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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4,258 Ratings
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Ratings: 4,258
Reviews: 477
rAvg: 4.54
pDev: 7.93%
Wants: 560
Gots: 1,878 | FT: 304
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  12.10% ABV

Availability: Winter

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

Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,258 | Reviews: 477
Photo of blues_fever
4.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Also, having this in CA on tap has been great and even better when I was able to get a couple of bottles. Worth the capture.

Photo of danieelol
4.47/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks Wyatt. Bottled 17 Sep 13

Pours dark black but with the occasional red/purple when swirled. Head looks nice, decently tanned. It's not that aggressive but can be summoned with a swirl and becomes markedly more vigorous.

Nose is first off plum. Then chocolate. Lots of chocolate actually. Bourbon and muscatel grapes. Comes across like a Christmas pudding with stewed fruits and lots of brandy. And chocolate veers into caramel at times.

Appearance and nose are truly exceptional.

Taste has lots of grapey muscatel, hint of chocolate but more subtle and fruits. Definitely can feel there's a lot of sugar there but it's kept in check to some extent by the barrel char and a bit of booze.

Plummy sweetness does creep up a bit in the mouthfeel but it stops short of cloying.

Overall an amazing beer. Nose is potentially the best of a barleywine I've ever had. Just love the huge dark fruits, bourbon but also chocolate and caramel. Best of both worlds.

Photo of Noahtrumble
4.89/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Great beer, all time great

Photo of robgutie
4.72/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I enjoy barleywines but tend to be more of a fan of stouts. This really blew me away. Poured, 6 months after bottling) dark as night, virtually no head. Smell was pleasent but mild. Taste sweet with big burbon notes and raisin.

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

Bottle. Dark brown pour with a kaki head. Dark fruit and barrel aromas. Big bourbon, dark fruit, brown sugar, caramel notes dominate. Vanilla, and oaky low lights. Average body. Very good mouthfeel. Doesn’t drink like a 15%er. A little time in the bottle might help this beer.

Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
4.68/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottled September 2014, poured into a snifter on March 21, 2015. So about 6 months age on it.

Look - Probably the darkest barley wine i've ever seen, it looks more like a stout than anything, very dark brown, appears black in most lights. Gorgeous.

Smell - Very pleasant smell. Slightly sweet, mixed with a malty smell and a small amount of booze. much less of a boozy smell than most barleywine.

Taste - The best part of any beer (or else your drinkin' the wrong stuff). This is crazy smooth for an 11%+ barleywine. It is very earthy, nuts, figs, and maybe a little sugar cane. It truly is delicious. The burn of the alcohol is very discreet but it's definitely the flavor that stays with you the longest in between sips.

Feel - Not as thick as I was expecting, but that is most definitely not a bad thing. Based on the flavor profile the thinner mouthfeel is spot on to complement the flavors.

Overall - Can't think of many other beers of this style I would rank ahead of this. Maybe J.W. Lee's off the top of my head but this is an excellent representation of the barleywine style. If you find it, don't pay attention to the price just buy it. I promise it will be worth it.

Photo of zotzot
4.86/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Awesome, supurb
as good as their stout

luscious on the mouth

Photo of JohnnyMc
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! Very complex, but so drinkable too.

Photo of Gobearswalter34
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bourbon county #2 for me. I'll make this easy...5.

Photo of dmgeng
4.28/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Got this one on trade since I needed to bridge the gap on a more expensive bomber.

A - Very dark garnet. Has a light tan head that subsides quickly to leave no trace of carbonation or head.

S - Sweet bourbon smell mixed with strong maltiness and some coconut and light chocolate notes as well. Very complex smell but predominately sweet and barrel forward.

T - The bourbon barrel is the main event. The full bourbon flavor is accompanied by the malt and the sweet caramel tones of the base beer. The barrel also carries with it oak, vanilla, and a distinct toasted coconut character. There seems to be no bitterness and the only slight salvation for the sweetness is the alcohol on the back end.

M - High mouth-feel with almost no carbonation. Very much like taking a shot of bourbon and dropping it into a tepid barleywine.

Overall, this is a very complex beer with a sweet bourbon forward flavor. If you don't like sweet beers or bourbon this one is probably not a good choice. I wouldn't pay $10 for this beer again but I could see someone wanting this beer occasionally. I do not feel that this is a good representation of the style and you shouldn't judge your experience of the past on this beer. This beer is a beast of it's own that you need to make your own decision on.

Glass- Snifter

Photo of TempeBeerMan
5/5  rDev +10.1%
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 smell. 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.

Photo of Kennethzelljr
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Every stat,perfect 5.2013 vintage.decedent,bold flavor

Photo of buckslayer50
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really good, but really sweet. Could only drink one even if I wanted more but would get it again.

Photo of bmeGT
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Barleywine is not my favorite style of beer.

Photo of NickSD
5/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This was amazing! it tasted similar to BCBS. The best Barley wine I've ever had.

Photo of GOBLIN
4.18/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Lives up to the hype. I consider this to be a pretty well balanced example of the style. Bourbon is present but not overpowering. I would think for someone that is looking for a "starter" bourbon barrel barleywine is would be a nice one to try.

Photo of ksolekjr
4.83/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A very balanced and tasty Barleywine

Photo of Jstonerock24
4.77/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was rated a 5 at first at a beer share. Now I dropped it because the flavor is too sweet to drink an entire bottle. Amazing beer though however.

Photo of BoardwalkBock
4.85/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Very dark ruby red. Almost black. Basically zero head and retention from a careful pour.

S: Vanilla, sweet molasses and caramel, chocolate, huge bourbon and slight earthy hops.

T: Vanilla, molasses, chocolate and dark fruit take a back seat to the huge sweet bourbon. Slight hoppy and bitter aftermath.

M: Medium to heavy bodied, decent carbonation. Little bitterness from the hops of a typical barleywine but barely detectable due to the bourbon.

O: Absolutely amazing. Usually I prefer this beer with a year or two on it but the freshness of the base beer coupled with the hands-down best bourbon barrel technique has this beer in a class of its own. Sucuba, sit back down.

Photo of jancona
4.57/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

The chocolate and barrel flavor combine for a bit of a port wine vibe. Exceptional beer. A sipper for sure! Enjoyed it on tap.

Photo of neutralaction
3.19/5  rDev -29.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a growler, hop head trying to expand my horizons. Was overpowering the first glass, second glass was much more smooth.

Photo of jren
4.28/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I was very lucky to taste a growler a week ago. I know this had a great smooth feel, great smell and very unique (first time) taste to me but this style is too sweet for me.

Photo of chefbigjon
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Tough to say which is better between this and Sucaba.

Photo of Sparty1224
4.93/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Serving: 12 oz. bottle poured into a CBS snifter. Bottled on 9/24/14, making this just over 4 months old.

A: Pours a very dark mahogany. Some light getting through the edges. Lots of flakes and sediment in this one, unsure what it's from. Very calm, minimal head retention. Occasional bubbles rise from the depths when agitated.

S: Vanilla, oak, caramel, bourbon. Some dark fruits. Very, very sweet. Some maple syrup and toffee notes as well. The aroma doesn't quite "pop" like the other BC beers, but that may be due to the third-use barrels.

T: Oh, this is amazing. Tons of caramel and toffee up front. Vanilla, oak, some smokiness. Lots of molasses and maple syrup notes. Bourbon comes through mostly in the finish, and it's very subtle. The bourbon imparts more of a booziness than a flavor. Tons and tons of balance here. Not a single off note, really. Everything in perfect harmony from beginning to end.

M: Stunningly full mouthfeel. Perfect carbonation for this beer. Perfect amount of boozy sweetness.

O: So this is probably my #1 or #2 favorite BA Barleywine. The only thing that comes close is Kuhnhenn's BBBW, but it's been a while since I've had that. This beer is just great. Is does everything it's supposed to. Each taste reveals a new complexity and layer to the beer. So many flavors at once. Some might be scared by it's overt sweetness, but I think it totally works here. I think the nose could be a bit stronger, but I'm wondering if that's where the third-use barrels hurt it here. But for the most part, this beer is just so well balanced and constructed.

Recommendation: Must-try. Plus, this one isn't too hard to get.

Photo of ER527
4.91/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 release. Appearance- dark and deep ruby color, no head retention, has don't legs to it. Smell- beautiful and blended smells of vanilla, oak, bourbon, toffee, more dark fruits as it warms, and caramel, reminds me of its stout brother. Taste- wow, just wow. For a bottle with no age on it, it blends so well with some alcohol presence. Starts with a smooth vanilla and caramel which gives way to plenty of malt, oak, tobacco, dark fruits and bourbon, finishes with a nice hop presence temporarily which gives way to a creamy and boozy finish. Mouthfeel- holy crap, this is one of the best if not the best mouthfeels I've ever had with a beer. So syrupy and creamy, very dangerous, I really think I could session this with ease which is surprising given what it is. Overall- an amazing experience. I'm really surprised, I like this way better than bcbs, and I'm more of a stout guy. This lives up to the billing.

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 4,258 ratings.