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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla StoutBourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

408 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 408
Hads: 1,215
Avg: 4.46
pDev: 15.92%
Wants: 1,532
Gots: 426 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout |  13.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: rudylaw on 11-08-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bourbon County Brand Stout spiced with fresh vanilla beans.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 408 | Hads: 1,215
Photo of PHBoiler
4.58/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Goose Island Rare Day. A special treat. This beer has aged well and is well rounded. The vanilla really has faded into a background note as part of the barrel treatment. The body is fudgy and warming but minimal bourbon heat. Very balanced and rich.

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Photo of 1000lbgrizzly
4.65/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Motor-oil thick black sludge with deep brown silk head. Aroma is softer than the regular- the chocolate/whiskey/wood notes are now pleasant, softened by a moderate vanilla note. Flavor is also toned down compared to BCBS, probably to make way for a warm real vanilla bean entourage. The amount of vanilla is perfect: strong enough to notice without searching, but not overpowering/monotone, even if it does take the overall flavor profile back a step from the original. The malt, or perhaps if the barrels were charred, adds a good dark chocolate bitterness, but there is also significant sweetness to it, made more noticeable by the vanilla, or at least it triggers memories of all the other sweet vanilla things we eat. No trace of alcohol. The mouthfeel is as close to perfect as it can get. SO rich and thick, barely a pulse of carbonation without becoming flat, or even undercarbonated. Only calling it full bodied would be an insult.
Awesome beer, not as crazily overpowering and harsh as the original, but still bold. The vanilla is great- authentic, fresh, well balanced, well incorporated. It's earned its spot among the greats.

Note: Not to brag, but this was a perfectly aged bottle from 2010- nearly the full 5 years of age recommended and well treated that whole time. I had a younger bottle a while ago, it had a bit of the harsh alcohol edge to it, the level of vanilla was *approaching* immature (too much), and it wasn't quite as thick, but the rest of the review stands true.

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Photo of deadsincebirth
4.98/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Black as night. Smells of big bourbon and slight vanilla backend. Taste is of bourbon, chocolate and a suprising vanilla backend that just grows. Feel is of wonderful vanilla that lasts for days. Overall I can't believe the vanilla has that kind of staying power and the beer has morphed into a balanced phenomenon. Seek this out!!

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Photo of mportnoy
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Phenomenal. Wonderful blend of vanilla, bourbon, and barrel. Can't believe this beer is 5 years old. Has aged beautifully and feels like it still has more years to go!

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Photo of Bogart2930
4.53/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had it and it was great but... Spilt this with a friend and first pour was amazing, like best I've ever had good, second pour vanilla sweetness started taking over. If your into that thing it's perfect for you but it started being too much after 8 oz for me. This thing will steal the show at a bottle share but with a small split it's too much.

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Photo of StJamesGate
4.66/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Tan ring over oily black. 4
Giant boozy sweet nose of brown sugar, vanilla, sandalwood perfume, and cinnamon stick candle - gorgeous. 4.75
Vanilla! Bourbon vanilla ice cream with chocolate-covered raisins. Chocolate comes second, raspberry jam middle, with hints of ash, and slight touchs of oak and brown sugar. 4.75
Cream soda hard candy finish and surprisingly dry linger.
Almost heavy, velvety, round, smooth, a bit of salt. 4.25

Holy yum! Vanilla left, right, and centre. Like Maltesers or a vanilla milk shake. Endless linger. More a liqueur than a beer. Every drop was like a piece of candy - I sucked the last dribble out of the bottom of the bottle and I'm not ashamed to say so. Top 5 beers I've ever had - I wish I had a case. Just spectacular. 4.75

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Photo of TampaRainman
4.52/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black. Thick. Virtually no bubbles, certainly no head.

S: Warm roasty dark chocolate. Vanilla is definitely still there but not punching you in the face.

T: Burnt Chocolate, dark sugar, soft vanilla and bourbon warmth. Either (a) this beer was a super bourbon bomb back when it was released in 2010; or (b) the notion that booze mellows over time is flawed. Maybe both? Point is, the bourbon on this bad boy is still right there, tickling and providing a little burn on the back end. If this beer has "mellowed" over time, then I can only imagine how hot and boozy it would have been 5 years ago. Either way, it's damn good to this day. Vanilla is still there as well. Not nearly as sweet as the new Vanilla Rye, which for me, is a plus.

O: It's always a real treat having a beer that's been around for a while. Makes you pause and reflect on how much your life has changed since the beer went into the bottle and also makes you marvel at how well made a beverage beer can be.

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Photo of KaeF
4.74/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A lot of vanilla in the smell and taste, even after almost 5 years! I do prefer the vanilla rye, since it is more smooth in my opinion, but this is still a great beer, combining chocolate, coffee and vanilla into a great, silky smooth beer.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.65/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Side by side of 2010 and 2014 Vanilla rye

L: dark dark brown with some burgundy at the edge; mocha head on the 2014
S: 2014 smells like a vanilla bean split open, some rye/pepper, a little chocolate; 2010, surprising amount of vanilla left, oak, cocoa nibs.
T: 2014 taste straight up like a vanilla bean, vanilla bean ice cream, a little bit of chocolate, a bit of rye flavor but still a little hot. 2010, much more mellow and rounded with age, still a lot of vanilla, softer bourbon flavors, some oak and coconut.

Ratings the same for both, expect 5 for smell.on 2014

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Photo of Bubba569
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Unbelievable...this is an outstanding balanced beer! The smell is great, almost as enjoyable as the taste! Looks dark like melted Chocolate that stains the glass with a thin brown head. Tastes like Coffee, Vanilla, Chocolate, Bourbon perfectly balanced to show off each flavor without a single one overpowering the other! Mouthfeel coats your mouth with an unbelievable taste that lingers for a while making you want more! Overall this is a perfectly brewed beer I gave it a well deserved 5! Crying shame to retire this one!!

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Photo of dd43
4.18/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is an unbalanced beer when fresh. I think it wants to be aged. Vanilla is overpowering. Reminiscent of drinking a stout flavored glass of vanilla extract. This is the least appealing of the bourbon county varietals that I've tried. Mouthfeel is predictably silky but a less vanilla forward stout would be an improvement.

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Photo of stumac
4.48/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to my brewing buddy Steve for busting out the 2010 bottle for the 2015 Super Bowl!!

Pours black, no head. Nose is heat, toffee, vanilla, burnt malts. Taste is all that too. Huge body. Moderate carbo. A very nice brew. Held up well in time.

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Photo of Ready4aHeady
4.84/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Wow--- talk about a creamy, chocolaty, bourbon-soaked marshmallow bomb.... Still powerful and youthful! Wish I could open one of my '14 vanilla's to compare but id be too ripped.... If you can find this, get it!!

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Photo of morebeergood
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Super boozy and intense vanilla flavor. Definitely needs a couple of years to age and mellow out these strong characteristics. Would love to try a 2 year old bottle in the future.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.32/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drinkability is probably an issue with this one, but, for better or worse, this thing is straight up vanilla-laced chocolate chip cookie. Super tasty, but, again, not sure how much one could really take down.

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Photo of floridadrift
4.8/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

The vanilla is in the nose now, the bourbon has smoothed out, wrapping itself all over and the taste is marshmellow wood. Thank god I got to have this.

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Photo of Jaxbrew
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Most certainly worth the line in winter to have on draft. I thought this was amazing, however, the Mexican vanilla bean was a little too potent at this point in time. I'm aging a bottle with no doubt this will be a 5!

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Photo of seedyone
5/5  rDev +12.1%

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. I think this is the first 5 rating I've given. For the un-hoppy beer fan this takes the cake. Aroma is both intriguing & inviting. Texture is spot on with the slightest burn, but at 13.4% what can you expect. As for the flavor...it's deep, rich, complex & captivating. You want another sip befor the first has dissapated. One might think the vanilla aspect would lend to a overt sweet but it just lays back on the edge.

If I were condemed to only having one beer available for the rest of my days, hands down this is it. Magnificent.

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Photo of MDDMD
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%

A-dark brown black color with a light brown head and decent lacing

S-dark malt, chocolate, coffee, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, caramel

T-dark roasted malt, molasses, coffee, chocolate, strong sweet vanilla presence, bourbon, hint of oak

F-medium to full body with light to moderate carbonation, smooth and creamy, a little boozy

O-certainly enjoyable, but the big sweet and vanilla presence makes this less enjoyable for me than the other variants

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Photo of TboneRN
4.9/5  rDev +9.9%

I was lucky enough to attend a Bourbon County bottle share last night where we had every variant present.
Let me start by saying this beer has NOT fallen off, and if anything is just starting to peak...The Vanilla is still VERY strong although I agree your palate gets a little use to it as you get deeper into your glass. I suggest having another beer available to cleanse your palate and you will NOT be disappointed. My favorite of the night just edging out Bourbon County Rare! So smooth and so much vanilla...TRADE FOR THIS!

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Photo of WTKeene
4.45/5  rDev -0.2%

Number 5 at a generous tasting of every Bourbon County variant ever. Poured into a Trillium tasting tulip.

Appearance: Pretty standard Bourbon County really. Thick black motor oil. No head, and actually no lacing or crown on this one either.

Smell: Boozy, but mostly vanilla. Seriously, a lot of vanilla. Hints of chocolate beneath that.

Taste: There's a lot of vanilla in this. A little bit of figs comes through beneath it, and bitter roasty dark chocolate. If this has fallen off, it must have been pure vanilla extract in 2010. The vanilla is stronger in the beginning though, toward the end of the glass I don't get much of the vanilla anymore.

Mouthfeel: Pretty typical of the Bourbon County offerings. Very sticky and thick. Moderate/low carbonation.

Overall: A highlight of the night thus far, but we still have all the fruited ones ahead of us. Oh, and we have Prop ahead of us too.

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Photo of BRami127
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a 2010 version of Vanilla BCS 4 years later. I'm mentioning the vintage since there is rumor that it is coming back for "Black Friday" 2014. Poured into a snifter. Special thanks to Link's Taproom in Chicago, IL for having this event.

A: Jet black, very little brown bubbles but no significant head.

S: After almost 4 years the scent of bourbon and vanilla is STILL apparent, maybe stronger than when I 1st had it back in 2010. On 1st sniff, the vanilla immediately attacks the nose.

T: Boozy. The bourbon and vanilla taking over the mouth. Still strong after all these years.

O: Surprisingly STILL strong. The vanilla is still present and the beer, in my opinion, has become stronger over time. I wish I could've taken it home with me instead of being opened at the bar, especially if there really is a 2014 version coming out to do a side by side tasting.

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Photo of mlhyatt
4.61/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a game of Thrones snifter.

A- pitch black with no head. Looks ominous and inviting. This would be a perfect 5 if it had some head.

S- tons of bourbon flavor still after 3 years. Really thick vanilla sneaks in behind it and sits softly in the nose.

T- follows the nose a lot. Tons of bourbonans then vanilla taking over the mouth. The aftertaste is straight vanilla. Even after all these years its still pretty strong vanilla.

M- super thick. I love it. There's a little bit of hear from the abv but it's not overwhelming.

O- fantastic beer. The vanilla has disappeaered a little bit but the bourbon character is still strong and delicious. Wish I could have tried it fresh.

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Photo of Treyliff
4.57/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Opened in December-2013 at Willjbauer's tasting, poured into a snifter

A- pours jet black with a very small foamy light-tan head that settles, leaving just a small layer floating on top, alcohol legs stick upon swirling

S- Straight up vanilla bean! Wow, this smells like they took a vanilla bean, opened it up, dumped the contents into a glass and topped it off with BCBS. Also picking up the classic Bourbon County aromas with big bourbon and oak notes, the vanilla meshes perfectly with the oaky barrel aroma, simply amazing

T- subtle vanilla flavors follow the nose up front with a fresh creaminess to it, the bourbon and barrel notes are very well balanced and allow the vanilla to pop through. Dark chocolate, fig and caramel mid-palate. More subtle vanilla on the finish with a bourbon linger

M- medium-heavy body with viscous mouthfeel and low carbonation, just a bit of alcohol warmth on the finish

O- The aroma of this beer was just about perfect, pure vanilla bean. I'm thinking that the vanilla flavors have mellowed out a bit, considering the beer was about three years old. It's still delicious and worth seeking out, I'd love to try this again

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Photo of heysuz
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brew: Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

Intro: 22 oz. bottle served in a tulip glass

Appearance: Dark black, opaque. Ample head with good retention. It looked creamy when poured into the glass. It caused anticipation to build for the first smell/taste. It’s one of those beers where you can just tell it’s going to be good just from the appearance.

Smell: Rich malts, chocolate, dark fruits, bourbon, and alcohol with the vanilla shining through. At 13+% ABV you can’t hide the alcohol but there is a host of fragrances that come through. The anticipation builds. It is a VERY inviting brew.

Taste: BINGO!!! Game over! The Holy Grail has been found! WOW!! This did not disappoint, in fact it exceeded all I’ve heard about it. You taste alcohol but not overpowering. There is sweetness but not cloying so. A perfect balance IMHO. This beer does it for me. The bottle was removed from the fridge and allowed to warm for an hour before tasting. This allowed the vanilla to really stand out.

Mouthfeel: Creamy coating that lasts throughout. Just adds to the pleasure.

Overall: As I said, GAME OVER!! It has been found. It’s #1 in its class so far. I haven’t given a perfect 5.0 rating to anything because I figure I haven’t found it yet and don’t know what’s around the corner, but this is as close to perfection that I have found so far. Do yourself a favor; if you like stouts… seek this beer out. You won’t be disappointed.

NOTE: I've only had this one bottle of Vanilla but it's still there and not breaking down. I've had the regular black label, the coffee (2 or 3 years), the Backyard Rye, Proprietor's, and Rare but this one is a personal favorite of mine. Even more so than the Rare.

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
98 out of 100 based on 408 ratings.