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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: 617 | Ratings: 2,271
Photo of levifunk
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Finally getting around to reviewing this. 12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

appearance - auburn-brown liquid. little to no head.

smell - fantastic. smell is so sweet and caramelly. can smell the booze too.

taste - caramel & bourbon. enough said.

mouthfeel - syrupy feel. kind of coats your tongue. very smooth.

overall - great beer. the bourbon barrel aging is very prevalent.

side note: I had a sample of this at the beer store, and it was served quite cold. When I drank this bottle it was served at cellaring temp and I enjoyed it much more. I would recommend letting it sit out of your refrigerator for a while before drinking.

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Photo of hu5om
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

split 12 oz in 2 6oz tasters with newk340
a- translucent rosy amber, little foam

s- wood, smoky, ripe dark plum, slight heat.

t- bourbon smokiness, ripe, ripe fruit, a bit of heat with sweet malts lingering

m- low/med. carbonation. active boozy tingle on the palate, but not as much as i'd expect with the abv as it is. a gorgeous lingering sweet smokiness.

d- any time, any place, i'll drink this. i traded away way too much, but i hope everyone is enjoying it. god knows i did. definitely belongs in the top 100. it's in my top 10 easily. yum. super delic. call your sconsin ba's and get yourself some!

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Photo of Mateo2699
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is a darker beige/brown, almost maroon. Darker red hue in the light. Nice khaki colored ring of head to compliment it.

Smell is pretty robust with bourbon, oak, wood, and nice malty sweetness. Vanilla and toffee comes through as well. Big and boozy, you can tell the taste is gonna have to be the same.

Similar to the nose, the taste is pretty oak and bourbon foward. Plenty of smoke and toffee goes along with it. Getting some caramel notes, butterscotch, mixed with a hint of vanilla. Nice bourbon and boozy oak in the back end.

Mouthfeel is very filled bodied. Robust, sweet, boozy and rich.

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Photo of hawks10
4.87/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Vintage - 12oz. bottle poured into my Central Waters pint glass, enjoyed at cellar temp...

Pours a thick glowing burnt orange with some ruby highlights. Slightly hazy with a thin one finger of soft white head that leaves a cap of haze on top of the beer for the whole drink...

Caramel, toffee and a nice boozy bourbon aroma with hints of vanilla and some wood scents as well. Sweet and complex, smells absolutely fantastic...

This beer sure is green! Heavy bourbon flavor with a distinct alcohol burn up front, undesirable to some, for me however, it is smooth and delicious. Lots of vanilla and small hints of all those smells; oak, caramel, toffee, bready, just overall thick and malty. Having a hard time picking out any hop bitterness at all...So complex, so smooth, feel like I am sipping on some liquor...

Thick and creamy, very slick from the low carbonation. Coats the entire palette and leaves behind a nice sting from the booze...

This beer is very fresh and ready to drink now, it will mellow out and change with age, but it is fantastic as is and if you're patient, it will also be fantastic down the road. Had a 2009 vintage about a month ago and it had calmed down a bit but was still quite boozy and nice...the 2010 picks up right where the 2009 left off, great beer from Central Waters, gonna drink one of these every few months for the next 2 years or so...

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Photo of maedhros09
3.98/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Pours deep ruby amber mahogany with a couple fingers if head that settle to a film spicy caramel and dried fruit
Smell: Spicy caramel and acidic dark fruit with a hint of vanilla and char.
Taste: Sweetness dominates with moderate hops presence. Complex and spicy. Feel: Thick, tingly and warm, smooth
Overall: I was a little wary of the barrel aging, uncertain of how strong the bourbon flavors would be, but actually it came out as a traditional, nicely balanced and complex barleywine. The alcohol is definitely a big player here and is stronger than I prefer. Especially considering the price I would rather get a pack of SN Bigfoot, but this is a nice sipper.

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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 DabblinWiscCraft
4.56/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a four-pack of 12 ounce bottles from my local Trig's supermarket. 2015 vintage. Poured from the bottle at about 60 degrees into a goblet.

L: Beautiful pour on this one. Deep ruddy brown color with visible carbonation that yields an inch-and-a-half off-white head that sticks around for a very long time and leaves substantial lacing on the glass.

S: Huge bouquet on this one. Lots of vanilla and caramel malt with some subtle black licorice and roasty malt undertone. Oatmeal notes, as well. Very sweet and inviting nose.

T: Vanilla and clear alcohol are instantly present with the caramel and roasted malt front. Rye bread notes are discernible as the flavor progresses, along with a touch of black licorice. The clear alcohol persists through the back, as do the vanilla and caramel malt undertones. The pervading sense is one of sweetness, though this beer is sublimely well-balanced.

F: Substantial body on this one. It's very creamy and slightly sticky, though certainly not what I would consider overtly syrupy. There is a hold to the finish, but it's pleasant and in no way oppressive.

O: This is an excellent example of the BBA barleywine style. It is expertly balanced, as the bourbon flavor never overpowers the underlying base. Central Waters continues to impress me with their limited releases. This is definitely one to seek out.

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Photo of SkinnyElvis
4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to nflmvp for this bottle. Cheers!
Pours with a thin head. Dark amberish in color. Has a big nose of sweetness with a hint of the booze. Taste is a nice mix of fruit and malt flavors with the bourbon. Mouthfeel is smooth but there is a bit of an etoh burn on the way down. A great sipper.


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

Poured from 12oz bottle to pint glass.

A: Pours a very unique color for the style. Dark brown with strong red edges surrounding and almost black center. Very interesting. Small off-white head with okay retention but no lacing.

S: Strong caramel and brown sugar, dark fruit (plum/raisin) and...oh, that's right lots of bourbon. Smells very good, but not that bold.

T&M: Sweet malts with caramelized brown sugar and a bit of vanilla hit upfront grabbing your attention right away. The plum flavor then kicks in with a faint note of bourbon that only grows stronger as the beer flows across the palate. The finish is fairly strong with hops, but still taste bud poppingly sweet. The hops give off just a small amount of bitterness which intertwines with the alcohol finish perfectly making it very pleasing. Mouthfeel is perfect for the style IMO, thick, full bodied, but still tiny bubbles of carbonation dance on the tongue.

Overall: Fantastic barleywine, can't think of any better I've had. Would be much more drinkable if the sweetness was down a notch. One bottle is perfect. Pick this one up if you can find it, I'm sure it will soon be on the top 10 of the style.

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Photo of MarcatGSB
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a St. Bernardus goblet. Purchased from Riley's Wines of the World in Madison Wisconsin in early February. Bottled on date is January 2011. $10.99 a four pack.

Appearance: Pours hazy ruby/amber color. Thin foamy half finger head, minimal lacing.

Nose: Dried fruits. Nice bourbony/vanilla nose. Typical barleywine, but wait, theres more to it. Great oak/char back.

Taste: Unique flavor profile. The initial palate is bourbon barrel. Not overly boozy, but you can taste the vanilla and oak...slight charring, only to be washed away by the bitter barleywine flavor. The malt flavor is supported nicely by the bourbon/oak, and drifting away to the hop finish. Real nice balance.

Mouth: Great mouthfeel. I feel the carbonation is right where it should be. And at 11.5% ABV, no need to have a higher carbonation. Very drinkable, the booze isn't completely overbearing.

Drink and overall: Awesomely drinkable, high ABV barleywine. I like the oak barrel aging, it's done alot for Charlie. Fantastic beer, I have a few left and I am going to let them chill for a year or so.

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Photo of shadetree67
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz bottle - 2014 vintage

Appearance - Dark amber in color. Pour yielded 1/2 finger of head. Slight lacing

Smell - Toffee, caramel, boozy bourbon, slight vanilla.

Taste - Bready Malts, caramel, vanilla. Not getting much barrel in this though the bourbon flavor is present.

Mouthfeel - Medium to thin mouthfeel. Slight carbonation. The alcohol warms the back of my throat for quite awhile. A bit too hot for my tastes

Overall - This is a pretty good BB barley wine and hopefully the booze mellows out with some age on the bottle. It has a lot of potential.

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

12 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter. 2013 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a cloudy brown with a thin beige head, which dissipates after about 30 seconds into a thin lacing.

Smell: Bourbon up front along with oak and figs. Caramel comes through next with more bourbon. The bourbon, while being the most dominant smell, is definately not overpowering. In fact, I could use a bit more of it. Some alcohol heat. The aroma is very nice, but a little one dimensional when all is said and done (for a bourbon barrel aged barleywine that is).

Taste: Where the aroma was lacking in intensity, the taste is defintely not. Bourbon and rich caramel hit the palate hard along with vanilla, oak, and dark fruits. The finish brings bittering hops along with more caramel and bourbon. Alcohol heat is apparent in the finish, but not in a way that detracts from the experience. Very well done.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and smooth. Coats the tongue a bit as it goes down, but the bittering hops come through just enough to clear the palate.

Overall: A very well done BBA barleywine. The bourbon presence is balanced nicely with the caramel malt, dark fruit, and bittering hops. While it certainly isn't anything earth-shattering as far as BBA barleywines go, this really is a phenomenal beer given the price.

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Photo of Bmoyer0301
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Tonight I decided to use my crystal whiskey snifter that came with my Sam Adams Utopias bottle. This baby is perfect for catching all the small nuances of the aroma. It even opens up the beer a lot more than a normal goblet, not to mention its really classy looking. As I pried off the cap on this twelve ounce bottle there was just a faint hiss that leaked out. That was it, nothing real loud or noticeable. Because of its very high ABV and syrupy looking nature, I decided to pour straight on to entice a thick head. When I was done I was left with a thin, creamy, off white head that stuck around till the last drop. When I hold my glass up to the light there is burst of burnt orange, reds and amber shining through my snifter. This is surprisingly crystal clear and has a lot of tiny bubbles streaming upwards from the bottom of my glass. On the viscosity check I gave a generous swirl and noticed that this baby painted the glass walls with its foamy head and left a fair amount of legs slowly sliding down.


Right out of the gate a huge bouquet of caramel and toffee jump right out of the glass and into your sinuses. Not too far behind it is the straight heat from the bourbon. It is very present, almost like taking raisins, soaking them in whiskey and then snorting them up your nose. A tiny bit of vanilla is poking through and a decent amount of earthy, spicy hops round out the finish to offset the sweetness. Very complex and nice, this was shaping up to be a winner already.


Woah...I'm awake now! The flavor is just drop dead amazing! Loads of rich bourbon and wood flavors coming through in the most wonderful of arrangements. Sugary, candy like notes, followed by fruit galore and a tinge of hop spice. Other malt influences of toasted, pale malt flavors, a slight nuttiness at times and a big biscuit-like malt character. Fruity esters of plumbs, figs, dates, strawberries, ripe raspberries, red grapes, anise, and vanilla all make secondary impacts in waves as my glass gets warmer. The ending is sticky and mildly sweet, leaving bourbon flavors lingering on the palate. I get some heat alcohol but not as much as you might think for having such a high ABV.


Overall this was another week of barrel aged bliss from a bottle. I am super glad that I decided to break this out today since it is just a little bit on the cooler side and this made for a fantastic afternoon sipper. I am going to head outside for a nice cigar to finish this baby up and unwind for the rest of my Sunday. If you get a chance to try this or trade for it I'd say this is one of the best bourbon barrel barleywines I have ever had so don't miss out

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Photo of timc100
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2013 vintage

A: Gorgeous - dark ruby/mahogany, murky and dank - substantial beige head for a barrel aged beer. Great lacing and retention

S: HUGE caramel bourbon notes, vanilla and oak. Some cherry, and raisin. Delicious but very boozy and hot. Needs some time, then I'd imagine perfect

T: Big bourbon - caramel, lighter vanilla and oak. Bitter aftertaste which pairs well with the sweetness. Some dark fruit but it's hidden due to the overly boozy freshness. Could improve greatly, I'd imagine.

P: Smooth - medium to full body.

O: Fantastic barleywine and BA beer. Wish I had a few more to cellar

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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 eclipse54
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 12 ounce bottle that I received for winning rowingbrewer's "Guess My Stats" LIF earlier this month. I cannot say "thank you" enough for including this WANT of mine. A 2011 bottle poured into a DFH signature glass...

Pours a beautiful caramel, mahogany color with some copper hues when held to the light. A inch or so of thick, frothy, cream-colored head grows above the surface and lingers for a long time when considering the alcohol content of this one. Numerous strands of wet lacing cling to the glass as it settles.

It smells of wonderful hazelnut, toffee, toasted malt, caramel, floral and spicy hops, a bit of vanilla, and a hint of bourbon. There is a lot going on in the nose, and it blends together superbly.

The taste begins with the hops, and then the malt takes over. Hazelnut, toffee, and caramel dominate the middle of this brew, before notes of vanilla, oak, and bourbon shine through in the end. Very well done. A warming alcohol sensation comprises the exhale.

The mouth is very rich, yet smooth after the prickly rush of initial hops. It finishes slightly dry, but not at all sticky, and the carbonation seems spot on. As far as feel, this is phenomenal.

Overall, one of the best American barleywines I’ve ever had. The hops seem a bit faded, which is perfect for me. For comparisons sake, fresh Bigfoot has a bit more hop character to it than I prefer, and I picked the perfect time to open this one as they have mellowed precisely. Again, a big thanks to rowingbrewer for this one. I need to acquire more of this now.

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Photo of GehenHerzog
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle poured into Delirium Tremens snifter. Big thanks to UMNbeerhunter for this extra.

A- Pours a deep amber red with a single finger cream colored head that leaves no lacing.

S- Right up front I get bourbon with caramel on the finish.

T- Right off the bat I get bourbon and a little bit of sweet sugary taste. Nice roasted malt flavor with a little bit of caramel in the end. Mainly bourbon though

M- Medium bodied. Decently hot, but not too bad.

D- The alcohol is noticeable but it's also a pretty big beer. It drinks well for the high abv.

I'm not a big barleywine fan, but this one hit the spot. It's the first bourbon aged barleywine I have tried and I would be willing to try to find more similar to this.

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Photo of zoober911
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L - Pours a coppery golden brown. Little to no head.

S - The caramel is tremendous. Caramel, toffee. Dark fruits. Slight bourbon.

T - Silky caramel. Some dark fruit. As these slowly fade you're hit with bourbon on the tail end. Lots of sweet bourbon.

F - Feel is as expected with the style. Carb is spot on.

O - Overall this is awesome. Easily on par with Firestone's Abacus...easily. And much more accessible. I will pick up more before it's gone this season, and this will be my go to for the style.

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Photo of Turbo
3/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

If you like Bourbon, this is for you. I didn't consider this a beer. I love IPA's, pale ales, lagers, but this.... However, based on the ratings below, many love it. I just didn't like it at all.

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Photo of dsuedbeck
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage

A: Reddish brown, murky, really thin white head that disappears quick.

S: Big bourbon notes, sweet caramel malts, some banana.

T: Starts off with a big malt taste, caramel, toffee, dark fruity notes up front. On the back end you get the bourbon and oak. Definitely a little boozey beings it is so fresh.

M: Great bourbon flavor lingers, small amount of carbonation, perfect amount of body to hold up to the alcohol.

O: Fantastic beer right now, super excited to let a few age. Definitely one of the best barleywines I've ever had.

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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.

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Photo of Cfeezy
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle
Hop forward barleywine. On the thinner side as a standalone barleywine but in a nice way(similar to the Barrel aged stout) that is complimented nicely by the barrel aging.
It comes across like a lighter fw Sucaba or bcbbw to me(and not as good as an overall brew) but very nice if you want something similar and "lighter" (maybe not the best descriptive word). O well, recommended!

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Photo of klikger
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

100th review
12 oz. bottle served in a Duvel tulip

A - Dark amber in color and slightly cloudy. A modest amount of off white head leaves behind quality lacing as the beer is consumed.

S - Caramel, bourbon, brown sugar, and some floral hops.

T - From 0 to 60 more quickly than a Ferrari, this is in all-out flavor assault from the onset. Bourbon and caramel are apparent from the moment the first drop hits the tongue, with honey and raisins quickly following. The intense and varied malt presence continues throughout and is joined by citrus bitterness in the latter stages. (Note: this is the first bottle that I've had in several months, and, not surprisingly, the hops have died down significantly. Some heat remains.) The finish is simultaneously richly sweet and pleasantly bitter.

M - Heavy-bodied and chewy, but not overly syrupy. The variety of tastes makes this a joy to swish back and forth over the tongue.

D - A sipper without a doubt, but this barleywine is enjoyable from first sip to last. My recommendation - take it slow, savor the complexity it as it warms, and pair with a quality Maytag or Danish blue cheese if you're hungry. Trust me on this.

One of my two favorite beers from one of my two favorite Wisconsin breweries, this is a perennial favorite and a blessing to those fortunate enough to live here. If you're into barleywines and haven't tried this, you should really seek it out. Don't take my word for it, continue reading below.

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

Orange color with a small head. Didnt expect to much head from a bourbon aged beer.
Bourbon and caramel.
Brown sugar, bourbon, caramel dominate. Molasses and fig also play a role with a big rich mouthfeel that is full of sweetness. A slight hop presence but very subtle due to the overwhelming sweetness.
This is a fantastic beer and one of the best barleywines I have yet to have. Seek this out, I will be enjoying this again in the future.

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Photo of Bshaw22
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is solid.
Lots of bourbon Carmel and some bitterness on the taste.
Nose is bourbon and Carmel.
This is a decimate sipper but so enjoyable. One of the best barleywines I've ever had.

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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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