Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

453 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 453
Hads: 4,423
Avg: 4.5
pDev: 8%
Wants: 607
Gots: 1,965 | FT: 304
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: jplopez21 on 10-04-2013

Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 453 | Hads: 4,423
Photo of do_ob
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This beer is a monster of a barleywine. Everything about this thing is huge and intense. Smokey, oaky, sticky-sweet booze on the nose along with notes of vanilla and caramel. Heavy weight, and incredibly chewy. Cloyingly sweet, sticky syrupy bourbony choclate, smokey vanilla, roasted caramel and brown sugar..

Probably one of the most complex beers I've had. Everything about this one is just great. My first taste of BC anything, and this has got me itching to try more.

 473 characters

Photo of BIll_Currie
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

another hard to get beer for me but found it at great american beer festival. no surprise that it was awesome. too bad i could only get a taste. bourbon county anything is great

 177 characters

Photo of dfillius
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2013 vintage bottle reviewed on 9/12/14
A: Moderate pour yields lace of tan bubbles. More head please. Translucent dark brown liquid.
S: Raisin, bourbon, oak.
T: Sweet, grass and earth, not boozy! Slight bourbon tang in the finish. Nice job done with the barrel aging - the barrel didn't hijack this beer.
M: Full, rich, warming but not hot.
O: Delicious, a great barrel aged beer. Splendid restraint in the barrel characteristics.

 434 characters

Photo of Czarkazm
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle 9/24/2013. Pours an unattractive murky coca cola color, but holding the glass up to the light showcases a dark crimson body, littered with particles, being stirred up by numerous streams of carbonation heading towards a quickly dissipating tan colored head. This one has a lot going on! Absolutely dominating in the dark fruit department; dried figs, dates, raisins, dark chocolate covered cherry cordial, with vanilla, char, coconut, tobacco, burnt caramel, brown sugar, and it goes on and on. Huge on the palate, full body, sticky, well balanced goodness. Taste has more going on than the aroma. Still get a small amount of the booze but it has matured very nicely. Lots of the dark fruit characteristics still come through but the flavor brings out more of the barrel notes - bourbon, oak, vanilla, coffee roast, dark chocolate fudge. BCBS is definitely present within this beer without calling for too much attention. An enormous, sweet, complex barleywine with a ton of barrel character.

 1,008 characters

Photo of MichaelNeelsen
4.37/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle stored for almost two years and poured at home.

L: Deep red, dark amber blackness. The head is there initially, but soon is gone completely. This could be due to the maturation? Definitely some sediment at the bottom.

S: Bourbon warmth. Maybe a little fig or raisin.

T: Really nice bourbon flavor with dried fruits, apricots, plums, lots of malt. Incredible warmth.

F: Wonderful smoothness that wasn't there when the beer was younger. It floats on your tongue, closely approaching the "T-1000 liquid metal" feel of Surly Darkness. At the bottom of the glass, at the end of the drink, you definitely encounter that trademark Bourbon County tackiness.

O: This beer is WAY too sweet when it's young. But after aging a couple years, it was wonderful. I can't wait to try one after 5 years.

 802 characters

Photo of SaisonRichBiere
4.63/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage poured into a snofter.

Pours dark brown with a reddish garnet hue, and despite trying to pour smoothly, some chunks of sediment made it into the glass. A few bubbles accompany the pour, but almost no carbonation visibly hanging around. Smell is strong caramel, vanilla, and tobacco, with hints of bourbon essence and oak. No tingly heat on the nose, but plenty of rich aromas. Taste is WOW. A lot in this. Rich, creamy, dark caramel dominates, chewy malt sugars, milk chocolate, dried dark fruit richness, date sugars, vanilla, Demerara, oak, and even a cedary twang creeps in. Feel is appropriately thick and still, but a sloshing around in the mouth yields some fizzy bubbles. Leggy and lingering on the palate. Overall, an absolute classic. Extremely smooth with some age, a great sipper, as the flavors come out as it warms.

 851 characters

Photo of IvoryFoxhole
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle of 2013 vintage given to me by friend last week, so cannot vouch for storage. Poured into Tekus glass.

Barely a half-finger head that quickly dissipates, leaving a tiny ring. Beer is a deep, leathery cordovan.

Smell immediately after pouring is dominated by bourbon. You can also pick up dried fruits. Vanilla and coffee come in as it warms.

Taste immediately after pouring is the dominant malt profile, some bourbon, some plum/prune. Very little alcohol detected despite monster ABV. Vanilla and coffee come in as it warms.

Well-balanced, medium-bodied, maybe closer to full; practically no carbonation to speak of, a small amount of alcohol burn. Sweet, but not cloyingly so.

Definitely a relative to the BC stout because of the barrelling, but it has its own character. I'm not a huge barleywine fan, but this is a special beer

 848 characters

Photo of Jovial_Libations
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 09/17/2013. Poured into a tulip glass.

L - Dark brown, rust colored with little carbonation.
S - Oak, Bourbon, Vanilla, Caramel
T - Sweet but balanced. Raisin, fig, vanilla, oak notes.
F - Surprisingly balanced, not too full-bodied or thin.

Overall I prefer this to BCBS. While BCBS tastes execellent fresh or on draught this one has aged pleasantly after 2 years in bottle. BCBS does not age well IMO, but this one could actually handle another year or two.

 474 characters

Photo of SoCal_Matt
4.15/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2014 vintage poured into a Teku glass.

A - Pours a dark brown with just a bit of carbed head, reminiscent of cola.

S - Bourbon, sweet dark fruits, a bit of vanilla.

T - Mostly bourbon, with a fruity sweetness like candied raisins/figs/dates.

F - Perfectly thick and viscous, although a bit thinner than BCBS.

O - Solid BA barleywine, but I was expecting a bit more. A bit too much of the sweet, dark fruits to me.

 418 characters

Photo of LADaveBN
4.69/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

From draft. Nose is toffee, bourbon, burnt caramel. Taste is bourbon, a bit of oak, hints of vanilla. Subtle sweetness. Very nice. Finish is chocolaty and roasty with a little bit of alcohol burn. IMO, very similar to FW DDBA flavor profile, but not nearly as subtle. This takes those flavors and punches you in the face with them. Overall, outstanding. My first time trying a Bourbon County offering and it did not disappoint.

 436 characters

Photo of ljjpowers
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

MMMM (like Homer Simpson drinking a ‘Duff’). Barley Wine. And an aged barley wine at that. The nose gives off the classic English style in its truest form. Rather than the chocolate/coffee/vanilla/bourbon dominant concoction indicative of most other Bourbon County brews, though, this particular batch is more sophisticated; you smell dates, roasted malt, and brown sugar and taste these same components as well. Caramely barley wine is absolutely stacked with sweetness and the style makes these beautiful flavors more perceptible than they are in the context of a dark stout. A little more carbonated. A little more sophisticated. A little better. Yes. A little better than BCBS. The barley wine is the perfect partner in crime to Bourbon County with its light booze and oak.

 781 characters

Photo of BigBadBeerSnob
4.67/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 bottle drank on 6/23/15. This beer is absolutely phenomenal and although I don't typically like BA barley wines, this is easily my favorite 12oz bottle from the BCS line. Pours very thin and with a little more head than I'd like but the taste is great. Third times the charm on these barrels cuz there isn't much heat.

 323 characters

Photo of Shaler_Tate
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I am not a huge barleywine guy, but this one was spectacular. There was so much barrel character and the complexity of the flavor was intense. Mine was a 2014 so it was still drinking a little hot, but the overal balance was still great.

 237 characters

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

look: Very dark brown. Some cola highlights. Sparse tan head.
smell: Rich caramel, bourbon, vanilla.
taste: Rich and decadent. Wow. Popping with caramel, vanilla, bourbon. An interesting slightly bitter finish to answer the brown sugar, dark fruit sweetness.

 259 characters

Photo of jow_42
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 Vintage poured into a Stone RIS tulip glass

A - Rich, ruby red appearance w a half finger of khaki head. Super tight bubbles.

S - Wow. Massive bourbon, dark fruits - cherries, plums, figs. Tons of caramel, toffee, some vanilla from the barrels. Very "desserty".

T - Amazing, especially for an 11% beer. Sweet dark fruits up front - cherries, plums. Some caramel and toffee, with bourbon on the finish. Stupid easy drinking for the ABV. So darn good.

M - Full bodied, velvety, low carbonation.

O - for my money and availability this is the best BABW I've had. 100/100.

 586 characters

Photo of Moose90
3.97/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2014 bottle, tasted in July of 2015

A — Pours a deep ruby hued brown into the glass, actually quite dark for a BW. Little bit black around the edges, there is a puffy, but quickly fading off-white colored head. Looks quite thick.

S — Smells very boozy and rich, notes of vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, caramel, oak, and bourbon.

T — Much like the nose, though quite a bit sweeter, lots of caramel, vanilla, sugar, plum, fig, bourbon, oak, chocolate.

M — Full bodied, sticky and long finish, hot.

O — Good overall, I kind of expected more, but this is still a good beer.

 585 characters

Photo of Zonk
4.53/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A little too much heat (odd since it is actually lower ABV than the BCBS )for me but still a really nicely made Barleywine. Lots of fig plum and dried fruits. A bit port like.

 177 characters

Photo of Budlum
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

The top of barrel-aged barleywine. Strong charred vanilla with dark fruits and smooth smoky bourbon. Wonderful nose and velvet feel with a small hint of alcohol for 12% ABV.

 173 characters

Photo of -Rick
4.69/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A dark brown/red look, this beer has an amazing smell/taste. Bourbon, vanilla, caramel, toffee. There are so many well balanced tastes in this beer. One of the best I have tried.

 181 characters

Photo of emyers
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a Great Lakes snifter. Bottled on date 9-23-13

Appearance: Pours cloudy dark brown with a very thin off-white lacing which dissipates quickly. Similarly to King Henry it looks somewhat lifeless.

Smell: Bourbon, tons of dark fruit - raisin, fig, plum - oak, vanilla, hints of coffee and chocolate. Extraordinary complexity. Tons of depth. Despite everything that is going on it melds beautifully.

Taste: Everything suggested by the smell and then some. Very big bourbon presence up front (which is extremely smooth, virtually no alcohol heat) which transitions into fig, raisin, chocolate covered cherries. Once again just a touch of coffee presence from the residual BCBS in the barrels. Nowhere near enough to come off anything like a stout but enough to add another layer to an already complex barleywine. Finish is more bourbon and dark fruit with a touch of alcohol heat.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, smooth, viscous. Very low carbonation.

Overall: After King Henry I had pretty enormous expectations for this beer, and it was exactly what I hoped it would be. Not quite at level of King Henry, but captures all of the components that were present. Another example of Goose Island's world class skill with barrels.

 1,246 characters

Photo of Awolter
4.95/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2014 release

Granted this is my first barrel aged barleywine, it seemed a bit more like a stout to me. I loved it though!

Great smell, fantastically smooth. Drank at cellar temp, and no hint of booze the entire way. Can't wait to see how this one develops.

 258 characters

Photo of EveningCordial
4.74/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Dank dark fruits like raisons, cherries, and plums on the nose, along with a nice faint bourbon. Taste is outstanding for the style. Again, dark fruits with just enough bourbon to make this a great barleywine. Nice notes of vanilla, oak, and tobacco. Perhaps my favorite BW.

 278 characters

Photo of apasternak
3.5/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Not enough bourbon, too much sticky sweetness. Most people I know point to this when I say I don't really like barleywines, but this beer just does not live up to the hype for me.

 179 characters

Photo of mabermud
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle poured into a 15.5 oz brandy snifter.

Look: Pitch black body that is more dark brown around the edges. The darker mocha head is thin and very fine. The initial pour created a smallish, skinny head that quickly retreated to a thin film over the top, then to a slim halo around the glass. Lacing is slick.
Smell: Bourbon barrel, cherries, prunes, vanilla, bakers chocolate, molasses, and Big Red chew...Very rich aroma.
Taste: Big. Bold. Robust. The taste follows the nose. Among the other tastes, dark fruit is apparent. This becomes syrupy as it warms.
Feel: Thick and silky in the mouth. Lower level of carbonation. The lather is very thin and fades away smoothly.

Overall - A superbly crafted, fine piece of art.

 754 characters

Photo of manfromanotherplace
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

amazingly complex beer, its staggering that goose island continue to improve year after year on these world class beers. the barleywine definitely distinguishes it from the original stout and its simply the best barleywine ive ever tasted.

 239 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
99 out of 100 based on 453 ratings.