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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla StoutBourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

1,161 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,161
Reviews: 404
rAvg: 4.59
pDev: 8.5%
Wants: 1,513
Gots: 419 | FT: 9
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,161 | Reviews: 404
Photo of Labonix
4.42/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours a thick dark black with not much head. Aroma is bourbon, vanilla, and sweet molasses. This beer has an amazing taste. Right away a big bourbon kick followed by the sweet vanilla and a hint of chocolate. Nice thick in the mouth withe a nice alcohol burn at the end. For having such a high alcohol this is a well balanced stout.

Photo of tmoneyba
4.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured black color with an average brown head that mostly lasted with fair lacing. Moderate to heavy sweet chocolate, wood and vanilla aroma. Full body with a smooth texture and flat carbonation. Medium to heavy toasted sweet flavor with a medium to heavy sweet finish of long duration. This is a standout smooth brew.

Photo of jcartamdg
4.35/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my bruery tulip, blacker than black with a 2 finger head the disapates quickly to a thin ring around my glass. Aroma just like bcbs, can't detect a lot of vanilla in the nose. Oak, bourbon and some vanilla. Taste follows the nose with strong vanilla at the end of the taste. The drinkability is where the vanilla really shines. The vanilla hides the alcohol, makes this a smooth drink that doesn't need age. Very delicious, very smooth!

Photo of TStron
4.75/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Light caramel head on a black body. Looks similar to the Night Stalker I had earlier in the night.

S - Bourbon comes through well with vanilla following to complement it. These two dominate. At first the aroma was light but strengthened as it warmed up in the glass.

T - The bourbon and vanilla were amazingly well balanced. Easily the best use of vanilla in any beer I've had with the possible exception of VB DL with this beer being a little more balanced. Pretty much no hop presence is detected with the two main flavors very much at the forefront. There is a little caramel showing up underneath. The finish is long with the vanilla carrying on and on. This is a great sipper.

M - Extremely smooth stout with a good body that's not too thick. Light on carbonation but its just about right for this style.

O - This beer is simply amazing. The bourbon was quite strong but as with the regular version I'm sure that will mellow with age. The smallest sips leaves you with an impressive aftertaste you can enjoy for quite some time. I expected this to be a great beer and I was still surprised.

Photo of Lessurluck
4.01/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks badboyrsl!

Black as night, tan head, little head and oily typical BA stout. Has a nice robust flavor, small bourbon with a caramel creaminess. Of course vanilla is exceptional. Downside is alcohol... not too bad a fairly good burn tho. I am very interested in getting another to sit in the bottle for 3-4 years. Smell doesn't have much vanilla mainly bourbon.Gets even better as it warms bourbon more pronounced. Not to thick pretty thin for 13% which i like about it. I'm really into this buorbon/vanilla very delicious!

Photo of badboyrsl84
4.6/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours jet black with a light fizzy mocha head.

Smell - chocolate, lots of.chocolate, Bourbon, and lots of vanilla. Alcohol is present in the end

Taste - chocolate comes throught and follows all the way.through the end. The vanilla hits at the end but makes this beer finish really strong. Follows the nose. Alcohol follows in the end.

Overall - this beer is yummy and the vanilla just adds to an already awesome brew.

Photo of brystmar
3.96/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

On tap at Rattle N Hum.

Pours pitch black, zero head, barely noticeable carbonation, no lace. Aroma is ripe with lightly aged, roasted malts; bourbon; vanilla; and booze. Vanilla in the background is inviting and adds a nice balance.

Starts off boozy and malty, bourbon flavors out in full force. Cocoa, toffee, booze. Vanilla shows itself midway through and carries through to the finish where it's met with even more booze. Ends hot, as expected, with some refreshing vanilla thrown in for good measure.

For a beer this big, the body is severely lacking. Needs to be big and thick to carry this massive amount of flavor. Nitro tap, anyone?

Drinkability is a huge factor for a brew of this gravity, and I fresh BCS is already a little hot when fresh. The vanilla helps some, but give it another ~2 years in the bottle and I bet this beer shines. A solid imperial stout nonetheless.

Photo of kk73
4.59/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz. bottle into my glass. Received this bottle in a trade with mrbubbler. Thanks a bunch. Bottle 11/5/10.

A - Pours black with some red hues when held up to the light. Rather small cocoa colored head that quickly disappeared and left nothing around the edges.

S - Lots of vanilla, and bourbon, and oak, with a touch of sweet chocolate.

T - I would way the taste is right in line with what you would expect. Strong vanilla and bourbon notes. Not a lot of roasted malts and can barely detect any hops. Just smooth vanilla, and bourbon. Very subtle alcohol present on the palette.

M - Smooth, creamy, chewy, and somewhat tingly on the tongue even with a lack of visual carbonation.

O - This is nice, and everything I hoped it would be. Opened this on Fathers Day in anticipation of sharing with my brother, but instead finished this bottle all by myself. Worth trading for, I hope, it took me a year to land a couple of bottles. A real easy drinking stout, and would be happy to trade for more.

Photo of drseamus
4.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Super dark body with no head. Can't expect much else from this.

S: Tons of vanilla and bourbon in the nose. Somewhat sweet.

T: Boom! Tons of flavor in this beer. Up front is a bunch of vanilla and bourbon. The vanilla fades pretty quickly leaving behind the slight bourbon burn. As the bourbon fades the roastiness from the actual beer comes forward.

M: Actually not too heavy. Balance is nice. Bourbon flavor is strong but not much burn.

D: It's really good. The impressive part is how smooth it is. Would drink again.

Photo of titosupertramp
4.47/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Alewatcher for the opportunity to try this.

A: Dark brown with redish hints when shallow in the glass and held to light. Mocha head with next to no film or lacing.

S: Smells almost identical to normal Boubon County. Roasted malts, oak, vanilla, chocolate, light booze.

T: Vanilla is much more pronounced in the taste. Roasted malts, sweet chocolate and maybe a little coffee when the beer warms.

M: This is a pretty full beer with a little alcohol sting...leaves mouth dry, lips sticky.

O: This is a very tasty beer and incredibly drinkable. Really glad I was able to share this with a few friends. Thanks Jeff.

Photo of rlee1390
4.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Got in a trade with jrags8, thanks for the great trade.

A-Deep motor oil black, about a one finger head.

S-Bourbon and Vanilla, even the cap smells great.

T-Wowzers. Starts with bourbon and vanilla, but the vanilla is not overpowering, the right amount. There is some roasted malt in there as well, ends will some bitterness. Perfect balance.

M-Medium bodied and smooth, very smooth.

O-An amazing beer, dear GI please make this beer again. I love this. Vanilla and Rare really are a treat. However as I had some of it the Bourbon and the 13% does end up getting to you, be careful with this one.

Photo of Gushue3
4.7/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

100th review, notes from ACBF

A- black as night with large headthat yields small brown chocolately lacing around the tasting cup.

S- nice big barrel scents like reg Bourbon County with a hint of vanilla.

T- awesome. This was my first drink of the day. Perfect amount of vanilla. I wasnt sure of how vanilla-y this would be but the balance of vanilla and regular stout is perfect.

M- heavier mouthfeel that felt about right for the beer. Carbonation was medium to lower. Excellent

O- this beer was fantastic. Im sure if i had a bottle to review some of the 4.5s might make it to 5s. Excellent neer that lived up to my expectations.

Photo of BeerMaverick
4.97/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served on tap at ACBF in 2 oz. cup (reviewed from notes).

A - Pours an extremely dark and viscous syrupy liquid with almost no head (due to small cup). The head that is present is light brown. A beautiful thing to withhold.

S - Smells like fresh coffee beans, a chocolate milkshake, bourbon, and vanilla ice cream...the most pleasant aroma in a beer I've ever experienced next to KBS.

T - Holy shit...strong mocha, coffee, and chocolate notes backed by a bourbon undertone. Some hops, but the malt and other flavors I mentioned are the most dominant and thank god for that. The alcohol is definitely present as well. This beer is clearly on the sweeter side.

M - The thick and creamy beer coats the mouth in bliss. Extremely full-bodied and addictive...too bad it's retired.

O - This is possibly the greatest beer I have ever had. Soooo much flavor in such a little sample...I wish I had more of this stuff. It is extremely smooth and although the alcohol is detectable, it won't turn you away.

Photo of tripelhops
4.5/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - black as night without stars, just as expected for this type

S - bourbon with touches of vanilla and oak, but these touches come through so the bourbon is not so overwhelming

T - the vanilla comes through a little more than the bourbon on the taste, but dark and roasty, just a touch of chocolate

M - very think

I have not had the regualr version, but know the Foudners KBS's bourbon was a bit overpowering for me, although I think that will grow on me. the vanilla in this helps to offset the strong bourbon and makes this really enjoyable for me, who's not a huge burbon guy.

Photo of DCon
4.32/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed & Split a Bottle of this with a friend from the iTap House in Chesterfield, MO. Poured from the Bomber into a Non-Labeled Snifter and has a Bottled Date of 11/05/10.

Appearance- Has the darkest black body you can ever see, so the carbonation cannot be seen. Has a 2 finger of dark brown head that stays around through the first couple drinks but then is shot. Has nice lacing on the sides.

Smell- Can definitely smell vanilla in here but the most noted smells were the oak, alcohol, and smoked aroma. Made my way back to the glass with my nose many times! Fantastic.

Taste- A very burnt/smoked beginning starts this drink out and the alcohol flavor is very dominant! The vanilla taste is nice and of course can't come out because of the alcohol but makes for a great search for more attributes. Sweet and enjoyed thoroughly!

Mouthfeel- Full Bodied, Full Viscosity, and is very thick. Leaves vanilla/strong stout tastes on the palate.

Overall- It wasn't my idea to split this but hey, its a strong ass beer. While not know what the original Bourbon County Stout entails, this Vanilla one was fantastic! Such great attributes, I would drink anytime! This only problem is that you can't have much of this and after one glass, not sure I could have a second. Will be keeping a close eye out for more Bourbon County Stouts.

Photo of Alpar
4.9/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had on tap at The Happy Gnome during craft beer week in Minneapolis, MN.

A: Darker than regular BCBS but not too dark. A bit of carbonation surrounding the outer perimeter of my 5oz pour.

S: If heaven served a beer this would be it. DAMN this is outstanding bourbon, strong (non artificial vanilla bean) that just makes you smile and imagine what it will taste like.

T: I hate to say this but this is the second best vanilla barrel aged beer I have had. Don't get me wrong it's wonderful and lives up to the hype but it is not as complex as I thought it would be. Big vanilla and oak flavors that follow suit with the malt and bourbon.

O: This is more than worth seeking out. Pretty hard to trade for these days but if you haven't had it and are a vanilla barrel aged fan you need this in your life. Happy I still have a few bottles to sit on and open with friends in the years to come :)

Photo of JoshVandy
4.79/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on-tap at Whole Foods-Lincoln Park on May 21, 2011.
About 10oz. into a Goose Island wide mouth glass.

A- Pours almost completely black, with a small trace of dark brown head before disappearing. It looks like its other Bourbon County siblings, which is expected.

S- Absolutely insane vanilla notes come through immediately, almost overpowering the other scents. Letting it warm in the glass, I get some more appropriate bourbon and malt notes. I love the smell of this beer beyond words.

T- Delicious vanilla up front, although it's not in your face like the nose was. More mellow bourbon notes also come through, followed by a slight heat from the alcohol. A touch of toasted chocolate malt makes an appearance as well. The sweetness of the vanilla balances out the bourbon beautifully.

M- Perfect carbonation, with a thick and slightly chewy body. Coats the mouth and throat with rich flavors, leaving me wanting more after each sip.

O- The vanilla shines in this beer, which adds just enough sweetness to the harsh bourbon notes from the barrel to balance the flavor wonderfully. The heat from the alcohol is barely noticeable for such a big and young beer, and I can only imagine it'll get better with some age. One of my top beers to date.

Photo of Reaper16
4.3/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

served on-tap @ The Foundry, Kansas City, MO, into a snifter

Pours a super-pitch-black color. You can't ask anything else from the thick looking, inky body of this beer. Dark khaki head sits at a finger and a half, and it looks frothy and lovely. Surprising head retention too, given how alcoholic this beer is. The only reason that it doesn't get a 5.0 is because it doesn't measure up in head activity from the few 5.0 appearance imperial stouts I've had. Great looking beer.

Let me preface this paragraph with the following point: I'm known as a hater on Southern Tier's "candy" imperial stouts. I find Choklat, Creme Brulee, etc. to be terrible, cartoonish novelties of beers. They're tasty, sure, but they are artificial and overdone. Having said that, this beer smells how Southern Tier Creme Brulee SHOULD smell if Southern Tier were interested in brewing honest beer. BCBVS explodes with baked goods aromas. It's like an entire pasty kitchen and/or bakery lodged itself into my nose. The key difference is that these aromas are coming almost exclusively from malt. See, the vanilla isn't dominant on the nose. It's there, but it's natural sweetness works to inform the malt profile, not overtake it. If you've smelled aged BCBS then you know what to expect. Tons of chocolate malt and coffee, and barrel flavors. The bourbon is not shy here; if anything threatens to upset the beer's balance it is the amount of bourbon. Ultimately, this beer remains a balanced, delicious little beast. There should be a candle of this beer. AB-InBev: get on it.

The vanilla is actually what I would call "subtle" on the palate. It's there, but it gets obscured a bit by all of the barrel flavors. Barrles usually give off vanilla extract flavors anyway, so these strong barrels work to cover up a bit of the nuanced work that the real vanilla is doing here. The bourbon flavors especially try to overthrow this beer's more delicate tastes. Thankfully there's a massive, chocolatey malt bill to eat up lots of the bourbon flavors. I want to give this beer a 4.5 for taste, but I'm not sure that I can. It is too young, too imbalanced between barrel flavors and more nuanced malt flavors, to be truly excellent. This beer tastes really good, but it could be better.

The mouthfeel is doing everything that you ask of it: it has a decided thickness, is sticky to the lips, and dosn't feel too carbonated. Actually, a bit more carbonation might have helped to tone down the bourbon. Overall, this is a damn good imperial stout. It needs some time to work out the balance kinks, but this also happens to taste awesome right now. Lots of blunt-force, raw flavor, but the beer lacks for nuance. I'm extremely happy that The Foundry (quite possibly the best beer bar in KC; I love this place) was able to get a keg of this in to celebrate American Craft Beer Week. I really wish I had a bottle of this to store away for a few years. Lovely beer.

Photo of zeledonia
4.92/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lucky me. Stumbled upon this on-tap at the Happy Gnome for MN Craft Beer Week.

Pours black, rusty brown at the edges, with a minimal dark tan head. The head is small, but what's there stays around, and it has good sticky lacing.

The nose is bourbon and a strong hefty dark malt presence. There's an oaky sweet vanilla richness that makes the smell much fuller and less sharp than regular BCBS. I find this to be quite a bit smoother as well. Shockingly little alcohol in the smell.

Wow. This is freaking delicious. The bourbon is there, but it's very well balanced, and incredibly smooth. The whiskey flavor is sort of riding on top of the strong malt backing, rather than bashing through it as is the case in so many barrel-aged beers. Chocolate is the dominant flavor from the malts. The vanilla is there, as in the smell, mostly as a full richness, rather than as an independent flavor. I'm having a hard time capturing just how good it is. Put it this way: take the best of (1) bourbon, (2) big strong malty stout, (3) vanilla. Then blend them all together. But the whole is better than the sum of its parts. And that 13% alcohol? Tastes like it's half that.

Thick, sticky, syrupy, and clingy. Holds the flavors in the mouth so well. Heavy, with medium-low carbonation.

This beer is amazing. I had to revise my review of regular BCBS down after drinking it. Wow. Makes me very sad that it is unlikely to ever be brewed again. I tasted it alongside BCBS, and the difference was striking. This is so much smoother and better balanced, that it makes regular Bourbon County seem mediocre by comparison.

Photo of craytonic
3.8/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark pour with a dark tan head

Smell: Vanilla dominates, with touches of oak and bourbon

Taste: Again, vanilla dominates. Sadly it is more of a fake, manufactured vanilla than a true vanilla bean. Perhaps a touch of coconut also and some chocolate and coffee. Also some bourbon and oak.

Mouthfeel: Thick and coating.

Overall: Huge vanilla presence, but more alcohol and vanilla than good vanilla bean.

Photo of boomer31
4.26/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Happy Gnome during craft beer week. Taken from notes

A - Pours the typical rich black though no head to speak of. Not as beautiful as when poured from the bottle.

S - Nose is a nice balance of bourbon, chocolate and vanilla, though I was expecting more vanilla. Not one over powering the other, great balance.

T - Bourbon and chocolate meld with the vanilla allowing a hint of coffee to peak thru towards the back. A touch of heat but again nice balance. The vanilla seems to bring out more chocolate and bourbon rather than a load of vanilla. Very nice

M - Very low carbonation, almost flat. Rich and sweet but it kept me going back for more.

O - Overall a great beer. Not sure how this stands up to the coffee version which I loved but a solid bourbon beer for sure. I'd love to grab a bottle at some point

Photo of TKEbeerman
4.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into my sniftner, this stout pours a dark abyss with a medium tan capped head that quickly bubbles back to nothing.

S: The aroma is very deceiving, I expected a ton of Vanilla, but I got a mix of amazing notes of chocolate, oak like vanilla, coffee, toffee, and with the amazing bourbon presence that refuses to stand in the background no matter what version of BCS Goose Island wants to brew.

T: So the big question is what has the vanilla done for this brew? Well it's brought BCS' usual notes of chocolate, coffee, and toffee together to taste like a fresh baked Milano Cookie. Perfection in a glass, the vanilla is consistently evident, but never too dominate.

MF: Unlike some bourbon barrel beers, this stout still has maintained it's creamy, thick body. Almost a 5.0.

Overall, I've had all of the BCS versions. Coffee takes it for me, but this one was a very close second.

Photo of beerpirates
4.42/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottel poured into my tastinglass @a tasting with some awesome BA's -:)
Had this side by side with the BC rare

A - Black body with a big tan head at first that quickly runs away.

S - Sweet, bourbony, sweet , a light roast and vanilla. Really sweet smelling and a really nice aroma typical of other RIS's but with a bourbony bite. Really this thing smells top notch.

T - I really like this. The base beer is still present in the flavor giving a nice roasty almost coffee like flavor in the finish. Big smooth bourbon notes up front. Sweeter than normal BCBS. The vanilla is present and prominent but I always thought regular BCBS had a nice vanilla flavor to it as well.

M - pretty heavy, sticky on the lips. Basically what a big stout should be.

D - Really not too difficult to drink for the ABV.
Nice and very rich , very well done !!

Photo of DefenCorps
4.12/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many, many thanks to Alex for sending me one of these as an extra of all things! I'd half given up on it, and then there it was! I split this with John last weekend.

Black with a dark brown head that falls off to a ring leaving no lacing, this is on par for BCS. It does have nice legs, though. The nose is an unabashed blend of bourbon, vanilla and chocolate. The vanilla character is particularly unique in that is rather rich and complex, having an almost earthy component. Being a BCS variant, it has a nice blend of roast and cocoa. Woodier and oakier than BCS, and definitely more so than the coffee BCS that I had a couple of nights back

The palate opens with a HUGE vanilla blast, super intense, with plenty of boozy, bourbony heat. The raw heat of a fresh BCS is present, with the vanilla dialed up a few notches. Rather oaky with some barrel tartness and tannins present. The tannins really dry out the beer, especially with the booze on the finish that makes this seem drier and thinner than it is. Despite that, there's no mistaking this for anything but a full-bodied beer with moderate carbonation. The finish has bourbon and vanilla, with some chocolate. An intense beer all-round, very enjoyable, though it is a bit much. Still, I'm very thankful for the opportunity to try this, and would love to revisit it when it has a year or more on it.

Photo of deebo
2.35/5  rDev -48.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A-Black as night without any sign of head
S-Vanilla and playdoh aroma, some alcohol bite
T-Vanilla and bourbon is the strongest flavors tasted. No hop character. A vapor like ethanol bite is also very present. Taste is more 1-dimensional as compared to the BCS I had. More vanilla is tasted towards the bottom of drink.
M-Not as thick as BCS, but mouthfeel is very heavy.
D-Obviously a sipper. This is hard to drink, alcohol bite is distracting.
O-Too much like a whiskey and not enough like an Imperial stout. 13% ABV but drinks like it is 20. Could be improved if this bite was reduced.

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,161 ratings.