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

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BA SCORE
95
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612 Reviews
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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
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Reviews: 612 | Ratings: 2,254
Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.56/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a four-pack of 12 ounce bottles from my local Trig's supermarket. 2015 vintage. Poured from the bottle at about 60 degrees into a goblet.

L: Beautiful pour on this one. Deep ruddy brown color with visible carbonation that yields an inch-and-a-half off-white head that sticks around for a very long time and leaves substantial lacing on the glass.

S: Huge bouquet on this one. Lots of vanilla and caramel malt with some subtle black licorice and roasty malt undertone. Oatmeal notes, as well. Very sweet and inviting nose.

T: Vanilla and clear alcohol are instantly present with the caramel and roasted malt front. Rye bread notes are discernible as the flavor progresses, along with a touch of black licorice. The clear alcohol persists through the back, as do the vanilla and caramel malt undertones. The pervading sense is one of sweetness, though this beer is sublimely well-balanced.

F: Substantial body on this one. It's very creamy and slightly sticky, though certainly not what I would consider overtly syrupy. There is a hold to the finish, but it's pleasant and in no way oppressive.

O: This is an excellent example of the BBA barleywine style. It is expertly balanced, as the bourbon flavor never overpowers the underlying base. Central Waters continues to impress me with their limited releases. This is definitely one to seek out.

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Photo of kbwalters
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Warmed up some before pouring into tulip glass. Bottled on Jan 21st, 2014, consumed on 1/7/15.
Look = 4.75 Pours a deep mahogany color with red highlights and 2 fingers of thick off white head. Great lace and retention. Big time sediment, including big chucks. Usually a bigger negative but it seems to fit fine here.
Aroma = 4.5 Big sweet aroma at first, malty toffee and caramel, complimented by the bourbon and vanilla notes. Boozy.
Taste = 4.5 Big sweetness upfront and through the middle of the taste. Sweet malt toffee and caramel, a really good barelywine. Then come the bourbon! On the backend with deep notes of vanilla. The bourbon in the finish is the strongest I’ve ever come across. At first the tastes are really separated but after a few sips it all blends together very well.
Feel = 5.0 So velvety and smooth, thick and creamy. Very substantial mouthfeel.
Drinkability = 3.0 Wow, the bourbon is really overpowering at first. Combined with the big ABV, drinkability of this is low.
Overall = 4.4625 Crazy good barelywine combined nicely with significant bourbon profile. After it all starts to blend it really is something else.

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Photo of breadwinner
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Not a bad BA barleywine, though it lacks the depth of flavor and barrel richness the best examples provide, though I kinda liked the hoppy kick it provided too. Nose is the strength of this one, with rich vanilla tones coming out. Pretty cool to have a brew like this in small format bottles, but it doesn't quite keep up with similar small formats like BCBBW.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: rich dark brown ale, opaque; thick finger of head slimmed to a filmy collar

S: sweet malts and sugared fruits glazed in bourbon; dry wood vapors

T: dark dried fruits and whiskey - hints of dates, raisin, and fig; toffee and brown sugar sweetness; impressions of herb and earthy hops; there are suggestions of something like coffee and peat; almost a smoky quality, too

M: smooth, dense, slightly chewy, muted carbonation

O: a super American BBA barleywine, spot-on and full of flavor. Highly recommended.

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Photo of SonnyJay
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: very thin layer of head that quickly dissipated, leaving some lacing. Dark translucent amber

S: sweet caramel & toffee

T: sweet toffee up front giving way to a bitter finish that lingers for quite a while on the back palate

M: medium-to-full bodied; average carbonation for the style

O: quite nice, the interplay between the sweet aroma/initial flavors and the bitter finish makes this an interesting one. I'd recommend trying it

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Photo of Catracho5
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle poured into a Belgian tulip glass

A: Dark amber red, creamy vanilla head, lots of carbonation streaming up the side, head vanished, light comes through when held up, lots of lacing.

A: Very sweet, toffee, caramel, not getting much barrel on the nose, no alcohol, just a big load of candy sweetness, very aromatic.

T: Toffee, caramel sweetness up front, nice hint of bourbon barrel, then some bitterness, alcohol on the backend, very drinkable, bitterness lingers overcoming the sweet flavors and the bourbon, very nice.

M: Medium mouthfeel, not much carbonation, not dry, very nice mouthfeel.

O: I am not very experienced with barrel aged barley wines, having only had Sucaba but this is really good, very drinkable, has a nice sweet bourbon bitter balance that makes it quite enjoyable. I would definitely pick up some more but I don't get distribution and this was an extra in a trade, very good.

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Photo of richj1970
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter. No visible bottle date.

A: Pours a deep ruby tinted brown with one finger off white head with decent retention and leaving some nice sticky lacing.

S: Bourbon, caramel, toffee, raisin, and coconut.

T: Bourbon, caramel, and maple. Dates and raisins. A really nice balance of bourbon, sweet, spices, and hops.

M: Full bodied with average carbonation. Coats the tongue nicely and finishes with a slightly sweet note.

O: Exellent BA barleywine. In my top five for sure.

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Photo of nyyfanatic213
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Super dark out of the bottle, billowing tan head that slowly faded while clinging to the sides of the glass. A very smooth yet intense beer, and not exactly something that I would have frequently, for ABV, flavor, and cost reasons. This may as well have been carbonated whiskey. Seek it out if you like the style

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Photo of mabermud
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Look: Deep mahogany, reddish-brown body. Light brown, dense head. Nice curtains of fine lace.
Smell: Awesome rich butterscotch/toffee and vanilla...bourbon barrel. Background alcohol. Dark bread is sitting in the back.
Taste: Wow. Sweet. Vanilla and caramel. Bourbon barrel. Sweet bread.
Feel: Full...maybe a little syrupy.

Overall - Very good. Strong bourbon barrel. I will have it again.

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Photo of Czarkazm
3.97/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015 Vintage. Appearance in the glass is a very unattractive murky brown color with a thin khaki head. When held up to the light the beer transforms, displaying a very cloudy yet magnificent ruby red body. Caramel and toffee dominate the nose, dark fruits, booze, subtle barrel notes. Taste is extremely boozy, unbalanced. Seems like a beer that requires at least a half year to develop in the bottle. Getting the same toffee and dark fruits on the taste with minimal bourbon and vanilla. There is an earthy/musty bitter hop aftertaste. Need to track down another bottle to age and (hopefully) appreciate more.

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Photo of GOBLIN
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Absolutely fantastic ! Really, this is what fans of BA beers are looking for. Wish I would have had this around a month ago when it was -15 degrees . . . Warming. Been sipping this for an hour and fifteen minutes now.

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Photo of Sparty1224
3.99/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a Cigar City snifter. Bottled on 1/15/15, making this exactly 2 months old.

A: Pours a nice, dark mahogany. Turns a reddish-orange up to the light. Thin, off-white head rings the beer.

S: Caramel, butterscotch, pecan. Lots of fresh oak and bourbon.

T: Lots of caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, maple, oak. Very, very boozy and hot in the finish. Not like a bourbon heat, just pure alcohol.

M: Full. Good carbonation. Way imbalanced with the booze on this one. Very spicy and alcoholic on the finish.

O: Not sure if this was left in the barrels too long or what, but this thing is hot. Recently had BBS, and that was way more enjoyable and balanced compared to this. The heat just overshadows the base beer, that I think is otherwise pretty good. Nice, English-style Barleywine. Great nose on it. Just way to spicy and boozy on the finish.

Recommendation: Somewhat overhyped for me. Way better BA Barleywine options out there. Would try to get a hold of their Bourbon Barrel Stout or Cherry Stout instead. Those are fantastic.

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Photo of maedhros09
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Pours deep ruby amber mahogany with a couple fingers if head that settle to a film spicy caramel and dried fruit
Smell: Spicy caramel and acidic dark fruit with a hint of vanilla and char.
Taste: Sweetness dominates with moderate hops presence. Complex and spicy. Feel: Thick, tingly and warm, smooth
Overall: I was a little wary of the barrel aging, uncertain of how strong the bourbon flavors would be, but actually it came out as a traditional, nicely balanced and complex barleywine. The alcohol is definitely a big player here and is stronger than I prefer. Especially considering the price I would rather get a pack of SN Bigfoot, but this is a nice sipper.

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

2014 bottle poured on 3-7-15
Pours a caramel-red color with a tan head and lots of residue.
The aroma is all caramel and booze with hints of dark fruit and molasses. A hint of earthy hops in the background and a bit of spice.
The taste wallops you alongside the head. Even with a year on it, there's still a big bourbon boozy bite with caramel, vanilla and dark fruits following. Figs and dates. As it warms, hints of vanilla and oak and a bit of bitterness.
Full bodied and sticky.
A really good American Barleywine.

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Photo of ksimons
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 Vintage
A-a murky dark caramel color with some visible sediment and a thin layer of khaki head

S-dark fruits, bourbon soaked raisins, brown sugar, smells all get deeper as the beer warms

T-large bourbon presence with caramel malt, dark fruits, vanilla, and a light bitterness in the finish. Very well hidden alcohol.

M-medium to full body, sticky, light carbonation

Overall truly delicious, probably the best barleywine I have had

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Photo of jwc215
4.15/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 vintage - Poured into a tulip glass:

Pours slightly hazed light brown with a very well-retained creamy tan head. Lacing sticks.

The smell is of rich caramel/toffee, dates, figs, prunes, brown sugar and bourbon/wood.

The taste is of caramel with dates/figs/prunes. Booze and bourbon/oak stand out in the sharp finish.

It has a full-body. Black pepper/booze and dry wood linger on the palate.

This one is very young - the alcohol really stands out. It may take some time to mellow, though it is certainly enjoyable now. The aroma itself is simply wonderful!

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

A: Dark, ruby red. Light brown hints. Decent head that fades to a messy lacing.

S: Potent but not overpowering bourbon starts it off followed by molasses, caramel, toffee, raisins, dark fruits. Light hint of vanilla as the beer warms.

T: Starts off with big caramel, toffee and dark fruit and finishes off with bourbon, wood and vanilla. Definitely some earthy hops present. Bourbon is not overpowering which allows the base beer to shine, but blends very nicely.

M: Medium bodied, medium carbonation. Slight bitterness.

O: This is a very, very good BA Barleywine. The bourbon is not too overpowering, but blends insanely well with the base beer. Bourbon and vanilla become more prevalent as the beer warms. Top 5 BA BW for sure. Easier to acquire and cheaper than Sucaba, and is in a better format for when I want to have a single 12 oz instead of opening a 750 mL. Recommended!

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

Original rating from a fresh 2014 vintage, review is from same vinrage cellared on year. The beer pours very deep brown with a solid head. The aromas are of stale bread, dates, figs, sand, dry grass, and yeast. The flavor gives notes of stale bread, candied ginger, dates, figs, and clove. The mouthfeel is fairly full, but with an interal slimness. Overall I must say I prefered the fresh version and will leave my rating at that. However, aging produced interesting and worthy flavor, so if you buy four pack, set at least one aside.

Update on 2015 for completeness - the new 2015 is a bit more hoppy and assertive than the 2014. Still a gorgeous and complex beer, and I am very excited about aging potential.

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Photo of zoober911
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L - Pours a coppery golden brown. Little to no head.

S - The caramel is tremendous. Caramel, toffee. Dark fruits. Slight bourbon.

T - Silky caramel. Some dark fruit. As these slowly fade you're hit with bourbon on the tail end. Lots of sweet bourbon.

F - Feel is as expected with the style. Carb is spot on.

O - Overall this is awesome. Easily on par with Firestone's Abacus...easily. And much more accessible. I will pick up more before it's gone this season, and this will be my go to for the style.

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Photo of SteveB24
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very solid beer, sweet but not overwhelmingly so, very complex, has all the delicious flavors one would except from a fine barley wine such as Toffee, Dates, and vanilla. it is just a tad on the boozy side, i think a year on it would go a long way. overall this was a very good beer and i'd definitely recommend it to fans of the style.

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Photo of scream
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 Release bought today. I had 1st had this last year and was waiting for this years release. Pour some into a snifter, put your feet up in your favorite chair and just enjoy. It does not get better than this in my experience. Not for the faint of heart, but oh so good on a winter's evening.

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Photo of Bshaw22
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is solid.
Lots of bourbon Carmel and some bitterness on the taste.
Nose is bourbon and Carmel.
This is a decimate sipper but so enjoyable. One of the best barleywines I've ever had.

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Photo of SanFranJake
4.43/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had this today (2014 version) after having a 2014 Sucaba last night...CW BBA BW is just as good. Just wish I had access to this as easy as Sucaba is.
But unfortunately I have to trade for this.
Worth the trade though

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Photo of Tilley4
3.17/5  rDev -25.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Boozy and hot... Potential is here but this is like barrel aged rubbing alcohol... Perhaps it's too young? Going against the grain here and giving this one a very mediocre OK...

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Photo of martyl1000
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I'm having this at midnight, April 3, 2013. I have four 4-packs I bought last December, sitting in storage at 60 deg. for 4 months.

And either I didn't recognize its greatness when it was new, or this little bit of age made this stuff golden. I'm this close to going back downstairs for another one. Aargh--

Good thing I've got a Weyerbacher Insanity in the fridge . . .
---
UPDATE
This is a "2013", drinking it 11-21-2013, so eleven months of aging.

A clear reddish-caramel in a tulip glass, with very little white head even with an aggressive pour (hence the 11.5% alcohol). Lacing is sparse, but with serious stick-to-it-iveness and dripping legs down the glass.

How I miss this aroma. Brings me right back to snowy April of last year. Bourbon in the nose seems nicely muted compared to my memory of it. I remember the bourbon being pronounced in the aroma. The vanilla, too. Oak and char and melted butter. Simple syrup. Brown sugar and raisin. Yeah, baby.

In the mouth the aging is instantly evident, with the hop bitterness knocked way back (though there's still a ghostly, earthy pine bitterness on the back-end, for sure). The flavor is wonderfully round: soft sugar cookie, ice-cream-caramel swirl, fig and prune, then the bourbon. I put more in the glass, and pie crust fills my nostrils. Plus Juicy Fruit Gum and marshmallow. It's massively toffee sweet, and yet the mild hops and tannins from the oak--not to mention the brightness of the still-respectable boozey ABV--bring balance. It's so huge, it drinks like Dogfish Head 120 minute.

Despite a fairly significant carbonation, the smoothness makes me want to cry. It gives the feel of a super-syrupy moscato di asti. Definitely more an English Barleywine profile, at least after the aging. How astonishing to experience true beer nirvana. I feel like I did two years ago sipping a JW Lees Harvest Ale for the first time.

CW's detractors denounce them as a one-trick (bourbon barrel) pony. Not only is this wrong (duh, Illumination? Exodus? La Petite Mort?). But even if true, this is bourbon-barrel aging at its very best. The barrel aging doesn't dominate, it elevates this brew. I'm looking forward to opening a cellared CW Bourbon Barrel Stout to compare it to their non-barrel aged Brewhouse Coffee Stout I like so much.
----
10/11/14
Ok, so the look of this pour makes me immediately worry this beer has gone bad in the cellar. It's about 22 months of cellar aging, now. And the physical appearance is one of cloudy gelatin, thick and murky, like badly-stirred Knox Blocks.

But the aroma. My God. It makes me want to become a bourbon drinker.

Then, holy bejeezums, the flavor in the mouth. If this was a perfect 5.0 a year ago, it's now punched through the ratings ceiling. What I hadn't perceived before was the red wine tartness, which helps push the butterscotch sweetness skyward.

I'm grinning like a psych ward inmate on chocolate pudding day that I have ten more bottles in the basement.

Heck, yeah.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 612 ratings.
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