Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter WarmerBourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer
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Winter Warmer
Ranked #1
Ranked #3,244
4.12 | pDev: 12.62%
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Texas, United States
Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter WarmerBourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer
Notes: November Release - English dark ale aged in bourbon barrels - fresh American oak - dark malts - English hops - sweet, smooth vanilla & oak finish
Reviews: 123 | Ratings: 447 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of zeff80
4.12/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz can. Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, khaki-colored head of foam. It smelled of bourbon, roasted malt and toffee. Sweet bourbon taste with toffee, roasted malt, vanilla and chocolate.

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zeff80 from Missouri, Mar 02, 2020
Photo of MikeWard
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

12oz can into a glass. Julian dating suggests a canned date of 10/22/19, so about 7 weeks old.

Looks wicked good in the glass. Black body, biut deep red with amber notes when held up to the light. Small tan head persists in some form throughout, impressive considering the abv. Does not manage to leave lacing though.

Very nice aroma of raisin and other dried fruit.

Upon tasting, it's sweet, warm, bourbony and very tasty. No vanilla or oak notes. Perhaps they would come through with some more time in the can, but who has the patience.

Mouth close to full, finish sweet and a little boozy.

Overall, would love to drink this in front of the fire watching the snow gather on the skylights. Very good beer.

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MikeWard from Pennsylvania, Dec 12, 2019
Photo of beergoot
4.51/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown body, clear; thick and creamy head depositing fingers and tentacles of sticky foam along the glass. Rich and heady aroma of charred grain, vanilla and oak; deeply hidden esters. Sumptuous flavors; cocoa and milk chocolate; marshmallow; caramel; lightly charred wood; subdued bourbon edge; mocha. Heavy body; sludgy and slick, very smooth; palate coating; alcohol warmth complemented with rich residual sugars.

Wow! And wow, again!! What an incredible delight to let this beer grace your palate. There is a lot of dichotomy going on here: heavy yet easily ingested, powerful yet very approachable; high ABV well-tempered with creamy and rich malt backbone. This is one of the creamiest and smoothest beers I've enjoyed in a long, long time. I should have ordered a few more of these for the coming winter months...

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beergoot from Colorado, Dec 03, 2019
Photo of Thankin_Hank
4.5/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Witten’s in a tulip glass. Rich, dark and beautiful. Had a nice creamy head. Some decent lacing. Smell was subdued initially but after a taste the sweet coconut and vanilla comes through. Some molasses and brown sugar sweetness is very tasty. Smooth as silk and the mouthfeel is just perfect for the style. Way to easy to drink. Overall a fine Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer. Rahr’s finest offering.

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Photo of mmilyko
4.25/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Absolutely loved this in the fall, will it be even better in the winter? The most Belgiumesque (not sure that is actually a word) beer brewed in the state of Texas that I have ever experienced. Warm, spicy, complex, this one has it all. Very impressed, thank you Rahr & Sons, awesome job.

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mmilyko from Nevada, Nov 22, 2019
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.43/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing nearly opaque black in the glass with a fine, one finger dark khaki head with great retention and nice lacing. Aroma of dark malt, dark dried fruit, vanilla, bourbon and a hint of cinnamon. Flavor is dry caramel and light biscuit malt, dates, raisins, vanilla, bourbon and winter spicing (allspice?). Lingering light malt, bourbon and spices in the finish. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess, very nice mouth feel. A really well made winter warmer, possibly one of the best I've had. Lots going on here with a rich malt base, nice dark fruit and good vanilla and bourbon flavors from the barrel, both excellently integrated into the flavor. Good balance and deft use of barrel and spicing. If this was available locally, it would be a seasonal regular. This 2018 canned version is listed at 11.0 ABV which is very well covered.

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LiquidAmber from Washington, Nov 18, 2018
Photo of HoodviewBrew
4.15/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

got in a 4-pack of 12oz cans for about $13.99 so I was nervous about what to expect. Turns out this stuff was great! Holds up well to the Stickee Monkees, Adelbert's quads and other aged dark ales. Would definitely buy again.

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Photo of Neeros
4.52/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I tried this brew at a local pub. An acquaintance of mine was drinking it. I thought he was drinking a cola. I was looking for something different. Wow, is all I can say about this beer. The color is dark, like a stout. The flavor is semi-sweet, with a hint of bitterness. A bit of chocolate and vanilla, with the oak. You can taste a great whiskey in it, without the burn, in combination with being a beer. I was perplexed, but fascinated. Great beer. This will be my go to beer every winter.

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Neeros from Texas, Jan 01, 2018
Photo of emerge077
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Dark mahoghany color, a finger of tan foam and sticky halo of lacing.
Aroma is somewhat nondescript, vanilla and yeast, lightly sweet nutty malt.
Smooth and rounded feel, fairly light bodied with a little bit of stickiness.
Vanilla and oak, nutmeg and toasted almonds. Corn whiskey sweetness in the warming aftertaste. Mellow and tasty, a great winter warmer that has some nice barrel characteristics and isn’t overspiced. Good holiday beer.

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emerge077 from Illinois, Dec 24, 2017
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.49/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a very dark brown, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells pretty distinctly barleywine-esque, with lots of vanilla and a little coconut, with fruitcake, caramel, toffee, and a little chocolate.

This deserves the top spot for Winter Warmers on this site- it's honestly awesome. There's spicy rye bread, fruitcake, vanilla, oak, bourbon, coconut, and vague spicing. There's lot of malty caramel and toffee, too. There's barely any booziness to it.

This is creamy and rich, with a full body, and a good level of carbonation for the style.

I expected this to be tasty, but I didn't expect it to be one of the best beers I've had lately. It is excellent stuff.

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GreesyFizeek from New York, Dec 18, 2017
Photo of JuicesFlowing
4.07/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a ballon glass.

Look: Black body under a light cream colored head that recedes to a collar and wisp over the center. Thick bands of lacing.

Aroma: Bourbon barrel wood, vanilla, oak, sugar.

Taste: Bourbon aged wood, oak, vanilla bean, tart cherry.

Mouthfeel: Smooth as silk, boozy, hot.

Overall: Couldn’t taste much more than bourbon barrel and vanilla but isn’t that the damn point? Quality sipper.

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Photo of snaotheus
3.88/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in a tulip. This listing shows it at 8.5% ABV, but the label says it's 10.5%. 2016 bottle. Oddly, I've chosen to drink this on a hot, sunny, late spring Monday afternoon.

Pours dark sludgy brown, initially with no head but slowly growing. Lots of fine, slow carbonation. Smell is maybe pine, dates or raisins, maybe booze and oak.

Taste is nice -- not too sweet, some spices, roasty/burnt-caramel, a little bit of dates or raisins. Vanilla is there, and I'm surprised the oak and alcohol are muted.

Mouthfeel is thick but just lively enough. Overall, this is a pretty good beer.

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snaotheus from Washington, May 23, 2017
Photo of mjwellman
3.78/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is has been aged for about 30 months. It was a much better beer 2 years ago. I don't think it aged well.
L: Pours dark brown with a creamy head of about 2 fingers.
S: nice bourbon aroma with a malty sweet smell
T: nice bourbon taste with a hint of sweetness and coffee that quickly fades away to a bitter flavor.
F: lightly carbonated and overall bitterness
O: Disappointing that it doesn't taste as good as it looks or smells

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Photo of ThaneMcC
4.49/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2015 Release
Pours a lovely deep, reddish brown with 1fb of light khaki head with good retention. Smells of vanilla, wood, bourbon,dark fruits. Tastes is sweet malts forward, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla and bourbon notes, balanced by hops and ending with a clean finish. Medium bodied with fair amount of effervescence keep the sweet malts from becoming syrupy. Some bourbon notes linger.

Overall, well balanced – all the features of a strong dark ale with the bourbon notes. I really enjoyed this brew.

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ThaneMcC from Germany, Jan 14, 2017
Photo of ccg
3.84/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2016 release.
Looks inviting. Deep, dark brown base with plenty of lacing on the glass and thick legs. Leaves a ring of large bubbles around the edge.
Smells of raisins, candied fruit, brown sugar, and a bit of leather and tobacco.
Flavor starts out with a bit of spice and bitterness. A bit of caramel shows up to round it out, and there is vanilla and malt in the middle, but the bitterness overwhelms the other flavors until the beer warms up.
The beer feels sticky and rich, and the alcohol has a nice warming effect.
I think I was expecting more of a sweet sipper, like a dessert beer, but this one has a bite of bitterness.

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ccg from District of Columbia, Jan 03, 2017
Photo of nizzle8287
5/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on draught at The Gingerman in Fort Worth TX. Amazing. Best Bourbon Barrell I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Bourbon, vanilla, caramel, creme, coffee hint, slight alcohol burn warms me from the inside. Medium carbonation, full bodied and delicious. I would rate it a 6 if I could.

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Photo of Myotus
4.03/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage poured at 47°F into a nonic pint glass. Consumed on 30Jan16.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a quarter fingers worth within 1 minute and 20 seconds. Dark brown in color with a ruby tint. Rising bubbles are moderate in quantity and both small and medium in size. Lacing is thin and moderate. 4
SMELL: Mild aromas of black tea, caramel, toffee, tree nuts, and sweet bread entangle with subtle bourbon, spicy hop, and earthy hop aromas along with hints of oak. 4
TASTE: INFECTED!!! Or maybe that's just how this beer ages. Strong flavors of sour green apple and mild balsamic vinegar flavors enter initially and are immediately followed by mild caramel, black tea, and toffee flavors. Subtle flavors of tree nuts, spicy hops, and earthy hops finish off the flavors as bourbon and sweet bread flavors are nowhere to be found. 3.25
FEEL: Medium-bodied and moderately carbonated. Goes down somewhat smooth while also clinging to the back of the throat like syrup. Ends with a hint of dryness. 3.5
NOTE: I'm not sure if this was just an infected bottle that has been sitting for a year, or if this is how this beer develops over time. Typically Winter Warmers don't age well, but I though that this being at 9% would do well. Now you know, folks! Don't age this one! My main question is why didn't this smell like it tasted???
OVERALL RATING: 3.5 out of 5.
2015 vintage
Poured at 47°F from a 22oz bottle into a nonic pint glass. Allowed to warm up to 52°F before drinking. Consumed on 30Jan16.
LOOK: Pours with a fingers worth of khaki foam that dissipates into a quarter fingers worth of foam within 1 minute. Dark brown in color with a ruby tint. There is a large quantity of gray particles both small and medium in size. Rising bubbles are medium in size and moderate in quantity. Lacing is thin and moderate. 3.25
SMELL: Mild aromas of figs, plums, toast, caramel, toffeel, and spuce entangle with subtle oak, vanilla, and bourbon aromas along with hints of earthy and spicy hops. 4
TASTE: Mild spruce and bourbon flavors first strike the palate and are immediately followed by mild flavors of toast, caramel, figs, plums, and toffee. Subtle oak and vanilla flavors continue the complex taste profile. Subtle spicy hop flavors and hints of earthy hops enter lastly as all previous flavors persist, except for spruce, which grow slightly stronger. 4.25
FEEL: Medium-bodied and highly carbonated. Goes down rough due to the carbonation. Clings to the back of the throat like syrup. A mild and welcoming alcoholic warmth can be felt as it goes down the throat. This beer ends with a mild dryness. 3.25
NOTE: This was the single best Winter Warmer that I have ever had. Aged 1 year, this is not that good. But fresh, this is excellent! The bourbon is not overpowering and allows the other flavors to shine.
OVERALL RATING: 4.03 out of 5.

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Myotus from Texas, Jan 30, 2016
Photo of pants678
4.18/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a thin off white head.

All Bourbon.

Malt and wood that could be fitting for a stout. Toffee and dark fruit, not so chocolatey or desserty. Good bite on the end from the hops, I assume.

Cola-esque, pleasant.

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pants678 from California, Dec 22, 2015
Photo of tbryan5
4.41/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Exactly what I was looking for! The essence and body of the winter warmer was not overpowered by barrel characteristics. A great offering from Rahr & Sons and perfect for a cold night. Definitely living up to its name!

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tbryan5 from Louisiana, Nov 23, 2015
Photo of Jlabs
4.04/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

nice creamy bourbon flavor on this one..a bit thin than most BBA i've had but tasty nonetheless..some light fruit notes in this, which mix nicely w/ the bourbon..would love to try this again

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Jlabs from New York, Aug 21, 2015
Photo of REVZEB
4.27/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Had on tap. Extremely dark brown body with a brown cap. Malts and bourbon fill the nose, with the spices, caramel, vanilla, and semi-sweet chocolate partnering. Taste explodes onto the palate, with those underlying flavors from the smell coming into the limelight with a bourbon backing. The cinnamon stands out in particular among the spices, invoking flavors of fruit cake, raisin, coconut and wood. Booze is very well hidden. My only qual is the feel doesn't have the usual spicy nature of a winter warmer, but the barrel is extremely smooth.

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REVZEB from Illinois, Apr 27, 2015
Photo of DeepBrew
3.65/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2014 edition, poured from 22oz bomber into snifter.

A: Walnut colored, almost opaque, with medium-high off-white foam with medium retention. Leaves behind good lacing.

S: Malt, dark fruit, barrel

T: Taste follows smell, with some wine-y sour, maybe from the barrel. There's also little spice and bitter lingering. Cannot identify the bourbon in the taste.

M: Creamy with good carbonation, medium-high strength.

O: Had higher expectations after 2013's great execution, and this was a let-down. Still it is a drinkable seasonal.

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Photo of JFCLACK
2.8/5  rDev -32%
look: 3.25 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Pours pitch black with thin mocha head. Nose is very subtle bready. Mouthfeel was very good. Taste was ok. Finish was slightly metallic. If this beer on nitro might improve it. Overall good beer

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JFCLACK from Texas, Mar 28, 2015
Photo of kojevergas
3.31/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

BOTTLE: 1 pint 6 fl oz. Brown glass. Branded pry-off pressure cap. Generally appealing label art. 2014 vintage.

Expectations are fairly high; this is currently #62 on the Top 100 Southwest list (and is the only Rahr & Sons brew to make the list). Served cold into a pilsner glass and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Reviewed live as a bourbon barrel aged winter warmer per the title/label.

9% ABV.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 4 fingers wide. Khaki colour. Creamy and frothy. Fairly even and smooth consistency. Nice complexion. Retention is good - about 6-7 minutes. No lacing sticks to the sides of the glass as the head recedes.

BODY: Dark amber-brown. Opaque. No yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's an appealing brew - but not necessarily great for a winter warmer. Certainly not unique or special looking.

AROMA: Amber malts (evoking an altbier, if anything), faint caramel, cream, English hop character, faint bread, hints of vague indistinct dark fruit, a kiss of cherry, light vanilla (probably the only real hint of bourbon here), and English toffee. There's no real toasty oak presence, and the bourbon character is light at best - which is to be expected given its scant 10 weeks of bourbon barrel aging. Still, the faint bourbon does complement the winter warmer malt character nicely.It's not a spicy brew, but the malt profile is spot on for the style - though I'd prefer a bit more toastiness. Fruitcake.

Aromatic intensity is average. The fruity notes blend well with the English malt profile and mild hop aromatics. I'm looking forward to trying this.

TASTE: Fruitcake, vague indistinct dark fruits, amber malts, English dark malts, faint vanilla (I assume from the bourbon), cream, a kiss of chocolate malt, some crystal malt, and mild English hop character. The bourbon barrel is rather faint (some might say weak), lacking any oak, toastiness, or real vivid vanilla. While normally I'd be critical of a scant 10 weeks of aging, here I think it works, lending a subtle guiding bourbon tone without overwhelming the base. The English dark malt backbone is allowed to shine, and while this winter warmer doesn't have much spiciness, I do think it's effective and hits style fundamentals well. It does have some faint nutmeg and allspice, and I'd certainly say there's a holiday vibe about it, but I can't quite put my finger on why. It's not cinnamon, it's not ginger. Cocoa, maybe?

The guiding yeast character is definitely English.

As much as it could use improved depth of flavour and intricacy, it's a well balanced brew within its style and I find the build to be a gestalt whole. The dark fruits are subtly executed and complement the English malts and hops nicely. As much as I can see its limitations, I quite like this for what it is.

There's no yeast profile, booze, or off character.

TEXTURE: Smooth, wet, medium-bodied, unrefreshing, aptly thick, aptly hefty, and adequately weighty on the palate, with an unrefreshing feel and sufficient softness. Could be creamier, sure, and more softness would aid its presentation of flavour. This texture doesn't elevate the beer, but it complements the taste nicely.

Not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, harsh, rough or scratchy.

OVERALL: A drinkable winter warmer, especially considering its high ABV and (admittedly faint) bourbon barrel character. While most drinkers will find the barrel notes wanting, I think this is an effective winter warmer which succeeds in spite of obvious risks. Some style traditionalists will prefer more of a perceived spiciness, and they may be right. This is easily one of the best beers Rahr & Sons makes, and while I wouldn't buy it again, I really appreciate the fruitcake element and I'll enjoy finishing the bottle. Maybe it's one of the 100 best beers brewed in the Southwest region; maybe it isn't. But it's definitely one of Texas' best 100 beers - not that that's saying a whole lot. I wouldn't mind having it again, and I'd readily send it to a trade partner or two. Well worth trying in spite of its limitations. If anything, it's nice to see a Texas brewery making an inspired stab at an English style winter warmer. This is one of the best English style brews I've had in ages.

Low B- (3.31)

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kojevergas from Colorado, Mar 06, 2015
Photo of samshaw
3.58/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Very dark brown, almost black. Slightly viscous. Medium tan head.

S: Notable bourbon aroma.

T: Very strong bourbon taste is overwhelming. Almost nothing else gets through. Alcoholic aftertaste is slightly unpleasant.

M: Lightly carbonated. Thickness is very apparent in the mouth.

O: Feels like drinking weak carbonated bourbon, with just a hint of more traditional beer flavor.

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samshaw from Texas, Feb 07, 2015
Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 447 ratings