1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Bourbon County Brand Stout - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon County Brand StoutBourbon County Brand Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

8,103 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 8,103
Reviews: 2,352
rAvg: 4.58
pDev: 9.61%
Wants: 1,843
Gots: 3,450 | FT: 379
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  14.20% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes/Commercial Description:
60 IBU

(Beer added by: drewbage on 06-26-2003)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bourbon County Brand Stout Alström Bros
Ratings: 8,103 | Reviews: 2,352 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MoreThanWine
4.95/5  rDev +8.1%

Such a rich robust and aromatic beer that I'm actually surprised it doesn't garner it's own special category. Dark as night, heavy like a roasted coffee, hints of all things which make Bourbon great from the vanillan to the sweet burn of the alcohol. It's a meal, dessert, and night cap all in one. Until now I was uncertain of my favorite style of beer - but this is it.

Granted you've probably got to have an appreciation for heavier alcohols to like this - but not a problem in my book. Also there is next to no head on it. Frankly I'm not a big fan of the thick and foamy anyway, they just make you wait to drink, and/or make a mess of your face.

Anyway, this is a truly unique beer experience which I'd recommend to anyone of maturity to appreciate.

Thanks. I enjoyed writing my first review.

MoreThanWine, Aug 26, 2010
Photo of kwjd
4.45/5  rDev -2.8%

2009 vintage. Pours a jet black without some tan head, but head is a little bit thin without much lacing. Tons of bourbon in the nose, with vanilla, chocolate and a bit of coffee. Taste has a nice amount of bitterness, but more sweetness. The alcohol is pretty apparent with the bourbon flavours, but it blends really well with the roasted stout. Very smooth, but not a lot of carbonation. I am having no issues finishing off this bomber myself.

kwjd, Aug 25, 2010
Photo of Ryan011235
4.4/5  rDev -3.9%

Poured into a snifter on 8/23/10

2007 vintage

I wasn't far into the pour when I realized a more aggressive approach was needed if this beer was to have any tangible head. I kept the scorched dark brown beer at a slow drizzle from a high vantage point. Some patchy bubbles were manifest but quickly retreated to the inside of the rim. Swirling works up an ephemeral skim & lots of small lace spots; some of which actually hold. Half way in sediment is visible on the bottom.

I'll admit taking a whiff after popping the cap; the aroma is such that I couldn't but enjoy the bourbon. Once in the glass the magnitude of the aroma becomes undeniable. The charred oak is most notable, followed by bourbon heat & vanilla overtones. The base stout is equally impressive with a showing of semi-sweet chocolate, cocoa powder, molasses, hints of coffee dregs & subtle notions of caramel. It's hard telling where the charred ends & the roasted begins.

Upon taking a sip my lone gripe is that oxidation is apparent upfront. Thankfully the other flavors are so strong as to mask said oxidation. Solid undercurrents of chocolate, molasses & near burnt sugars. Indeed, these roasted malts offer a sweetened platform from which the barrel launches its attack. Charred, almost ashy notes of oak are paired with just-shy-of-scathing bourbon character. This is a hot beer, even after several years. The vanilla isn't as distinct compared to the aroma.

The feel is just as formidable. There's an inherent slickness that belies just how full bodied this is. Unleashed by low carbonation & underscored by a slow moving grittiness, this truly is a heavy beer. There's no attempt to quell the alcohol heat & it's warm if not outright numbing. Whiskey, charred oak & near-burnt malts linger long after the finish.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked this bottle. I'd heard the 2008 vintage is still boozy; I reckon an extra year hasn't done much in terms of mellowing. I certainly recommend giving this a shot, especially if bourbon barrel imperial stouts are your bag (if that's the case, though, you likely already know). This is a sipper if ever there was one.

Ryan011235, Aug 24, 2010
Photo of ktrillionaire
4.85/5  rDev +5.9%

I am shocked to discover that I've never ticked (posted) this one, though I have had this brew a great many times. Searching through my backlog of reviews, I find tasting notes of vintage bottles, fresh ones, and one particular review from my favorite time drinking it: at GI Wrigleyville a few months ago.

A - It pours blacker than charred sin; a fleeting wisp of head was there, or was it? The brew looks discernible oily and ominous. Rolling it around the glass, it has some serious legs.

S - Huge notes of Bourbon are available; in fact everything I find pleasant about Bourbon is apparent, and nothing of disdain has been transposed from the barrel treatment. The nose features a fabulous olfactory balance of vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut and deep roasted chicory to complement the luxurious booze.

T - The taste is everything the nose promises and more. The flavors meld on the palette and are intensely complementary. The booze is a bit strong, though it is not unwelcome or truly overpowering, it is just expansive enough to command respect. Huge vanilla, cocoa, toffee, oak and caramelized sugar impressions weave a whisky-laden tapestry of ostentatious delectability. This is really in the top-tier of BA- Stouts, in spite of the widespread availability.

M - Not the thickest in strict viscosity terms, but as velvety and oily as they come. I love it.

D - I could justify moving to Chicago just for the constant BCBS hook-up.

ktrillionaire, Aug 24, 2010
Photo of TheJollyHop
4.53/5  rDev -1.1%

Had '08 Vintage on tap at the Blue Palms 2nd Anniversary

Opaque, velvet black as night body, with a milk chocolate, brown head,

Roasted grain, alcohol, and cocoa, on the nose. Really couldn't pick too much out of the aroma. The flavor to me is the best chocolate syrup mixed with a bourbon alcohol kick. And the barrel aging imparts some definite vanilla and wood flavor. Seriously, I would love to pour this over some vanilla ice-cream.

Taste is dramatically dense, do I really have to tell you that it is full bodied? Doubt it. Bitterness tries to balance but ultimately gives way to a torrent of malt character. Surprisingly sippable for such a high ABV beer. Super creamy and velvety, soft on the tongue; just exceptional feel.

TheJollyHop, Aug 23, 2010
Photo of StephenRich
4.95/5  rDev +8.1%

Yes it is summer now, but I still can't resist the thick, black creaminess of a luscious Imperial Stout; nonetheless one aged in bourbon barrels! Goose Island has recently seduced me into a world of deep endless stouts with their Bourbon County Stout, a Bourbon Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout crafted in honor of their 1,000th batch at their original Clybourn brewpub.

Goose Island has been winning international beer awards since way back in 1989 for their Wheat Beer, and this Bourbon County Stout most recently won Gold at the World Beer Cup in 2006, not to mention a Platinum medal at the 2008 World Beer Championships.

Moderate bitterness, thick chocolate and roast flavors, and a deep and wide palate of oak and smoke, this really is a stout worth a thousand words, and if you are a deep and rich stout fan, it is almost imperative that you go out and find this beer!

I brought the Bourbon County Stout out and let it rest a bit to bring it up to a cool temperature worthy of this big stout, around 8C (45F). Goose Island does recommend a colder 40F, however I prefer my Imperial Stouts closer to cellar temperature, so I went with a happy medium. Pouring it into a snifter was a gorgeous sight; it poured smooth and gracefully, gently lifting close to a one inch massively dense nutty brown milk chocolate head on top of a midnight black beer.

I took a good look at it to try to find some colored hues or shimmering ambers, but this beer is just as deep and dark as they come. The head managed to stick around for a while, but eventually faded to a molten brown ring on top a still mercilessly black stout. It is 13% abv, and thus far showed very strong barrel-aged stout characteristics, but the next test proved to lock it up.

Soft dark chocolate, smooth caramel melting atop a mound of creamy vanilla, immensely rich charred oak, a hint of whisky sweetness, light smoke and powerful malt poured of this beer in a masterful bouquet of sensual and mouthwatering scents. Umm.. wow is all I can really say. I had to go hunt down my roommate immediately to let him smell this stupendous stout; it really did take my breath away.

So I hadn't even sipped this stout yet and it had already won me over. Ok Goose Island, well done. But lets see if you taste as good as you smell. A long smooth wave of this beer into my mouth brought everything I wanted and more! Immediately oaky bourbon and wide roasted malts flow over your tongue touching bitter sweet, mellow smoke and soft roast. Quickly then dark bakers chocolate hits your cheeks and flows back to your tongue in such a seductive manner I immediately grabbed my pen to record this feeling. I wrote "what the hell! huge melted dark chocolate, warm roasty malts, perfect balance of sweet, bitter, mild hop, roast, smoke, oak and bourbon."

I think that makes sense. What it comes down to it, the insatiable flavors in this beer just stunned me. The chocolate was literally melting on my palate making room for warm bourbon sweet oak and caramel and roasty malts. Soft biscuit malts also show their presence and light hop bitterness adds a touch of required freshness to this massive beer. The smoke is elegant and balanced with the sweet and bitter sweetness of the beer, and overall it is just supremely mellow and warming.

Go buy a bottle. Wait, go buy five bottles! Really, I think this beer will age perfectly, and you will probably have a hard time not enjoying another bottle before you can find out. It is now No. 3 on BeerAdvocate's Top Beers on Planet Earth list. If you do grab some bottles, please send me one!

StephenRich, Aug 22, 2010
Photo of goldbot
4.2/5  rDev -8.3%

Jet black with lacy brown head with surprisingly long head retention. Tiny bits of lacing. Great aromas of smoky bourbon and charcoal, dark chocolate. Taste is lots more bourbon, quite warm but in a nice way. Smoky, woody and boozy. Very thick mouthfeel but not overly sweet tasting.

goldbot, Aug 22, 2010
Photo of BigMike
4.53/5  rDev -1.1%

Black with a very slight amount of dark brown around the edges. A deep hazlenut colored head tops it off but isn't there long.
Bourbon! Very boozy on the nose. Lots of oak, vanilla and tons and tons of roasted malty goodness.
This this is a bourbon bomb and I love it! The perfect blend of heat booze, heat , oak and vanilla.
Beautifly smooth and full bodied. Perfect carbonation perfect sweet/bitter mix. Well balanced.
This beer is amazing. A real treat that I wish was more readily availble for me.

*From notes taken on 6-28-10

BigMike, Aug 22, 2010
Photo of ShogoKawada
3.95/5  rDev -13.8%

2009 22oz into tulip. From notes.

A- Dark dark dark brown beer, almost black, with a thin cookie-batter color head. Tiny, tight formations of bubbles.

S- Booze! Bourbon County Stout? Yeah, I can see that. The rich roasty malts come through after the initial bourbon blast fades.

T- Just like the nose, take a big, mean, sweet and heavy stout and top it off with some bourbon. This is a huge beer. Rich dark malts, a bit roasty, dark fruit sweetness, and some brown sugar/molasses/vanilla notes from the bourbon.

M- Thick, heavy, boozy, hard-hitting.

D- For waht it is, fairly high. I get drunk off this stuff because I drink it too fast- it tastes so good. One of the few beers I find improves with age, too. Had an 07 that was great and that had smoothed out a bit.

Still, I love this beer in any vintage. Worth seeking otut.

ShogoKawada, Aug 21, 2010
Photo of RankRefugee88
4.25/5  rDev -7.2%

Bottle poured into Sam Adams pilsner glass.

A - Probably the darkest beer I've ever seen. Completely pitched black and while even held towards a light, all I see is darkness. Very thin head dissipates very quickly, most likely because of the alcohol content.

S - Smells of a rich chocolate liqueur, but even better. Very strong powerful smell. Caramel and chocolate malts are there from beginning to end. Serious alcohol presence.

T - Wow. I was expecting good, but I wasn't expecting what I'm tasting right now. Just a extremely rich beer is the best way to put it. The alcohol content is noticeable, but everything else between the chocolate, malts, coffee are all present. And yes, the bourbon is certainly there too. It's oaky and sweet and leaves an amazing roasted rich coffee aftertaste on my taste buds. Wow.

M - Mouthfeel is nice. Absolute sipper. Creamy, rich, the alcohol gives it a little kick on the palate, but overall very nice.

D - It has a good drinkability. It has a strong ABV, but the more I drink it, the more I want to take bigger sips. It is a sipper though, so I'm trying to savor it. I can tell that the longer I wait on it and the warmer it gets, the more of a sipper it becomes.

Overall just an impressive beer. I was suggested this beer by a Manager at a local grocery store. He said "This is for when you want to reward yourself," and damn do I feel rewarded. Amazing stuff, two thumbs up.

RankRefugee88, Aug 21, 2010
Photo of WJVII
4.13/5  rDev -9.8%

Poured into a pint glass (second I took a whiff I knew I should have cellared for a longer time). The color of this is black as oil along with the same viscosity. The head was 1 finger chocolate brown with a nice thick creamy head. The aroma is of nice bourbon and come sweet chocolate and a light hint of burnt malts. The flavor is very complex with semi-sweet dark chocolate covered by coffee and burnt sugars. The taste is smooth with a deep body and light carbonation. The warming finish of alcohol is very present but delicious. Great brew!

WJVII, Aug 21, 2010
Photo of jsanford
4.55/5  rDev -0.7%

Review #100, 2009 Vintage, poured into my Stone IRS tulip

A - Dark, evil black with no head and no lacing. Slightly disappointed, I was hoping for a big, creamy monster head. Oh well.

S - Caramel-ly bourbon is huge, with dark malt, bitter chocolate, vanilla and oak. Mmm.

T - Tons of chocolate, coffee and bourbon that lingers on the palate for a long time. Definitely a bit of heat from the bourbon, but I'm a huge fan so I'm loving it.

M - Thick and chewy with medium-low carbonation.

D - Well, I'm certainly enjoying this, but it's not like I could pound them all day. It definitely lives up to the name, this is a bourbon-bomb, no doubt, which is absolutely fine by me. Easily the most bourbon-y beer I've ever tried, I wish I had access to this, I would buy cases at a time. Yet another great GI beer.

jsanford, Aug 19, 2010
Photo of MexicanSkittel
4.28/5  rDev -6.6%

Space black, as black as the ace of spades. There was a dark brown edge that rimed the very light head around the glass. Smells of toasted caramelized, bourbon.
Chocolate, coffee, bourbon, and oak on initial taste. The Finish was a Chocolate covered espresso bean that was soaked in Whiskey. this was a very strong beer, that was a nigh/day cap for me on my Sunday funday. This beer certainly needs a snifter, and to be enjoyed over time. all in all a very yummy treat.

MexicanSkittel, Aug 16, 2010
Photo of ne0m00re
3.7/5  rDev -19.2%

06/01/10- Had a 12 oz bottle dated 11/21/08.
A: Extremely black; the chocolate head turned quickly to a very thin collar.
S: Deep chocolate, extreme caramel bourbon barrel, nice nanilla fresh oak, mild espresso, and very apparent alcohol.
T: Bourbon, smokey cigar, sweet charred caramel, nice oak, with a sweet aftertaste.
M: Supery syrupy, carbonation hardly breaks through in the end.
D: Not very. One 12 oz is more than enough.

ne0m00re, Aug 16, 2010
Photo of ZeroSignal
3.9/5  rDev -14.8%

Poured from a 12 oz bottle, bottles 11/09

A - Pours motor oil black with about a half inch of cappuccino colored head. Good retention and lacing

S - Bourbon forward for sure. Sweet smelling with vanilla and a warmth from alcohol in the nose that lasts the duration of the drink. Background contains notes of bitter chocolate and roasted coffee bean

T&M - Full bodied and thick. One can tell that the base is very smooth but for the high ABV and barrel aging. Bourbon is omnipresent throughout with notes of chocolate, vanilla, dark roast coffee, espresso and a medium earthiness. The finish is warm from the alcohol and roasted malt, chocolate and tannic notes linger.

D - Well...it's a sipper for sure, and about as drinkable as a 13% bourbon aged beer can be...

ZeroSignal, Aug 16, 2010
Photo of Pencible
4.65/5  rDev +1.5%

A: This poured a nearly opaque black with brown highlights, with no head.
S: It smelled like rich vanilla and bourbon and oak, with roasted coffee and brown sugar and dark chocolate and alcohol.
T: It tasted like rich roasted coffee and sweet vanilla and bourbon, with oak and dark chocolate and brown sugar. It had a smooth bittersweet aftertaste with a bit of alcohol warming.
M: It was chewy and thick with a bit of carbonation - one of the thickest beers I've had.
D: This was an amazing beer with super rich and tasty flavors. The body is nearly perfect, and the alcohol is surprisingly subtle for 13%. So it was pretty easy to drink, but must be sipped to fully enjoy. I'm curious how it is fresh, but I have a feeling that 4 years old has helped it mellow out a lot. This beer meets the hype.

Pencible, Aug 15, 2010
Photo of jpmclaug
4.1/5  rDev -10.5%

Poured from the bottle into my Stone IRS snifter. 09 vintage.

A - Dark black with a circle of brown head

S - Strong, harsh bourbon smell. A hint of vanilla toward the end of this one. This one smells hot!

T - Follows the aroma closely. Strong bourbon flavor up front with a roasted malt flavor in the middle. Finishes with a burning alcohol bite. This sucker is hot. If you want a bourbon bomb this is the way to go.

M - heavy with a normal amount of carbonation

D - Pretty good beer. Definitely has a big bourbon flavor but it's not like that wasn't expected considering the name. I think this one would get rated higher but I just had some KBS and this one really doesn't match up to it. I would definitely pick some more of this up if I saw it and would like to have more but it isn't KBS. I'm looking forward to letting my other bottle age some and maybe it'll improve.

jpmclaug, Aug 15, 2010
Photo of STEG
4.3/5  rDev -6.1%

Pours a pitch black color into a Portsmouth brewery snifter 1 finger coffee head rises quickly then dissaptes into a thin collar of fine bubbles. Nose is full of bourbon, no more no less its a bit overbearing, there could be undertones of some spice and fig but bourbon is very very dominant. Taste is bourbon, coffee and some chocolate interwoven. Mouthfeel is oily sticky and viscous. Makes having a few of these difficult when you add in the ABV, although it is well hidden

STEG, Aug 13, 2010
Photo of biggied
4.68/5  rDev +2.2%

A: poured black as night that looked liked oil coming out of the bottle with a half finger of head that left good sticky lacing on the glass.

S: coconut and bourbon dominate the nose with roasted malts and chocolate notes. There is also booze, oak, and dark fruit scents as well.

T: there is so much going on here that consist of bourbon like the nose coconuts, raisins, booze, chocolate, and roasted malt accents. It also has toffee and candy sugar but has so many ingredients to list; very complex.

M: full body with a moderate amount of carbonation that had a sweet, roasty, rich and booze finish.

D: this beer was something else and is on another level, both versions of this brew are great. It drank well and is exceptional all across the board. This is definitely everyone has to try at least once. It is lower than speedway stout and black tuesday but still a nice stout.

biggied, Aug 13, 2010
Photo of greenengineer
1.65/5  rDev -64%

I like beer, I like Bourbon, I thought I would like this, but was very disappointed.

Very little head, but a nice dark appearance. "Bourbony" tast was overwhelming from the first sip. Cloying, sticky, nasty, like drinking a large glass of bad Bourbon. The Bourbon taste is overwhelming. 12 oz felt like about 10 oz too much. I have three more bottles - anybody want them?

greenengineer, Aug 13, 2010
Photo of bsaavedra1
4.78/5  rDev +4.4%

A: This baby poured like used motor oil with a brown and quickly disappearing head. Black. Pure black. Nothing to see through at all god this looks intense.

S: I havent aged this one so its hot right on my nose. Tons of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, burnt malts oh and bourbon, lotsss of bourbon. Smells unlike any other beer I have ever sniffed. Holy crap. Every smell is pronounced, leaves nothing to the imagination.

T: BOOM! Holy shit. I apparently stepped into a party and was quickly introduced to every flavor, one by one. "Hi, my name is coffee, nice to meet you Blake", move to the next one "Oh hey my name is bourbon" "I think weve met before bourbon, but not in this form"
Everything I smelled was on the palate. Unreal. There are no ghost flavors here. They are right in your face and pronounced. So sweet, soo hot, soo flavorful.

M: Magma. I might as well be drinking goop. Super syrupy but you have to love it. I feel like a masochist drinking this thing.

D: The drinkability is non existent. Its awful. Its like biting down on sore tooth. It hurts, but it hurts soo good. I cant keep this glass away from my mouth

This beer made my night. It was quite a journey and am surprised it does not receive more recognition. I have never had such pronounced flavors in my life. This beer is a must have. I will pick up a few more to cellar and see what this baby can do with some time.

bsaavedra1, Aug 12, 2010
Photo of Phelps
4.38/5  rDev -4.4%

2008 Vintage

Looks: inky, with a late-appearing fizzy head the color of cinnamon. The finger of foam quickly fades to a ring and silky film, but doesn't leave much in the way of lace.

Smells: heavily of bourbon, but smooth. Nicely blended, with flavors of vanilla, cocoa, light oak, toasty malts, molasses and plums. Love the malts on this, and the balance is perfect.

Tastes: like vanilla extract. The first blast is of bourbon tang, with the accompanying alcohol heat. Nearly two years of age has done little to quell the ethanol monster, as it's still powerful and fiery. Dark plums and sweet molasses blend to create a flavor like brandy, with notes of subtle butter and toffee. Waves of espresso emerge at the finish. I like how the flavors have blended, but the alcohol burn is still distracting. How many years would it take for this to die down?

Feels: smooth and creamy. Light carbonation and a full body harmonize to create a very enjoyable texture. Other than the destructive alcohol, this is pretty perfect.

Drinks: like unification. Age has done wonders for this beer and has brought together flavors that were just a little estranged in the fresh bottles I've tried. While the alcohol heat's still quite heady, the going gets easier as I drink. BCS goes down smooth and it doesn't quit. Still the classic barrel-aged stout.


Tasting notes:

Bottled 10-9-09, enjoyed March 2011.

Huge legs like syrup as I swirl the glass. Nose is smooth, yet somewhat subdued and very buttery. Taste has developed incredible smoothness. More molasses and coffee has emerged, bourbon has actually faded a bit. The alcohol burn has died down considerably as well. Goes down so easily. So good my ears just popped. I'm bumping my previous taste score to 4.5 to reflect my experience with this bottle.

Phelps, Aug 11, 2010
Photo of Beerenauslese
4.5/5  rDev -1.7%

2008 Vintage.

Pours black as oil, with a slight head that dissipates to just a fine ring around the glass.

Aromas of dark malt, dark fruit--preserved plums and other fruits--chocolate, vanilla, and sugar.

Tastes follow the nose, with lovely dark malt, preserved dark plums, chocolate, vanilla, brandy, bourbon. Finishes sweet but with a dryness that emerges in the long finish.

Body is medium and carbonation is low, giving this more of a flat mouthfeel.

This is one of the best beers in this style made. It is one hell of a stout, with a most interesting display of flavors.

Beerenauslese, Aug 10, 2010
Photo of JackieTH
3.95/5  rDev -13.8%

A dark, opaque, brooding pour with just a hint of chocolate brown head.

Big nose of thoroughly bourbon character vanilla and hint of cherry backed by chocolate and definite alcohol.

Palate is vanilla caramel big bourbon right up front, fading smoothly into roasted malt, chocolates. Elements of bourbon vanilla dark fruit cherries cling to the palate throughout a very pleasant slightly bittering coffeehouse finish. Nice creamy texture. 13% ABV really begins to flex it's muscle after the first few sips, becoming more pervasive as a lingering warmth that really ties it all together.

However delicious it is, this is a monster brew, no way could I drink more than one in an evening.

JackieTH, Aug 09, 2010
4.58/5  rDev 0%

A: really nice looking, black syrup with a small brown head and lots of sticky beer legs.

S: holy crap...thats a hot bourbon bomb. Sweet bourbon, oak, choc, very hot.

T: wow! what a suprise. I thought the bourbon was gonna shoot me down on this but with 10 months on the bottle its just right. Im very happy with this beer. Im getting like a "Snickers" feel here. Nice choc and carmel up
front with a touch of oak, then the a nice serving of bourbon on the back end followed by a little burn in my throat. This beer is drinking very well. A little vanilla mixed in there with it. My burbs are tasting awesome :)

M: perfect, nice and thick.

D. not to bad for this big beer.

GOGRANDE, Aug 07, 2010
Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 8,103 ratings.