Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series) | Widmer Brothers Brewing Company

229 Reviews
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Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.40%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bitterness: 40 IBU
Alcohol by Volume: 9.4% ABV
Original Gravity: 20° PLATO

Released: September 2010

Added by BarrytheBear on 09-24-2010

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Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 581
Photo of Amalak
4.03/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A. It has a nice caramel color with a slight haziness to it. Some bubbles, small head.

S. A metallic malt scent.

T/M. It has a balanced malty taste. Some hops and a bit bitter. A slight alcohol taste, but not overbearing. Smooth and full bodied.

O. Very nice, smooth beer. For a winter warmer, it's a very nice offering.

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Photo of JayQue
3.7/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Overall this is pretty good. Was expecting an overly sweet bourbon and caramel concoction. Other than the strong alcohol presence, this was nicely balanced and even a bit muted.

Poured a murky dark orange color with a small but stubborn off white head and some good lacing into a pint glass. Smell was fairly light, some oak and bourbon but not that pronounced.

Taste is pretty good. THe bourbon and oak were not overdone, some bready and sweet malts evened things out and there was even a mild hoppy presence.

The dominating mouthfeel aspect was the strong alcohol presence. I had this sitting over a year, and it was still "hot". The alcohol is a bit overdone but after all this is a slow sipping winter beer.

I drank the whole thing myself over a few hours. A fairly nice accompaniment for a cold night.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
3.94/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Kickbacks in Jax. Poured into a snifter. 2012 vintage. Off-white head, moderate retention on a slightly hazy, copper body. Clear and soapy, sticky lacing. Aroma includes (suprisingly) earthy piney hops with some citrus. Slight vanilla, caramel malts and marmalade. Taste is again dominated by earthy hops and bitterness, some caramel malts again and vanilla sweetness. Not at all what I expected, very drinkable for the abv and quite tasty.

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Photo of McD0uche
3.48/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass:

Pours a reddish, orangey brown color. Looks like your typical ale. A good amount of lacing boils up and subsides after a moment. Fairly sticky lacing rings the glass. A deep whiff earns me the scent of apples, but is a bit muted. I wonder what else is in there. A quaff reveals the flavor of apples, toffee, dark fruits, malts, vanilla, and cream. A little smokey. Overall, an enjoyable arrangement of flavors. Mouthfeel is dry and light, and the flavor radiates well. I wouldn't mind revisiting this one in the future.

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Photo of TwelveOunces
3.15/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bomber poured into a tulip
2012 Vintage

A- A dark amber orange, very clear. One finger of an off white head. Some alcohol legs.

S- A little bourbon, a light spiciness and cinnamon. A slight oak.

T- A little oak and bourbon at front, very light. A big alcohol flavor which is surprising. A slight spice on the tongue. A little hop bitterness. No offensive flavors but not too many great ones either.

M- A light body, and too light for the size of the beer. An strong alcohol feel and burn which is surprising.

O- Quite disappointed. Was expecting much better, especially for the price.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle pour at the BevMo Holiday Beerfest held at Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles, CA.

2012 vintage.

Pours a clear dark orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, wood, and slight bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild alcohol kick and a woody finish. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is a decent example of barrel aging.

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Photo of brentk56
4.2/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 version

Appearance: Pours a clear burnt orange with an inch of foam; rather nice bit of splashy lace

Smell: Toast, caramel, pine, vanilla and a moderate Bourbon aroma

Taste: Caramel and toast, with a developing pine character in the middle; at the same time, the Bourbon and vanilla elements also build; more Bourbon, after the swallow, but the base beer flavors balance out the whiskey; not very boozy, despite the ABV

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Reading through the reviews, I wonder whether the recipe may have changed here as I found this beer to be extremely well-balanced, with a very deft handling of the Bourbon in a way that really complements the base beer

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Photo of JamesShoemaker
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 oz 2011 vintage poured out into three regular size wine glasses. Thanks to RyanSchwam for this extra beer in a great trade!

A - pours a dark orange, a little brown, not unlike an English BW. Foam recedes quickly, lingers on the edge.

S - I like the smell, some bourbon notes, woody, sweet, flavorful.

T - also pretty good. I like the fact that it's not quite as sweet as some BBA brews. A little bit of caramel, woody.

M - meh. The carbonation hurts this beer, and maybe the extra age does too. The alcohol is undetectable.

O - a good brew. I'd like to try it on tap.

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Photo of pkalix
4.7/5  rDev +31.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

beautiful clear, caramel color with a nice topping of foam.
citrus aroma, some pine.
caramel front, pine-y hop flavor as it slides past the middle, and clean and refreshing finish. doesnt taste like there is alcohol in here, yet it says 9.4% abv
overall, i really like this. i like this 'alternate' version of the previous brrr i tasted and the bourbon barrel flavor goes hand in hand with the hops and 'pine'. this really is a great brew. however, i am not sure we are all reviwing the same beer, are we? my bottle says '12 and yet the reviews go all the way back to 2010. this appears to be an annual product and i noticed there was an '11 version also. the brewery's website even advertises the '11, but not the '12.... confusion, but who cares? darn fine product in my hands. and since i still dont know if aliens exist, i suppose i can live without knowing whether this review should be for a '12 . . . . but i gave the taste part a 5. this is an awesome job of producing beer. 9.4%....even...

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Photo of kylehay2004
3.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Two finger off white head on a hazy amber orange body. Excellent retention and nice lacing. Flavors of vanilla, toasted malts, brown sugar, spices, bourbon, caramel and hints of toffee. Aroma hides under the thick head ad is mostly of candy sugar, dark fruits, orange peel and caramel. Medium body and moderate carbonation. A little oily on the palate. A lot of flavors in this one but for me they do tall come together in the end to form a memorable or great beer.

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Photo of PeterIngemi
4.1/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Split a 22oz bottle poured into a dfh snifter.

A: pours a nice brown ruby with a finger if slightly tanned head... Excellent lacing.

S: nice burbon on the nose along with light oak, I get notes of caramel, toffe, vanilla, mic maltiness.

T: much like the nose nice barrel aged notes over a nice malty base, kind of scotch ale like.... I get brown sugar and a citrusy note of wet mango along with toasted caramel and vanilla And a light touch of burbon. Also a touch of spices.

M: nice lush medium mouthfeel with creamy carbonation, nicley drinkable. A bit dry and Sticky on the finish.

O: this I a nice beer for a cold night... Very nice notes from the barrels, though they are not wet burbon notes, wich aloes tem to just add some nice barrel flavors to a tasty malt backbone... Nice.

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Photo of BlurryVisi0n
4.02/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served in a Sam Adams signature pint glass. Vintage bottle October 2010 (limited release #3), poured 10/29/2012.

Appearance: Pours a semi-cloudy amber with heavy bubbles (small) on the body. Had slightly off white about 1/3" at best off a vigorous pour.

Smell: Very nice bourbon scent. Not too overwhelming but obviously a little room for improvement.

Taste: Complex and good. It has a light lager feel to it offset with a sweet taste that reminds you of a borderline carbonated whiskey,. It is lightly bitter but feels heavy in alcohol because of the bourbon taste that goes with it.

Mouth: Strongly sticky, you lay this glass down and you feel the after taste of brown sugar but of what real beer is supposed to taste like.

Overall: A beastly beer, I am not crazy to begin with on the bourbon or oaked aged beers but this one is a gem. I know there are different versions that might not live up to the expectations of this one aged two years just right did it for me. I have had this bottle for about a year and thought it was time. Enjoy and drink up....Salud!

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Photo of JHS123
4.5/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Seasonal BARREL AGED BRRRBON is an amazing beer, enjoyed it today at the Foodie Festival in Westport CT. Its one of the more impressive offerings from one of the most impressive craft brewers nationwide. One of the highlights of an event that featured a diverse variety from Widmer, BluePoint, Goose Island, Southern Tier and a host of locals.


22oz bottle.

Nice auburn copper pour.
Frothy with sweet smell reminiscent of oak with vanilla. Little bourbon smell mild not overpowering. Texture is slick with taste of sweetness coupled with some alcohol but not negative. Solid hops composition with a little bit of a burnt earthy smell and feel. Finishes spicy like the Falconer IPA but not as hoppy just peppery smoothness. Really enjoy the texture and taste of this beer. There's essentially no cloying bitterness as its nicely hopped but maintains a 40 IBU and its potent at 9%.

It's not hot like a bourbon but if you don't like bourbon or whiskey you probably won't like this but I highly recommend it as one of my favorites from Widmer where I think the SXNW and the Pitch Black and the Falconer IPA are spectacular.

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Photo of jondeelee
3.83/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Fall 2010 release, reviewed Fall 2012) opens to a lovely sugary, malty, slightly alcoholic aroma. Immediately noticeable are big vanillas, caramels, brown sugar, and molasses, with strong support from rising wheat dough, floury baguette, and toast crust. The bourbon barrel aging is subtle, mostly adding touches of vanilla and oak, and is nowhere near the overwhelming whiskey aroma that sometimes happens with barrel aging. There is a good citrus note in the background, with lemon and pink grapefruit, as well as lighter pine notes from the hops. Fruit esters aren’t quite as powerful as the basic vanilla and brown sugar notes, but do include apricot and berry. As a whole, the nose is surprisingly light for a 9.4% ABV beer, and I expected much more in terms of bourbon. Instead, this comes across sugary and light, almost light a sugary fruit spritzer with just a touch of whiskey. The effect is pleasing, but does want for a bit more earthiness, including breads and bitterness, as well as gusto, to help balance things out.

On the tongue, the beer opens with a quick shot of brown sugar, then merges into a nice, satisfying mouthful of decent ale, with strong brown sugar, honey, and caramel notes, as well as toast crust, floury baguette, and rising dough. Bits of orange, apricot, and berry fruit esters add further complexity, and hops provide a light tinge of grapefruit and pine. The bourbon barrel aging is stronger here than on the tongue, initially providing a light oak and vanilla undertone, which gains in strength as the beer is held on the tongue and the sugars die off, so late in the mouthful a touch of charcoal and whiskey-like alcohol emerges. In subsequent sips many of the initial sugars and more nuanced flavors are lost under the bourbon and piney hops, and the beer begins to taste more like watery bourbon. The aftertaste is also dominated by watery bourbon and pine, and lingers for a short while. Mouthfeel is medium-light to medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is good fare, but not quite what I was expecting. The beer comes across well at first, but the bourbon notes, even though they’re somewhat watery, tend to dominate later mouthfuls, and the beer wants for a better malt base to help sustain the fruit and sugar notes. There’s also a slightly-too-large remnant of whiskey-like alcohol about the edges, and even more noticeable in the aftertaste, the malts not quite capable of hiding the higher ABV. The ultimate effect is that, despite the high ABV, this comes across as a mid-grade ale that was barrel aged for better flavor.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a hazy amber-orange color with a finger of frothy white head. The head fades down fairly quickly leaving behind some lacing.

S - Aroma is a full of oak, vanilla, and Bourbon, with some holiday spices, sweet toasted caramel and bready malts, dark fruits, and some booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet toasted caramel malts, some light spices, vanilla, dark fruits, and some residual sugars. Through the middle, the oak and Bourbon comes through with some more spices and some bready malts. The finish is a mix of sweet caramel and bready malts with some dark fruit, Bourbon, oak, vanilla, spices, and some booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation. Feels smooth with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. Nice barrel character balanced nicely by the big winter warmer.

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Photo of cdkrenz
3.81/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cellared for 2 years at 42.5 degrees.

The look is a light brown with nice head. The body is medium and the flavor of bourbon is evident. This is a nice, smooth, enjoyable brew. Whether or not the time in the cellar helped or hindered isn't really an issue with the beer because the characters of the beer are in good shape.

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Photo of DRyan
4.15/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottled Nov 2011, had 7/23/12

A: Dark Reddish orange with thin white head that slowly dissipates and laces nicely
S: Malt and whiskey and almost a tiny citrus underscent
T: Forefront is malt, middle of the tasting has a distinct bitter almost sour feel, and the end of the taste is all bourbon and warming alcohol
M: Thin and smooth. Very light carbonation.
D: Definitely a sipper, not a chugger. The alcohol is very apparent (probably because of the bourbon smell), so this lends its self to slow enjoyment.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
3.47/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage.

3.0 A: Opaque mahogany brown color. About one finger of frothy beige head. Retention is a bit below average and a very short ring of lacing is left.

3.5 S: Bourbon is the lead character in the nose. Earthy and musky with a sharp fruitiness. Vanilla and oak from the barrel. The base beer offers a tangy caramel, a light toastiness, and a sugary doughiness. Not overly complex, but good enough to be pleasant.

3.5 T: The base comes out more in the taste. Toasty malts with caramel and brown sugar. Sweet, but savory, like a thick flan of sorts. Sugar cookie dough. Hints of tobacco and plum. Bourbon is now more complementary, but still adds the earthen muskiness and vanilla and oak.

3.5 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Could use some more creaminess, but good enough.

3.5 D: I haven't had this fresh, so I can't comment on how it's aged, but it's tasty in its current state. Well balanced with a decent amount of depth.

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Photo of BostonHops
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle served in a snifter.
2011 vintage.

pours a translucent deep amber / copper tone with orange highlights while yielding a frothy 3/4" beige head that lapses fairly quickly into a collar around the glass. some lacing evident. nose is perhaps more subdued than i was expecting but i do get notes of bourbon, vanilla, to accompany a big malt-forward aroma.

taste follows the aroma with some added secondary notes of oak and a bit of spice. a bit hot, drinks more like an 11 or 12% ABV brew. medium-plus bodied mouthfeel with medium carbonation.

overall, a solid barrel-aged winter warmer. not an eye-opener but enough there to enjoy on those frosty nights. won't kill myself for a revisit - too many other good ones out there.

(originally reviewed: 10-31-2011)

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Photo of srandycarter
3.82/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pretty straight up caramel, light near white head, some cling lace.

S - Sugary, vanilla, malty, less on wood and booze.

T - Taste is close to smell, but bourbon is much more evidient.

M - Errs to the sweet side. A little overwhelming.

D - Good one to try.

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Photo of tlazaroff
3.45/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On the nose it smells pretty good. Its a complex mesh of caramel, burbon, and vanilla.

Hazy dark amber in appearance with a somewhat tan head which doesn't last as long as it should. The beer highlights a wonderful clear light orange when light strikes it.

This tastes like bananas foster without the banana! I get brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, and burbon (with some alcohol taste and burn), and slight vanilla on the finish.

Decent amount of carbonation in this one with a full body. I get a bit of alcohol burn on the first sip, but it's replaced with a menagerie of flavors that just overwhelm the palate and make you forget that it's slightly syrupy. Overall, not a bad effort.

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Photo of yamar68
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark copper with a milky finger of short-lived off-white head which fades off to a neat collar and pinpoint lacing. Some pretty imposing alcohol legs as well.

Interesting aromas coming from the glass - dark juicy fruits, burnt toffee, some booze, a bit of vanilla... not at all what I was anticipating but appealing nonetheless.

If nothing else, this beer is certainly unique. Lots of soft vanilla-y wood notes... Alcohol has taken a back seat to smooth fruits and tobacco. A touch of warming heat but not any kind of burn. It's the type of alcohol presence that actually adds to a beer.

This beer has become entirely balanced. Nothing sharp about it.

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Photo of bum732
2.83/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

S: Bourbon, toasted oak, some caramel sweetness, vanilla, an earthy note, strange.

L: Hazy dark amber, carbonated head that dissipates.

T: Bourbon up front with an almost dark breadiness. Very toasted bread crumb like. Medium low bitterness with some coffee. Finishes with an unpleasant bitter note, semi-dry. Some oak as it warms.

M: Medium bodied, medium carbonation, some alcohol heat.

Kind of strange, i don't think it really works bourbon aging this beer.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.45/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Widmer Barrel Aged Brrrbon '11. Widmer Brewing, Portland, Oregon, since 1984. Alchemy Project. Seasonal Ale aged in bourbon barrels. "This smooth, chilly winter warmer goes through a secondary fermentation as it ages in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. After months of maturation in the barrels the brew is allowed a tertiary fermentation for final conditioning before release." "Flavored Ale." "Combine inspiration and experience. Repeat often." "Prost! To improving with age!"

Okay, I'm going against all this and trying this out young. Maybe I'll buy more to save for later…if this one is good. We'll see. For now, let's open it up.

Clear, bright crimson coloring, slim, but lasting off-white froth.

Aroma: bourbon. Oak and vanilla. Whatever particular aromas Brrr gives us, it's drowned out by the bourbon barrel-aging. Very nice, but I wish it was deeper, and more complex. Rather simple, overwhelmed by the barrel aging.

Taste: boom, here comes richness, raisins, grapes, cherries, oak and vanilla, and, of course, bourbon. Really rich, really thick, much malt, covered in bourbon and oak. Yet not as full bodied, as I'd like for this treatment, perhaps because the base beer just is not thick and full enough to hold up for this type of treatment. Those flavors return sip after sip, but they're just not enough. Bourbon barrel-aging is best done with imperial stout or barleywine, but not necessarily winter ales or winter warmers that may have a certain heft, but not enough to carry this extra weight.

Will this one really improve with age? Maybe, a little?

I don't know for sure, but it's not good now. There's a flurry of flavor at first, mostly on the sweet side, but after that, the pleasures dwindle. A light bourbon-y flavor lays over this very average winter ale. Sweet, whiskey-ish, vanilla-y, and utterly boring. Completely forgettable. Far too sweet, too much bourbon barrel work, without enough dry, roasty malt below. Maybe bourbon barrel-aging a winter ale is not an awesome idea. Maybe you need a bigger beer, to make it worthwhile? Maybe after 28 years, they'd know that?

Eh, I keep giving them chances, and I keep trying them out, and, dammit, I keep spending my money on them, but I'm starting to wise up.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.93/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks nice on the pour. Feels extremely silly and smooth. Flavor profile is nice and smooth. Mild hop spice tones. Lots of malts. I'm getting a bit of a vanilla tone here too. Overall, this is a very smooth beer. I get no boozy tones, and I'm pretty sure it's close to 10% on the abv, from what I recall when I saw the bottle. A nice easy drinker. Pleasant.

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Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series) from Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
3.57 out of 5 based on 581 ratings.
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