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 Kendo
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from the bomber into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. I figured the Piraat glass was appropriate given the skull and crossbones pirate theme on the bottle. . . . Anyhoo. . . Body is brownish (more reddish-brown when backlit) with a small off-white head.

S: Toffee, brown sugar and bourbon. Pleasant. The bourbon is the primary scent, but it doesn't overwhelm in an "ohmigod this is SOOO boozy" sort of way.

T: First impression: sweet. Lots of butterscotch and toffee. I don't think I've ever had a beer that tastes this much like butterscotch - and that's quite a feat given the bourbon. Which brings me to the second impression: bourbon. It adds a nice flavor, offsetting the sweetness nicely. There's also some dried fruits present (figs come to mind - I'd love to pair this with the blue-cheese-stuffed, prosciutto-wrapped appetizers that I made for barleyine night at BA pboegel's house last year). Finishes a tad bit hot, with that 10% ABV felt on the way down and into the belly.

M: Thick, slightly syrupy. This one is full bodied.

O: Solid. A sweeter barleywine - appropriate for the "English" moniker (this is no SN Bigfoot or other hop-forward American Barleywine), with the bourbon adding a nice flavor to the overall experience. Thanks to my brother-in-law for bringing this one north from Baltimore. . . .

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Photo of JohnnyBarman
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

750mL bottle from Premier Gourmet in Buffalo. Enjoyed shortly after the Ravens' first touchdown at the Super Bowl.

Poured into a red wine glass. Dark caramel copper, little bit of head to this, recedes into a fine ring.

Sweet, pleasant nose - really can get the bourbon barrel on this. Sweet malt, lightly burned sugar, mild hops.

Nice barleywine, sweet bourbon entry, finishes with a dry, slightly rough puckery hop character.

Carbonation a bit sharp, medium bodied.

Might be nice to hold on to for cellaring. Enjoyable barleywine.

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Photo of Michael_D
3.28/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Smells sweet like a barley wine, but also has the bourbon nose. Nice red pour with a small white head that doesn't do much of sticking around. Has the barley wine sweetness without any hops really to balance it, which is strange. The bourbon is thrown on top. Not sure it works, but it’s good enough.

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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 Greywulfken
3.87/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A: into a snifter, deep amber ruby brown, little-to-no head or lace

S: faint malty toffee and bourbon, some oak and wood aromas

T: I let the beer warm for a good 20 minutes out of the fridge before drinking... rough, unpolished flavor lent the beer a certain rugged character; medicinal toffee, semi-sweet, barley grain comes through nicely, whiskey aftertaste

M: slick, thin, slight alcohol taste, imperceptible carbonation, drying finish

O: Good for a try, but for me, a one-and-done.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Rarely do American breweries really attempt the malt-focused taste, texture, and refined attitude of English barley wine. Coupled with the effects of bourbon barrel aging, the ever-steady Winter Storm takes on new armatures to achived greater strength, complexity, and taste...

Pouring a hazy chestnut-brown hue, the beer's reluctant release of foam yields a dainty creme of swirled foam that comprises the beer's head character. With no real lace to mention, the beer seems more of brandy or cognac with its legging than it does beer- especially after the midpoint of the session.

Bold sweetness emerges immediately from the snifter in the form of maple, brown sugar, and molasses. Its sweet scent is complex with barrel-derived caramels, vanillans, oak, and modest cherry esters that blend into the sweeter and more savory notes with ease. Herbal hops take on soft tobacco notes that add accents and further evoke the notion of savory and succulence as the scent carries on.

In similar fashion, the syrupy malts rise first and coat the mouth with dessert-like maltiness that's lead with caramel and toffee. As the taste of bourbon sets in with boozy oak, pepper, and vanilla- so do the taste of dehydrated cherries, dates, figs, and raisins, A slow recede of estery fruits and malt sweetness allows the balance from spicy alcohol and vinous fruit to signal closure.

Full bodied throughout, the beer's oily viscosity stimulates the early palate, but the cleaner,malty-richness caresses the tongue and lulls the mind into a trance of sweetness that's sure to appease the sweet tooth in all of us. Finishing rich, sweet, and malty-warm, the extended aftertaste begs for stilton and maytag blue cheeses.

The beer showcases malt balance in vivid display- with little rebuttal from hops, yeasty fruit or spice or from water chemistries, the beer is ripe and pungent with all of the glory of English hops. Though done in America, the brewery really shows great command of the style.

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Photo of streetcommander
4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

First off, reviewers that leave a 1000 word essay as a review for this beer are confused about more than just beer. They are in reality, closet scrotum vacuums, who lack decor. Or certainly, at the least, lack exposure to the most glorious of all Gods creations, the honeys! (so what. I love titties, sue me).

Beer is very good, however I get the Macro Swill roots from the flavor profile, and delivery. Flavor is wet and soggy, but still manages to deliver an impressive flavor profile. Only bad news is the sweetness, and lack of total depth.

Still. For the price, very nicely done. An American treasure in development. Keep at it Heavy Seas, you're almost there!

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Photo of StoutHunter
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I picked up a bottle of Heavy Seas Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks last month for $8.99 at The Lager Mill. I've been waiting for a good time to open this one and since today is my birthday it seems as goof as excuse as any, I haven't had this before nor the base Barleywine, Below Decks, but I'm ready to see what it's all about, so lets see how it goes. 2012 Vintage. Poured from a brown 22oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label is pretty typical for Heavy Seas, it looks ok and it's a little eye catching. It poured a dark amber almost brown color that took on a great ruby color when held to the light with a fingers worth of light tan colored head that faded to a thin ring that eventually faded and it left behind some sticky lacing. This is a good looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with loads of sweet caramel malts that have a higher amount of sweetness to them and impart some nice caramel and toffee aromas followed by a nice and bright dark fruit aromas with raisin seeming to stick out the most. After that comes the barrel which imparts some nice bourbon, oak, and vanilla aromas. This beer had a good aroma that was very balanced, the sweet malts showed up, the dark fruits show up and the bourbon comes through towards the end to round things off.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a good amount of sweet malts that have a medium amount of high sweetness and imparts some nice caramel and toffee flavors followed by some nice dark fruits with raisins still sticking out the most. Towards the end comes the barrel which shows up just the right amount and imparts some nice oak, bourbon, and vanilla flavors with a really light amount of alcohol. There's a lighter amount of medium bitterness with a sweet toffee and bourbon aftertaste. This is a good tasting beer, that was very well balanced, I have no complaints.

M- Very smooth, sticky, a little chewy, on the lighter side of being full bodied and it had a lighter amount of medium bitterness. This beer had a good mouthfeel that was pretty true to style.

Overall I thought this was a good beer and a good example of the style, it had everything that I look for in the style, it just all came together just the way it should. This beer had great drinkability, it was very smooth with hardly any alcohol showing up in the taste and it had lots of flavors that held my attention nicely, one bomber is the perfect amount for me, but it would also be nice to share with someone. What I like the most about this beer was how balanced it was, nothing was too overpowering and the flavors went really well with each other. What I liked the least about this beer was nothing, I can't find a single thing wrong with it. I would for sure buy this beer again next time it is released and I wish I would have picked up another bottle to throw in the cellar and see how it ages, it was worth the $9 and I would recommend it to anyone that likes Barleywines and barrel aged beers. All in All i was really happy with this beer and it made for a great brew to celebrate my birthday with. I haven't had the best of luck with Heavy Seas, but all the bombers I have tried from them have been above average at worst, I'm liking what this brewery does with bigger beers, good job guys, you can be sure I will be trying more of your beers and I would love to try the original Below Decks Barleywine, nice work guys.

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Photo of FosterJM
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1671st Review on BA
Bottle to Snifter

2011 Release

Split with my brother in law

Side by side by side with Base/Cabernet

App- This was the deeper color of a barleywine. A a good bit darker than the other 2. A good and deep mahogany and tinged with red/browns. A bit of a cordial looking beer. A lighter center. More bubbles towards a 1/2" to 3/4" of the base beer. More cling as well.

Smell- A bit of a deeper barleywine to me. A large amount of sweetness to it. A bit citrusy with some large bourbon and vanilla and oak notes. This was more integrated and layered after a year in the cellar.

Taste- This was a pretty good barleywine. This was fairly sweet from the bourbon. A bit of sugars and booze. A good amount of malts on this one with a good amount of bourbon

Mouth- A stronger medium body with a slightly less bubbly medium carbonation. A bit of a sweet, citrusy and hoppy residual flavors. The bourbon remains nicely integrated throughout.

Drink- I think this one was the best of the 3. A good amount of vanilla and oak and a good malty flavor was pretty balanced. Would like a fresh bottle of this. Seeing as this was a 2011.

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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 TheBrewo
3.88/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We pour a brew of dark ruby red coloring. It holds an easily reproducible one and a half finger tall head of fatty light tan bubbles. This shows decent retention, receding into a ghostly film across the top of the liquid. Spots and sheets of lacing are left as it goes. A chill haze exists, but no sediment is noted. Carbonation appears moderate. The aroma gives the bouquet of a veritable malt bomb. There are huge caramel and lighter coffee malts, with syrupy toffee sweetness, and cooked brown sugars. The bourbon barreling is apparent off the bat, with warm woodiness and authentic, spicy bourbon. This also gives some buttery diacetyls, and a sweeter hint of bubblegum esters. Light citric hops, fusel booze, and biting phenolic plastics come out more with warmth. Our first impression is that the flavoring is buttery and strong with woodiness and bourbon, but as in the nose, the background base flavoring is a bit milder. The flavoring does, however, strengthen quite a bit with warmth. As we sip, toffee sweetness mixes with caramel malts, buttery bourbon, and warming woodiness. The booze is fusel and fiery, stinging for the remainder of the sip. The peak comes with more soured, puckered oak dryness, strong phenolic bite, chalky grain, cloying brown sugar sweetness, and smooth caramel malts. We finish on notes of overripe strawberry fruitiness, light and nectary citric hops, big bourbon warmth, those faint aromatic esters, smooth woody oak, and more of those malty undertones. The aftertaste breathes of warmed bourbon, soured oak, green plant freshness, ripe strawberry and fig fruitiness, fusel booze, buttery diacetyls, and chalky mineral. The body is full, and the carbonation is medium. There is great slurp, froth, cream, and smack to each sip, with a sticky, warming coating travelling all the way to the belly. With this coating comes little dryness, except for light astringency on the far back of the hard palate. The abv is big, but appropriate, and the beer sips easily.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was the flavoring, and the thick and syrupy feel. The flavoring started a bit mild, but once it came to temperature all of the notes and glorious aromatics within blossomed. This full flavored thickness was added to by the physical stickiness and warmth of the beer and the abv. This made for a pleasant feel on each aspect of the sip and follow-through. As with the flavoring, the aroma was also a bit mild in the beginning. This improved only marginally, however, and while all of the expected notes were there, we were wishing for a bit more pop by the end, to fully round this guy out.

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Photo of brentk56
3.55/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 bottling

Appearance: Pours a tawny color with a rather small head that fritters away rather quickly without leaving much of a trace

Smell: Toasted oak aromatics joined with toffee and vanilla

Taste: Nutty caramel, up front, with the bourbon and vanilla flavors building into the middle; toasted oak and booze wraps up the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low carbonation

Overall: Nothing particularly wrong with this beer but it lacks the overall depth and power I would expect from a barrel-aged barleywine; the lack of a hop presence is also a detractor

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Photo of lordofthewiens
3.15/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

In a tulip this beer was a dark amber color, a little on the red side. There was no head.

The aroma was that of some sweet fruit and vanilla.

Average taste. A little bit of everything, but just a little bit. Some dark fruit, some caramel, some vanilla, some alcohol.

I expected this to be a little more assertive than it was. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't that much of a barleywine.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
3.63/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: mahogany. Strong ruby highlights. Off white head, about the size you'd expect from a 10%'er.
Smell: pleasant but quite meek for a big barly, especially a bourbon barrel aged one. Bourbon is present but barely. Some vanilla and pleasant bready hints. Nice enough but frankly weak for a big barrel aged barley.
Taste: different from the nose in that the booze is more present. Similar to the nose in flavor profile. On the plus side it's quite mellow other that a little booze sting.
Overall: a tasty beer but honestly a pipsqueak in the barrel aged barley field.
Edit: had to go in an up the overall a bit. This got better as it warmed.

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Photo of Prince_Casual
3.22/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A- I cringe looking at all Heavy Seas labels, and this one is no different, looks like a highschooler made it in M.S. Paint after watching Pirates of the Caribbean + few too many...sorry, let's get to the point:

Once into a tulip this beer looks exactly as it should. Half inch head, nice dark color. Not much to improve on in this department.

S- A lot like smelling a dropper of vanilla extract. Not "bad" but not very beer'ish at all. I've had the non-aged HS barley-wine and this doesn't really remind me of how that one smelled, at all. For me, absolutely no alcohol vapor to speak of, which is more than can be said for a lot of barley wines.

T- Quite sweet. Of course more alcohol is often countered with sweetness, but here the sugars have really taken over, and not very "bourbon-y" at all, more reminiscent of a (melted, quality, Breyers?) vanilla ice cream. No hops to speak of, which I detected in the non-barreled version (and kind of miss). Not perfect but I appreciate what they were going for. It feels "finished" which barley wine doesn't always, for me. ZERO inclination to hang onto this one and "see how it ages." This is ready to drink.

M- Really excels here. While I love a BB-Stout, the way they stick to the back of your teeth, I know it comes with the territory, but it's not something I cherish. Here the added carbonation "keeps it moving" and while I know there's booze there, it doesn't really burn in one spot and it's quite pleasant. The barreling is much more apparent here than in taste, and I remember something like markers mark here. I like that. Barley wines usually "hang out in my mouth" too long and I feel like I just took a shot of rail whiskey... not here, cleans up nicely.

O- I'd easily take this over the Heavy Seas non-aged brethren, by a long shot. This is my first BB barley-wine, although I've had nondescript ales, stouts, porters, etc. from that ilk. Without something to (personally) directly compare this to, I'd say its worth a sip or two. Interested to track down and try the Cab barreled one and compare.

I feel the same way about Heavy Seas as I did before this beer, they're not "world class" but you know what you're getting anytime you order/open one: slightly sweet, minimal hops, low-key (but high-ish) alcohol content.

Would recommend to a discerning friend. If it sounds good to you, worth a shot, not over retail though.

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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 deadonhisfeet
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 bottling. Poured into a Great Lakes snifter. It pours out a clear, fairly dark reddish-mahogany color with one finger of head that quickly dissipates. On the nose, I get sweet toasty malt, vanilla, and bourbon.

Full body and nice slick, creamy feel. The barleywine and bourbon flavors work together nicely here, and the bourbon is very noticeable without being too hot. On the front of the palate, I get the sweet, deep, bready malt and toffee notes of a good English barleywine along with a hint of fruity esters and vanilla. At mid-palate, the bourbon starts to kick in along with a pleasant booziness that brings everything together. There is a slight hop kick right at the finish, but it's nearly lost in the malt, bourbon, and alcohol. The finish is boozy, warming, mildly bitter, and slightly peppery and herbal.

Bourbon-barrel aged barlewines are a style I have really developed a taste for over the past 12 months. I don't drink them very often, but I just cannot pass them up at the store. This one is an exceptional value at only $8.99 per bomber. It's no King Henry, but it's better than you might think. I plan to pick up an extra bottle or two for the cellar to see how it ages. If the sweetness develops and the alcohol dies down, this could be a beautiful beer.

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Photo of TheJollyHop
3.85/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Draft at Duckworth's in NC.
Opaque chestnut brown hue, steady cascade small bubbles, light tan head.
Heavy sweetness at first sip, malted milk balls, vanilla, bourbon, then it turns into anise, butter cookies and ends oaky. Fantastic taste, if it were not for a slightly soapy hint in the mid palate. Nose is burnt sugar, caramel, bourbon soaked raisins, and vanilla. Not nearly as expressive as the taste.
Medium full body with medium carbonation. This is a tasty sipper. While a bit too sweet it works for my present mood.

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Photo of twaddlac
2.56/5  rDev -35%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A- Very beautiful. Dark amber color with a nice creamy head. The carbonation in the beer is what I really like about the looks of this beer - I haven't seen this many before.

S- Very sweet and nutty with a hint of banana

T- It has a strong metallic note to it that lingers throughout. You can definitely taste the alcohol which is mildly unpleasant. A very nutty flavor with a strong hop bite at the finish.

M- Very nice (Borat voice). Finishes very dry and the carbonation isn't too bad. Medium bodied.

O- I didn't think that bourbon barrels would complement a barleywine well.. I was right. I would have much rather had the cabernet barrel for this brew.

To note: I don't know if it's just me, but the barrel aging process that Heavy Seas uses seems to not be the best... It's always overly sweet with a very nutty overtone and not much for a bourbon taste. I remember having their octoberfest (or one of their fall beers) and it was almost indistinguishable from this beer. Just something the take caution about.

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Photo of claaark13
3.91/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 bottles served at cellar temp. Sent as an extra from Brad in a RB trade. Awesome.

A - Dark brown with a reddish hue. Thick off-white head turns to some nice lacing. The lacing retention is fantastic.

S - Sweet malts, slight oak, slight vanilla.

T - Much like the aroma. Sweet malts, dark fruits, then hints of vanilla and sweet oak push through. Very smooth throughout. There is a little bit of a drag in the flavor before the barrel picks up. The vanilla/caramel/oak almost shows a candy-like flavor from middle to end. The finish gives the slightest amount of heat and dryness, but is fairly smooth.

M - Medium, feels a little thicker and has some carbonation. Pretty nice.

O - Good flavors, not too hot, good finish, good beer. I'm really enjoying this one.

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Photo of Bierguy5
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, 22 oz bottle, 10% abv. Mahogany in color, with ruby highlights. Thin white head disappears quickly, but leaves a collar around the sides of the glass, along with a few random spots of lace.

Bourbon and oak shine through first in the nose, but do not dominate. Candied fruit, toffee and caramel notes follow. A bit of vanilla and a spicy note round things out.

Toffee and candied fruits show up first. Nice amount of fruit up front. A bit of a dry note, then the wood and bourbon flavors round things out. Bourbon lingers in a nice way.

Medium body, soft carbonation. Warming alcohol present. Very nice that the barrel does not overwhelm this beer, but I feel like there is something missing in the middle. Still a good beer, for a very reasonable price.

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Photo of jegross2
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing the Bourbon Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer.
Score: 90

2011 vintage bottle served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 02/29/12.

Appearance: Pours a rich, dark mahogany color -- cognac-like, albeit in a darker tint, in appearance. Pours one finger of creamy cream colored head at pour that settles into a thin ring around the glass. Appearance falls between translucent and opaque. There is a dark brown center surrounded by thick globs of reddish brown highlights when held up to light. Minimal lacing, minimal retention. 3.5/5

Smell: First impression is caramel, vanilla and booze. More wafts reveal brown sugar, dark fruit, barley, plum and "birthday cake." There is also an aroma of sweet red grape that is not in the least tart or acidic. Also detecting what can only be describes as the smell of a "leather belt." 4/5

Taste: This brew is very bourbon barrel-forward on the palate, and the taste is pretty much dominated by three flavors: bourbon soaked raisins/fig, vanilla and sweet red grape that is neither tart nor acidic. There's also a distinct "whiskey-like malt" flavor and boozy caramel. Some brown sugar too. Huge bourbon soaked raisin backbone. This one is super malty, but it's not very "grainy" in flavor -- which is great. The 10% ABV definitely shines through and renders this one is a sipper, but it is far from the type of beer that burns on the way down or makes you cringe. To the contrary, it is quite the pleasant brew to sip and the kind of beer that should be enjoyed as it warms. 4/5

Mouthfeel: Medium-full bodied with low/minimal carbonation. There is just enough carbonation to make some of the alcohol flavor prickle the tongue and make the "whiskey malt" flavors shine through. This brew has a syrupy mouthfeel and seems to have a chloraseptic lozenge "rigid numbing effect" on the throat. Finsh is a little dry and sweet -- even a little sticky at points. 4/5

Overall: Like the Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Barleywine, this is a super solid barrel aged barleywine at a very reasonable cost. For under $10 a bottle, I would certainly seek this one out again.

Recommendation: The flavors of this beer might be a little aggressive for the casual beer drinker, but beer geeks and those who like whiskey/bourbon should give this one a whirl.

Pairings: Lamb.

Cost: $7.99

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Photo of Jimmys
4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

sampled on-tap at the RFD Strong Ale Tasting, 2/26/12. review from notes.

A: shiny chestnut brown body.
S: sugar in the raw. brown sugar. sweet plums. maybe a bit of fig. toffee notes.
T: lots of toffee. lots of soft fruit, pears and apples. a little different from the dark, sweet fruits i smelled in the nose. some bourbon. tons of residual sugar.
M: average carbonation on a full body.
D: pretty good english style barleywine here. however, personally i did not detect as much bourbon as i expected. lots of sweet malt almost overpowers any and all bourbon, oak, vanilla notes. unfortunately i do not remember the vintage the brewer brought to this tasting, but i am going to guess it has been out of the barrel for a little bit of time. otherwise, a very solid english barley.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.83/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear, deep brown pour with a finger or so of white head. Minimal retention, the head does leave some lacing down the side of my Deschutes Snifter.

S: I'm getting mostly Barleywine on the aroma, but some hints of barrel treatment, such as vanilla and oak, are noted. Not a ton of bourbon to be honest.

T: The taste is a big shift from the aroma. This seems to be far more focused on the barrel. Slight notes of bourbon, but again mostly oak and vanilla, mix with plum and other dark fruits, molasses, and sugary caramel malts. Very, very sweet taste. Slight booziness noted as well, although it seems to be coming more from the barrel end of the spectrum instead of from the beer itself.

MF: Medium body, creamy on the palate. It's just too sweet, takes away from the drinkability.

O: This was tasty, but 22oz was too much. I would probably pass on it again, but we'll see how it does with age. Still, for $7.50 a bottle you can't really go wrong here.

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Photo of argock
3.69/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz brown bomber into a clear glass snifter. 2011 vintage. Purchased at Market Street Wineshop (Charlottesville, VA) for $7.99.

A: Chestnut brown with thin cap of off-white tightly bubbled that dissipates quickly.

S: A wide range of succulent aromas arise from this brew including coconut, pineapple, bourbon, alcohol, caramel, and toffee.

T: The flavor is pretty one-dimensional of bourbon, coconut, and vanilla flavors. The maltiness is way too subdued to matter although therer are some musty, leathery notes in there.

M: Way too light for the style Carbonation is low and does not help the drinkability of this brew.

O: A simply good beer but for the price I can do a lot better many other ways.

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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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