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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: 618 | Ratings: 2,271
Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

An excellent beer, thanks to starrdogg for sharing.

A: Reddish orange hue with some golden lacing on the sides of the glass. Ok ring of head.

S: A nice bourbon vanilla oak infused prune/vegetable barley base. Raisin sugar also dominate nicely.

T: Awesome taste. Elegant mix of oak/bourbon with huge dark fruit spicy barleywine. Confectionary levels of sweetness and some nice bitters at the back.

M: Smooth and very nice, bitter back. Great.

D: A little heavy but nice!

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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 TheDTrain
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Wow 11.5 abv! A very sweet barley wine. Pours a cloudy mahogany with great amber highlights. Taste is hot from the bourbon but gets overpowered by the sugars. As it warms, the awesome flavors of burnt caramel, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, and bourbon whiskey really shine.

The sweetness is a bit fatiguing and could be toned down a notch. This one will probably get better with age. Nevertheless, a great barley wine that will keep the D train warm along the tracks.

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Photo of mjn5036
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into my Piraat snifter. This beer pours a thick looking, dark honey color with bright ruby colored highlights. A massive, thick, sticky, off-white head rises up out of nowhere in a beautiful cascading effect. The head lingers around for approximately seven minutes before receding into a white cap floating on top and a ring around the circumference. Soapy lacing is sparingly left around the sides of the class.

The nose on this beer is a lot of bourbon, caramel, roasted malts and toasted grains and maybe some bittering hops. Slightly floral and definitely sweet to the nose, this one smells great.

Taste is heavy on the bourbon, and like the nose full of caramel. Toffee and brown sugar make an appearance making this beer sweeter than I thought it was going to be. The lack of astringent, over the top hops found in the other big American barely wine is nice. There is quite a bit of boozy notes in the taste as well. This one could use a little time.

Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, like sipping on liquid caramel. It is actually fairly hot on the palate, possibly from the alcohol, possibly from the bourbon barrel aging. Like I said, I think some time will certainly help mellow this beer out and bring out some more of its subtle complexities. I didn't realize the abv on this bad boy was 11.5% until I pulled it up on here. With this alcohol content the heat isn't much of a surprise, and this is actually fairly drinkable considering that.

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Photo of joshuaseresse
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Picked this up in Stevens Point during the Central Waters Anniversary party. Even though I've had the 08-10 before, I chose to rate this because this is what I have the most of. As far as I'm concerned, the 2009 is the best year to date (and alcstradamus - Adam - can be quoted as saying "I like this better than Wooden Hell).. followed by the 2008 and then 2010/2011. Poured into my town hall snifter:

A - Pours a dark murky brown color, with a slight golden and amber hue. Pour produces only a slight foam cap but quickly dissipates into a very thin foam ring, and it seems to appear only on the left hand side of the glass...strange.

S - Wonderful tones of caramel, brown sugar and toffee. Smooth hints of sweet bourbon and a tiny bit of leather. Smells smooth and sweet, but all around delicious.

T - This one is pretty booze but its a really smooth bourbon flavoring. This one is new so I expect it to be pretty hot, but I can say for sure that if you give this one a few years it will be one of the best BBBW out there. Back to the taste. Nice sweet caramel and burnt brown sugar. Also flavors of toffee and candy. Once it warms the bourbon comes to the front and offers a nice sipping treat.

M - Like I said before, this one is pretty hot. A nice smooth carbonation that leaves the mouth slightly tingly. Its just so very good.

D - I'm giving this one a 5 on drinkability because it is just so all around amazing. When its cold, you are able to drink it somewhat quick and the flavors are slightly suttle and toned down, but when it warms, you can really just enjoy it, and the flavors and wonderful and the barrel aging that this brew has undergone really comes through. I love the flavors, smell and look of this beer. Just an all around amazing beer. Paul and his team have done a wonderful job with this and I hope they keep up the good work. This one only gets better with age folks, but enjoy one today and see how greatness is born!

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Photo of cbutova
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared by Chico1985, reviewed from notes. Bottle is about a year old.

A- Hazy deep red with a small cloud and bubbly ring. Legs fall and a minimal spot or two of lace sticks behind.

S- Oak and whiskey spice atop of dark fruit and a deep stale caramel old ale profile.

T- Old ale malt with some whiskey flavor and spice. Nice oak flavor and some dark fruit/cherry. Good ol' stale caramel, probably from the age on the bottle.

MF- Nice moderate carbonation with good alcohol warming and thickness to the body.

DB- Good balance of oak, barleywine malts and Bourbon flavors. I would like to try this one again in the future.

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Photo of atremains
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - lively amber-brown with hazy white swirl capping. Not much head or lacing.
S- bourbon and a lot of caramel
T- bourbon is very tasty and balanced well. Bready, caramel, and slightly hoppy.
Mf - nice and full bodied, chewy, gratifying.
D - well balance beer with some very redeeming qualities.

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Photo of vitrael
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep red-brown, slightly cloudy with an oily film of a head.

S: Vanilla, alcohol, very sweet maltiness. You will smell it the second you uncap the bottle.

T: Fat, strong vanilla taste, oak, sweet alcohol, but remarkably smooth considering this is a new vintnage and huge ABV. Sweet malt heaven with just a slight crisp finish of the hops.

M: Slightly syrupy and average carb.

D: Drink slowly!

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Photo of seeswo
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing 2011, have had 2008-2011 before.
Pours a translucent cherry brown with a reasonable tannish-white head. Smells just fantastic: caramel, vanilla, bourbon. Just knocks me outta the park. This is a very fresh barley wine, with hops in the finish and big sweetness upfront. A bit boozy, bourbony and just generally, a beer that needs some time to calm down. From experience, it doesn't take long for this beer to mellow quite a bit. Based off of this fresh and generally over time, this is a barley wine for people who like them relatively sweet. Very solid levels of carbonation with a medium mouthfeel. In it's current state, it's not the most drinkable beer. As it mellows, the sweetness emerges, putting a ceiling on the drinkability. In general, this beer has well integrated bourbon without being a bourbon/booze bomb, that is on the sweeter side of an already sweet style. Fantastic, and that's before I mention that you can't pay more than $3/12oz when it's available.

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Photo of Vdubb86
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a snifter

2011 Vintage

This beer looked a really nice deep red heavy amber color with a quickly fading light beige head that reduced to lacing on the surface. The smell, it's really really a wonderful fragrance. There is a honey brown sugar caramel aroma along with some hints of bourbon and vanilla. The taste was nice sweet brown sugar and vanilla flavor there were light fruit flavors hidden deep in back a hint of oak flavor. The taste when at the perfect temperature, which I assume to be the intended serving temperature, is a wonderful god like nectar, either above or below the tannins or booze come out respectively. This beer was really easy to drink when at the right temperature range, and I seriously wish that I was saving more of these bottle for myself because damn are they tasty.

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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.

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Photo of Gfunk720
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Out of my Maudite tulip

A- A glowing reddish amber color. Nice 1 finger off white head. The beer is pretty clear.

S- Smells of caramel and bourbon, dark fruit and vanilla. Smells sweet, with a bit of oakiness. I smell some light hoppiness, but nothing crazy.

T- Coats the mouth with a wondeful smooth caramel flavor, which quickly transitions to a prominent piney hop flavor. The bourbon is there, but melds well with the other flavors. A little booze and vanilla too.

M- It's really pretty nice. Could have used some more time to mellow, but it is very drinkable. The hoppiness is a little strong.

D- More of a sipper, but plenty drinkable. A nice and complex barleywine, with a near perfect bourbon blend. Would love to try some of these with a couple years of age on them

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Photo of PDXHops
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big ups to Ryan011235 for sending this excellent beer my way. 12 ounce bottle poured into an oversized snifter.

Frankly, this wasn't much to look at. Even an aggressive pour into the middle of the tulip yielded just a few bubbles and the barest wisp of a head that was gone in an instant. No head, no lace.

All is forgiven with the first sniff though. Rich, decadent malty nose, full of toffee, cream and well-integrated bourbon. Tastes as advertised, which is to say, damned delicious. Medium-thick with a smooth, coating feel that works well with the general warmth of the beer. Not a lot of carbonation is delivered, but then again, not a lot is needed. The bourbon is perfectly integrated; I can't imagine that aging this would make it any smoother. Buttery toffee, caramel and sugared whipped cream provide the sweetness, while fruitiness comes from raisins and baked apples. Can't quite figure out the hops; at times they seem to impart flavors both citric and earthy. Some charred oak weaves in and out.

Overall impression: Forget what it looks like, just close your eyes and enjoy. Excellent example of barrel-aging.

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Photo of ibbjamin
2.63/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Paid $3.99 for a 12oz bottle from Discount Liquor in Milwaukee, WI. This is the 2009 vintage and I am tasting in JAN 2010, so it is likely about a year and a half aged (I am unsure of bottling date). I pour into a snifter to review.

A very aggressive pour yields a half inch, tan colored, dense head that leaves a nice ring of lacing after dissipating. Color when held to a light is deep mahogany ruby; certainly opaque in darkness. Some lacing has stuck around.

Aroma is pretty boozy, with bourbon and lots of oak picked up from the barrel it was aged in. Some resinous hops have stuck around, even through the aging and cellaring. Fig, plum and molasses also evident.

Too much bourbon in the taste for my liking. The other characteristics I noted in the nose become quite muted.

Medium full body. Light on the carbonation. Long boozy finish.

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Photo of corby112
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage.

Pours a deep dark chestnut brown color that is completely opaque with slight caramel colored edges. Half finger yellowish head that quickly fades into a thin lasting ring. Minimal spots of lacing left behind and visible carbonation bubbling up.

Earthy, leathery malt aroma with hints of caramel, chocolate, toffee and biscuit as well as some subtle hops and boozy alcohol sweetness. The barrel aging is evident in the aroma with a nice amount of bourbon, earthy oak, vanilla and marshmallow. It's refreshing to encounter a bourbon BA beer that is complex and doesn't smell like a complete booze bomb.

Medium bodied with tight carbonation up front and a good bit of alcohol heat that lingers throughout and warms the chest. Lots of sweet caramel malt with earthy, leathery notes and slight bitter hops. Hints of caramel, chocolate, toffee and biscuit countered by the bourbon barrel notes. Sweet and boozy but not too hot with plenty of bourbon, oak and vanilla. As it warms the heat tones down a notch and the silky caramel, toffee, vanilla and marshmallow flavors become more prominent. Very complex but a bit just a touch too hot at this stage. I would love to see how this is doing in another year or two. Very good but definitely a sipper.

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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 domtronzero
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Slightly hazy deep copper colored with a long lasting whitish head. Little lacing.

S - Caramel, sweet bready malts, earthy hops. Vanilla and bourbon aromas are subtle yet noticeable.

F/M - Sweet caramelly, bready malts lead into a subtle vanilla oaky flavor. Moderate earthy hop flavors with moderate bitterness. Clean, sweet finish with a slight lingering vanilla bourbon flavor. Medium full bodied with moderate carbonation.

D - Good, full flavored, delicious and quite satisfying. I can't wait to try some of the other offering from CW.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by Thorpe429 and Amyliz4. Thanks Mike and Amy!

Served in a blind taste test with Alpine Great and Kuhnhenn Bourbon Barrel Barleywine.

A: This beer appears umber hued and very slightly hazy, with a thin, wispy head that leaves a just a touch of lacing on the glass.

S: Bourbon, molasses, sweet malt, dark fruits, toffee, caramels, oak.

T: Dark fruits, caramels, oak. Nicely done. Rich and flavorful.

M: Medium-thin in body, with a fairly low carbonation level.

D: I found this beer to be similar in many regards to the Kuhnhenn brew I had alongside it, albeit 3% less abv. I'd definitely have it again.

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Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

An old Kosmyk Charlie bottle with a green 'Aged in Bourbon Barrels' sticker affixed. From NFLMVP if my notes are reliable.

A: The barleywine is a dark reddish hue, one that looks brown from afar. Up close, the crimson shades are difficut to miss. A small head accompanied the pour, leaving no lace behind.

S: The nose has a rustic barleywine nose, quite sweet with caramel grains. The bourbon barrel is no slouch, adding light vanilla and a strong boozy streak. The bourbony sweetness needs some time, but it comes through nicely.

T: Sweet bourbon, sweet, sweet nectar. A bourbon barrel may have been made for a beer like this. The barleywine is big and strong, plenty of malts creating a dark, fruity landscape. The nearly cloying malts benefit from the barrel, adding vanilla and coconut. Vanilla is stronger and has a bit of pepper behind it. The barleywine and barrel together are a nice package, albeit one that packs a huge punch.

M: The mouthfeel is malty sweet, chewy before the bourbon sets in. Once it does, the ale picks up steam. It becomes a sweet, liquory drink from there. I'm not sure how old this bottle is but it has done quitely nicely.

D: At 11% or so, it is a nightcap. A nice blend of bourbon and barleywine.

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Photo of sisuspeed
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to levifunk for the bottle!
Bottled February 2010

Poured into a Rock Art tasting glass. Clear ruby-red body with about a finger of foamy white head on top. A few patches of lacing. One of the better looking barleywines I've seen.

The nose is bourbon, hops, sweet malts and a touch of alcohol. Some vanilla and light ripe fruits. Hint of oak. Quite good, but not at the same complexity level as J.W. Lees.

Hops and oak mix with sweet malts and a bit of booze on the tongue. Sweet overall, but the hops definitely make themselves well known. Bourbon seems much stronger in the nose, but comes through a little bit in the flavor. Tastes more like oak barrel, than bourbon. Slightly fruity. Pretty good stuff.

Mouthfeel is smooth and almost creamy. Just the right about of heaviness and carbonation. Almost perfect for an American barleywine.

Drinkability is good. This glass went down pretty easy, especially for 11.5% ABV. However, I think this beer will be even better with a few years on it. Definitely another stand out brew from Central Waters and worth seeking out.

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Photo of abuliarose
3.84/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010, poured into a tulip glass, revealing ruby gold body under a finger and a half of yellowed head. Decent amount of head for a strong barleywine. Some lacing. Very nice looking. Smells a little alcoholic with a good bit of bourbon in there. Light malts and a slight floral presence underneath. Simple smells.

Tastes sweet up front with a decent bourbon vanilla presence and some milky caramel, devolving into a decently strong bitter dryness. If you like your barleywine bitter this one is still going strong. Fine for the style for sure, but it has lost much of the aromatic pine and citrus qualities in the bitterness. Mouthfeel is smooth and a little syrupy up front and drying at the end with a thin, prickly carbonation. Just over light-bodied. Decently drinkable, decently sip-able.

Overall it's quite nice. I don't know if it's on the outs or has yet to reach its peak but I would love to try some different vintages to see where I like it better.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.42/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a copper color with good carbonation and a small white head.

S: Mainly bourbon, hops, booze and caramel

T: I get some dark fruits, caramel, oak, vanilla,the bourbon increases from begininng to end leaving a very prounounced bourbon feel on the end.

M: Tends to be a bit thin for my liking, syrupy end leaving an aftertaste

D: Good but would not want another

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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.

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Photo of jampics2
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into a snifter. This is the 2010 version I traded for at Dark Lord Day then cellared for a while. I had to crack into this to see how it's coming along!

The beer looks good in the glass, but it's nothing exceptional. It has a caramel color with a touch of gold and red around the edges. The film of a head dissipates and I'm left with a random bubble or two. The beer is murky and could look better, but it's not going to make me think twice about consuming it.

The smell is great - Central Waters ages their barrel-aged beers for the perfect amount of time IMO and they get such great notes from the oak instead of straight wood and bourbon. In addition to the sweet malt and dark fruit typically noted in Barleywines, this has some wonderful injections of bourbon, vanilla and coconut. There's also a touch of toasted malt in the mix which certainly adds to the complexity. Very expressive. Little to no hoppiness - just a touch is left after the aging and adds some earth and a touch of citrus.

The taste is fantastic. This is easily one of the best -bal aged American Barleywines on the market, especially considering its price. The huge malt base is sweet and gives great caramel and toffee notes with a touch of toast. Some cherry, fig, and prune skin deepens the complexity. The bourbon comes in next and has a touch of sting but is well integrated. The oak lends some vanilla and coconut to round out the experience. There is some booze, but that's to be expected with a beer this big, and it's not something that defines this or jumps out too much. The hops aren't prominent but add some bitterness to round out the flavor.

The mouthfeel is defined by a creamy carbonation and medium to heavy body. The beer is decadant as it should be, but that hurts drinkability a bit. Just a fantastic brew and one I will stock up on every year when it's available.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.28/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance- murky orange goodness with minimal head

Amora- smells like barlwywine with vanilla and oak hints

Taste- dark fruit flavors with subtle hints of vanilla oakiness. Tastes like the best barley wine I've had in a while but with added wonderfulness of bourbon :)

Mouthfeel- smooth, strong, potent, amazing

Drinkability- very drinkable for the strength

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 2,271 ratings.
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