Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 408 | Hads: 1,215
Reviews by perrymarcus:
Photo of perrymarcus
4.92/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle served in a snifter.

the pour is what you'd expect from any imperial stout worth its salt: impenetrable jet black. yields an expectedly short lived 1/2" mocha toned head.

the nose on this is mouth-wateringly fantastic. really just no other way to put it. big, bold notes of vanilla, bourbon, roasted malt, and chocolate.

the sumptuous bouquet of the aroma is every bit matched by the wealth of flavor in the taste. the vanilla is a major player but integrates well with the other elements (bourbon, chocolate, roastiness) without overwhelming them. as usual i love the trademark strong bourbon presence from this series. secondary notes of molasses and maybe a hint of caramel. sweet but not cloyingly so; similarly, the alcohol is present but well-hidden at 13% ABV. full bodied mouthfeel with about average carbonation.

overall, so damned good. even better than i remember it from the american craft beer fest last year... super flavorful and nicely balanced. we're talking candidate for best beer i've had territory here. my biggest criticism is that it's not slated to be brewed again.

 1,105 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of nihiloexnihil
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served from a bottle at the DC Goose Island Migration Event, at both Churchkey and Meridian Pint.

A: Black as night, like every stout ever made. Imposing. Very thin mocha head. Great lacing.

S: Ridiculous. Mellow vanilla notes, BCBS bourbon notes, incredibly complex. Maple? Smells like Utopias from the bottle.

T: OMFG. Have you even had BCBS? I want you to take that incredible flavor you know and love, but you know that kind of sweet imbalance that happens at the end of regular, fresh BCBS? I want you to imagine pillow-y vanilla/marshmallow flavors picking you up, balancing everything out, and carrying you off into vanilla Wonderland.

M: Thick, chewy, ridiculous. Everything you love about Bourbon County, and everything that makes you wonder "how do they make a beer taste and feel like this?"

O: I never thought I would have this beer, and between the two DC events, I had almost a full 22oz bottle to myself. I couldn't stop ordering it. This is the best beer I've ever had. Bar none. I've had every single BCBS variant, including Rare. This blows them all away. I hope I get to have it again someday.

I don't want to be that guy, but seriously: give up on trying to find a bottle of Rare for yourself and track this down. I had King Henry alongside this beer, and it made KH taste thin and diminished its bourbon flavors. In fact, there were four of us, and everyone agreed: better than Rare, better than KH, better than Bramble/Cherry Rye/Coffee. Unbelievable, 5/5, my only perfect review.

 1,509 characters

Photo of dar482
4.95/5  rDev +11%
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 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.

 1,721 characters

Photo of jampics2
4.82/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I woke up today with a dry throat. The damn ceiling fan, which I rely on to block out noise and keep me cool, had attacked me by confiscating all signs of moisture in my entire respiratory system overnight. I was thirsty. But I had no clue how much my thirst was about to be quenched.

Fast forward 4-5 hours to the first session of the 2nd Annual Winking Lizard cask conditioned beer festival. I check in and get a program which outlines the beers available. I check over the list to see a bunch of familiar names, some extra special treats, and the very last entry:

Goose Island Vanilla Bourbon County

This was the first beer I had today. It was the last beer I had today. It was the best beer I've had in a long time. Overall, I'd say I had 22oz or so, and, let me tell you, this beer delivers.

Appears a magnificent black, the kind of black the Rolling Stones sang about painting things. No head whatsoever, and a ton of alcohol sticks to the side of the glass when I swish.

Smell takes me somewhere. Grandma is baking vanilla cookies. Grandpa is sipping his bourbon. And I'm eating a chocolate candy while my olfactory tingles with delight.

Taste is perfect. A strange combo of coconut, vanilla bean, oak, bourbon, chocolate and caramel tastes more defined and well balanced than any desert I've had. This is exceptional in terms of its depth, extreme flavor, and ability to define different elements in unique flavor spikes along the journey. Honestly, one of the best beers I've ever had.

Mouthfeel is thin, but this may be a result of the cask feel. The carb isn't an issue, appropriate for the serving type.

Drinkability is well above many in the field. Strong? Sure, but this is a magnificent example of when imperial flavor is necessary to achieve such a magnificent result. Kev and John at the Lizard, you have outdone yourselves this year. This was just fantastic, and I want to thank you for a wonderful event and a new top 20 beer for me.

Tonight, I will sleep with the fan on. And it can't do a thing to make me uncomfortable. Try as it might, it shall not rob me of this - my thirst has been quenched for a while.

 2,138 characters

Photo of aszatk01
3.25/5  rDev -27.1%

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

Photo of tectactoe
4.25/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of t2grogan
5/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of Schlais
5/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of cjn40277
4.88/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Spaten454
4/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of SkiBum22
5/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of farundrpar
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of newk340
4.08/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: a nice dark pour, with a classic tan head that quickly dissipates leaving little-if-any lacing.

S: heavy on the bourbon aromas, faint hints of desserty sweetness in the background.

T: extremely bourbonsih in the front, a dark chocolate middle, and a sweet vanilla ice cream finish.

MF/D: silky smooth, but the overpowering bourbon made this a sipper. very hot, would do well with a couple years of cellaring under its belt...

 431 characters

Photo of jamato3000
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of warnerry
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of marvin213
4.43/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black as the pitch with a nicely tinged malty top, it beckons. Head retention--albeit thin--is most impressive. Nose is warm bourbon. I sense alcohol over vanilla. I must admit that's disappointing.

It tastes strong, but smooth. It's warm like a soup. Sip after sip, that thin heady veil stays constant. The taste is really secondary to how this thing feels. I can't really taste vanilla in a bean or extract sort of way, but I feel a creamy, alluring slickness that transports an ever so sweet alcohol burn all over my cheek linings. Gum-smacking post-sip gets a little of that vanillaness!

I wasn't too big a fan of the normal Bourbon County Brand, in large part because of how big, bad, and bourbony it is. I thought the Coffee was oh-so-appropriate to make it a two-pronged sharpness, and this Vanilla really turns everything into a sweet, silky sting. Good strong stout + bid bad bourbon; thrown in a slew of quality vanilla beans and I feel all warm and fuzzy.

 969 characters

Photo of Callmecoon
5/5  rDev +12.1%

Photo of 77apm
4.75/5  rDev +6.5%

Photo of Billolick
4.34/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was suprised/lucky to find this bomber for $13.99 @ Peeskill Beer and soda, Peekskill, NY, a few days ago. 2101 version. Bottled 11-5-10 on the label

Pours black, no light shining through, next to no head, does leave a mocha collar and some tiny bubble film.

Super dense nose of dark chocolate, vanilla, smoke, bourbon and dark grains.

Full flavor stout. Tons of chocolate, bourbon, vanilla and sludgy goodness.

Thick, chewy and viscous.

World class cellar material, sipper, night capper.

 495 characters

Photo of play36
4.6/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Mora2000
4.65/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a black color with a tan head. The aroma is heavy on the vanilla with a lot of roasted malt and chocolate notes also coming through. Overall, the beer smells very nice.

The flavor is just as good and maybe even a little bit better. I get a lot of vanilla as the primary flavor, but the chocolate compliments the vanilla very well. There is also the roasted malt and a little bit of oak in the flavor.

Thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

Overall, not as good as the coffee, which is one of my favorite beers of all time, but I enjoyed it more than the Rare and the regular BCS.

 646 characters

Photo of olradetbalder
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%

Photo of BrandonDZ
5/5  rDev +12.1%

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
98 out of 100 based on 408 ratings.