Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.10%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.

Added by jplopez21 on 10-04-2013

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Reviews: 572 | Ratings: 5,058
Photo of thebeers
4.09/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Reddish brown with a thin half-finger of tan head that's quick to dissipate into a crown.

Bourbon forward aroma with strong vanilla notes, followed by fig, plum, toffee, black bread and a touch of alcohol.

The tastes are less distinctive, with chocolate, dark bread, vanilla, caramel and fruit blended together into a smooth and creamy concoction that's cut by strong carbonation. The fruit stands out more when I lick what's caught in my whiskers, and there's a strong bourbon alcohol burn and a nice balancing bitterness on the backend. Gives way to a cough medicine cherry sweetness in the aftertaste.

A bit of the leather I like in an English barleywine peaks through from behind the vanilla, chocolate and cream as it warms. Honestly, the chocolate surprised me.

I love regular BCBS for its smooth, creamy goodness. To my taste, for a barleywine, this is too smooth. There's not enough depth of flavor here. It's too polished. I'm not getting any tobacco, oak or much else to really hold my interest. Goes down way too fast and easy. With a beer this big, and this expensive, I prefer slow sippers that keep me pondering.

I'm not saying this isn't excellent. I just prefer something a little rougher around the edges.

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Photo of ccg
4.44/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2014 12.3% ABV BCBBW, opened 2017-02-17.

It's the densest barleywine i've ever seen. Dark brown and translucent, almost like maple syrup. Barely any sign of carbonation.

Smell is rich and savory. Figs and raisins, caramel, honey, brown sugar. A little bit leathery.

Same flavor notes, but super smooth.

Feel is excellent. Dense and oily. Smooth and creamy. Alcohol is almost completely hidden. No heat or burn despite the 12.3% ABV.

This is the best BA barleywine I've ever had. We're drinking this 2014 BCBBW side-by-side with Sucaba 2015 and Central Waters 2015 BA barleywine. They all good, but BCBBW is the clear winner, by far.

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Photo of BeantownBrews
4.51/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark amber, small light tan head that dissipates quickly
Smells sweet like molasses, brown sugar, dark ripe fruit and some oakiness to it
Sweet but not overly so, again ripe fruit/sugary the barrel heat cuts into the sweetness some and adds a nice finish
The mouthfeel really makes this standout, coating but not oil and builds sip after sip
Good stuff can definitely tell GI's been at it a long time

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Photo of Wiffler27
4.59/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2016 Bottle, bought one to drink soon and one to age.

13.6% so dwamm

pours a deep deep mahogany to the point of it nearly being black. solid head to this as well, looks good.

smell is beautifully sweet. clearly a barleywine and also clearly a barrel aged beer. notes of barleywine and whiskey shine through. the aroma is nice too, mellow notes of whiskey with barleywine sweetness.

the taste is like velvet. like sweet barleywine with bourbon creeping in. very smooth and nice, light alcohol burn at the end but this is really nice.

i LOVE beer and i also LOVE bourbon but i usually hate barrel aged beer (for some odd reason). this is really nice. obviously a BIG beer at 13%+ but this is smooth and velvety. tons of flavor to this and easy to drink, quite the nice sipper

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Photo of jopezu
4.75/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 variant. pours a dark, opaque mahogany with a thin head that poofs. nose; oak, caramel, & ethanol. taste; thick caramel malt, molasses, toffee, vanilla, oak, ethanol, fig, tobacco, & mellow hops. the huge abv is tamed as well as you can expect. heavy carbonation & heavy mouthfeel. complex and maybe a touch sweet, but it's a treat. fantastic!

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Photo of crotharagain
4.69/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

If you manage to find it, please try it. Fantastic one-off barleywine. Strong and robust, bourbon aging really comes through. Shared it at a testing with three friends and all agree it's a winner.

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Photo of spark3148857
4.39/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a murky mahogany verging on brown with a dark khaki head. Aroma of brown sugar, caramel, dark plummy fruit, oak, bourbon, and vanilla. The sweet aroma leads to a blast of caramel and burnt sugar on the palate with bourbon and dark fruit in the palate. Sweet but not too sweet. Wonderfully complex with a finish that brings notes of tobacco leaf, fig, plum, milk chocolate and vanilla.

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Photo of bwood06
3.91/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I was lucky enough to score this at my local liquor store without having to go to one of the big chains that are around here. Finally getting around to trying this beauty after buying it over a month ago. This beer pours a dark ruby color that is mostly opaque so that I cannot see what type of carbonation is present. The head is dark khaki and a fizzy froth that dissipates quite quickly to a rocky layer with a neck that is retained. 4/5 The aroma is very fruity and malty with red wine grapes, dates, rains, toffee, caramel, charred wood, dark toasted bread, and plums as the primary notes. The aroma really is much more like a wine than a beer. As the beer sits, a bit of smokiness comes out along with a hint of tobacco and baker's chocolate. Very complex and deep. 4.25/5 Toffee, caramel, and candi sugar come out right away before exploding into red wine grapes (more of a sweet red table wine than the dry reds), plums, dates, and raisins. This fruitiness is very powerful and dominates that palate. The dark chocolate does not really come out in the flavor for me like it did in the aroma, but the charred wood and tobacco do come out, mainly in the final third. There is an earthiness/mustiness (sorghum) that runs concurrent with all other notes throughout the profile along with just a slight booziness. This thing is after all 12.9%, so that's not surprising. Bitterness is incredibly light, with the mustiness and booziness being the lingering notes. 3.75/5 A very light carbonation tickle develops on the tongue before leading into the full bodied nature of the beer. A light dryness develops on the back of the tongue over time which lingers on the tongue just a bit. 4/5 I like this beer, although it's not my favorite. The sorghum mustiness and earthiness throws me for a loop, even with everything else that is going on here. Very complex and a great beer to sip on one in a while, but definitely not something that I would go for on a consistent basis. 3.75/5

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Photo of Cfred371
4.71/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Pours out a medium to dark brown, and is opaque. Light in the edges of the glass is able to pierce through the beer. For the first time ever, I can see actual alcohol legs on a beer. Carbonation seems minimal, as the head was small and I don't see much activity bubble wise

Smell: Bourbon is what I initially get, as well as raisin. swirling brings out more caramel/toffee notes to the forefront.

Taste: Bourbon, dark fruit, some toffee peaks it head, as does brown sugar

Feel: I get a nice syrupy feel, minimal bitterness, and some carbonation. This is a nice feel, and typical of the style.

Overall: I've had BCBS a few times, and I'd say that the barleywine holds up. I like the bourbon flavors imparted, and some of the complexity, but it's not my top BA Barleywine

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Photo of Zoomslowik
4.06/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

L- Dark brown with a slight reddish hue. . Whatever head there is fades quickly.

S- Caramel with hints of chocolate, bourbon and vanilla.

T- It's pretty sweet. Heavy on the caramel. A bit of a chocolate and bourbon, but less than the stout. Some vanilla notes and a little dark fruit towards the finish. Basically no booze taste.

F- Smooth. Medium thickness.

O- Not really my thing. It's not quite a stout, but not quite a barleywine either. I'd rather just have a stout or a different barleywine.

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Photo of Korbynlehr
4.75/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I begrudgingly tried this as I'm not a barley wine fan...., but glad I did. The flavor is superb and to be honest I might need to become a convert. The taste is truly excellent! Pours deep and dark. The head is thin if existent. Nose has an obvious bourbon smell. Taste hints at bourbon n, but not overwhelming to my delight!

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Photo of MurphDog14
4.6/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer is darkish amber and is extremely inviting. Smell is chocolatey with a note of bourbon. The smell is not alcoholy at all. Taste is similar to the smell, chocolate and bourbon. The taste also lingers which is great. The feel is smooth and strong with a little carbonation. Finally, this is a great beer that is complete and full of flavor.

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Photo of Sabtos
3.85/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark, dark reddish-purple nearing black, with a thin tan blanket that completely dies off. It begins to take on an immensely viscous appearance as it warms, almost as if it has solidified.

Smell is toasty toffee and nuts, graham, heavy and dark raisin, deep but faint char, and an abundance of dates.

Taste is very deep--almost as if roasted--raisin, with gingersnaps, molasses, chocolate covered dates, and charred oak, finishing with a hint of raspberry and bourbon toffee.

Feel is sticky up front, thick for a barleywine, with a nice light froth, a little sting on the way down while a bit sticky again.

BCBW almost transitions into a stout at room temp. Almost. It is definitely more intense and rich than most BBBWs.

2014 vintage

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Photo of BethanyB
4.01/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A majestic deep ruby in the light, with a moonlit rim of a head. The aroma is plenty nice, but light for the style. Candied dates and maple syrup mature under the impression of oak and black cherries. Dark berries and figs are both sweet and sophisticated. However, were it not for the delicacy of the overall flavor profile, the melanoidins' sticky candy characteristics would carry things into cloying territory. Less complex than other barleywines, this beer pleads for a dash of spice and/or or bitters. Some additional layers of smoke and vanilla bean can be appreciated, however, as it opens, and a real-deal maple syrup flavor hunkers down in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is excellent: medium-full bodied, with a chewy creaminess which makes the flavors stick to the lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue. This beer needs some time and warmth to show it's full colors, which may not be the absolute best the barleywine world has to offer, but are certainly not without unique merits.

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Photo of PUbeer
4.99/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was super impressed with this beer. It far exceeded my expectations. I'm not normally a big barley wine fan but Goose Island nailed it with this perfect example. It's pretty sweet but not in a bad way. You get all the bourbon flavors in just the right amounts.

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Photo of miniditka77
4.99/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: darker than I expected for a barleywine. Very dark brown, not a lot of carbonation or head.

Smell: The warm malty-toffee-vanilla smell you expect from a barleywine with oaky bourbon smell too.

Taste: A little sweet, malty-toffee-vanilla. And the bourbon really shows through, much more than the stout. You even get a little burn (very little, but noticeable), which normally I don't like, but it works with this one for some reason.

Feel: goes down surprisingly easy for a beer that has a little bit of a burn from the bourbon.

Overall: Fantastic. I really don't know how this beer could be better. Say what you want about Goose Island, but they are at the absolute top of the game when it comes to barrel aging. A lot of breweries just take a good beer and put it in a good barrel, and it ends up good. Goose Island seems to design the beers and select the barrels specifically so they will go well together, and it ends up fantastic.

This beer is just awesome.

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Photo of Drvitlkeyustolit80
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First had 1/24/15 at the Mint, 2013 vintage. The barleywine itself is very good, but the bourbon barrel again is what makes this beer. I'd rate it much higher given the opertunity. Also had the 2014 which wasn't quite as good, but just a step below it.

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Photo of gnartothecore
4.33/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2016 edition

L - Deep, almost opaque brown. Barely any light shines through the edges. Minimal head, no lacing.

S - bourbon first and foremost, strong but not astringent. Oak, caramel, vanilla.

T - caramel-bourbon sweetness. Alcohol taste, but no burn. Super smooth. Waves of sweetness and charred bitterness.

F - silky smooth and thick. Minimal carbonation. Heavy and chewy, but not overwhelming despite the sweetness.

O - very surprised by the drinkability of a 13.6% BABW. Super smooth and complex. Looking forward to revisiting in a year.

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Photo of Spikester
4.59/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Black with a tan head. Splotches of lace.
Smell is oak vanilla dark cherry and some molasses.
Taste is dark cherries vanilla oak and molasses.
Mouthfeel is full with good carbonation. Finish is medium dry with some slight sweetness.
Overall a super Barleywine beer.

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Photo of AZBeerDude72
4.59/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark black with hints of purple around edges. Very minimal head and no lacing. Smells fantastic, some oak, bourbon, smoke, & vanilla. Love the taste, get a fantastic mellow mix of char, wine, bourbon, soft vanilla, and a minor alcohol finish but very smooth. The feel is great, feels like a rich blend of flavors all balanced and mellow, just fantastic. I really like this beer, it exceeded my expectations and will get it again as they come out in future.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4.71/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 9/24/14; drank 12/9/15 @ the Yarchives.

Opaque brown/orange rust appearance.

A violent pour yielded a big, noisy tan head which quickly dissipated; minimal lace.

Cognac, sweet caramel, roasted coffee, leather & blackberry notes in the nose.

Thick mouthfeel.

Blackberry, caramel & apple cider flavors up front; leather & roasted coffee bean notes on the finish. Complex, unique & delicious. Pretty close to perfection.

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Photo of JLK7299
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! I do NOT like barley wine but this is absolutely amazing! Goose Island has really outdone themselves with this. SO good! You'd never guess the high ABV!

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Photo of bonesTdog
4.61/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I could not possibly review this better than teromous (see below this review). The only thing I might add is the honey, as typical of many barleywines, on the very front of the first sip. Wonderful complexity in the flavor. Great viscosity and mouthfeel. Absolute decadence in a glass.

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Photo of teromous
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On the flag wrapped around the neck of the bottle: "2016"
On the rear label: "BOTTLED ON: 18OCT16 1107 13.6% ALC/VOL"

Appearance: The body of the beer is a dark tawny brown that mixes with black. The head is a short-lived fizzy and foamy light tan and tobacco stained yellow. No head retention although it does maintain a very thin ring around the glass.

Aroma: It has a very sweet caramel aroma that is strong. There is also a woody oak aroma. It smells very nice but not a lot of complexity.

Taste: The flavor is amazing. I am getting a wonderful chocolate flavor with a bit of coffee and a sweet rich caramel flavor. The caramel flavor actually tastes better than most caramels I can buy in candy stores. There is this sweet slightly vanilla tasting finish that is great. I'm sitting here trying to think if there is anything that I don't like in the flavor and I am left without a single thing. It's perfect. I could drink this forever and be happy.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel on this beer is perfect. It literally could not be improved upon. It is nice and thick without being heavy. It coats the mouth like liquid chocolate and the texture alone just makes you want to take another sip.

Overall: When I smelled the beer I wasn't very impressed. I have had other Barleywines that had a lot more complexity with a breadth of aromas to keep you lingering at the rim of the glass for days. This beer smelled nice but it just wasn't very diverse. All of this was shot out of the sky when I tasted the beer. It is fantastic. I was hit by this wonderful well rounded texture that just lathered my palate with wonderful flavors. Everything is just so well put together in this beer that it makes you want to stay in the moment and enjoy the bottle forever. I want to touch on the fact that this is a 13.6% ABV beer aged in bourbon barrels and at no point did it taste or smell like an alcohol swab. I would not only highly recommend this beer but I would go as far as to recommend going out of your way to get it if you can. This beer was bottled less than six weeks ago and it already has enough age on it to drink right now. I will be buying it again.

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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.71/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

16.9 oz. bottled on Oct. 19, 2016

Pours dark maroon black with a creamy frothy khaki colored foam head. Smells like big oak, vanilla, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, graham crackery malt, chocolate, rich dark fruits, black cherry, stewed plums, fresh fig, grapes, with mild earthy grassy pine. Tastes like big rich dark fruits, black cherry, plum, figs, dark grapes, oak, vanilla, bourbon, caramel, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, graham crackery malt, chocolate, with mild earthy grassy pine. Feels medium bodied, creamy with moderate low carbonation. Overall a real nice bourbon barrel aged barleywine.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.48 out of 5 based on 5,058 ratings.
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