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
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:
615
Ratings:
2,260
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
17.29%
 
 
Wants:
716
Gots:
719
For Trade:
90
User Reviews
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Reviews: 615 | Ratings: 2,260
Photo of yeahnatenelson
3.57/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Big thanks to Jeff for cracking this one at a recent tasting.

Appearance -- Pours a deep brown, nearly purple hue, with ruby highlights and finger of tan head. Some spotty lacing.

Smell -- Very aromatic. Rum raisin, bourbon, prune, dark brown sugar, and brandy. Overall, quite sweet.

Taste -- Sweet up front with rum raisin, brandy, ripe dark fruits, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla oak sugars. Verging on cloyingly sweet, if not there. Where did the bourbon go?

Mouthfeel -- Medium-full in body with moderate carb. Slight alcohol bite in the finish.

Drinkability -- Frankly, a letdown. Incredibly sweet with none of the bourbon alcohol character to cut through it. It would be easy to confuse this with, say, a J. W. Lee's Harvest Ale homebrew clone if one didn't know what it was. Certainly not terrible, but does not have the iota of balance needed for a barleywine to be great.

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Photo of Crass3000
3.6/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice reddish-brown with a finger, white head with retention of about half of a minute.

Smell is is definately roasted malts, dark fruits are pretty dominant as well. Really a nice mix of roast and dark fruits that interact really well. Taste is not as nice as the nose. There is definately some strong hops that take over the taste. The hops aren't bitter at all and actually balance things nice. However I think there is just too much hops for me. The hops seem to be too strong. No doubt this would be better with some age. Gonna age the rest.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
3.6/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2014 Vintage. I got this in a trade from atone315. Thanks man!

Pours from the 12oz bottle into a New Belgium snifter. Emerges a ruddy brown color with minimal head, sporadic lacing, and little carbonation present. Slight amber hues through the light.

Aroma is nice. Perhaps a little heavy on the bourbon for some, but I like the in your face aromas of borbon. Vanilla, oak, pineapple, raisins also join the olfactory party.

I am a little lost in the last half. The flavor is decent. In this case, the bourbon IS too powerful. I like bourbonn beer as much as the next guy but the bourbon here needs to take a chill pill. Bourbon, alcohol, and tobacco are about all I get.

This one finishes super hot. The alcohol is certainly tangible and is in no way perfunctory. I like the chewiness but the hot finish and bourbon sucker punch kind of make this a one hit wonder.

Not bad overall but I think another year on this would do wonders.

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Photo of drewba
3.6/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Murky, dirty rusty-brown colored with a thin cream colored head.

S - Huge nose - plenty of rum raisin which seems to add a lot of sweetness and a hint of yeast. This smells remarkably similar to a brandy angels share.

T - Sweet rum, rum raisin, toasty malt, a slight citrusy hop character and some alcohol presence. Unrefined flavors compared to the huge, outspoken aroma. Where is the bourbon? This is coming off much more like rum or brandy.

M - Sticky, sweet, slightly cloying with a medicinal finish.

D - Though this does taste good, the overwhelming sweetness without anything counterbalance and the lingering cloying sweetness brings this way down for me.

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Photo of wchollif
3.61/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into my Stone tulip, a gratis bottle, thanks ewright! This -bal barleywine pours with almost zero head. The color is a murky darkish reddish brownish?!? The smell here makes the beer. Again with a great smelling, fair tasting bb barleywine. I love the oak, vanilla, caramel on the nose. To a lesser degree I get some piney hoppiness and orange peel as well. The flavor doesn't back it up. The flavor is dominated by malts, which should be good, but I'm not getting the balance of hops I thought I smelled. It has a little caramel but not much vanilla and is intensely bitter and alcoholic on the finish. The mouthfeel is good, mild carbonation, creamy milky coating, not syrupy cloying.

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Photo of mulder1010
3.62/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From Notes

12 oz bottle

A-- Poured a hazy, dark golden color. Very little obvious carbonation. Short lived white head that went to film that was very spotty. Better on swirling as got half a finger. Very noticeable
legs to this.

S-- Oak, vanilla, bourbon, raisin, plumb, and toffee. Very buttery smell. Rich and thick.

T-- Prickly carbonation on the tongue. Whole lot of vanilla and toasted coconut. Lots of alcohol in the taste and quite sweet.

M-- Full and heavy Oak in the mouth. Also vanilla and coconut again. Much higher carbonated than what I thought this would be. Very sweet and very boozy. Hard to distinguish the base beer at times.

O-- Good but a bit sweet and booze driven at times. Barrel hides the base beer for a good portion of drinking. honestly thought a little too hot at times.

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Photo of shleepy
3.62/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 2012 bottle into snifter glasses.

A: Lightly hazy medium-brown. Small head.

S: Pleasant, subtle notes of vanilla and sour berries.

T: Vanilla, toffee, light liquoriche. Almost gives away the alcohol in the finish / aftertaste, but stops just short.

M: Creamy texture. Very heavy body - definitely a slow sipper.

O: I'm not generally a huge fan of the super-heavy beers, but I appreciated this one as a kind of nightcap, sipping it over a long period of time.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.63/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle courtesy of HopsMatt, thanks bro! Initial smell of the bottle is the same as sniffing a Jack Daniels or Crown Royal bottle: pure whiskey. The beer was an amber color, scant head. The aroma from the glass was more subdued bourbon with notes of vanilla. Flavor was vanilla, heavy booze, whiskey, caramel, decent but not great. Mouthfeel was a bit thin. I would not put this in the upper echelons of bourbon barrel barleywines but it was a decent offering overall.

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Photo of infestaxion
3.65/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From my notes

A - Murky dark red with a thin white head that fades quickly into a ring around the glass.

S - Big bourbon and sweet dark fruit. Nice malt presence.

T - Bourbon is much less in the taste. Huge malt and dark fruit. Apple. Alcohol. Very sweet aftertaste with a bit of burn.

M - Medium body and low carbonation.

D - Going to be slow drinking this thing.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 bottle, 12 ounce. Poured into a snifter. Pulled it from the fridge and let it warm to about 60 degrees.

A- Raisin-colored in the glass with a red wine hue when placed to light. Frothy khaki head. Pools and islets of lace and a heavy film over the body. On point. 5

S- It's hot. Boozy. Has hints of caramel and dark fruit. Exceptionally blasé and I'm surprised but not deterred. 2.5

T- Still getting booze and it's quite a big component of the flavor. Sweet and gooey caramel. Grassy and earthy with hop flavor. Hints of raisin and dark fruit but they seem a tad timid. Becomes more butterscotch and toffee-like eventually. Don't get a ton in terms of definitive bourbon character but that's okay. 4

M- I'll reiterate the booziness. And the caramel sweetness. Spicy, earthy hop feel. Full-bodied, sweet and rich overall. 4

This is good but still a bit young and fresh. I'd age this some time to really get the best of it. I'm also curious about the barrel-aging here as this doesn't show a lot of bourbon flavors.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Once again I find myself in the awkward position of not being able to remember the BA who sent me this beer. I need to write these things down. Whoever you are, let me know so I can acknowledge you!

2010 vintage. This brew pours a mostly clear garnet amber topped by a short wisp of white bubbles. The nose comprises whiskey, oak, caramel, biting citrus, and a touch o' booze. The taste is a richer version of the smell, though the alcohol really busts its way through, Kool-Aid Man-style. I'm not so sure I'd say "Oh yeah!" to this with as much enthusiasm as that glass bastard. The body is a hefty medium, with a light carbonation and rather thick feel. Overall, a decent BBBW, but decidedly too boozy right now. Perhaps this guy will be calmer with some years on him, but he's too damn hot today.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2012 vintage, courtesy of lurchingbeast. Thanks, Frank!

A: Pours a crystal clear dark amber body with a pinky finger of light beige head. Retention isn't great, but there is a thick swirl of bubbles on top of the brew for quite some time, with a thin collar that leaves a little ring during a swig. No lacing that sticks.

S: Bourbon... This is very bourbon-forward, wow. Caramel, butterscotch, toffee, brown sugar, molasses. Lots of sweet things. Vanilla, even some oak. Very pungent, very nice.

T: Almost a metallic bent to it, which recedes but doesn't fully vanish as the beer warms. It's very caramelly and sweet. Lots of toffee, butterscotch, and nuts to accentuate the bourbon character. Vanilla and oak are also found. Hops are quite strong in this beer, contributing bitterness but no particular flavor. Instead of balancing the rest of the beer, the bitterness clashes oddly. Somewhat poorly integrated. It starts off great, but the finish is metallic and astringent.

M: It is viscous, resistant to swirling in the mouth. Full-bodied in flavor, with low carbonation and a creamy presence. It's drier than expected, and the bitterness/metallicity helps prevent this from tasting too sweet as well. I detect the ABV only subtly as a warming effect.

D: This is an excellent deal. However, it could use a little more work to integrate the flavors properly. I'll definitely keep chasing it down in the future, but it's not a beer I need in large quantities. I like this approximately on par with Abacus; this one is more flavorful and less boozy, but Abacus has a better finish. The cost tips it in CW's favor.

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Photo of TastyIsBeer
3.71/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On draft at the Great Taste of the Midwest (2015) - pretty hot, pretty thin... not my favorite BA Barleywine by a long shot, but maybe a year or two of aging would at least mellow it enough to be pretty good.

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Photo of rhodeska
3.72/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A nice red/ dark amber tint to the beer, very nice head and lacing on the glass as i drink.

This one has a very strong smell, was able to catch a whiff of it as i poured it a couple feet below my nose. Really strong bourbon smell, and the taste is the same. Has some earthy and woody tones to it as well. It doesn't really have that hot or burning feeling as the alcohol goes down, which was slightly surprising, but that's it.

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Photo of getkrunkhoe
3.73/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

App- pours a really rich red almost burgundy color with brown hues. A thick and big as FU*k creamy tan head just stares at you. Looks like it'll fade quick.

Ar- I get vanilla and bourbon and a hint of plum(?). also the alc. is present.

taste- BOOZY, sweet, red fruit, a bit of caramel, and brbn of course.

mf- is creamy and lush, big and forward. Very inviting

Dr- needs time to age, a year or 2 will open this big bold beer imensely.Lots of potential.

I recommend this ish.

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Photo of trappistlover
3.74/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(12oz bottle courtesy of guyinchicago!). Pours cloudy amber color with sediment and off-white head. Aroma of candied sugar, dried 'pit' fruit and bourbon. Taste is sweet almost like a tootsie pop with a bitter pop at the end.. Full bodied and slick texture. Alcohol is noticeable, but not overpowering. This is a pretty interesting beer.

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Photo of ZAP
3.74/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I love bourbon barrel aged beers but it is real tough to mess up the aroma....this one has everything you'd expect when you take your first smell...nougat, vanillla, oak, bourbon, dark fruits, caramel...the only off note if you want to call it that is a little red apple....

First sip brings a velvet like smoothness....full bodied but not immense...flavors are more muted on the taste...vanilla....oak...dark fruits...a good dose of bittering hops (perhaps chinook?)....

This is a BW and it has a little booziness to it as expected...the red apple notes are also evident on the taste...

I expected more out of this beer. That is not to say this is bad. Just seems kind of muddled and overall does not stand up to some of the better barrel aged beers I have had.

Certainly worth trying but this falls a little short for me.

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Photo of shbobdb
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I don't know why this beer isn't lighting up the trade charts. A really fantastic, sweet barleywine balanced by alcohol and the woody bite of bourbon. What isn't to love?

Just a fantastic pour. A huge head that lingers. A nice bit of lacing too. The beer is a little cloudy when it is too cold to drink, but a signal for when it the beer is warm enough to drink is OK by me!

The beer smells like toffee, cough syrup, and bourbon.

The taste is really pretty fantastic. Toffee, caramel, chocolate, a nice alcohol warming sensation, carob, and a hefty dose of bourbon. I mean, who can argue with that? There is also a vague citrus to the beer from the hops, maybe? I'm not even sure, it could just be the alcohol.

Yeah, this beer is nice. In terms of a downside, the beer does have a sort of cough-syrup flavor to it. But I find that is pretty common amongst barleywines, let alone bourbon barrel aged ones.

Good stuff.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of Alcstradamus.

Pours a dark ruby brown in color. No head on the pour. Smell is bourbon, some very dark fruits and a little bit of alcohol as well.
Taste is more of the bourbon, but whatever the dark fruit flavor is coming through more in the flavor. It has the bite of cranberries, but could be dates as well. Really dominant in the flavor.
The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth, and just a tad thin. Tastes more like a brandy barrel aged beer than a bourbon barrel aged beer.
Tasty.

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Photo of wisrarebeer
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: Deep copper color, slight haze, nice head that dissipated.
S: deep bourbon and roasted malt, some heat
T: deep bourbon taste, bourbon dominates over roasted malt, a bit too much bourbon that makes it unbalanced for the style
M: warm, roasted, full

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Photo of Chaz
3.77/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a deep red-amber in color, partly turbid. A frothy, two-fingered meringue-like darker tan head tops this one and leaves a moderate amount of lace as it falls.

HUGE barrel on the nose, along with sherry-like notes and a touch of oxidation. Rich and boozy... pretty much what I was expecting (average) of the barrel treatment. Notes of coconut and rum, raisin...

Lightly sweet, tangy, bitter, and boozy on the first sip. High ferment and a tingling from the oozy heat. Mouthfeel is light ("thin") but this one really coats the mouth, tongue, and palate. Dried dark skinned fruit notes make a nice counterpart to the residual tannins from the barrel.

Finish is not dry, but the higher alcohol content renders it as a lighter finish, at least (it is very much like a spirit in the way that it finishes on the palate).

Rich malt and barrel character, and a lively interplay all around. Dried cherry and (very light) anise are the two fruit/vegetable/her notes that I pick out the most, along with some very light mint.

A very good "BA" (barrel aged) ale, and for what it is I'm sure it's hitting all of the right note. Likewise, for such a potent brew it is amazingly, dangerously drinkable!

It's definitely worth trying this one fresh, and I'd also recommend laying down a bottle (or three) to enjoy in years to come. This was the 2015 batch -- already a year old!

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Photo of CUBS09
3.78/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured a 2013 into 3Floyd's teku.

Good clean toffee color, rich white brown head and lacing.

Strong alcohol smell. Hot boozy bourbony.

Great creamy mouthfeel. Taste of caramel, toffee and still a prevalent alcohol aftertaste which heightened as it warmed. Not unexpected for an 11.5 beer.

Maybe I'm crazy but feel like this has lost a little of the rich caramel flavor I remembered. Still a great beer and can't wait for the 2014 release.

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Photo of Yesac
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 fresh vintage

A- Opaque murky orangy red in color with a small bright white head.

S- Fruity nose.. cherries come to mind. Not much bourbon aromas present. Some caramel malt.

T- Right along with smell. Fruity notes on the nose and throughout. Sweet caramel malt and some candy sugar. Earthy tones and a saltyish finish. Very slight hints of bourbon. ABV is very well hidden.

M- Full bodied. Medium carbonation. Not sticky.

O- I'm glad to see something with "bourbon" on the label and it not taste like it's over powered by it. This brew is a good blend of barelywine aged in bourbon barrels and made for some interesting sipping. A little on the bitter-sweet side for taste however.

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Photo of cbeer88
3.8/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tasted blindly in the Blind BIF. Poured into Duvel tulip.

Apperance: Dark orange, bordering on brown. Decent finger and a half head on an aggressive pour, lots of carbonation bubbles. Light spotted lacing.

Smell: Caramel malt, oak, and a bit of a hop profile. Also a good amount of alcohol presence on the nose. Bourbon I do believe.

Taste: Really hot, the alcohol dominates the palate on this one. Bourbon barrel for sure. Underneath I get some caramel, some sweet bread-y flavor, and a good amount of pine flavored hop punch.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, moderately carbed.

Drinkability: Very low - this beer is really hot and needs some time to mellow.

Overall: I do think there is a very good beer in here, but it is so masked by the alcohol that I'm having a hard time tasting what lies underneath. I'll get through it alright without a struggle, but I would lay this down for a bit before attempting it again.

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Photo of nicnut45
3.81/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into arrogant bastard snifter. 2013 vintage

A- A muddy red pond water appearance. Almost no head on an average pour. A slight tan head bubbles to the surface.

S-Upon warming, she really starts to come to life. Carmel, bourbon, peppercorn, floods the nostrils. Digging a little deeper, I catch a whiff of scotch tape. Weird I know, but I smell it none the less.

T-This is way too bitter and harsh if your just pulling it out of the fridge. Needs to warm up a bit. Upon warming shes a bit alcoholic, and bitter as wormwood. Hot and spicey down the gullet with a soothing burn. The hot alcohol covers up the subtle flavors that will reveal itself with time. Flan, caramel, and alcoholic sweetness are major flavors now but give it 3-4 years and I think she will really shine.

O- Lay her down and I think this will be great in a few years. She is surely hot to say the least and strongly bittered to boot.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 615 ratings.
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