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

BA SCORE
95
world-class
2,340 Ratings
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
centralwaters.com

Style: American Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Rotating

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

Added by Atron67 on 03-02-2008

BEER STATS
Ratings:
2,340
Reviews:
635
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
8.88%
 
 
Wants:
717
Gots:
732
For Trade:
87
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 2,340 |  Reviews: 635
Photo of ChadQuest
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I have a bit of a special review, as i will be drinking a 2010 & 2011 Side x Side, nifty.

Color is a clear mahogany redwood hue that is warm and inviting, just a thin collar with random bubbles floating around otherwise.

As you'd expect the bourbon has indeed toned down a bit on the 10, and a bit more stand out on the 11, i personally favor the sharper bourbon aroma of the 11 a touch more. Other notes are currants, pomegranate, vanilla and dark rich toffee.

This is one of those really exceptional beverages in my realm of perception. Such a chewy mouthfeel accentuated of exotic dark fruits soaked in bourbon, i swish every sip around after slurping it up, and just want to bite into it. The 10 has just a bit more viscosity to it, maybe from the tamed bourbon or from batch variation, but none the less it's got the thickness.

I would be splitting hairs to say so, but the 10 is drinking just a tad better, from age or batch variation it's hard to say, either year is world class on my palate, and i think this is one of the best bang/buck bottles in america, easily. I am going to start saving for next release now.

 1,126 characters

Photo of Clonies720
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. 2013 vintage. No freshness date. Gold cap. Poured into tulip glass

Appearance: Pours a dark-reddish-orange tint. 1/2th inch tan-colored head. When held up to the light, none passes through this fearsome brew. (It clears up as it gets warmer)

Smell: A spicy woody character hits my nose first. It's quickly followed by notes of dark, bourbon-soaked fruits. Medium hints of vanilla. Caramel and rich toffee titillate my senses as this beer warms up. It's very malt forward. Perhaps even a touch bready. Slight earthy hop aroma.

Taste: It's an explosion of flavor! A light sweet honey gently skates upon my tongue. Then the symphony of flavors melds into huge vanilla and a strong, spicy bourbon flavor. Finally, the concerto climaxes with a smooth, rich toffee & caramel presence.

The alcohol heat is there, but it's not overpowering or overdone. Perfect for a cold night.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium-high carbonation. Somewhat chewy. Velvety and luscious

Overall: Bravisimo to the conductor of this symphony! I stood up and applauded furiously to express my gratitude and appreciation of the music that was presented to my tastebuds.

 1,154 characters

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

Hazy amber brownish color with a beige head that has decent retention and lacing. Aroma just amazes me; I absolutely love their bourbon beers, haven't had anything else that compares. Sweet caramel, bourbon, and vanilla; just such an amazing aroma. Taste echoes the aroma. Whatever they do, the flavors just hit me perfectly. Thicker than medium body, somewhat light carbonation, but goes down very smooth. Another excellent barrel aged beer from Central Waters. Keep it up!

 474 characters

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

Poured from 12oz bottle into snifter after being stored overnight in a fridge at roughly 45 degrees. The pour is brown to dark brown and hazy. As the beer is poured into the glass the flow is clean and constant, the stream against the light is amber in color. As it settles in the snifter, a crackled bubbly head makes a brief appearance and disappears swiftly. There is also an effervescent sound that lasts for a few seconds.

If you would ask me to describe what a great example of a barrel aged barleywine smells like from memory, this beer is what I would describe. Dominant scents are roasty malt, molasses, bourbon and brown sugar which form a sweet and sharp medley of aromas, very inviting. Taking a backseat are dried fruit, rum-soaked raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg. The combination of aromas remind me of fine Venezuelan rum.

First few sips are unapologetic and make sure you notice the booziness of this brew. However, clocking in at 11.5% ABV its dangerously balanced. The rest of the flavors mimic very well its aroma (as do most barleywines in my experience). An oaky bourbon taste leads a diverse parade of flavors, followed by sweet caramelly malt, molasses, moist brown sugar, cinnamon, a vanilla bean touch and lastly a spice that strikes the same chords with me as a chili powder. The finish is mostly oaky bourbon in a very pleasant way. The nose on this beer and its aftertaste are hand-in-hand, making every sip a vicious cycle of aromas and flavors – in my opinion, this makes for a fantastic drinking experience.

Mouthfeel-wise its a bit tongue numbing initially - the bourbon screams at you to recognize its presence. Lightly astringent but very well balanced. Very light carbonation that complements its syrupy consistency quite well.

Overall – I thoroughly enjoyed this beer and it is a great example of what a barrel aged barleywine ale should be.

 1,883 characters

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

Poured into a tulip glass.

A beautiful dark ruby red with fading head due to the alcohol content. I think that the color may be a little too dark for a barleywine, but I know American style barleywines can be much darker.

Smells wonderful. Bourbon (and vanilla notes), caramel, and pitted fruit.

Taste- wow. I would give it a five except for the burn. A wonderfully aged bourbon barrel beer- full on, does not hold back. Caramel and cherry from the malt, but the alcohol does not hide here. I enjoy it- a bit more raw.

Mouthfeel- a good consistency for a barrel aged stout- again, that alcohol burn is persistent. Carbonation is good and keeps it lighter on the tongue.

Overall, a great example of a bourbon barrel aged barleywine in my backyard.

Liftbridge Commander is great for similar reasons. I sense a blind tasting coming up...

 840 characters

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

Reviewed from notes from 3/14/13

A- Pours a deep amber with ruby hues, a decent sized head with impressive retention for being barrel aged. Also excellent lacing is left in the glass.

S- The aroma is incredibly alluring, instantly bringing to mind ripe figs, raisins, sweet prunes, caramel, toffee, thick dark breadiness, and maybe a hint of dried apricot. There's also smooth vanilla from the bourbon barrel, and definitely some hefty booze in the aroma.

T- The taste is a malt lover's dream, with thick breadiness, toffee, dark honey, and caramel dominating. The vanilla is mild, but it is present just enough to mellow this out alongside the bourbon. The fruits noticed in the nose are present, but you have to search for them in this complex brew. Lastly there is just a bit of earthy/spicy hop bitterness to prevent this from being overly sweet.

M- The mouthfeel is thick, creamy, and chewy, with only slight carbonation. It has a bite of bitterness and booze at the end, but it fades to mellow bourbon/vanilla aftertaste.

O- Overall this is one of the better BA Barleywines I've had, and I can't wait to have some more!

 1,131 characters

Photo of vic21234
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2013 Vintage. Was happy to get my hands on a 4 pack of this today.

A- Pours a dark red, almost brown color. A small amount of off-white colored head quickly fades.

S- Nice aromas of bourbon and dark fruits. Some sweetness and caramel is noted too.

T- Really nice stuff. Starts very smooth with tastes of dark fruits and sweet malts. Then comes the bourbon and oak notes, which takes over the back half of each sip.

M- Low carbonation, drinks hot, a great sipper.

This is a great barleywine. Drinking kind of hot right now but not a bad thing at all. I'm anxious to see how it mellows out.

 633 characters

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

6/16/17 From bottle at home. Label notched to designate 2016 vintage. Pretty much as below. First sips were very cold so I think a warming would be beneficial. Top notch either way.

3/11/27 On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC.

Boom! There it is!

Hazy deep cooper tone with slight head & discernible 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.

 605 characters

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

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

12oz bottle from 2010, poured into a Duvel tulip. Thanks to EliteDigger for getting me this one in an in-person trade a couple DLDs ago.

A: Pours a cloudy dark red-brown body under a finger of fine tan head that settles slowly into a ring and leaves plenty of delicate lace. Pretty good.

S: Wow that's boozy...in a good way. Huge barrel presence, with luscious bourbon and raw oak absolutely dominating. Walnut, raisin, and vanilla have supporting roles. Not too sweet, hugely complex, and simply amazing.

T: Toffee and bourbon right up front, followed by vanilla, coconut, dark fruit, and booze-soaked wood on the finish. Really harsh on the back end, but it's worth it.

M: Thick, creamy, a little sticky. Very nice.

O: Great beer. One of the most bourbon-forward beers I've ever had, even after a couple years. If it finished more smoothly it would be right up there with the very, very best.

Cheers!

 908 characters

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

Poured into my Brurery Tulip. Very dark caramel colored. Cloudy with an off white tan colored head of about a finger. Head lays down rather quickly to leave minimal lace and a very small collar of the same color as the head.

Smell is just outstanding. Sweet caramelized sugar, vanilla, wood, bourbon, alcohol. This is exactly what I wanted this to smell like. Homerun!!

Taste is much like the nose. Sweet vanilla and carmel first, and the barrel coming in next with some charred oak flavors and some spice. A bit peppery on the swallow along with some mild alcohol burn. This is really good.

Mouth is bright and on the spritzy with medium/high carbonation. Body full rich and the finish is long and very wet. The alcohol burn is minor but needs mentioning.

Overall I really loved this beer. A great example of a Barleywine and on top of it they barrel aged this one to perfection. Thanks to TIMMYJ21 for this. Highly recommended you pick this up in a trade or off the shelf if you are so lucky.

 998 characters

Photo of Jstonerock24
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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!

 1,189 characters

Photo of airohead2001
4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

glazeman, thanks.

A - Typical barleywine. Thick looking dirty red/copper/brown with a thin film for a head that resolves to a few bubbles that line the walls of my glass. Looks good, but nothing special.

S - Bourbon, bourbon, bourbon, buttery toffee, roasted cashews, malted vanilla milkshake, tiny amount of hops, pecan pie, and harsh booze. This is the best smelling barleywine this nose has ever smelled. Perfect.

T - Harsh and boozy, but delicious. Caramelized sugar up front with tons of bourbon. Some bitter hops in the middle and some dark roastiness as well. Just a hint of dark fruits and a ton of bourbon in the finish. Best barleywine I've ever tasted.

M - A bit too bubbly for such a rich bourbon bomb.

D - This is an incredible beer, but it has a ton of booze and a ton of heat. But honestly, despite the heat, it is good enough that I could seriously drink it all night long.

This beer blew me away. By far the best barleywine I've ever had and also one of the best beers in general that I've had as well. I've wanted this one for a while and it surely did not disappoint

 1,095 characters

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

Bottle itself is dark glass, refreshingly simple label. Just announces itself as barrel aged barleywine, 2009, from Central Waters. ABV would have been nice.

Gourgeous maroon pour. Hold it up to the light if you want to see a beautiful looking beer. White head is just enough, dissapears and leaves a white ring.

Bourbon up front on the nose. Strong toffee. some dark fruit too, hops give some sweet citrus and rich pine. Need to start drinking this.

Taste is heavenly. If you like bourbon aged beers, you will absolutely love this. The magnificence of the flavors present here make me wonder if barleywines are even better suited to barrel aging than stouts. Dark fruit, oak, toffee and carmel coming through, but not too sweet. Subdued pine and citrus from the hops add to the complexity. Some booze in the mix too (it is 11.5%), but it really works with what's going on here and would be missed if it weren't there. Bourbon barrel backbone holding everything together, setting the tone for every sip, every smell.

One of those beers where after the first sip you know you're in love. Hard to drink slowly.

----

2010 revisted on 12/23/10. Doesn't have the sweetness of 2009, but after a year the alcohol burn has faded and it's woody and dry with an appropriate bite. (early 2010 had solvents ruining things). Excited for the 2011 batch.

 1,349 characters

Photo of Alpar
4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Review # 2

A: Nice copper/ruby blend of color. The carbonation is not lost on this, foamy white head with a decent lacing filling the snifter.

S: Dark fruits, mostly plum with some hints of vanilla and caramel maybe even a bit of belgian style sugar in there. A very pungent punch in the face that doesn't disappoint.

T: WOW, really this is just insane! I am not a "Homer" at all but I have to say this is the best thing to come out of Wisconsin. Very strong alcohol burn but in a good way. First sip is very misleading but as it coats the mouth the beer definitely opens up and leads to a far more complex flavor than originally lead on. Vanilla, fruit, bourbon and alcohol all come in to a magnificent harmonious blend that is almost unbelievable.

O: Favorite beer of 2011 thus far and I am halfway through the year. This, for me, will be tough to beat. Damn near perfection to my pallet. Seek this one out if you are a barleywine fan.

 943 characters

Photo of bsideone
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%

Photo of bohler06
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of kushon1212
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of biga7346
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip

N - Musty wood, tobacco, alcohol, cinnamon spices and candy like toffee or cotton candy, vanilla bean, faint suggestions of bakers chocolate, cookie dough and crystal malt.

T/M - A lactic and coating mouthfeel which is nice, some bourbon whiskey, wood, and suggestions of fudge, reminds me of like a real oakey red wine, dense malt backbone makes the beer real filling.

D - I love bourbon and vanilla notes in beer and this one doesn't disappoint, I could drink this all night but with the high ABV this is a nightcapper for sure. Extremely drinkable even with the big ABV.

 597 characters

Photo of blankenhoney
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the Local Option. Pours a cloudy amber with a substantial head. The nose is sweet vanilla and rich caramel toffee: at this point, I'm ready to take a bath in this stuff. Taste delivers what the nose promised: lots of sweet vanilla bourbon up front, then transitions into caramel maltiness, and finishes with a strong tart hoppiness. Very tart and hoppy on the end. Mouthfeel was a delight: chewy, creamy, and somewhere between medium- and high-carbed. A fantastic BA barleywine: it has all the best aspects of a english-style BA barleywine up front, and the intense hoppy tartness you see in american barleywines provides a great contrast at the end. So good I had to order another!

 694 characters

Photo of Strix
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nearly clear orange-amber, decent initial head, fading to nothing.

Smells of vanilla, malt, and bourbon, hint of cherry.

Tastes of sweet malt, cherry, caramel, brown sugar, oak, and bourbon. Boozy heat permeates. Nicely blended.

Smooth, nearly invisible in the mouth.

A nice sipper. It will be interesting to see how this ages.

 331 characters

Photo of Dodgerrigo77
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of TheOakKing
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of guityler83
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: A dense tan colored head was poured about a finger tall into a snifter glass. Head retention was good for such a high gravity beer, a thin coat of lacing was left on the side of the glass as it was being consumed. Alcohol legs can be shown when swirled. The beer is a dark mahogany brown color, very murky with not much light coming through.

S: Big nose composed of prunes, raisins, plums and other dark stone fruits. A woody character melds with the complex malt profile so well it seems very organic. Fairly moderate dank and dark piny hop aroma.

T: Very complicated malt profile similar to the aroma. Prunes, plums, raisins, tobacco and pomegranate. The balance is on the malt side with a moderate sweetness, almost a syrup like flavor, but there is a medium bitterness at the beginning with an earthy, pine flavor. Last but not least the oak, vanilla, slightly coconut flavored barrel flavor develops throughout and melds very well and naturally. Very tasty.

M: Big warming sensation from the alcohol on this one, definitely a sipper. Big body with moderate to medium carbonation. The woody/oaky tannins are left on the pallet giving a slight drying sensation.

O: A big malty barley wine with an organically natural tasting barrel flavor thats great for sipping on a cold winter night. Cheers CW, keep up the good work.

 1,332 characters

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 2,340 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.

    Learn More
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.

    Learn More
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.

    Learn More