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: Rotating

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

Added by Atron67 on 03-02-2008

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Reviews: 625 | Ratings: 2,305
Photo of majorbase2
4.41/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pleasant looking dark brown. About one finger of light brown head, with decent retention. Leaves a small amount of lacing. Not quite as dark as I expected. A little bit of sediment becomes visible when you get closer to the bottom.

Aroma is sweet malts and booze/bourbon. Lots of caramel, hints of vanilla.

Very syrupy. Sweet. Caramel malts. The caramel sweetness is sensational. Just the slightest hint of citrus. A little bit of alcohol warmth, but overall the booze is masked nicely. The bourbon isn't overpowering. A little bit of vanilla. There is a hint of oak that they are aged in. This is definitely a sweet one. But the sweetness pairs itself with the high ABV to create a formidable taste combo.

Mouthfeel not as heavy as I expected it to be. This one is very syrupy. Not a whole lot of carbonation.

Overall, this is one tasty brew. Like I said, not as heavy as I expected it to be. The alcohol doesn't hit as hard as you might expect from an 11.5%er. Wonderfully sweet. One of the best caramel flavors you'll ever see. I'm not normally a huge fan of bourbon barrel aged beers, but this one is a must-have.

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Photo of bound4er
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage.

A. Redish amber color, off white two finger head with good staying power for a barleywine. Decent amount of carbonation bubbles and loads of lacing.

S. Almost Sherry-like on the nose with a caramel nuttiness that hits first followed by brown sugar, molasses and vanilla. Very complex for a beer - might a say nearly perfect - with the barrel aging adding complexity without overpowering anything.

T. After how nicely this poured and its intoxicating aroma, I was salivating anticipating my first sip. Wow, this is no wimpy beer. Lots going on here with Fino Sherry flavors (vanilla nuttiness) and some booze hitting you at first followed by some hop bitterness and a bit more booze on a long, long finish. While present, the alcohol is not off-putting by any means - it actually adds to the enjoyment of this beer - something I normally wouldn't say.

M. Very creamy and an excellent mouthfeel without the "syrupiness" one might expect from such a big beer.

D. This style of beer is meant for slow sipping. One and done for me. I am not a big barleywine guy but this is a very good beer and one that I will enjoy drinking from time to time. CW delivers again.

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Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.85/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into two snifters. Big thanks to Ethan for two bottles of this; I asked for four Abrasive, and instead I get three and two CW BBBW. What a great friend!

A - good looking brew. Looks more like a scotch ale than anything, super brown with little head on the forced pour. The carbonation is constant and visible, but, unlike most BBA beers, it's very translucent.

S - a lot of bourbon and a lot of alcohol. If I was doing a blind taste testing, I wouldn't guess that this was a barleywine. Harsh throughout.

T - the harshness continues. CW BBBW pounds the senses with intensity: alcohol, bourbon, and only a hint of the hops that one normally would expect from a barleywine. The malt and barley really hit hard, not in a good way. This baby needs at least a year in the cellar.

M - again, the alcohol really detracts here. Too much booze and carbonation, which isn't faithful to the other brews in the style. It's a harsh drinking experience.

O - this is a perfect candidate for the cellar, but I don't think I'd get another one fresh, even on tap. It hits hard and bitter.

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Photo of CaptCleveland
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle from a couple of awesome MN BA traders!

Ruby red elixir poured into Hoppin' Frog snifter. Clear liquid, minimal lacing, thin, white rim hugs the edge.

Wonderful complex aromas: oak, vanilla, dried fruit, bourbon, caramel. Could sniff this all night.

The caramel and vanilla are right up front, then comes a nice bourbon bitterness that really balances the brew. The bourbon pleasantly lingers.

Medium body, smooth, sticky, like toffee.

This really hits the spot. Complex melding of flavors. Was thinking of sitting on a couple, but really drinking well right now.

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Photo of angelmonster
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewing the 2011 vintage

Pours a hazy hazelnut brown with amber highlights. Head is 1/3 inch and off white. Head retention is good and lacing is very good.

Smell is of classic barleywine aromas. Caramel malts, Belgian candied rock sugar, and some dried apricots/dates. Hints of pine and citrus linger and bourbon barrel aging is pretty apparent. Alcohol smells of slight oak, molasses, vanilla, and caramel.

Taste is pretty complex. Sweet caramel, bready rich malts, smokey almost like scotch. Alcohol has a big presence here but it isnt overpowering at all. 11 percent is definitely tasted but oak and bourbon impart a nice butterscotch/vanilla alcohol sweetness. Hops arent very present. As the beer warms, different flavors become more noticeable, mainly bourbon.

Mouthfeel is good, medium bodied and carbonation is good, especially for such a rich syrupy beer. Would have scored a perfect 5 if only head would have been pronounced and added that creamy texture that is so rare in high alcohol beers

Overall this is the best barleywine I've ever had. Flavors are rich, complex and for almost 12 percent, nowhere near overbearing. Only flaw to this beer is that the alcohol was definitely there, not that I dont mind it, but it prevented me from giving this beer 5 in some categories. I sampled this vintage at about 11 months old, hopefully I can find some more of this barleywine and revisit it in another year.

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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 kels
3.92/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got this 2010 bottle from NorthsideFred as an excellent extra - cheers!

It pours a rusty shade of brown and is more opaque than clear. The high ABV actually becomes visible in a slightly layered effect within the beer. The initial 1/2 finger white head fizzles out immediately to a bit of swirly skim and a few spots of spitty white lace.

Very interesting aromas in this beer. I do get the syrupy grains and some dark, sticky fruits in the nose, but the dominant scent is specifically the vanilla and oak - not the bourbon - from the bourbon barrel. It gives a really nice, softening effect to the normally nose-singing boldness of a barleywine. The alcohol is actually hardly detectable.

Alcohol hiding in the nose certainly comes through, almost too strongly, in the taste. It does hold the essence of the bourbon, but the alcohol is definitely more sharp, more like rubbing alcohol, than like the full and softly warming feel of a good bourbon. The vanilla and the oak come through deliciously, with a nice mellow sweetness and charred flavor. As with the nose, I get the barrel a little more than the barleywine, but that's okay with me in barrel-aged beers even if it isn't others preference. A bit of the deeply caramelized grains and that essence of sticky raisins and prunes comes out in the aftertaste. Feel isn't as thick and viscous as it would appear, though is far from thin or bubbly. It has a slick and moderate presence that keeps the flavors hanging around in the aftertaste forever.

Drinkability is definitely impacted by the sharpness of the alcohol in the taste, but not necessarily any more than in other beers of this style. Overall a tasty and somewhat unexpected beer that I'm glad to have enjoyed.

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Photo of jpmclaug
3.92/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of BA's best bear, Barry! This is a 2010 vintage poured into a snifter.

Brownish body with a ruby hint, s mall circle of offwhite head rested on top at first but quickly gave way to just a circle around the rim of the glass. About what you'd expect for the style.

Smells real sweet, like a good bourbon but without any of the alcoholic scents found in one. Oak and vanilla are making an appearance as well.

Sweet barrel aged notes, a solid malt presence but seems to be lacking just a bit, sweet at the first swallow, Not much in the way of hop flavor showing but a little bitterness in the end, a bit of an oaky taste. Not much heat, I guess time in the cellar mellowed this one out. I dunno something is just lacking in this one, not as full flavored as I was hoping and the bourbon notes seem a bit subdued. I think I might enjoy this one more fresh.

Overall a solid take on the style but not the best I've had. I could go for some more malty notes and maybe a bit more barrel flavor. I think I would enjoy it more if it wasn't aged. Anyhow... it's still a decent beer and I see why people enjoy it. It's especially nice that it comes in 12oz bottles.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.46/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thank you, pmarlowe for this outstanding extra. Pours a deep amber with a thin tan head. Good retention and lacing. Heavy bourbon on the nose along with dark fruit and biscuity malt aromas. Sweet bourbon throughout the palate, offset by faint hop bitterness. Heavy mouthfeel with lots of alcohol heat and little carbonation. Overall, this great BA barleywine is one that could lay down for a few years.

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Photo of BrewerB
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

mcc1654 sent this beer my way a while back and I've been looking forward to trying it ever since. Cheers and thanks again, Mike!

Great clarity, copper in color with a thin off-white/light tan foam. Not much in the way of lacing.

Honey, vanilla, oak, molasses, fruity esters all coming through in the nose. Bourbon also prominently featured. Complex and inviting aroma hints at the strength of this brew with alcohol being detectable though not hot or solventy.

Rich malt backbone combining with bourbon barrel aging leads to flavors of vanilla, toffee, and burnt sugar. Though difficult to pick up in the aroma, some citrusy hops can be spotted here in the flavor. Pleasant lingering caramel sweetness in the finish.

Medium-full bodied with moderate/moderate-low carbonation level. Smooth with warming from alcohol.

Overall this is one delicious beer. Complex array of flavors keeps my palette intrigued in taking sip after sip. My only regret is that I didn't ask for a couple bottles to cellar as I think this will only get better over the next few years and beyond.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz poured into snifter

A - This beer pours a murky apple cider colour with a nice light yellow head. Good sticky lace

S - Lots of sweet sugars, some vanilla and woody oak. The bourbon is integrated in the nose very well

T - A nice balance of bourbon, vanilla, sugar plums, English toffee, brown sugar. Incredible taste

M - Sticky, medium-heavy, slight heat.

O - This is an incredibly well balance BB barleywine. One of my favourites so far, awesome. Highly recommended.

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Photo of biglite351
3.14/5  rDev -26.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Very merky dark burnt honey color. Vanishing near white head

S - Bourbon malts, caramel, vanilla. Strong on the bourbon

T - Mostly bourbon, but not actually overpowering. Caramel, vanilla and a

bitter yeast hit in the end

M - Thick but only a medium coating. Mild tingle on tongue with an

alcohol burn in the throat

O - Not bad at all, but not really my thing

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Photo of lstokes
4.15/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at the Norse, this came out dark with red highlights and smelled like woody cherries and bourbon. Taste is very sweet, with ripe fruit flavors, vanilla, lots of caramel and oaked wood. I like the fact that the bourbon isn't overwhelming, and that the beer gets more and more complex as it warms. I'm also genuinely surprised at the 11.5 ABV--this was so smooth! So light! So easy to drink! I don't normally love this style, but this I would have again in a second.

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Photo of sleuthdog
3.89/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2012 vintage pored into tulip

A: This brew poured an brown-orange color without any head. There was some evident carbonation upon the pour and I do see some slight bubbles through the murky color of this beer. Not overly impressed with the appearance of this one.

S: The first and somewhat dominating smell I get is the bourbon. I also after that get a nice sweet toffee, brown sugar and vanilla and these are melded together wonderfully with a booziness that works really well together. Really getting into this I do pick up a very slight oak character. The awesome smell has made up for the lacking appearance.

T: The taste follows the nose as I was hoping it would. I get the alcohol and the bourbon first. This is followed by some sweet notes like toffee, brown sugar, caramel and sweet malts and this just plain sticks to my tongue like a syrup. It just lingers for what seems like forever. The alcohol is evident to me but does not burn but instead I would describe it as a nice warming effect. Enjoy the taste on this one.

M: The feel is rather thin and watery to me but like I said it is also sticky and syrupy. The flavors do linger from sip to sip despite its thin feel.

O: I was not expecting this to taste like it did being that it is classified as an American barleywine. I expected more hop bite but got more sweetness that I get from the English style. Since I tend to enjoy the English version this was a pleasant surprise to me. Overall I really liked how the alcohol and the bourbon are not overly dominating but do play nice with the sweet and oak characters.

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Photo of KI9A
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Oh boy...can't wait to post his review, so I can look at what the others say about it!

A: Bottle pour, tulip glass. Beautiful deep mahogany. Puffy head.

S: Wood barrels, no doubt about that. Boozy, fruity, malty aroma. Nice.

T: YIKES! This is great. White vanilla-chocolate covered apples. Thats as close as I can explain it. Malts, maybe a grapefruity bitter finish. Very nice!

M/D: Clean for a barley wine. Nice bourbon finish, along with a little boozy heat. I am glad I bought 2 of these, one for now, one to cellar.

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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.

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Photo of djmichaelk
4.36/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle, courtesy of alefish (thanks!), into a 7venth Sun snifter. 2012 vintage.

A - Pours a fairly clear dark auburn, with a finger of off-white head that quickly recedes to a thin cap. Good lacing, though.

S - Toasted coconut, a bit of hazelnut, toffee and brown sugar, and vanilla. Some barrel-aged barleywines stray into suntan-lotion territory, but this does a nice job of staying away from that.

T - Caramel, toffee, and just a little bitter dark chocolate at first, then vanilla and nuttiness. The finish is more American Barleywine, with the bitterness from the hops shining through.

M - Thick and creamy, with a velvety carbonation that compliments the flavors nicely. Bitter but not too drying.

O - This one went pretty quickly, in spite of the ABV. It's not quite at the level of Abacus or MoAS, but it's pretty close, and a a third (or quarter) of the price. Amazing that they can keep the cost so low. Well worth seeking out. (And glad I have another 4-pack on the way!)

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Photo of Qbdoo
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A pretty delicious and deliciously drinkable powerhouse of a beer. Beautiful looking: a cloudy orange-ish brown. It looks like your dream of a barrel-aged barley wine. Mouthfeel is somewhat thinner than many barleywines but wonderfully creamy. Taste is surprisingly smooth - the aging seems to iron out the coarseness I find in many barleywines. Vanilla is the most prominent flavor. There's really just a hint of bourbon, which is a big plus in my mind, and the alcohol taste is slight as well.

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Photo of brewmudgeon
4.17/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

3/2011 (2011 vintage): very similar to the 2010 after a few months, except the figs and dates are even more buried by the booze--can't wait to try the 2010 later. On a side note, mixing a few ounces of this about 50/50 with red's rye p.a. turned out amazingly well.

9/2010 (2010 vintage):
a 4 slightly haz coppery amber. film lasts a modest while.

s 4.5 at first the deep fig and date aromas i remember from regular charlie, then the bourbon hits me bigtime.

t 4 the bourbon is big on the palate as well. this beer is slick, hot, and boozy. wow, this might really benefit from some age, whereas i like the y2k just the way it is.

m 4.5 thick, slick, enough carbonation of fine quality.

d 4 will have to crack another open in a year or so and see if the bourbon settles down at all. right now this is huge and impressive, but i don't like it as much as the regular charlie.

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

2010 vintage poured from 12oz bottle into Duvel tulip.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of sponberg
4.62/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep reddish amber, slightly cloudy, with a thin offwhite head that is gonna do some lacing, you knows it.

Yeah, this one's hit the barrel - big, butter/smoke/vanilla/bourbon aroma with slight pepperiness; almost more of an anejo tequila note than bourbon in here. Diggin' it.

Starts out with this vast bourbon malt attack - huge flavor going on. Really get the bourbon barrel in this one - almost but not quite too much. Woody, spicy (pepperiness again) with big dark carameliness but dry as can be. Not cloying in the slightest. Finish is almost dominated by the combination of that smoky bourbon maltiness and the growing alcoholic presence. I like vanilla, but this one's got the bean well under control and all for the better of it. Big, warm, round, smooth, with a warming surge o' in the finish that almost numbs the tongue. A beer made for sipping, Two of these would be plenty - but I'd enjoy every sip.

Thanks to theFatKid13 for the bottle - :thumbup: F'n Furley!!!

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Photo of charlesw
2.14/5  rDev -50%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

Beautiful ruby/brown, you can just see through it. A few nice inches of head - nice small bubbles and they hang around a few minutes to leave a lasting covering lace. To make it perfect the head would need to last longer.

Smells fruity and rich like an English barleywine. Sweet prunes and whatnot.

Tastes, well. It doesn't taste English like it smells. Well, sort of. But, see, it's completely buried under an overwhelming woodiness. This is over the top. Yuck.

Other than the over-the-top wood (which really ruins this beer for me), I get English flavors only without the sweetness. Strange, to say the least. And, sure, I get bitterness but I associate that with tannins from the wood and not with hops. A most unpleasant experience. Given another 10 years in the bottle I might think about actually drinking one (as in, when it has mellowed down to something only slightly more extreme than a normal barleywine) but, as it is, neither I nor the wife even wants to smell it again.

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Photo of rudylaw
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A nice deep red color with a monster off white head. Shrinks into a thin ring.

I get a lot of prunes and plums in the nose. Woodiness and bourbon as well. Never quite sniffed a beer like this before!

Bourbon is very smooth upon first taste. Very smooth and sweet. The dark fruits are coming through as well. Very well-balanced.

You can't drink a lot of these in a sitting, but this velvety barleywine is so unique and delicious. Central Waters needs more reach as this beer should be enjoyed by as many as possible.

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Photo of Brez07
3.82/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Reviewing from notes. 12oz bottle poured into a snifter

A: Dark cherry red color. Partially opaque. Small amount of cream head that stays for a few minutes

S: Great smooth bourbon presence up front. Combined with vanilla and some oakiness. Light citrus sneaks it's way through, mostly in the form of zest/rind. Notes of cherry and caramel. Sweet malt towards the end

T: Booze soaked caramels. Vanilla and dark fruit (still going with cherry). Definite bourbon presence. Subtle hop bitterness. Wood-like dryness

M: Medium bodied. Pretty high carbonation for the style. Fairly strong hop and alcohol finish

D: Might have opened this one a little early. With a little time I could see this being great. Decent now, but I'll sit on the other one I have

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 2,305 ratings.
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