Review: Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

Central Waters says:

“The brewery’s most highly sought after beer, this imperial stout is aged to perfection in oak bourbon barrels. Look for this tasty treat to contain hints of bourbon and vanilla with roasted overtones that is sure to please any connoisseur’s palate. Serve this beer at cellar temperature from a snifter glass, and enjoy this expression of our passion for brewing.”

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout
Imperial Stout, 9.5% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

Ryan: Do you ever get behind on something you’ve been working on or want to do?  It’s pretty easy to happen.  You get bogged down with stuff at work.  You get behind on stuff around the house.  Well, I got behind on some of the beer I wanted to drink.  it’s not really a bad problem to have.  But it’s still a bit of a problem, especially when you want reviews to be timely and keep up with new releases.  I picked up a four pack of this bourbon barrel stout back in February along with Central Waters bourbon barrel barleywine and bourbon barrel imperial stout brewed with coffee.

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Each week when Karl, Andrew and I would talk about what beers we wanted to drink for our tastings, these would keep getting pushed back.  Usually there was a good reason for it like having a new beer out our a cellared beer that was due for a tasting.  But, these beers were pushed back nonetheless.  I’d been itching to give these a try and couldn’t wait any longer, so I went at it solo.

The first of the three offerings I tried was the bourbon barrel stout.  The commercial description left me with some pretty high expectations.  Central Waters does some great beer and to say this was their, “most sought after beer,” could have set the bar too high.  But this beer delivered, in the smoothest way possible.

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Pouring jet black with little to no head, the BBS gives off a very sweet and boozy nose of bourbon and chocolate brownie with hot fudge on top.  The chocolate was almost overpowering.  Not quite enough to drown out the bourbon, but still very strong.

Take a sip and you get a lot of chocolate up front and the bourbon on the back-end.  Straight out of the fridge the bourbon was – restrained, rather subtle.  That would change though as the beer warms.  The bourbon becomes far more pronounced.  A certain nuttiness emerged too.  Give it some more time and you get a bit of vanilla from the oak barrels used to age this beer.

This is a very well balanced bourbon barrel aged beer.  The bourbon is not as in-your-face as Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout or Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which may be from not drinking this ASAP.  Although, I wouldn’t think the bourbon would fade that much after 9 months in the cellar.

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Regardless, this is a high quality offering from Central Waters and is worth a trip to Wisconsin in late January and early February to snag.  Not to mention, this usually retails for about $11 a four pack which is a steal nowadays.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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