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

132 Reviews
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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch AleBrewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale

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

Style: Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Spring

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

Added by tourdot on 07-15-2013

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Reviews: 132 | Ratings: 757
Photo of myrixis
3.86/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Look: it looks a murky brown as the depths of loch ness
Smell: it smells like a spent barrel of scotch
feel: it feels thick and coats the tongue
Taste: strong scotch taste with hints of vanilla and a bit of honey sweetness
overall: best wee heavy ive ever had its so smooth i could have another.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
3.99/5  rDev -7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice Scotch ale. 2015 version. Substantial barrel character, not a whole lot of complexity but it was a nice change to the traditional malt bomb that is the Scotch ale. I'm looking forward to trying some more BA options from Central Waters.

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Photo of Chris7482
4.14/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L - pours dark brown almost black. little head, dissappates quickly
S - nice barrel aroma and nice malty sweetness
T - sweet somewhat syrupy, mild barrel
F - some stickiness, nice body for style
O - great beer, personally could use a little more barrel and body. definitely a good attainable BA beer

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

if there was only one or two breweries in the country that i wish would distribute to colorado, these guys would probably make the list. they never miss, and all these crazy barrel aged beers they do are so spectacular. this is one of the best (and sweetest, and most intense, and most unique) scotch ales i have ever had the bourbon barrel is a huge contributor to the flavor. nutty smokey sweet malts and honey vanilla whiskey flavors combine brilliantly. i get almonds, molasses, campfire smoke, english toffee, waffles, and quality bourbon in the taste, there is a lot going on, but its all so complimentary and synergistic, i have never had a beer like this before. strong, and it feels strong, but it doesnt taste boozy to me, just the whiskey flavor, no heat at all. tons of sugar, maple and molasses and brown sugar all come and go on the tongue and teeth, and the smoke cuts it about as well as it could. i like that the beer is big enough to hold all the smoke flavor without being overpowered. so often thats all you can taste in these, but not here, its built perfectly for that. one of my favorite takes on the style ive had, and another feather in the cap for central waters. this is killer beer, perfect for the chilly nights this time of year. i need to get me some more!

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Photo of darktronica
4.33/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours a dark, murky brown, more reminiscent of a dark quad, with a thin layer of head that leaves a rim of tan foam around the glass. Smells rather sweet: rich caramel kettlecorn and malt alongside hints of nuttiness and vanilla. Tastes similar, but with well-integrated oak and boozy heat from the barrel.

This is nicely balanced and perfect for a 12-oz format. A BBA scotch ale that hits all the right notes for its style but doesn't try to overwhelm or be the most extreme BBA beer ev4r. It's simply an exceptional beer that is very pleasant to drink.

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Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.64/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

What a treat this is,found this quite hard to find but eventually got my hands on it today.$19 a 4 pack and worth every cent. Looks much darker than most scotch ales and the smell is incredible,figs,bourbon,caramel and brown sugar. Taste is even better,not much carbonation but the taste is great,again dark fruits mingled in with a slight molasses sweetness then turning straight into caramel sweet with a boozy finish of the bourbon barrel.mouthfeel is incredibly velvety and smooth. Just a superb beer,easily in my top 10, about to go back and stock up.I'm a big scotch ale and bourbon barrel fan, maybe my scores are higher for my favourite styles but comparing this to backwoods,okie and wulver this is much more well rounded and the best scotch ale I've ever tried.

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Photo of richj1970
4.35/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter. 2015 vintage.

A: Pours very dark brown almost black with one finger light tan head. Lasting retention and some light lacing.

S: Sweet caramel, brown sugar, and bourbon.

T: Very nice blend of brown sugar and molasses mixed with bourbon and oak.

M: Medium to full body with average carbonation.

O: Excellent barrel aged Scotch ale. One of my favorites for the style for sure.

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

I walk a fine line with the "barrel aged" rage. Most of what I've had is usually too much or not enough on the bourbon flavor. This clocks in right at that happy medium of just enough. Really nice balance. Leave no doubt, this is a sipper...but an enjoyable one at that.

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Photo of jds16
4.4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours deep red with a small tan head that stays around for a long time. Smells of cherries, vanilla, smoke, brown sugar, and bourbon. (When colder, I didn't notice much bourbon in the aroma, but as it warmed the bourbon really came out.) Tastes of dried cherries, toffee, vanilla, and more dark fruit. Bourbon sneaks up behind the fruit, makes its presence well known, but doesn't taste boozy. Definitely a sipper, but the alcohol hides really well here.

Perfect nightcap for a chilly day.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.24/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A- The beer hits the glass is a very dark, very red, brown color. One of the densest heads I have seen (other than nitro) forms and retains wonderfully at about 1 centimeter in thickness. Great lacing from the indrecibly thick head. This beer is seriously one of the darkest, yet red-est pours I have seen.

S- Huge malts are the prominent scent right off the bat for this beer. Basically, it smells how you would expect it to, with big peat and smoky malts that are slightly sweet. Behind the malts lie the undertones of the barrel, which are still strong, just not as much so as the malts. The barrel lends tons of oak and char, closely followed by some dark fruit flavors from the malt to end the smell.

T- Mellow is the best word to describe this beer as it rolls across the tongue. The malts are very smooth and subtle, while still being the prominent taste up front. They start as lightly smokey and a touch bitter from char and booze from the barrels, then move toward the dark fruit flavor form the scent. Cherry is definitely well represented in the flavor, bordering just on the edge of tart before the bourbon flavor moves back in to end the drink.

M- Just as I expected from the appearance of the head, this beer is thick and smooth as Miles Davis. There is no evidence of the alcohol content in the taste or in burn, and the heavy flavors really make this an even smoother drink.

Overall, this is a gem hidden in plain sight. I walking into a local store and it was just sitting there. I grabbed the last 4 pack after debating only buying a single, and I'm glad I grabbed the 4. Really curious to have this next to Backwoods Bastard. I think it drinks smoother, more balanced, and with better integrated flavors. Just a really good beer overall.

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Photo of OldRickSputin
4.85/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2015 vintage 12 oz bottle.


Pretty dark with some light getting through at both ends. A thin 1/8" head remains throughout. A nice spread of thin lacing of sticks around and follows the glass from top bottom. Decent carbonation which dissipates but does not disappear.

The aroma- it just doesn't get any better than this. Reminds me of BCBS barley wine. Nice raisin, apple, toffee, and smooth smooth bourbon! (Very complex, I'm sure I missing some)

Mouthfeel is great...and compliments the taste wonderfully.

See all of the aroma notes and that's what you get with taste. Nothing metallic or overly-boozy, just a nice smooth wee heavy that definitely tastes better before getting too warm.

I'll try to revise this review as I drink the remaining 7 bottles I have. So...probably within the next week. I don't believe aging/cellaring this would be wise. :)

I'm tempted to give this a 100/100...it's really that good.

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Photo of arniepnminne
5/5  rDev +16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brand this beer with a dinosaur, a family members name, a philosopher, or some wonderfully gifted county next to Tennessee and she be gone! Silky caramel and molasses waves intertwining with chocolates and whiskey, some wet wood, vanilla and a touch of smoke. Killer.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
4.71/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Appearance : Pours a chocolate mahogany colored body with a beige 3 finger head. Opacity is 90%. The head is tightly knit, leaving hills of lace on the glass as it recedes slowly. It sticks at about 1 finger after 5 minutes.

Aroma : Lots of richness. Horehound, molasses, anise, aged malt, black karo syrup, and a slight oaky aroma. Plum can also be nosed, actually like plum candy.

Taste : Wow. Flavorful is the word. A thick fruity sweetness from plum and date invades the palate with the burn and bite of Bourbon, richness of vanilla, the roasted sweetness of aged malt mix, ending with a finale of fresh picked cherry, coconut, and chocolate.

Feel : Sticky, syrupy, and sweet - but not too thick. It's very enjoyable. Moderate carbonation buzzes underneath the wave of thick syrupy sweetness. A lick of the lips lifts more of that sticky plum and cherry as it lingers there from the sip.

Overall : World-class offering. It's simply fantastic. Best Scotch ale ever? I still have a spot in my heart for Kilt Lifter...but this is on another plane completely. Price not a factor, nor sessionability, this is simply the best Scotch Ale on the planet. Ever.

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Photo of Walligator
4.9/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Amazing BB scotch ale!
Black, thick, aged bourbon up front. Thought I just stuck my head in the barrel, the aroma so intense but not over powering.

I enjoy a good bourbon, and the initial taste was just that, with the sweet chocolate and malt right behind it.Of course, as it warms, it just keeps getting better. This truly is one of the best, if not THE best SA brew I've ever had. Thanks Central Waters for sharing this experience!

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Photo of CraigP83
4.33/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very dark but if you get it up to the light a root beer color comes through around the edges, quickly dissipating head. LOVE the smell, boozy, bourbon barrel, earthy, slight peat. Boozy caramel, smooth. A bit of tartness similar to their cherry stout.

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Photo of Evilyak
4.42/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

That's wicked dark. No head to speak of once it settles, but some lacing on the sides.

Smells like malt and fennel or licorice. Taste is sweet malt and the ubiquitous dark fruit with that licorice taste popping up at the end. Bourbon/oak is muted at the front, but there's definitely something in the aftertaste - more Manhattan than with a splash of water.

Thick and slick in the mouth, this one lingers.

Not for everyday, but remarkably tasty.

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

Dark brown but clear, finger of tan head. The bourbon is fairly low-key, accenting the malts and sweet shellac of the Scotch ale. Sweet like chewy candied dates and vanilla caramel. Smooth and slick. Medium-feel. A real nice Scotch ale, drinks easy - abv unknown but it doesn't carry any burn or hint of it on the palate.

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Photo of SLeffler27
4.6/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Very dark brown, essentially black (SRM 39-40). A modest chestnut cream settles to a thin blanket, depositing a fine veil of lace on a Gordon Thistle glass.

Rich malt aroma races up from the glass, in equal parts sweet milk chocolate and oaked bourbon. Coffee ice cream follows, with vanilla and licorice as it warms.

The flavors are an exquisite showcase of dark delight. Light sweetness balances with bitterness, while warming alcohol lifts coconut and cherries from the finish. Advanced warmth simplifies the aroma/flavors focusing attention on the bourbon.

The combination of full body and modest carbonation gives this a smooth texture like Jersey cotton. Alcohol is warming, but controlled.

This beer is layered with comforting character, and gently lulls one into a contemplative mood.

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Photo of Bshaw22
4.27/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Good not great. A little bourbon and caramel, but I was a little surprised how much dark fruit, plum, raisin etc... I got on the finish. Was hoping for a little more caramel. I like the barley wine a lot better.

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Photo of Lesingnon
4.34/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a very dark brown with about two fingers of a frothy, khaki head. Foam eventually recedes to a thin layer, with slight lacing noticeable.

Smell: Possesses a big, bold nose full of everything that makes bourbon wonderful. That oaked vanilla stands out the most, followed by the oak itself. Earthy notes lurk in the background to tie it all together, with dark fruits and molasses the most prominent among them.

Taste: The oaked taste of a good bourbon is the first thing to hit the tongue, and leaves no doubt at all that this offering is barrel-aged. Hints of vanilla are present as well, along with a deep molasses flavor that lingers on the tongue. Very little hop character is detectable.

Mouthfeel: Feels nice and full, firm, with just the right amount of carbonation to keep things interesting.

Overall: Central Waters has made its name on the strength of its barrel aged offerings, and this one is no disappointment. The bourbon character is featured and dominant, without being overpowering. And despite what I suspect to be a fairly hefty ABV it goes down easily. I was also very happy to find that it didn't have the same leathery character that is found in Slainte, their seasonal scotch ale.

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Photo of jwc215
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 vintage:

Pours dark brown with a bubbly/foamy head. Not much lacing sticks.

The smell is of dark fruits - plum, prune, raisin, black cherry - with bourbon. Delicate peat smoke intermingles. The smell is rich, strong, complex and certainly inviting.

The taste is sweet - caramel/toffee - with dark fruits. Earthy notes and a hint of peat balance the sweetness. Bourbon comes through nicely without overpowering. Long, rich finish.

It is full-bodied and smooth despite noticeable alcohol.

A great Scotch ale aged in bourbon barrels. The barrel aging is done especially well. Highly recommended!

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Photo of mnredsoxfan69
4.22/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque dark brown pour with half a finger of foam that quickly dissolves to a thin ring. The aromas are of vanilla, bourbon and brown sugar syrup with no hop presence whatsoever. The taste follows the smell with lots of big vanilla, bourbon and malty sweetness, almost cloying, but not quite. Medium to medium-heavy body, as befits a barrel aged brew, low carbonation with a velvety feel and no alcohol burn, just a well hidden warmth. Overall, another top-notch, barrel aged brew from Central Waters, second best of their Brewer's Reserve series after the barleywine ale.

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Photo of durlta
4.52/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Great looking beer: dark cola colored with a nice head. Smells as good as it looks with maple bourbon notes and carmel toffee malts. Tastes like it smells. If you see any of these cw brewers reserve 4-packs on the shelf, don't hesitate to pick some up; you won't be disappointed.

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

Dark cola colour with a thumb of head with some retention and lacing. Sweet bourbon, caramel, toffee, burnt toast and leather. Boozy bourbon and caramel notes dominate, hints of peat, chocolate, molasses and burnt cocoa. This stuff is awesome. So much flavour. Definitely a memorable brew.

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Photo of kkleu357
4.49/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Brewery. Seems more thick and rich this year. Poured medium dark with a small head. Aroma of sweet caramel and bourbon. Rich malty caramel taste. Good touch of oak and bourbon. Never really enjoyed this one until this glass.

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Brewer's Reserve Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale from Central Waters Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 132 ratings.
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