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: 624 | Ratings: 2,294
Photo of StoneTSR
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

APPEARANCE: Typical mahogany color for a Barleywine with a surprisingly nice head of about a full finger. Unlike some others who have reviewed this beer here, the head hung in there for a while. The lacing was also quite nice.

SMELL: Very complex and delicious smeller with cherry, vanilla and wood leading the way. Some caramel and a touch of bread were also present.

TASTE: Everything from the nose is here in the taste as well. The cherry is dominant along with vanilla and wood. Adding to the caramel and bread is a little chocolate. The one thing missing from a typical Barleywine here is banana. It may be that the bourbon barrels overwhelm it, and either way, it doesn't need it, just a note that it isn't there as I expected it to be. The beer is delicious.

MOUTHFEEL: Like the smell and taste, the mouthfeel is very complex as well. While it starts out sweet, the hops in the middle create a small pucker of bitterness and the beer dries throughout each sip.

OVERALL: With all the flavors here it would have been easy to allow one to take over and tip the balance, but at no point does this delicious masterpiece go too far in any direction. Beer Advocate encourages reviewers only to use 5s when a beer is truly exceptional - and this is one of those cases.

EDIT: Not changing the above review at all, but adding notes for the 18 month-old bottle I cracked:

Appearance is pretty much the same. There is a ton more chocolate on the nose to me now (or I missed it last time), either way, this would be a 5 on smell now as opposed to the original 4.5 I gave it. Taste is still a five, the chocolate is more pronounced and that banana that seemed to be missing is lingering in the background now. There isn't much hop bitterness and ZERO pucker now, mouthfeel would probably remain the same. Overall, though, after 18 months, this is a better beer. I wouldn't wait much longer on this one, it's close to perfect beer.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Joe for sharing this. What a nice treat! Review from notes on 6/12/10.

Deep garnet with lovely clarity in the light. Off-white head that lasted throughout most of the experience. Bourbon wafts through the air as it's being poured. Oh the luxury! Oak, rum, vanilla, hint of toasted nuts, and figs fill my nares and makes my mouth water. Delicious caramel, vanilla, and a touch of cocoa makes for an immediate loving of bourbon aged barleywines. Followed by toffee, black currants, and a touch of berry. Nicely full bodied and smooth carbonation. Out of this world.

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Photo of hu5om
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

split 12 oz in 2 6oz tasters with newk340
a- translucent rosy amber, little foam

s- wood, smoky, ripe dark plum, slight heat.

t- bourbon smokiness, ripe, ripe fruit, a bit of heat with sweet malts lingering

m- low/med. carbonation. active boozy tingle on the palate, but not as much as i'd expect with the abv as it is. a gorgeous lingering sweet smokiness.

d- any time, any place, i'll drink this. i traded away way too much, but i hope everyone is enjoying it. god knows i did. definitely belongs in the top 100. it's in my top 10 easily. yum. super delic. call your sconsin ba's and get yourself some!

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Photo of maximum12
4.79/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to ncbvc for sending this little gem along as an extra in a trade. It's extras like this that make opening every box that lands on the front stoop almost as good as a six-year old's Christmas morning.

This brew is light in the glow of the monitor, almost IPA light. Smell is overwhelmingly alcohol & bourbon, putting me immediately on the list for a nose-hair transplant.

Taste is orgasmic. The bourbon is riding herd on this beer but not drowning out the rest of the band or blowing out the amp (to mix metaphors rather generously). The dark fruits in the barleywine, the apparent alcohol, the dry tartness, the need to take another sip, this rocks. This might be my first barrel-aged barleywine, & if this is representative of this rather rare genre, I'm going to be seeking out a lot more of them.

Find this. Drink this. Great beer.

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Photo of ncketchum
4.79/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Duvel tulip, 2012 vintage

A - pours a murky reddish brown with minimal head

S - bourbon, vanilla, caramel, not too boozy, not too sweet.

T - wow, lots of the bourbon up front, however, very well-balanced with vanilla and caramel as in the nose.

M - thick, good amount of carbonation, definitely some alcohol burn but not too much like in some barleywines I've had.

O - Awesome. The time of the year when this and its stout counterpart come out make me happy I live in Wisconsin. Definitely world class in my book.

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Photo of cptnspeed1
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Review based on a 2010 bottle, poured into a Central Waters tulip. I will say before I start, if this were based on the 2009, it would be a perfect 5.0.

A: A beautiful mahogany color with about a 3/4 inch off white head. Lacing is very present throughout the glass.

S: Lots of butterscotch and caramelized sugar. The bourbon lends some vanilla notes as well as a slight booziness.

T: This is what a bourbon barrel barleywine should taste like. Everything is there, caramelized sugar, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla, oak, a touch of bittering hops, just a flavor explosion.

M: This is where the 2009 stands out big from the 2010. The 2010 has a slight hotness that will likely fade with age, but is currently present. Otherwise, it is very smooth and fairly thick and coating.

O: Easily the best bargain in barrel aged beer (alliteration bonus points?). If it was available all year, I'd probably buy two 4-packs a month. A strong showing from the flagship beer of one of the best breweries around.

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Photo of lurpy1
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The pour is a funky murky amber. No head, but a depth to it that screams "drink me". Spectacular aroma of bourbon, caramel, and sugar. Taste is a similar line, with more of a fruity vibe (not that it's a bad thing), with raisins and a little bit of apricot.

Mouthfeel is simply hit out of the park. Thick, sticky. I'll gargle with this stuff, thanks.

One of the best beers I've had. If King Henry is a clear cut above this...I really gotta try King Henry.

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Photo of drgonzo3705
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A: A very deep amber color with little head off the pour but retains a thin ring around the edge of the glass.

S: Mmmm Bourbon. Very big bourbon nose, but not completely overwhelming. Sweet maltiness and a touch of oak really bring these together to make a nice nose.
T: Bourbon rides on top of a big wave of malt. Just slight hints of oak and some dark fruits tie this together very nicely.

M: Thick and chewy. A good amount of carbonation and a touch of hops.

D: Despite the mystery ABV on this beer its very nice to drink on. I'm not going to be pounding these, but I would definitely drink this all night long.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

In the glass, this barrel-aged beauty appears as lightly veiled ruby/amber. An inch of lemon-cream colored head settles down quickly to a thin film.

The smell is a bourbon lover's delight. The bourbon, oak and vanilla notes come through clean and clear (unlike in an imperial stout where coffee and chocolate notes can reshape the smell of the barrel). The only supplement is a strong caramel base that smells as sweet as a bear claw pastry.

The mouthfeel is appropriately full with enough carbonation to provide just a bit of tang.

The flavor is bourbon forward as expected, but the flavors are well-rounded, preventing the alcohol from overwhelming. Don't get me wrong, this is a very big beer. But the vanilla and caramel notes help moderate the alcohol in such a way that the hop bitterness is given room to perform. As it warms, some dark fruit flavors emerge along with just a slight citric tang from the hops. The finish has a lot of bourbon warmth, but the prolonged hop fade is given equal billing.

Wonderfully complex, this beer rewards repeat visits by revealing new depth with every sip. May be my favorite barleywine.

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Photo of JRdaSconnie
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

P: 2012 edition, 12oz bottle from 4pk purchased at Trigs Cellar 70 in Eagle River, WI. From fridge to big snifter. Started cold and sampled as it warmed. First try of this one.

A: Beautiful rusty brown pour with tan 1/2 finger head. Head drops quickly to thin ring. Definately has some legs on it.

S: Little hit of eye-watering alcohol first then all delicious caramel malt. Maybe a hint of hops? But yep, lots of tasty, tasty alcohol.

T: Some dark caramel malt first. Booze. Not sure on the whole figgy/dark fruit thing, maybe. Bourbon barrel for sure.

M: Luscious, velvety but cut with alcohol too. Mild carbonation with a little prickle mid tongue. Little alcohol heat.

O: Wow, I'm a BW fan and love barrel beers. 5's are very tempting. I like the base Kosmyk Charlie's Catastrophe Ale and barrelizing it is just awesome. Might be too boozy for some, but high on my totem pole.

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Photo of DIM
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Well, I loved the non-BA version (Y2k), I can't wait to try this one. Thanks, abents, for the chance! 2008 version.

a: Looks exactly the same to me.

s: Tobacco and bourbony vanilla combine with brown sugar and mellow dark fruits. Great balance here.

t: Sweet, oaky brown sugar followed by toffee and bourbon. The finish is tobacco and a hint of piny hops. Beautiful balance here. I haven't tried many, but this is the best barrel aged b-wine I've had.

m: Gentle carbonation and a long, lovely, piny and slightly sweet tobacco finish.

d: It's been a long time since I've been so sad to see an empty glass. This was just spectacular. I need more from Central Waters.

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Photo of Shumista
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Received two bottles in a recent trade at DLD. The only thing better than a barleywine is one that has spent some time in a barrel. Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.

Pours a thick, syrupy dark golden amber with a small rising off white head. Smell is bourbon and oak, dried dark fruits, alcohol. I think the barrel really takes the smell over. Taste is a wonderful intermingling between the natural flavors of the beer and the flavors imparted by the barrel. Charred oak, bourbon, sweet caramel malt, cherries, caramelized brown sugar, then dried dark fruits and a hoppy bitterness. The finish is sticky, warming a slight bitterness. Mouthfeel is soft (that's the only thing I can think to call it), sticky, warming and comforting (an adjective that I think should be more widely used when describing beers like this). Drinkable enough, you're not really supposed to want another. I'd love sit back and relax with this after a great meal then slip into a buzzed food coma and sleep like a baby.

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Photo of Wisconsinality
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage poured from 12oz bottle into Duvel tulip.

A- Pours a deep ruby red with a slight purple tinge to it. Semi transparent with just a little bit of light that shows through. About a half finger's worth of head that leaves a little cap on the top and leaves some good lacing on the side of the glass.

S- A good sweetness that is similar to a sherry or port. Some dark fruits are very apparent and a touch of oak in there as well. The deeper you smell the beer, the bourbon starts to peak its head out but never over powering. A hint of grape comes out as it warms along with the alcohol but not in a pungent, burning way found in some BA beers.

T- Well balanced and pretty complex come to mind right away. Some fig and dates to go along with a brown sugar sweetness but not cloying or syrupy. A touch of bourbon and some oak to make this a smooth beer. The alcohol is barely even noticeable and just adds to the overall smoothness and greatness of the beer.

M- Smooth and almost creamy. The carbonation is barely even noticeable but it works very well. There is a little heat on the tail end at the back of the throat as it goes down. A medium to full bodied that goes down smooth after every sip.

D- Exceptional. Goes down nicely and very well balanced. This is definitely a sipper which cuts down on the drinkability but this one is meant to be cherished. I would have to say that one is all you really need in a sitting. This would be great for after dinner or right before bed. Central Waters again shows why it is an up and coming brewery.

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Photo of Wisconsin
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

After months of storage I can wait no longer to crack this 2009 version. A snifter glass would be nice here, but a pint glass is what were going with. Chilled for months and now served around 50 degrees, this is ready to roll.

A - A steady pour delivers a brown body that has some reddish tints to it when held up to the light. Somewhat translucent, this beer also has faint amounts of carbonation racing up to the head. A half finger head rises and fades to a ring around the glass after a couple of minutes, which is more than I have seen compared to other barleywines.

S - The smell is an intoxicating blend of bourbon whiskey from the oak barrels and dark fruits. Cherries, plums, figs, and apricots all rush through your nose along with the initial shot from the bourbon barrels. Trace amounts of caramel malts are also present and seem to keep the booziness of this beer down.

T - Absolutely the smoothest barleywine I have had, which will be appropriately reflected in the mouthfeel score. As expected, plenty of bourbon whiskey up front. The beer settles in nicely with the dark fruits, which I assume are cherries, plums, and apricots among others. Malts with a sweet caramel aspect are noticeable, but subtle in comparison to the other characteristics. I've struggled in deciding whether this beer should get a 4.5 for taste, but I have decided to kick it up to a 5.0. Right now, as this beer is warming there is just so much coming at me. The new aspect I didn't pick up from before was the hops that are now starting to come to life as this beer warms.

M - As I stated in the the taste, this is by far the smoothest barleywine I have had. Silky smooth entering the mouth with a nice full body coming in behind it. A light amount of carbonation presents the early oak whiskey barrels well and culminates nicely with the caramel malts and dark fruit notes. The dark fruit carries this beer from the initial oak whiskey taste to the caramel malted finish. Very smooth and enjoyable. No strong boozy taste either.

D - This an exceptional beer and probably the best barleywine I have gotten my hands on to date. The smoothness is undeniable and really separates this beer from other barleywines I have had. After about six months in the cellar this beer is great, so I am curious to find out what a fresh version of this beer would taste like along with one that has seen some extended cellar time. Unfortunately, this was my only 2009 bottle so I will have to hope some 2010 versions are available for my indulgence. Amazing beer.

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Photo of BeerHunter76
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A good friend shared a bottle of this with me, and he has been upgraded to great friend!

I love a good barleywine, and this is the top of my list right now. When we opened it the nose was almost sweet like candy, with a pour of dark copper into a snifter. Both were more than I was thinking we would get out of this one and each one was spectacular. The head on this was pale, minimal and did not last long, but it did leave a small ring around the top of the brew.
So smooth and sweet on the tongue which brings back the thought of sweet sugary candy. Very little carbonation to get in the way and it has the Bourbon flavor that kinda smacks you in the tastebuds. Fantastic! Sip it slowly and make it last. Thats easier said than done cuz this beer is extremely easy to drink.


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Photo of gford217
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy deep copper with a dense head that dissipated quickly to a ring foam leaving sporadic lacing. The first aroma is the big sweet caramel malt smell with raisins, dates and subtle earthy hops. This is followed by a big bourbon backbone along with some sweet vanilla beans. The taste actually has more bourbon than the smell with a more prominent molasses sweetness. The caramel malts and earthy hops are still there as well, but the bourbon really comes out in the taste with a serious alcohol burn. The mouthfeel is medium bodied and very creamy. The is a very good bourbon barleywine but the heavy bourbon presence means that getting through one of these would make for a good night. Update: I've had quite of few of these now. With 6-12 months on it, this beer is one of the best beers I've ever had. Fantastic.

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Photo of CHickman
4.74/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | 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.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Simply wow!
Pours a typical barleywine shade of deep mahogany with a small off white head that melts to a lingering ring.

Aroma is immediately oak barrels. Beautiful delicious oak covering some sweet amber type malts and a hint of bourbon.

Taste is ...what's this? Chocolate in a barleywine? Yep...I taste chocolate, soft fruits like apricots and peaches, some bitter citrus peel hops and then a finish to alcohol strength bourbon.

Mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth and aftertaste is bourbon and oak.

Hell....I'm thinking of buying a really good oak aged sipping bourbon now. This was wonderful.

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz bottle poured into a Central Waters snifter.
2013 bottle. No date or info.

A - The deeply hued rusty amber colored beer is dark but clear still and vibrant. A tall pour creates a short and short lived tan head which collapsed from the high alcohol level. Specks of lace adorn the glass and stay steadfast while legs dribble down around them.

S - This fresh bottle has quite a large bourbon nose with a strong alcohol presence seeping from it, though deep complexity continues to emerge. Vanilla and damp wood work well with the rich bread-like malts that express some caramelization and toffee as well.

T - Maltiness erupts in flavor, overtaking the large bourbon presence that dominated the aroma; dribbles of sweet caramel and a thin smear of plum jam spread over a slice of toasted whole wheat bread. Notes of vanilla, oak, and unsalted pretzel finish with the smooth bourbon alcohol.

M - Smooth as velvet, this bourbon barrel barleywine is decidedly malty with a overarching sweetness, but not without balance. Alcohol is warming and present but not overwhelming, rather, soothing and complimentary on the finish, lightly drying it out for a lingering presence that constantly requests another light sip.

O - A real treat, Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine is one of those vintage releases each year that must not go unenjoyed. It's rich presence carries from aroma to flavor though the smooth feel rounds out the alcohol nicely for a bourbon barrel beer that's quite drinkable fresh. This one will still age with the best of 'em.

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Photo of mcallister
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

We've got liftoff. No seriously this is a fine looking brew and even better smelling. Christ almighty.

Dank dirty chestnut in appearance with a tan creamy head that leaves the party a little early.

Wonderful aromas in this. Lead by toasty vanilla infused oak and soft hints of bourbon. Than a rich caramel malt comes through and a musty hop aroma with fig and date characteristics. Some walnut and brown sugar as well.

This is a brew I'd love to have every day for the rest of my life. Great barrel aging art on this. Rich and creamy middle showing off caramel and toffee. Ripe dates and dried figs, alcohol, brown sugar, rum soaked raisin, thick tight vanilla and wood with a Jefferson's Reserve bourbon flavor. I have no clue what bourbon barrels they used or why I even said that. A showing of residual sugar towards the late middle ends in earthy hop bitter bliss balancing things impressively.

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Photo of hoppymeal
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours medium copper in color, clear, a small skirmish of tan foam quickly appears and then is gone just as quickly. Aroma is wonderful, nice rich maltiness, toasted caramel, and pruniness is cut and dominated by a somewhat salty, outstanding leather and wood aroma. Taste is right on par with the aroma, rich, soft sugariness and caramel. The sweetness is cut by some bourbony alcohol and a woody and leathery dryness hits the tongue and persists long into the aftertaste along with a lingering sugary sweetness, a very nice combination. Medium to heavy in body, the alcohol content is extremely balanced. This is one of those beers where you know from the first smell how wonderful it will be. One where you find yourself sipping very slowly wishing it not to end. A great experience, an incredibly well crafted beer and the barrel aging lends the perfect balance to the richness of the bw. This is easily right up there with Batch 6000 and Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel BW as one of the finest barleywines I've had.
Steve, thank you for the opportunity.

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Photo of OneBeertoRTA
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Big thanks to Zander for a few bottles of 2013 and 2012.

Pours about 3 fingers of head. Dark Maroonish brown

Smell- Bourbon, fig, booze

Taste- Plenty of carbonation, medium heat. The sweetness of the bourbon really adds to the traditional ABW flavor. Incredibly drinkable for 11.5% and a powerful beer. Compared to BA Numbskull this just has that donkey kick oomph in it. This is a big beer, just my liking.

Mouthfeel- high carbonation, medium build, flavor attack

Overall- Amazing beer and a perma-want

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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 mikesgroove
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was imply an outstanding Barley wine. That is the best way to sum up my thoughts on this one. I received this as an extra a few weeks back and I immediately threw this one into the fridge and got it ready to be sampled. I have heard very good things and honestly just could not wait. Took this twelve ounce bottle and poured it into my Terrapin snifter at about cellar temp and just watched the madness unfold. Beautifully dark and seductive looking, it had a rich brownish color with hints of ruby around the edges. A slight bit of light coming through revealed some haze and a touch of sediment. A towering head of almost three inches glazed over the top of the glass and hung around for what seemed like forever before it finally settled down into a nice one finger layer of impenetrable foam. Rich side glass presentation as well just capped off the entire thing just wonderfully. One of the best looking, if not the best looking Barley wine I have ever seen.

The aroma was a heavy hitter right from the start. Tons of bourbon just wreaking havoc, had to let it calm down, revealing some nice hints of woody and earthy tones. Hints of vanilla and of all things chocolate starting to come through now. Very complex and nice, this was shaping up to be a winner already. The flavor was just drop down beautiful. Loads of rich bourbon and wood flavors coming through in the most wonderful of arrangements. Caramel and molasses seamless blended with touches of chocolate and dark fruits. Really just a whole another level of barley wine. The perfect body here, with a medium consistency that was layered down with a good level of carbonation and a heaviness that was just perfect. I was utterly floored by how good this one was. I sipped on this for the better part of a n hour or more, never tiring of it and really just enjoying every sip.

Overall I really cannot say enough good things about this one. One of the best Barley wines I have ever tasted and really just a testament to how good something can get with Barrel aging. I would love to try this one again any day of the week!

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Photo of mandoskippy
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. I passed on this beer last year when it came out as I my first impression of the barley wine (non-bourbon barrel) was a little strong for me. That being said, I found a 2009 bottle of this and was blown away. The time and the bourbon barrel really mellowed the original barley wine in to something very special.

A: Nice Dark Amber color with a little bit of head. A nice lacing that disappears pretty quickly

S: Wonderful bourbon smell. What's neat about this smell is it evokes lots of bourbon aromas without coming across as "alcoholly" if that's a word.

T: Wow. Carmel, bourbon, toffee all in perfect balance. This doesn't taste like a high alcohol drink. Wonderful flavor.

M: Crisp as many high alcohol drinks feel to my palette. This one is clean and crisp rather than heavy and sharp. Very nice.

D: While this beer went down easy, I wouldn't call it "sessionable" to high of alcohol. Still, a very drinkable beer. One to share with "those you like" :)

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 2,294 ratings.
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