Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
95
world-class
612 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
612
Ratings:
2,254
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
17.29%
 
 
Wants:
715
Gots:
718
For Trade:
92
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 612 | Ratings: 2,254
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!

 658 characters

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

 950 characters

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.

 1,402 characters

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.

 300 characters

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.

 368 characters

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.

 689 characters

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.

 199 characters

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...)

 1,203 characters

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.

 494 characters

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.

 574 characters

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.

 599 characters

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.

 602 characters

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.

 1,702 characters

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.

 331 characters

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.

 1,024 characters

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.

 465 characters

Photo of Sconnie25
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased a bottle of this from the Cellar 70 in Stevens Point, WI. Bourbon Barrel Barleywine pours a dark copper hue with a moderate head and a nice lacing. The aroma has hints of bourbon, malt, caramel and toffee. The flavor is very strong yet smooth with the caramel and toffee malt mixing with the bourbon. The finish warms as it goes down. This is a fantastic beer.

 372 characters

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!

 348 characters

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!

 694 characters

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.

 350 characters

Photo of Scott17taylor
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark ruby red with minimal head. Great lacing throughout.
Smells very bourbon forward. Lots of oak with toffee and fig.
Tastes very well balanced between bourbon character and barleywine. I get lots of butterscotch candy and darkfruit with some bourbon. Finishes slightly dry leaving you wanting another drink.
Mouthfeel is medium doesn't really cost the mouth but does fill it with flavor.
Overall definitely pick this up. I don't feel it can be beat as a barrel aged barleywine at $14 a 4 pack.

 503 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.71/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

2016 Vintage Bottle: Pours blood red to brown color with a huge thick foamy 2 finger head that was full of tiny bubbles and dissipated very slowly, leaving outstanding foamy lacing rings as it went down, allowing the thick lacing to cling to the sides and coat the glass. A great looking pour for a barleywine.

Smells of caramel, toffee, maple syrup, tobacco, brown sugar, port wine, oak barrels, fruity candy, orange peel, pear, vanilla, candied sugar, light bourbon, sweet malt and a very dynamic array of sweetness combined with barrel influences which are hard to pin down, and then wet tobacco and leather. The nose is spectacular in its complexities while letting some booze sneak through and play a nice part of the experience. Seems like some citrus hops pop up now and again, almost like the hops add balance and play the part of the malt in an IPA. The aroma is outstanding and the best part of this wonderful brew.

Tastes similar to the nose with bourbon and sweet malt leading the way, followed by a wave of sweetness including toffee, caramel, brown sugar, oak barrels, merlot, fruity candy, rum or booze soaked caramel malts, dark fruits, tobacco, vanilla and a bunch of rotting fruit like plum, raisin, cherry, brown pear, fig, and then some sherry or port wine. The alcohol is minor, maple syrup is a constant throughout and there is some hoppy citrus bitterness, but the brew just evolves and gets better and better as it warms. The sweet complexities are bordering on sensory overload as the beer moves from sweet to oaky to boozy to malty, seemingly from sip to sip.

Mouthfeel is very creamy, buttery and slick, with very mellow carbonation, a medium, chewy body, a slight bitterness, a mild alcohol burn and then a finish that is sweet, malty and a mix of bourbon, oak, peat moss and dark fruit that is starting to rot. Chewy like a soup, the sweetness is not cloying as the barrel aging adds so much flavor that it hits your senses with vanilla, oak, dry grass, grapefruit and toffee or syrup. Confusing in a very good and enjoyable way.

This is one of the most delicious barleywines I've ever had, I'm pretty sure the best American Barleywine to date. It's easier to drink than it should be at 11.5% ABV able and less syrupy than most. Rich, malty and full of flavor, this gets better as it warms and will certainly age well. I look forward to having an aged bottle.

3/26/16: Had a second bottle from the 4 pack and it was just as good in every way. Can't wait to try one aged with 6 months on it, which hopefully will make it better.

 2,565 characters

Photo of seedyone
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC.

Boom! There it is!

Hazy deep cooper tone with sligt head & descernable lacing portends a full flavored, intense pint.

Taste is charred oak, vanilla & toasted barley leading the way.

Texture is superlative.

If it wasn't for the overcharring, This would be way up there on m barleywine list.

But, since I'm super fussy barleywine -wise, give this a try. It's pretty damn good.

 412 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.24/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle, 2016 vintage poured into a snifter

A- pours a deep amber-ruby color with a small foamy off-white head that reduces to a ring around the edge of the glass

S- aroma is quite bourbon-forward up front with plenty of spicy bourbon, as well as wet oak, vanilla, toffee & caramel. Undertones of black cherry, fig & amaretto

T- spicy bourbon immediately hits up front with plenty of barrel character adding flavors of caramel, butterscotch, toasted coconut & vanilla. The finish brings sweetness of fig & date, with a linger of more bourbon and caramel

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel that turns into a creamy finish with some alcohol heat on the linger

O- plenty of barrel character compliments the base beer well, this should only get better with age, as the bourbon heat dies down a bit

 833 characters

Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.41/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a flute glass.

Appearance: Deep mahogany color with med bubbles, head is off-white settling quick after one sip.

Smell: Nice butterscotch scent with notes of whiskey and toffee.

Taste: Complex brew, Malta are evident but offset withSweet caramel and heavy whiskey notes.

Mouth: Truly f'n sticky. Beer is all over the place with its medium bubbles.

Overall: First time I had this and little pricey but consider how much you spend for some 22oz bombers this is actually a steal. In New York roughly 20 bucks a four pack.

 538 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 612 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe