Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer | Rahr & Sons Brewing Company

110 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter WarmerBourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer

Brewed by:
Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
Texas, United States

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Bitterbill on 05-28-2008

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 110 | Ratings: 407
Photo of mjwellman
3.78/5  rDev -7.4%
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

 438 characters

Photo of ThaneMcC
4.49/5  rDev +10%
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.

 509 characters

Photo of ccg
3.84/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

 629 characters

Photo of nizzle8287
5/5  rDev +22.5%
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.

 294 characters

Photo of Myotus
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
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.

 2,916 characters

Photo of pants678
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
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 bye on the end from the hops, I assume.

Cola-esque, pleasant.

 225 characters

Photo of tbryan5
4.41/5  rDev +8.1%
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!

 218 characters

Photo of Jlabs
4.04/5  rDev -1%
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

 190 characters

Photo of DeepBrew
3.65/5  rDev -10.5%
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.

 532 characters

Photo of JFCLACK
2.8/5  rDev -31.4%
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

 194 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.31/5  rDev -18.9%
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)

 4,282 characters

Photo of samshaw
3.58/5  rDev -12.3%
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.

 390 characters

Photo of Premo88
4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on-tap at Blackwater Draw, College Station, Texas ... poured into about a 13-oz. tulip/mini-snifter

L: black with small 1/4-inch head of tan foam that sticks hard at the top; up to the light, shows a clear super-dark amber/purple/brown ... beautifully clear; looks thin and light as it swirls around in the glass (i.e., it is NOT motor oil-like); no lacing with almost no collar

S: bourbon ... and more and more as it warms; oak, vanilla, lots of sweetness ... a big swirl about halfway down gives off a definite grain/sour grain note, then the bourbon really shines through again; some dark dried fruits, maybe prune/fig/date kind of things but really sweet; at times, almost fruity (as in not dark but lighter fruits)

T: wow ... loads of bourbon here ... almost all bourbon; in fact, there isn't as much vanilla/oak wood notes as just straight bourbon, only with no alcohol burn whatsoever; late into the glass starts to have a cumulative burn malt/burnt hops (?) bitterness that lingers in the aftertaste ... earthy bitterness

F: thin, slightly watery but has enough carbonation to help fill it out

O: great bourbon flavor; the barrels have completely taken over the base brew, which is perfect if you like the bourbon notes. not much else here, for the base brew is a relatively mild darker-malt brew. without question, an upgrade over the non-barrel-aged version.

 1,380 characters

Photo of jdshep
4.26/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

full review:
I could drink it over and over again.
My nasal cavity might have been malfunctioning though, because it was quite difficult for me to get the little aroma I did.
The flavor was sweet malts with the palate being creamy and soft. Great brew!

 343 characters

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle shared by ygtbsm94. Thanks Brad.

Mohagany body with a thin beige cap. Bourbon, oak, vanilla aroma. Sweet and chocolate tones followed by malt and vanilla. Light to medium in body with soft carbonation. Delicious.

 220 characters

Photo of maximum12
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%

Thanks to CaptCleveland for sending me this bottle, & winter seems to have arrived with a vengeance today (20 degree drop in temp!), so it’s time. 22 oz. bottle from 2013 split with my wife.

The pour is very dark, with enough carbonation to lend three or four of Lost Abbey’s brews. Big toffee & caramel aromas are rolling around with the vanilla & strong bourbon lent by the barrel. Nothing subtle here. Subtle is overrated.

Rahr Winter Warmer – Bourbon Barrel Aged is confusing my taste buds. The initial burst is almost English Barleywine in the toffee/caramel arena, with a stiffening shot of malty sweetness. The mid-section is all beautiful barrel, bringing warm vanilla & soft, sinus-warming bourbon notes. Wood is faint but pervasive, like a cartoon. The finish is clean & sweet. A touch thin, which might be its weak point, but contributes to a helluva drinkability asset. I drinka lotsa.

Color me surprised. Winter warmers are not among my top twenty favorite styles, but this one, combined with the barrel, sucked the skepticism right out of me. Excellent beer.

 1,084 characters

Photo of roblowther
3.66/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz bomber and the world is my oyster. It pours a complete black with a very dense, creamy light tan head that leaves small but stubborn lacing. The smell is cherries, tobacco, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Like Christmas at the Marlboro place. Taste is toasted bread, oddly gamey flavor. It's not bad but I'm not sure what it is and I'm not sure how to describe it. A bit smokey, a bit fatty, a bit spicy. The mouthfeel is creamy and just carbonated enough. Overall, I like this beer. It's not something I'm telling everyone to rush out and search for, but if it kisses you on the lips, for God's sake, kiss back.

 617 characters

Photo of RedSunRising
4.74/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 Bottle - A friend who goes to Texas brought it back for me, I traded him a Driftwood Singularity for it.

Appearance - Poured into a McAuslan Tulip. Deep Brown/black, a bit of red when held up to the light. A bit of particulate floating within. Two fingers of creamy beige-tan head.

Smell - Really, really good. Bourbon is the most prominent note, layered with sweet roasted-malt notes (chocolate, coffee, caramel/toffee, maybe hazelnut?) and oak. Alcohol is noticeable on the nose, but not overbearing. Slight smoke is noticeable as well.


Taste -

Mouthfeel -

Overall -

 609 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.5/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to jmgrub for sharing this one at Retsinis' tasting.

2013 vintage.

Pours a hazy dark brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, earth, wood, and slight bourbon aromas. Taste is much the same with caramel, earth, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of wood bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a fairly mild bourbon presence all around.

 614 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Deep brown. Small khaki head. Thin collar. Wispy.

Smell - Kinda fruity. Caramel. Vanilla. A bit of bourbon.

Taste - More of a straightforward caramel flavor. Toffee. Bourbon. Much more oak. Less fruity. Pretty sweet, but doesn't overwhelm for the small pour that I have.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Could be thicker. Oaky. Medium carbonation.

Overall - Tasted interesting at first, but got a little boring.

 459 characters

Photo of cpiray45
4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

My son brought this beer over for my dad and I to sample and it was very good. It had a dark and robust flavor and the company was great. The company probably made the beer better but I will drink this again. I would like to have this on tap before I really get sold.

 267 characters

Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.27/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a snifter glass.

I love the appearance of this beer; it's beautiful. The pour produces a three-finger thick, frothy, chewy, cream-colored head. Below lies a pitch black, thick-looking liquid that resembles oil and is very opaque.

Bourbon is prominent as one would expect on the nose. Some alcohol astringency accompanies this. Alongside these aromas, I get sweet dark malts and oak, and the overall smell is very thick, pungent and inviting. I guess this is part of why they call these warmers.

My taste buds are just as pleased as my nose was. The beer is immediately bourbony and oaken on my tongue and there are notes of vanilla over the silky, creamy mouthfeel. I also get some sweet maltiness, some rye spice and a slight chocolatey aftertaste.

As mentioned above, this beer is silky, creamy and smooth. There's low carbonation, a slight astringency at the finish and a warming sensation on the tongue.

I find this beer to be a great treat. The beer is smooth, balanced and not dominated by bourbon, and thus allows for other flavors to figure prominently.

 1,097 characters

Photo of TBoneJones
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Rahr bourbon barrell aged winter warmer
Into a stout glass: This pours a black stout with a light tan/ off-white sudsy head. Lacing cakes as it settles. Great sight.
Smells of chocolate/ toffee and dark cherry esters, some oak burn.
Tastes nice and smooth. Light finish but with such a smooth more chocolatey taste. Very easy sipping because it tastes so velvety and nice, also with a bourbon barrel-flavored mouth-burn imparts a chewiness and a flavor note that cones off as sweet black olive, and there's a vanilla note at the end that lends a fairly satisfying, dry sharpness, if not a bit chalky tasting. Still, a very solid brew from a style a rarely try, and a Texas brewer i dont often sample from. Underrated perhaps. Lives up to its name well as I sip this on a Texas evening with temps headed into the low 20's.

 823 characters

Photo of Can_has_beer
3.88/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Flying Saucer, 2013 vintage.

A- Dark brown with a thin, tan head.

S- Roasted malts and another aroma that I can only describe as alcohol. I definitely need better descriptors.

T- The bourbon is very subtle, and it blends in nicely. The main flavor component was chocolate. I mean, a HUGE amount of chocolate. Totally not a bad thing.

M- Smooth, medium body.

O- I was super surprised by the chocolate component on the palette. The bourbon melded very nicely. It was not overdone or too weak. Overall, a pretty tasty beer.

 536 characters

Photo of titty_mcbitty
4.26/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark brown almost black with a ruby tint when held to the light. I'm pouring into a miniature snifter glass and there is pretty much no head.

S: This beer smells awesome. Toffee, caramel, dark fruit (raisins?), peat, whiskey, and some kind of must.

T: interesting, but good. Peat, bourbon, malts, oak, light syrup, caramel, toffee, raisins and other dark fruits, and a hint of cocoa or chocolate. Pretty good.

M: The mouth is medium, I'd have to say. This isn't a bad mouth feel for a beer like this though. It actually fits perfectly. There's a little carb too.

O: A good brew. A lot like a scotch with some more caramel tones to it. Price is high though...

 669 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer from Rahr & Sons Brewing Company
4.08 out of 5 based on 407 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.