Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop 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.

460 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 460
Hads: 4,469
Avg: 4.5
pDev: 24.89%
Wants: 635
Gots: 1,991 | FT: 309
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: 460 | Hads: 4,469
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 lurpy1
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I didn't expect to get any of this beer. My schedule didn't allow for much truck chasing and even though I've greatly enjoyed the Bourbon Counties, maybe I didn't love them enough to fight the GI Zombies and alter my life. Providence brought me and this beer together. After getting to Lansing, instead of going to the office, I thought "what the heck, let's see if Big Ten Oades has any Black Friday leftovers". And what do you know, thanks to a cancellation, a mix four-pack was all mine.

And what a break that turned out to be! While it might be too sweet for some, sweet is AOK with me. Combined with the typical Appalaichan-holler amount of bourbon GI provides, it's a sweet, brawling, suckerpunching shot of perfection.

Pitch perfect this shit is. The best beer I've had, and the first 5 I've ever issued (although Heady would have got one if it wasn't so ugly). I've heard GI Zombies say "yeah, it's good, but it's no King Henry". Not sure how King Henry could improve much on this....but the possibility that it does sure is appealing.

 1,047 characters

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

I don't grade lightly, but wow.
A: dark, deep English chestnut, not quite fully opaque. Short lived head minimal lacing.
S: like someone carmelizing figs with molasses and butter. The smell on the finish persists forv long, long time.
T: same as the smell, but the buttery flavors are stronger. The bourbon and the alcohol are hidden. Unlike the stout this just picks up toffee and caramel along with some vanilla oak.
M: again buttery. This coats your whole mouth, and remains after you swallow. It's is viscous and the carbonation is just right.
O: can't conceive of something better. As good perhaps, but this is sublime.

 629 characters

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

A - Pours a dark, cloudy brown with minimal head. Not much lacing.

S - Bourbon, caramel, and roasted malts dominate with some vanilla notes mixed in as well.

T - The taste follows the nose, but is much deeper and more balanced. Quite a lot of vanilla, wood, bourbon, caramel, roasted malts, candied and dried fruit. The flavors are oddly muddled yet retain the nuance you look for in the combination of delicious flavors.

M - Slight bit of carbonation, perfect amount of fullness in the body. Spot on!

O - This beer is outstanding! I prefer this slightly over the Bourbon County Brand Stout! A must try for anyone!

 618 characters

Photo of bgold86
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Lots of dark dried fruit tones, prunes, raisins, slight apricot, candid sugar, maple syrup.. smoother than a ride in your favorite sports car, but with oomph and balls.

 168 characters

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

Served in a crystal snifter glass.

Looks like a lightly colored stout, but with hints of gold shining through. Very unique for a barleywine and you can see the impact of the barrel aging. Not a lot of head or lacing, but I wasn't expecting much.

Aroma is a combination of roasted malts, chocolate, butter toffee and raisins.

Wow. The flavors are tremendous. The roasted malts of a stout complementing the sweetness of the barley wine. Amazing! Vanilla, brown sugar, toffee, roasted malts, raisins and a slightly-sweet chocolate flavor round out this beauty. Maybe one of the most unique flavors I have had in a beer.

Succulent, velvety and light all at the same time. Rich and creamy and leaves one wanting more.

I am so glad I picked this up when it was available. I paid $22 for a four pack, but when you compare this beer to those bombers selling for $15-20 each, this is a steal. Don't pass it up if you see it!

 920 characters

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

An incredible beer. It completely redefined what a beer could/should taste like for me.

A: A dark brown with slightly reddish hues. Poured with a light brown/tan head.
S: Has an aroma containing fruity fig smells as well as caramel, whiskey, and some malts (chocolate).
T: A very complex and balanced flavor. Has a great balance and blend of fruity fig flavors and whiskey, along with cherry and chocolate.
M: Smooth, heavy, and thick without being overbearing or weighty.
O: An amazing beer and I look forward to having it again.

 532 characters

Photo of Brackh
5/5  rDev +11.1%

Pours super dark, smells like a bourbon barrel. Almost has a sweet smell to it. Definitely taste the alcohol, yet it's very drinkable for a beer this strong. Tastes dark and fruity. Taste is fleeting; it doesn't hang out for very long.

Wife's review: "It's like a trick. It was sweet at first and then way too strong. Is this even beer?"

 338 characters

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

2014 Vintage
Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours an opaque ruby-brown with a one-finger tan head which quickly vaporized, leaving a thin, bubbly film behind. Rings of lacing consisting of teeny, tiny, bubbles.

S - Powerful aroma of toffee, fruit cake, date, plum, fig, and prune. Smells delicious.

T - Matches the nose well, with extra caramel, oak, and sherry/port notes not as prevalent in the aroma. Rich sweet plums and cherries in the mid palate. Hints of tobacco, leather, vanilla bean, and molasses. Some earthy hop comes through in the long finish. ABV present as a bite in the finish but still well hidden. The flavors blend and swirl in seemingly endless complexities. Fantastic.

M - Full body with delicately low carbonation. Slick, slightly syrupy finish; coats the tongue completely Overall feel is smooth.

O - Lives up to the hype, and pretty much perfection. Certainly the best barleywine ever to grace my lips. 5/5.

 950 characters

Photo of arlo19
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a wine glass. This is just amazing... pour is pitch brown, low carbonation. Once swirled, a short lived head forms to release the aroma. The booze is well hidden in both the aroma and taste. I smell dark fruit, strong sweet licorice, vanilla. Taste is licorice, oak, with a lasting raisin on the mouth. Mouthful is full, slightly sticky. Overall this beer is perfect! Bought 3 4-packs and am cellaring 2 packs, can't wait. I also plan on doing a side by side with other barleywines.

 494 characters

Photo of Way2drunk
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Excuse me! Why are they still selling this as if it wasn't the best of the whole collection! I was able to get one of all the bourbon county release and this by far has the most flavor of the collection!! By the way I don't noally like barley wines! Thank your bourbon county! My wait n line was well worth it!!

 312 characters

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

12oz Bottle.

Appearance - Dark brown hue.

Smell - Bourbon, caramel, smokiness, very complex...

Taste - Brown sugar, caramel dred fruits. No preceivable alcohol. Delicious.

Mouthfeel - Incredibly drinkable. Medium attenuation. Perfect carbonation.

Overall - Highly recommend. Best barleywine I have ever had!

Grade (A+)

 324 characters

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

Just a completely perfect beer. Can't imagine how you could improve on this one.
Looks wonderful, smells wonderful, tastes incredible. Dark fruits, Vanilla, bourbon, heaven (that's a flavor right?).
I really wish this beer was easier to get.

 241 characters

Photo of Tilley4
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Been quite a while since I've given a perfect score but this beer more than deserves it... easily the finest Barleywine I've ever had...

Like a booze laced English pudding in a glass... the bourbon is present but rather subtle... it works perfectly here and allows all the different layers of the beer to shine... big chocolate finish surprises me...

Elaboration is unnecessary here... if you see it, buy it... its amazing... a sipper for sure, but a world class one...

EDIT: if I could give this motherf*&ker a 10 instead of a 5, I would... its better everytime I drink it... easily, easily eclipes any barleywine I've ever had and quite possibly any beer I've ever had.... it is embarassingly delicious and, IMO, the best of any of the Bourbon County offerings...

 769 characters

Photo of ShaneHarris
5/5  rDev +11.1%

I haven't had many barleywines but this one set the bar pretty high for me. I savored this beer for a good 90 minutes, and I appreciated every single sniff and sip. I drank this one in a 16oz wine glass, gave some room for some swirling.

I also made sure I wasn't eating anything during the tasting, wanted my palate clean. This was one of those ales where you just want it to never leave your mouth. It's that delectable. For my first Bourbon County beer, this one greatly exceeded my expectations.

 500 characters

Photo of bball208
5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This really is not that different from the original BCBS.

You can glorify it all you want, but let's get real, it's the original bourbon county that is slightly more sweet. The end.

On a side note, I basically reviewed this as a stout and not a barleywine. I'm not sure why they throw barleywine into the title when clearly, this is NOT a representation of a barleywine whatsoever. As a beer in general, this is out of this fucking world. As for a barleywine, why call it that? It's like trying to say a woman's anus is different from a man's. No, it's not.

 560 characters

Photo of cyclonece09
4.99/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured on tap into a snifter. Pours reddish black with little head, but not that surprising. Smells of raisins and a little of red wine, pretty much perfect. Beer tastes of raisins and almost a licorice, very nice balance. Beer is full bodied but has very little harshness, goes down really nice. This beer lives up to its billing, a superb beer.

 346 characters

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.99/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Bourbon County snifter from a 12oz bottle.

Pours a nice murky dark mahogany brown. There is a nice light tan cream colored head that forms that is pretty dense but recedes fairly quickly. Very little lacing is left around the glass.

Aroma is delicious. Strong notes of figs and dates amongst other rich and sweet dark fruits. Notes of boozy bourbon are present. Sweet caramel notes slight rich tobacco notes can also be perceived int eh notes. Juicy jam notes are present, blackberry and grape jam notes in my mind. There is some underlying notes of wood that bring in some vanilla notes and some nice slight spice.

Flavor is slightly different than the nose would indicate. Its less jammy. There is some nice notes of deep dark and rich caramel with intense dark fruit notes. The sweetness is so big and intense and soooo rich yet it does not overwhelm and keeps you coming back fro more. The middle of the brew yields some more notes of boozy sweetness and that transitions into some nice vanilla and woody notes. The flavor profile of this brew is magnificent. The flavors are some well blended together and ply off each other so well. The body is magnificently rich and mouth coating.

Overall GI always impresses with these brews. The BCBS series is popular for a reason. This iteration is delicious. Flavors are so well crafted and work so well together in a seamless concoction of delicious sweet rich caramel and dark fruit notes. (slow cap)

 1,466 characters

Photo of Bonsall_Phil
4.99/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Overpaid to get one of these in California. Bottle date 9/24/13

Beautiful stout like pour from a bottle into a snifter, minimal head along the glass as expected. Darkness surprised me a bit, but it has me excited to try it.

On the nose it's malty, milky and caramel throughout. I'm distinctly reminded of those chocolate covered malt ball candies I liked as a kid. It still is not saying "barley wine" to me yet, but the nose is spectacular just the same.

The tongue is dead-on with the nose. Sugar-malt and foamy right away, caramel, some coffee-like on the finish. The alcohol (12+) is well hidden up front and just some heat on the finish that is not offensive in the least. Surprised at the bubbly feel with the silky-stickiness that I was expecting. Mouthfeel supersedes expectation.

Instantly one of my favorites, absolutely fantastic. Wish it were more available in my area. Though it was marked up over 4x from where I bought it, I would do it again if in the mood. This is a must-try. This is a classic BA beer.

 1,024 characters

Photo of ale1
4.99/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

searching Moe's beer locker,center st Jupiter Fla. we found this ale array and plunked doen near $20 for 4 bottels ,,

tell you what it's in the top 3 of best ales i have ever tasted

poured in a malt glass.. and you CANNOT have any ..mine all mine ..

sooo good and been along time coming what wonderfull zymurgy

1st taste /nose fruity toffee roasted barley plums

with a sweet finish ,i can have more as we purchased a few this evening buying chimay now makes no sense when we have ale tis good in the USA finally

in ranks with OMMEGANG,Chimay
..once again mine all mine ..go buy your own bottle and be amazed -cheers

haha 1 hour later ..still impress

 665 characters

Photo of OrangeMen
4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 Vintage - Aged 1 year 3 months

Appearance- Pours deep and dark murky brown, blackish mahogony. Razor thin, slight off white head, bubbly. Fantastic lacing on sides of glass.
Aroma- Rich caramel, molasses, toffee. Intense dark fruits, figs, dates, raisins, plums. Sweet bourbon mixed with oaky, earthy, leathery aromas. Creamy vanilla, rich malts, very sweet.
Taste- Rich sweet caramel malts, swirling creamy vanilla sweetness. Beautiful bourbon notes kick in, with a nice woody/oakiness to accompany. Sweet dark fruits, dry port finish.
Mouthfeel- Full bodied, slick, creamy, and smooth. Lower amount of carbonation.
Overall- An incredible treat, so sweet and delicatable. Creamy vanilla notes play wonderfully off the rich malts and fruits. Barrel characteristics shine and mix in a nice dryness. Drinks incredibly smooth, but very sweet. Mellow yet intense like a fine port, but very sweet.

 898 characters

Photo of Roose13
4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a transparent black with a very thin head. Leaves tan outline on the outside.

S: Very rich dark fruit flavor and loads of boozy bourbon goodness.

T: A lot of the same as the nose. Some vanilla and dark fruits, and the bourbon comes through so fantastic and smooth.

M: Very smooth for being a heavy hitter in the ABV department.

Overall: This beer has it all: smell and taste that is unmatched, loads of boozy goodness, and a smooth, easy to drink beer. If you can find this, buy it.

 497 characters

Photo of KnowYourCraft
4.97/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: I was a little surprised here, but not that surprised considering a stout was previously used in these barrels, it pours that magnificent dark ruby/burgundy color, but resting in the glass it is pitch black like a stout, left an espresso colored head as well, the beer looked great but I think it would have been just that much better if it was that dark ruby/burgundy color you got from the pour

S: Up front I got booze, bourbon, and dark fruits, then it mellowed out with some caramel, toffee, and coconut. I absolutely love how this beer smells, a perfect blend of barley wine and stout!

T: Initial flavors are bourbon chocolate and dark fruits, very reminiscent of BCBS, but then transitions to the barley wine side and you get booze, caramel toffee, and light hints of coconut, again I love how this beer tastes, stout/barleywine mix, it is crazy good!

M: Very much like the bourbon county line ups, syrupy, smooth, dries quickly, and the taste lingers but compliments the beer!

O: It is not a very traditional barley wine, but damn it is good!

 1,056 characters

Photo of ubenumber2
4.96/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from bottle into a tulip because thats what I had laying around , deep dark beer with a nice two finger head and not much lacing

First thing that hits the nose is vanilla with a hint of booze in it , very nice smelling brew

Wonderful tasting brew ,I would like to explain to you all the different things I pick up on , but all I can think of is WOW...This just tastes good , just so so good

Just about perfect on the mouthfeel on this brew , loving it

Overall , another out of the park homerun from Chicago , This is now one of my favorite Barleywines of all time , and barleywines are one of my favorite styles

 622 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

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 460 ratings.