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

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: 89 | Ratings: 181
Photo of ChadQuest
2.47/5  rDev -36.8%
look: 2 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

This one is a gusher after opening. Fair warning.
dark ruby red/brown body with a thin cap that fades out into some continent looking bubbles.
The aroma is on the dark fruit side of the spectrum, sweet smelling, with a hint of alcohol.
Taste wise it is jammy, dark fruit, and the cabernet barrels seem to have imparted their likeness into this one. Some alcohol is present, grape, and oak tannins.
mouthfeel is smooth and low carbonation, medium body.

The cab barrels made this one interesting and unique, it was really cool to see what they did, but maybe not the best style to use them on.

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Photo of russwbeck
3.52/5  rDev -10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Clear brown out of the bottle, the beer rests a deep brown to black color with really only a teasing amount of head. The head rises up late in the game and disappears before you can really appreciate it, leaving behind no lacing.

S: The aroma is really nicely blended, but borders on too boozy. Deliciously sweet malts, sugar, and dark fruits. Certainly some hints from the barrel: oak, and maybe a light grape character.

T: The taste seems to be a strange mix of not enough barleywine and not enough from the barrel. Decreased sugary malts from the non-barrel aged version and some dark fruits mix with oak and far too much booze. Perhaps the wine barrels just didn't impart as much flavors as the bourbon barrel did. There's just not enough there.

MF: A bit thin on the body, and low on the carbonation. The finish was dry and boozy.

O: For all is faults I actually didn't mind this. The booze and wine characteristics are pretty interesting. I don't think it's a great beer, but I do like it.

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Photo of argock
3.65/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | 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: Dirty dark brown with scant cap of off-white head that leaves no lacing.

S: The malty aromas of brown sugar, caramel, and woody alcohol are dulled by the sharp, tannic, red grape character from the barrel.

T: The grape character lends a lot more dark fruity sweetness. The oak is also more present in the flavor. The alcohol is pretty well-hidden but does produce a sharp note to cut through the sweetness. The base barleywine brown sugar and caramel notes are again fuzzed out somewhat by the sweet fruitiness and oak character.

M: Lush but with a sharp bite of the tannic grape. Medium bodied with low carbonation makes it a bit of a chore to drink.

O: A unique beer with interesting vinous grape notes on a reasonably solid barleywine base. I think the wine character is too strong and provides too much fruitiness.

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Photo of pmarlowe
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage. Tulip glass.

A: Pours a dull, deep copper color, with rust around the rim, with a little greyish sand colored head, good retention and pretty and persistent swirls on the surface.

S: Lots of toffee, fruit (currant and cherry), some molasses, and in the secondary, oak, coconut, and sweetish red wine.

T: Caramel and red wine meld together tightly, supported by the wine barrel, the wine lending some subtle bright acidity. Slightly tannic on the finish, and very dry.

M: Light carbonation and medium-light body. Really light for a barleywine, which adds to the drinkability.

O: Really drinkable for a ba barleywine, and quite tasty, although the flavor is mild and not in-your-face. Doesn't show a single point of the 10% ABV; this feels like a session ba barleywine.

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Photo of zaphodchak
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thinnish offwhite head, murky red-brown body. A bit of lace. Head fizzles away like cola.

Smells like aged malt, some grape must, and a bit of shoe leather. Awesome.

This is definitely on par with the bourbon barrel version-- sweet and slightly tart grapes take the place of coconut, oak is sublime throughout. The toffee and malt backbone is phenomenal.

Nice and smooth, but kinda lingers on/coats the palate, but this is only a slight negative. Just drink water afterwards (which is a good policy anyway).

This ends up drinking like one of the best English style barleywines south of J.W. Lees. And a hell of a lot cheaper at that.

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Photo of VncentLIFE
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Soda like fizzy head. Eggshell colored. Very opaque brown, near black body.

the smell is completely dominated by sweet caramelly dry grains. The aroma fills the room as soon as you take the cap off.

Oooo the flavor. milky caramel, sweet grains, and toffee. The nice part is the cabernet barrel. Not so oaky, but it adds to the body, giving it a full this mouth-filling body that flashes in somewhere in the middle. The grape flavor is mingled with the toffee and caramel.

Finishes clean for a barleywine. Chewy toffee lingers around, and the slight bitterness stays on the back of your tongue.

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Photo of Kromes
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A hazy dark brown with a thin tan colored head.

S: A big earthy and malty caramel aroma with lots of oak.

T: Starts very caramel and sweet and then fades to a nice vanilla and oak along with a sweet alcohol flavor and burn. The alcohol lingers in the finish.

M: Medium-heavy body with a good amount of carbonation.

O: I thought it was a good oak aged barleywine. Flavors are very nice and I think that additional aging would benefit the beer and help mellow out some of the sharp alcohol in the finish.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-This beer pours a light-blocking brown. When held up to the light, there is only mild penetration. Despite an aggressive pour, the head is nothing more than a bubbly, disconnected peninsula of carbonate.

S-This is a very, very interesting nose. The majority of the nose represents the Barleywine aspect. This aspect of the beer is rich with molasses, brown sugar, and rich toffee maltiness. There is a hefty wave of warm chocolate too. But the other semi-substantial percentage of the nose is characterized by the Cabernet barrel aging. The aging lends an extremely pleasant vinous and earthen aroma dimension. I cannot tell if I am more intrigued or satisfied by the nose of this beer.

T-I may be equally as impressed by the actual flavor as I was by the nose. To me, this beer tastes like grape-flavored maple syrup. This has elements of: grape jam, brown sugar, toffee, tobacco, and tree bark. The Cabernet barrel aging really added a spectacular dimension to this beer. There are simply too many flavors to discuss. It is a bit rough around the edges, but I love the coarse finish of this beer.

M-Heavy body. Soothing carbonation. Alcohol is obvious. Sticky and syrupy. Dries the tongue.

O/D-This beer is very impressive. The Cabernet barrel aging added a shocking amount of complexity to this beer. Its a big, rough, yet deep brew. I suggest you try this beer. Under $7 dollars for a bomber too. The mixture of intense Barleywine sweetness and decorated vinous flavors make this beer an absolute gem.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle - $6.99 at Olde Crabapple Bottle Shoppe in

Alpharetta, Georgia. 2011 bottling.

Appearance: Pours out a dark brown body with a short-lived, light ecru head.

Smell: Tannic-scented, oak barrel-laden, sweet-scented, vinously fruity Cabernet nose over the charred bread and lightly toffee-edged malts.

Taste: Tart, tannic, fruity, and reasonably sweet with the Cabernet fully taking the lead ahead of the basic breadiness, lowly roasty from the malts. Modest inclusion of hops and bitterness. Small spiciness from the overall alcohol. Just vinous and sweet (but not quite too sweet) throughout and into the smooth finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium carbonation. Slightly sticky mouthfeel.

Overall: While not a grand slam home run cue-the-fireworks beer, it is a marked, appreciated improvement on the dreary base barleywine I had over five years ago. Sometimes, barrel aging actually brings down the initial beer, sometimes it's a toss-up, sometimes it can make a good beer even better, and, sometimes, it can even revive a real dud. Consider this dud revived, friends!

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Photo of marvin213
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Another especially dark barleywine for me, I appreciate the frothy head. Head with lasting power and beautiful legs that spread with a swirl, it looks oh-so-appealing.

I like the nose. I reach for more of a Cabernet influence, but something tempers that English-style toffee that predominates most barleywines of this style. I like that.

It's neat. There's more oaky dryness than is typical, and I attribute that to the wine barrels. In fact, I think it balances the barleywine perfectly. Many of us love beer so much because of the seemingly infinite ingredients, and I must say that the wine barrel-aging evidences that beers are the alcoholic cream of the crop! Can you imagine aging a wine in a beer barrel? It's its adaptability that makes a good beer go great. Again, it's the oaky dry touch tampering that sweetness that makes this one spot-on. A well done, mutiny style beer to which I'm likely to return--for me, the flagship of the Heavy Seas Fleet.

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Photo of jsanford
4.21/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle poured into a Snifter. 2011 Vintage.

A - Pours a muddy mahogany with a short-lived off-white head that settles to a very slight ring and precisely 2 spots of haze.
S - Big, rich aromas of dark wine grapes, raisins, oak, brown sugar, vanilla, toffee, and caramel. Fantastic nose, already I'm thinking I may have to grab a couple more bottles...
T - Taste is right there with the nose, big, vinous flavors of red wine, oak, dried fruits (prunes and raisins) and vanilla, all backed up with sweet, malty flavors of caramel, brown sugar, and toffee. Incredibly smooth, I'm not feeling any heat from the 10% ABV.
M - This is the only spot that I can really criticize, mouthfeel is a bit thinner and crisper then I'd prefer, with a touch too-high carbonation. Perhaps age would help here, I usually like a bit stickier, syrupy mouthfeel in my Barleywines.
O - Overall an excellent Barleywine, I'm definitely gonna pick up more of these (and give the Bourbon version a try)!

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Photo of abraxel
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Tasted blind as part of Blind BIF #6, courtesy of mdfb79. It's a bomber labeled "Maybe share :)", shared with my roommate.

A - The stream is a murky chestnut, rather dark and opaque in the glass. I have to force a head with a vigorous pour, and end up with about two inches of pillowy, creamy foam.

S - Smooth bourbon smacked me in the face as soon as the cap came off, but with a silk glove -- no boozy bite at all. Lots of salty caramel and sweet vanilla, and I think some hazelnut. It reminds me of BA Old Ruffian, but I'm pretty sure the bottle is wrong.

T - Definitely a bourbon-aged something, but it doesn't seem like a stout or barleywine. The vanilla-y, burnt-caramel-bourbon layer isn't quite dominant, and there's a fruity yet slightly dry maltiness that I'm having trouble describing. There's almost some cinnamon? This is reminiscent of Old Viscosity, but definitely not it.

M - Moderately full, very smooth. A decent amount of tingly carbonation, basically no alcohol feel to speak of.

Now this one I've almost certainly never had. The bourbon character is really nice, and blends in well with the base beer. It complements without dominating. Both of us approve. Also, neither of have any idea what this is. I'm gonna guess that good ol' catch-all American Strong Ale.

Non-blind comments: Hmm, neither of us are even remotely wine drinkers, so I guess the oak combined with Cabernet made us both think bourbon. Oops. It seemed a little thin for a barleywine, but oh well.

Regardless, this was a very good beer I probably never would have thought to try. Thanks!

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Photo of Hopfenpeter
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very interesting beer! Poured into my crystal mug, I was surprised of how cloudy the beer was. I almost wondered if it was not a spoiled specimen. The color was deep brown with a little red. A two finger high tan head was building and left ok lacing.
The smell was very complex and was dominated by dark fruit and especially by a woody, earthy flavor, like the sediment in a wooden wine barrel.
Tasting the beer those flavors are confirmed, but softened by some caramel notes upfront. In the middle the wine and grape notes dominate, and at the end some mild hops give some balance.
I liked this beer and would buy it again.

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Photo of rapidsequence
4.11/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle from Ned's.

Appearance: Dark brown, cloudy. Looks like lake water. No head. Some spots of lacing and legs.

Smell: It is very obvious that this is a wine barrel aged beer. Very vinous, spicy, lots of vanilla. Caramel, toffee, dark fruit. This is a very rich, sweet, and complex smelling beer.

Taste: Big sweet malt flavors-- again caramel, toffee, and dark fruit (raisiny). Spice, vanilla, and red wine flavor. Pretty much smells like it tastes. It tastes very good, but it doesn't work perfectly.

Mouthfeel: Pretty full, sticky, and smooth. A bit of tannins and lasting malty stickiness in the finish.

Overall: I have been dreading trying this one because I didn't think the plain Below Decks was that great, and I though the cab barrel aging sounded weird. Well the underlying beer seems great here, and the barrel aging was a success. Its a little strange, and probably polarizing. I'll buy it again.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap 1/10/2012 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark reddish brown color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains brown sugar, dark fruit, chocolate, caramelized malts and some hops.

T: The taste is very creamy and starts with strongly sweet flavors of milk chocolate, dark fruit and brown sugar. Then a hearty malt character comes in and the wine flavor is quite evident. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is sticky.

O: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, good representation of style, this is a nice stronger beer to drink for a while.

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Photo of mdfb79
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Drank side by side with a 2010 Bourbon barrel aged Below Deck. Poured into my Brawley's snifter.

a - Pours a very dark mahogany brown color with two inches of light tan head and light to moderate carbonation evident.

s - Smells of caramel malts, toffee, sweet dark fruits, molasses, toasted malts, light wood, and light wine and alcohol. Smells like a nice barleywine, but there isn't much barrel presence at all. Wonder if aging it a little over a year has hurt it.

t - Tastes of caramel malts, toffee, sugar, sweet dark fruits, molasses, raisins, toasted malts, wood, and more alcohol. Tiny bit more alcohol/wine/port like qualities, but still not a lot. Sweeter than the nose too. Pretty nice.

m - Medium to full body and moderate carbonation. Thick and smooth, a very nice body for a barleywine.

o - Overall I thought this was an interesting, pretty good barleywine. The nose and taste are very sweet with that sticky sweet dark fruit quality to them. If you like that you'll probably like this one a lot, and I enjoyed it. The wine and barrel seems to haved faded a lot in a year, so I wouldn't recommend aging this one, but it is worth trying and something I'd buy fresh once a year.

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Photo of Viciousknishs
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- pours mahogany brown with a finger of light tan head. Ok head retention.

S- aromas of oak, caramel and a hint of milk chocolate mingle with notes of red wine and a slight nuttiness. Finishes with some fruity character and a touch of toffee.

T- starts off with a good oak and dark caramel flavor. A touch of chocolate and nuttiness fleshs out in the middle with a hint of Cabernet. Finishes with an aggressive toffee and vanilla.

MF- slick sticky mouthfeel with a medium body and fine carbonation.

D- decent drinkability

Overall a worthy solid barleywine with unique flavor.

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Photo of jayhawk73
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark brown color w/ a one finger cocoa head. Good lacing considering the 10% ABV. The nose is really pleasant- caramel, toffee, oak, wine, dark fruit, and grapes are what I get. Very nice, although a little light on malt and complexity. The taste is very unique. Chocolate, caramel, wine, dark fruits and oak. Not bad at all... In fact, quite a bit better than the regular version of this. Feel is great- It's super smooth, and just glides down your throat. Awesome alcohol burn on the backside that reminds me of a wine alcohol burn. Overall, this is a very nice beer. Several of these categories are very close to being a tick higher. I would definitely drink this again. Cheers.

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Photo of harrymel
3.32/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5


Having just had the regular and BBA versions, it is time to hit this one up. I'm anxious.

Murky, dirty brown with a nougat sheet of foam. There is the slightest, bloody red ruddy tone. The base beer smells profoundly of cocoa, this one has a hint, but mostly I get oak, red wine (cheap red wine), some hints of a tannic, metallic tone. Honestly reminds me of the nose on many Oud Bruins I've had.

Flavor does not follow the nose. Sweet, malty; infused with toffe and caramel tones this is accented with some fruity character, but nothing tannic. Some hints of raisin and if I reach, a little bit of juicy berry, but that's a stretch.

Medium on full bodied with low carb. Somewhat of a velvety feel. I'm unimpressed on how the barrel impacted this brew. It's nice, but I would take the regular, unaged version over either variants.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a light tan head. In the aroma, it smells just like cabernet wine. In the taste, cabernet wine, licorice and a nice alcohol taste. A smooth and medium to bigger bodied mouthfeel, with a dry dark fruit and notes of cabernet in the aftertaste. Very much wine like and mellows out the base of Below Decks.

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Photo of ATLbeerDog
4.14/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky dark rust color with almost no head whatsoever. What little head there was dissipated quickly. Smells mostly of wine and oak with just a tad of sweet malt comprising the nose. First sip is super malt sweetness layered in a ton of wine notes supported nicely with oak. The wine and malt sweetness hits first leading to a bitter finish that is highlighted almost entirely by the mighty oak. Though thin bodied there is enough carbonation here to warrant a decent mouthfeel. The 10% ABV is not well hidden at all. It is in your face making one to think it is stronger than it really is. I am surprised. I never would have thought I would like the Cabernet version more than the same base beer in Bourbon barrels. I like this showing much more. This one rocks!

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Photo of ChrisPro
3.41/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Have had previously (and enjoyed it much much more), but reviewing blind on 12/23/11 as part of a "BA barleywine" tasting. Finished #5 of 6 for me.

A - Pours medium brown with a nice light tan head

S - Weird nose with saurkraut, dark fruits and a little vanilla and oak

T - A mild sweetness, then a little bitterness but has a fantastic caramel finish. Taste overall is a bit strange, but not inherenetly bad.

M - Medium body and sharp carbonation

O - Okay, but nothing special. Just not that good. The nose is slightly offputting, but otherwise, just a solid barleywine with unique barrel aging.

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Photo of Rickythejeweler
4.44/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage (aged for over a year in cabernet barrels)

A - Muddy-dark mahogany, thin soapy off white head, light lacing.

S - Wonderful oak, red wine, chocolate scents.

T - Very oaky, hints of vanilla, chocolate, & caramel sit atop the massive fermented dark fruit flavors, the cabernet leaves a slight alcohol & tart flavor as well as a dry finish to the beer.

M - Because this was aged for over a year in the cabernet barrels it really smoothed out well, but still is is heavy, low carbonation.

O - Excellent beer, the year in the barrel really made this an over the top experience!

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Photo of claytong
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage

appearance - a copper brown with some murkiness. decent beige head. decent lacing.

smell - vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, oak...no wine?

taste - again the same with some fig and no wine is coming to me, a bit sad about this but its still good nonetheless especially for the price

mouthfeel - good body and carbonation for the style but a bit sticky and cloying.

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage (which I think is the only one anyway).

4.0 A: Dark brown color. Actually more like a purplish black. One finger of creamy beige head that retains okay given the ABV and leaves

4.0 S: The cabernet sticks out, lending a vinous component in addition to oak and a touch of tannic astringency. The underlying beer adds plum and fig foremost, with caramel and toffee following. Not bad.

4.0 T: Again the cabernet is aggressive yielded an almost tart vinous grape. Lots of oak and little bits of tannins. Dark fruits including plum, prune, date, fig, and maybe some currant. Caramel and toffee underneath that. Absolutely no hints of alcohol.

4.0 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. The slightest bit chewy, but smooth overall.

4.0 D: This is incredibly mellow for a beer only around a year old. Flavors are well integrated and well balanced. Plus, $8 for a bomber of barrel aged beer isn't bad at all.

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Heavy Seas Cabernet Barrel Aged Below Decks from Heavy Seas Beer
3.91 out of 5 based on 181 ratings.
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