head. The aroma is sweet and boozy with malt, caramel, toffee, vanilla, oak and bourbon. The taste is amazing with vanilla, oak, coconut, bourbon, and some dark fruits. The finish is bitter and a bit hot but nice. This is a really tasty beer.

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Photo of robroc
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle purchased at AJ's Beer Warehouse in Rochester, NY, and aged for a year. This was great. The barrel taste is prominent, but it's nicely balanced. Comparable to Bourbon County. The 2016 release came in right after I drank this, and I bought a few 4-packs. The first bottle of the new batch I had I wouldn't rate this highly, but I expect it will improve with age.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2016 vintage served fresh and cold in a snifter

Appearance: classy bottle label, poured a deep ruby color with a nice tan head that sank fairly quickly

Nose: totally Barrel forward, bourbon, caramel, coconut, roasty, toasted oak, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, delicious candy sweetness

Taste: chewy mouthfeel, boozy up front with a medicinal quality and some significant warming action, Barrel character, nutty with some hot boozyness going on, the base beer is overpowered by the barrel, tastY if you like Bourbon and barrel characters

Overall: weirdly I need the barrel to settle down a bit and let the barleywine shine through. I think this one will age out well but time will tell.

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Photo of Turbo
3/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

If you like Bourbon, this is for you. I didn't consider this a beer. I love IPA's, pale ales, lagers, but this.... However, based on the ratings below, many love it. I just didn't like it at all.

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Photo of matt_duthie
4.27/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 Vintage
L: Very nice looking on the pour; copper-red and transluscent. One finger of off-white/tan head leaving a ring and thin film of head. Spotty lacing as it goes down.
S: Sweet toffee and caramel, bready, with lots of dark fruit, raisins figs and cherry, and a whiff of bourbon and vanilla. Only the faintest earthy hop presence. Comes across here to me as very English.... (later on)The hoppiness and booze come through more as I get further into the bottle.
T: Oh but it's a lot more bitter than the aroma suggested. Not like over-the-top American BW's, still quite balanced. Starts with the vanilla and bourbon, a little smoky/burnt, then the piney/earthy hops all but overwhelm the dark fruits, and the bitterness lingers as the toasted breadiness comes through. Sweetness increases as it warms(from basement temp) and gets even more well-rounded.
F: Definitely full-bodied, low to medium carbonation that works well with this beer. Almost creamy smooth. Very drinkable and pleasant feel.
O: Very enjoyable and well done American Barleywine. The price-point is solid as well. I'll be picking up more if I come across it again (not in MI, unfortunately, hint hint Central Waters...)

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Photo of bbtkd
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Central Waters Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine Ale, 11.5% ABV, unknown IBU but I find it bitter so I would guess it is somewhere north of 50. Pours thin, brown, with 1.5 fingers of off-white head, real decent lacing. Nose is bourbon and "sweetness", taste is bourbon and burnt malt, some sweetness, with a bitter finish. Overall, I prefer their BBS, which is one of my favorites. I will give this another chance as I have three more I am cellaring, and it is my first barleywine.

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Photo of TheBrosy
4.13/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from fresh growler into pint glass. 2016 vintage.

Appearance: Copper-brown, opaque. Pours with a nice tan head that dissipates slowly.

Smell: Alcohol smell gut-punch. Earthy hop smell and a caramel aroma can be detected.

Taste: Only slight hop flavor, perhaps less so than style dictates. The strong alcohol smelt is well balanced with the caramel and toasted bread malt flavor.

Mouthful: Rich body, fairly stick.

Overall: A very interesting American barleywine. Seemed to be slightly under-hopped and a bit too 'boozy'. Very good if not exceptional barleywine.

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Photo of branddetroit
4.64/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a goblet. 2016 Bottling.

Look: Rich brown with a reddish hue. Small amount of khaki head that went away fairly quickly.

Smell: Very strong sweet caramel/toffee smell, smelled amazing on the pour.

Taste: Lots of caramel up front with a smokey, oak finish on the back that fades away and leaves the sweet caramel as an after taste.

Feel: Rich, sticky mouth feel. Sweet but not syrupy. Moderate carbonation. A bit boozy. Strong barrel notes linger.

Overall I really enjoyed this barleywine. Its a long sipper, but the mix of sweetness and booziness is the perfect dessert.

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Photo of Mateo2699
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is a darker beige/brown, almost maroon. Darker red hue in the light. Nice khaki colored ring of head to compliment it.

Smell is pretty robust with bourbon, oak, wood, and nice malty sweetness. Vanilla and toffee comes through as well. Big and boozy, you can tell the taste is gonna have to be the same.

Similar to the nose, the taste is pretty oak and bourbon foward. Plenty of smoke and toffee goes along with it. Getting some caramel notes, butterscotch, mixed with a hint of vanilla. Nice bourbon and boozy oak in the back end.

Mouthfeel is very filled bodied. Robust, sweet, boozy and rich.

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Photo of woemad
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle courtesy of the largesse of @Ri0. My first Central Waters beer, and it’s a big one. 2016 vintage.

Poured into a River City snifter, this was a dark, muddy, russet sort of color, taking on more of a rubyish hue when held up to light. Modest, sudsy beige colored head. Not a huge head, which wasn’t surprising, given the beer’s potency, but what there was showed surprising staying power once it receded to a foamy collar. Beer neglige-type lace.

Boozy and sweet aroma, initially, more or less as I expected. As it warmed, I picked out elements of caramel and dark fruit in addition to the bourbon and oak notes present from the start. There’s some more bready malts, too. While more complex than some of the style I have known, the most overriding sense given off by the aroma is that of a big, boozy barrel aged beer, which is, after all, what it is.

Whoa! This may be a 2016 vintage, but, damn, it’s smooove. I was expecting an alcoholically hot beer. That’s there, to be sure, but it’s behind a curtain of more subtly sweet and smoky flavors (one gets the feeling it’s barely being held in check, in fact). The booze and oakiness is most prominent at the finish, but not to the point where it’s overwhelming. This might not be the case if it were in a 22oz format, so Central Waters should be applauded for doing more with less, in that regard (now that’s pretty much the only way the word less could appear in the context of this beer).

Full bodied, with a rich, coating mouthfeel.

Tasty, yet in a very real sense, on the verge of being undrinkable, and would be if just a tad less mellow. I’d love to sock some of this away and revisit it on a yearly basis.

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Photo of bnes09
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Deep amber color. Big boozy bourbon and oak aroma, smooth with a mild smoke quality. Flavor is well balanced between the sweet, caramel and dark fruit malt and pungent, earthy, veggie like hops. Bourbon is there though less pronounced than in the nose thanks to the hops. Full bodied. Sticky, syrupy feel. Descent carbonation.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 bottle, 12 ounce. Poured into a snifter. Pulled it from the fridge and let it warm to about 60 degrees.

A- Raisin-colored in the glass with a red wine hue when placed to light. Frothy khaki head. Pools and islets of lace and a heavy film over the body. On point. 5

S- It's hot. Boozy. Has hints of caramel and dark fruit. Exceptionally blasé and I'm surprised but not deterred. 2.5

T- Still getting booze and it's quite a big component of the flavor. Sweet and gooey caramel. Grassy and earthy with hop flavor. Hints of raisin and dark fruit but they seem a tad timid. Becomes more butterscotch and toffee-like eventually. Don't get a ton in terms of definitive bourbon character but that's okay. 4

M- I'll reiterate the booziness. And the caramel sweetness. Spicy, earthy hop feel. Full-bodied, sweet and rich overall. 4

This is good but still a bit young and fresh. I'd age this some time to really get the best of it. I'm also curious about the barrel-aging here as this doesn't show a lot of bourbon flavors.

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Photo of foundersasap
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pouts a beautiful mahogany hue with one finger head that dissipates over time leaving no sign of carbonation. Looking very much like a shot of liquor, a nice sophisticated look. Initial taste is quite sweet, fig, toffee, butterscotch with just a hint of bourbon. As it warmed though the profile changed 180 becoming very bourbon forward with sweetness diminishing. This was an enjoyable, warming sipper. I took an hour and a half to fully enjoy this fantastic beer.

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Photo of Umdrunner
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured hazy deep copper/brown with one finger off white head that dissapeared quickly with light lacing. Scent was vanilla, caramel, toffee with subtle boozy bourbon. Flavor was very rich; Toffee, vanilla, caramel, a little charred oak and nice bourbon finish. Carbonation level was moderate and really kept the beer active in my mouth. Great beer!

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Photo of larryarms847
4.41/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a mahogany reddish brown with a finger of surprisingly active carbonation.

Caramel, toast, toffee, pine, oak, and a lot of bourbon sweetness.

Caramel, vanilla, toasted malt, and bourbon envelopes heavy hand of piney hops.

Medium-heavy bodied, low-medium carbonation, subtle sweetness, hop forward bitterness, and some warming barrel notes.

Overall, I've heard excellent things from this beer and haven't been fortunate to come across it until this year, but boy am I glad I did! I was not anticipating such a heavy hand of hops but the hop bitterness does not overpower the beer and it is certainly deserving of the hype. CW's barrel aged series is superb, other breweries, take note!

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Photo of Juicer
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

L: Translucent orange mahogany color. Some tiny bubbles formed after pouring, quickly dissipated to no head
S: Sweet caramel licorice aroma
T: Some nice Bourbon heat plus I'm tasting sticky hops; not sweet at all
F: sticky, resiny
O: pretty darn tasty, warming up nicely. I'm going to sit on the next bottle to see if the bourbon mellows out a bit.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 2,269 ratings.
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