Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks | Heavy Seas Beer

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Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below DecksHeavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks
Very Good
184 Ratings
Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below DecksHeavy Seas Cabernet 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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 184 |  Reviews: 90
Photo of jlindros
4.22/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage, buried in the cellar and realized I never reviewed it. Hopefully it's still good.

Pours a decent small fizzy head that fades very quickly, no lacing but nice long legs, very dark brown molasses color

Nose a touch of oxidation but I'll try to ignore that, plenty of dark aged malts, sweet candy, caramelized everything, toffee, a touch nutty, some mild dark fruits, maybe a touch of red wine but hard to tell, so toasted mild buttery oak notes, hint of alcohol, and a touch yeasty

Taste starts super rich, a big nougat caramel candy, tons of candy bar, caramel candies and toffee, a touch nutty, sweet candy coated apple, chewy almost, soft aged malt characters, mild toasted oak, a bit of vanilla, faint faint red wine but more dark fruits mixed in, dried fig date kinda thing, raisiny too, caramel raisin candy. Finishes with a touch of alcohol warmth and tingle, loads of caramel and candy lingering, mild dark fruits, a bit of a condensed red wine jam lingering.

Mouth is fuller bod, rich chewy like caramel but smooth, decent carb, very light warming alcohol

Overall this was a nice beer, lots of aged effects going on, alcohol is hidden well, nice soft aged malt, tons of caramel, dark fruits are there but muted, same with the cabernet notes are mostly gone but there is some especially late, very little oxidation, pretty enjoyable all around though. Wish I had more.

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Photo of rspauldi
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BeerForMuscle
3.98/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of oline73
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of chinchill
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz 2011 bottle served in a wine glass.

Approached with some pessimism due to experience with some other ales aged in red wine barrels, but this is a very pleasant and dangerously drinkable barleywine. The aroma is dominated by the effects of red wine barrel aging, soft fruit notes, and alcohol esters.
The flavor largely follows but with less pronounced impact of the wine barrel aging. Rich and fairly complex.

Slightly hazy, dark red-brown body with a limited head.

Very smooth medium+ body with ample warming after swallowing but nicely tame warmth in the mouth.

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Photo of kvgomps
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of WesMantooth
3.81/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of Jadjunk
3.66/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

"This English style barleywine ale has been aged in cabernet wine barrels. Enjoy now or cellar it "Below Decks" as it will become more complex as it ages." Brewed in the style of an English Barleywine ale. Available in 22 oz. bottles and on limited draft. Released as a small batch variant of the annual release Below Decks Barleywine standard.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle to a snifter glass. Served above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Appearance) Pours a frothy foam head of a medium tan color over a very dark brown body with little transparency. Retention is below average and lacing is light and spotty. 3.25

(Smell) The impact of the Cabernet barrel aging is markedly strong in the aroma, with strong earthy tannins, robust vinous characteristics and a fully dry delivery. Like the Bourbon Variation, the barrel aging is certainly a main focus rather than a component, and the normal aromas of a barleywine play a very minor role. Potency is moderate. 3.5

(Taste) The Below Decks Barleywine components of grain malt, molasses and fruit syrups are strongly accented with the inclusion of Cabernet barrels, a very unique treatment in my experiences with barleywines as well as most barrel aged beers. Strongest in the finish, the barrel impact is very bold, moderate toasted oak and strong wood tannins, finishinglightly fruity and earthy with a mild vinous and tart grape finish, moderately dry with some reserved sweetness. The slight tartness stands out as a welcoming finish. 3.75

(Mouthfeel) Texture is slick, residual, moderately dry. Carbonation is light, generating a modest frothiness and a mildly crisp finish. Body is medium+ for the style, medium/heavy overall. Balance is slightly dry and tart over sweet. Alcohol presence is modest, and there are no off characters. 3.75

(Overall) Considerably more expensive than the Bourbon barrel aged and understandably the standard version of Below Decks, Cabernet barrel aging is simply not all that common in most craft beers, warranting no less than a sample of this beer for me. Coming out, it is my favorite variant of Below Decks by a hair due to the dimension of flavor impact it contributes to the base recipe. Even though this variation of Below Decks isn't quite rich enough to complement the flavor strength of Cabernet barrels, the barrel treatment doesn't sit entirely unmatched. I'd like to see Cabernet barrel aging make a more mainstream impact in other rich, flavorful, malt heavy beer styles, as the tannins, vinous characters and tartness of a flavorful red wine compliments this beer quite well. Stouts, anybody? 3.75

Heavy Seas Beer's
Below Decks Barleywine Cabernet Barrel Aged

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Photo of Sanderson
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Eziel
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

Photo of yeaprolly
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of 1KEVIN1
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of aasher
4/5  rDev +2%

Photo of BuckeyeSlim
3.4/5  rDev -13.3%

2011 Release

Nose is really confused at first. Leads off with big red wine notes with toasted malts and dark caramels trying to push through. Bits of chocolate turn up. Creates a chocolate sundae effect topped with a big maraschino cherry. A fair amount of rough oak from the cab barrels winds up framing the nose as the flavors begin to merge into a cherry-chocolate-covered caramel. It's pretty much a big red wine / imperial robust porter mash-up. Toward the end of the bomber, the caramel malts finally take over, but the cherry only fades, never completely disappearing. It seems that, like wine, this beer needs time to open. Perhaps it's the residual wine itself that needs to oxidize and open.

Moderately toasted malts with nibs of cocoa are front-and-center in the taste. Dark, sweet fruits like dates and red cherries follow. Finish shows off caramels with a touch of silky light milk chocolate, but the wine leaves it dry on the sides of the tongue. The only hint of the ABV is in the full, solid body and rich mouthfeel. The issue here is that the individual taste components clash rather than complement.

Not really my kind of profile; I like the sugars, vanilla wood, and ABV from bourbon barrels over the cherry effect this one has from the cab. It has the structure of a well-made beer, though, so if cherry-chocolate sounds appealing, this approach may work for you. Working through the bomber also revealed an effect common with big, oaked cabs – as they warm and open, they move through various stages that emphasize different characteristics. While certainly not as pronounced, the end of the bomber found much less definition in individual components and considerably more nuance. I have a 2012 version of this beer I'll approach more like wine when I taste. It might not be enough to simply pour at a target temperature; the beer could well also need time for the wine in it to open.

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Photo of Jspriest
2.5/5  rDev -36.2%

Photo of GeorgeCarroll
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%

Photo of Hopbully
4.5/5  rDev +14.8%

Photo of csustar001
3.25/5  rDev -17.1%

Photo of jerefreakinmiah
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of Scapino
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%

Photo of Brewski
4.25/5  rDev +8.4%

Photo of jzeilinger
3.37/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

In review is a 2010 Vintage.

A - Pours a deep burgundy caramel color with some yeast chunks (relatively few although it was carefully poured). Carbonation is light and steady and the appearance is very viscous as the glass is swirled.

S - The aroma is subdued with light caramel, toffee, dark red cab grapes, and some dankness.

T - The Cabernet lends some wine acidity followed with oak and underneath the two is a light caramel/toffee base. Wine presence from start to finish and ends with a subtle to moderate bitter wine bite. Alcohol is not at subdued and is boozy.

M - Thick medium body with a slight bit of wateriness on the finish, slick, and the carbonation creates very light pricklies but never being harsh.

O - It's interesting, 'not sure I would let the next bottle sit for 3-4 years like I did with this one. I predict this would be closer to the sweet spot in the 1-2 year range. Although not totally awful, 'just wouldn't recommend cellaring it this long.

 975 characters

Photo of RochefortChris
5/5  rDev +27.6%

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.61/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22 oz bottle into a pint glass. 2012 vintage.

A: Pours a very dark brown color with a bit of murkiness. The head isn't very impressive - not even a finger high (off-white shade), and retention is horrible. No lacing, either.

S: This one smells rich. Aside from the massive caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, and dark fruit the base beer provides, I get not only subtle additions of buttery oak and vanilla, but also a touch of red wine. There's a faint touch of alcohol, too. The barrels have done a good job of taking the edge off the sweetness of the regular offering.

T: It opens up like I expect it to: huge brown sugar and huge dark fruit. Afterwards, the barrel comes out strongly. The oak flavor in the middle is buttery and ever-so-slightly toasted, while the finish has a vague kiss of red wine grapes. While the flavor profile is very enjoyable, I feel like it's missing something extra to make it truly spectacular. I don't know, maybe the sweetness could be a little more defined or it could have a deeper profile. As it stands right now, I think this is a rock-solid BA barleywine.

M: Rather slender in feel, this eschews some of its bulk and sweetness for a cleaner, more tannic, boozier feel. Despite what the pour suggested, it's shockingly carbonated - once that goes, this becomes superbly creamy. Make no mistake, it's still overwhelmingly sweet and hard to drink. Hey, it's an English-style barleywine, this shouldn't be chugged.

O: Being put into (cabernet) barrels was the best damn thing to happen to this beer. It still hasn't quite propped it up into elite territory, but it's a good deal more enjoyable than the base. And it's cheap for a BA barleywine to boot. Hopefully this will be made again, 'cuz I'd pick it up for the purpose of aging it a couple of years.

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Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
Beer rating: 3.92 out of 5 with 184 ratings