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

BA SCORE
81
good
229 Reviews
THE BROS
80
good
Read the review
Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)Barrel Aged Brrrbon (Brothers' Reserve Series)
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
Oregon, United States
widmer.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
229
Ratings:
581
Avg:
3.57
pDev:
15.69%
 
 
Wants:
21
Gots:
134
For Trade:
4
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 229 | Ratings: 581
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.

 2,235 characters

Photo of LiquidAmber
3.77/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a medium red-orange amber, thin head dissipates quickly, minimal lacing. Aroma dominated by bourbon with sweet malt. Taste follows, with bourbon dominating, decent wood notes, vanilla and faint hops. Light to medium bodied. The bourbon is nice, but the elements aren't that well integrated. The vanilla leaves a slightly diacetyl taste. Overall a satisfactory, but not noteworthy effort.

 427 characters

Photo of liamt07
3.37/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle from AJ's Fine Foods on North Central in Phoenix. 22oz into a chalice, 2011 vintage bottled August 21 of the year.

Poured a translucent brownish orange, with about a finger of white head. A bit of lace and a film of retention. Nose has some orangey hop notes that are a bit resinous, a touch of oak, vanilla and only a slight suggestion of bourbon. Taste has quite a bit of the same, orangey-like hop notes (which, as I move through the bottle, come across as more and more artificial), with lots of oak, butterscotch - almost along the lines of an Innis & Gunn. Some bourbon flavour, without any bourbon burn. A hint of spice, bitter in the finish with a dash of alcohol. Heavy medium body and carbonation is quite low, slightly more drinkable than some pure 'sippers' out there. Too sweet for my liking though, and lacks any real complexity to make this stand out. Despite the nice looking bottle and packaging, this was certainly not worth the $14 I dropped on this. 22oz ended up being too much, half of this was disposed of.

 1,037 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.33/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 picked up tonight for me by the wife at the Boise COOP.. $11 made for a good stream of expletives.. oh well... I would have done it too... shared this one with my good buddy inflatablechair... Poured into my Sierra Nevada XXX goblet... very thin white head... no retention or lacing... the brew is a lite amber.... Weird... with good swirls at room temp, lacing and head was much better.

Nose begins pretty thin ... lite caramel and bunches of a mash-up of odd wood/whiskey/ and bits of dried fruit..

9.4% isn't readily available, but the overall brew is thin like a bigger amber that has some obvious barrel work... caramel and minor pick-up toasty malts.. I wish the hops had any play at all... really.. I wish anything with depth played ball tonight.... just nothing except the EtOH to really write home about....

I really wanted to like this one... actually, I really wanted to APPRECIATE this one.. but it is a big let down. Honestly it reminds me of a standard well made Amber that was dosed with wood and okay bourbon.

Welll... Too expensive... thin brew on the nose and palate.... not alot to look forward to = ehhhh... not my bag... I think many BA's will like it... just not for me.

3.5/3/3.5/3/3.5

 1,219 characters

Photo of Zorro
3.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Clear bronze colored ale with a scant off-white colored head.

Smell is lightly sweet with vanilla and bourbon there but not super strong. Vanilla and coconut stand out in this. Still, not the most aromatic ale.

Starts out semi-sweet with big coconut and vanilla. Whiskey is in here but it doesn't take over like in some beers. Little bit of spice here but only cinnamon stands out from the bourbon. Decent hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side; bourbon adds no body at all.

Overall an OK beer. I would buy again if it were $5 a bottle or less and I wanted a cheap bourbon barrel beer.

 596 characters

Photo of John_M
4.26/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I confess I have not been a huge fan of this beer in the past, but the recent version (sampled on tap at Growler Nations last night) was flat out outstanding. The current version seemed to have a lot more bourbon, which blende well with the underlying, fairly sweet base beer. There was a lot of vanilla and brown sugar as well, with the beer reminding me more of a barleywine or old ale. Alcohol was very well integrated into the flavor profile, and the beer was very soft, smooth and long on the palate. Had no problem drinking my 8 ounce pour, and was tempted to get another (but there were other beers on offer that required my attention).

Nice effort from the folks at Widmer.

 688 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.8/5  rDev +6.4%

Poured a light brown body with two finger and lace ring down glass.
Aroma has hints of everything: piney hops, vanilla, caramel, booze, wood, roasted malts - nothing really stands out.
Smooth yet a thicker beer so I sipped on it, maybe too woody/boozy or vanilla sweetness for some and not enough hops but I really liked this beer.
As you sip on beer the alcohol creeps in a little more but it's not hot.
Maybe too simple or sweet for some but I really enjoyed sipping on this beer.

 483 characters

Photo of HopHead84
3.4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2/10/2012

On tap at Churchill's.

A: Dark orange and transparent. The white head fades quickly.

S: A pleasant blend of caramel, vanilla, oak, and bourbon (faint). There's earth and a dash of grapefruit. Smells nice but it's not very expressive. Takes a lot of coaxing and swirling to bring out the aroma. Butterscotch comes to mind.

T: Caramel and restrained bourbon notes. There's a lower moderate bitterness and a little citrus. Vanilla is faint. Alcohol is quite strong.

M: Upper medium body with upper medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is silky and sticky.

Overall: A decent barrel aged Strong Ale, though a bit inexpressive.

 634 characters

Photo of jdhilt
3.91/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours an off-white, one-finger head that fades quickly leaving traces of lace. Nice crystal clear amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Bourbon nose, flavor is bourbon, vanilla and hints of sweet caramel, higher ABV is hidden. Expensive at $13.00 for a 22oz bottle from Tully's Beer & Wine Wells, Me.

 311 characters

Photo of jzeilinger
3.06/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Pours a nice amber/copper color, with very minimal head, moderate carbonation, and doesn't stick to the sides of the glass at all.

S - Smell is a little anemic with the majority of my olfactory waft coming from bourbon, caramel/toffee malt, and candied plums with a slight medicinal aroma. Overall,the aroma is light in the nose,maybe this would have been stronger when it was fresh?

T - Agreed with an earlier opinion that this really does remind me of an English style barleywine on the palette. The taste is mild and the flavors match the nose with the addition of the oak barrel nuance that I didn't get so much in the nose. Strong oak tannin on the palette.

M - Thin bodied, boozy effervesence, and with an almost clean finish. I wouldn't expect this from a beer stamped as a high gravity bourbon beer.

D - Meh.

I really feel bad because I had higher expectations for this beer and the taste is like a watered down glass of oak, bourbon, and light caramel. For what I paid for the bottle, I'll have to finish this one. Widmer Brothers, no offense with this review, I'm going to give this one another go around on the next batch because I really enjoy bourbon beers. This one just 'ain't doin' it for me. (sorry to say)

 1,234 characters

Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a suprisingly light reddish copper/amber colour, with a filmy, but relatively firm head of almost-white. Lacing is speckled and patchy in places, but it exists at least. Body is solid, and holds some large bubbled carbonation when swirled, or tilted. Looks alright.

Nose is slightly spicy, with undertones of vanilla oak and a touch of aniseed. It's a little thin overall, and the oak characters start to seem a bit sharp without some sweetness or body to back it up. It seems a little bit like it's an oak beer done for the oak and very little else.

Taste is similar, with oak and vanilla underpinning... well, very little else. Slight boozy twinges around the edge, again with a slight hint of spice, but it's all very hidden and underhanded. The only character that is confident enough to make itself felt is the oak, and that's always felt like a character to complement or accentuate other characters, not to be the be all and end all.

Drinkability suffers because of the heat, and the lack of complexities and characters to make it really worthwhile. I love bourbon oak in things, but maybe this beer is telling me that I just really like the base beer in others.

 1,178 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a ruddy dark red color with good carbonation and dirty white head

S: Light bourbon, wood, vanilla

T: Follows nose very well, wood, vanilla, caramel

M: Thin. Carbonated well, sticky, bourbon dominates booze not feeling like 9+ ABV

D: Not a bad beer at all, pretty tame on bourbon and all. Still drinkable for price

 327 characters

Photo of beertunes
2.75/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured into 16oz goblet. Poured a clean, clear amber, with just a thin cap of off-white head that had low retention and minimal lacing.

There was some bourbon notes upfront in the aroma, with mere traces of malt and hops behind it. The flavor was equally meh. The barrel gives it the dominant bourbon taste, but otherwise this is just kinda OK.

The body was a bit too thin. Drinkability was OK, but I don't think I'll want more than this one 22. Overall, not a "bad" beer, just a boring one. Try it if you want, but I think your time will be better spent elsewhere.

 567 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

2012 Vintage

A-Pours a clear, amber color. Head is mild, it makes the beer look flat. Minimal lacing.

S-Aroma is where you'd expect it to be. Bourbon-forward with a complement of sweet, Winter Warmer aromatics. I'm actually impressed with the intensity if the oak.

T-Bourbon lays it on heavy. It doesn't seem to match well with the beer's base surprisingly. The bourbon lingers and dries out the palate. Dried out oakiness and Christmas spice. Very sweet.

M-Softer carbonation. Booze isn't very well integrated, even after a year. Too sweet. It isn't a mess but it's nearing one.

O/D-Didn't love the feel all too much but aside from that it could be worse. Bourbon seems to disagree with the other flavors.

 711 characters

Photo of pat61
4/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This pours brilliant chestnut under a thin cream colored foam cap. Caramel and toffee flavors and aromas meet big alcohol for a satiating, fulfilling and warming after dinner drink. Soft carbonation and medium full body.

 220 characters

Photo of bluejacket74
3.95/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle, Fall 2010 (stamp on bottle says October 2010) vintage. Served in a nonic pint glass, the beer pours a reddish/copper color with about an inch light tan head. Head retention and lacing are both good. Aroma is a bit boozy, the brew smells like bourbon, vanilla, coconut, caramel malt and some dark fruit. It tastes like bourbon, vanilla, caramel malt, coconut, and a little bit of sweet spices and dark fruit. But the bourbon flavor in this brew is stronger compared to the other ones. Mouthfeel/body is medium, it's coating, smooth, and has moderate carbonation. Aging this brew for a little more than a year certainly hasn't hurt it. I thought it was good, now I might have to buy a bottle of the 2011 version to try.

 734 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
3.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Got a free 3oz sample of this at my local beer store during a tasting.

A - For a bourbon barrel beer it poured a rather light copper color. A very little head and moderate lacing.

S - Nothing really stood out maybe slight bourbon, caramel, and sweet malts.

T - Wow that's the smoothest bourbon beer I ever had so I was impressed! Not outstanding but mild bourbon, caramel and a pretty sweet yet boozy finish made this a good taster beer!

M - The bourbon made the mouth feel heavy for sure but it went down pretty well.

D - Great to try not to buy it was great to have a bourbon aged beer not a whiskey bomb but clocking in at 16.99 I didn't even dare to consider buying a bottle, but you pay for the process so its high for a reason. Would be better if the price was a solid 10 then I would have got it for sure.

 817 characters

Photo of ppoitras
4.12/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle purchased somewhere localish.

Poured into a DFH snifter, formed a 1/2" beige head over the clear copper brew. Head quickly recedes to the rim, with slow-falling lace. Aroma is vanilla and alcohol, as expected.

Taste is syrupy sweet to start, a peek of fruit/tart in the middle, and then vanilla, alcohol, and a lingering coconut close. Mouthfeel is smooth, and drinkability is easy, especially for the abv. Nice brew, even though I'm not the biggest coconut flavor fan.

 484 characters

Photo of Brad007
3.53/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This has been sitting in my fridge for quite a while.

Pours a mild red color with a thin head into my glass. Very nice color for the style. I didn't expect it to be a winter warmer though.

Lots of bourbon in the nose with alcohol heat. Malt is nutty and sweet. Again, bourbon dominates.

Whoa, too much bourbon for my liking. It must have mellowed a bit but still, that's a hell lot of bourbon in one beer (well, from the barrels, obviously). Only a hint of malt underneath.

Lingering alcohol heat and bourbon as far as the taste buds can tell. Nothing out of the ordinary.

If you buy this, you should age it at least 6 months to allow the bourbon flavors to mellow out. It's strong but it won't kill your taste buds after a month or two. Unfortunately, it's a pretty shallow beer that only exists to showcase bourbon barrel aging and nothing more.

 852 characters

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

22 oz. Clear amber pour, just a whisp of white head. Quite a few bubbles throughout though.

Rum cake and booze, some malt and caramel. Vanilla, barrel in there as well.

Caramel, toffee, oak and smidge of vanilla. Just a bit too boozy throughout. Finishes with some vanilla.

More carbonated than the appearance would lead, plus the rather high warmth of it, make it fairly average in drinkability. If this were knocked down a bit in abv, I think it would shine a bit more.

Worth a try though.

 495 characters

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

Ultra-clear, deep copper in color, with a very slim head, this beer has a boozy, malty aroma. Some woody, smoky aroma, but very distant. Vinous, semi-sweet, warming, and malty. The beer has a distinct vanilla flavor. Mouth-filling, smooth, and very enjoyable. This is surely a sipping beer. Solid bitterness, but hop-restrained. The beer becomes more enjoyable and intriguing throughout the bottle. Very good.

 409 characters

Photo of drpimento
3.92/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured with a small light tan head that mostly subsides in short order with a bit of lace. Color is a clear, rich, medium amber, with slow bubble trails. Aroma is malt, brandy, dark ripe fruit. Flavor is like nose with the malt and brandy more pronounced plus the tang of carbonation. Body is a little thinner than I'd expect in this style but good and carbonation is assertive. Finish is like flavor with lots of warming alcohol. Decent beer for a sipper. Not bad, but not great.

 480 characters

Photo of champ103
2.8/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

A: Pours a hazy amber/reddish color. A one finger white head forms at first, and recedes in a second. No lace to speak of.
S: Plenty of burning right of the bat. Some harsh nondescript whiskey, alcohol. Sweet malt, maybe some hops, and light vanilla.
T: Sweet malt, fusel alcohol, vanilla. Not much going on.
M/D: A much lighter body than I was expecting. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Though it is just to thin. To much fusel alcohol, and nothing else to keep me interested.

A disappointment. No nuance, nothing is incorporated well, and just not very interesting. Widmer just jumped on the barrel aged band wagon here without any thought of the end product. I would not recommended this.

 698 characters

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.43/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I am a sucker for these reddish tinged beers; they're really pleasing to the eye.
This was a clear cherry amber color with a medium-sized tan head that reduced quickly.
Nice aroma. Vanilla Coke, sweet caramel. Alcohol noticeable, not unpleasant.
Alas, the taste did not live up to the aroma. While what I noted in the aroma was present in the taste, it was on a much smaller scale. Muted.
Fairly sweet mouthfeel.
Nice enough, but close but no cigar.

 449 characters

Photo of AgentMunky
3.03/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a brandy snifter. Vintage 2011. Bottled 14 November 2011.

A: Clear light-molasses, heavy lace, light head.

S: Loads of bourbon. Sweet malt. Heavy fruits. After a sip, a touch of metal.

T: Not very interesting. Flat malts, vanilla, raw sugar, and a touch of whiskey. Jack Daniels. The aftertaste is uncompelling and easy forgettable.

M: Smooth, but cool. Nice enough. Pleasant for a winter warmer.

O: A touch of spice, but loads more fruit and oversweet molasses malt. I didn't think it was great; the bourbon was heavy-handed, but whatever. I wouldn't recommend it. I won't have again.

 625 characters

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

    Subscribe