Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks | Heavy Seas Beer

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Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below DecksHeavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks

Brewed by:
Heavy Seas Beer
Maryland, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by John_M on 05-18-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 108 | Ratings: 301
Photo of jojomdma
4.63/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearence: Dark Rusty Red in color

Smell: A smooth mild Barleywine aroma

Taste is mild yet fulfilling with a hint of bourbon

Mouthfeel: Thin but it is very quenching to the thirst.

Drinkability: It is sooo easy to drink multiples of this great brew.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - pours a dark amber/caramel. A thin but sticky head goes patchy pretty fast.

Aroma - lots of toasted coconut and caramel and toffee.

Taste - biscuity, chewy malts are quickly covered by sweet caramel and coconut. Some balancing hops at mid-palate. Plenty of abv warmth here, but this is not hot at all. Amazing how the coconut is so forward without an excess of wood or whiskey flavor. A late bourbony bit to the finish. Nicely warm in the belly during tonight's winter storm warning.

Mouthfeel - very smooth, average carbonation, and a plenty big body.

Overall - very unique. I can see this being niche-like to barreling fans, but I like the uniqueness in flavor. This would cellar well provided I could keep it in storage.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.53/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The keg was dated 11/19/11, and I had it earlier this week, less than 2 months later. I was fooled; the taste suggested something that had been patiently cellared and matured well thereby.

A finger of tan head, ruby/amethyst body (almost purple!). Nice lace.

Plenty of bourbon, sticky toffee malt in the nose.

Magnificent bourbon character. Coconut, oak, malt.

Everything I ever wanted in a bourbon-barrel barleywine, and it turned out to be magnificent fresh.

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Photo of tdm168
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - dark amber with a thin brown head that has great retention

S - caramel, candy sugar, big malt presence

T - baked apples, caramel, candy sugar, bourbon, vanilla, alcohol

M - full bodied, well carbonated, warm

This is another delicious version of the Below Decks. The beer is fantastic on its own, but the bourbon adds depth and mellows the alcohol. The barrels impart not only bourbon, but also some vanilla notes. The maltiness of the beer is balanced, fruity, and sugary - just the way I wanted it to be. This is definitely a beer worth trying.

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Photo of RuckusDu
4.44/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Says 2010 version. I wasn't going to review it, but tasted pretty good so I thought I would give it a full write-up. Head was pretty minimal and on the light tan side. Body is mostly clear and a deep red amber. Looks good. Aroma is sweet caramel and vanilla. I would put this up against the best English BW's out there. Flavor drops off a bit (maybe a fault of weak body?). Bourbon, vanilla, and marshmallow. Just a hint of bitter as the start. Really quite good. Mouth is wonderful carbonation but weak body. Just leaves the mouth too quickly.

To be honest, I would like a lot more of this. Maybe a trade is in order? Nice bourbon and vanilla and the smell of it is simply amazing. Doesn't substitute for the big guys, but on a value side, this gets the job done.

Tried this on cask today the Ginger Man. At first it was a little unrefined but tasty. Probably what I would expect considering how much I loved the 2 year old version. As I drink more, it gets better and this beer is wonderful fresh, but it could still use some age. Glad I was able to try this on Cask.

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Photo of glid02
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Joe - thanks!

Pours a slightly hazy copper color with a one-finger cream-colored head. The head recedes into a patchy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of sweet caramel malts, toffee, vanilla, and bourbon. As the beer warms the sweetness subsides just a bit.

Tastes very similar to how it smells. Syrupy caramel malt flavors with large amounts of toffee and lighter amounts of vanilla kick things off. Midway through the sip the bourbon really shines as the vanilla flavors intensify and the oak adds a bit of an edge to the flavor profile. The ending is mildly bitter, leaving sweet caramel malt and vanilla flavors lingering on the palate.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with smooth carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall this is a very nice bourbon-barrel-aged beer for a relatively low price. Definitely worth a shot.

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Photo of frenchblood21
4.38/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into a goblet. Allowed to sit for approx. 20 minutes outside of fridge before opening.

Appearance- Deep dark ruby red brown color. A beautiful light tan one finger head. It takes its time going away, and leaves a surprising amount of lacing.

Smell- Fruity and malty...barely a hint of bourbon. Apple, pear and fig are present.

Taste- I'm getting way more bourbon in the taste than in the nose. Bourbon, oak and apple in that order.

Mouthfeel- way more thick than it looks. This beer was born to be bourbon barrel aged. Just a slight burn from the high alcohol, but who doesn't like a good bourbon burn?

Overall- There is obviously a good reason people are requesting BA beers. This is a grandslam Heavy Seas! They also make this beer non-barrel-aged, I recommend getting both and doing a vertical.

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Photo of jampics2
4.37/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into a Founders snifter. Had to give this a shot after absolutely loving the Cab barrel version.

Looks great in the snifter, fluffy head quickly subsides but that's to be expected with a -bal aged BW. Nice film stays, and some good lacing. Dark brown with red highlights.

Smell is great - lots of bourbon, raisin, fig, caramel, and slight oak and vanilla.

Taste is wonderful. Great mixture between the caramel, vanilla, bourbon, and dark fruits. There's a really nice balance, and the barrel is adding on top of the base, not competing. This is only going to get better with time as well, there's a moderate amount of hops now that need to take just a small step back. I love the caramel/vanilla combo, I'm getting more of this.

Mouthfeel was nice as well - heavy feel with great carbonation.

OK, so it's a HUGE beer, not the most drinkable, but it's wonderful and I would buy again on sight. Great beer from Heavy Seas, the Cab Barrel was more innovative but this is just as good. Nice one!

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Photo of delta490
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- a deep clear ruby red. A slight bit of head is present on the pour but there is almost no head retention.

S- deep dark fruit and oak.

T- this is where this beer shines. Notes of chocolate, dark fruit, and oak bounce off and play with each other. The interplay is fantastic.

M- silky smooth with no carbonation or bite

O- a delicious and complex beer with great depth. Aged for about a year and it seems to have made this beer great.

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Photo of facundoCNB
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a beautiful clean deep amber pour with 2 fingers of fluffy creme colored head which left behind excellent lacing. scents of oak, vanilla, caramel, bourbon. the flavor is very sweet thanks to the malt profile, which also enhances the bourbon, oak, and vanilla flavors properly. holy hell this is like carbonated bourbon!

medium/full body, moderate carbonation, nice warmth. an excellent bba beer. i do wish it had a bit more of a hop profile since it's still a barley wine, but to hell with it.

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Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 22 oz bomber (2012) in to an oversized snifter.
Amber colored with ruby red hues and a thin film of a head that dissipates fairly quickly.
Aroma is extremely bourbony; with notes of vanilla, coconut and some alcohol sweetness. The aroma is pleasant, not overwhelming.
Taste is similar to the aroma, very bourbon forward. Slight sweetness upfront, giving way to subtle bitterness all the way from the middle to the finish. Some char notes towards the finish. Alcohol is very well hidden and its surprisingly easy to drink.
A very good barrel aged beer, one of Heavy Seas better servings. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of jondeelee
4.31/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks opens to a sweet, fruity nose bearing loads of fruit esters, including very nice bits of plum, fig, orange, grape, and berry, as well as a touch of raisin and prune. These aromas – especially the darker ones – mix well with a light overtone of vanilla, oak, and bourbon from the barrel aging, lending the beer very strong tawny port overtones. In fact, in a blind smelling test, this could be easily mistaken for a light, sweet port, with just a faint hint of extra-vanilla-laden bourbon about the edges. The grains also bring in supporting layers of pie crust and floury baguette, as well as touches of multigrain toast crust, to help offset the sweetness, and touches of brown sugar and amber agave nectar add further dimension to the sugars. As a whole, the nose here is very nice, bearing little in the way of beer aromas, but boasting a full-bodied port-like aroma that is very enticing. The nose can be almost too sweet at times, the fruits coming across like Jolly Rancher candies, but there’s just enough darkness and breadiness to prevent it from becoming cloying.

On the tongue, the beer’s bourbon barrel aging is immediately obvious, the opening notes being a shot of heavily vanilla-laced bourbon that mixes almost instantly with a huge array of fruits, including plum, cherry, berry, orange, fig, and prune, lending the beer an immediate cocktail-cum-tawny-port overtone that is quite delicious. Further sugars make themselves known after a few seconds, including brown sugar, agave nectar, wildflower honey, and even thin threads of super sweet confectioner’s sugar. These sweet notes are lightly held in check by woody overtones from the barrel aging, as well as toast crust, cereal grain, biscuit, and yeasty rising whole wheat dough, though the bready notes occupy much less than half of the flavors. There is an alcoholic vapor that hangs over everything, but it mainly passes off as bourbon – though it can border on vodka. The aftertaste is a continuation of the main mouthful, with a stronger bourbon vapor presence, lingering on the tongue in fruity, alcoholic goodness for a good while. Mouthfeel is medium, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is a very nice Barleywine, and the bourbon barrel aging has added a nice layer of complexity that was sorely needed in the basic Below Decks version of this beer. There is perhaps a bit too much sweetness in here (admitting that such a profile fits with the style), and the alcohol vapors do get very strong after a few sips, but on the whole this is very worth trying.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle into snifter, 2012 vintage. Pours slightly cloudy deep ruby red color with a 1 finger dense light khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin lace cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big caramel, raisin, toast, toffee, vanilla, oak, clove, bourbon, brown sugar, and light booze. Damn nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt and barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big caramel, raisin, brown bread, vanilla, toast, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, light chocolate, and toasted earthiness. Lingering notes of caramel, brown bread, raisin, vanilla, toast, toffee, clove, oak, bourbon, brown sugar, light chocolate, and toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible balance and complexity of dark malt and barrel flavors; with a fantastic malt/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a moderately creamy, slick, and lightly syrupy moutfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic BA Barleywine! All around awesome complexity and balance of malt and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.29/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Pours a deep ruby color. Little head, even after a vigorous pour. No retention at all. A strong swirl of the glass only succeeds in stirring up a few bubbly patches that dissipate immediately. Thin wisps of lacing.

S: Bourbon and barrel scents are prevalent, but not overbearing. Bourbon, oak, vanilla. Underlying caramel and bread crust. A touch of leather and some powdery chocolate. Mild alcohol. Estery scents of raspberry and dried figs. Hops are hard to pick out, but they seem to be English and earthy/herbal.

T: Caramel and bread crust open. Sweet caramel builds. Toffee. Raspberry esters tease the tongue. Bourbon interjects mid-palate, albeit subtly. More rich, sugary caramel. Woody flavors pull through and dry things out a bit. Dry chocolatey taste. Vanilla sneaks out. Long finish of caramel and wood.

M: Thick, chewy, syrupy, and viscous. Little to no carbonation. Just the way a good barleywine should be.

O: A very impressive barrel aged barleywine. Bourbon barrel aging speaks softly, but has a lot to say. It is subtle in just the right spots, and allows the complexity of the beer to pull through.

Notes: Wow, what a steal at $5.99 a bomber. Who ever heard of a bourbon barrel aged beer at this price point, especially one of this quality? I will be stocking my cellar with this. A diamond in the rough for sure.

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Photo of MbpBugeye
4.27/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My first beer from Heavy Seas. Ive tried sips of friend's bottles but Ive never purchased one. I dont know why, their product line just never really compelled me. A bourbon oak barleywine is a different story...

A- Minimal head, as I expected. The beer is pretty dark, at times it looks almost black. Its a really muddy red/brown. Its pretty clear, light passes through easily and creates deep red highlights.

S- VERY nice smell. Lots of nice bourbon. Vanilla from the oak is also dominate. The bourbon is strong and relatively untouched. It gives off notes of pears and creme and charcoal. Beneath the bourbon and vanilla there is caramel and some hops. Also plenty of alcohol. This is a delightful smelling beer.

T- Lots and lots and lots of vanilla and oak. The bourbon is totally there but its not too harsh. Its sweet, boozy, fruity and caramelly. There is actually a lot of caramel. The hops that are picked up in the nose are barely there but during the finish they give some grassyness. Along with the finish comes plenty of chocolate.

M- Everything up to this point is nice. The body here is a touch watery. The carbonation is low. The feel finishes semi dry which is nice with the bittersweet cocoa on the finish.

D- Boozy for sure. Lots of bourbon here. If you love bourbon this beer will suit you just fine.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.23/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - A nice deep amber brown with a 1/4 inch of foamy mocha head.
S - Not very bourbon heavy but still pleasant with caramel, toffee, melon rind, and some sweet sweet vanilla.
T - Far from the most bourbon based beer I had from these guys (damn greater Pumpkin was like straight up booze) this beer taste of balanced boozey awesomeness mixed with syrup like caramel, vanilla highlight, and some more bourbon.
M - Heavy for sure but not as heavy as Backwoods Bastard. Very tasty.

Overall after having two bombers for 8 bucks a pop I am convinced this is the best bourbon barrel beer ever made! Even at 10 bucks its a steal.

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Photo of scotorum
4.23/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 22 oz. bomber into an English nonick pint.

a: Clear very dark ruby with a finger thick offwhite head which receded to very thin surface foam and spotty lacing.

s: Mild dark fruit,

t: Mild dark fruit and bourbon up front. Dry to a bit sweet finish. High ABV is well covered.

m: Medium, good body, some carbonation tingle.

o: A very nice BBA barleywine, at least with two years on it, haven't had it fresh.

UPDATE 2/1/16: Found another bottle of this no longer brewed BBA barleywine, a 2012 on sale for an irresistable price. Now that BBA brews are so popular, surprised to get this. More to the point, this is one of my favorite style variants, This bottle was everything I could have hoped for, although the extra aging did not seem to smooth it out any more, the bourbon flavor was dominant over the substantial dark ripe fruit malt base. Raising my ratings for taste and overall to 4.5 from 4.25.

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Photo of Mongrel
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very boozy, both in taste and in fact. Needs to mellow out for a little while in the glass, otherwise the first several sips taste like a Jack and coke. Starts out thin, but develops a nice full mouthfeel. Tasty, complex and warming. A must-try for bourbon fans.

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Photo of Pencible
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured a hazy mahogany with a bit of tan head.
S: It smelled like delicious toffee and rich caramel and vanilla bourbon, with some orange and copper and alcohol.
T: It tasted like orange and copper hops and rich toffee malt, with some vanilla and bourbony oak. It had a mellow sweet aftertaste, with a little lingering bitterness and alcohol.
M: It was somewhat thick with subtle carbonation. Not heavy, but not too light.
D: This had an amazing scent with very nice taste and body. Alcohol was noticeable but not bad, so it was fairly easy to drink. Could probably improve with age, but fresh is already much better than the standard Below Decks (or the Cabernet Barrel version). Perhaps the best beer I've had from Heavy Seas.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to thirdeye11 for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours an amber color with a white head. The aroma is a lot of bourbon and oak, with some brown sugar, maple and alcohol. There is no doubt that this beer was bourbon-barrel aged. The flavor is also heavy on the bourbon. I get a lot of maple, vanilla and brown sugar, as well as some bourbon and oak notes. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

This was sampled alongside the cabernet barrel-aged version, and I thought this was the superior beer.

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Photo of CloudStrife
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2012.

A: Pours a clear ruby with a 1 finger off white head. Some visible carbonation in the body. Just a few spots of lacing.

S: Sweet malts and fermented dark fruits blend gracefully with the bourbon. Certainly get the alcohol kick. Plenty of oak, vanilla and toffee to this. Very nice.

T: Am impressed with this malt forward barleywine take on a bourbon barrel aged beer. Kicks with some bourbon on the front, then the malt makes and appearance leaving you with a bourbon aftertaste.

M: Very smooth body with low carbonation. Is really not too hot considering the ABV. Nice sipper here.

Overall Heavy Seas keeps knocking their barrel aged beers out of the park. Give this one a go, or set it down for a few years. Would easily get again.

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Photo of Klourie
4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottle poured into an Olde Hickory Omega Point Snifter. Pours a dark amber, slight head that disappeared quickly.
Nose is of vanilla, bourbon, and a good bit of oak. Has that true "English Barleywine" smell
Tastes very nice, lots of bourbon and slight alcohol burn, vanilla, and caramel
Med body and mouthfeel with med carb
Overall, this is a very enjoyable BBA English Barleywine. Drinks a little bigger than the 10% IMO but I'm not complaining.

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Photo of Daktyls
4.14/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Poured from a 22oz bottle into a SA PP glass. Beer is a medium brown color, very hazy, with a one fingered mocha head that quickly recedes leaving a fine lacing in the middle of the beer and around the edge of the glass.

S: The bourbon notes from the aging process are fairly aggressive here with little of the traditional barleywine notes making their way through. Some dark fruits are present in the mix with a tiny bit of spice as well.

T: Delicious notes of sweet caramels, oaked vanilla and of course the bourbon meld together in the primary taste with hints of spice and some dark fruits present closer to the finish.

M: Somewhat thick and oily on the tongue with a low amount of carbonation combines well for this full-bodied beer. There is definitely a boozey quality after the finish with the alcohol making itself present, but not obtrusive.

O: Overall, great. I'm really enjoying this beer, it's definitely different than a traditional barleywine, but for a bigger, heavier beer, this is delightful.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

After a very pleasant experience with the carbernet-aged version, I felt compelled to give this one a try (even more than before). It pours a translucent ruby-brown (heavy on the brown) with a pathetic amount of large bubbles standing in for what would otherwise be considered a head. The nose is subtle bourbon, oak, quad-like yeast, molasses, vanilla, and citrus hops. It all melds together very nicely. The bourbon begins very subtlely in the taste, while molasses-dipped citrus hops take the point, immediately backed-up by citrus peel. The sweeter elements make up the next wave, including more molasses, maple syrup, and some oak. Lighter malty elements begin the final flavor stripe, joined by more oak (drier, this time) and the bourbon. It's all pretty tasty, but the striations are, for me, far too clear. The body is fairly hefty, with lightly moderate carbonation and only a slight coating effect. A very nice brew overall, but I prefer caberneted version better.

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Photo of WesWes
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a deep amber color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a wonderful mix of burnt toffee and bourbon. It's warm and inviting with a tremendous wood character. The taste is damn good as well. It has a warm, burnt toffee flavor; rich and boozy with tons of caramel malt sweetness. The bourbon barrel aging adds a good deal of vanilla character as well as a fine bourbon flair. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a well brewed beer that has only improved with the barrel aging.

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Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
3.94 out of 5 based on 301 ratings.
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