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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.

1,129 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,129
Reviews: 398
rAvg: 4.59
pDev: 8.5%
Wants: 1,485
Gots: 426 | FT: 10
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.
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Ratings: 1,129 | Reviews: 398 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of aasher
4.11/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured this one into my Founders snifter on my birthday. This beer poured an oily, midnight black with no head at all. Light cannot penetrate this black hole of a beer. It's a little sweet on the nose but the bourbon is well subdued. It's rich, roasty, and full of vanilla/bourbon sweetness. The sweetness keeps this from being invincible. The flavor too is a little too full of vanilla as well. It's kind of syrupy sweet. It's still a bourbon county but the vanilla is a little strong, even for a beer with vanilla in the name. The bourbon is nice, and very present, but the alcohol isn't overly noticeable. You get more "barrel" than alcohol in this one. It drinks exceptionally smooth. It's full bodied yet drinks like velvet. This beer is very good, but not as good as the coffee. I'm interested in seeing how this one ages.

Photo of tewaris
3.99/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz, bottled on 11.05.2010, sampled in December 2010.

Noticeably low on head, head retention, and lacing than most stouts, it looks pitch black and oily. The usual suspects are present but the coffee-chocolate notes are clearly shadowed by sweet alcohol and warm Vanilla.

The chocolate doesn't shine at all in the taste; the taste according to me was very acidic and astringent, even unlike the regular BCS. Odd. I expected Vanilla to add to the complexity of BCS but this seemed like a very different beer, considering that we had BCS next to us for comparison. The roast is stronger too, that I don't mind, but the overwhelming acidity is a minus. On top of that, the mouthfeel seemed thinner too.

Overall a good beer but nothing worth going crazy over.

Photo of Daniellobo
4.54/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Chocolate and bourbon in brew form with a beautifully integrated vanilla sense.

Presentation: 22 oz brown capped bottle. Simple light cream label design with black and gold font trying to have a somewhat sober and exclusive look (In essence a variation from the regular BCS) . Side narrative notes general brew intent, and history. Shows bottling date, (11/205/10) and dedicated glassware. Notes Alc. by Vol. (13.0%) Served in a snifter.

A - Black body, small dark brown-ruby edges with a small brown frothy head. Average to small retention with almost non-existent lacing.

S - Boozy bourbon notes, chocolate, vanilla range, and a boozy malt whiff. Sweet roastness with nicely integrated complexity.

T - Same outstanding stout roasted bourbon profile with pretty rich chocolate but paired this time with great dexterity around a current of vanilla.

M - Full body, creamy and thick, lingering texture with little but adequate carbonation.

D - Nice slow sipper.

Notes: Another nice variation from the BCS. There is nothing not to like but the hype. Yep, I think it is slightly over hyped, due in part to the apparently limited quantity, shortage in distribution, and final pricing, which is significantly higher than their regular offering or the Coffee Brand previously. That hinders its level somewhat because it is really not such a distant brew from the original BGS. In fact, happy as I am to have had a bottle of this, and all things considered, one can stick to the BCS without loosing much next to this one.

Photo of COBeerBuff
4.59/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received the bottle in trade from theminutemen.

Appearance: Poured into a Spiegelau tulip and yields a rich, deep opaque black liquid that seems almost as if would squelch any light that made it through. This is a very viscous beer. BCS is a solid beer, but this beer almost seems thicker. The top is crowned by a half finger of mocha tan colored head, and this beer's nucleation and lackluster resiliency is kind of surprising.

Smell: This is a very complex beer, and its nose doesn't fail in that regard. Upon opening the bottle, my first whiff struck me as the cliché "boozy mess." The first smell out of the tulip yielded vanilla, toffee, caramel, and bready malts that I would expect from a GI IS. My next inhale yielded more of the booziness that I was expecting. It continued to yo-yo back and forth as the beer warmed, before ending with a ton of vanilla, sweet sugars, and little bit of roastiness to cap it off.

Taste: This beer definitely lives up to its billing and hype. The first thing I taste is vanilla, but it's balanced so well with the toasted grains and the residual flavors from the barrel-aging that it's not too astringent or sweet for my tastes. There's also a little bit of the toffee that I picked up in the nose, and a hint of candied sugar, but the finish is all bourbon barrel goodness, and that's why I like this beer.

Mouthfeel: As the appearance suggested, this is a very viscous and hardy brew. Not for the faint of heart, this is definitely a sipper, as the heaviness (not to mention the alcohol) would quickly overwhelm all but the most patient drinker. The initial mouthfeel is not super heaving, but the -bal flavors help create a very full mouthfeel on the finish.

Drinkability: I would most definitely seek this beer out again. It's times like these I'm thankful for friends like theminutemen, who give me the opportunity to try beers that aren't distributed to Kansas. BCBVS is a very solid beer, and I'm super excited that I have a couple in the cellar as I see great things for this beer in the future.

Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.55/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Nice stuff that mostly lived up to the hype.

A: Black Color with a tan ring of head, like old used up motor oil.

S: Wow. Wicked teriyaki tinged savory malt, VANILLA, oak, bourbon edge similar to the other BCS's, and huge alcohol sweetness/complexities added in. Nice.

T: Also wow, because of the huge nature of it. A lot of sweet vanilla almost like vanilla cola, oak bourbon, lots of heavy malt, a little alcohol sweetness, and a lactose kind of creaminess that compliments the big vanilla flavors.

M: This is great, so smooth and viscous. Though Alcohol tinged all other areas, I felt the the vanilla kind of cancelled out the alcohol heat in this category making the feel coating and amazing.

D: It's big, but I did quite enjoy this brew. Will love to try this a little later into it's life and see how it's matured.

Photo of HopHead84
4.47/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Thanks, Alex! Opened at Lost Abbey. 

A: Pours near black with a big dark brown head. 

S: Chocolate brown sugar cookie, big vanilla notes, oak, tannins. Quite sweet. Well balanced, but for vanilla being slightly more pronounced than the other aromas. Big bourbon notes. Great.

T: Flavor has much more vanilla than the aroma. Decadent dark chocolate with big brown sugar notes. Vanilla complements the bourbon and rich dessert theme. Quite delicious, but absurdly rich. Not really boozy for the ABV, it must be engulfed by the sweetness.

M: Full in body with an upper low level of carbonation. Mouthfeel is creamy silk and mildly tannic with notable warming.

Overall: Really good, but the richest of the series. This was a pleasure to try.

Photo of DNICE555
4.57/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Split with Rob and the Larse. Gave myself about a 10 oz pour.

Jet black body with a light brown head that dissipated very quickly.

Bourbon, oak, vanilla, and alcohol in the nose... very inviting.

Notes of vanilla, oak, bourbon, roasted malts, and coffee. Very tasty. Sweeter than the original BCS in a good way. I really like the vanilla and bourbon in this. Very well done.

Smooth and cream feel to it. The additions from the BCS really cover up the alcohol very well. I found the original to a be lot "hotter."

Drinkability? Well the Larse finished his in under 5 minutes. I slowly sipped it over the course of about 30 minutes about on par with R Moe Nay. Very drinkable. I tried my best to savor it.

Photo of drabmuh
4.2/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Beer shared at a recent tasting by dreadnaught33 Beer served in a Russian river wine glass.

Beer is black / dark brown with a thin tan head of small bubbles, minimal lacing but some legs. Low carbonation.

Aroma is bourbon with some malt sweetness and at the very end a hint of vanilla...clearly vanilla and not oak.

Beer is sweet up front, not hot but quite a lot of liquor character, the vanilla and more sweetness sneaks in from the back of the beer. Quite pleasing way to finish. Overall I don't have much to say about this beer. It tasted almost identical to the BCBS, which is an awesome beer, but this one had a little more vanilla on the finish than the original. It wasn't a vanilla bomb like Darklord can be, it wasn't aggressive on the palate but I guess that's what you would like / expect. The idea that you can age this for 5 years is a little laughable though, this is brand new and you can barely find the vanilla. After 5 years, you'll barely be able to find the bourbon. Don't age these, just drink them.

Photo of ratedz
4.49/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a jet black with about a quarter inch milk chocolate colored head. The head dissipates quickly.

The first thing that is noticeable in the nose is the bourbon and oak. Inhaling a little deeper reveals the sweet vanilla that was added to an already incredible beer. The blend of the vanilla with the bourbon as well as the roasted malts and chocolate notes reminds me of cookie dough or a cake batter. Excellent smell, definitely invites me in to take a sip.

Upon my first sip, I pick up some oak, caramel, vanilla, and roasted malts. Definitely sweeter than the original BCBS, but not in an over-the-top way. A lingering alcohol burn on the back end.

Mouth feel is thick and creamy. Very little carbonation, which fits the style perfectly. The lingering alcohol burn provides a nice warming effect that is needed on a cold January night.

This is an incredible tasting beer, but don't think you're going to open a bottle and be done with it within 30 minutes. This is a slow sipper that can be enjoyed over the course of an evening. Give yourself plenty of time to finish the bottle or share it with a friend. I hope Goose Island brews this one again!

Photo of CrellMoset
4.58/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle courtesy of Patchmaster - many thanks for a huge want! Poured in to a 22 oz. snifter.

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous obsidian, inky and deep, thick and syrupy - or perhaps smooth and velvety? - out of the bottle such that a vigorous pour was difficult. Nonetheless, the pour evoked a fairly thick, frothy head, a creamy mocha-hue with admirable retention, given the barrel aging and abv%. It fades within a minute or two to a wispy dollop of dusting and a surprisingly fat collar, replenished by carbonation that's visible around the edges, slow and incredibly fine. Lacing on the sides of the glass is remarkably sticky, streaky along the sides of the snifter, not nearly as glittery or runny as a 13% abv beer should be.

Aroma: Barrel runs rampant over the nose, especially as it hits room temperature. Coconut, tobacco, and toasted oak mingle with fantastically smart, spicy, smooth bourbon. It's definitely pungent, and the bourbon reaches a critical mass as this beer hits 60 degrees or so, covering up the base beer nearly completely. At times, it smells almost like paint thinner, intense, spicy, hot. Beforehand, you get plenty of the GIBCS goodness - cocoa, molasses, toast, and toffee, faint anise and chocolate cordial cherries and raisins.

Taste: The first sip packs an unbelievable wallop of flavor that only diminishes ever so slightly with each successive sip, and only then because this one beer is so fantastically flavorful that it alone is enough to instigate palate fatigue.

First, let's get the obvious points out of the way. This beer showcases all the glory and splendor that's inherent in the original GIBCS. That is, it has a fat, rich, opulent malt profile, deep and sweet without being too astringent. Flashes of lighter toffee and brown sugar mingle with thick fudgy brownies, rich creamy coffee, molasses, and toast. Macerated cherries and raisin mingle with other nondescript fruit notes, both dark and dried as well as stone-y in origin. All of this is wrapped up in a spicy bourbon presence, warm without being hot. The barrel lends its typical presence - green oak and tons of toasty barrel sugars, roasted coconut and something that I detect as definite barrel vanilla - pure, oaky, french vanilla-like, woody in origin.

So, the vanilla. This beer sort of takes the opposite approach of the GIBCCS. That is - and acknowledging that both beers showcase additives that are complimentary of one another - whereas that beer chooses an additive that accentuates the base beer components, this beer showcases one that compliments the barrel components. The vanilla here is bright, bold, estery, light, and rich, but the contrast is instructive: whereas the coffee in GIBCCS accentuates the base beer fully, robustly, and competently, the vanilla here accentuates not only the barrel aging of the base beer - that is, the vanillin and cinnamaldehyde, the leather, woody oaky notes - but also the base beer itself fairly competently. The vanilla/chocolate swirl effect is in full force here, and everything here showcases such a masterful interplay it boggles the mind. One of the best tasting and most well-integrated beers I have ever laid lips upon.

Mouthfeel: Thicker'n'snail snot without any carbonation but light and fluffy enough to be both assertive and bold but still even and smooth with, the real truth lies somewhere in between, as the carbonation fades from this one at a considerable pace. It takes a certain arc over the course of the session, starting bold and effervescent, reaching its creamy, silky peak, and settling down to a body that's thick and sweet enough to almost fall apart but spicy enough that it maintains its own. Throughout it all, it manages to maintain a level of carbonation that amplifies most of the various flavor aspects here, from the assertive bubbly you'd want for shiny vanilla all the way down to the dull, smooth, nearly flat creamyness you'd want from fudgy, heavy cocoa and everything in between.

Drinkability: I'm trying to find flaws with this one. It's easily the best beer of 2011 ... as of this, 17 January 2011, that means probably nothing. But I'm at this point doubtful this one will be topped this year. Sitting in the same chair I sat in when I first tried GIBCS and the same chair I sat in when I first tried GIBCCS (note: I will never get these acronyms straight), I will say conclusively that this beer is superior to both of them - it accentuates every positive aspect of the GIBCS base beer and hides most blemishes. The .5 knock is obligatory, and at 13% abv it's hard to say with a straight face this could be a 5.0 ... though with a few years of age on this one, who knows. I'm thrilled to be able to say I have another in the mail now, and I'll be cracking it at the 1-year mark, and imagine this one has nowhere to go but up, at least in the short run. Drink 'em if you got 'em ... and do yourself a favor and stock up on more, many more, if you have the opportunity.

Photo of rowingbrewer
4.18/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer along with rare coffee 09 bcbs and night stalker at a tasting

This beer pours a nice black with thick brown head

the smellis a slightly more subdued bourbon smell along with some alcohol and a sweetness, that i attribute to the vanilla

The taste follows the smell, lighter bourbon flavor thaan the regular bourbon county, with a little more subdued alcohol warmth and a sweetness from the vanilla

this beer has a smooth feel to it and is very drinkable

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

Into a duvel snifter with oglmcdgl and sour, thanks for the tick!

A- Vanilla bourbon pours out a dark black color thats fairly dark. Got a nice spread of cream colored foam that had some tannish in there about a inch up. This faded into nothing over time just like regular BCS and coffee. No lace.

S- A really powerful smell here, Im quite digging it. Blast of vanilla beans up in my nose, cream, cocco, chocolate and of course that lovely bourbon, roast on the end, a smeller here.

T- Oh, it's on. BCBVS pushes the boundaries of sweet vanilla without being cloying. Vanilla and cream, chocolate in the back, roasted malt. I kinda get a Older Viscosity taste out of this, only bigger. Bourbon after all of that, alcohol, nope!!

M- Like said above, this really is not hot. Perhaps im always skewed by having too much regular BCS from 08, that was a hot year. Vanilla is a big viscous beer that is full, sweet but not jumping off the roof. Carbed up but smooth, not bitey.

D- A sipper, but smooth enough to take down the hatch quicker if needed. The tameness of the heat brings me in and the blend of flavors keep me coming back.

Photo of jera1350
4.56/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a Duvel Tulip a rich black color with a fizzy brown head that dissipates quickly and leaves very little trace of lace.

Out of this world smell. Getting the rich toasty and sweet malt with the huge bourbon and vanilla scents as well. Also getting notes of coconut and chocolate cake. Rich and delicious.

All of the richness that is described above. Tons of chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, caramel and toasted coconut. The only reason that this isn't a perfect five is because of the huge hot boozy presence. With some age, this one would be perfection.

Full bodied, hot and dry finish with soft and smooth carbonation.

Despite how hot this is, I still can't go any lower than a four and a half. This stuff is so deliciously tasty and flavorful that I have to keep drinking it. Like I said before, with some age, this will be an exceptional beer. Well done I say, Goose Island.

Photo of MrDanno96
4.07/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Review from notes of the Bourbon County Stout tasting I hosted in the beginning of January 2010.

A: Pours pitch black with a thin tan head. Spots of foamy lace slide down the glass with suggestions of legs as well.

S: Very strong vanilla on the nose - very dominant. Subtle notes of chocolate and booze come through as well.

T: Notes of bitter chocolate and molasses upfront transitions into lots of vanilla flavor in the finish. Somewhat like vanilla coke in the finish - perhaps a little too much vanilla.

M: Quite full and viscous, but surprisingly smooth considering the gravity.

D: Very good, but the vanilla is just a little overpowering. I'll take the regular BCBS over this any day, especially once you add in the trouble you have to go to in order to get your hands on this.

Photo of RBassSFHOPit2ME
4.55/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Great addition to the series of BCS

Had a coffee that was 10 months old the night before this and was dissapointed although I understand it's best consumed fresh.

The vanilla was brewed in November so it's about 2 months old and prime for this review.

Dark as night and smells fantastic - I've read brownie batter in other reviews which it mostly smells like followed by vanilla and bourbon in equal amounts.

Taste is where this beer shines...it's a 5! A freaking 5!
The bourbon goes so nicely with the vanilla. The vanilla so nicely with the brownie-ish chocolate. You'd think the vanilla would make this sweet which it is in the slightest, but balanced into this brew so well. Not at all overly so. The Vanilla somehow makes this version much more drinkable than any of the other variations..at least for me. It's as if it masks the heat and makes it smoother going down. Never been able to drink any BCS bomber at the rate I'm diving into this one. Heat is detectable but if you're familiar with these beers, it's been tamed moreso than expected.

For 13% the mouthfeel is thick, coating and lingering but with all the right flavors. Slick. I easily finished the bomber myself but wouldn't open another, that's for sure.

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

Split a bomber three ways, served in a New Belgium globe glass.

A: Definitely a GI BCS offspring... black as all hell, sticky cardboard-colored head. Thick as motor oil, sticks to the inside of the glass enough that it looks like it'll stain.

S: Booze hits extremely hard; feels like it's singeing the inside of my nose. Dark chocolate and vanilla follow pretty fast in the footsteps of the alcohol burn, the bourbon lingers on the tail end. Extremely sweet, extremely hot.

T: Vanilla and bourbon sweetness dominate the flavor profile with very authentic dark chocolate notes on the tail end of the flavor. Overall, though, this is dominated by alcohol heat. Warming in the chest and just a dominating booze sweetness in the mouth. If this is what you're looking for, it's definitely here. The flavor profile is very close to excellent, but I'm docking a full point for too much booze.

M: Thick as anything that calls itself beer, cloying and hot as hell. Again, if this is what you're looking for, you know where to find it. Personally, I like my stouts viscous, but it's a bit overwhelming with the amount of booze in this one.

D: Hard to say. Flavor is excellent and I really enjoyed the mouthfeel on this one, but there's just too much heat. I'll be sitting on a bottle for at least a year to see what happens here. ~7oz was enough, definitely.

Honestly, very close to excellent. Think devil's chocolate cake in terms of "good in small doses" analogy. Needs time to settle down a little bit, hopefully the vanilla flavor sticks around and we get some balance.

Photo of thagr81us
4.47/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks goes out to womencantsail for sharing this one with me on my recent trip to Cali. Served from bottle into a Firestone Walker sampler shaker. Poured pitch black with a half finger brown head. Maintained nice lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, roasted malt, vanilla, and alcohol. The flavor was of sweet malt, dark chocolate, maple syrup, vanilla, massive alcohol, and massive vanilla on the followthrough. It had a heavy feel on the palate with high carbonation. Overall, this was a pretty excellent brew in all aspects (lacking in appearance a little bit). The flavor on this thing was pretty complex and damn delicious. I really enjoyed the vanilla on the followthrough here that helped you to make your way through the alcohol burn that is present. Pretty good aroma as well. This one is an absolute must try, even if you have to trade for it as it is totally worth it. Really glad I got to try this one.

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.9/5  rDev -15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Inflatablechair pulled this one out at a recent tasting... Thanks Sammy.. You knew I wasn't gonna try for it. Pours as expected... Thick 1" dark tan head... viscous black brew... and you can smell it at arms length.

Rich vanilla and lesser bourbon Thick and sweet.. melted bittersweet chocolate..

Flavor is reminiscent of brownie batter.... a lot of vanilla bean, way too much for my palate.. I appreciate a descent bourbon aged brew, but the vanilla crushes everything else and leaves only enough chocolate to pull it out... I get hints of real oak, but I could easily be deceived... Thick and boozy.. definitely burning down the gullet.

I love the original.. the coffee is damn fine... but this one is just too much. What is next, "Pumpkin Spiced" Bourbon County? :-) I pray not.

Thanks Sam.. I want another one of these ... maybe two. One to drink right away and try and prove my initial impressions wrong, the other for a tasting a couple years from now.


Photo of brew3crew
4.63/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A-Jet black, dense liquid with small about of brown head.

S-Bourbon sneaks out from beneath the vanilla smell, Slight chocolate sweetness can also be picked up. vanilla is more in the smell than in the taste

T-Chocolate and roastiness hit you up front, Can still catch hints of the Vanilla, but expected more from the smell.

M-Think and full. Just what I would expect from the title. Delicious.

D-WOW. Really drinkable especially at 13%. Nice and smooth, total oposite fo what I was expecting. I wish this as year round because I would definitely pick up more of it.

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

A bottle thanks to my amazing sister lauren. Split on the late with onix1agr and sourbatchkid.

A- a small cap of dark brown creamy head from a hard pour that settles. Quickly to leave an almost mirror finish and just the faintest of rings around the glass. A good hard swirl brings it right back but disappears soon enough again. Deep tar black with just the tinny tiniest dark brown glow at the edges. Well I gota say it looks pretty good.

S- huge amounts of bourbon barrel, dark chocolate, fudge brownies, vanilla. Just a pile driver of a nose on this. The booze does put quite the impression on ya. Very sweet and roasty.

T- super dark chocolate and almost burnt malts. The bourbon is intense and cuts its way right down the middle of this beer and almost takes over before it slowly rolls into a very sweet vanilla and creamy milk chocolate finish. Booze soaked dark fruits with some raisins and dates. The booze and chocolate come together to give you a ga diva liquor fail at times.

M- super full bodied, not the thickest brew ever but I'd be lying to say it wasn't as big as it is. Light creamy carb and when given a good aeration, becomes a milk chocolate bourbon wip cream in the mouth. Now this is still a very hot beer. The heat on the palate is intense and aggressive even being the 08 base beer, but hell its a 13 abv barrel aged beer I'm sure it will cool with some more time.

D- this is a monster of a beer and one of the more complex and intense I've ever had. Its a good thing I split this with some friends because I don't know if I'd be able to handle the whole deuce deuce. I'm blown away by this stuff and can't wait to try the other I have in about a year. Thank you sis this is one of the best xmas presents ever so now you've locked that up and the best I've ever gotten.

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

Dense, thick, black liquid with thin mocha head that does not linger long, and doesn't leave any lacing.

Strong Vanilla, bourbon, very woody, malty sweet, and boozy warmth. Wow.

Bourbon lies beneath the vanilla, amazingly. But the synergistic effect amplifies each, and they blend delicately with chocolate, malty sweetness, and roasted grains. Moderate alcohol and even some dark fruit add even more depth. The dark fruit might be the vanilla, but, whatever.... It's awesome!

Low/medium carbonation, boozy warmth, thick full body and viscosity. Wicked rich.

Nothing short of amazing. I think the Rare was a tad bit better, at least different, but I didn't take notes for a review. I'll get to that in a year or two.

Photo of DavoleBomb
4.3/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a snifter. Big thanks to a couple folks for this.

2.0 A: Hmm, didn't expect this. Like the regular and coffee varieties, this one isn't very sexy. I dare say it's worse. Pours thick with a rich black color. Just a half finger of medium brown fizzy soda pop head that falls at breakneck speed. No surprise to see no lacing.

4.5 S: Like the original, this smells delicious, but I'm a bit surprised at how mellow the vanilla is. Don't get me wrong, it's clearly present, but I am somewhat surprised that it wasn't overdone. Afterall, there are some vanilla notes in the original anyway. Anyway, the vanilla accentuates the bourbon aroma - the oak, the leather, the booze, and of course the vanilla. The underlying stout offers what the original has. A light roastiness, a fairly strong caramel and molasses sweetness, and some semisweet chocolate, and of course some booze.

4.5 T: Ahhhh, I see now. The vanilla is very strong in the taste and more along what I was expecting. Bourbon components stand out in the taste as well - booze, oak, melon, and leather. Roastier than the nose with blackstrap molasses, caramel, brown sugar, semisweet chocolate, and a touch of coffee.

4.0 M: Thick, syruppy body. Despite the lack of head formation, there's plenty of carbonation and, in fact, maybe a bit much. Silky smooth and goes down easily. A bit of warming on finish, but the booze is otherwise hidden spectacularly.

4.5 D: I like the coffee version better, but that's exactly what I expected to happen so I'm not surprised. Still, this was an awesome drink and I'm glad I have a couple more on route. All the great aspects of the regular are there, with the added burst of vanilla.

Photo of Bmoyer0301
4.68/5  rDev +2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4


Tonight I decided to use my crystal whiskey snifter that came with my Sam Adams Utopias bottle. This baby is perfect for catching all the small nuances from the aroma and even opens up the beer a lot more than a normal goblet, and not to mention its really classy looking. As I pulled the cap off this special ale there was a generous amount of hissing and carbonation gas that came out of the sleek bomber bottle. On the pour I decided to tilt my glass gently because I didn't want to overflow this tiny glass with head. Once done I was left with a rich and heavy dark brown almost chocolate colored head that was one finger thick but it quickly faded away to nothing, I am not concerned at all. As I hold my glass up to the light this is as black an Satan's soul with absolutely no light passing through and no haze or yeast chunks to mention of. As I give a final swirl the viscosity is heavy and clings to walls of the glass and leaves a reddish coating.


Oh baby, this is what it is all about. Huge, huge huge, pungent aromas just bellowing out of my glass. Let me start with bourbon which is very noticeable but yet has such a smoothness and no sharp alcohol behind it. Vanilla is right behind it rounding out all of the roasty, toasty, chocolate malts. In the finish oak is what it is all about, leaving some nice woody tannins and earthiness to accentuate all of the bold flavors. There is some heat alcohol going on here but nothing too crazy on in the nose and no hop presence at all. Perfection.


I think I just died and went to heaven. If you love the Bourbon County Stout series like me this is a no brainer. Just copious amounts of chocolate, figs, roast hit you right out of the gate. Then to just remind you of its name one more time the bourbon sucker punches you right after it. Then after you think you couldn't take anymore vanilla follows and just smooths out everything harmoniously. There is a serious adventure in every sip here because I keep pulling out more and more flavors as my glass warms. Wood, earthiness, a slight spice from the bourbon? Bourbon soaked black cherries, leather, and even a very fine sweet pipe tobacco. There is no harsh burn from the high ABV which could make this a very dangerous beer. The finish is just as smooth as they come, long and syrupy coating my throat with excellence. Another home run for Goose Island in my opinion.


Overall this was a killer beer and one of my best ones that I have reviewed to date in my opinion. The complexity is all over the place with smooth vanilla wrapped around a very aggressive barrel aged beer. I wasn't quite sure how I would feel about this one after the coffee version because I REALLY liked that one and I think that this one beats it hands down. As far as drinkability goes, its going to be a slow sipper and not something you are going to find all the time so be sure you savor every last drop. I would highly recommend this beer to a bourbon lover and to a person who likes big stouts in general, if you come across one snag it up. I think I am going to go pair my second half of the bottle with a nice cigar that I have been saving since Santa brought me a new propane outdoor heater. TJ thanks again for this epic bottle and I couldn't have enjoyed this beer without you.

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

Huge thanks to StayWhatYouAre2 for brining this to our annual rare stout tasting. 650ml bottle shared three ways and poured into a Bruery snifter.

A: Viscous looking pour appears completely black in the glass, without letting any light penetrate. Very, very small mocha colored head that disappears quickly to leave only a thin ring behind. Minimal lacing.

S: Wow, potent! Lots of bourbon, vanilla, toffee, and chocolate. A slight roastiness and some booze and oak also come through. A lot going on here, and I like it.

T: Bourbon, vanilla and sweet milk chocolate are very dominant. Really nice balance of flavors, although they are mainly sweet at the start. Finishes with some smoke, toffee, and booze. The best way I can describe the flavor is a liquid Heath Bar, and that taste lingers and lingers and lingers. Absolutely delicious.

M: Good viscosity and low carbonation; coating, creamy, and slightly chewy. Not surprising considering the base beer, but even more pleasant than the regular BCBS. This is exceptional.

D: This is excellent, but is in no way drinkable, especially after the first five stouts we worked our way through before this one. 13% can't be ignored, and it will catch up to you. This is a sipper for sure, but by sipping you can really get a lot more out of it. Delicious!

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

Appearance- darker than the other bourbon county beers. A bit of light brown head that hangs on the edges of the glass.

Smell- so much vanilla! Sme oak and bourbon characteristics but the vanilla overpowers.

Taste- good bourbon profile. Seems like strong bourbon than the regular bourbon county. Lots of vanilla on the tongue. Almost enough to feel the bitterness from the beans.

Mouthfeel- not as thick as bourbon county rare but very strong and solid.

Drinkability- very drinkable for such a strong beer.

Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,129 ratings.