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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434 Reviews
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Reviews: 434
Hads: 4,309
rAvg: 4.5
pDev: 7.11%
Wants: 574
Gots: 1,901 | FT: 301
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: 434 | Hads: 4,309
Photo of keithmurray
4.88/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 vintage bottled on 9.24.2013

Appearance - dark mahogany/ruby red color with dark tan head

Smell - caramel, toffee, oak, bourbon, chocolate

Taste - this is complex and full of flavor - toffee, caramel, chocolate, coconut, oak, bourbon

Mouthfeel - full bodied, medium carbonation, sweetness upfront from the candy like toffee/caramel/chocolate notes, complexity is apparent on the backend as the flavors stick around for long after the initial swallow, barrel characteristics are well integrated into the flavors as well. So silky smooth.

Overall - this is a hell of a beer, full flavored, bold, complex yet easy to drink and enjoy. Much better beer than Bourbon County stout. Every beer lover owes it to themself to try this.

Price Point - $25/4 pack 12 oz bottles (775 characters)

Photo of wedge
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5


Deep, dark brown color. Despite the solid hiss when prying off the cap, it pours with an almost still look, only a slim tan head forming before quickly dissolving to a fine collar. Smells highly oaky right out of the gate before giving way to brown bread, molasses, dates, nuts, and raisins. The wood mellows out a bit as it warms, developing more sticky breadiness, cherry, and slight oxidation. Flavor is less wooden, which is a definite improvement. Rich, malty flavors like figs, dates, toffee, raisin bread, tobacco, and chocolate coated in coconut and vanilla Bourbon notes. Sweet, but complex and layered. Amazingly silky, oily feel that is chewy, if not super thick (which is fine by me). Not a huge fan of the aggressive barrel in the nose, but the flavor and mouthfeel are excellent. Accomplishes being rich and decadent without being cloying or hot. Excellent! (901 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 embass
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Drank on 2014 xmas eve...

A: Poured a very reddish-black (almost burgundy looking for me) with a pretty substantial amount of head at first but it quickly dissipates.
S: Strong bourbon smell with lots of vanilla mixed in. If I try to go a bit deeper there is some dark fruit, caramel, and slight toffee essence there as well.
T: Lots of sugary-sweetness, toffee, caramel and a strong bourbon flavor.
M: Thick, full bodied. A small amount of carbonation.
O: A very good barleywine. It was a little too sweet for me; although the sugary taste did calm over time as it warmed. I'd drink this again however next time I would drink it substantially warmer. (652 characters)

Photo of snaotheus
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle split into four samplers (of various size, shapes, and materials).

Pours dark brown, slightly translucent. Aroma is alcohol and wood, slight cherry, slight smoke.

Taste is dominated by alcohol, but fades into a lighter fruitier, sweeter flavor. Mild roast bitterness.

Mouthfeel is smooth and mild. Overall, very good. (343 characters)

Photo of T-34-85
4.66/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Amazing Beer, but not your everyday fare.

Pours inky dark and opaque with no head/foam.

An amazingly deep aroma, with the presence of dark dried fruits, leather, and sweetness.

The taste again exhibits a rich and complex mixture of flavors including dark fruits and a healthy level of sweetness. The high ABV is well masked by other characteristics present in this beer, and thus does not come off as being overly boozy.

The beer coats the mouth with a syrupy consistency and has no perceptible carbonation.

Overall, this is an amazing beer, and should be experienced by all those interested (597 characters)

Photo of riTLce
3.98/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz into a tulip, bottled 9/24/14

A: Rich mahogany, cognac tint in the shallower areas. Thick looking with mini suspended bubbles, minimal cola like foam dissipates quickly. Viscous coating on top

S: Malt bomb, earthy sweetness. Strong bourbon and oak scents, vanilla as well.

T: Sugar cane like sweetness, toffee, caramel, strong bourbon flavor. As the beer warms it seems the sugar cane is either less present or I got used to the flavor, which is for the best.

M: Thick, full bodied and heavy. Very little carbonation.

O: Good barleywine, although I was a little bit underwhelmed on the hype. Through the duration of drinking this I could not shake the strong sugar cane sweetness that was a bit overpowering. Personally I think the Uinta Anniversary barleywine is a more balanced example of the style. (826 characters)

Photo of infinitebruner
4.29/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

December 24, 2014

12 oz bottle, red wine glass

A – Very dark brown, with a light brown foam head of less than a centimeter. Very short retention. Thick, viscous, sweet-looking.

S – Sherry, port wine, dark raisins, dark semi-sweet molasses. Seems to have taken on a lot of the BCS character. Bourbon and booze are strong, but don’t seem to be hot. Some cherries, toffee, and other fruity esters. Not much bitterness or hop aroma.

T – A ton of sweet, malty sugars, dark but not roasty. The sherry and port are prominent here, as well as golden raisins and perhaps cooked apples. Bourbon, BCS, booze are very apparent but very smooth. Some mild bitterness but not a lot of hop flavor. Very sweet, perhaps slightly unbalanced in that direction.

M – Very sweet, thick but somewhat light considering the depth here. Bitterness comes through on the finish. Alcohol warmth lasts throughout.

O – An incredibly well-constructed, complex beer. However, I would like to revisit after additional aging. There is a bit of a bite that I didn’t get in the ’13 vintage that should smooth out over time. Still, quite fantastic as is. (1,151 characters)

Photo of leantom
4.86/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Boy, this one was great! I liked it more than the BCBS. Here goes:

A: Good. Beer pours reddish-black with a massive head (far larger than BCBS) that readily dissipates, giving way to substantial lacing.

S: Excellent. Lots of vanilla from the oak. Substantial darkly-kilned caramel and amber malts give off dark fruit, caramel, and toffee flavors

T: Perfect. Taste follows the nose. Lots of vanilla from the oak; toffee, caramael, plum, and raisins from the malt. The flavors, however, are perfectly balanced - nothing feels excessive or out-of-place.

M: Sticky, thick bourbony mouthfeel. Great.

O: Great beer. Liked it slightly more than BCBS (663 characters)

Photo of Bosoxfan20
3.96/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2014 version. Pours a dark cola with a light, tan ring of a head. Aroma of big bourbon booze, vanilla, damp wood, and a touch of coconut. Taste is much like other BC ales that smack you around with the intense sweetness unlike many others. Syrupy with dark fruits, toffee, caramels, and more oaky-vanilla notes. Feel is creamy, somewhat boozy, and silky smooth. Obviously, a very solid BA barleywine. Right there with Sucaba, but a step or 2 below Straight Jacket for me. (477 characters)

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

The Bourbon County Barleywine is a beautiful thick pour with no head really because I poured into a small tasting glass. Deep rich color. Nose is almost shy. It's soft sweet bread, rich maltiness, molasses and a hint of alcohol. Wood, sweet bourbon and pretty vanilla. A very subtle bacnote of fruit. It's perfect to the nose. There are no hop scents. taste is unbelievably smooth. The malt is like ribbons and it flows. The mouthfeel is full and creamy. The molasses is sweet and the bread is luscious. Leather. A taste of brown sugar makes you smile a bit and then a light hearted touch of bitterness from alcohol on the way down. A happy warmth finishes this beer with a lingering taste of bourbon and rich brown sugar.

One of the best beers you will ever have. (765 characters)

Photo of GinjaSlice
4.61/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at two brothers 2013
A: A dark black with a hue of red. Glass had no and minimal lacing.
S: Super strong smell, lots of bourbon, oak, and very good dark fruits some cherries
T: Right with the nose. Upfront a very strong complex bourbon taste. Very similar to the other bcbs at first. But then the delicious dark fruits take over and its amazing.
F: downside to the beer, felt too thick to me and had very little carbonation

O: My favorite BCBS variant so far. And one of the best beers. (494 characters)

Photo of dudewithabeer
4.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Got lucky and stumbled upon this one. Definitely glad I grabbed one and had to see what all the hype was about. Deep color and strong smooth taste. Smells great with an even better after taste. (195 characters)

Photo of Jacobob10
4.24/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 version poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter.

Dark brown in color with deep ruby highlights. A thin film of head upon pouring dissipates quickly, leaving a tiny ring of foam around the edges. Wonderfully complex aroma. Figs, raisins, and port with faint heavily toasted malts. Vanilla and a touch of bourbon are present as well. Sweet flavor without being cloying or syrupy. The heat is noticeable but does not overpower. Medium to full bodied. Hops and carbonation are basically non existent.

This is a truly delicious beer. Maybe it's unfair to compare, as they are completely different beers, but it's not quite on the level of BCBS for me. This drinks like a port wine and makes an excellent digestif. (716 characters)

Photo of Chiefy770
4.91/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

ABV: 11.7%
12 Fluid Ounce Bottle
Bottled on September 24th, 2014
Reviewed on December 19th, 2014
Served in a Snifter

Dark brown body… nearly black. Other than a mahogany glow around the edges of the glass, no light broke through this one. The thinnest of the thin heads formed and quickly collapsed. A few patches of tan foam clung to the edges of the glass.

Plenty of sweet malts. Caramel, toffee, chocolate, and toasted grains were the prominent aromas. Subtle notes of tobacco and smoke cut through the dominating sweet notes, enhancing the complexity of the toasted malts. Bourbon was definitely present but not overwhelming.

Toasted grains blended with brown sugar, caramel, and toffee hit the tongue first. Sweet dark fruits contributed a great deal of flavors. Fig, date, and raisin. The alcohol was masked very well. Mild notes of bourbon occasionally broke through but the focus of this beer was definitely on the toasted grains. Low-moderate carbonation. Full body.

One of the best barleywines I have consumed. I was very impressed with how well the alcohol was masked. This brew was not over-sweetened which really brought out the best flavors in the malts. A must have year after year. (1,230 characters)

Photo of pjvie
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2014 bottle, consumed 12/18/14.

A: Dark brown/burgundy. Pours with a thin, tan head that quickly dissipates. Thick on the glass as I swirl it around.

S: Blown away when I first took a whiff. Such a powerful and beautiful aroma. Dark fruits and caramel with big time vanilla, bourbon sweetness. Maybe a little nuttiness? Enough roastiness to make it almost seem like a stout.

T: Delicious. Starts with a big, smooth hit of caramel and toffee, but not too sweet. Has some initial dark notes like a stout would. As the carbonation leaves your tongue the dark fruits come out. It ends with a slightly sticky bourbon vanilla roasted sweetness.

M: Smooth and thick. This beer just rolls around in your mouth. Smooth bubbles. A bit of alcohol warming at the very end.

O: This is a fantastic beer. From my experience, this is the most complex Bourbon County beer I have had (compared to BCBS and BCBCS), and borderline my favorite, though I'm a sucker for stouts. In my mind this had always been the younger brother of the two yearly bigs BCBS and BCBCS, but this has earned a big deal of respect from me. Utterly fantastic. (1,122 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 MattyG85
4.68/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a chalice. 2014 Vintage with a bottled on date of 24/Sep/14. ABV listed as 11.7.

Appearance: Pours a dark blackish brown with a moderate amount of bubbles. Slight tan head that quickly fades away. Noticeable alcohol legs.

Smell: A rich, sweet, and toasty malt forward aroma with hints of bourbon, fruit, and caramel malt. Upfront barrel presence with hints of bourbon whiskey, sweet vanilla, oak, and wood. Toasted malt with hints of caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, chocolate, and yeast. Subtle hints of tobacco, leather, and smoke. Sweet scent of molasses, brown sugar, and syrup. Big presence of dark fruit with hints of cherry, raisin, prune, fig, and date. Hops are very light. A really good complex aroma.

Taste: Like the smell hints at, a rich, sweet, toasty, and complex malt forward taste with big notes of bourbon, dark fruit, and caramel malt. Big barrel presence upfront with notes of bourbon whiskey, vanilla sweetness, oak, and wood. Toasted barley malt with notes of biscuit, toast, toffee, caramel, chocolate, and yeast. Also some tones of leather, tobacco, and smoked malt. Sweet taste of molasses and brown sugar. Big presence of dark fruit with notes of raisin, prune, cherry, fig, and date. Hops are pretty subtle. A really great taste.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with a lower level of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and nicely juicy and sludgy. Sweet but not to the point of being overly syrupy. Alcohol heat is surprisingly tame.

Overall: A really great Barleywine that lives up to the hype. Great complex mix of bourbon, malt, and dark fruit flavors. It’s a big sipper but still manages to be smooth considering its size. (1,682 characters)

Photo of charlzm
4.08/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Consumed on December 10th, 2014 from a 2014 12-ounce bottle obtained the day after Thanksgiving of the same year. Served at 50 degrees in a snifter.

Pour is very deep brown with dark garnet highlights. tiny little head dissipates rapidly, leaving behind not a single bubble a few minutes later.

Aroma is sweet with brown sugar, bourbon, wood and dates.

Flavor is much like the nose: sweet with a dark pitted fruit note. Some cinnamon. Bourbon note is subdued but noticed. Some alcohol warmth at the end. Low bitterness.

Mouthfeel is smooth and a bit thick and chewy. Warmth from alcohol is present but not overpowering. Will make your lips sticky. Carbonation is somewhat missed as this beer is utterly still.

A very nice barleywine, to be sure, but not one of the best I have had. (795 characters)

Photo of VTR
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

My local taproom just tapped this a few days ago. I have always passed on this in 4 packs but now I decided it was time to give it a go.

A 4 oz pour was brought to me in a snifter. A/The beer was a dark ruby color with a thin tan color head. S/The bourbon was most present being followed with toffee maybe caramel and I thought a piney hint. T/Bourbon again was first and foremost and was very pleasant. It was then a caramel, apricot hint, maybe brown sugar. M/Fairly thick and coating and very syrupy! O/I enjoyed the 4 oz pour for $4.50 but that was about my limit. While I enjoyed the first few sips it did not seem to open up to me as it warmed. I thought it tasted best fairly chilled. It was too syrupy and way to sweet to me. I would not enjoy drinking more than what I had. I do not know if I would go out of my way to find this but I would order it again if it was on tap for a reasonable price.

Since my review I have revisited this on tap and in a bottle. I found that I like this best out of the bottle or maybe my local taproom doesn't clean their lines that well. Rating has been changed to reflect this. (1,133 characters)

Photo of Bshaw22
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%

First thing I want to say is that this beer is really dynamic... Lot of stuff going on.

Smell is bourbon, dark fruits, sweet, a little cigar, almost a smell of a red wine a little.

Taste is simar but there is some caramel and vanilla in there. I think the flavors are more enjoyable as it warms.

Overall this is a pretty great beer, but I like the regular stout better (376 characters)

Photo of pagriley
4.94/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Incredible depth and flavor. Aroma and flavor follow the same profile; Bourbon layers over caramel, dried fruits and just the right amount of oxidized 'old' flavors. Thick mouthfeel (183 characters)

Photo of mwilbur
4.6/5  rDev +2.2%

2014 vintage (12.3% ABV). Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter. Bottled on 18SEP14.
A: Pours a very dark, clear copper brown with essentially no head. (4)
S: Can smell the boozy bourbon waft to your nose from a couple feet away. Upon closer inspection, dark caramel malt, toffee, sweet bourbon, vanilla, charred oak, sweet tobacco, and a hint of chocolate and dark dried fruit are appreciated. Nice. (4.5)
T: Sweet caramel malt, dark dried fruit, hint of berry, milk chocolate, sweet bourbon, toffee, and spice (cinnamon). With warming, vanilla, sweet tobacco, and charred oak emerge. (4.75)
M: Oh, so smooth. Sweet and silky feel. Medium-heavy body...actually drinks lighter than its hefty ABV. ABV is extremely well hidden...dangerously so. Mild boozy bourbon burn and tingle hits in the finish...and lingers...and grows on the palate. Outstanding, especially for style. (5)
D: A simply outstanding example of the style. Lives up to the hype. A wonderful winter sipper. Seek it out! (4.75) (1,006 characters)

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. (1,357 characters)

Photo of Jonoesh5
4.25/5  rDev -5.6%

A dark drown body with 1/2finger khaki head. Very stout-like

S rye bread, sour, yeasty, sweet

T bourbon heat, rye malts, smoky wood, cigar tobacco

M carbonation, decent alcohol warmth

O Bizarre palate. Bourbon came through at first, followed by malts– an experience comparable to the first sip of a mixed drink. Then tobacco came through, out of nowhere! Prunes and a woody aroma followed. Not something I'd drink frequently, but certainly enjoyable and bewildering. Also, much preferred over Goose Island's 2014 Bourbon County Coffee Stout. (552 characters)

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
99 out of 100 based on 434 ratings.