Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale - Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

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453 Reviews
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Reviews: 453
Hads: 4,417
Avg: 4.5
pDev: 8%
Wants: 606
Gots: 1,964 | FT: 305
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.
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Reviews: 453 | Hads: 4,417
Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Retsinis for sharing this one at Instant Replay in Canoga Park, CA.

Bottled 9/24/13.

Pours a clear dark orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, bourbon, and alcohol aromas. Taste is much the same with vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a great bourbon presence even though the barrels were third use for the barrel aging process.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Single finger off white head on a very deep dark amber brown body with excellent lacing. Aroma is a bit light with notes if dark fruit, caramel, some coffee and the bourbon but mild. Flavor follows with more dark fruit mostly raisin, dark grapes and strawberry follows buy caramel malts coffee and brown sugar rounded off at the end by the bourbon finish. This one is unapologetically boozy. Medium to full body and light carbonation. Although I have had better barleywines, few compare to this one.

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Photo of metter98
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is clear but very dark reddish brown in color (black when viewed from afar). It poured with a short beige head that rapidly dissipated, leaving only a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of bourbon and vanilla are present in the nose. The smell becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: Just like the smell, the taste has flavors of bourbon and associated vanilla; these linger into the finish. Hints of the underlying barleywine are also apparent.
M: air feels medium-bodied and silky smooth on the palate, coating your mouth with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very drinkable considering its strength—the only alcohol you get is from the bourbon.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.42/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

worthy of all the high praise, this is a social barleywine with a great bourbon complexion and so much body it drinks like syrup. the looks are the only part that didn't really turn me on, dark mahogany in color with almost no head, and even a vigorous twirl of the glass can't arouse one. thick and dense and viscous. the nose is very sweet, tons of layers of grain and sugar, but also a great deep char and vanilla aspect from the barrel, not unnecessarily complex, but dynamic to say the least. i feared a sugar bomb that would be close to undrinkable, and almost immediately wished i had shared the bottle, but after the first sip it eased up a bit, temperature helped it unfold, and by the bottom of the glass i was wishing for more. a toffee style sweetness starts off a long flavor journey that bounces from toasted marshmallow to vanilla extract to charcoal and rum raisin cake. some spice to this, classic english ale yeast, a bunch of residual sugar, and not much hops at all. the finish is long and smooth, and while the alcohol is there, it adds a layer rather than distracts. more body than i thought possible, almost gelatinous, slippery and slick, but chewy too. mild carbonation is all it needs. i like this at least as much as the stout, if not more. its a world class beer that showcases the barrel very neatly. id like to have one with some age on it just to compare.

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Photo of brentk56
4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel, just a shade lighter than a stout; the modest head fades rather quickly, though the lacing is leggy and viscous

Smell: Caramel and Bourbon, with tones of sugar cake, dates, oak, 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 oak, coconut, milk chocolate and dates; the finish is treacly, with some boozy 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

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

Bottle: Poured a deep murky brown color ale with a medium size foamy head with medium retention and limited lacing. Aroma of toffee, heavy caramelized malt notes and some vanilla and bourbon notes. Taste is also dominated by loads of toffee and caramelized notes with a healthy dose of residual sugar notes with some nice bourbon and vanilla notes. Body is quite full with a good amount of carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Very well brewed with nice balanced with the barrel-aging notes. Maybe a tad too much residual sugars.

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Photo of emerge077
4.49/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown nearly black with mahogany highlights around the edges in the light. Initial finger of light tan foam that settles after a few minutes. Wispy broken skim on the surface.

Rich and sweet caramelized sugars in the aroma, brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon. Reminds me of a glaze I've made with those exact ingredients. Trace woodiness.

Toffee and caramel in spades, bourbon-soaked wood, vanilla, plum, malty bread crust in the aftertaste and dry wood. Full bodied and smooth, though the bourbon is fully present, it's more of a warming feeling. Very rich but drinkable, with some nice complexity from both the barrel and base beer. Different from King Henry obviously, but not a bad substitute by any means.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from notes. Served on tap at Whole Foods Venice as part of a GI tasting event. Rep exclaimed he was sorry for the barleywine keg as he expected the stout to have been sent instead. Not sad for our loss in the least.

A: Pours dark brown with reddish highlights under a thin (quarter inch) tan head which fades to rim leaving spots of lace. Hmmm.

N: Caramel, vanilla, malt, sweet woody roast. Ahhh.

T: Follows nose with some chocolate sweetness, bourbon, coconut and cherries, dark fruits (plums and raisins). Complex and contemplative. Mmmm.

M: Semi-full body, semi-medium carbonation. Finishes sweet caramel, roast and darkly fruited.

O: I admit my bias, since barleywines are not my go to style, but this was very pleasant and completely enjoyable. Considering putting into the cellar and see how this develops with some age.

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Photo of nickfl
4.26/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is almost completely black and you can start to smell it from a foot away. Lots of chocolate, vanilla, dark caramel and spices. A similar flavor profile with less roast /chocolate and more dark sugar. A bit of alcoholic warmth in huge finish and lots of vanilla and whiskey character. It smells great, though the bourbon is almost too much and really tends to overwhelm everything else, especially in the flavor.

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Photo of jlindros
4.51/5  rDev +0.2%
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.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.34/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

On-tap 12/5/2013 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI served in a goblet glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark brown color, with a short brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains roasted malts, bourbon, chocolate, some fruit and some hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with flavors of chocolate, bourbon and dark fruit. Then a hearty roasted malt character comes in. There is a notable alcohol sting. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance for a big beer like this. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easy, very strong kick, slightly filling, good representation of style, this is a very good high-ABV beer to sip on for a long time.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
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!

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Photo of kojevergas
3.55/5  rDev -21.1%
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

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Photo of Rifugium
3.79/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

First had: on tap at the Beer Shoppe, Ardmore, PA

Served in a snifter. Deep, dark brown color, a short, stout head of tan receded to a thick ringlet, leaving maybe just a few oily spots of lacing on the glass. Aroma was expectedly malt-heavy, caramel and brown sugar, more burnt and less smooth than I expected, based on my experiences with King Henry. In the taste, burnt caramel, bourbon, heavy with earthy oak, dark fruits, and a strange herbal bitterness that lasted right through to the end, somewhat detracting from the sweet smoothness that I like in the "big boy" barleywines. Hmm. There was a tiny reprise of sweetness giving a slick finish. Body on the heavier side of medium, but not as fleshed out as I would have liked. Came off kind of messy and immature, so maybe it just still needs some time. Disappointing in the end, but I'll let my bottles sit for a while and revisit them in several months.

*Note: this DOES significantly improve with time. About 4.25 rating after 8-12 months aging.

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Photo of superspak
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 ounce bottle into snifter, bottled on 9/17/2013. Pours hazy/cloudy very dark brown color with a small tan head with poor retention, that reduces to a ring of lacing. Slight spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a light amount of streaming carbonation retaining a bit of a cap. Aromas of big raisin, prune, fig, caramel, toffee, toast, brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, coconut, oak, bourbon, light tobacco, and toast/oak earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of dark malt, fruitiness, and bourbon barrel notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, prune, fig, chocolate, caramel, molasses, toast, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, oak, bourbon, coconut, light tobacco, and toast/oak earthiness. Light earthy oak bitterness/spice on the finish; with lingering notes of raisin, prune, fig, chocolate, caramel, molasses, toast, brown sugar, toffee, vanilla, oak, bourbon, coconut, light tobacco, and toast/oak earthiness on the finish for a while. Fantastic complexity and big robustness of dark malt, fruitiness, and bourbon barrel flavors; with a fantastic malt/barrel balance and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and very full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and fairly syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding barrel aged barleywine. All around awesome complexity, robustness, and balance of dark malt, fruitiness, and bourbon barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
3.95/5  rDev -12.2%
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.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.56/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From 11/29/13 notes. Had two 12 oz. glasses of this on tap at Top Hops in NYC and loved it. Served in Goose Island stemware.

a - Pours a deep mahogany brown color with one inhc of light tan head and low to moderate carbonation.

s - Smells of sweet bourbon, dark fruits, raisins, molasses, oak, toffee, toasted malts, and caramel malts. The nose is awesome. Lots of bourbon and sweet dark fruits, with caramel on the back end of it.

t - Tastes of sweet bourbon, caramel malts, toffee, sweet dark fruits, raisins, figs, vanilla, cream, sugar, oak, toasted malts, bread, roasted malts, and molasses/syrup. Taste has a little more caramel and vanilla than the nose had which steps it up a little bit in my eyes, and still has a lot of fruit and bourbon. Awesome and complex.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Really no heat for the ABV and pretty smooth and creamy.

o - Overall I thought this was awesome; exactly what I was hoping for. Tons of delicious bourbon, fruits, and caramel to it, and there it is not too hot. Love that it is coming in 12 oz. bottles too. Reminds me a bit of King Henry, though a bit more dark fruits. Well worth it, glad to have a few bottles and really hope they make this year round.

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Photo of orangesol
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on-tap at Al's of Hampden.

A - Pours pitch black with a one finger tall tan head, dissipating down to next to nothing, leaving no lace at all down the glass.

S - Smell of mild bourbon, caramelized brown sugar, vanilla, fresh baked toffee, dark fruits and some mild booziness. Smells great, just gets a little too boozy at the end, some more time should help that out.

T - Starts off with the combo of sweets - Mainly the vanilla, brown sugar and toffee - quickly giving way to a mix of dark fruits, oak and warming bourbon. Finish is still pretty sweet with a smooth hit of warming booze, lingering on the palate long after the finish. The flavors are well integrated and the bourbon isn't over the top which is nice.

M - Heavy body with moderate carbonation. Smooth, sweet feel with less alcohol than I was expecting which is always a plus.

O - It is no KH so people can stop with that, it is however a really nice BA barleywine. It has everything I love in a BA Barleywine and it was still fairly easy to finish. I am going to need to get a few bottles of this before its all gone.

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Photo of jwc215
4.8/5  rDev +6.7%

On-tap at Three Cellars in Franklin, WI:

Pours mahogany with a head that becomes a lasting ring, leaving some trailing lace.

The smell is very rich and malty - toffee, nougat, with dried fruits

The taste is of rich, sweet malt - toffee and nougat backed by dried fruits. A touch of vanilla comes through. Alcohol warmth well-integrated adding to the complexity and taste.

Smooth despite the abv.

This is a wonderful English Barleywine! Incredible! It's a great "sipping" beer to say the least. The long finish lingered in a pleasant for hours after my 8 oz. drink was done. It's somewhat like a softly carbonated liqueur for beer drinkers! Sweet, but not sticky. An amazingly rich, great example of an English-style Barleywine!

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

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Photo of mothman
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

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Photo of stakem
4.36/5  rDev -3.1%
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.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Draft at Churchkey.

The beer is dark brown with a thin beige head. Aromas of bourbon, toffee, malt, oak. Oh my. Smells fantastic. The taste follows suit. Rich and smooth. Elegant and just a lovely beer to sip. Delicate alcoholic warmth in the finish. As good as I hoped.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.35/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a large snifter glass.

Not much of a head made, faint mocha brown that settles to a nice even collar with some nice legs and a whispy top. Body color is really nice. Caramel brown and deep red body color with a nice glow and some legs that coat the glass with some tips of the glass.

Classic molasses smell and crystallized sugars. Lots of dark fruit that bursts off this, fig and raisin like a Belgian dark, but hints of deep cherry as well. Sticky toffee. Not so much caramel or hints of vanilla though, but more stout smelling than barleywine, sort of a hybrid that's really nice.

Palate is interesting if a little different surprisingly. Milky and creamy palate almost hinting lactose character. A little touch of prickly carbonation on the tip of the tongue that dissolves instantly. Molasses and dark fruits to match the nose with controlled sweetness. Hints of Belgian Dark Ale without the sucrose large rush. Figs. Raisins. Dark burnt cherry. Some vanilla hits with milky character and sweetness and some caramel, however it's a bit subdued as is the oaky character with the exception of the mouthfeel. No boozy character to this either it drinks real easily.

Overall a real unique tasting barleywine that hints almost into large dark fruit territory, but is sort of not what I expected or look for in this style. It is however a very unique tasting brew and memorable, a mix of classic Goose Island Stout barrel aging and Fruit Barleywine character, not unlike King Henry.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
99 out of 100 based on 453 ratings.