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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.

4,046 Ratings
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(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 4,046
Reviews: 446
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.17%
Wants: 491
Gots: 1,760 | FT: 293
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,046 | Reviews: 446
Reviews by BEERschlitz:
Photo of BEERschlitz
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Jeffo
4.28/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Doopie brought out a couple of these a few weeks back. Thanks for sharing dude!

From a bottle into a snifter
Bottled 24 September 2013
Drunk with King Henry for comparative purposes

APPEARANCE: Pours a 1 ½ finger, slightly looser, crackly and fizzy, foamy, light tan head with half decent retention. Head quickly fades to a half wisp and ring. Clear deep maroon red or seal brown with a stream of carbonation up the middle. Wisp and ring eventually vanish making it look rather flat by the end of the show. Much like KH but perhaps a touch lighter in color.

SMELL: Bourbon, oak, lots of vanilla and caramel, with some milk chocolate as well. Notes of coconut as well. Bold and impressive for sure. Really lovely. Only the touch of pure chocolate in KH sets it apart. Excellent here.

TASTE: Oak, bourbon, notes of toffee up front, then lots of wood flavors and some alcohol at the swallow. Bold and lingering finish of bourbon, wood, caramel and toffee sweetness, dark fruits and spicy alcohol. Notes of milk chocolate and vanilla from the barrel make an appearance long after the swallow as well. Really good stuff. Enjoyable for sure.

PALATE: Medium body and medium levels of carbonation. A touch lighter on the palate perhaps, but very creamy smooth, surprisingly so, goes down fine with a little scratch and finishes rather sticky. Some heat lingers, but nothing off-putting. A touch lighter than desired perhaps, but plenty creamy and smooth. Same as KH here.

OVERALL: This was really good. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed this one just as much as King Henry, and I wasn’t sure that would be the case. To be sure, people have said that KH has fallen off a cliff, but the bottle we opened was still in excellent shape and we enjoyed it immensely. Compared to the King, this one has more oak and toffee in the flavor, while it is also smoother and creamier in the feel. KH in a bit sharper in the barrel and alcohol flavors at this point and there is a hint of bitter pure chocolate that lends some nice balance. In any case, this is a quality barleywine and I wish Goose Island could somehow produce their stout with the same creamy feel that they’ve pulled off here. Good stuff, and would gladly drink more. Cheers Doops!

Photo of ADU
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Incredibly flavorful baelwywine -- tastes strongly of carmel and/or molasses.

Photo of fgmiele
4.29/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours rich mahogany with a minimal cream colored head that dissipates quickly. Thick and unfiltered look. Sep 24 2013 bottling date. Nose is malt, caramel, whiskey and cigar with background notes of brown sugary sweetness. Taste follows the nose..slow and sweet with just a little heat. Flavor is buttery and rich. Mouthfeel thick and gratifying. Overall, an outstanding barleywine with a lot to offer for the style.

Photo of minterro
4.66/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served as the start to the goose island themed tasting (we did start with Fred from Hair of the Dog). Short notes from 7/27/14. Bottled 9/17/13. Served in a snifter.

A&S: The beer is a murky brown color. Pieces of unfiltered specks float around the bottom of this beer. No head present when poured. The aroma was amazing, it was the kind of smell you wish could be stuck in your nose all day. Caramel tones blended with raisins, sugary belgian candy sweetness, and boozy bourbon tones. Really about as good as I have seen it.

T&M: This beer was extremely complex, transforming and opening up continuously as it sat in the glass. It started with a characteristic that most decent barleywines share dark fruit tones. The dark fruits were primarily raisins but later on I think I got some plums. Towards the end I was odd enough picking up on some dark chocolate flavors. No real hop presence. The carbonation quantity was excellent, just right to make it not completely dead, but not too much to make it any bit sharp. Body wasn't as thick as it could have been, but I was for sure more than just a medium thickness.

Overall: The was the opener for the afternoon and I have to say I like it the best! All three (this one, the cherry rye, and the coffee) of the goose island specialties were spectacular, but for me, this one took the cake. I would be interested to see how this beer develops, however it would be a tough task considering it was so epic at this stage. One of my favorite beers I have had the pleasure to try this year.

Photo of CHickman
4.62/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 9/17/2013: Pours black looking very dark brown color with a 1 finger creamy dark tan head was full of tiny bubbles and faded on the fast side, leaving minimal spotty lacing and a little ring around the edge on top.

Smells of bourbon, molasses, dark fruit, caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, red wine, bread, strong sweetness and booze; it’s very sweet with a mix of rum, bourbon and alcohol soaked fruit, similar to old almost rotting fruit or some really moist bread pudding soaked in rum and syrup. The booze is quite noticeable in a good way, and this is very complex and interesting to inhale.

Tastes follows the nose and is very sweet overall, and yet very rich and flavorful. Like the aroma, it’s a mix of bourbon, molasses, dark fruits, caramel, brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, red wine like an oaky Merlot, toasted bread or wet grains, dark rum, herbs, alcohol soaked fruit, syrup, and more bourbon or booze. The sweetness is almost cloying, but the booze kicks it into another gear with the oaky and vanilla notes making it really, really tasty and complicated, getting different flavors as it warms up. It is similar buy yet very different to the other Bourbon County Brand brews and the most dynamic flavored barleywine that I’ve ever had with so many taste variables that it’s too much to process. The ABV brings some heat, but it’s mild and works well overall considering it’s 12%.

Mouthfeel is very thick and chewy, literally a meal in a bottle, with a creamy slickness as it slides over the tongue with very light carbonation and a slight bitterness that almost seems hoppy or like a burnt coffee that trails off very sweet like toffee and brown sugar sprinkled in bourbon, ending on a sweet fade that warms you up as it settles in. Each sip provides a new twist on the sweet combo of fruit and booze, making it different every time.

Overall a damn fine beer, extremely tasty with an amazing array of sweet flavors that kept me guessing after every sip, which made this fun and very enjoyable to drink. It’s almost too sweet but manages to never cross the line and keep your palate preoccupied to notice the booze, and any fan of the Bourbon County Brand of beers would love this malty treat. Glad I was able to get my hands on a bottle as I really enjoyed it.

10/1/14-had it on tap in NYC last night and it was very tasty, complex and quite enjoyable again. Looks were much nicer on tap with a head that actually stuck around for a while, leading to strong boozy complex nose and rich, sweet flavors that were so complicated that each sip was slightly different. The heat was ever present again, making for a real nice slow sipper.

Photo of cbutova
3.89/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Have had this in the fridge pretty much since November 2013. For some reason I am in the mood for it tonight. I have had this on one other occasion side by side with Artic Devil and many other Barleywines.

A- Poured to a tulip glass from the 12oz bottle with a dark brown body that appears pretty much black in the glass. Small light mocha tan head to about half a finger with a silky texture. Small ring leaves legs and only a few spots of lace stick behind.

S- Nose brings a mix of Bourbon whiskey barrels and a sweet, caramel Barleywine base. Hints of roast, toasted malts and oak wood. Vanilla sweetness from the barrel is high but there is also a slight soy sauce hint in the backdrop. Noticeable lack of alcohol (none at all) but also not the strongest aroma overall.

T- As the nose suggested, very smoothed out and it must have spend a considerable amount of time resting in the barrels. Major notes are caramel, raisin dark fruits, diluted whiskey (not in a bad way), vanilla sweetness and oak. Hints of coca-cola, soy sauce, oxidation, pepper, apple and something like banana (vanilla is a similar ester).

MF- Thick and oily/syrupy body. Texture is slick but somewhat creamy. Carbonation is perhaps a tiny bit high for me but not enough to disturb the flavor. Finishes with a moderate warmth.

Tons of credit to this beer for its super smooth flavor and lack of alcohol for 12%. One thing that I find a bit off-putting is the coca-cola/soy sauce hints that come and go. Great fresh whiskey and oak vanilla sweetness atop thick caramel and raisin.

Photo of dbrauneis
4.33/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Note: 2014 Vintage, 11.7% ABV, Bottled 24 Sep 2014

A: Pours an almost opaque yet still clear very dark brown (approaching black) in color with moderate to heavy amounts of active visible carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass along the edges and a hint of dark cola brown highlights. The beer has a half finger tall fizzy foamy dark tan head that slowly reduces to a medium to large sized mottled patch of thin film and a large patch of thick film with a thick ring at the edges of the glass.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of caramel and toffee malts with a moderate amount of sweetness, brown sugar, molasses, and bourbon. Moderate aromas of vanilla and oak with just a hint of alcohol.

T: Upfront there is a moderate to strong flavor of toasted, caramel, and toffee malts with a moderate amount of brown sugar + molasses sweetness. That is followed by moderate to strong flavors of bourbon, vanilla, and oak. Light flavors of alcohol and just a touch of coffee-like bitterness in the finish.

M: Full bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with a moderate amount of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: Truly a great example of a Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine, a style that sometimes is just too sweet for my palate to enjoy but this is one I would gladly drink over and over again. Wonderful complexity and balance to the flavors.

Photo of caskstrength
2.74/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a dark brown. Or black. Probably black. looks like a stout

smells are pruney molasses with brown sugar. some oak/vanilla from the barrel, but too much malty brown sugar.

Damn, this is malty, sweet, and pruney. the other things I like are in the back. things like tobacco, leather, oak, coconut. But they're not driving the car. They're in the trunk.

Too gooey on the mouthfeel. But that's how bourbon county rolls. When tobacco and leather and barrel juice cut the gooey-ness, it works. It doesn't work here. It's like the yeast gave up 1/2 way through fermentation, and the 3rd use barrels didn't have enough bite left to cut the residual sugars.

I have one more bottle. I'll open it in 2017 and use it on my pancakes.

Photo of jlindros
4.51/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Been saving this for a special day, and this was a long and very annoying day, so figured it was time to crack it. I hope it's as good as everyone makes it out to be.

Pours a small fizzy head that disappears almost instantly, typical for this high abv, with a super dark molasses brown colored beer with the faintest hint of light barely sneaking through.

Nose explodes out of the gate, tons of great malts, reddish candy malts mostly, at first... then big chewy caramel, molasses, then into toffee, even a little nutty cocoa, big sweet candy malts without being too candy like. Then barrel, plenty of nice barrel, some vanilla oak and a hint buttery oak, but lots and lots of bourbon barrel juice. It has the typical booze warmth aroma, but nothing too crazy.

Taste, anticipation... comes on rich, layered goodness with big sweet malts and bourbon, also bourbon and big sweet malts. the malts are the biggest layer, and varied layers of it, sweet candy and plenty of the candy malts, with lots and lots of caramel as well, varying darkness on the caramel, reddish malts too, and a mild nutty toffee. Booze comes in fairly hot too, with some warming almost tingly booze, but a clean booze. Next up is the bourbon, plnety of rich bourbon barrel juice, with the nice vanilla smoothed oak bourbon. Also in there is some candied raisins, brandy soaked like candied raisin and hint fig. Finish is smooth with a big butterscotch and toffee feel, little nutty, big candy like and tons of caramel lingering, a big caramel toffee butterscotch candy flavor lingering, with a bit more vanilla barrel, candied raisins, and bourbon.

Mouth is big bodied, rich, smooth, but somehow not syrupy, very mild warming booze for the abv, decent carb that isn't as much as I probably want and maybe the only thing keeping it from a 5.

Overall very nice, delicious with great malts, great dark fruits, nice warming booze that fits well, great bourbon and barrel, great overall beer, but not quite as orgasmic as most people make it out to be. I really think it will age quite well though and I can't wait to try it in a couple years.

Photo of Vixie
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Looks to be dark red as it is being poured, then looks black in the glass until you hold it up to the light. then you see it is a very dark ruby red color. Very nice looking, with just a small tan head that quickly dissipated to a little lacing across the top and on the side of the glass.

Smell is dark fruit, like raisin and prune, with hints of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar.

Taste is fruity, like dried dark fruit, mainly raisin and prune. There's come caramel and toffee, brown sugar, and Belgian candy sugar. The alcohol is mainly present as a warming at the finish.

The feel is smooth and silky, feels nice going down.

This is a really nice beer, it is a touch on the boozy side, but full of flavor, and hides the ABV well. It is a bit easier to drink than regular BCS, and a worthy member of the Bourbon County family.

Photo of Damian
4.7/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drank from a 355 ml - 12 fl. oz. bottle purchased at Pemberton Farms, Cambridge, MA
Served in a snifter

Review #950

A frothy, one-finger tall, cappuccino colored crown topped the shimmery, garnet-tinged mahogany liquid. The head quickly dissipated to a thin ring. A few small dots of lacing trickled down the glass.

The aroma was fantastic. Overtly boozy and sweet with intense bourbon and brown sugar notes. Very malt-centric and almost candy-like. Super fruity. Cherry and raspberry notes were apparent. Luxardo Maraschino cherry juice came to mind. Somewhat spicy. Fragrant vanilla bean notes were detectible as well.

The flavor profile was also incredibly rich and intense. Sweet and boozy with strong brown sugar notes. Touch of chocolate and roast. This beer is all about the malts. Loads of caramel and toffee. Quite spicy and very berry-like. As in the nose, notes of Maraschino cherry juice came through strong. Vanilla was also quite noticeable. The finish contained strong notes of bourbon and oak. Boozy, but in a really good sort of way.

Outstanding mouthfeel. The liquid was thick, rich and almost chewy. The beer turned super creamy and smooth on the palate. An ultra fine, fluffy, tongue blanketing effervescence gave the beer a perfect frothy quality. After every sip, the liquid left a sticky film on my lips.

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale is an intense, bourbon-forward beer that would make for a perfect after dinner sipper on a cold winter night. Even though the barrels used to age this beer had previously aged two beers before it, they still lent an immense amount of bourbon flavor and complexity. I looking forward to seeing how this beer evolves with time.

Photo of kojevergas
3.55/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2013 vintage 355ml brown glass bottle with classy iconic label design and branded black pry-off pressure cap acquired at a Colorado bottle shop and served into an Odell stem-tulip/snifter hybrid glass in me friend's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, CO Reviewed live. Expectations are sky-high given its current 100 rating and my past experiences with Bourbon County Brand Stout. 12.1% ABV confirmed. Bottled 17 Sep 13.

Served chilled and allowed to come to room temperature. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a half finger head of khaki colour which recedes fully inside of ten seconds. That's a bit disappointing. Based on its brief appearance, the head was fairly creamy and nicely thick. No lacing, but it does leave a cognac-esque clear streak on the sides of the glass when you tilt it. I've seen that before in boozy beers like Utopias, and it's an effect I quite like.

Body colour is a dark murky opaque brown. Not real vibrant or open, but certainly distinguished. No floating yeast particles are visible. I'm looking forward to trying it. Not unique, but the boozy legs make it special to me. There are no egregious flaws here.

Sm: English oak, bourbon-derived vanilla, soaked wood barrel notes, dark malts, and some pleasant boozy notes that evoke a fine liquor. Sherry wine, maybe prunes or dates, some type of leather, and English brown malts.

I do worry that the barrel is overwhelming the base beer. It's not unique or special, and I did expect better, but I'm optimistic.

No yeast character or hop character is detectable.

T: The duration of flavour is quite brief, with average depth and intensity of flavour for the style. Tobacco, rich raisin, prunes/dates, a leathery note, sherry wine, well-integrated oak, faint vanilla, and soaked wood. Marshmallow. Caramel. Some faint wet cardboard notes are present - indicative almost of oxidation. The bourbon isn't as fully developed or complementary here as it is in bourbon county brand stout. Certainly on the sweeter side.

Pretty well balanced for what it is. The build is nowhere near as complex or subtle as I expected given it's a bourbon county brew.

Constructively, it seems like the base beer wasn't all that great to begin with, and the beer relies on the bourbon barrel as a crutch rather than a means of accentuating already present characteristics. Additionally, amplitude is quite low - the flavours don't blend together seamlessly but rather feel distinct and separate. The whole is not more than the sum of its parts.

Mf: Coarser and more dry than anticipated. Rough; it drags on the palate. Very chewy. Thick and full-bodied. A biteen syrupy. It's got what I'd call a pleasant boozy warmth. Well-carbonated.

Not oily, gushed, or astringent.

Dr: She's a sipper, alright. It demands to be appreciated with care. It's an armchair beer. I'm glad I have a few more bottles, but this isn't amongst the best in the style. A solid barleywine across the board, but I'm not sure I'll buy it again. I was ready to love this when I opened it, but unfortunately the execution wasn't quite up to par with Goose Island's best offerings.

Low B

Photo of BEERchitect
4.56/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Its with incredible resplendence that Goose Island even dares to follow up their King Henry that shared elements of both their famed Bourbon County Stout and their second-use Pappy 23 barrels. Yet, there's more life to the ale as Bourbon Barrel Brand Barleywine is borne.

Its pour would be easily mistaken for stout because of its black and ominous body, except for its tawny low-lights around the edges. As its initial pour yeilds a rich mocha-laden blanket of foam, the eventual collapse leaves the ale with an appetizing brandy-like appearance, equipped with streaming legging and all.

Its aromas are a culmination of all things both sweet and savory- black-strap molasses, toffee, maple, honey and sorghum all play a part in the beer's malty scent. Light coffee, nutty aromas, and a rich "umami" tone of something soy sauce and fudge wrapping around the sweetness. A trailing fruit liqueur note, similar of brandy, rum and bourbon all contribute to the beer's character and rich scent.

Its lavish taste is sultry, decadent and seductive with its very first scent as its booze-infused flavors of maple syrup, molasses, chocolate and coffee play equal parts in the beer's early complexity. After that, the taste really opens up to share savory port wine and aged sherry tones as the rich and "meaty" taste takes hold. Adding a sprinkle of salt to amplifiy its taste, a flavor of soy sauces joins with the judge-like richness for a taste that's spot on with the aroma. A trailing bitterness in lightly coffee-like and timidly signals its closure.

Silky smooth and lightly peppery, the ale's texture opens with a creamy film that coats the palate with a cling of sweetness. Its middle retains much of its richness while the mild acidity of seemingly wine lightens the body as the carbonation recedes. Finishing like port, its long linger of boozy sweetness is satisfying and rewarding to the palate like fine dessert or cognac.

The ale is alive with a tremendous amount of savory sweet notes- appealing to all that is sweet, earthy, boozy and salty all at once. Beers like this might as well be like catnip to a savory fiend like me.

Photo of zeledonia
3.8/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Tasted 1 May 2014.

Pours deep brown, slightly reddish-brown at the edges. Just a thin layer of yellowish-tan head, gone pretty quick, not much lacing. Not terrible, but exactly stunning.

Smell is bright, full of fruit and whiskey and sweetness. It's a bit two-toned, not as integrated as I'd like, with the barrel and the barleywine striking slightly different notes. Plums, figs, tobacco. Pretty darn nice, but lacking the pop of the best -bal barleywines.

Taste is, again, good but could be better. It's harsh, which is expected for such a high-ABV beer, but it's harsh in ways that it doesn't need to be. More barrel, more bourbon bite, than I'd like. Deeply fruity. The pieces don't quite fit together, and the sharpness knocks it down a few notches for me.

Feel is decent. The occasional sip feels flat, but the majority are carbonated enough. Medium-bodied, kinda heavy and chewy.

I feel like I'm trashing this beer by not giving it lights-out ratings. But it's not a lights-out beer. Not like Sucaba, or Arctic Devil, or King Henry, or MoAS. Biggest flaw is the imperfect integration of the base and the barrel. It's good, not great.

Photo of stakem
4.36/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thanks Steve for the hookup on a 12oz bottle of this. Poured into a matching bourbon county snifter the brew appears dark brown in color with a fine ring of clarity around the edges. A tan finger is quick to collapse holding with a fine line around the perimeter.

The aroma is sweet of caramelized sugars: toffee, molasses, brown sugar, vanilla, creme brûlée, oak, raisins and prunes. Quite dark and fruity smelling with alcohol ever-present but integrated nicely.

Based off the aroma alone, one would think this is gonna be a sticky sweet brew. Luckily the residual sugars are tempered by the alcohol and a bit of hoppy bitterness. Flavors of raw oak blend into raisons, dates, figs, prunes...a whole gauntlet of dark fruity alcohol. Molasses, toffee, caramel, vanilla, slightly dusty wood and earthen to herbal bitter hops round the flavor profile out.

This is a medium to fuller bodied brew with a moderate amount of carbonation. A boozy sipper that is quite complex and certainly worth seeking out. Considering the amount of bourbon county stout that was/is made, I hope this means this brew will see greater volume/distribution in the future. This offering comes out with the bar set unreasonably high falling in the wake of King Henry...I wont draw any comparisons to that brew but wow is this good and everything I hoped it would be. Damn, I would like more of this.

Photo of Flight317
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

This one is beyond good. An easy drinking brew with a sweet dark fruit taste. Very limited carbonation. I could drink this and still wonder if it contained alcohol even though it was laid to rest in a bourbon barrel. If you like barleywines this is it!

Photo of ryan1788a5
3.63/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

12oz bottle poured into a large snifter.

A: Deep chestnut brown. The tan head is knocked out almost as soon as the pour ends. Small, spotty lacing.

S: Dark caramel, molasses, malt syrup, tootsie rolls. Wildberry and sweet cherry esters. Whiff of bourbon and faint wood.

T: Wave of chewy dark caramel. Fudgey tootsie roll tastes. Over the top sweetness. Blackstrap molasses. Brown sugar. Berry esters. Bourbon and faint wood build toward the back end, but are still no match for the malt sweetness. Blackstrap molasses and faint bourbon on the finish.

M: Huge syrupy malt body. Thick, round, and smooth in a slick sort of way. Warming alcohol. Little to no carbonation.

O: I may be in the minority here, but this was just too much for me. As with everything in the Bourbon County series, this beer has a massive malt body. However, there is no attempt at balance, and the malt sweetness is allowed to run amok. It builds to near sickly, cloying levels. At times it feels as though I'm drinking straight molasses. Even a bourbon barrel is no match, and it slowly drowns in all the sweetness. I was ready to be done halfway through the bottle. Not worth the hype or the price tag at all.

Photo of brentk56
4.24/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a fudge brown, just a shade lighter than a stout; the modest head fades rather quickly. thought the lacing is leggy and viscous

Smell: Caramel and Bourbon, with tones of sugar cake, dates, coconut and vanilla

Taste: The closest thing to a Bourbon sundae I have come across, with Bourbon-infused caramel sauce topping vanilla ice cream; hints of coconut, milk chocolate and dates; the finish is treacly, with some ethanol

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: This is a very nice beer though a bit too sweet when first bottled; let it settle for a year or so and it will mature nicely

Photo of wordemupg
4.47/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

355ml bottle poured into tulip 21/10/14, big thanks to alfie for the bottle

A dark brownish maroon, thick looking liquid, just a short lived finger of foam and it leaves no lace and I suppose that's to be expected at this strength, some wide legs try to form on the side of the glass

S plenty of soft caramel, toffee, and butterscotch, smells sweet, vanilla, bourbon soaked wood, faint chocolate, maple fudge comes out strong, brown sugar, and a hint of candied cherry, a little booze but well hidden for 12+%, smells great

T more of the same really but I was expecting it to be a little sweeter after smelling it, more bourbon and booze but it doesn't hinder, faint dark roast notes work well for it just hiding out in the background

M thick and syrupy, almost foams up much too my surprise but it stays creamy, a little heat going down but you feel more in you chest and head then your throat, my lips are stuck together, lots of wood and caramel lingering

O beautiful beer, great base, the barrel choice gives just a hint of stout popping here and there, plenty going on, a mellow sipper that could injure me if I had a couple more bottles

this one lives up to the hype, I wish I had more to age but I'm just stoked I got to try it, drinking well for a big young BW, well done Goose Island

Photo of DoubleJ
4.77/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The Bourbon County line has become fashionable again. Heck, even the standard Bourbon County Stout has become popular among beer geeks and hoarders alike. So, what does one do when a barleywine is aged in barrels previously used for the stout? You sample it. I was lucky to spot a tap at Out of the Park Pizza, even if a 6 ounce pour would cost $12. Sometimes you just have to make the opportunity. On to the beer:

It's dark ruby brown and not topped with much of a head. Instead, it yields a few glossy legs around the glass (now we're being haute classe!). But that's nothing compared to the rest of this story. The aroma is very sweet, and in many ways resemble the classic Bourbon County Stout. There's no shortage of sweet bourbon, molasses, raisins, and toasted sugar, suck it all in.

Greatness is further achieved through a taste that few beers can match. Full flavored, but still balanced and sophisticated. The taste of raisins, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, sherry/oxidation make their mark and make the beer intriguing to keep you coming back to your glass for more. Although it's full bodied, the texture is very smooth, and to a great surprise the alcohol is hidden as well as any beer with a content this high (that's high praise right there!).

At the end of my glass, I felt like a relived my first moment with Bourbon County Stout. A thick, succulent big beer that I fear cannot get much better than it stands. At this stage, only Old Ruffian and J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale can compete with this monster of a barleywine. As a bonus, this becomes my favorite new beer of 2014. Amazing!

Photo of Slatetank
4.45/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this particular bottle in a four pack $6 per 12oz at wegmans, enjoyed cellar temp in stemmed glass.

The color is the deepest shade of tobacco brown with mostly opaque clarity, cascade when poured with thick crema type head which recedes to a ring of ultra fine beads with carbonation visibly rising toward the surface. The smell is rich with malt aromas - toffee and sherry-like scents meld with bourbon, vanilla and light cocoa and the woody ester blends with the dark caramel but the alcohol is very mild, actually it is almost not apparent at all. This barleywine is dense with malt and sweet but not cloying with light fruity yeast elements like fig -chewy bot still moderately dry with mild carbonation and woody tannin in the finish.

This is seriously complex! whew, I knew it wood be good -har har, but the rich toffee flavor with some vanilla notes of the barrel combine to bring a really delicious full flavor which leads to a tangy yeast fruitiness again bringing a fig-like richness to mind with a toasted oak goodness rounding out the taste with slight cocoa with gentle nutty creaminess toward the end. There is a slight alcohol taste but nowhere near 12%, it is hidden very well and halfway in it is not showing any heat or bourbon taste, yet the barrel influence is apparent. Overall I was not sure what to expect except the stout that previously resided in the barrels may have added to the flavor. I recommend this to anyone who considers themselves a fan of the style...I only wish I had purchased more - Kudos on a phenomenal beer that exceeded my expectations Goose Island!

Photo of mothman
4.38/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a light layer of tan head. Color is a copper hued brown.

Flavor profile: It tastes like a barleywine but I noticed it has stout-like flavors. Starts out with vanilla, toffee, caramel, and oak. Then chocolate and bourbon hit. A lot of malt flavors and some cherries. A bit of molasses and raisin flavors. A touch of heat shows in the finish. Some light tobacco flavors mixed in.

Mouthfeel: RIch and chewy. Full bodied. Right amount of carbonation. Ends with a bit of sticky molasses flavor... syrupy.

Overall, this is a really well done beer. Very complex. Only flaw is the finish. It ends a bit too syrupy. Otherwise, I really enjoy this beer.

Photo of seedyone
3.9/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Another outstanding brew from Goose Island. What it lacks in appearance it makes up for in taste, twofold. Barleywines, nowadays, seem to lack that barley presence in favor of the coffee/chocolate tastes. This is not one of those. The head lacing are virtually nonexistent. So what? If you have no fear of the dark you will feel right at home here.

Photo of yourefragile
3.8/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

2013 12 oz bottle served in a BC snifter.

Pours a dark, opaque near black with a thick but quickly fading dark yellow/khaki head; not much lace or retention. Balanced, restrained nose of oak, burnt sugar, caramel, toffee and molasses. Flavor is overly sweet; barrel heavy with vanilla, brown sugar and syrupy caramel combining with a sticky, malty English BW base. On its own this was interesting but next to a well aged King Henry seemed comically simple and boring. Body is pleasantly viscous and slick with minimal heat in the finish. Not sure this needs much age, but hopefully some time will rejigger these flavors into a more interesting combination. For price and difficulty in obtaining bottles, just go blow your money of BB4D or Central Waters or something.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,046 ratings.