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: 1,188
rAvg: 4.4
pDev: 9.32%
Wants: 1,515
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: 1,188
Photo of SadMachine
4.85/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Cracked this open to celebrate my good friend's engagement on 12/2/13!

A- Pours a used motor-oil thick black with brown hues at the edges and a very thin tan head that dissipates quickly to a collar. Beautiful alcohol legs are visible when swirled.

S- The smell is very boozy to start, followed by smooth bourbon, caramel, raisins, dates, figs, vanilla, and a bit of black licorice. Just astoundingly wonderful and complex!

T- The flavor basically follows the aroma to a T, with big bold flavors cascading all over the palate! There's dark chocolate and roast flavors not detected in the aroma that just add to the incredible complexity. The bourbon barrel, vanilla, and sweet dark fruits (mostly figs and dates) are the big players here, but there's plenty else going on, with caramel molasses, brown sugar, licorice, and other previously mentioned flavors. Extraordinarily complex and delicious!

M- The mouthfeel is thick, viscous, and smooth. A little boozy heat, and a long lasting aftertaste.

O- This is just a fantastic barrel aged stout! Certainly one of the best ever made! It's hard to find any flaws outside the appearance! (1,138 characters)

Photo of MacQ32
3.9/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - damn near black no head, no lacing, looks thick.

S - Sweet vanilla and sweet boozy bourbon, chocolate

T - lots of chocolate and booze up front, a monster vanilla wave follows and the finish aftertaste is a but over boozy. Aftertaste leaves a highly carbonated effect on my tongue as well. Decent burn too, I have to think this should sit 3+ more years.

M - Full bodied, great mouth feel initially, I think its just the boozy ness giving the allusion of carbonation
Can't be certain. (490 characters)

Photo of adamdarcy
5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I did this review only so that I can think Chris for being such a great trading partner. You seriously rock. Thanks so much!

Amazing brew as expected. The best drink that I've ever put into my mouth! There is still some vanilla on the nose. The finish is long caramel...

This review is for 2010 BCBS Vanilla. (310 characters)

Photo of nihiloexnihil
5/5  rDev +13.6%
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 smakawhat
4.55/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass at Churchkey DC. Vintage 2010.

Dark black walnut body, with a super dark mocha brown colored head with a good collar. Very nice and dark and aggressive.

Classic BCBS molasses bouquet on the nose, with a slight vanilla that hints at creamy carnation milk sensing sweetness. Good tobacco hinting nose and sticky roasty malts to match. Winning combination.

The first thing on first sip that is unmistakable is the texture. It's so incredibly creamy, so slick and full and rich like velvet. Vanilla notes in the palate though are really not noticeable, but I wonder if it has really contributed to the feel of the beer. Thick chocolate dark ganache rolls over the roof of the mouth while drinking. Hints of coffee with creamy texture giving to a thick roasting warmth and huge depth.

It seems to have lost a bit of the vanilla angle on the palate, but it delivers in so many other ways it really doesn't matter. Fantastic beer. (971 characters)

Photo of justforrazors
4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Tasted blind at a horizontal including Vanilla, Rare, Cherry Rye, Bramble Rye, Coffee and an '09 Bomber. Poured into a snifter at approx 55 degrees. Reviewed from blind tasting notes.

A- Pours with essentially no head whatsoever, looks thick and viscous. No carbonation apparent.

S- You can smell some vanilla on the nose as well as some dark fruit and caramel. Some bourbon as well.

T- Tastes of caramel, bourbon, some cherry and oak as well. Tons of chocolate with a very minimal amount of vanilla.

M- This had the thickest, most rich feel of the 5 we tasted. Like an oil slick in your mouth. Very little drying quality, but enough to balance the sweetness from the malt and vanilla.

O- This was the 1st in our lineup to taste. The vanilla was certainly not as apparent as we had expected from other vanilla beers (BAVDL and others) so it was a little underwhelming. Our group at first thought this could be the '09 bomber, but ended up going back and switching it to vanilla once we tasted all 5. The nose and thick/richness were the parts that made it clear this was the vanilla, although it definitely wasn't there in the taste. (1,143 characters)

Photo of BobZ
4.85/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

22oz. bottle poured into a Bourbon County Snifter. Bottled on 11/05/10. Huge thanks to kdmcguire10 for the bottle.

Appearance: Dark black with a 1" frothy tan head that recedes to nice creamy cap and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell: Vanilla over chocolate and caramel with a nice whiff of bourbon.

Taste: Very nice twist on BCBS, big Vanilla as expected, the bourbon is still pronounced adding it's own oaky component. Tremendous depth so much vanilla and caramel added to the roasted malt chocolaty flavor. All that turned up with the flavor of bourbon. As it warms the flavors continue to expand and deepen.

Mouthfeel: Lush and creamy and still carrying some heat from the bourbon.

Overall: One of the single best barrel aged stouts I've had the pleasure of drinking. I was lucky enough to have this whole bottle to myself and experience this beer as it warms, The best of the Bourbon County family I have had to date. (926 characters)

Photo of mattsander
4.8/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Nearly jet black, mahogany edges, a few dozen bubbles rise and fall quickly. Classic BCBS appearance, seems lighter than 2011/2012.

S: Holy moly... Fresh 'fleshy' vanilla beans (doesn't smell like extract, actually smells like a pod). Deep molasses, cocoa and fudge. Smells very similar to regular BCBS but everything is smoother and better integrated. The vanilla character is definitely there. This is perfect.

T: This for me is the perfect incarnation of BCBS - has all the things I love about regular BCBS but everything seems better integrated and more 'sophisticated'. Sweet but not cloying, mineraly, a tiny bit of booze.

My favorite variant of BCBS, haven't tried Rare yet and probably never will. I can't say whether its the vanilla beans or the age (2010) that make this variant so special, either way it is positively breathtaking. (849 characters)

Photo of yamar68
4.77/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Many, many, many thanks to dsal89 for sending me this bottle. I never thought I'd have the chance to try this gem.

Black. Sexy.

Easily the best smelling Bourbon County beer I've encountered. Mellow sweetness, really showcases the vanilla bean. Caramel, fudge... the bourbon presence is really subdued in the best kind of way. Toffee, Kahlua, super mellow compared to its brethren.

That classic BCBS bourbon profile makes itself known on the palate. Subtly sweet with layer after layer of oily vanilla bean and caramel candy. What an awesome twist on an already incredible beer. Fuck me running.

Thanks Dan!! (614 characters)

Photo of Rutager
4.59/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a great house today, time to celebrate! Big thank you to mrbubbler for getting this to me around a year and a half ago. Drank alongside a 2010 BCBS to compare.

Appearance. Pours a thick dark brown, black in the glass and topped with a half finger of dark tan head that fades to a thick skim and leaves some decent lacing.

Smell. Sweet woody bourbon and molasses and a little maple syrup (surprisingly). Not a ton of vanilla besides the oaky bourbon which is also surprising. Not a big difference between the 2010 base beer and this except for the maple and a little more wood in the vanilla version.

Taste. Big vanilla and again some maple! Lots of woody bourbon but with very little heat. Smooth dark malts and some molasses, then the rich dark chocolate kicking in at the finish. Nice. Taste is quite different when compared the 2010 BCBS with the vanilla coming through in and almost marshmallow-like way.

Mouthfeel. This is where BCBVS shines most imo. Thick, rich, and velvety smooth. Low carbonation that is so soft and fine its hard to distinguish immediately after a sip.

Overall. Fantastic stuff. I don't think I'd trade half my cellar for it which seems to be the going rate these days, but it is a damn fine brew. (1,237 characters)

Photo of timc100
4.71/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Bottled bourbon county has that fizzy head and is overall not attractive, on tap this thing looked amazing. Creamy mocha head with great lacing and that lasted throughout. Poured out pitch black.

S: A lot of vanilla still left. Blends perfectly with the base beer. The fusion of vanilla, bourbon, and chocolate create a nice cinnamon and hazelnut spice. Very sweet - like chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. The bourbon is more balanced and some of the caramel is lost, but still has that nice heat.

T: Incredibly rich and smooth. A lot of vanilla that makes for a smoother, sweeter experience - enhanced milk chocolate. Strong bourbon caramel heat and some oak. Really fantastic

P: Rich, smooth, delightfully soft carbonation. Full body that gets syrupy after a while.

O: An incredibly decadent, sweet, desert beer. Amazing vanilla blend - definitely has not faded in the keg. Overall has held up amazingly with age. (926 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
4.25/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'd been sitting on this bottle for a while, but once I got the official Bourbon County goblet, I decided the time had come to pop this one open. Looked like a typical BCBS, dark brown-black--might as well call it black--with a small tan head that receded to a ringlet. Some oily streaks on the glass, but no real lacing, as would be expected. Dark roasted malts in the nose, semi-sweet chocolate, bourbon; traces of vanilla, but this aspect was almost completely faded. Taste of roasty malts, thick, notes of coffee and chocolate, bourbon-soaked wood, with a slight vegetal vanilla presence, that I'm sure was stronger when it was fresh, but had by now faded to a background flavor. But it was still BCBS and it was still good. Still quite hot with booze even after about 3 years of aging. Full body, and a good sipper. Nice overall, but I really think the original BCBS is still my favorite of the bunch. (906 characters)

Photo of Knapp85
4.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This poured out as a nice black color, as it should. The head retention is thin and lacing is thin. The smell is actually of cardboard right now. It's not bad, but it reminded me of boxes with a subtle vanilla aroma. The taste is still awesome, plenty of vanilla left in this bad boy! Very nice flavors in here. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. Overall it's awesome and so glad to try it! Despite the smell, the flavors do the justice! Very good! (448 characters)

Photo of Fux
4.94/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes. On tap at the Mikkeller bar before 2012 S&B and CBC. One of the highlights of a fantastic beer week!
A: Dark, black, opaque. Very thin off-white head with a low retention.
S: I got vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, oak upfront. Smooth and deep with a woody character. Wonderful smell!
T: The taste is quite intense with chocolate and vanilla. Woody with some acidic notes from the oak. A bit of alcohol in the aftertaste but nothing disturbing. Great!
M: High bodied, smooth, sweet, still very drinkable.
O: A very very nice brew. The vanilla gives some smoothness to the already very enjoyable base beer, and melts gracefully to this awesome bourbon beer. One must have! (687 characters)

Photo of ShanePB
4.24/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2010, opened at our Bourbon County tasting yesterday.

A: Classic Bourbon County appearance. Deep black with some dark brown edges, no head, retention or lacing.

S: Bourbon soaked oak, dark chocolate, fudge, and a little bit of vanilla the more this warmed up. Surprisingly not that much different to regular BCBS.

T: As this beer warms and opens the vanilla comes out a bit more. Touches of vanilla beans, dark chocolate, plenty of warm and sweet bourbon, oak.

M: Soft carbonation, medium to full-bodied with a very oily and coating texture.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in the lack of vanilla in this beer. I would have loved to try this one fresh but it wasn't all that different than regular BCBS. Certainly not worth giving up what you'd have to for it at this point. (800 characters)

Photo of mdagnew
4.91/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

650ml bottle bought from McHughs, Dublin... 2010 vintage

My 1000th beer on Beeradvocate so i thought i'd make it something special...

Poured blacker than black even when held up to the light... Dirty mocha brown head poured quite loose and fizzy and faded very quickly to just a ring around the edge... very little lacing..

Aroma - Very strong sweet oaky bourbon to the fore straight away, very woody and earthy, lots of fresh vanilla, roasted malts, hints of tar, cigar smokiness, rich stewed dark fruits (blackcurrents and prunes), molasses and burnt brown sugar, alcohol is pretty noticeable, butterscotch, fresh black pepper

Taste - Tons of roasted and charred malts mixed with strong molasses / black treacle sweetness followed closely by warming bourbon, lots of vanilla, liquorice, defnite cigar / tobacco smokiness, rich dark sweet fruits (prunes, figs, raisins, blackcurrents), very earthy, espresso, soy notes, alcohol definitely comes through, dark chocolate...

Feel - Rich, thick and syrupy... very full bodied.. suprisingly drinkable for a 13% brew although you definitely notice the alcohol after one bottle..

Overall - An exquisite and incredibly full flavoured stout and one of the best i've ever had... highly recommended. I do have to say though that it isn't a great deal different from the regular BCS and at 20 Euro a bottle not something i'd be buying too often... (1,392 characters)

Photo of vonnegut21
5/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Traded for this beer almost a year ago... finally decided to break down and pop it open.

A: Deep black, slight tan head.

S: Chocolate, bourbon, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla.

T: Bitter chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, lingering sweetness. Caramel/toffee notes and lingering heat.

M: Thick bodied, nicely carbonated.

O: I've loved every Bourbon County variant I've had, but this is the best yet. It might be the best beer I've ever had. It's going to be tough to get another, but it will definitely be worth it. (514 characters)

Photo of kawilliams81
4.81/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed from notes. Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Half Acre snifter.

A- Pours black with a 1 finger tan head. Minimal lacing.

S- Big fudge aroma, lots of vanilla, bourbon, and more chocolate.

T- Rich chocolate, lots of vanilla remains, fudge, and bourbon.

M- Full body and medium carbonation. Thick and creamy mouth feel.

O- I have had this a few times at tap takeovers over the past 2 years, but this beer is still Amazing! (434 characters)

Photo of Etan
4.28/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle courtesy of Jason. Thanks a lot!

A: Looks like normal Bourbon County. Very dark brown, reddish hues around the edges, tiny light tan head.

S: Thick bourbon, dark chocolate, toffee, dry oak. Maybe a hint of vanilla. Not very different from regular Bourbon County.

T. More vanilla is apparent in the taste than the nose. Sweet vanilla, light cherry and booze, oaky bourbon, sugary caramel, charred grain.

M. Between medium and thick-bodied. Light but active carbonation.

O: While the vanilla is certainly still there, it's not as much of a marked difference from regular BCBS as I would have liked. Better off not spending/trading heavily for this beer when BCBS is readily available. (699 characters)

Photo of vivasbeer
4.9/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This was my favorite of any Bourbon County variant, and to my knowledge, I have had all of them that has been bottled. Whoever said the Vanilla is fading is just plain wrong. The only reason I popped this was because of fears of the vanilla fading. Well, it was still VERY present in this beer, and it is sublime. Perfect beer for me, as I love vanilla. It was my last bottle, so I'm guessing I will never get another chance to taste it. LOVE it, probably my favorite beer of all time. (485 characters)

Photo of standardcherry
3.44/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle served into a snifter. Originally had it in November 2012, but writing this review from notes.

A: Pours pitch black and thick. Flat. Only a few bubbles of head.
S: No vanilla at all. Smells great otherwise, lots of chocolate and bourbon.
T: Wow this is VERY boozy and sweet. Lots of chocolate and bourbon again, but not very balanced.
M: Nice for a BA stout, thick/syrupy. Very boozy though which detracts a bit from it in my opinion.
O: This beer has fallen off (at least my bottle has). I did not get any vanilla at all, just a hot and chocolatey bourbon brew. Good, but not worth what people ask for it. (619 characters)

Photo of RuckusDu
4.35/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was told this was a lighter vanilla than the regular. Got this on tap right after 2012 GABF at a special BC tasting. This was one of 4 beers they were trying out.

No head. Pitch black. Leaves some legs. Nose is vanilla, chocolate, molasses. A little heat and a lot of sweet. Tons of alcohol on the tongue. Sweet as can be. Some chocolate. Vanilla. Burns on the way down. Smooth. Some carbonation. Thick.

Overall quite excellent. I love sweet. Barrel tastes great and everything goes well together. 4.0 4.0 4.5 4.5 4.5 (523 characters)

Photo of jeonseh
4.2/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter. Had as part of a NWI tasting group Bourbon County tasting night.

A - Looks just like regular bourbon county. Pours a dark, dark deep chocolate brown with a small head floating on the top it disappeared pretty fast but left a nice chocolate brown ring on the edges the whole time.

S - Light oak, sweet bourbon and a light whiff of vanilla. I didn't get as much chocolate and cocoa as I get in regular BCBS

T - Sweet vanilla hits you upfront and stays throughout. There is a slight milk chocolate in the middle that helps cut the vanilla. Finish is bourbon whiskey and a light oak spice. Reminds me a lot of regular BCBS but much sweeter.

MF - A thick and syrupy beer. The finish was a slight oak spiciness that lingers on the tongue. The beer is really sticky as well from the vanilla and leaves that stickiness in the finish.

O - Overall, this is a sweeter version of bourbon count with lots more vanilla sweetness found in the normal BCBS. It's good but probably a bit too sweet for my tastes. Overall, this is probably my least favorite variant as it doesn't add much of a twist to normal BCBS. (1,131 characters)

Photo of hooliganlife
3.65/5  rDev -17%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pour was thick jet black ala all BCS bottles. little to no head. oily looking.

light vanilla, but heavy on sweetness and and overall a big stout. light on an bourbon flavors.

subtle and faint up front. very sweet, boozy, and some faint vanilla on the finish. lacked any real complexity. overall, i thought it lacked any of the amazing characteristics of BCS as a whole.

gums tingled and burned. thick and chewy.

i was disappointed. vanilla is falling off badly, body lacks complexity to back that up. (506 characters)

Photo of EdwardFortyHands
2.9/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

I did not taste any vanilla, this beer was not good and fell flat. Were it not for its name and my respect for the brand and franchise this would have been a drain pour. It is not drinking well. I do not like it. I would not drink it with a fox I would not drink it in a box.

It is just not a good stout in my mind. It is old and tired and not doing well any more. Maybe it used to be good, but it is not drinking well now. (424 characters)

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