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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.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

406 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 406
Hads: 1,196
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 9.3%
Wants: 1,523
Gots: 430 | 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: 406 | Hads: 1,196
Photo of RuckusDu
4.35/5  rDev -1.4%
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 -4.8%
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 -17.2%
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 -34.2%
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)

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

8oz pour at the Blind Tiger's VerySpecialKeg Day. 2010 Vintage

A: Black as night. A few big brown bubbles here and there. Alcohol lacing on the glass.

S: Bourbon city. Chocolate, roasty malts and vanilla sweetness. Oh man this might be a bit intense, I'm excited.

T: Pretty much the same taste as regular BCBS but with a whole lotta sweet vanilla at the finish. Real good stuff, I like my vanilla in and out of my stouts.

M: Thick, viscous, sticky, chewy. Flavors coat your mouth and stay for a while. Not much carbonation. Pretty much what you'd expect out of this beer, it's a nice sipper. Your still getting that booze at two years old and it makes me wonder what this brew was like fresh.

O: I'm loving it. If your a fan of BCBS and you like vanilla, I'd go out of your way to get this. But at the same time, not that much different than the base beer so I won't be trading for this anytime soon. Thanks again Blind Tiger. (932 characters)

Photo of chugalug06
4.61/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Flat in appearance. Very little Orange/Brown soapy bubbles rise when heavily poured. Brew is like burnt oil.

WOW! Great bourbon scent. I can smell it from the other end of the couch... Greatness. Heavy (milk) chocolate. Metric ton of Vanilla and caramel. No bitterness or over sweetness.

This brew will knock your socks off. Not overly boozy or sweet. Very balanced and smooth vanilla barrel flavors. Not nearly as think in flavors as it looks. Carbonation is much higher then the appearance. Sweetness is nice, but not over bearing. Zero bitterness. AWESOME!!

A perfect lunch! This is one of the best brews I've had in a long time. Highly recommended, super sad this is a retired brew. I could drink this all day (and night). (730 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.21/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared tonight by HopasaurusRex, thanks for the opportunity.
Pours an inky thick black color with a smallish tan head that dissipates almost instantly. Wonderful aromas of bourbon, brown sugar, lots of vanilla, roasted grains, coffee, chocolate, ethanol, and caramel. I could sit here all night and sniff this beer out of the glass. The flavor is quite sweet with a heavy brown sugary caramel malt base with a fair amount of roasted grain, coffee and chocolate which is tempered with a solid hit of bourbon, alcohol, oak, and vanilla. Thick sugary body with a light level of carbonation and a sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. This beer really works for me, but my tastes lean towards a thick heavy stout. I honestly feel that if the alcohol wasn't so present in the flavor and the aroma that this beer would be incredibly cloying. With that out of the way I really enjoyed it. (875 characters)

Photo of Dennoman
4.55/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Shared by Simon at Borefts Beer Festival 2012, reviewed from notes (09/29/2012). Thank you so much, can't wait to get a few bottles of this soon!

A: Black as your ex-wife's heart, as some other reviewers quip. Thick as anything, amazing looking beer. Little to no head, which is a shame as many brewers prove every day that a high-ABV beer doesn't need to be flat by definition.

S: Huge wafts of vanilla, butterscotch and bourbon. Some oak and roasted malts come in, but they definitely play second fiddle. Stay away if you're not a fan of bourbon and vanilla, because this packs it by the truckload!

T: Wow, this is just so beautiful if you love barrel profile. Vanilla, bourbon, caramel, oak, coffee, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and maybe even some white chocolate (cocoa butter). The balance seems a little thrown however with the amount of vanilla in there, so it begs the question whether this comes from fresh vanilla beans or some kind of butterscotch extract. Providing you have a sweet tooth, this is incredibly good.

M: As close to syrup as a beer will probably get. Very low carbonation makes this a sweet and sticky sensation that will coat your mouth like an oil slick. Surprisingly the alcohol does manage to wash some of it away though, so you're not stuck with a dry and powdery mouth.

O: An amazing sensation and a true explosion of flavors on the palate. If I can fault anything about this beer, it's the completely flat appearance (yes, sorry, Belgians will always love their heads!) and the amount of vanilla. The balance seems a little thrown, and from what I hear they did a better job in this aspect with the Rare version. Can't wait to taste the other Bourbon County variants now, and I'll be sure to review them when I do! They sure do some great stouts in the Windy City! (1,805 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
4.67/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

** After having this again recently I feel that this beer definitely warrants an updated review. I left the original below.**

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 11/05/2010 bottled date. Huge thanks to Chris for opening this on a special day!

Very similar in appearance as before, but surprisingly has kept quite the carbonation level so surprised to see some froth appear.

The smell has completely changed into a velvet-like chocolate bourbon front that flows into some awesome subtle vanilla combined with oak.

With additional time on this, it has really become much more balanced, complex, and far more dynamic than when it was fresh. While the vanilla is still there, it is not the forefront of the flavor profile. Overall, it has really turned into a s'more like flavor: chocolate, graham cracker, and finishes in a subtle oaky bourbon vanilla that is really quite nice. The mouthfeel is infinitely more smoother that definitely does not drink like a 13%ABV beer.

In the end, time has done absolute wonders for this beer in both complexity and smoothness from the booze & vanilla bomb it was before. Very very good now. Makes me wish I had more of this around now.

---old review---
22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 11/05/10 bottled date. Huge thanks to BeerFMAndy for opening this with us!

(A)- Pours very thick and pitch black. Produced a minimal tan head that dissipated after awhile. (3.5)

(S)- Ridiculously rich; plenty of boozy molasses and raisin. Some creamy vanilla and bourbon notes. Minimal cocoa.(4)

(T)- Again, very rich with a blast of vanilla up front. Bits of chocolate and molasses behind it with an ever present boozy heat. (4.5)

(M)- A good carbonation level. Extremely rich and boozy. The vanilla is nice, but in my opinion, is overwhelming some, if not most of the other flavors completely.(4)

(D)- On par with the regular version as its base, but it seems even more boozy than that. The vanilla definitely adds additional richness and sweetness to this. It needs time in my opinion, though, what that will do the the vanilla character, only time will tell. In all seriousness though, I really do not see what all the fuss is about. I will stick to the regular version.(2.5) (2,214 characters)

Photo of funkyaudio
4.6/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pitch black with almost no head but no legs. The aroma has notes of vanilla (duh), chocolate, bourbon, prune, liquorice, molasses, hazelnut, espresso, and light spicy hop esters. The taste is quite sweet and vanilla toned where it is almost too much of a good thing. There is the base BCS as well with the chocolate, molasses, fruity, smoky, and spicy notes. The mouth feel is luxuriously smooth and little bite, a tad tannic and chalky on the finish (450 characters)

Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.2/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Brandon for sharing your rare and vanilla...we probably should have opened them in reverse order though.

The beer pours a rich looking black with no head it lacing and a slightly oily inner residue. The nose is an intense caramel with some wood and a subtle vanilla. The taste is buttery bourbon, vanilla, and a lingering oak. Unfortunately the vanilla doesn't come out that much, definitely less than expected with only a slight lingering caramel-vanilla.
Overall I'd definitely drink this beer again, but won't fall prey to the hype. (544 characters)

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.67/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A bottle opened on my birthday 8.22.12.
Bottled on 11/05/10

A - Pours a very dark brown with a few dark brown bubbles that are gone very quickly.

S - Lots of bourbon, oaky, woody and vanilla.

T - Lots of vanilla, bourbon, booze, chocolate, wood.

D - Lower carbonation with a heavier body. A sweet vanilla finish.

O - Happy Birthday to me! A true delight! (359 characters)

Photo of alexgash
4.79/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle. Bottled on 11/05/10.

Inky, viscous, dark blackish brown body. Finger of gauzy, bubbly, bright peanut brown head. Some lacing. Bourbon reaches the nose first. Oak, tannins, and vanilla. Rich caramel and sugary dates. Dark chocolate, molasses, and more vanilla. Big, rich, impressive, and seductive.

Roasted coffee bitterness up front. Opens up to sweet, smooth caramel and dark chocolate malt flavors. Dates, prunes, and figs continue with the sweetness. Meanwhile, the Bourbon and its associated oakiness and warmth builds in the background until it nearly takes over the finish. Chocolate cake, fudge, and molasses malt sweetness also peaks before the finish. Vanilla, cocoa nibs, and coffee bitterness in the long, warming finish. Wow! This is one complex, rich, and delightful sipper. Full-bodied, viscous feel. Almost chewable. Outstanding! (861 characters)

Photo of greenmonstah
4.4/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle into tulip glass

A - Black as night with a wisp of brown head. HEad fades, leaving a ring about the circumference.

S - Maraschino cherry, dark fruits, vanilla, bourbon.

T - Vanilla is the key flavor. An incredible taste of vanilla, accompanied by chocolate, bourbon, dark fruits, and the other base BCBS flavors. Unreal.

M - Full bodied and chewy. Perfect.

O - Overall a brilliant variant of the beer. Vanilla ifs used perfectly and fits just so well. Enhances the vanilla flavors of the original and makes it just brilliant. (543 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.54/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour at the bottle share hosted by Adam Fine Wine & Liquor held at Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach, CA.

2010 vintage. Bottled 11/5/10.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, tons of vanilla aromas, wood, and bourbon. Taste is much the same but really vanilla forward with an alcohol kick and woody finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with an absolutely fantastic smell and great flavor that make it dangerously drinkable for its ABV. (743 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.04/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a CCB snifter. Bottle dated 11/5/10. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Inky black as it pours. No head. A ring of foam just masks a slight translucence at the edge.

Smell - As always, booze first. Then vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Vanilla is pretty intense. Not much stout is coming through the rest of those flavors.

Taste - Bourbon and a ton of tingly alcohol. Chocolate with an intense vanilla backdrop. No bitterness and oodles of booze. I will say that the vanilla really does improve the flavor. Maybe not improve it up to a 5, but it's better than regular BCBS.

Mouthfeel - So Goose Island makes some boozy-ass stouts. No exception here. The barrel doesn't tame it at all. Thick and not easy to drink. The alcohol really is too much.

Overall - It tastes way higher than 13% alcohol. Really tasty, at the expense of drinkability. (850 characters)

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

Appearance: fantastic dark with brown head. finger thick head dissolves to just a rim.

Smell: very bourbon. sweet. not much in the way of malt or dryness. quite similar to bcs. maybe a bit too 1 dimensional.

Taste: Bourbon notes up front. Quite sweet and pretty hot. i would say less sweet/ more complex than he regular variant. There is certainly some vanilla leaf and more earth and fig. very strong caramel and brown sugar. Molasses in a good way.

Mouthful: A bit thin but nice corbonation. It works really well with the flavors and helps make a great vanilla bourbon aftertaste.

Overall: very nice. a more earthy and fig variant. less sweet but nice and true to its bourbon county heritage. excellent. (710 characters)

Photo of mgp2675
4.54/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark and thick, has that syrupy look to it like regular BCBS. I remember Rare being a little bit lighter, this is pretty dark.

S- Loads of vanilla at first, it really has that classic BCBS aroma to it but just with lots more vanilla. You can tell it was barrel aged, definitely some alcohol burn there and it's pretty sweet as well, probably from the aging. I really enjoyed the aroma.

T- Just like BCBS to me, but with a lot more vanilla. It's very bitter though, much more than the others, yet sweet at the same time. The beer got sweeter and sweeter as it warmed up. It had a great aftertaste as well, a hint of coffee and chocolate.

M- Surprisingly it had a lot of carbonation, so many bubbles on the first few sips. It was more than I was expecting and much more than the Rare.

O- It was great, worth trading for and from what I can tell it's worth aging for a little while too. I felt like Rare was past its prime but this was still going strong. I thought it wouldn't be that great cause it has a little time on it, a vanilla stout is something I'd ideally like to try fresh but it still held up most of those characteristics very well and it was a real treat. (1,174 characters)

Photo of harrymel
2.97/5  rDev -32.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled 05NOV10

Pours BCBS inky black with little mocha foam. Smells of vanilla, bourbon, mostly vanilla, and some dark and sweet malts. Flavor is plenty of vanilla, cocoa, and roasted malts and some bourbon. The beer reminds me of a vanilla porter I brewed once, not a diss, it was nice, but the vanilla was too much, way too much. Medium bodied with subdued carb and a surprisingly dry finish. This beer is nice, but I really don't see myself drinking the other two bottles I have without motivation. Meh, not nearly close to the world class folks are pimping on this one. Then again, I can't speak to the fresh version. (623 characters)

Photo of Sarlacc83
4.55/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22oz bottle courtesy of Oregonskibum at our BCS tasting. Thanks! Consumed 6-16-12, reviewed from notes.

A: In a day of black beer, this is, surprise, black. Great legs. Shocking developments here.

N: Vanilla, coconut, honey, chocolate, and raisins.

T: Plenty of vanilla left, though not nearly the extract bomb when this was fresh. I'd consider it a good development. More caramel, coconut, chocolate, and honey.

M: Thick oily mouthfeel. Alcohol's pretty well hidden.

O: This may be teetering on the point of no return, but it's still really holding its own. I preferred it to BCS Rare. (595 characters)

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

Goose Island BCS tasting, 6/16/2012

A: Very dark, with slight lightening on the edges.

S: Vanilla, vanilla, and more vanilla. Reports of this being faded are just wrong.

T: Modest bourbon, toasted marshmallow, light chocolate.

M: Rich body, but balanced, not overly sweet.

O: IMO, best beer of the lineup. Better than Rare by a significant margin. (352 characters)

Photo of BostonHops
4.92/5  rDev +11.6%
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 truckload 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.

(originally reviewed: 02-25-2012) (1,142 characters)

Photo of AJacob81
4.89/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap at Fountainhead on CCBW opening night. My two-year hunt for this whale finally ends. Served in a snifter.

Looks like any proper big stout, pitch black with a beige collar and basically no legs or lacing to speak of. I spend close to ten minutes just sniffing. Heavy bourbon and vanilla notes combine for a strong maple syrup bouquet. A caramel and brown sugar scent in strong support. Smells amazing.

Taste follows the nose, with the brown sugar and caramel blending harmoniously with the charred oak, booze, and vanilla. Age has been good to this brew. Reminds me of the smooth, almost buttery taste of the PVW 23 barrel brews, Rare BCBS and King Henry. I know this wasn't aged in those barrels, but it has that vibe nonetheless.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth, medium to thick in body. Not too chewy, not too thin, almost perfect. What a beer.

Well worth the wait, this only trails Rare in the BCBS series. Phenomenal work from Goose, and I sincerely hope the decision to never brew this again is revisited, and soon. (1,025 characters)

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

A: deep brown to black with decent head and a nice sized edge around the glass.

S:: huge bourbon smell, diminished vanilla is very slight, and quite a bit of roasted and sweet malt.

T: much the same as the smell. You can tell that the vanilla is past its prime. It turns into a chocolate like flavor.

M:: amazingly well carbonated for being a couple years old at this point. Just about perfect mouthfeel with the thickness and carbonation.

O: just an amazing beer that I was tyranny able to tick on Chicago craft beer week at fountainhead. Wish I had a chance to try in its prime since the vanilla its fading. (615 characters)

Photo of xenjoiii
4.12/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 - Bottled 11/05/2010

A: Poured black with a dark tan head that quickly receded to a ring around the glass. The dissipation of the head left several spotty islands dark tan foam.

S: Big spicy bourbon notes fill the nose; a decent amount of dark chocolate and caramel also emerge along with a subtle roasted coffee character.

T: Smooth vanilla opens the taste up for this one; by the middle of the mouth the vanilla begins to subdue as sweet caramel-esque sweetness blooms; and the finish is a combination of strong bourbon character and roasted coffee beans.

M: Light to medium carbonation. Exceptionally smooth body. For 13% I am not picking up much heat.

O: Very interesting variant of the BCBS. Super excited that I got a chance to try this, though I have to say that I would take Coffee or Bramble over this variant. (833 characters)

Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
97 out of 100 based on 406 ratings.