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Rare Bourbon County Stout (2010) - Goose Island Beer Co.

Not Rated.
Rare Bourbon County Stout (2010)Rare Bourbon County Stout (2010)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

354 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 354
Hads: 1,341
Avg: 4.7
pDev: 6.81%
Wants: 1,877
Gots: 487 | FT: 17
Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States | website

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial Stout | 13.00% ABV

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: alcstradamus on 10-07-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Aged 2 years in 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 354 | Hads: 1,341
Photo of hillvt4me
4.63/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle date 11/19/10; bottle number 391.

A: Jet black color. Almost no head; minimal dark brown that quickly fades.

S: Bourbon, coffee and chocolate aromas.

T: malty-chocolate, bourbon, cherry and coffee blend together seamlessly. Oak noe on the tail.

M: Dense with no carbonation, yet smooth and w/ barely a touch of ETOH.

O: Spectacular beer and experience w/ some good friends. Worth every bit of its acclaim.

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Photo of mlhyatt
4.68/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from bomber into tulip glass.

A- gives a whole new meaning to viscous beer. Pours a motor oil black with no head. I wish it had some head but whatever.

S- i can smell this beer from across the rooms. Tons of bourbon sweetness. Chocolate, vanilla, caramel.

T- mmmm, has a lot of bourbon taste up frint. Real strong sweet bourbon. Unlike any bourbon flavor i've ever had. Then it switches to a lot of chocolate and it swirls aroubd my mouth. A good amount of heat from the alcohol. The aftertaste has a little bit of vanilla but the chocolate and bourbon definitely take over this beer. In a good way.

M- thick. Extremely thick and velvety. Hot as well my mouth feels hot on the aftertaste.

O- an outstanding beer even three years after bottled! The flavors are so intense on this. It's gunna take me a while to get through this beer because i want to savor every bit of it.

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Photo of dar482
4.83/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The beer comes in a classic oil black Bourbon County with a brown ring.

There’s tons of oak, coconut, chocolate.

The beer follows with those Bourbon County notes, but it is surprisingly different. All the flavors are beautifully melded together. The beer is absurdly smooth.

The only knocks at it are a lighter mouthfeel than the regular Bourbon County. Then there’s almost a molasses, tar bitterness from the middle palate and on.

A beautiful beer, although I possibly liked King Henry, Vanilla and Proprietor’s at a Bourbon County Share.

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Photo of Jonada
4.7/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle #3205 poured into a 22oz snifter

Appearance: Pours black with less than a finger of a mocha colored head that dissipates quickly to a somewhat thick collar a small wispy patch of foam coating. Body is completely opaque.

Smell: Chocolate, bourbon, oak, vanilla, mild oxidation, toasted coconut, caramel and slight booziness.

Taste: Bourbon, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, roasted malt, slight smoke, fudge, hints of dark fruit and coconut. Big malt sweetness throughout, but is balanced just enough by some of the roasted and smokey notes.

Mouthfeel: Fully bodied with a thick creamy mouthfeel and low to medium levels of fine carbonation. Booze is hidden incredibly well as this just goes down stupidly smooth. Only trace of the 13% ABV is a gentle warming sensation in the throat after the finish.

Overall: Simply put, this is an amazing beer. I never had the opportunity to try it fresh, so can't compare it, but other than some slight oxidation, this is still holding up extremely well at 3.5 years. Is it the best beer ever? Probably not, but it's still absolutely worth seeking out.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.85/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bomber in trade from zathrus. Huge thanks goes out. Bottle hand numbered 4,554 with a hand written bottle date of 11/19/2010, poured into a Firestone Walker Barrelworks Teku glass on 3/15/14. Pours viscous black with a half finger of dark brown head. Aroma is big vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, coconut, wood, graham crackers, toffee, caramel. Kind of smells like vanilla bourbon rolos. Pretty awesome. Flavor is so smooth with chocolate bourbon, graham crackers, vanilla, coconut, caramel, oak. Finish is long with strong notes of vanilla, coconut, graham crackers, and caramel. Viscous and lucious mouthfeel, low medium carbonation. Extremely smooth and while the bourbon notes are there, this isn't super boozy at all. Just awesome. The main difference I see with this relative to regular BCS is the heightened coconut and graham cracker flavors. Definitely lives up to the hype, but not sure there's a reason to seek this out again when I can find BCS each year for much less. With that said, so glad I tried it once. A world class beer that deserves its reputation.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.54/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I saved my 700th review for a truly special beer.

This poured a noticeable thickness with a tawny brown color that had a light edge and a fleeting head. The head built quickly enough and had a relative solid froth but ebbed away suddenly.

The aroma had tons of mellow bourbon, oak barrel, chocolate, fudge, some marshmallow and a nice coffee roast.

The flavors are so thick and full, with chocolate and roasted coffee, lots of creamy bourbon, a touch of woody barrel, molasses and a deep caramel malt.

I have only given one other five on a category but this is so unbelievably smooth that it is deserved. The feel is like velvet and I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable. This coats the mouth and throat with a warm film that is very satisfying.

Beyond the hype this is truly special, delicious and overall a Top 10 in the world.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.69/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Rob shared this 22oz bottle at our whale tasting yesterday, 7/13/2013. Poured into a BCBS snifter.

Smelling this beer reminds me of regular BCS but on steroids. Very strong nose that has a strong, strong vanilla quotient to it. Lots of roasty coffee and chocolate to go along with it. A good bit of bourbon in the nose.

The appearance of the beer itself is indistinguishable from regular BCS. Yet, it is the same slick, viscous motor oil that actually comes with a nice 1cm mocha head that slowly dissipates. No lacing to be found.

When I do get around to drinking this beer, all I can say that it is decadent. Perhaps its just the aging, but this beer is so thick and creamy. The vanilla here is much more present than in the BCBVS, oddly. A good bit of bourbon flavour without the heat, lots of chocolatey malts of caramel, toffee, molasses. A bit of coconut. Basically regular BCBS on steroids. The mouthfeel on this beer is even more creamy than the other BCBS variants we tasted tonight and this is probably due to both the extended aging in the PvW barrels and the fact that this beer is now 3 years old.

Creamy decadent beer. Rare. Goose Island. That is all that needs to be said. Worth trying at least once, no question about it. And it's worth the trouble. I would like to try a 2010 BCBS at some point to see what the difference is (e.g. is it the 3 years of age on this beer, or is it the Pappy barrels? Or just the 'Rare'?), but this one far outstrips the BCBVS that we had right after this one. Thanks a lot Rob, for sharing this treat and for hosting such a legendary tasting.

Re-reviewed 2/22/2014; #1 in the BCBS Variant lineup tonight, 2/22/2014. Poured into an original Bourbon County Brand Stout snifter. To be honest, this is not what I remember it as reviewed above. Once the beer warms up a bit, I get that nice umami-soy flavor that is also chocolate fudgey decadent, but it just seems to be missing something from the first time I had it. There are also some notes of oxidation, almost a little bit of off-flavours that detract from this a bit. Mouthfeel is still the same as is the nose, but in terms of flavour, I would highly recommend drinking your Rares now unless you are the sole owner of your bottle and have cellared it properly since its release. I'm going to keep the score reflective of the first time I had this beer- Thanks again Rob!

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Photo of beerdrifter
4.6/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up from a great trade with Evan! Bottle #7,397. An aggressive pour produced a pitch black body with almost no head. Only a brief caramel-colored ring and very minimal lacing. The nose is amazing and unique. Tons of chocolate fudge and bourbon up front, along with hints of vanilla, wood, licorice, cocoa nibs, Port wine, dark fruit, tobacco, and black cherries. The taste is incredibly rich and unique. I'm not familiar with Pappy Van Winkle, but it has definitely imparted a different bourbon character than I've ever tasted. Huge chocolate fudge notes along with hints of vanilla, oak, molasses, dark fruits, caramel, toffee, cocoa, licorice, chocolate covered raisins, and tobacco. The mouthfeel is incredibly smooth, with all the flavor from the booze, but with virtually no heat. Rich and velvety with a creamy, subtle warming finish. Overall, this lived up to the hype. If it would have had more roast character it would have been nearly perfect.

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Photo of PHBoiler
4.99/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is certainly the best BA stout I've ever had. People saying this is falling off just are encountering bad bottles at this point. I've had the 08 BCBS as well, which is very fudgy. The Rare is just as fudgy but with a balancing booziness that complements this beer. Thick, rich, and full of baker's chocolate, light roast, load of vanilla, and plenty of bourbon. This is easily the best BCBS I've had. I don't think Proprietor's compares personally. I would still seek this beer out if you find someone who doesn't warm your first born in exchange. What a treat.

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Photo of spicelab
4.6/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle #11344. Shared 4 ways. Reviewed from notes.

Motor oil black with a dark tan head that builds modestly before quickly receding to an imovable collar. Reforms nicely on swirling. Alcohol legs also evident on the swirl.

Rich and pronounced vanilla, coconut, oak, liquorice bullets and chocolate fudge, with hints of dry roast leavening the richness nicely.

Integration of barrel and base beer sublime. Big-time sweetness initially with massive tarry choc-caramel slice and barrel notes, but finishes slightly drier as the roast asserts.

Thick, velvety, luscious. Just adequate, silky smooth carbonation. Hints of ABV but they're wanted. Perfect.

Can not think of another example of a base beer that was absolutely made for the barrel in the way that this is. Uncanny. Only reason I can't give this a perfect score is because I'd prefer more roast to balance out the sweetness.

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Photo of vandemonian
4.23/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Stout is an enormous, delicious, autolysed, ashy imperial stout. I had this at the Goose Island event at Meridian Pint in DC a few months ago.

A: Dark black colour. No head, presumably because it's old. 4

S: Bourbon aroma as well as an extremely string Vegemite aroma from autolysed yeast 3.5

T: Extremely malty and dark with lots of autolysed yeast and ash. Not overpowering. Very woody finish with a little brown sugar. So big. Really nice. 4.5

M: Chewy with low carbonation. 4.5

O: 4.5

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.31/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Goose Island Brewing Company Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout, stout aged in bourbon barrels (aged for 2 years in 23-year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels)

, bottle number 3116. I forgot when I bought this, but very few arrived locally, and I never saw one for sale. Luckily, I saw Tyler from Zipp's when he had one left. I hadn't planned on spending $40 or more on a single bottle, but he offered, and I couldn't decline. I'm a sucker that way…sigh…

So, I've been sitting on it, for a landmark beer. Maybe review #1000 on this blog would work? So, I calculated how many of my post weren't beer reviews and came up with the number 31, which may or may not be accurate. And I waited for post #1031, until I got on a tear with those birthday beers, and quickly surpassed that number. At my birthday celebration, Matthew J. suggested that it's prime is coming, since the base beer was brewed in 2008. So, we're at or past 5 years for this.
But it says on the label: "Develops for up to 5 years in the bottle." Well, when was it bottled? I bought it 3 years ago, when it was new. It doesn't say: "develops for 5 years from the brewing date." Bottled on 11/19/2010. We're at just over 2 1/2 years. Let's drink it.

Thick black coloring, slim toasted brown head, starts big, settles quickly. Vast expanse of empty void, a null set.

Aroma: sweet, rich bourbon, with vanilla overtones. cherry and whiskey notes over-ride, dominate, stand tall above. It's all bourbon, baby. Don't need any ice.

Taste: Mmmm. Thick, rich, delicious, plenty of bourbon flavors still on top of the tongue. Ridiculously delicious. So many layers of caramel and dark rum, a little anise, whoa…boom, pow! yeah….huge, slick, sick, and yummy.

Let's see watt the label tells us: "This stout was aged for over two years in the finest barrels Goose Island has used in it's 18 years of bourbon-barrel aging beers. A true rarity, savor and share with only those you hold dear, as it will never be made again. Cheers!"

So, I held on to this to drink on my own, so I can write these notes, but I've got Rollie the Cat, and his pal (and mine) Sonny Boy the Cat. They don't drink beer, though, which is best for me.

I'm barely halfway done with the bottle, and it's richness and deliciousness hasn't even faded or gotten close to dying down. Dense, this, and delectable. Deep and amazing.

Got this one in under the radar, apparently. So good, so incredible.

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Photo of davewlfpckfan29
4.89/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I am so lucky to add this to my list of beers I have tried.
This is an amazing example of what can be done with the art of brewing, and aging a beer in bourbon barrels.

The beer pours a very dark brown, looking just like bourbon county stout looks.

The smell is a strong spice-filled bourbon. To me, it just really looks and smells like Bourbon County. The taste is where it just goes to a whole new level.

When you first sip this beer, it seems as if the Bourbon taste is about to kill you.
But then it just gets so smooth.
Such a rich complex taste.

Hunaphu is the only other Imperial Stout that I would rate on the same level.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.78/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22oz, Bottle # 1764, Bottled:11/10/10
Lost Abbey TEKU

***This was supposed to be 1,000, but better late than never.***

A: Pitch black color. Reddish hues on edges. Carbonation is minimal. Dark tan bubbles, not really head.

S: Smells so epic. Tons of vanilla and toffee. Roast. Dark chocolate candies. Fudge brownie. Light booze. Molasses.

T: Dark chocolate. Vanilla. Smooth as hell bourbon. Toffee and caramel. Dark fruits. Finish is pretty interesting. Long bourbon and dark chocolate.

M: Full bodied. Round as hell.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.54/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a small snifter with many people at Churchkey for the Goose Island event.

Not a good ideal pour or light enough to judge the beers quality, but based on other BCBS brews it's about the same, perhaps even lighter with a very dark walnut brown and a faint light tan collar presented.

The bouquet is exquisite, diverse with many characters, and ones that blur the line for beer and whiskey aging. Molasses, black licorice thickness. Some praline like candy and there is a huge amount of tobacco warmth and incredible barrel notes of oak and wood on this. It smells like a barrel room literally, with the wood angle going from oak, cedar and cigar box. Stunning nose.

The palate comes though as a bit of a shock, mostly because of the mouthfeel. Strangely light bodied, and not that coating, but luckily plenty of backbone and classic roasty characters and the flavors still come through. Felt strangely flat in a way, but the flavors really carry. Large tasting cigar smoke and tinderbox wood. Molasses and sweetness come with a good balance, and barrel charring to match.

Overall it's classic bourbon county, and amped up with incredible tobacco and barrel whiskey char, but it feels like the beer is not at it's pinnacle. I feel after having this while it is incredibly impressive that I missed this beer at its prime. Either way, it is still truly wonderful.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Bottle opned on 8.23.13
Bottle # 975

A - Pours a midnight black with a nice dark brown head that gracefully fades to the edges.

S - Lovely! Whiskey - a touch of sweetness. Hints of caramel, vanilla, chocolate - Crazy!

T - Hits you in stages - whiskey, chocolate, caramel, vanilla.

D - Good carbonation with a heavy body. Sweet and booze.

O - Perfection in a glass. My 35th Birthday treat, but I couldn't drink this after the Hommage and waiting for a friday was a good thing. Loved this beer.

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Photo of BobZ
4.9/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

22oz. bottle poured into a Bourbon County Snifter, split the bottle with Davey101. Bottled on 11/19/10 Bottle Number 3302. Huge thanks to kdmcguire10 for the bottle.

Appearance: Pitch black with a 1/2" tan head that recedes to a nice cap and leaves a whole lot of nice sticky lacing.

Smell: Vanilla,bourbon, and mocha/chocolate all balanced very well in a noticeably complex aroma.

Taste: Rich diversity of flavor starting with barrel character vanilla and bourbon all layered on top of caramel, chocolate, and coffee. You could say that the vanilla was slightly more forward than the other major flavors but not dramatically. The flavor is so deep an so balanced and although you can still taste the bourbon it was not as "Hot" as regular BCBS, in fact it was not as "hot" as the BCBVS from 2010 that I had last week, and I found the vanilla character of the Rare to be more enjoyable than the BCBVS.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy and very lush, yet it did not coat the palate.

Overall: A beer that I did not honestly expect to be as good as it's widely known reputation; however, it really was exceptional and very different from any other BA Stout that I've tried. An incredible beer that I never thought I'd ever try, so thanks again to Kris.

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Photo of jaasen64
4.41/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into HF fest glass. Thanks Alex (ataraxia) for bringing this to Don's birthday tasting. Bottle #2147.

A- Pours a dark opaque black, slight mocha head that retreated at a moderate rate, some translucency around the edges.

S- Dark chocolate malts, nice bourbon balance, slight oxidation. Falling off a little bit but still great, about average aroma strength.

T- Dark chocolate malts, very nice balanced bourbon, slight coffee, a little bit of fudge, some raisins and light dark fruit. Again falling off a tiny bit, not as good as the last time I tried it about 6 months though.

M- Very smooth, nice carbonation for style, very easy to drink.

O- Rare is easily one of the best stouts out there however at this point it's falling off a bit getting a little bit oxidized and losing flavor. Still tastes great but probably not worth what it takes to get at this point.

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Photo of justforrazors
4.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Tasted blind at a horizontal including Vanilla, Rare, Cherry Rye, Bramble Rye, Coffee '12 and an '09 Bomber. Poured into a snifter at approx 55 degrees. Reviewed from blind tasting notes. 5/6 in the lineup.

A- The lowest carbonation of the bunch, essentially no head formation whatsoever upon pouring. Thick, blackest of black, motor oil appearance.

S- Tons of barrel on the nose as well as bourbon. Some sweetness, almost like a port-like oxidation. In addition, some vanilla.

T- Tons of vanilla, barrel and bourbon. The vanilla is very rich and the most apparent note. Tastes absolutely fantastic.

M- Thick, rich, and lingering. Not much more to be said. Simply fantastic from start to finish. Minimal carb.

O- We actually misidentified this as the '09 bomber, and the '09 bomber as this. To be honest, we all enjoyed the '09 more, although this was the close second out of our ratings by just 1 or 2 total points. We should have been able to guess by the very low levels of carbonation. Either way, this is a fantastic beer, but I think it may have peaked. When I had this back in May, it definitely had a bit more oomph than this bottle.

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Photo of vic21234
4.99/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter from cellar temperature. Bottle number 618, bottled on 11/19/10. I've been saving this one for a special occasion.

A- Pours just like regular BCBS, pitch black with a small amount of brown colored head that quickly fades. No carbonation seen, sits calm and still in the glass. Tons of lacing along the sides of the glass also.

S- Great smelling beer as expected. Tons of bourbon and the sting of alcohol dominates the smell. I do notice a difference in the bourbon aroma notes in Rare with the PVW.

T- Fantastic beer. Initially the taste starts strong with the notes of bourbon. Then comes chocolate, coffee, and maybe some dark fruits as well. The bourbon gets smoother as the beer warms as well.

M- Heavy, boozy, dark, and flavorful. A great warming feeling with each sip.

Rare is a fantastic beer. Does it live up to the hype? I don't think so. I'd be just as happy sipping on a regular BCBS or BCBS Coffee that is much more obtainable than this. Still a great beer though and I'm happy I had the opportunity to have it.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.23/5  rDev -10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Split the bottle with angrybabboon and bilco.

Appearance: Deep black. Some rich browns when held to direct light. Clear. Pours like motor oil. Small tan collar with a quickly dissipating head. Thick and still. Very similar to straight BCBS.

Smell: A solid punch of smooth alcohol. Signature Bourbon County sweetness with a bit more depth. Marshmallow and coconut. Loads of vanilla, both from the barrel and the bean. Raisins and dark macerated cherry flesh. Nice solid oakiness through the back. Slightly burnt and roasted. Blends caramel and toffee with some rich cooked sugars. Sweet, a but too much for my taste.

Taste: Roasted marshmallow with some solid vanilla and caramel. Crazy smooth blend of bourbon barrels and Bourbon County. Toasted coconut flesh and sugar. Cooked and caramelized malts. Slight alcohol heat on the back. Raw sugar. Molasses and toffee. Sweet but not too sweet. A bit more balanced than the standard. Crazy smooth. Brown sugar and some oak. Almost delicate. Super complex, but that's expected.

Mouthfeel: Crazy smooth. Creamy. Light to medium carbonation with a slick and oily medium to full body. Surprisingly clean.

Overall: I can't taste the rare. Ahab is sad.

An improvement over BCBS but not quite the legend I expected. A smoother more polished version of the base beer. Nicely complex.

This is an orca among white whales. Big and smooth but not worth what it takes to track down. I'm glad I got a bottle when it was on the shelves. Check it off and move on.

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.66/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Consumed 5/4/13

Massive cheers to goblinmunkey7 for sharing this. Split among goblinmunkey7, Bilco, and me.

Appearance: Dark, dark brown - Unexpected clarity, nice amount of head, particularly considering the barrel aging - forms a nice wispy head that sticks around, and leaves a few spots of lacing that slowly trickle down the glass - very, very pretty (not just the hype)

Smell: Potent, powerful, and uniquely charming - apparently Pappy Van Winkle smells magical - very clean, woody bourbon with some clean, refined alcohol smells (definitely different than a bottle of Jim Beam, for instance) - some vanilla, and some grains - this aromas merge quite well with the stout base - chocolate malts, caramel - dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate brownies, dark chocolate cake - nicely burnt and charred

Taste: Absurdly rich and decadent with loads of depth - the bourbon is so well-balanced with the BCBS base that I don't even know where to start - burnt and charred malts, caramelized malts, burnt sugar - vanilla, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, brownies, cake, semisweet chocolate chips - roasty with some nice coffee notes - rich bourbon notes - wood, grains, and some absurdly smooth alcohol - some heat, but it should be expected - overall, maybe a little too burnt and sticky - demands to be sipped, but could be consumed a lot faster

Mouthfeel: Borderline unbelievably smooth, nice level of heaviness, full body, nice carbonation

Overall: Yes it's magical, but I wouldn't trade any valuable organs for it

This is a notably, undeniably, seriously amazing beer. But it's not the best beer I've ever had. Maybe, if I absolutely adored bourbon (and Pappy), this would have absolutely blown my mind. This may have delivered a few cracks to my cranium, but this is not life changing. If you can find this, it's definitely worth the original $50 price tag. But I wouldn't trade much more for it.

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Photo of davey101
4.91/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Quick notes. 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Bottle #2209, bottled on 11/19/2010. Huge thanks to Doug for slaying my number one want by sharing a pour with me!

Appearance wise it is identical to BCBS, no surprise there. Having never had the 2008 vintage which this beer is using, I can say its awfully similar to how the 2009 vintage is drinking now. There is a stronger vanilla presence and it is smoother and mellower than the standard beer. Just loads of chocolate, charred malt, and rich and decadent bourbon. It drinks far too easily, which is sad considering how elusive it is now. A marginal improvement over standard BCBS, but when that is your favorite beer it truly does matter. Such a beautiful beer that I'm glad to have finally tried.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.56/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of RacerX5k
4.79/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Enjoyed Masters Sunday first half in the AM, the rest during the last 2 holes and ensuing playoff. Great finish. Bourbon bomb with notes of chocolate and coconut. The usual gorgeous appearance and thick mouthfeel, the best in the business. Spicy bourbon. Overall, while outstanding, my least favorite of the four bourbon counties Ive had (2012 regular, coffee, cherry) and the only one I didnt score a perfect 5. But definitely the most bourbon forward beer. Wish I could have tried it fresh in 2010.

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Rare Bourbon County Stout (2010) from Goose Island Beer Co.
100 out of 100 based on 354 ratings.