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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

3,178 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 3,178
Reviews: 335
rAvg: 4.53
pDev: 8.39%
Wants: 352
Gots: 1,104 | FT: 200
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.10% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes/Commercial Description:
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 added by: jplopez21 on 10-04-2013)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,178 | Reviews: 335 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by offthelevel_bytheplumb:
Photo of offthelevel_bytheplumb
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Pours a dark, murky brown with a thin sheet of brown head that dissipates immediately. Had aromas of various dark fruits, mainly dates and somewhat plumbs, caramel, butterscotch, vanilla, light wood and even lighter alcohol. Taste is very sweet and the mouthfeel is thick, this drinks like melted butterscotch candies. While this may be very thick, it has a low amount of carbonation and it goes down very smooth. The lingering aftertaste of butterscotch and vanilla feel like they are coating my mouth, and they linger for eternity.

Overall: I love it! I think Goose Island has done quite a good job with their bourbon barrel aging. I like the vanilla and caramel flavors that come out of the barrel, but I don't like straight bourbon flavors. This brew is a great example of that.

offthelevel_bytheplumb, Dec 23, 2013
More User Reviews:
Photo of kojevergas
3.56/5  rDev -21.4%
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

kojevergas, Dec 15, 2013
Photo of stakem
4.38/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

stakem, Dec 02, 2013
Photo of brentk56
4.06/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

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 for my palate; perhaps it will settle down with some age

brentk56, Feb 01, 2014
Photo of DoubleJ
4.78/5  rDev +5.5%
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!

DoubleJ, Mar 25, 2014
Photo of mothman
4.39/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

mothman, Dec 07, 2013
Photo of yourefragile
3.78/5  rDev -16.6%
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.

yourefragile, Dec 08, 2013
Photo of feloniousmonk
3.96/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barley-wine Ale, malt beverage aged in bourbon barrels. 2013 release.12.1% alc. by vol. "Brewed and bottled by Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL. Develops in the bottle for up to 5 years." I wish I had more than one bottle, but as it is, I have one, and I'm drinking it now. (Thanks to Brandon for the sample bottle.)

Strictly black. No head. Very still. Deep and mysterious.

Aroma: bourbon first, massive, thick, viscous, bourbon-y aromatics. Charcoal, vanilla, whiskey, chocolate-covered cherries….there's bound to be a barley-wine under there, too.

Taste: In the mouth, immense-ness, huge-osity, and mucho massive. I'll bring them back: thickness and viscosity. Giant. The bourbon covers everything in this, and I'm getting no flavors of the barley-wine below. Fullest of bodies here, long, long finish, stays forever in the mouth.

I do wish I'd have been able to taste the base beer in this one. Without that, I'm tasting tons of bourbon barrel effect over some kind of barley-wine that's not showing itself. What it is, though, is very tasty. It's the perfect beer for right now, my last of the night. Good way to go out.

feloniousmonk, Mar 30, 2014
Photo of don1481
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

don1481, Apr 20, 2014
Photo of aszatk01
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

aszatk01, Jun 07, 2014
Photo of DanGeo
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

DanGeo, Dec 01, 2013
Photo of Smokesnotes
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Smokesnotes, Sep 16, 2014
Photo of tectactoe
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

tectactoe, Jan 13, 2014
Photo of t2grogan
5/5  rDev +10.4%

t2grogan, Oct 08, 2014
Photo of MadScientist
4.69/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: A cloudy dark brown beer that looks super think as it pours and produces very little head. What head can be roused is made of fine expresso colored bubbles that leave a faint bit of lacing on the glass.

S: The smell is that of thick layers of malt and oak with the malt bring caramel, toffee, some bready notes and a moderate level chocolate while the moderately strong oak brings cinnamon and bourbon barrel character to the party. There are some fruit esters of raisins and a little orange. A floral, moderate alcohol sweetness noted.

T: The alcohol and malt dominate but are closely followed by the oak barrel notes and some chocolate flavors. The malt brings a medium sweetness with toffee character set against a medium-low hops bitterness giving a balance that is somewhat sweet. There are also coffee, raisin and light citrus flavors in there. The finish is sweet with a chocolate, oak and coffee aftertaste.

A full bodied beer with a moderately-low level of carbonation and a fair amount of warmth.

O: My first impression was if the beer taste half as good as it smells it's going to be pretty awesome and it is. Hovering somewhere in that land between Barleywine and stout the dark malt brings a nice chocolate character to the beer. It's a sweet beer but not enough to keep me from enjoying two in an sitting; the abv will do that for me.

MadScientist, Dec 10, 2013
Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.25/5  rDev -6.2%

CavemanRamblin, Jul 30, 2014
Photo of Zakk
4/5  rDev -11.7%

Zakk, May 31, 2014
Photo of jono0101
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

jono0101, Dec 06, 2013
Photo of brownbeer
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

brownbeer, Feb 14, 2014
Photo of Schlais
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Schlais, Mar 07, 2014
Photo of Tiernan
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Tiernan, Jul 14, 2014
Photo of Spaten454
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Spaten454, Jun 14, 2014
Photo of delaced21
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

delaced21, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of Krafty34
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Krafty34, Feb 07, 2014
Photo of SkiBum22
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

SkiBum22, Dec 12, 2013
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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 3,178 ratings.