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
613 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:
613
Ratings:
2,255
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
17.29%
 
 
Wants:
715
Gots:
719
For Trade:
93
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 613 | Ratings: 2,255
Photo of drpdaddy
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance :Tulip dark amber tan creamy head with good lacing.

Smell: Sweet caramel malt, bourbon, alcohol and fruity esters.

Taste: Quite sweet caramel, plum, raisin, some tropical fruity esters, vanilla with subtle but present bourbon flavor

Mouthfeel: Creamy mouthfeel with light carbonation, was not to thick

Drinkability: I am not the biggest fan of barley wine but this one was quite good, I couldn't handle more then one of these in a session but it was quite drinkable. The alcohol was well hidden. I am definitely going to pick up some more of this for the cellar.

 580 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz. bottle poured into an Allagash chalice. 2012 bottle.

Appearance - Deep ruby. Pours clear until some sediment comes through and I pull back the bottle. Holding it up reveals suspended silt like sea monkeys in red wine. Yum.

Smell - Very nice bourbon aroma with a shot of grapefruit hops. Caramel and vanilla shine through, but brown sugar is subdued by the hop presence.

Taste - Health barrel up front. Bourbon mostly. Vanilla compounds blend with the caramel backing to all of it. Brown sugar a little more prevalent here. Hops come back with a vengeance in the aftertaste. Combine with a sharp oak flavor that is a bit harsh.

Mouthfeel - Boozy. Barrel hot and a hot beer. I enjoy older vintages of this a little more. Sharp hops, booze, and barrel make for an intense beer that I'd rather was more subtle in all categories.

Overall - Excellent beer, if not the best BA barleywine out there. A consistent standby that I almost always have in my fridge.

 964 characters

Photo of boothbeer
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle. Bottled February 2010

A: Pours a copper brown with some redish hues. 1 finger of foamy cream colored head. Reduces slowly to a thin film and ring of bubbles around the edge.

S: Rich caramel malts and sugary syrup. Lots of nice bourbon and oaky aroma.

T: Better than I expected. Great blend of malts and bourbon up front. Maybe a little more hops than I care for in the finish. Alcohol heat is present but doesnt overpower this beer. Good American barleywine, but I prefer the less hoppy English version.

M: Medium body, but a little thin with medium carbonation.

D: Good drinkability but definitely a sipper. Glad I picked this beer up. A little age on this might mellow out the hops and make this really special.

 737 characters

Photo of Khazadum
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Blind Beer #8 poured into a snifter! I wanted a beer while I played some video games tonight, and I figured I would knock out a blind review as well!

Good amount of creamy froth. Very fine bubble collection and cotton wisp nature. Good retention, great lacing. Hidden carbonation confuses me. There is very little to see and the retention is still amazing... hmmm. The body is a nice copper almost ruby hue.

Oooo is that bourbon I smell? I swear it smells like woodford reserve with the particular sweetness it imparts. There is also this interesting cherry background that makes me imagine just a few drops of maraschino cherry juice was added to create the perfect impression. There is a distinct astringency on the back end that detracts but it is paired with some minor vanilla hues that make me imagine oak barrels.

Flavors open up on the sip with fantastic bourbon sweetness. Its a syrupy type of molasses with very little earthen brown sugar characteristic. Very rich, distinct. Following this is some spiciness in the middle. Almost.. rye? Finish is alcoholic, hot, astringent, and minor bitterness to it. It has a minor upswing of vanilla on the ending. I should make it known that the ethanol characteristics are pervasive. They just peak in the finish making them known even much more. Very volatile.

Creamy. Nice and smooth. However, the ethanol at times becomes biting. Sharp. Very high. It isn't always, but when its on boy is it ON. Sticky flavors, and definitely some treasures are hidden all over my mouth and lips. There is a very very slight carbonation at the start that bursts slow. Like a rising burp, when it finally breaks it is sweet relief.

I like it. Its a pretty solid beer. I'm thinking a bourbon barrel barley wine. The alcohol may need a slight tweaking to work into the beer a bit stronger, however, I think overall it is beneficial. Its strength and heat overwhelm the palate and lead some flavors to be rushed over... lost and missed at times. Needs a bit more carbonation. At 12 ounces, I feel like I can't drink any other beers since it is just absolutely so thick.

Reveal is!!! Holy hell... I've had this. Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine! I've even had this year! It is sitting in a review notebook somewhere... I should find that and compare...

 2,301 characters

Photo of 321jeff
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage, poured into my Portsmouth glass.

A vigorous pour yields about 1/8" of tannish head. This beer's hazy reddish brownish color isn't going to win any beauty contests, but it's not too bad looking.

Aroma is dominated by a smoky bourbon with elements of wood and some sweet caramel. Reminds me of Elijah Craig 12yr but without the crazy alcohol bite.

Taste is pretty sweet overall featuring some dark fruits, caramel and some of the same oak and smoke. Fairly well integrated, but I wouldn't elevate it to being particularly special.

Mouthfeel is velvety smooth with just the right amount of prickly carbonation, but it is lacking a little in body. A good -bal barleywine and definitely a sipper, I'll probably let my other bottles go for another year or more and see what develops.

 795 characters

Photo of SummitVA
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Crystal clear deep auburn with ruby highlights on sides of glass. Light pop when opened, quarter inch white rocky head when poured. Steady carbonation.

S - Booze foremost. Licorice, then vanilla (and vanilla, then licorice after the glass warms to room temp), and wet oak. Lovely caramel and burnt sugar. I'm getting very little alcohol in the nose, strangely enough.

T - Bourbon and huge malt. Some dark caramel flavors, but little crystal sweetness. A little plum and date in the finish, along with a firm herbal bitterness. Alcohol far more apparent here; it is the last, lingering note, and it warms throat.

M - Medium bodied, but a good deal thinner than I was anticipating. Without bigger body, the alcohol in the finish tends to overwhelm.

O - Really happy to have had this at long last. A lovely, complex sipper. That being said, very glad to have another bottle that I can sit on for a year to see if the alcohol heat lessens.

 944 characters

Photo of Holland
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: pours a slightly hazy brown/orange/red color with a thin tan head that keeps a ring and small lacing.

S: sweet malt, oak, lots of bourbon, and some dark fruits

T: much the same as the smell, but with some alcohol and better balance than the smell. The alcohol takes away from the taste more than most barrel aged barleywines I've had

M: good carbonation, decent body, but not fantastic since the alcohol seems to cut it

O: excellent beer, should have aged it or had it colder than cellar temperature. Will be buying more of this soon.

 542 characters

Photo of Scrumtralecent
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage, poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a dark amber with a slight off white head that lingers on the sides.

S - First impression is a musty, earthy barleywine, with some notes of bourbon. Little vanilla and oak make their way through as well. The bourbon is actually a little overpowered by that barleywine. As it warms, the aroma becomes more intoxicating, really quite enjoyable.

T - Quite the alcohol kick in the taste. They don't shy away on this one. The barleywine has a bitterness to it, and the bourbon seems to play onto that. A good malt backbone that works well with the oak characteristics. Like the smell, quite earthy and musty, but with a little hop pizzazz left since it's fresh. A big and bold taste, but maybe not the most balanced.

M - Quite hot on the mouthfeel, definitely a sipper. Carbonation was good, just the alcohol burn kind of hurts the mouthfeel.

O - Overall, if alcohol burn isn't a deal breaker for you, this is a good beer. Great for a cold winter night like tonight, warms you up. I'll definitely sit on one and see where it's at later, but a hot barleywine fresh, along with some nice barleywine as well as barrel notes in this beer.

 1,195 characters

Photo of billshmeinke
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Stone Old Guardian glass.

Ruby body that is quite clear. half a finger of off white head. Dies down quick to a ring of foam with wisps of foam on top.

Smells of caramel, toffee, dark cherries, vanilla, oak and bourbon. A hint of spicy/resinous hops as well.

Tastes of caramel, toffee, apples, some dark cherries, and some raisins. Followed by oak, vanilla, and bourbon. Then resinous tobacco, leafy and spicy hops. Quite complex and interesting.

Creamy, medium carbonation, low end of full bodied, but not really syrupy or thick. A bitter/resiny finish that is hot and a tad spicy going down.

Pretty palate wrecking. Would not be able to knock back more than one 12 oz. and still be able to taste much afterwards.

 734 characters

Photo of jmdrpi
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle, label is notched as bottled at Feb 2012.

appears a cloudy muddy color, some copper highlights. no head. big aroma of vanilla and whiskey. brown sugar.

taste is also big on the bourbon flavors. sweet caramel malt, but not cloying. minimal hops. medium thickness, but it coats the tongue, lower carbonation.

overall a well executed example of the style.

 371 characters

Photo of N_Schleret
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a dark amber color with a 2 finger tan head that dissipates quickly to a light ring. Blotchy lacing.
S: Big boozy bourbon fills the nose with hints of caramel, vanilla, and toffee.
T: Again sweet bourbon overpowers everything. I get hints of brown sugar, vanilla, and toffee.
M: Fills up the palate nicely with a creamy sticky feel.
O: Another good bourbon barrel beer from Central Waters. A little age might mellow this out.

 437 characters

Photo of pcstuck
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is more of a dark auburn with a fairly tall head. Smelled the bourbon right when i cracked it open. Great aroma. Bourbon with earthy hop notes along with chocolate. The bourbon is upfront in this, so if thats not your style you may not like it. Almost a sweet taste to the bourbon. Maybe a caramel. Great brew all around.

 326 characters

Photo of Stevedore
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Medium brown body, one finger white head that quickly drops into a thin white film. Not much of a collar or lacing.

S- Caramel, bourbon, brown sugar, oak. Rich vanilla. Lots of complexity.

F- The vanilla isn't as strong here as it is on the nose, but it is there. Lots of caramel, sweet lighter malt, and bourbon barrel flavours. Its certainly hot, but it brings all the bourbon barrel you'd want in a barleywine.

M- Medium body, low carbonation, slick and drying finish with plenty of bourbon.

O- Very bourbon-forward barleywine; sometimes I find this one to be a bit too hoppy but time always does this beer well.

 622 characters

Photo of keithmurray
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2015 Vintage

Appearance - Ruby red/brown color with tan head

Smell - Caramel, toasted coconut, maple, oak

Taste - Caramel, rum, coconut, oak, a bit of maple in there as well

Mouthfeel - Full bodied, medium carbonation, slight sweetness upfront, barrel and booze in the back end

Overall - not quite as complex as Bourbon Counry Barrel Aged Barleywine, a bit harsh on the aftertaste, but a good tasting beer.

Price Point - $17.99/4 pack 12 oz bottles

 454 characters

Photo of Bighuge
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Murky looking crimson. Thin, creamy beige head. Good retention and lace propensity. Nose is quite sweet and quite bourbony. It really just drips caramel and nougat and a little booze with the vanilla like bourbon notes. Really good aroma. Pretty hot feel to it right off the bat. But also nice traits of bourbon, caramel malt, nougat and passion fruits. It's got a little of that spiked punch feel to it but it's not overboard. Spicy alcohol lingers. It's lightly carbonated and about medium bodied. I think this beer needs to sleep for a few years to take the edge off. Nowhere near as good as the fresh Kosmyk Charlie or especially the aged Charlie I've had in years past. But then again, those were as close to perfection in a beer as I've ever seen.

Props to BA nflmvp for this beer on the day the NFL MVP said his good-bye.

 830 characters

Photo of jnn4v
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Amber hue with no sediment or haze. No head.

S: Caramel, molasses, and some citrus. Alcohol burn.

T: Caramel, toasted oak, vanilla and alcohol. Moderate hop bitterness. Some sourness on the tail end. Sort of hot.

M: Good body for the style. Very nice texture. Not very carbonated and medium overall body.

D: The 11.5% ABV is evident. I think the drinkability is relatively good with all factors considered, but others at the same tasting thought it was too hot.

 472 characters

Photo of Odysseyalien
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Aroma: caramel, bread, alcohol,woody.

Appearance: brown, cloudy, tan foam, frothy.

Taste: medium sweetness, virtually no bitterness.

Palate: medium body, thin feel, soft carbonation, subtlely bitter.

Overall: I don't think this is an American barleywine. It's more akin to a British barleywine. A nice barleywine, not too unlike Weyerbacher's Insanity though thinner; not unlike Lost Abbey's Angel Share but half the price. I picked this up in Pennsylvania last week but only got one. I'lll buy more if I get back down there sometime soon.

 543 characters

Photo of jeonseh
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

2012 Bottle poured into a Kuhnhenn tulip

A - Deep cherry wood color with a light brown accent. Had a one finger light brown head that settled down to a few rocky spots of foam on top.

S - Big malty barleywine with strong caramel, toffee, and vanilla. There is also a big bourbon accent that comes through strong. This is one of those big noses that just brings the flavor to you.

T - Really strong alcohol and slight orange peel hits you up front. As it carries on, I get slight toffee, caramel, and vanilla that comes through to give it a slight presence. Strong bourbon comes along near the finish to bring both sweetness, roasted oak, and a slight booze. The finish is astringent as the booze and its heat carries along. This is one really bourbony beer as you get a ton of barrel presence, but it may actually be a bit too much as you get more bourbon than beer sometimes.

MF - Medium, slightly syrupy body. Light carbonation in this. It has a warming alcohol presence near the finish. The finish itself is astringent, has a alcoholic kick, and light tingle from the oak

O - Solid BA Barleywine for the price with a lot of barrel presence. This is definitely a sipper and with all of the bourbon one to have on a cold night. It's main downfall is that the bourbon really shines and make the beer a bit too hot instead of blending in well with the base beer.

 1,367 characters

Photo of papat444
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

***2010 Vintage (bottled Feb.)***

Thanks to grub for this one.

Poured from a 12oz. bottle.

Appearance: Body is a mix of brown and red, like a light leather. Hard pour reveals less than half a finger that disappears pretty fast. No lacing to speak of.

Smell: Sweet bourbon, dark fruits and wood. Quite strong and nice.

Taste: Dry cherries ,aged wood, bourbon with traces of leather. Sweetness balanced with some bitterness. Rich flavors.

Mouthfeel: A bit rough with some residual bitterness from the alcohol heat. Smooths out as it warms.

Overall: A bit rough around the edges but ends up being good. Drinkable and not too heavy

 634 characters

Photo of TheFightfan1
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. Nice ruby color with solid retention but does dissapate to nothing as it settles down and warms up.

Fantastic notes of bourbon with a good backing of darker fruits and a little medicinal hop kick. Even the oak is apparent in the nose,subtle but does pop its head up.

Heavy caramel and fruit upfront. Nice vanilla following that makes way for the huge bourbon blast that takes over the ride.

Full bodied and a little too flat. A slight chew as well.

Not a bad beer, a little bit much as warms up.

 524 characters

Photo of zac16125
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into a snifter
2012 bottle, notched as Feb bottling

A big thanks goes out to haveanother1 for this great extra!

A: Pours a fairly transparent light reddish brown that gives rise to only the slightest whisp and outer ring of head that doesn't even hang around long enough for me to note the color.  Does leave very slight patches of lacing.  

S: Big bourbon notes are immediately noted, then toffee,  a nutty character, burnt toast, dark fruits in the form of raisin and plum, booze.  Pretty awesome.  

T: Again, big bourbon notes right up front, oak, booze, hint of bakers chocolate on the finish, burnt toast.  Real nice at first.  Booze becomes quite dominant as I continue to drink though.  Each sip starts with a nice flavor or toffee, or bourbon, or nuts, then halfway through the sip its overtaken by a big boozy smack that dominates and lingers in the aftertaste.  Unfortunate, because this has the potential to be something special.  

M/D: Over carbonated for my liking, and a touch thin, although not too bad, and the carbonation is much more of an issue for me.  Slightly chewy, but again the carbonation distracts from the mouthfeel.  Its real boozy (this is coming from someone who really enjoys boozy beers) and is pretty hot going down.  Some time would do it well.  

O: Awesome nose, and potential for a great flavor profile, but this one needs some time on the shelf for the booze to mellow out.  It really is quite dominating throughout most of the drink, and takes away from the flavor intricacies.  Interestingly, I recently had the non barrel aged version of this beer, and didn't note it to be particularly boozy at all.  I do however, think that one was a 2011 bottle.   I would like to get my hands on a couple more of these, throw them in the cellar and come back in a year or two,  I think they could be great then.  

 1,888 characters

Photo of Halcyondays
4.04/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle,

A: Pours a clear pure light-medium amber with mild white head, good head retention, limited lace.

S: Sweet malt, vanilla, pastry, a delight to sniff.

T: Vanilla and malt, but with a prominent American hop character all the way through. Some molasses type notes as well.

M: Very smooth, creamy, lightly boozy.

D: An impressive beer from Central Waters. Good flavours and something methinks to age for a while.

 428 characters

Photo of tempest
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer took a lot of the same flavor cues from the non-bourbon ale. This adds a light whiskey element near the end. The aroma is pleasant, with the oak and vanilla, but still too weak. The drinkability was pretty good and unlike many other barleywines. Worth a try, very tasty.

 280 characters

Photo of tut2528
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage from MatttYCE. Thanks man!

A: pours a murky caramel in color, with touches of ruby tints, with about 1/2 fingers worth of head formation. without much lacing.

S: big caramel/toffee and vanilla right up front. there is a some oak and bourbon barrel presence as well, but it takes a back seat to the primary characters. i also pick up a slight hop note.

T: caramel sweetness right up front with a oaky bourbon presence coming out much more. i also pick up on more hop qualities here than what I was expecting from the smell. and the finish is vanilla creaminess. alcohol is definitely present.

M: flat, very thin for its style, and it doesnt quite coat the palate as it should.

O: its a nice brew. and this would be a great introductory barleywine to people who aren't familiar with the style.. and it has high drinkability.

 841 characters

Photo of boralyl
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - 2011 vintage poured into a snifter. The beer produces a small light tan head that quickly fades away . The beer is clear and ruby red in appearance.

S - There is a very strong bourbon presence in the aroma along with hints of oak and vanilla. As it warms slightly the dark fruit aromas become apparent.

M - Medium in body with light-medium carbonation and some creaminess.

T - A little bit of vanilla up front followed by dark fruits, plum sticks out in my mind. A huge bourbon flavor mixes in with the dark fruit and overpowers it leading to a hot alcohol heat in the finish.

Pretty good, but the bourbon flavor was a bit too strong for me. It may be that this vintage was too fresh for my tastes. I'll have to give an aged vintage a shot sometime soon.

 762 characters

Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 613 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.
  • Quick Navigation

    Open the Quick Navigation

  • 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