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 srandycarter
3.94/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Somewhat murky brown with orange hue. Viscous pour achieves only minor tan head - leaves fast. Very little lace.

S - Deep malt, booze, bourbon and wood.

T - Caramel with the wood, booze evident. Vanilla in small part.

M - Light carbonation and more watery than expected for big barleywine. Balance pretty good.

D - Just not a wower. Fun to try.

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Photo of DIM
3.79/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

a: This was a dark chestnut brown and just the the cabernet barrel version there were lots of suspended particles.

s: Bourbon barrel first and foremost, but the aromas weren't overpowering. Lots of vanilla, bourbon, and a little oak. Some toffee and raisins managed to peek through as well.

t: A bit more abrasive than the smell would suggest, with a surprisingly strong hop bite. Still, the barrel dominated overall. Very sweet up front with vanilla, booze, and a hint of fruit. The finish was woody with some solventy heat.

m: Pretty nice body for a BA beer and gentle, fizzy carbonation.

d: Its been awhile, but I seem to recall liking the regular version better than either barrel aged version. I did enjoy this, but stronger barleywine elements would have been welcome.

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

Courtesy of markwise over on ratebeer. It pours clear mahogany with tan head. The aroma starts with sweet bourbon and then moving toward mildly harsh boozy bourbon as well as prunes, figs, raisins, molasses and some heat at the end of the draw. The taste is smooth sweet inviting molasses, caramel, vanilla, sweet bourbon, spicy oak, raisins, figs and a thin strata of dates. Yummy.

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Photo of chicagobeerriot
2.93/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Pours dark copper with a medium veil. One inch of head quickly settles to a thin gauze on the surface.

The smell is very bourbon forward. With some toffee and caramel underneath. There's a little vanilla and oak, but I'm getting much more straight bourbon than I am getting some of the more subtle characteristics from the barrel.

Mouthfeel is on the thin side. With only light carbonation, I would prefer that the mouthfeel be fuller.

The taste is much like the smell: very bourbon forward without strong complementary flavors to provide balance. To put this in perspective: I like bourbon in my beer. But here, there is not enough of a malt or hop backbone to provide depth (and heft). I'm left with the sensation of just drinking watered down bourbon. That's not the end of the world, but it keeps this beer from fully succeeding.

I'd recommend aging this one for a couple of years to restore balance. The alcohol bite should retreat and some of the sweet malt should develop to give this beer a more rounded and complex flavor profile.

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Photo of nezelrac
3.78/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The only information I had about this was that it was "wood aged" - given what I found in the glass I am fairly certain it was the bourbon not the cabernet...

12oz snifter, draft

A - a chestnut-auburn topped with a minimal off-white head that quickly dissipates leaving little on the glass

S - strong woody notes, vanilla, plenty of malt and toffee, hints of dried fruits

T - woody and malty with hints of nuts and more toffee, balanced but favoring the barrel

M - lightish for a barleywine, quite appealing, the wood gives it a dry edge

D - quite easy for the style, the wood may put some off, I would have another

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Photo of jrallen34
4.02/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into my Narke glass...Murky dark brown, lots of amber in the light. The head is light tan, but doesn't show much of head. There is a thick ring around the rim, ok lacing...The aroma is too light and almost exclusively just shows off the bourbon barrels. Light toffee and vanilla too, can't tell its a barleywine. Like most in this series, the bw is too light and dominated by the barrel...The taste is all bourbon, light bourbon, at that. A hint of vanilla, tastes good, like a watered down bourbon, no hint of barleywine or beer though...The feel is light on the palate, no burn or aftertaste...Easy to drink.

Another decent bw, but again a Heavy Seas light bw that couldn't hold up and took on all the character of the barrel. If you like bourbon its worth drinking, otherwise skip it.

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

2010 vintage. Big thanks to ShogoKawada for this extra - enjoyed lightly chilled on a frigid (well, by L.A. standards) eve. Poured from a 22oz bomber into my snifter.

Portland orange highlights suffuse the ambiguously colored dark liquid, topped by a lacy pearling yet meager head with a popped dirty snow collar.

Bourbon assails you at first sniff - the mildly acrid tobacco notes are backed by a touch of vanilla, butterscotch, and a light fruity/floral scent. Very slight oxidative notes seem derived from the barrel - though with bourbon this doesn't make a lot of sense.

Candied fruit, chocolate, moderately bitter hops, loam, brandy, and a sharp almost solventy finish. Brown sugar and maybe a hint of maple come out mid-palate. Aftertaste is long and evolving, suggesting burnt sugar, orange peel, plums, and bourbon.

Medium-bodied, slick, and a touch hot with moderate carbonation.

The ABV is unapologetic in this brew - even reaching your sinuses; this makes the flavor distribution that much more potent, yet reduces the drinkability somewhat.

A hefty powerful barleywine - while not overwhelmed by barrel notes, it certainly doesn't seek to balance them.

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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 jnn4v
4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Chestnut color with a hint of copper hue.

S: Vanilla, oak, and toffee. Really just those three scents are dominant.

T: Flavor matches the scent nearly identically. Very strong vanilla flavors. Especially when paired with cheese or balsamic vinegar.

M: Mouthfeel has good texture but is missing some carbonation from what I'd expect. Slightly flat, even for a barleywine.

D: Good drinkability while cold. Decently balanced. But the flavors just keep getting stronger (in a not-so-good-way) as it warms.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a tulip. Appearance is a nice mahogany color with a white head and a tad bit of lacing. The nose is straight bourbon. A bit of light caramel and fruit in the background. The booze goes with the bourbon. Taste is predominantly bourbon again, but done quite well. Really nice feel with booze and bourbon plus a slight sweetness underneath. Much better than the original, though not quite as interesting as the cabernet version.

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Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my tall Allagash snifter/chalice. Pours a reddish brown color with about a finger to two size creamy tan head, with light retention. Doesn't leave much of a lacing. A very nice start to a great looking barleywine.

Aroma is great. Good amount of hops for an english barleywine! Some charcoal and burnt notes, and BOURBON! Wow, booze is definitely noticeable, and overall a wonderful aroma.

Flavor is very good, but not great. Creamy mouthfeel, decent amount of booze, medium carbonation. The bourbon addition is a stellar addition to the Below Decks barleywine beer! Some hops, fruits, charcoal...possibly some toffee? Overall, a very good beer. I think I liked the wine aged Below decks better, but this was definitely delicious!

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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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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 kylehayworth
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was really exciterd to try this, I don;t even remember where I got it from, but barrel aged barelywine sounds mighty tasty.

A: Pours rich amber/red/burgandy in color. A white'ish head which was really impressive.

S: Smells of mildly burnt caramel apples, with brown vanilla sugar. Becomes very pronounced as it warms.

T: It is a great balance of all the sweetness you can smell in the nose. The caramel/toffee and vanilla. There is an ever so mild "tingle," but very well balanced.

M/D: It is very smooth and easily drinakable. I really enjoyed this beer, a great barleywine. I bet it would be even better a year from now, I just couldn;t wait that long.

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

Bourbon Barrel Below Decks pours a darker copper color. It's a little hazy, and has a deep red look with backlighting. A modest off-white head caps it, and stands about a finger tall. It recedes relatively quickly, and leaves a light, sticky coat of lace in its wake.

The nose is good. It starts out with a light bourbon scent. That's followed by a healthy dose of caramel and toffee. The bourbon scent complements the malts nicely. It's not overbearing at all. Oak and vanilla emerge and add nice depth. Light fruit notes are noted. Smells like apple and pear, rather than the typical citrus notes found in American Barleywines. Alcohol is blended pretty well for this big boy. Smells good.

The flavor is probably a little better than the nose, but not enough to trigger a score bump. Sweet caramel and toffee flavors are abundant initially. A light cocoa-ish flavor is also noted. The barrel aging really imparted a nice bourbon flavor. It's light to moderate in strength, but works extremely well with the other flavors. Vanilla and oak are also notable additions. Light apple and pear flavors are noted throughout. Alcohol is barely noticeable in this big boy. Finishes sweet with a touch of bourbon.

This one has a body that's on the lighter side of medium. Carbonation is light, and it is nearly smooth. More body would certainly be a good thing though. Drinkability is good. Despite its stature, it goes down relatively easy. A bomber is probably enough given its strength, but it's deceptive.

Bourbon Barrel Below Decks is good beer. I've enjoyed the bomber and don't have much to complain about at all. It would benefit from a little more body and just a little bit of a hop presence. But, it's good stuff as it is. I like the approach with the barrel aging. I have no idea how long it was in barrels, but it was the perfect time. There's just enough bourbon, vanilla, and oak to make things really click. Easily recommended.

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Photo of bruachan
3.01/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

the deep froth in my glass already makes me suspicious of the "english" qualifier to this barleywine. good lacing

aroma is lightly of bourbon and oak. slightly wild smelling and also slightly smelling of brown sugar

tastes mostly of bourbon, to be sure. bigtime cola thing going on. heat, but very little beer character. where is the barleywine under the bourbon? no vinous element, no diacetyl, no roasty, no fruity. i taste what basically amounts to a brown ale...in fact this resembles very closely Tyranena's Rockey's Revenge (a bourbon brown)

my fears this might be an american barleywine were allayed, i suppose, but it doesn't exactly inspire thoughts of an english barleywine, either

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Photo of billshmeinke
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into my Stone Old Guardian glass.

Has a dark ruby body that is semi-opaque. Two finger slightly off white head. Dies down to a slim layer of foam on top. Nice lacing.

Smells of caramel malts apple and apricot esters. Reminiscent of Gratitude.

Taste is fairly subtle and follows smell. Caramel/toffee malts, apple/apricot, some dark berries, subtle vanilla/oak. Bourbon is barely noticeable.

Mouthfeel is on the high end of medium bodied. Low carbonation. Smooth, but too light on the palate for such a big beer IMO. I like my big beers to be a little more assertive.

No heat which is a bit odd. I actually might like a bit more heat. Deceptively easy to drink. Wish it were more flavorful.

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Photo of bamadog
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Drinking this one before a very long day of work, so I feel it will at least help me sleep well tonight. Review is from notes taken on 8/19/2010 and poured from the bottle to a snifter glass.

Appearance: Pours a ruddy dark brown/murky cidery color; starts with a 1/2 finger off-white head that fades quickly to a thin wisp; body is cloudy/murky and really can't be seen through at all; nice strands and spots of lacing are left behind.

Smell: Pretty solid hints of dark, possibly even burnt, caramel and a bit of an apple-like scent; bit of a vanilla/oaky presence in the nose; and as it warms, there is a bit of a burnt sugary aspect.

Taste: I'm glad the hops are toned down in this one as the last few barleywines I've drank have been more of the American variety -- I really dig the smooth maltiness of the English versions. Very nice caramel/toffee maltiness right up front and a bit of an astringent oakiness and I feel that the vanilla sweetness that I smelled is kind of consumed by the caramel malts; a strong and slightly medicinal hot bourbony alcohol is definitely presence in the mouth and it makes me feel that a little age on this one would do it a world of good, so I'll definitely be picking up another one of these to wax and put away for a while.

Mouthfeel: Body is of medium weight; carbonation is fairly soft and smooth; plenty of thick stickiness is left behind that becomes quite dry and cottony between sips; gums are left tingly and the belly is left warm from the big ABV.

Drinkability: Moderate at best due to the big ABV and bit of a heavy weight after a while; great flavors though and this would definitely be a beer to share; can't wait to try this one with a year or so on it.

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Photo of Bung
4.07/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. Murky brown with orange hint pour. Nearly no head, some white bubbles.

Aroma has malt, yellow raisin, vanilla, hint of barrel. Improves as it warms.

Taste shines a little brighter than the aroma. Heavy does of caramel, brown sugar, vanilla. Some oak, raisin and light red fruits later. Finishes with a nice bourbon barrel vanilla and caramel finish.

Smooth mouthfeel, lighter body than it appears even. Just slightly warming, but goes down very easy.

Best thing I've had from these guys in a while, maybe ever.

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Photo of mcallister
3.9/5  rDev -1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A filtered sparkley garnet color with a off white head of a quarter inch that fades into a foamy top. No lace.

Toffee, caramel, hints of bourbon, slight wood but not much else pretty light on aromas.

Ahhh there we go taste is very nice. Much more fruity qualities come out. Red currant, cherry, date, fig, caramel, toffee, vanilla, woodsy notes, with some bourbon on the finish. Slight wood tannins as well. Very nice light bodies barley wine.

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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 nova009
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter

A- pours a dark cloudy amber color, small white head that leaves some neat lacing

S- oak, vanilla, burnt sugar and caramel, dark fruits, slight bourbon notes at the end

T- large amounts of caramel upfront, vanilla and oak, slightly fruity,bourbon and alcohol burn in the aftertaste, almost a little too sweet

M- very smooth, nice medium body that coats the mouth, the alcohol burns the throat a little on the swallow

D- a nice one to sip on, one of the better bourbon barrel aged barleywines i've had, i wouldn't mind picking one of these up again if i can find it

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Photo of womencantsail
3.45/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: The pour is a surprisingly clear amber color with just about no head and minimal visible carbonation.

S: I don't really pick up much bourbon, but some hints of vanilla do make their way into the nose. The nose is mostly toffee, molasses, and a bit of caramel. The usual aromas, but somewhat muted.

T: The flavor is just as flat and one-note as the nose (if not a bit more). There is more bread than anything else on the nose with molasses and a hint of vanilla, along with some alcohol.

M: The body is quite thin for a barleywine and the carbonation is minimal.

D: A rather bland effort for a barrel aged barleywine. I would not really bother with this one.

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Photo of darklordlager
3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Courtesy of a generous trader...Thanks Jason.

A: Pours a ruddy amber-brown, somewhat cloudy. Small 1/2" head dies down to a mere covering after 30 seconds.

S: Sweet malt, well worked in bourbon character and some woodyness. Sweet caramel, candied fruit. Spirit-like booziness starting to emerge as it warms.

T: Fruity, light but pleasant dark-fruit character. "Juicy," oddly enough. Nicely worked bourbon character that sneaks up near the finish. Woody vanilla emerges as it warms

M: Medium bodied, with medium carbonation. Relatively thin for the style, with a dry(ish) finish for a barleywine.

D: A very smooth example of the style. The bourbon is complementary, which is a nice change after recently having a number of bourbon-centric brews.

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