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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BA SCORE
97
world-class

402 Reviews
THE BROS
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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 bwgassman
4.85/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz Bottle poured into a pint glass.

A: Dark and black with a rich molasses appeal. Minimal head with decent legs.

S: Lavish and whimsical. Immediate whiff of vanilla, bourbon, oak, and chocolate.

T: Impressively rich and smooth with an instantaneous bourbon impact followed by a vanilla tracer. Fairly carbonated compared to other Stouts.

M: Thick and viscous with a dry a finish.

D: Extremely drinkable however this is beverage one must treasure and preserve. (468 characters)

Photo of waltonc
4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Cracked this high class beverage with Doodler and bardwashrind this evening. No need to rehash the obvious - this beer tastes like BCS + vanilla beans. In other words, a high ABV, thick bourbon bomb imperial stout with a good amount of vanilla. I love BCS, and the vanilla is a nice addition. Slightly sweeter and hotter than its coffee counterpart.

My only complaint - it's absurd that this is sold in 22 ounce bombers rather than 12 ounce bottles, or even smaller. My friends at the country club were outraged when they heard they could not purchase this in a 4-pack. (570 characters)

Photo of daledeee
4.69/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A 22 oz bomber that could have been aged...

Poured into the snifter. Nice dark tan medium head with brown almost black body. No light through this one.

Nose is a 6 if I could give it. Vanilla, of course, chocolate ice cream, milk chocolate.

Taste is sweet, vanilla, cream, cocoa power, charcoal and alcohol.

Mouthfeel is substantial. Very thick tasting yet quite a bit of carbonated bite.

Drinkability is good but alcohol is WAY warming with this one. More so than the other two offerings I have had(Coffee and Bourbon County). So rich and good tasting. This would be great when -30F in front of the fire. It's like drinking hard stuff. The throat is so warmed! Because this matches the taste so well, it reminds me of a fine liqueur. As I drank this I found my self fantasizing that there were cocoa granules in the beer and the wind was howling outside. (861 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.24/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Meantime tulip. 13% ABV, Bottled on 11/05/10.

Thanks to Sweemzander for picking up my reserved bottle on the way up here!

A - BCVS is a totally black brew with no slivers of light shining through at all. A tan head springs up after the pour and falls by the wayside almost instantly. We can probably thank the alcohol for that one. No lace is left on the glass at all.

S - Rich roasted malts and milk chocolate with a strong vanilla bean/extract aroma up front. A ton of hot booze along the back side. Smooth smelling from all the good vanilla, but it's pretty stinkin' boozy. Of course, I expected that.

T - Smooth and aggressive vanilla with a huge backing of roasted malts. Notes of milk chocolate backing the bold vanilla. Big and straight forward. Not a lot of depth in this one.

M - For how hot this is, it's surprisingly smooth going down. This is massively rich with a thick finish that coats the throat.

D - Even with splitting the bottle, this is hard to put down. Very good flavor but not the best drinkability. It's good fresh but I'd bet this is going to be even better in a few years. I like Goose Island and this beer but the hype surrounding this beer is outrageous. The fact that I've heard things about beer stores guarding it is just dumb. It's just beer guys, relax. (1,329 characters)

Photo of roadhouse
4.87/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into snifter.

Appearance is dark black of course. Medium brown head fades quickly with no lacing, but it doesn't detract.

Aroma outstanding as usual though it is really hard to discern any difference from the regular BCS with a year of age on it. Smooth bourbon and oak smells with plenty of vanilla (I would hope). Roasty coffee tones but an overall sweetness prevails.

Taste is sweet initially with the bourbon and oak notes coming in with vanilla coming in strong. Roastiness takes over with boozey bourbon in the finish and lingering vanilla.

Mouthfeel is as smooth and creamy as it gets, nice and thick. Great.

Overall it's an amazing beer, but I really don't think it's any better than the regular BCS aged. It's nearly identical and at $14 a bomber this is not really worth the cost and isn't really worth seeking out if you can or have had the regular BCS. (883 characters)

Photo of homebrew311
4.49/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: the appearance of this is pretty much the same as the other variants, very thick and viscous looking with some serious legs. Not a whole lot of head to speak of, just a thin collar

S: big notes of dark chocolate and molasses up front with lots of bourbon and oak. It is hard to distinguish the vanilla bean character from the bourbon character...perhaps the vanilla mellows out the booziness a touch and smooths out the over all aroma. For the most part this smells just like BCBS which is great.

T: again I get a lot of chocolate and roasted character up front with a nice presence of vanilla in the mid palate. On the palate, it is much easier to identify the different flavors as the bourbon and oak come on heavy at the end. The beer is rich and decadent and begs to be sipped slowly. There is certainly a warming sensation at the end from the abv.

MF: huge viscous body, massive on all levels.

D: another great brew from Goose Island, but I can't say that I enjoy this variant above the others. For me, this is too much like the original BCBS to really put this in a class of its own. I enjoyed the coffee version better. (1,134 characters)

Photo of cetherid
4.77/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

poured into a pint glass.

A.

pitch black. some brown peaking through the light but this is a very dark beer. just like the standard bourbon county stout. a little head from carbonation but not too bad.

S.

amazing! bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, oak and booze. So many powerful smells in every little sniff of it.

T.

amazing just like smell. dark chocolatey malts with bourbon, vanilla (not as strong as expected) and oak smells. A different flavor each sip it seemed like. Vanilla is not as prominent as you think it would be from the name of the beer, but it is just perfect. One of the best brews I've tried!!

M.

full bodied but the beer is smooth going down. Not too carbonated and the booziness isn't too terrible bur prominent. This beer is of the hook!!

D.

Great but not too high. You'll need at least 2 to 3 people to finish a bomber and feel great. At 13% and limited availability, just drinking one is a treat. Probably one of the best beers I've ever had, but booziness and availability make it a little lower on the drinkability scale. (1,054 characters)

Photo of Vdubb86
4.42/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a Sam Adam's Perfect Pint Glass

This beer pours a superbly thick blackness. There isn't much foam to top it though which is sad, but that doesn't mean that it isn't attractive. The smell is the obvious bourbon, oak and vanilla. The subtle notes are brown sugar and molasses. This is nice and tasty. There is clearly vanilla and bourbon most present on the palate. The subtle flavors are oak, chocolate, perhaps a hint of cinnamon spice, but I could be making it up. The vanilla does lots to cut down the bourbon harshness that tends to plague these beers early on. The harshness does detract from the overall taste, but because of the vanilla it's still good. I really look forward to having the other one age. This drinks really well and it was well worth the hassle. (779 characters)

Photo of nkersten
4.32/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Darkness glass from a bottle I was lucky to get after visiting who knows how many stores. Pitch black with a small dark tan head after a vigorous pour. Head fades quickly with no retention and no lacing. Would like to see a better retention. Smell is vanilla up front with some chocolate and oak following. I think the sweetness of the vanilla covers up a lot of the bourbon notes found in the standard bourbon county. A hint of alcohol in the background. Taste is unimpressive. Well, unimpressive compared to the standard Bourbon County Stout. This has a subtle vanilla flavor up front and in the finish, but other then that it tastes pretty standard BCBS, which is not a bad thing. I wouldn't mind a little more rich vanilla bean flavor. A it of roasted malt, coffee and oak in the finish. Mouthfeel is great. I was afraid that this one would be flat given the pour, but it has just the right amount of prickly carbonation. Heavy thick mouthfeel, coating and sweet but not cloying, just what a stout this big should feel like. For the style, this one as well as all the other bourbon counties, is dangerously drinkable for a 13% brew. Try this if you can, but if dont manage to get a bottle, get some standard and pretend it has vanilla in it - you wont be far off. (1,279 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
4.12/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Half Acre shaker pint glass.

Big ups to VDubb86 for sharing this bottle with his destitute homeboy!

I'll be honest: both the normal BCBS and the BCBCS were kinda both letdowns for me. My fingers are crossed for this iteration. It pours a nice obsidian with just a bit less than a finger of dark-ish ecru foam. The nose reminds me a lot of the other Bourbon Counties, with a helluva lot o' bourbon, oak, molasses, roasted malts, chocolate syrup, blackened pretzels, and caramelized caramel. This time, though, a very nice sacred vanilla river runs straight to a sunless sea (I mean, it is pretty damn dark, folks). The taste is very similar, with the oak really pushing its agenda across the table. The vanilla is definitely there, but I was hoping for something to really cut the bourbon down a bit more. Its inclusion, though, is a big boost, pushing this guy above his normal and coffee cousins. A strong ridge of burning alcohol, though, rings my tongue, precluding full enjoyment. The body is pretty hefty, with a tinglingly light moderate carbonation and decidedly chewy feel. Overall, as can be easily gleaned from above, I found this to be rather better than the other two iterations I've had thus far. It still falls a bit short of epicness, but it is indeed a fine bit o' stout. (1,301 characters)

Photo of blackhawks87
4.75/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my trusty Dogfish Head signature glass.

A- Poured from the bomber straight down the middle. The beer is black as can be with very little brown head which doesn't last long. Would like to see more head but in my limited experience with barrel aged beers little to no head seems to be a trend.

S- As soon as I poured this beer I could smell the sweet bourbon goodness. Bourbon pretty much dominates combined with a sweetness that is undoubtedly from the addition of vanilla beans. As it warms more of a chocolaty smell comes through as does a bit of roasted maltiness that most stouts have. Can't smell any hops but that is okay.

T- This beer is delicious. I had trouble finishing my first bomber of regular Bourbon County Stout due to booziness but I will not encounter the same problem with my first bomber of the Vanilla. This is possibly my favorite bourbon barrel aged stout to date. Tastes just like it smells. The malt profile gracefully delivers the bourbon and vanilla to your tongue with each sip. Also subtle chocolate and dark plum like fruitiness are present if you search enough.

M- Carbonation is right where it should be for this type of beer. This is much smoother than I expected and all the flavors are very well balanced. Pretty heavy on the palate and the alcohol isn't really hidden.

D- This isn't kid's stuff. Alcohol really plays a part and you can feel it in your throat and chest as you drink the beer. I don't have a problem with a moderate to heavy alcohol presence in stouts but some people might. I was eating chunks of some smoked Gouda cheese while drinking this and it went really well together. If you like cheese I recommend pairing the two.

All in all this was worth the craze that surrounded hunting down a few bottles in the burbs and around Chicago. I plan on laying another bottle down for at least a year or 2 before drinking again. (1,894 characters)

Photo of hawks10
4.52/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle - Bottled November 5th, 2010 - Poured into my Goose Island over-sized tasting glass...

This one even pours beautifully...silky and creamy, black, thick and viscous. A vigorous pour yields one finger of dark tan head that recedes as quickly as it formed...

This smells more like a decadent, delicious desert than anything else. Very sweet. Tons of chocolate and sweet bourbon fill the nose, vanilla and oak add some subtle nuances to the powerfully rich and sweet smelling beer...

This beer is rich. Tons of sweet chocolate with loads of sweet and warm bourbon. No sign of roasted or bitter flavors, this one is all about smooth and sweet. Hot, after just a few sips the 13% really shows through. Bourbon all over the place with touches of vanilla and oak, vanilla is not as strong as I anticipated but really adds a nice subtle character to the already flavor loaded base beer...

Full bodied for sure. Thick and smooth, mouth coating and very hot. Bourbon should be bold on the label, this beer warms you up and keeps you there for a while...

Very good. Not as impressed with this as I was with the Coffee version, not as drinkable and smooth, the Vanilla version is a bit rougher and much hotter... (1,217 characters)

Photo of paco1029384756
4.62/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours black with a very small dark brown head. This seems to have a bit more carbonation than the regular Bourbon County.

Scent of sweet bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, oak, earth, sugar, toffee, and some alcohol. The vanilla isn't particularly potent here, but the base beer has an excellent scent as it is.

Taste of rich chocolate cake, sweet bourbon, vanilla. oak, toffee, and some warming alcohol on the end. I love Bourbon County Stout, and I think it is even better with the nice kick of vanilla that this beer offers.

Mouthfeel is heavy and full bodied with a touch of carbonation. Finishes dry with a nice heat from the alcohol. (636 characters)

Photo of cadaugherty
4.87/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at November BA meetup-

Appearance- Dark and beautiful with a rich and thick head of a Chocolate hue.

Aroma- The chocolate and bourbon character are readily available in the scent. The vanilla comes through on the second sniff and while strong is far from overpowering.

Taste- Immediate bourbon taste followed by a mellowing of the vanilla that makes this a remarkably smooth and easy to drink stout. The malt character is strong but honestly is a little lost in the bourbon and vanilla.

Mouthfeel- Full and rich. I have no details to go past this because there is nothing to critique, this is what a Imperial Stout should feel like on the palate.

Drinkability- I had 4 tasters while at the event filled most of the way. I could still walk and taste other beers, even a lovely Bullfrog DIPA brought by the always generous MasterSki. This is not a palate bruiser like most of its ilk.

I had this once before at the Shefields GI Tap Takeover and it was much better this go around. Clearly the extra time ihas agreed with this beer and I cannot wait to buy as much as possible in bottles to share, cellar, and trade. (1,125 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
4.57/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at November's BA meetup. Served in a taster glass.

A - Pours with a quarter-finger of dark mocha foam that settles to a thin ring and a patch of filmy haze on top. No lacing, but nice legs. Body is unsurprisingly pitch black. Head size fluctuated throughout the night as the CO2 tank was tweaked.

S - Huge chocolate and dark roast character, plenty of bourbon, and lots of oak. The vanilla element is somewhat subtle in the nose, but thankfully this doesn't smell like someone poured extract into the barrel - still I thought it could use a bit more. However, when the base beer is extra-aged Bourbon County Stout, it still smells quite excellent.

T - The taste however has plenty of vanilla bean mingling with massive chocolate cake, fudge, and other decadent deserts. I think the extra time has helped because this is better than when I had it at the Sheffield's tap takeover. Finish is sweet but never cloying. Less obvious bourbon and oak here.

M - This has a mouth-coating, slick, viscous, body, but finishes dry and tannic.

D - The vanilla has certainly attenuated the tannic finish a bit, which increases the ease of consumption. However, unlimited refills of this was probably a bad idea. I had a pretty nasty headache when I woke up this morning. (1,268 characters)

Photo of afksports
4.62/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Goddamn. There's something about these stouts that's just so fcking magical. Sorry - no other way to say it. Jingle bells and unicorns are in my beer. Right now. I'm drinking a unicorn.

The appearance of my mythical creature is pitch black, and would be a five of five but it's headless. Probably the keg, but I'm not complaining. Smell has vanilla that tempers but doesn't weaken the bourbon. There's coffee, toasty malts, chocolate, and a ligre.

Taste is nuts. Not nuts like cashews but like your uncle that only your mom keeps in touch with. It's the GI BC base with vanilla. Nothing wins. It's all there. Drinkability is a bit low because you always have to sip these.

Lest you find yourself grinding to "Walk like an Egyptian" with three elves and two unicorns. (770 characters)

Photo of pdoran10
4.12/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the happy gnome during goose island tap takeover. 10-13

poured in a sampling glass alongside normal bcs and coffee bcs. jet black with little head. looks exactly like the two other beers.

smell is mellow bourbon, charred dark fruit, a hint of vanilla. bourbon smell is less present here than the other two.

taste is sweet vanilla up front, muting the barrel aged notes. much smoother flavors than the other two bcs, finishes with some singed toast flavor with a bit of sweetness from vanilla lingering. much sweeter than the other two bcs varieties, with less bourbon flavor. my least favorite of the three.

mouthfeel is thick and a bit syrupy with low carbonation as to be expected with all the bcs beers. works well here.

this bcs is a bit more approachable as the vanilla mutes some of the harsh bourbon flavors, but does get overly sweet after a bit for me. (876 characters)

Photo of mothman
4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very light head, hardly and at all. Color is pretty much black. A swirl of the beer leaves legs running down the glass. Pretty thick stuff.

Aroma: Vanilla, bourbon, sweet chocolate, rich flavors, roasted malts, and dark fruits. The vanilla and bourbon are huge in this beer. Pretty awesome flavors.

Taste: A lot more dark fruit here in the taste. The bourbon and vanilla are awesome. Very rich and roasted. Oak and chocolate shows a lot. A warming beer, but in a good way.

Mouthfeel: Very warming, smooth, creamy, and syrupy. Full bodied with a low to medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry with some bourbon notes.

Overall, this beer is very drinkable. Both times I have had it, I have pretty much slammed my glass. Top notch beer. Near as good as vanilla bean dl. (777 characters)

Photo of kbutler1
4.5/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Draft at the Great Taste of the MW. Have been anticipating this one and really have high expectations for this after having enjoyed and loved both BCBS and BCBCS. The pour is similiar to the other Bourbon County beers with a dark brown body and slight tan head. The vanilla comes through in the nose pretty much more that any other beer I have ever had. You'd think it would be really sweet and cloying after the aroma but the taste is nicely blended. Also in the nose is the barrel and dark chocolate. Tastewise, the first thing you get in the vanilla followed by dark chocolate, some booze notes and then back to vanilla. Does it live up to the expectation? No, it actually blows right by my expectation and is better than I even thought. Can't wait for this to come out in bottles.

Sampled again at MN ABR. Still a great beer! (830 characters)

Photo of glazeman
4.77/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at Sheffield's

Looks pretty much the same as regular BCS and BCBCS. Heck, I had all four of the variants of BCS side-by-side and they were pretty much identical in appearance and mouthfeel. All were the darkest of browns, not quite black. From the tap, there was not much head, just a swirl of bubbles that lasted for a decent amount of time. Mouthfeel is spot on. This was a nice, thick, stout that went down smooth and had a great aftertaste. I thought that the vanilla in this helped mellow out some of the heat present in regular BCS very nicely. It added some complexity and a pleasant change to the smell as well. Drinkability for the vanilla version is outstanding. I think through the course of the night I had a total of about 16 ounces of the vanilla version and could have easily had more. Overall though, not quite as good as the coffee or chocolate versions, which were tied for my favorites.

Update - after having this again at the November Goose Island BA event, I must say the extra time in the barrel has improved the beer. Things are more balanced and the vanilla is more prominant in the taste. I would now say this is equally as good as the coffee version, but noticeably and deliciously different. (1,236 characters)

Photo of thetomG
4.47/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow wow wow... had this one on draft at the AHA Rally @ Goose Island. Deep dark brown pour with nice bit of tan head... just a little lacing. Aroma is mostly sweet bourbon and vanilla (duh). Flavor is the same but waaaay more intense. Delicious balance between the vanilla and bourbon and everything else - lots going on, but it all works very well together. Amazingly well balanced and very easy to drink. Thick, and syrupy, but not too sweet, I could drink this all day. Deeeelicious! (486 characters)

Photo of chaz01
4.67/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was the star of the show at the 3rd Annual Dayton Cask AleFest. I tasted a few other's in the lineup for this event, but I kept coming back to this.

A: Thick, dark, menacing and black. No head whatsoever.

S: Bourbon and Vanilla aromas, but not overwhelming. I had various versions of the FFF Dark Lord this past spring, and compared to that the vanilla and bourbon flavors are very subtle.

T: Sweet initially with the vanilla and bourbon flavors complementing each other. Rich roasted malt flavors and oak,but the gentle bourbon flavor is always nearby and lingers pleasantly in the mouth for a long time.

M: Thick, rich mouthfeel with the cask adding a creamy quality to the beer.

D: Perhaps this may be the ultimate desert or sipping beer. Lots of flavors going with the a pleasant bourbon/alcohol taste that is very noticeable, but still very drinkable. (866 characters)

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

Stumbled into this one on tap at SmallBar Fullerton. Had shown up for the Double Daisy Cutter, this was a hell of a bonus find.

A - Looks perfect coming out of the tap into a snifter. Black as night, perfect looking brown head on it. Can't ask for a better look on a stout.

S - Brownie, mildly roasted malts, very sweet. Was hard for me to pick out the vanilla at first, but as it started to warm a little, the vanilla got very big. Melds nicely with the rest of the flavors. Bourbon is quite present.

T - Bourbon on this is a bit hot, very brownie tasting, the vanilla is on the back end, and it becomes nicely strong the more I drink. All the flavors on this blend very nicely together, imagine BCS with a bit more chocolate and confectioners sugar and a big vanilla presence. Only the hotness of the bourbon keeps this from being a 5, and I bet in a year this is drinking perfectly.

M - Almost chewy, very thick, full bodied, the right carbonation level.

D - Hotness keeps it to a 4, although it got easier as it warmed up (and as I probably got drunker). This is a great brew, not as good as Coffee BCS, but definately a great beer. (1,141 characters)

Photo of emerge077
4.62/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lucky pour into a Matilda glass at Smallbar Fullerton, available for one night during Chicago Craft Beer Week, for the Beermapping/HopCast Rare Beer Night.

Black body, dark tobacco stained foam rings the edge, and forms a yin yang swirl when agitated. Not much lace, only random spots here and there. Glassy black obsidian surface. It's not as sticky as regular Bourbon County.

Heavenly aroma of vanilla bean ice cream, some sweet whiskey far in the back. It's mellow and confectionary. Very smooth with no harsh edges. The vanilla is prominent, yet integrated. Woody oak, brown sugar, and related bourbon elements.

Rich, decadent flavors of vanilla fudge brownies soaked in bourbon. Mellow barrel character manifests greatest at the end with traces of dry oak. In the middle it's all charred malts and bakers chocolate, wrapped in a vanilla blanket. Finish lingers forever.

By now BCS is a welcome household name, you know it's going to be smooth and rich no matter what. Additional aging takes the edge off the original, much like the recent coffee incarnation. Could have had more, but the 1/6 barrel blew before I could have another... (1,146 characters)

Photo of jampics2
4.82/5  rDev +9.5%
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)

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