Brewer's Reserve Brandy Barrel Barleywine
Central Waters Brewing Co.

Brewer's Reserve Brandy Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Brandy Barrel Barleywine
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Barleywine - American
Ranked #20
Ranked #1,891
4.34 | pDev: 5.07%
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States
Brewer's Reserve Brandy Barrel BarleywineBrewer's Reserve Brandy Barrel Barleywine
Notes: This is our classic barleywine recipe aged in brandy barrels.
Reviews: 25 | Ratings: 74 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Beersnake1
Beersnake1 from California

4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2021 bottle poured at fridge temp. Pours a nice dark brown with a small amount of tan head. Nose is brandy, raspberries, toffee, vanilla, raisins, malts, plums, and a bit of wood. The taste is fantastic. Very toffee forward. Like sucking on a wonderful toffee candy. Some nuttiness is there - almonds mostly. Brandy, molasses, plums, licorice, green grapes, a touch of leather, freshly baked bread, and a bit of alcohol. This one is definitely a winner for me. A very nice compliment to the traditional bourbon barrel-aged barleywine. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with low carbonation. Sweet aftertaste. Love it!

Sep 07, 2021
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SpeedwayJim from New York

4.17/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A big thanks to Jeff for this one.

12oz. capped bottle into a Cascade snifter alongside the Bourbon version.

Right off the bat, the Brandy barrel is much darker. Almost a pitch black mahogany. Nice legs but very little head. The brandy is apparent in the nose. Hints of perfume, molasses, syrup, and a burnt wood. I also get the traditional brown sugar, caramel, and toffee flavors of the barleywine. Aromatic and pungent. There's more breadiness in the bourbon version. With more aromas of raisin and gummies. Brandy is sweeter, more syrupy. Denser and less vibrant. Beer opens brown sugar, tobacco, molasses. Brandy comes in towards the middle and sweetens an already sweet brew. I get caramel, more brown sugar, and maple syrup towards the end. Oaky, boozy, and syrupy at the finish and aftertaste. Very solid. Again, the bourbon version has more green fruit with aromas of raisin and green apple comparatively. Body is full with low carbonation. Thick, rich, and full in the mouth and goes down warm and viscous with a silky smooth finish. The feel is better than the bourbon here. It's thicker, richer with more substance and a longer finish.

Doing a side-by-side with the bourbon version of this is enlightening. Fresh, this is better with more traditional barleywine flavors compared to a noticeable fruitiness in the bourbon counterpart.

Apr 10, 2021
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wl2bill from Wisconsin

4.37/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The brandy barrel adds a touch of sweetness to the Barley Wine. It is a nice change from the Bourbon barrel brother. I hope this is more than a one off.

Feb 11, 2021
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JamFuel from Sweden

4.41/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark reddish brown with fine tan head.

Smell is oaky and a bit sweet with notes of cocoa, bramdy, vanilla and a hint of leather and dried fruit.

Taste is rich and intense with a nice sweetness. Notes of brandy, oak, cocoa and leather, with some slight wooden and fruity notes as well as some caramel. Nice hit of bitterness as well as plenty of warming booze.

Mouthfeel is medium, sticky and well carbonated.

Overall, a great barley wine made different by the brandy notes. Outstanding, and I can imagine this being even better with some age on it.

Jan 16, 2021
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DIM from Pennsylvania

4.53/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Central Waters bourbon barrel barleywine has long been a staple in my cellar. A truly great beer at a reasonable price. I was extremely excited when I heard about this release and I pestered the hell out of my local distributor to get me a case of this. Between gifts and sips it's half gone, time to review!

The base beer is classic American barleywine and the hops are fairly prominent at this point. More bitter citrus than pine and they stand their ground against the bracing charred caramel and toffee. The brandy barrel adds slightly vinous booze, vanilla, oak, and a whisper of coconut. Magnificent now, this may come together even better in a year or so. I may slightly prefer the bourbon barrel, but I hope to have plenty of both in the future. Thanks to the folks at CW for this gem.

Dec 07, 2020
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REVZEB from Illinois

4.09/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Murky dark brown appearance, cap of khaki. Smell plays the part too: thick brandy layered into the barley, caramel, smoke, and tons of dark fruit especially plum. Taste is sweeter but even more boozy, would let age a bit if doing over because the underlying dark fruit, caramel, and a kiss of citrus zest is very pleasant. Still, the body is warm, thick, smooth and sticky, so have on a cold night friends. A good beer, but with some age I think the ceiling it very high

Dec 05, 2020
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BB1313 from Ohio

4.22/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2020 vintage. 12oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a murky brown with auburn hues; small khaki head that fades leaving solid retention and lacing. The aromas are malt forward. Lots of caramel and dark fruits along with some cocoa. The brandy blends well with everything in the aroma department. The flavors are very bold. Lots of caramel. More cocoa along with some toffee. Lots of dark fruits. Raisins and plums really come through. Some floral notes in the mix. Some wood and oak. The brandy characteristics are very strong, but don't diminish the other flavors. There's a nice warm sweetness going on, but it's not cloying or anything like that. Alcohol is very noticeable. It's hot, but in an enjoyable way. Mouthfeel is full-bodied with moderate to active carbonation. It's sharp and slick. This beer is the epitome of being a sipper.

This is a great barrel-aged barleywine. It's a big beer and it drinks very big. Balance goes out the window with this one although it becomes easier to drink the more you get into it. It's somewhat complex as well. Everything really opens up as it warms. It's very enjoyable and fun to drink. The craftsmanship is on point. Well done.

Nov 22, 2020
Photo of q33jeff
q33jeff from New Jersey

4.12/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4


Bottle to snifter. Cold at first, sipped slow as it warms.

Look: cola black-brown color. Small offwhite head, fades quickly, poor retention. Thickish look with some legs upon jostling. Flat look.
Aroma: caramel, wood, Apple, grape, brandy, fruitcake.
Taste: apple, raisin, red table wine, seems more whiskey than brandy, but a nice barrel character. fruitcake, cherry,oak, some late smoke and maybe a hint of ginger?. Quite a bit going on.

Feel: medium body, pretty flat, alcohol is present.

A nice BW, though I've had better, CW's regular BW for one. This is certainly tasty, but rough around the edges. Maybe some age will help as this is a 2020 bottling.


Nov 10, 2020
Photo of GOBLIN
GOBLIN from Ohio

4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Wow !
Maybe because I haven't had a Barleywine in a while but this is simply decadent ! I think Central Waters barrel program is fantastic and top notch and this is possibly the best offering yet !

Oct 24, 2020
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bluejacket74 from Ohio

4.45/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle, 2020 vintage, big thanks to Brutaltruth for this brew! Served in a snifter, the beer pours a murky reddish/brown color with maybe a half inch tan head that didn't stick around for too long. There's a small amount of lacing. I like the aroma a lot, it's sweet and malty and smells like brandy, caramel, brown sugar, raisins and a bit of cherry. Taste is similar to the aroma, but with the addition of plum, earthy and oaky flavors. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's slick and smooth with a moderate amount of carbonation. I thought this was a pretty good barrel aged barleywine, definitely worth seeking out!

Oct 18, 2020
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stortore from Illinois

4.34/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle into a snifter. Bottled 6/18/20, had 9/17/20.

Pours a darker copper color, fairly clear, with a half inch quickly dissipating foamy head and light foamy lacing. Aromas of brandy, caramel, plums, brown sugar, grapes, raisins, some malt and oak, light char, light tobacco as it warms. Mostly similar flavors- brandy, caramel, brown sugar, malt, plums, grapes, oak. Mostly smooth, a solid medium body, well carbonated.

The barrels are excellent, great overall aromas and flavors. A little age should add depth to this and make it pretty awesome. This is a worthy accompaniment to their Bourbon BA Barleywine.

Sep 29, 2020
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bbtkd from South Dakota

4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Central Waters Brandy Barrel Barleywine Ale, 14.8% ABV. Pours midnight brown, with a half-finger of beige head that left no lacing. Nose is brandy and toffee, taste is brandy, dark fruit, brown sugar, and toffee. Slightly sweet, faintly bitter, with some brandy burn. Excellent mouthfeel, overall outstanding. I didn't like their BBA barleywine as it was way too bitter, but this was much better.

Sep 27, 2020
Photo of dafla67
dafla67 from Pennsylvania

4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks dark reddish brown. Sweet aroma dominated by caramel & orange. Taste is caramel, burnt brown sugar and sweetness of the Brandy. Medium feel -- warming and smooth. Perfect on a chilly evening. Outstanding Barleywine.

Sep 27, 2020
Photo of AllOfTheCats
AllOfTheCats from Wisconsin

4.6/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

This one really surprised me and I continue to pick it up when I see it. So much caramel. Best consumed from right out of the fridge, but as it warms, you also get more of the sweet cherry-ish brandy taste. Really great barrel. Probably the best value in barleywines on the shelf right now.

Sep 26, 2020
Photo of darktronica
darktronica from Indiana

4.39/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ageing in brandy barrels has produced some of my favorite beers, but I've also been burned in the past by some terrible ones that I expected to be excellent. Although I do like CW's BBA barleywine, it's not their strongest entry in the Brewer's Reserve series, so I was unsure which way this one would go. I shouldn't have worried. Somehow, the brandy melds beautifully with the American-style barleywine in a way that allows the hop character to continue shining while adding a medley of bright, fruity notes. Note to self: look for more next time I'm in Chicago for a Deep Woods release.

Sep 22, 2020
Photo of hoptheology
hoptheology from South Dakota

3.88/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

12 oz single bottle purchase into North Coast tulip snifter.

Decidedly a bloody dark brown with some ruby highlights when held to the light. Head is 1/2 finger of grey-beige and recedes to a thin fingernail.

Aroma of wet barrel, rich caramel, plum, prune, orange peel spice, lemon potpourri, slight vanilla, and slight perfume.

Flavor brings caramel and raisin right at the front, then it fades away to perfume, oak, char, orange peel essence, bitter piney hops, and cherry cough drops. The opening notes are welcoming but it gets washed away nearly immediately to a very harsh, heavily offensive profile. Cough syrup remains - and with the antiseptic burn, it's uncannily similar to what I'd imagine downing an entire bottle of off-brand cough syrup would be like. As it warms to room temperature it's tamed a bit, or else maybe my tongue is just getting numb.

Feel is slick mostly, with a lot of nice stinging/drying alcohol burn, definitely cottonmouth with this one, and some antiseptic burn on the finish. Leaves your mouth dry like you just sucked on a microfiber sponge.

Overall, the cough syrup vibe is heavy on this one. Makes it really hard to finish. Gives me icky goosebumps. Would not return. I just wish they'd bring back their Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale.

Aug 26, 2020
Photo of Brutaltruth
Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.49/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 12 oz bottle in a snifter. This monster pours a
moderately murky and dark brownish mahogany with a nice
head of off white foam that settles to a thick ring, thin dusty layer,
and sports some very nice lacing. Nose of brandy that is vinous and
robust, deep brown sugar notes, cherry, oak, toffee, and earthy
malts with moderate assertive herbal hops, and astringent
booze. Flavors nail it with toffee, caramel, brown sugar, rich
port and brandy notes, cherry, raspberry, and sweet oak.
Very nice mouth feel; medium body, rich, warming, smooth,
light prickly carbonation, and a medium dry finish.

Overall-----a true WOW brew of the year that
deserves to be laid down for I would say a year
plus to mellow out a touch. That said it is still
world class. Excellent!


Aug 20, 2020
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Luscious_Malfoy from Illinois

4.43/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured from a 12oz bottle into a CW snifter. pours a chestnut brown with the faintest sandy head. aromas of damp oak, chocolate and toffee with a similar taste. as much confidence as i have in CW, i have even less in straight brandy barrel-aged beers but this is fantastic. it’s not overly thick or chewy, but it packs a flavor punch of caramel, toffee, chocolate and even a hint of coffee and hops. the brandy barrel is there and while it’s not overpowering it’s not exactly in the background either. but it works so well with their base barleywine. this addition strengthens the Brewer’s Reserve BA barleywine lineup.

Aug 06, 2020
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maximum12 from Minnesota

3.53/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

As a charter member of the ILOVECWBABARLEYWINE club I needed to find this, preferably in volume, as soon as it landed. Had it a couple times now out of a 12 oz. bottle to solidify my unrequested opinion.

The pour is murky, clay-tinged red with rich notes of port & brandy flowing into the nose. Beer not detected, schnazz-wise.

Central Waters Brandy Barrel Aged Barleywine is like squeezing a sponge soaked in brandy into your open mouth. Sweet, sweet, darkly fruity, with a vicious alcoholic roundhouse. One might imagine there is beer in here, perhaps caramel in the shadow of the towering barrel, but my imagination is timid & weak. Harsh & hard – a taster of this in its current state would be enough.

This is good – mostly because brandy is good & the base, whatever it is, holds it up. I believe in a year, this is going to be a standout, just like the bourbon version, but at current the barrel is overwhelming.

Aug 03, 2020
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4DAloveofSTOUT from Illinois

4.28/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle poured into Revolution Deep Woods stemless glass

Appearance: Dark brown bodied beer with mahogany hue. 2 full fingers of light beige head that drops down to a thin ring around the glass. spotty lacing left behind on the glass. Booze legs appear after each sip.

Smell: dark fruits, brandy, and oak.

Taste: Sweet beer to start with a light bitter & astringent finish. Dark fruit galore and caramel / toffee notes with light brandy barrel presence. Oak tannins and a hint of port as well. Very nice flavors and I think that it will really make a nice cellar beer and mellow out in a few years like bourbon barrel barleywine does once the astringent note leaves the finish of the beer.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied beer with low carbonation levels. Carbonation is adequate and work well here. Most CW brewer's reserve beers tend to be on the thinner side, but this seems to have more substantial mouthfeel than most CW brewer's reserve offerings. There does appear to be some booze to this barleywine, but so does brewer's reserve bourbon barrel barleywine.

Overall: Really excited to see that CW is making some new additions to the Brewer's Reserve line up! Price point is hard to beat for this high quality barrel aged offering. Wisconsin many breweries that offer a great variety of high quality craft beers for a steal of a deal. Bravo Central Waters excited to see you are branching out and even further pushing boundaries of your barrel program! This will be a great cellar beer for sure.

Jul 30, 2020
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ChrisMon02 from Ohio

4.24/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I have never had a brandy barrel aged barley wine. I am glad I pulled the trigger on a 4 pack of this. Nicely done without being over done. I am digging what Central Waters is putting out. A great slow sipper. Recommended.

Jul 27, 2020
Photo of RaulMondesi
RaulMondesi from California

4.25/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Central Waters isn’t an everyday thing for the Raul man. So to have this now is like the stripper that pops out of the cake to be worth the down payment. Now, let’a jump in.

To me, a Barleywine’s appearance is unique in its own. Like, you may not be into that nerdy freak in the corner, but it doesn’t mean Raul isn’t. And what I am trying to say is, i kinda like the weirdish ugly color that B Wines poor. Smell is like chilling in the drive thru line at In N Out - it delivers. Beautiful brandy barrel age with dog, plums, raisins... Yeah, this one might give the California Raisins a run for their money. And then this player sips... Yeah, daddy. I’m feeling it. I don’t even want to go Shakespeare on this one. It’s just a straight up hella good Barleywine that got some Brandy barrel action, ya feel me?

And like Taylor Swift singing to me at midnight, Raul feels it good!

Jul 20, 2020
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.4/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a dark brown-ish, almost black color, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like dark fruit, brandy, toffee, port, caramelized sugar, and light hop character.

This is a really nice little take on their standard bourbon barrel aged barleywine. The brandy obviously provides a unique character - as the sort of dark fruit character gets much more played up here - port, raisin, cherry, etc. I get some oak and vanilla, and the caramel of the base barleywine is played down a bit. You still get the toffee & chocolate, and there's a touch of herbal hop character.

This is medium bodied, and not super thick, as is expected with Central Waters barrel-aged stuff. There's not much booze to it, but it's definitely warming and lovely.

I almost always love entries in the Central Waters barrel program, and this certainly is no exception.

Jul 15, 2020
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AdmiralOzone from Minnesota

4.31/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a darker version of Iced tea, with a ruby tint when held to the light. Thin tan cap that doesn't leave much lacing. Aroma is stone fruit and figs, and a touch of brandy. Flavor follows the nose, sweet dark fruit with the brandy barrel just present enough to let you know it's there. Feel is medium bodied with light carbonation. Overall another home run beer by this fine brewery. Awesome, I hope to buy more.

Jul 15, 2020
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scream from Wisconsin

4.03/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Another good barrel aged beer from Central Waters. The color is almost a ruby red. Aroma is a bit on the sweet side. Taste and feel kind of go together if it had a bit more body to it I would say top notch.

Jul 15, 2020
Brewer's Reserve Brandy Barrel Barleywine from Central Waters Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 74 ratings