Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale | Central Waters Brewing Co.

183 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch AleBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale

Brewed by:
Central Waters Brewing Co.
Wisconsin, United States

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Cherrywood smoked Scotch ale aged in used 12 year old bourbon barrels.

Added by tourdot on 07-15-2013

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 183 | Ratings: 940
Photo of Wasatch
4.74/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks goes out to thebeers via NBS BIF#5

12 oz. Bottle
2016 Vintage

Poured into a goblet a very nice dark brown color, very nice carbonation, with a very nice thick/creamy one-finger tan head, which leaves a really nice medium size island and some thick/creamy sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with some grapes, cherries, figs, plums, raisins, very nice bourbon/oak note, very nice vanilla. The taste is really awesome, malty, with some very nice dark fruits, really nice touch of bourbon/oak, vanilla. Medium body, ABV hidden pretty well, a very nice complex brew, really nice sweetness. Overall, this is an awesome brew. Glad to finally get a chance to try it. Thanks Arthur!

 688 characters

Photo of beerbully
4.05/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

dated 2016..........Poured into RR tulip

L-Dark mahogany w/ reddish hue...... 1/2 inch off-white head

S-Burnt sugar, caramel, vanilla, bourbon, molasses, dark fruits, smoke, peat

T-Follows the nose.... a bit more medicinal........slight alcohol burn in the finish..........burnt sugars, vanilla, bourbon, molasses, dark fruits

F-medium plus......medium carbonation.....warm alcohol finish.........

O-solid offering

 419 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.45/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

(2016 vintage 12 oz bottle... sat out for ~45 min before pouring into teku)

L: extremely dark reddish-brown - held to the light, there appears to be a few flecks of sediment floating about... the foam is somewhat dense and silky, tight sponge, and does have a slight reddish hue... the suds do recede, albeit slowly

S: delicate hint of smoky barrel char and an absolutely decadent-smelling aroma of vanilla cake with maybe a thin, hard chocolate outer coating - wow!... the booze is mildly medicinal, but buried underneath the heavy malt, so one does have to take in a huge whiff to get any of the phenols

T: lusciously-dense malt, dark sugar and/or perhaps rum raisin notes toward the back... the finish has a slow release of ash, charcoal, and hint of dried sweet cherry, sort of in that order... with the vanilla so forward, it's a bit difficult to pin this as either a Scotch ale or a barleywine, but I do think the character of the former does show through

F: liquid comforter... the warmth in the back is subtle and sublime... even little 1/2 oz sips are a wonder gob-thru-gullet, dancing and swirling, ebbing and flowing... this may the oily elixir I've long been trying to find again

O: didn't know what to expect, but I'm left rather impressed - enough to want to go back and buy some more... Scotch ales with any special treatments (added flavors, barrel aging), on paper, would be an immediate turn off, but this is admittedly very nicely executed... points off for barrel-aging - choice terrior, ingredients, and technique still reign

 1,551 characters

Photo of NoYouDidnt
3.9/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours dark dark brown with ruby hints in the light just a film of a head. Aroma- Bourbon, red wine, caramel sauce, vanilla, rubbing alcohol, plum. Taste- raisin, plum, chocolate, brown sugar, burnt sugar. Some bitterness to this. Mouthfeel is lightly bubbly. The alcohol gives a nice warming tingle. Overall- nice beer, would still prefer a BB over this. Nice though.

 367 characters

Photo of woodychandler
4.44/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I do not remember the whole story, but PA (Philadelphia & its neighbors) is the only place that gets Central Waters BC distro outside of Wisco & it is due to a friendship on the part of the owner/brewer. I have met him on a couple of occasions during PHL Beer Week & I always feel a twinge of excitement when I see his beers on the shelf.

From the bottle: "This rich, malty ale has been aged to perfection in our barrel house. Subtle and smooth, this is a decadent display of patience and process. Join us in a toast to good health. Slainte!"

Mine was a 2016 vintage, so once I had Pop!ped the cap, I conducted a gentle pour in deference to its age. After a sufficient amount had been decanted, I gave it a vigorous in-glass swirl to raise a brief finger of foamy, deep-tan/light-brown head with modest retention that soon fell away to wisps. Color was Dark Brown to Very Dark Brown (SRM = > 27, < 34) with NE-quality clarity & cola highlights. Nose was malty, all right, but very peaty. It had a sweet smokiness like meat was being cured. Mmmm. Mouthfeel was medium to full, not quite creamy, but it did feel as though a dollop had been scooped onto my tongue. I simply allowed it to roll around, savoring its rich smokiness imbued with a chocolate & caramel sweetness. It also had a slightly medicinal quality, like that time that I tasted a tad bit of my maternal grandparents' Geritol. Do they even still make that stuff? It taught me a valuable lesson NOT to taste medicines that were advertised on daytime television. Warming, the flavors seemed to magnify. Magnifique! The smokiness really began to take ahold and it seemed to permeate my sinus cavity, which means a break after this one to allow the taste and smell to dissipate. It was not necessarily boozy, but at the same time, its ABV was noticeable, giving me cause to pause. Finish was sweet, smoky, chocolaty, but I was not getting as much bourbon flavor as I had hoped for. Ah, well, can't have it all, right?

 1,979 characters

Photo of 98green
4.14/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap. Lots of barrel in the smell and taste. Almost too much, as the sweetness it a bit overdone. Oak and tannins for sure. Slight alcohol heat. Overall a solid beer but just a bit much on the sweet. Normally I love all the barrel I can get, this proves the exception

 269 characters

Photo of bobv
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Moderate pour yields a tan head over a dark brown/mahogany body with nice lacing. Nose of dark fruit, caramel , oak, vanilla, and roasted malts. Taste follows with all of the above aromas now transferred to your palate. Yum! Smooth taste and creamy feel. Overall, very well done!

 279 characters

Photo of StoutElk_92
4.73/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

12 oz. bottle - vintage 2016

Pours dark maroon red with a dense creamy khaki colored foam head. Smells like toasted brown bread, nutty oak, rich caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, some chocolate, smoke, dried fruits, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Tastes like dried fruit and dark fruits, plum, cherry, grapes, raisin, prunes, figs, apricot, dates, toasted brown bread, nutty oak, rich caramel, toffee, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, some chocolate, smoke, with floral earthy herbal grassy pine. Feels medium bodied, creamy and smooth with moderate low carbonation. Overall a really nice bourbon barrel aged scotch ale.

 635 characters

Photo of GOBLIN
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Smooth, seductive and oily. This is a much more subtle execution of the style than say Backwoods Bastard or Wulver.
It's difficult to talk about this beer without first mentioning Bastard or Wulver due to the fact that those two have long had the upper hand on the style.
Well Central Waters has an excellent example and it is delicious.
The bourbon is more subtle and tame allowing the base beer to shine and be the star of this show rather than trying to wow the drinker with heat.
Still a slow sipper nonetheless as well as very approachable. Good flavors and feel. Well done

 579 characters

Photo of scotorum
4.87/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75


Poured from the 12 oz. bottle into a Samuel Smith English nonick

a: Nearly black clear ruby with a two inch thick offwhite head which receded to thick surface foam and dense lacing.

s; Whiskey and caramel malt.

t; Whiskey with considerable prominence, cut with mild caramel malt. Sweet finish with some pleasing bitter notes. 9.5% ABV is beautifully covered.

m; Medium to full excellent substantial yet smooth body and some carbonation tingle.

o; An excellent BBA Scotch ale! May be superior to my favorite, Founders' Backwoods Bastard, due to a bit more sweet malt flavor balancing the strong whiskey presence. One of the best BBA Scotch ales available.

 718 characters

Photo of Lingenbrau
4.58/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: I poured this into one of my new pokal gems. Not a thistle, but I'm still on the hunt for my holy grail. Pours what looks like a deep dark brown, but actually when held up to light, exposes that it's the deepest tone of red mahogany. Brilliantly clear with a tightly knit tan head that stays well, resembling the head of an espresso.

A: Instantly bombarded with vanilla, caramel, molasses, vanilla, oak, bourbon, dark fruits, and did I mention vanilla?

T: Toffee right off the bat. I can't help but say figgy pudding, in a good way of course! Vanilla, caramel, and a touch of oak finishes it off. The oak dominantly stays in the aftertaste.

F: Rich, medium carbonation, full bodied, smooth, sticky, some alcohol warmth, and has a hint of a tannin like finish.

O: This is outstanding! Very well may be one of my favorite beers I've tried. Love the style, love bourbon barrel aged, and love the combo, and this one does not disappoint. Slainte!

 950 characters

Photo of mothman
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tan head. Caramel dark brown color.

Nice and malty with a great bourbon and oak presence. Vanilla, toffee, caramel, cocoa, raisins, plums, and molasses.

Medium to full bodied.

This is one of the better ba scotch beers out there and for the price, it can't be beat. Full of flavor.

 284 characters

Photo of Sheppard
4.33/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark brown, no head at all whatsoever. Smells like charred oak and marshmallows. Some chocolate as well. Definitely a lot of burnt marshmallow character. Lots of burnt sugar. It's a little thin. At the same time, it is so nicely drinkable that it's hard to knock Central Waters' hustle. Just a really nice Scotch Ale.

 326 characters

Photo of Samlover55
4.13/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle into Libbey Tulip
2016 Vintage, sitting in the cellar since September 2016 (about 5 months)
L- pours dark brown, appears dark black in glass, with thin tan head, nice lacing
S- rich malty aroma with hints of bourbon
T- smooth marshmallow malt, with plenty of bourbon and vanilla, a bit of an alcohol burn and surprisingly some oxidation as well
F- medium bodied, light carbonation
Overall this was a great Barrel-Aged Scotch Ale....fresh, aged I don't like it as much, but still pretty decent

 504 characters

Photo of ManapuaMan
4.1/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Ruby/garnet pour with a light head that dissipates completely. Aroma is roasted malt, caramel, scotch and candied fruit. Taste is toasted malt, caramel, oak, scotch, booze, tea, tobacco. Good barrel flavors but lacking the vanilla and toasted coconut aspects that I love. Smooth throughout with a creamy mouthfeel and some heat.

 328 characters

Photo of Raime
4.5/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Passed this one up at my local craft store about a dozen times before randomly grabbing it.

Pours a deep coca cola garnet with a tinge of black with a small mocha head that sticks around for a bit.

Smell is super nutty right off the bat with a touch of the oak and some caramel and buttscotch to boot with the nuts taking prominence.

At first, if you swallow quickly you get a lot of sweetness, which envelopes into a perfect caramel and butterscotch flavor which lingers forever. Allowing it to sit around for five or so seconds negates the initial sweetness overdose and brings on the aforementioned flavors of caramel covered nuttiness with a perfect butterscotch ending.

Feels is sweet, coating, moderate without a lot of carbonation

Overall this is leagues better than that over rated backwoods bastard considering the alcohol is well hidden and the flavors are exceptional as the beer warms just a bit. This is pretty much tied..or slightly out did Scotty Karate, which I had about five years ago and retains as my favorite scotch ale...up until now at least. This is all around a fantastic beer and probably one of the best I have had in a longgggg time.

 1,169 characters

Photo of Jaypeajus
4.51/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark look like black tea, poured thin. No head. Smells fantabulous, wow like BCBS/BW, not as boozy tho. Rich raisony barrel & licorice. More barrel than bourbon on nose. I could smell this all day. Even have a slight chest cold and it plows through. Holy cow taste is so good too, very sweet but worth it. Alcohol is either well hidden or not as present. After a few seconds I get a bit of burn comin back up like after a shot of jack. It's very good, but almost too sweet, almost reminds me of a barleywine. Overall good, gonna try some extra sharp aged white cheddar to knock down the sweetness. Gonna pick up a few more and age it next to a Backwoods Bastard for a side by side.

 681 characters

Photo of StoutHunter
4.25/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I picked up a bottle of Central Waters Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale for $3.89 at The Lager Mill. I've been wanting to try this beer for a very long time and I'm happy it's now available in Michigan, so lets see how it goes. 2016 Vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks ok, it's a clean and simple design to it, but it's not too eye catching. It poured a nice darker brown color that didn't let any light come through and it had a little over a fingers worth of slightly fizzy tan head that died down a thin ring that eventually faded away and it left some spotty lacing behind. This is a very nice looking beer, I have no complaints at all.

S- The aroma starts off with the lower amount of high sweetness with the malts being the first to show up and they impart a big caramel, brown bread, light cocoa, caramel malt and sweet malt like aroma with a little bit of grainy aroma and it's followed by the dark fruits which stick out nicely with some raisin aromas seeming to stick out the most and there's some butterscotch flavors in the background. Towards the end comes the bourbon barrels which imparts some light bourbon, oak, light vanilla and light alcohol like aromas. This beer has a very nice aroma, all the flavors work well together and nothing ever gets too overpowering.

T- The taste seems to be similar to the aroma and it starts off with a lower amount of high sweetness with the malts still being the first to show up and it imparts all the same aspects that they did in the aroma with caramel and butterscotch flavors seeming to stick out the most. Up next comes a little bit of a boozy flavor and that leads into the dark fruits which impart all the same aspects with the raisin still sticking out the most and it gives it a little bit of a sherry like flavors. Towards the end comes the bourbon barrel which shows up just as much as it did in the aroma, but it still on the lighter and it imparts all the same aspects with no single one sticking out the most. This is a very nice tasting beer, all the flavors blend together very well.

M- Smooth, a little creamy, a little crisp, slightly warming, on the lighter side of being full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is very nice and it works great with this beer.

Overall I thought this was a very nice beer and I thought it was a very nice example of the style, I would put it at 3rd as my favorite bourbon barrel aged Scotch Ale, Backwoods Bastard would be 2 and Wulver would be 1. This beer had nice drinkability, it's pretty smooth for the style and I think two would be my limit. What I like the most about this beer is how well all the flavors blend together, nothing clashes at all. What I like the least about this beer is that the bourbon barrel didn't stick out more. I would buy this beer this beer again, but I don't think it's something I will stock up on. I think this beer is a must try when it comes to the style. All in all I was happy with this beer and a little impressed it lived up to being a great Bourbon Barrel aged Scotch ale, but it didn't bump out my top two. It's the best beer I've had from this brewery and it's a great example of the style. Great job guys, this is one tasty beer.

 3,292 characters

Photo of jlindros
3.74/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2016 vintage

Pours a light fizzy bubbly 1/2 finger head that fades at a med pace, some lacing, super dark murky brown color.

Nose very sweet candy, butterscotch, toffee, caramel, biscuity malts, a little sweet malt, a little booze, some fruits, dates, fig paste, a little vanilla, little nutty, faint bourbon barely, kvass like bread malts and candy dough and a little vegetal thing, touch of smoke, and maybe a touch solventy.

Taste sweet candy, toffee, caramel candies, chewy nougat, biscuity, more kvass like bread dough candy booze, some warming tingly booze with more fruity flavors, fig paste, candied dates again, chewy candied fruit, mild baking spices, a little weird vegetal like the nose, faint bourbon but barely, and a touch of vanilla, little bitterness, booze and candied fruits on the finish. A touch of smoke, cherry wood, which I think gives it the mild vegetal flavor.

Mouth is med to fuller bod, decent carb, a little tingly booze.

Overall not bad to start, some weird vegetal notes and a bit boozy, but not too bad, but in general a meh style and meh execution too.

 1,091 characters

Photo of thebeers
4.11/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Ruddy dark mahogany color with a half finger of soupy tan head that leaves an uneven crown and little lacing.

Nice creamy, bourbon and malt aroma with toffee, vanilla and raisin notes.

Slightly more bitter taste than the sweetness of the nose suggested. Still toffee and vanilla forward, but with a touch of tobacco and leather in there, with the dark fruit and some distant herbal hops, too, then a modest alcohol burn on the backend.

Medium-bodied, slightly creamy mouthfeel with modest carbonation. An absolute pleasure to drink.

 541 characters

Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2016 bottle

A: Dark brown pour with a substantial brown head. Thin but solid walls of lacing. Good head retention.

S: Heavy caramel and molasses sweetness. Toffee too, in spades. Lightly smoky and herbal.

T: Caramel, toffee, molasses, everything sweet in the world. It tastes like caramel candy and the brittle part of peanut brittle (burnt sugars I suppose). A touch of char and smoke and peat and herbal flavors but otherwise it's just all sweetness.

M: Pretty heavy, smooth and sweet.

O: Nice scotch ale, made even sweeter and better with bourbon barrels.

 566 characters

Photo of GuyFawkes
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage; drank 9/19/15 @ the Yarchives.

Brown appearance.

A rough pour yielded a nice tan head which quickly dissipated; nice lace.

Caramel, milk chocolate, vanilla & oak notes in the nose.

Thick, smooth mouthfeel.

Rich milk chocolate, caramel & raisin flavors up front; root beer bite on the finish. 2 years has done wonders for this beer; I'll be sure to lay one down. A rich dessert treat.

 407 characters

Photo of Sabtos
3.62/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Body is dark brown with various other oil-slick hues muddily mixed in, like red and even green, with a soft tan blanket receding to a thin film.

This has a very distinct molasses nose, with raisin, prune, fruit cake, chewy Christmas rum balls, and dark gingerbread cookies.

Taste is sweet, dark malt, gingersnaps, molasses, deep, rich and smokey bourbon, with black licorice.

Full bodied, soft and frothy.

 408 characters

Photo of Bartleby91
4.77/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage poured into a snifter.

Appearance is a beautiful reddish brown with lingering alcohol legs.

The aroma is huge bourbon, caramel, toffee, vanilla, oak, dark fruit and sweet malts. Some slight smokiness coming though as well.

The taste is big bourbon, caramel malt sweetness, toffee, oak, dark fruit, alcohol spice as well.

The mouthfeel is medium plus with a nice creamy lingering sweetness. Also has a nice bourbon spice that mixes with the malt sweetness well.

Overall this is an amazing barrel aged scotch ale that I would love to give a few more years.

 572 characters

Photo of SerialTicker
4.36/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Incredibly good. About on-par with Backwoods Bastard, as far as I'm concerned. Phenomenally balanced and a sipper -- yet drinkable. Rich in flavors of bourbon soaked dark fruits with a pleasant amount of woody flavors that really help out with the depth. As usual, Central Waters impresses for a fair price. Sure, their labels are dreadful, but the product speaks for itself.

 375 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
4.29 out of 5 based on 940 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.