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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

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States | website

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.10%

Availability: Winter

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.

Added by jplopez21 on 10-04-2013

User Reviews
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Reviews: 528 | Ratings: 4,868
Photo of Biggtriksta
4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very similar to other Bourbon County varieties - huge bourbon and vanilla notes. Very smooth and warming. Considering this is a barleywine, it is definitely in the top of its class. Also much like its other varieties, it pours and looks like oil. Very silky in texture and quite boozy.

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Photo of CraigP83
3.85/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Deep ruby red, no head, semi transparent. Sweet, bourbon isn't real prominent, slight tart but not objectionable, some candied raspberries flavors. This is probably not the way they anticipated this beer to taste.

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Photo of Tele
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Serving Type: Bottle (Dated 10.28.15 at 11:51)
Consumed: 1.8.16

A: 4.5 Pours dark, reddish-brown, nearly black. The small, light tan head lasts about half a minute.

S: 4.5 Aromas are great; a really nice blend of classic, English barleywine flavors and bourbon. Lots of vanilla, oak, toffee, caramel, cherries and brandy. Faint roasted malt and earthy aromas in there as well.

T: 4.5 Taste is rather sweet, but offset slightly by some roast bitterness. Similar flavors as the nose suggested with caramel, bourbon, and berries dominating a bit more than expected. The finish has a really nice, raspberry and dark chocolate quality that lingers for a very long time.

M: 4.5 Good body and carbonation. Intense, but still surprisingly drinkable.

O: 4.5 Was worried about possible infection, but no problems here. Pretty terrific barleywine, up there with Sucaba. This vintage is a little more restrained and less sweet than 2013 and 2014, which is appreciated.

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Photo of 303beer
4.12/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a red color with medium to low carbonation and a quarter inch of coffee colored head that is semi dense and bubbly. The nose is mostly raisins barrel and vanilla. The texture is heavy and dense. The taste is barrel and raisin dominant.

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Photo of q33jeff
3.87/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Really nice. Not like most barleywines. Full, like a porter. Somewhat smokey. Taste is apple, red wine. Nutmeg, spicy. Really nice. In flight with bourbon county stouts, 2013 2014."

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - The beer poured a deep brownish-black with white bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass.

Smell - The nose was modestly boozy with malty notes.

Taste - The first impression is light booze. Other notes include caramel, root beer, and sweet boozy malts. The booze blends well with the sweetness that clings to the tongue through the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - I expected a little more thickness in this one. There was still some stickiness that allows lingering.

Overall - It is not perfect, but certainly very good.

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Photo of FFreak
4.4/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Informal beer tasting with friends and this 2013 bottle was provided by BoldRulerVT. Pours a translucent dark brown with reddish tint and with a very small and quickly dissipating head. Very bold aromas, with dark fruits dominating and bourbon sweetness very apparent in the nose. Taste is great - very much like a late harvest Zinfandel, but without the vinous qualities from grapes. Lots of raisin, plum, brown sugar, bourbon, candy. Very much a dessert beer. Mouth feel is just right for a barleywine - medium-full, low carbonation, yet not overly sweet or cloying. Overall, a wonderful barleywine.

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Photo of HipCzech
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 16.9 oz bottle poured into a 9 oz Libbey Embassy snifter.

Appearance: Deep mahogany brown with a brief froth a khaki head. Leaves a small fringe of foam and spotty lace.

Smell: Sweet caramel, toffee and plenty of dark fruit (fig brûlée).

Taste: Full, layered malt body: caramel, brown sugar, and sweet and sour dark fruit (figs, raisins). Vanilla, tobacco, slight oak and emerging alcohol as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Full, sticky body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Wonderfully layered with dark fruit and barrel notes, beyond just a malt bomb. Smooth despite its high ABV.

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Photo of Chcshammonde
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2015 vintage. Pours a ruby red color, barely any/no head. Smell: wonderful bourbon aroma, along with rich, sweet malt, raisin, toffee. Taste: a lot going on. Great burn from the barrel but doesn't overpower. Cherries, sweet malt, a hint of spice, caramel, toffee. Real interesting mix. Feel: slightly coats mouth. Medium /rich mouthfeel. Overall: very enjoyable

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Photo of Sandalwood
4.38/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 version, one year aged, pours a very dark brown to black color with a hint of reddish plum. The odor for me is dried fruits, fig, plum, dates, moss, cherry, slightly wine, dark chocolate, vanilla, some malty notes. The taste for me is rich, dried fruits, raisin, plum, figs, vanilla, berry, sweet, slightly nutty, dry woods oak aftertaste. Very velvety feel.

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Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.58/5  rDev +2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into stemmed tulip.
Pours deep, dark brown that allows just a little light through on the edges. Minimal head.
Aromas are huge. Plum, raisin, some bourbon, some spice.
Flavor is even better, figs, plus, raisin with hints of coffee, toffee and bourbon.
Mouthfeel was very good, could have been slightly chewier.
Overall this beer is incredible.

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Photo of ryanhooks81
4.43/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015. 12.1% dark reddish brown with very little head. dissipates quickly. there was a slightly tart note right when it first hit my tongue. idk. more research required. got some toffee fig raisin notes. pretty good. i think last years was better. this tart thing up front threw me way off.

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Photo of smanson56
4.24/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle dated 24Sep13. Poured a dark slightly hazy brown color into my snifter. The nose is sweet malts with hints of bourbon and oak. The taste is sweet molasses and bourbon with the slight taste from the oak also. The mouth feel is slightly thick and smooth. I think the couple of years of age on this bottle has helped the bourbon to smooth out a little. A very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.26/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. 2015 edition (12.9%). Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass, with a thin khaki head that dissipates to a thin ring with light lacing. Aroma of sweet caramel malt, fresh and dried plums, raisins, figs and dates, light bourbon and oak. Flavor follows, with rich fresh and dried plum, dark dried fruit, bourbon and oaky vanilla, finishing with warming bourbon and a slight tartness. Medium to heavy bodied with modest carbonation. A classic English barleywine base with the expected robust bourbon flavors. Initially complex with nice dried fruit flavors, the finish is slightly tart and boozy from the bourbon. Although enjoyable, I think the stout holds up to the strong bourbon better than this barleywine base. A well made and enjoyable barreled barleywine. I think this would get better with aging, but it has become such a nightmare (with a deliberate Black Friday circus release) to purchase the Bourbon County line of ales, that this is certain to be my one evening of enjoyment. Fine, but not irreplaceable.

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Photo of GuitarIPA
4.22/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on Christmas Day, 2015
L - black with a hint of red, thin tan head, disappears quickly
A - warm, molasses, caramel, brown sugar, and a warmth/spice that I can't quite figure
T - caramel, molasses, booze
F - rich, very sweet, a small bite at finish
*raisin flavor becomes increasingly present towards finish

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

2014 12.3% abv tasted in a 9 oz snifter from draught at Firkin. Look is dark red brown with a tan head and spotty lacing. Smell is dried fruit and dark roasted malt aromas. Taste is raisin, prune and burnt caramel. Feel is heavy in body with a thick rich finish.

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Photo of TheElectricOne
4.13/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013-2015 vintages, poured into tulips. 2015 is reviewed here:

Appearance: pours a visibly thick, viscous dark brown color. Looks like dark maple syrup or molasses in it's appearance. Too dark to be translucent, but not totally black by any means. Medium tan head that dissipates rather quickly, but leaves tons of lacing.

Aroma: smells incredibly sweet. Caramel and molasses, along with some toffee, are the dominant scents for me, with a little bit of burnt sugar as well. I didn't really get any dark fruit as mentioned in some of the reviews here, but did in the taste.

Taste: Very, very sweet. I liked the 12oz size of the past vintages more for the barleywine as a result, but liked the new 16.9oz size for the stouts. As for actual flavors, I got layers of vanilla and molasses, as well as lots of caramel. Light notes of figs and date.

Feel: heavy-bodied, with a molasses like feel. Definitely a slow-sipper in my opinion, but a very good one at that. Carbonation is minimal but present, which is perfect in my book here.

Overall: incredible barleywine. Go back to the 12oz 4 packs.

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Photo of sittinggc
4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 poured into tulip.

Look: Dark brown with a brown head. Darker than expected. Medium retention.
Smell: Strong bourbon aromas. Also get some caramel. Surprising amount off vanilla and oak.
Taste: Much like the aroma bourbon, caramel, vanilla. Also get leather, toffee and dark fruits.
Feel: Heavy bodied. Not as chewy as BCBS but almost there. Slight sharpness from alcohol.

Overall: Not usually big on barleywines but this one is really great! I'm sure it's because of the barrel aging but damn is this good! Just wish this wasn't so difficult to acquire. Cheers!

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 bottle poured into a snifter.

3.0 A: Deep deep amber color that looks black unless held to a light. A short fizzy head formed with an aggressive pour and vanished almost immediately leaving no lacing.

4.75 S: Like BCS, the nose is overflowing with bourbon. Leather, brown sugar, molasses, and light smoke. Oak and vanilla. The base offers a thick goopy caramel and toffee backbone. Next comes a bevy of fruits including raisin, fig, date, sugar plums, and black currants (and then more black currants). Despite the strong bourbon, the booze is well hidden. Complex and powerful, everything I want in a Bourbon County beer.

4.5 T: So many potent flavors. Molasses comes out even stronger than the bourbon with black currants and dates almost as powerful. Then caramel, leather, raisin, figs, prunes/plums, toffee, chocolate, and brown sugar. Woodiness, smoke, and vanilla follow. It's sticky sweet, perhaps too much so.

4.25 M: Heavy, viscous body. Quite sticky and almost chewy. Moderate carbonation level. Sticky finish with some warming booziness.

4.5 D: It's insanely complex and powerful, but I feel that it's much stickier than BCS and because of that it's less drinkable. Still, it's a wonderful beer!

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Photo of enrique_m
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Kudos to goose iskand, this is the best brew I've had, I poured this 2014 in 12.19.15 into a snifter and it's full of aromas. I get the aromas of dark fruits like fig, prunes, grape juice, maple syrup, and everything tasty. This brew has no head and it's pitch black like motor oil but it's good and tasty. Overall this is black gold.... this is one of the best brews I've had since the flavors are not overwhelming, but just right.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.68/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black pour with thick tan foam; cap disappeared quickly leaving minimal, spotty lace; good clarity under cap. Caramel candy and whisper of black licorice nose. Flavors of Carmel candy, toffee and licorice; very little bourbon or barrel; mellow bitter roast finish. Velvety, rich, full mouthfeel; lite to moderate carbonation. Outstanding overall, lite roast malt and toffee with boozy linger.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
2.59/5  rDev -42.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine has a thin, yellowish, cream-colored, head, very little lacing, and a brown to dark-brown appearance. The aroma is of highly sweet & sour, duck sauce, bread, bourbon, and strong alcohol. Taste is of chewing tobacco, alcohol. wood, nut shell, coconut, duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, brown bread, wet bread, dark bread crust, faint bitterness, cloying sugar, alcohol, and bourbon. The mouthfeel is heavy and Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine finishes sweet and boozy. I found it to be unpleasant. Sorry.


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Photo of HopBomb515
4.82/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with ruby hues, small tan head with alcohol legs but not much lacing. Notes of bourbon soaked dark fruit, cherry, fig, anisette, plum, oak, bourbon, leather, vanilla, coconut, wood, and sweet dark fruit. Full body, little dry, no alcohol heat, and coating on the finish. This is up there with one of the best beers I ever had at 2 years old. Super smooth and mellow for a BBA Barleywine. I'm not sure you could improve this.

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Photo of Umdrunner
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours rich dark brown, not quite black. 1" tan head poured into snifter. Immediate aroma of malt, raisins, and bourbon. Bourbon flavor is much less intense than BCBS though it creeps up near the finish. Heavy malt flavors with noticeable raisins and other dried fruits. Perfect amount of heat to finish! One of my favorite beers!

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Photo of TruePerception
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Barleywine 2015. 12.9% ABv.

A: Pours the color of dry caramel (those cooking shows are good for something...). Black in the glass with a little dark brown/cola towards the top; glowing red in the light. Medium brown in the dimple. Clear meniscus on top. Strong sheeting. No lacing, at all.

S: Slightly earthy toffee. Lighter caramel. Oak. Raisin, Oatmeal cookie. Slight sweet char.

T/MF: Still really sweet, but not quite as much as the Stout. More raisin and sweet oatmeal cookie, Toffee, brown sugar. Sweet char, even moving slightly into graphite territory. Raisin is more prominent upon swallowing. Dry baking chocolate on the finish.

This is more subtle than the stout, an because of that, more drinkable, though still a sipper.

Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
99 out of 100 based on 528 ratings.