Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout - Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla StoutBourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

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402 Reviews
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Reviews: 402
Hads: 1,189
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 9.32%
Wants: 1,514
Gots: 429 | FT: 14
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: 402 | Hads: 1,189
Photo of TampaRainman
4.52/5  rDev +2.7%
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. (996 characters)

Photo of KaeF
4.74/5  rDev +7.7%
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. (240 characters)

Photo of MissSmisje
4.65/5  rDev +5.7%
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 (570 characters)

Photo of Bubba569
5/5  rDev +13.6%
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!! (529 characters)

Photo of dd43
4.18/5  rDev -5%
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. (325 characters)

Photo of stumac
4.48/5  rDev +1.8%
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. (247 characters)

Photo of Ready4aHeady
4.84/5  rDev +10%
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!! (213 characters)

Photo of morebeergood
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
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. (179 characters)

Photo of breadwinner
4.32/5  rDev -1.8%
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. (208 characters)

Photo of floridadrift
4.8/5  rDev +9.1%
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. (151 characters)

Photo of Jaxbrew
4.75/5  rDev +8%
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! (217 characters)

Photo of seedyone
5/5  rDev +13.6%

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'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. (563 characters)

Photo of MDDMD
4.2/5  rDev -4.5%

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 (451 characters)

Photo of TboneRN
4.9/5  rDev +11.4%

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! (529 characters)

Photo of WTKeene
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%

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. (897 characters)

Photo of BRami127
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
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. (869 characters)

Photo of mlhyatt
4.61/5  rDev +4.8%
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. (691 characters)

Photo of Treyliff
4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
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 (1,162 characters)

Photo of heysuz
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
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. (1,721 characters)

Photo of dar482
4.95/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

At a Bourbon County tasting, this was my favorite of the bunch, including Rare. This beer is very much Bourbon County, but with a smooth flavor. What vanilla does is it adds some sweetness and rounding flavor, which in generally compliments the beer instead of being a prominent flavor.

On the finish, you push towards a vanilla sweetness. The beer is still drinking extremely well. (383 characters)

Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.81/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance: Black and viscous, as expected. Poured with a bit more head than standard BCBS, and it was a nice dark brown 1/4 finger that collared quickly. The head is noticeably darker (brown) than standard BCBS.

Smell: Bourbon, fudge, vanilla, dark fruit. It's all there. I'm getting more chocolate and vanilla than standard BCBS. The vanilla really got HUGE once the brew warmed a bit.

Taste: Everything I like about standard BCBS, but with noticeable improvements.

1. There is more chocolate and of course vanilla going on.
2. This drinks very smooth, despite the abv and of course it's less abrasive than newer vintages, as expected.
3. The end of the drink is so smooooth, it is ridiculous; it has a vanilla element in the finish that is of course novel. I remember one reviewer said it was like standard BCBS, but then taking you off into a marshmallow wonderland...I see what he means. There is a kind of marshmallow smoothness that glides you down into such a pleasant aftertaste, with hints of cocoa remaining after the vanilla wave washes over. The end of the drink really is akin to the aftertaste of drinking a hot cocoa with some marshmallows in it. The Bourbon takes a back seat to the extra chocolate and vanilla, making for a supreme blend of drinkable delectability.

Mouthfeel: Thick and viscous with a bit more carbonation than standard BCBS, you can feel the extra bubbles tickle the tip of the tongue. This is a bit less viscous than standard BCBS, but is not thin by any means. Extremely drinkable. I guess you can take off .25 because it's not Hunahpu.

Overall: Does it live up to the hype? Can anything match up to such a sacred billing? This is certainly easy to distinguish from standard BCBS; it's all in that wonderful aftertaste that carries you off to a far away land. I'm sure the vanilla punch was more assertive fresh, but I can't say this is drinking bad. In the only form I've gotten to taste, it was still outstanding. (1,958 characters)

Photo of Chaney
4.06/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally popping this while….. all by my lonesome……. in my basement.

Served in a Schlafy tulip.

A: Poured a vicious, inky black color, without much head, but BA brews aren't about head anyway. Dangerous!

S: Goddam this was awesome. Definitely got the signature BCBS profile along with something else….. not sure if I would have tagged it as vanilla in a crowd.

T: The finish had much more of a nutty, candy-like flair compared to the other permutations of this one. Perhaps time made the in-your-face vanilla subside? Still, I got coconuty bourbon in spades.

M: Thick, but not into Dark Lord territory. The prickle was only ever so slight and there was no lacing.

O: This was my least favorite of the BCBS permutations, but it was still pretty good. (763 characters)

Photo of zhanson88
4.52/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2010, first bottling.

Appearance: Pours out looking oil thick and dark black and without much head, but what head there is is deep, dark khaki. Not much head retention or lacing, but plenty to know that the carbonation has held up nicely. Really impressive legs on this one on another note.

Smell: Really nice. Both bitter and sweet dark chocolate notes, light roast and char, heavy vanilla, some oakiness, and both bourbon and light oxidation in the background. At this point the bourbon has been mostly converted over to sweet vanilla notes.

Taste: Very similar to the smell. Sweet dark chocolate, present but light roast and charred notes. A large helping of sweet vanilla which has clearly been accentuated with the years of aging. A bit of barrel character remains, and the oxidation is slightly more prevalent on the palate than on the nose.

Mouthfeel: Extremely full body with a perfect level of carbonation. One of the heavier bodied stouts I have had. In truth I probably should have had this opened and consumed 1-2 years ago, but alas for the big backlog of beers I had around to drink. The light amount of oxidation did not hurt it much, if any. In fact I would probably prefer this small level of oxidation to the intense heat of a fresh Bourbon County Stout. And the years of aging has really helped the drinkability of the beer. Drinks to, if not a touch under 13% ABV. Overall, one of the better stouts I can remember having. (1,453 characters)

Photo of Stevedore
4.74/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Shared a 22oz bottle at a whale tasting yesterday, 7/13/2013. Thanks Rob. Poured into a Bourbon County snifter.

Mostly it tasted like Rare did- creamy, decadent, but there wasn't as much vanilla. Basically it displayed the age on the beer as it would be getting close to 3 years old at this point; it had a fantastic, creamy mouthfeel and tasted like Bourbon County. I didn't get much raw vanilla, however which was a bit disappointing as Rare seemed to have more of the vanilla flavour (probably from the barrel). Makes me wonder if most of the natural vanilla flavours had already faded away. Despite this, this is still a great beer.

Updated review: had this again courtesy of Doug. Poured into a Central Waters snifter today, 10/4/2013.

Pours an opaque, black body with fairly minimal, tan head that drops fairly quickly, leaving a simple black liquid in the glass. Smells decadent, chocolatey with a lot of sweet bourbon and oak. It smells like I remember it from the previous time I reviewed this beer. Not much vanilla in the nose. Now this is where the money is at. Tastes so chocolatey, decadent and sweet at the beginning with a nice but not overwhelming dash of bourbon.. and this time, I definitely get a nice raw vanilla flavour on the back-end. It is really fantastic. Mouthfeel is so full bodied, creamy and slick. Just the same as Rare and Vanilla tasted back in July. I don't really have to expand on this- BCBS variants just have the best mouthfeel you can ask for in stouts.

Overall- I'm glad I got to try this again. So sweet and full of real vanilla flavours. I suspect that the other bottle of Vanilla just wasn't cellared as well as this one; either that or having just had Rare right before Vanilla was a bit of an unfair situation. Either way, this beer is drinking delicious right now. Thanks for bringing this one Doug!

Another re-review today, 2/22/2014. #2 in the lineup of BCBS Variant night, behind Rare. Poured into an original Bourbon County Brand Stout glass. Thanks Chad! So basically, this is an incredibly delicious beer where the vanilla has integrated extremely well into the base Bourbon County Stout. Perfect mouthfeel and incredibly complex and flavourful- vanilla, chocolate fudge, milk chocolate, a bit of espresso, cane sugar, subtle toasted coconut, some oak barrel flavours- this is probably the best Bourbon County Stout variant ever made in my opinion. (2,406 characters)

Photo of beerdrifter
4.81/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Picked this up from a great trade with Evan! An aggressive pour of this pitch black beauty yields only a half finger of caramel colored head that fades quickly with decent lacing. The nose is huge with tons of chocolate fudge and bourbon up front, along with hints of cocoa, oak, brown sugar, caramel, leather, and espresso. Sadly, most of the vanilla has faded, but it's still there. With that said, it's definitely not gone from the taste! Huge vanilla, oak, and chocolate fudge. All of that is nicely complemented with hints of espresso, cocoa, tobacco, black cherry, walnuts, and molasses. The mouthfeel is unbelievably smooth and creamy. It coats the mouth with pure decadence and is incredibly drinkable for a 13% ABV beer. There is a great subtle warming on the finish, but the booziness that's sometimes present with Bourbon County beers is non-existent. Overall, this was pretty darn close to perfection. Rich and flavorful like all the Bourbon County beers, but without the heat and booze. Thanks again to Evan for making this possible!!! (1,048 characters)

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
97 out of 100 based on 402 ratings.