King Henry - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
King HenryKing Henry

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,405 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 1,405
Reviews: 322
rAvg: 4.71
pDev: 8.92%
Wants: 1,752
Gots: 499 | FT: 26
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co. visit their website
Illinois, United States

Style | ABV
English Barleywine |  13.40% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Kegatron on 08-16-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Brewer's notes:
Aged in Pappy Van Winkle 23 bourbon barrels, previously used to age Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout. King Henry is a burgundy hued English-style barleywine with aromas of vanilla, oak, and dark fruit. Caramel and toffee flavors blend together with bold notes of bourbon delivered in a smooth body followed by a malty finish. No matter the occasion, King Henry promises a regal drinking experience.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,405 | Reviews: 322
Reviews by beerdrifter:
Photo of beerdrifter
4.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in a great trade with Evan! An aggressive pour yielded absolutely no head or lacing, only a dark mahogany very flat looking beer. Probably the darkest Barley Wine I've had. That's where the minimal downside ends. The nose is amazing and complex with loads of dark fruit along with hints of chocolate, bourbon, maple, licorice, and molasses. The taste is bold and complex as well. Bourbon, chocolate fudge, oak, and dark fruits up front along with hints of maple, toffee, licorice, molasses, and just a touch of black cherries. Considering the 13.4% ABV, this is one smooth beer. The mouthfeel is thick and somewhat heavy and syrupy, but with an almost creamy feel to it. Yes, it's a sipper, but it's not hot and boozy and has an amazing subtle warming on the finish. Overall, this is absolutely a world class Barley Wine. And it was bottled after AB InBev's takeover to all you haters. Goose Island is here to stay!

More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe
4.39/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Ron for opening this one with us... I don't know how he does it. Dark brown and mahogany on the pour, with a light-tan head that settles to a collar pretty quickly. Still, thick, somewhat viscous and slightly menacing as it sits in the glass quiety. Good clarity when held up to the light, with not much haze detectable at all.

The aroma is absolutely huge... whether it's good or not, that's one thing... but the size of it is captivating. Sticky caramel, toffee, brown sugar, sweet molasses, deep figs, heavy oak, prunes, a big, boozy underbody, handfuls of woodsy raisins and a polished dusting of cocoa and chocolate in the end. Huge. Robust. Sticky sweet and largely complex. The best nose on the planet? Probably not... but still, pretty damn fantastic.

I'm a little more blown away by the first sip, as the flavor is even more omnipotent and commanding than the aroma (and even a little better, if you ask me). Lots of oak up front, sticky, heavy toffee, molded vanilla and caramel drizzle, warm bourbon and booze, cavity-inducing brown sugar, more dark fruits like figs and prunes, with a mild touch of cola in the finish, quickly survived by a touch of chocolate and the faintest addition of roast.... Wow.

King Henry is a monster of a beer. I guess that's what happens when you take an already massive barleywine and age it in Pappy 23 barrels that previously held a badass stout for two years. The bourbon character itself is relatively tame, I'm guessing since this is the second usage of the barrels, but King Henry still retains that barleywine-ish boozy character throughout - not to a menacing degree, rather just enough to let you know exactly what you're dealing with here.

There's no doubt this beer is a slow sipper, and the mouth feel is more justification of that. Thick and viscous, such a large body that has a sticky and almost (I repeat, *almost*) syrup-like retention to all sides of your mouth, leaving you with the lasting impression of oak, dying dark fruits, and huge brown sugar and molasses sweetness. Something that must be savored, one sip at a time.

So - King Henry. What a damn fine barleywine. While I do believe the hype train took hold of this one long ago, and it still may be *slightly* over-hyped, it is still a fantastic beer... I just wouldn't give up the farm for a bottle. It still deserves recognition as an incredible beer, although it wanders pretty far from the realm of English barleywines. In any case, it was still a lovely treat and I can't thank Ron enough for letting me indulge.

Photo of mlhyatt
4.79/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from bomber into tulip glass.

A- black but not quite jet black if that makes sense. Abiut half inch of head but it wasn't as frothy as I expected it to be. The head dissipates rather quickly as well.

S- tons of bourbon with some fruity undertones. Lots of sweet malt xoming forward as well.

T- delicious. The bourbon hits first strong even after 3 years. Then there is a smooth sweet malt that follows and really holds this beer together. The aftertaste is definitely fruity but not like backyard rye or actual fruit, if that makes sense. Hint of vanilla and oak in there as well.

M - a little bit thinner than I thought it would be but still has a medium body feel and little carbonation. The sweetness of the beer is a little strong but it just makes it a sipper.

O- extrenely well made beer. I can definitely see the hype behind it. Glad I got a few in the trade!

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.74/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, thanks Curran for the big ol 11 oz pour of this. Big time want.

Pours an opaque, murky brown, small film-like head, under a quarter inch, and no lacing.

Smells like dark fruit, smooth seductive bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, and toffee, in large amounts. Smells quite concentrated and sweet.

Even at 3 years out, the flavors here are so bright and vibrant. Very, very sweet, almost to the point of cloying, but it finishes slightly dry, keeping it from being too much. The bourbon flavor here is to die for, as expected given the PVW 23 3rd use barrels used. Even though it's 3 years later and 3rd use barrels, the bourbon is still present and forward. Huge notes of maple syrup, toffee, caramel, burnt brown sugar, dates, figs, raisins, port, chocolate covered cherries, with a slight boozy twinge that integrates well with everything else and warms you right up. Sipping this on a porch on this cool summer night was just about perfect.

Medium bodied, sticky sweet mouthfeel, there's a bit of tingly booze and woody bitterness on the lips throughout the session for me. A slow sipper for sure, due to ABV and strong flavors.

This is everything I hoped it would be. At times it was a tiny bit too sweet, but that's the only knock for me. Otherwise, perfection.

Photo of emyers
4.94/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle at Ball & Biscuit in Indianapolis, IN. Review from notes 5/13.

Appearance: Pours dark brown color, near black, with a thin light brown lacing. Not much head retention.

Smell: Wow. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, rich caramel malt, a healthy dose of fig, some dark chocolate, and hints of toast. There are layers upon layers of aroma here. Incredibly complex. I wish I could be smelling this all of the time, forever. OK, that might be a very slight exaggeration, but really, this smells impossibly good.

Taste: Unreal. Rich, top shelf bourbon, fig, date, caramel, some dark chocolate, vanilla, and toasted oak. Slight bit of alcohol heat on the finish (which only adds to the deliciousness). In order to imagine this flavor profile, take a world class barleywine and add some imperial stout characteristics and a healthy dose of bourbon. Then make it exponentially better. There may come a day when I taste a beer better than this, but I honestly doubt it.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and extremely smooth. Rich and velvety going down with an appropriately low carbonation level. Once again, wouldn't change a thing.

Overall: Based on some of the comments I read about this beer on the forums, I didn't think it could possibly live up to the hype. Then I tasted it, and it blew the hype out of the water. Words cannot describe how good this beer is.

Photo of cultclassic89
4.78/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A truly amazing barleywine. However, it was not leaps and bounds above the 2013 BCBBW we had side by side with it, and I personally don't think it's worth what it takes to get compared to BCBBW.

Photo of SkiBum22
4.85/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a dark mahoganey color with a thin ring of cream colored head. Nice lacing.

S - Very nice barrel aged barleywine smell. Some lightly toasted malts, burnt brown sugars, caramel, slight hops and wonderful pappy barrel smell. The barrels bring out some mild vanilla, wood, and a touch of coconut.

T - Similar to the smell, very sweet. I can feel the carbonation and taste it. The spices are very prevalent in the taste along with some subtle bourbon notes. I am getting some oak here as well.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. astringency from the hops. big boozy feel all over my mouth and throat.

O - Wow, this is easily the surprise of the year for me. I had no idea about this beer until last week and can now say with ease that this is in my top 5 of all-time. I just got into barley wines this year and didn't think anything could beat abacus and this blows it away.

Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.59/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz brown bomber with a bottled on date, also states that it will develop in the bottle over five years. Bottle #1028. 13.4% ABV ... this should be interesting.

LOOK: Opaque brown, head is virtually non-exsistant.

SMELL: Booze soaked fruit, barrel char, bourbon, vanilla, maple, wood, melon rind, peppery.

TASTE: Viscous, creamy, sherry, toasted wood, heavy char, ink, gritty, dark chocolate, bready, ripe cherries, toffee, vanilla, bourbon, lost leafy hop bitterness, boozy, spicy peppercorn, barrel dryness in finish.

Does it live up to the hype? Hell yeah! Massively complex. English Barleywine meets American bourbon barrel-aging with a nod to Old Ales as a byproduct. Goose Island once again proves their mastery of maturing beer in wood. Even King Henry would be impressed.

Photo of Mora2000
4.42/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to jjfoodie for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a brown color with a very small tan head. The aroma has a ton of maple and bourbon in it, with some nice toffee and caramel notes thrown in. Even with all of the alcohol in the aroma, the beer manages to not smell that boozy. The flavor is great as well. I get a ton of molasses, whiskey, caramel and maple, as well as a good amount of oak. All of the notes go very well together making this an outstanding beer. Medium to thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Very happy I got to try this one.

Photo of deebo
4.41/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Finally cracked my bottle. 10/8/11 So smooth. Still has lots of bourbon barrel character.

Photo of kingcrowing
4.3/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a sampler.

Pours a deep Ruby/dark brown with really no head at all. Nose is sweet and a bit winey and boozy.

Taste is sweet caramel, oak, vanilla, booze and Bourbon. Mouthfeel is is full and rich, a nice bitterness on the finish. Really tasty.

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

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. bottled 10/??/2011.

pours out a very nice deep brown, dark burgundy color with a little tan colored head that eventually fades to a frothy ring. some amazingly thick legs are left on the glass and a bit of sediment noticeable as well. looks very nice.

big boozey bourbon aromas right off the bat. very nice. lots of rich sugary toffee, caramel and dark fruits, but the bourbon is really where its at in the aroma.

a very nice balance of sweetness to booziness. lots of bourbon flavors and heat throughout the sip. some sweet toffee, caramel, burnt sugars, bits of maple and slight hints of roast and coconut. finishes with a lingering boozey caramel sweetness.

thick sticky, full bodied beer. minimal carbontion.

spot on as to what a bourbon barrel aged english barleywine should be. a perfect balance of intense sweetness to intense bourbon. i really hope i cross pathes with this again.

Photo of ehammond1
4.72/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle (2011)

Acquired via trade
Thanks, whartontallboy!

Blind Tasting and Review

Very dark brown in color with more visible carbonation than the rest of the lineup in the blind barrel-aged barleywine tasting. Small brown head that leaves the glass oily and with small dots of cling to the glass. Looks thick and rich.

Rich aroma of bourbon, vanilla, molasses, and caramel. There's also a mild alcohol presence. Rich, inviting, decadent.

The taste is very similar to the aroma, along with a decidedly decadent chocolate flavor. While clearly a barrel-aged barleywine, this one also has quite a few characteristics of similarly-treated stouts, with big flavors of chocolate and mild roast. The bourbon, vanilla, earth, caramel, toffee, and alcohol flavors combine remarkably well.

Medium to full bodied with low-moderate carbonation.

This was my favorite of the blind barrel-aged barleywine tasting.

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.25/5  rDev -31%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Brown liquid, some dark red edges throughout it, almost nothing in the way of head, a very small ring of tan head, but literally less than 1/16". Aroma was massive alcohol heat, for being a high end Pappy Van Winkle barrel, I found the aroma to be indistinguishable from some vagrant's choice plastic bottle purchased behind the counter at a quickie mart. Not so much an off-aroma type thing, just harsh. Wet barrel notes as well, not the dry, crisp type of wood, this was like a soggy piece in the wet rained out PacNW.

Taste, damn, if the heat just isn't all over this one as its number one flavor component. Search for it, you can pull out toffee, caramel, vanilla, but you're gonna have to wade through the massive amount of whiskey. Toffee just doens't seem to absorb 13% alcohol as much as high srm malts. Even though these barrels are on their second use, it really seems like the heat is more noticeable and heavier, perhaps because of the difference between the massive malt used in bourbon county the regular, and the base that has just as much in common with a belgian strong dark ale as it does an English barleywine at times (given the figgy presence, raisins, dark sugar, toffee, there was nothing approaching belgian yeast about it).

Ultimately, this beer was like drinking a boilermaker. None of the undercarraige flavors were off, they were just all subtle compared to the domineering presence of the alcohol.

Photo of williamjbauer
5/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled bomber served in snifter, shared with my dad to celebrate the birth of my son.

Caramel brown fairly clear with half finger brown head that quickly dissipates and leaves some minimal bubbly lacing and nice alcohol legs. Aroma is the nectar of the gods with sweet caramel, molasses, alcohol, bourbon, vanilla, oak, and chocolate with a touch of toasted coconut. Taste is the finest sweet caramel malt I have had in a barleywine. Vanilla, oak, smoke from the bourbon but not as pronounced as I expect in this beer's debut. As the beer warms the chocolate character from the Rare starts declare itself. Full body, minimal carbonation. Best barleywine I had to date. Hope the GI barleywine will be somewhat close to this.

Photo of jeonseh
4.64/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75


A - Dark brown and ruby body. Looks a bit like whiskey actually as it has a warming look to it.

S - Slight dates and dark fruit initially. The barrel really shines through as you get lots of sweet bourbon and a good oak presence

T - Dark fruit and a strong date presence comes through initially. There is a ton of bourbon and butterscotch that give it a nice sweetness along with a nice bourbon presence. There is the most chocolately barleywine that I've had as well which is where you can tell that this was aged in second use BCBS barrels. This adds such a nice complexity that you don't normally find in BW's. The finish is pure bourbon and oak.

M - Medium body with light stickiness that makes this easy to drink but helps deliver the flavor. The finish has lots of oaky spiciness to it.

O - Great barleywine with tons of barrel and chocolate presence to it. Definitely lived up to my expectations. This one is still drinking great and is super balanced.

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

(Served in a snifter)
10/09/11 on bottle
A- This beer pours a deep hued walnut body with a nice thick head of light tan that last for most of the beer.

S- The full aroma has some spun sugar aromas blending into toffee and dark prune hints that lead to a luscious caramel malt finish with some hints of golden raisins. There is a slight buttery aroma to the caramel that comes through as it opens and makes it hard to stop sniffing and start drinking.

T- A big sugary flavor but not overly sweet starts as a maple burnt sugar malt flavor with a more light roasted malt underneath and some buttery oak barrel flavor that really comes alive in the finish. The finish has a nice sweetness that is balanced by a bourbon barrel character that is not really alcoholic but does cut the sweetness nicely.

M- This beer has s medium-full mouthfeel with a crisp little fizz and a gentle alcohol warmth that shows through when it is pretty warm.

O- This is a big luscious barleywine that is sweet and tasty with layers of big barrel and bourbon character that keep coming out as the beer opens. It was sad to see this one end. Thanks emerge for sharing.

Photo of timc100
4.88/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle was properly cellared for all these years, and it has held up incredibly well. No real signs of oxidation.

Incredibly rich aroma of oaky bourbon and bright, sweet dark fruits. Tobacco, wood, molasses, vanilla, and brown sugar as well. Incredibly smooth, slick full mouthfeel.

Fantastic beer with one of the best bourbon barrel integrations.

Photo of weonfire
4.31/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle date: 10/08/11

A - Dark Brown/Mahogany, tiny amount of head around rim, tiny amount of carbonation rising, zero head.

S - Sweet bourbon, vanilla, toffee, chocolate, carmel, brown sugar, touch of biscuit, aged fruits: prune, figs,

T - Bourbon, vanilla, toffee, chocolate. Finish: dry biscuit, bitter vanilla and booze (4/10)

M - Heavy, extremely thick, very full body, super cream, frothy, syrup, chest gets warm from booze

O - This is the heaviest, fullest, closest to syrup beer I've ever consumed. So much that it wasn't even drinkable until just about room temperature. Yes, the nose is excellent. The taste doesn't have the bourbon one would expect but is very pleasant, vanilla is very dry and bitter with a rather hot finish. No matter- the overwhelming characteristic is the over exceeding thickness, syrup. I cannot get past that.

Photo of mdaschaf
4.39/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Had at the Goose Island tasting at BeerThursday's place.

A: Poured a very dark brown/mahogany color. From the side it was sitting next to a bunch of stouts and it was hard to tell which was King Henry. Small white head with no lacing.

S: Strong aromas of caramel and vanilla, with a little bit of bourbon and brown sugar.

T: I got a good bit of bourbony vanilla upfront with some oak, brown sugar, caramel, and a little bit of toffee backing it up.

M: Medium to full bodied, very low carbonation. Alcohol is present and is warming as it goes down, but doesn't really detract from the beer.

O: For not being a huge BW fan, I liked this beer a good bit. The sweetness was a little much, but it drank very smooth.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.29/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Opened this one for Christmas. 22oz. bottle into a Surly snifter. Shared with schen9303.

King Henry pours a clear, almost pitch black dark amber. Head is just a wisp of off-white that dissipates quickly. No lace but great, thick and oily legs. Decent for the style.

Nose is moderately aromatic and very balanced. Caramel, toffee, chocolate, maple, plum, and brownie with a touch of barrel heat lingering in the background. Very solid.

Opens chocolate, caramel, grainy brown sugar, and molasses. Again, the barrel presence lingers in the background. Fudge and plum notes towards the middle with a warm, maple and booze end. Aftertaste is brown sugar and caramel. Very complex with just the right touch of barrel character to not only enhance the flavors but accent the richness of each characteristics. Really good.

Medium bodied with low carbonation. Oily, smooth, and thick in the mouth and with a touch of warmth going down. Mellow finish with a nice, sticky aftertaste. Exactly what I'd want.

There's a lot of hype surrounding this brew and at least in this instance, its very well deserved. Very complex with a barrel aging that's just perfect. This one will definitely develop with age though I already don't know how it could get much better. Definitely worth seeking out.

Photo of Skull40
4.96/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A - Dark reddish brown. Nice legs and carbonation. The head dissipated quickly.

S - The smell was a sweet scent reminiscent of caramel, molasses, dark fruits and some oak.

T - I picked up heavy caramel the whole way through the bottle. I also got toffee, dark fruits including prunes and black cherries, slight vanilla, oak, a red wine taste and bourbon with little alcohol burn.

M - Creamy mouthfeel

O - This really is a great beer and one of the best barleywines I've ever had. I wish I could have tried this fresh, but at this point it's still very hard to beat.

Photo of dbossman
4.79/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep brown with a thin head and decent--though minimal--lacing

S: Holy crap: deep, rich dark fruits, roasted malts, boozy bourbon and oaky finish: raisins and vanilla and oak and bourbon and awesomeness

T: Rich boozy, fruity--plums, cherries, figs, raisins, bourbon; this is so smooth and balances so well with the malty fruity sweet booziness

F: Medium mouth feel; creamy and fairly thick--especially on the back end

O: Wow, this is an amazing beer; one of the best barley wines--actually beers--I've ever had

Photo of hooliganlife
4.72/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5


pour was a very dark deep ruby feb, with some dirty rusty brown.

rich toffee, vibrant dark fruit, port wine, smooth vanilla.

very similar to the nose. this was very smooth and rich w/o being too sweet and obnoxious. lots of toffee and caramel, vanilla and port wine.

very smooth mild carbonation. velvet feel, lace finish.

i was skeptical but this is legit good shit.

Photo of shoky01
4.45/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into stemless red wine glasses.

Been waiting on this since I heard about it, so happy to score some.

A: Not what I was expecting. Very dark brown, almost black. Almost looks like a stout. Good carbonation and lacing but no head when poured.

S: fans of the BCBS would know what this was aged in just from the smell. Bourbon with some oak. This will either be really good or undrinkable.

T: Wow, exactly what I was thinking. The barrel flavoring is all over it. Caramel, some almost nut like. Very sweet like the BCBS.

MF: smooth but sticky, leaves a film.

OA: Glad I have more of this. Can't wait to age this a couple years.

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King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,405 ratings.