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Rare Bourbon County Stout - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Rare Bourbon County StoutRare Bourbon County Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,132 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,132
Reviews: 335
rAvg: 4.8
pDev: 6.46%
Wants: 1,685
Gots: 469 | FT: 16
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:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Aged 2 years in 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels.

(Beer added by: alcstradamus on 10-07-2010)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,132 | Reviews: 335 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by BigSteinsEmpire:
Photo of BigSteinsEmpire


4.6/5  rDev -4.2%

Cracked this bad boy open pretty soon after buying...it was everything I thought it would be. I've been drinking the BCS's for years now and it was very easy to taste the difference in the barrels used. The boozy flavor was clean and crisp and absolutely a step up from the shelf variety BCS's.

If you dig the BCS's do anything you can to pick up one of these.

05-07-2011 01:14:14 | More by BigSteinsEmpire
More User Reviews:
Photo of tectactoe


4.55/5  rDev -5.2%

Huge thanks to Mike for letting me indulge in this one with him for only the cost of a Bramble Rye. Extremely generous of him, Mike is a true BA. Never thought I'd get the chance to try this one, so let's see if it lives up to the hype. Bottle #1485. It pours a deep, sludgy black color; much like used motor oil. Barely any head forms; it's more of a deep tan skin that barely grazes the top of the brew. Even with some swirling, the head never reaches more than a few millimeters in size. Lots of wet legging left behind, but nothing in terms of lace.

As expected, the aroma is powerful and robust. Huge bouts of dark-ass fudge lead the way, sweet and lightly bitter. Not far behind is the bourbon - strong, yet with unremarkable smoothness; miles from being "hot". Hell, it's hardly even warm. Lots of vanilla hopping around, as well as a large oak presence from the barrel. Roasted malts are hidden in the background and play a back-up role, yes they still add another element to the profile. Rare provides a very complex aromatic experience indeed, although I wouldn't go so far as to say it's any more complex than the original Bourbon County, albeit maybe slightly more refined and polished.

The first sip is awesome, to say the least. My senses are first jarred by the luscious amounts of chocolate - huge waves of cocoa nibs and rich fudge, accompanied with a deep, residual sweetness. Vanilla booms in and out of a large river of melted brown sugar and molasses, a nice combination from the heavy malt and large barrel effects. Somewhere about halfway through, the sweetness amps up and starts to resemble overripe, dark fruits; bruised prunes and dates, all smothered in a bath of brown sugar. Only a few sips into this and the complexity that it's offering is already borderline mind-blowing.

I can't believe I've made it this far through the flavor description without mentioning the bourbon, because believe me - the bourbon never loses its kick and never goes unnoticed. Strong oak accompanies some of the smoothest and most mellow interruptions of bourbon that I've ever tasted. It's amazing how the bourbon can be both so strong and so mellow at once, not getting hot or harsh. More vanilla and oak show up in the aftertaste with a mild touch of coconut. The large sweetness of this brew is offset very nicely by the heavy roast and bourbon warmth - a devastating combo. After each sip, your palate is left with reminders of oak, bourbon, fudge, and brown sugar. Smooth as smooth can be on the mouth, heavy and full bodied to the max, almost no carbonation.

Well, what to say about this one? Phenomenal beer, truly. Is it really worth the acclaim, though? It's tough to say. There's no doubt this is an excellent beer and a great representation of the complexity that the style can have. But I still don't believe it's worth three or four times the price of a regular BCS. Mike and I had a '12 BCS right after this, and the biggest noticeable difference was that it was a bit "hot" compared to the Rare. There's no denying the fact that two years in PVW 23 barrels gave the beer quite some time to mellow, not to mention the 2+ years it's been since the bottling date. Compared to an '08 BCS I had not too long ago, though, I would say it isn't far off. At least, not enough to warrant the large price increase.

Nevertheless, I'm extremely stoked and very grateful for the chance to try this one. Again, huge thanks to Mike for his generosity. Definitely one of the best beers out there, although the hype train had built it up a little too much for me. I'd take a few four packs of regular BCS over a single bottle of this, but that's just one man's opinion. I may even prefer the Coffee and Bramble variants over Rare as well, just for their variety and largely discernible flavor differences. Rare is fantastic, although it comes off as a super polished version of the original BCS - something you can closely emulate by sitting on your BCS bottle for 3+ years rather than drinking them fresh.

04-22-2013 16:07:03 | More by tectactoe
Photo of Spaten454


5/5  rDev +4.2%

06-14-2014 16:54:49 | More by Spaten454
Photo of weatherdog


4.63/5  rDev -3.5%

On-tap @ GI Clybourn. $10/5oz. taster

It pours a near pitch black with no head on it with a silky texture look. Some of my friends tasters had a minimal deep mocha head. I guess it's just a pour variation.

Aroma is silky smooth velvet sweet bourbon. It's unlike any other bourbon barrel beer I've had. An alcohol warmth is present but not harsh or fusely at all, It's just all rich sweet smooth bourbon.

I really wish GI had a regular version on tap for some detailed comparisons. The taste was really nice and a notch above regular bcs in the integration of the bourbon. It mirrors the nose a lot with the sweet smooth well made bourbon with added chocolate and a little raisin at the end. A friend suggested, after it warmed a bit, some coconut flavors. I wouldn't have gotten it alone but the power of suggestion was just too much. It's a really great beer but I don't have the palette training to put this much higher than the regular without a side by side taste.

The mouthfeel is where this beer kills it. The alcohol finish is so smooth it leaves me wanting more. Rich, velvet and inviting. Really well done. This really increases the drinkability but it's still a 13.5% stout.

Overall I think this beer is great, a step above regular BCS. But for 3x the price? I'm really undecided.

11-26-2010 17:37:28 | More by weatherdog
Photo of SkiBum22

New York

4.97/5  rDev +3.5%

A - Motor oil black, not much carbonation, about 1/4 finger worth of head.

S - Bourbon, oak, vanilla, and some caramel sweetness. Chocolate and coffee with a light roast. Some dark fruits as well.

T - WOW! The bourbon definitely dominates. Cocoa, tobacco, oak, vanilla, light smoke, chewy malts, light oats, dark choc, baker's choc, light spicy booze, some warmth from the booze, Finishes a bit dry, some booze, lots of great bourbon and dark malts.

M - Very silky smooth and almost had a creamy feel to it.

O - Very good beer that lives up to the hype. The most bourbon I've ever tasted in a bourbon barrel stout.

08-14-2011 22:49:05 | More by SkiBum22
Photo of joemetric


5/5  rDev +4.2%

08-02-2014 00:14:30 | More by joemetric
Photo of farundrpar


5/5  rDev +4.2%

12-13-2011 19:43:13 | More by farundrpar
Photo of newk340


4.97/5  rDev +3.5%

Thanks to joshbjaeger for hooking me up!

Shared at a Christmas tasting with joshuaseresse, brian23456, hu5om, and e11a627.

A: a nearly pitch black pour, beautiful deep color with a thin khaki head that left spotty lacing.

S: wow. what isnt going on here. a little heavy on the booze, but the bourbon was not overpowering, faint chocolate scent also.

T: astonishing. any bourbon in the smell is nicely balanced in the taste, some chocolate maltiness with dark fruits and a lingering bourbon aftertaste.

MF/D: incredibly smooth. could hardly believe it was 13%abv (would've guessed 9-10%). left a nice numbing feeling in the mouth and silky smoothness on the lips. thank you sir, may i have another?

12-21-2010 18:41:56 | More by newk340
Photo of warnerry


4.93/5  rDev +2.7%

Bottle# 5564 generously shared by BA david131. Thanks!

A - Pours pitch black with only a thin collar of head. Slightly oily. No lacing.

S - Huge chocolate aroma with significant vanilla, a nice bourbon presence and subtle but noticeable oak. Aroma is a bit sweet, but not overly so. The chocolate has a nice bitterness. Despite the bourbon presence and substantial abv, the nose is not very boozy. we had this side by side with an '09 BCBS (sadly, no '08 was available) and the '09 seemed almost harsh in comparison, which was surprising as I have never thought of even fresh BCBS having a harsh aroma.

T - Incredibly smooth bourbon flavor, with a nice vanilla component. As with the nose, there is also a big chocolate taste, but not overly sweet. Taste also contains coffee, a bit of toffee and some faint dark fruits. Just smooth and rich. Really enjoyable.

M - Full mouthfeel. Initially sticky sweet but develops a decent amount of dryness by the end.

O - Such a smooth bourbon barrel aged stout. In addition to the '09, we also had this side by side with the 2011 PVW DL, and the Rare was easily a notch above that. Just excellent.

08-11-2012 16:12:27 | More by warnerry
Photo of imagery


5/5  rDev +4.2%

11-19-2011 20:55:09 | More by imagery
Photo of Callmecoon


4.5/5  rDev -6.3%

11-21-2011 03:31:03 | More by Callmecoon
Photo of Britton

North Carolina

5/5  rDev +4.2%

11-18-2011 03:43:01 | More by Britton
Photo of 77apm


4.5/5  rDev -6.3%

06-25-2014 04:04:58 | More by 77apm
Photo of Mora2000


4.1/5  rDev -14.6%

Bottle number 8,455.

The beer pours a black color with a tan head. The aroma is bourbon, oak, vanilla, chocolate and roasted malt. The beer smells fairly boozy.

The flavor is heavy on the barrel-aged notes. I get a lot of maple and oak, as well as quite a bit of bourbon. There is also a good amount of chocolate and roasted malt in the flavor. The flavor is just as boozy as the aroma.

Full mouthfeel and low carbonation.

A very good imperial stout that I am very happy I got to try. That being said, I don't feel it is worth near what I paid for it. I think the Bourbon County Coffee Stout is a better beer at a fraction of the price, while the regular Bourbon County Stout has much more bang for your buck. If the beer was $15 it would be a great beer and a good deal, at the $53 price tag on this bottle, it is overpriced for what it delivers - although I am not sure any stout could be a good deal at that cost.

12-23-2010 06:42:41 | More by Mora2000
Photo of BrandonDZ


5/5  rDev +4.2%

06-11-2013 13:42:04 | More by BrandonDZ
Photo of 1Adam12


4.25/5  rDev -11.5%

04-21-2012 15:34:28 | More by 1Adam12
Photo of brewerdrew


5/5  rDev +4.2%

An amazing beer.

This beer poured black as night with a nice thick brown head.

The complexity provided by the Bourbon Barrel aging is unparalleled in relation to other wood aged beers I have had.

Everytime I return to this beer it never fails to suprise me on how great it is.

10-21-2011 01:13:56 | More by brewerdrew
Photo of ricoch3t


4/5  rDev -16.7%

11-17-2011 06:07:03 | More by ricoch3t
Photo of standardcherry


4.34/5  rDev -9.6%

Bottle shared with a friend. Poured into two snifters. Thanks to aasher for this special treat!

A: Pitch black with a small tan head that faded almost instantly.
S: Bourbon, oak, chocolate, roastiness.
T: Vanilla, coffee, chocolate, bourbon, oak spiciness. Very smooth, the bourbon finish lingers in the mouth.
M: Full body, low carbonation. Sticky, thick mouthfeel. Smooth and very creamy.
O: Excellent beer but not as mind-blowing as expected. Would trade for it again if I had the chance however.

01-26-2013 00:10:56 | More by standardcherry
Photo of MNMike


4.75/5  rDev -1%

08-01-2014 03:34:18 | More by MNMike
Photo of JitsuBrew


4.75/5  rDev -1%

05-24-2013 20:49:26 | More by JitsuBrew
Photo of MicroBeerMan1980


5/5  rDev +4.2%

07-28-2014 03:58:37 | More by MicroBeerMan1980
Photo of bpfrush


5/5  rDev +4.2%

11-14-2011 14:51:13 | More by bpfrush
Photo of dogfishandi

New York

4.75/5  rDev -1%

01-18-2014 19:59:24 | More by dogfishandi
Photo of ehammond1

4.88/5  rDev +1.7%

Bottle (2010)

Thanks for sharing this, Tim!

Midnight black with a thin ruby brown head that doesn't stay for long. Some spotted lacing down the glass. As expected, this beer is gorgeous.

A glorious and strong combination of aromas. The first and most in the forefront is the distinct bourbon: toasted coconut, rich vanilla, earth and wood, and molasses, then dark malts which add a touch of chocolate and coffee, along with the slightest tinge of alcohol burn. It does not get better.

The flavor is just as magnificent. More coconut, vanilla, molasses, maple syrup, and bourbon, some earth and wood, alcohol heat (but just a touch!), some dark chocolate, all come together for a divine drinking experience.

Though certainly a thick, rich stout, this one seems just a touch too thin--I suppose this would be my only complaint, though it's an afterthought.

The best bourbon-barrel aged stout I've had to date.

08-01-2011 20:30:16 | More by ehammond1
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Rare Bourbon County Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,132 ratings.