Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
Goose Island Beer Co.

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
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Style:
Barleywine - English
ABV:
14.4%
Score:
100
Avg:
4.55 | pDev: 8.57%
Reviews:
694
Ratings:
5,527
From:
Goose Island Beer Co.
 
Illinois, United States
Avail:
Retired (no longer brewed)
Wants
  764
Gots
  2,636
SCORE
100
World-Class
Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 694 | Ratings: 5,527 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of jcoleMA66
jcoleMA66 from Massachusetts

4.96/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2013 bottle picked up at Fulton Street Taproom in October 2021.

A: dark mahogany brown. Minimal head when poured that quickly dissipated. Should have been a little more careful pouring - there are a few floaters from bottom of the bottle.

S: sweet bourbon, caramel and char on the nose. Faint vanilla sweetness.

T: raisins, over ripe plums, caramel, dark cherries, milk chocolate, smooth bourbon undertones. Oak and char lingers in aftertaste.

F: smooth with minimal carbonation, thick mouthfeel

O: Tastes tremendous for an 8 year old beer! Very happy to have the opportunity to finally try this beer, and looking forward to trying other vintages I picked up.

Oct 10, 2021
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micada from New York

4.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2017 bottle consumed in 2021. Stellar. Fragrant. Crisp carbonation with dark cherry hints behind the sweet caramel malts. The wheat wine is a decent drink, but this is by far superior.

May 03, 2021
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Jo_Renish from Vermont

4.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter at around 45˚, 2017 vintage bottle.

Appearance - Pours a deep amber/mahogany with zero head development. A light swirl reveals the potent fusel presence and a stocky viscosity in its legs.

Aroma - Dates, fig, and sweet molasses are the striking features in the nose of this beer, followed by a peeping pear quality and a notable barrel presence.

Taste - In accordance with the nose, sweet fig, date, red grape, and caramel lead the procession. Sticky caramel and brown sugar move in haste controlling the palate. Bourbon and deep oak character boldly seal the flavor profile of this incredibly complex beer.

Mouthfeel - Very light carbonation profile and a coating, syrup like viscosity.

Overall - This takes the crown for a barrel aged barleywine, hands down. I can't recall a time in recent history that I've been as impressed with the representation of a specific style. Incredibly impressive!

Jan 06, 2021
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wally_world from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev -7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013. Up-ranked for staying power. Good carbonation, full of dark fruit and raisin, somehow there’s faint barrel in the finish. It is quite impressive that 2013 has the aging power it does. Definitely one of the original classic BA barleywines.

Dec 27, 2020
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sulldaddy from Connecticut

4.58/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Sampling a 2017 bottle poured into my snifter. Ive had this bottle in my cellar since acquiring it via a trade 2 years ago.
The cap pops off with a light hiss. the beer pours a deep mahogany color with minimal khaki colored head foaming up. This foam is densely packed and fades to a thin edge layer soon after I pour. the edge layer remains throughout the sampling. There is some surface action as streams of carbonation rise up to replenish the surface, but to no avail.
The aroma on this beer is bold. I get lots of malt notes with brown sugar and toffee, dark fruits, some plum and red grapes here. I also get a little bit of black peppery booze and general alcoholic heat. NOt much of a hop character on the nose of this beer. Seems about right for a nice english barleywine!
First sip reveals a pretty thick body with sticky syrupy texture and almost no carbonation.
Flavor is complex and malt driven with molasses, brown sugar, toffee, dark chocolate and a bit of tobacco note. I also get a little sweet vanilla, but a roasted malt note lingers long after each swallow. I dont get any hops, but the booze is present, both as black pepper bite and also as some warming notes on each swallow. this is a bit of a sipping beer due to the high octane and the warmth. But the beer also drinks very smooth and this is very enjoyable. A great boozy example for the style.

Nov 02, 2020
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SHODriver from North Carolina

4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle from 2016

A: Poured into a snifter to a deep brown beer with some slight red tint. The beer is topped by a dense and slightly rocky finger of light tan head which fades quickly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing.
S: Smells of toffee, caramel, vanilla, and oak along with some dark fruit notes
T: Taste is toasted coconut, caramel, toffee, vanilla, oak, a little dark roasted malt, and some hints of cocoa powder/chocolate. On the swallow there's some slightly boozy notes, dark fruits, coconut, caramel, vanilla and oak with some lingering caramel sweetness.
M: This beer has a fairly full body with a slightly chewy fell on the palate. Carbonation is on the low side of things but it's adequate for the style while the beer has a drying finish.
O: Overall this beer is just outstanding. The flavors and complexity are everything that you want in a barrel aged barleywine. The flavors are very well balanced as well which makes this beer an absolute pleasure to drink.

Oct 22, 2020
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bret27 from California

4.43/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 bottle courtesy of Scottsbeer.
L: dark brown, minimal head that fizzles out.
S: vanilla dominates, licorice, oak, fig.
T: same. Some of the “bourbon heat” but pretty minimal. Tobacco, earthiness.
F: Fairly dry and balanced. Coats the mouth. Numbs the tongue a bit.
Overall: a nice ba barleywine. Interesting that the barrels were 3rd use. Also previously housed a world-class stout. Some old & melded flavors. Refined. I’d be happy to be an olde English noble drinking this.

Jun 24, 2020
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SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.45/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle - 2014 vintage - poured into a cognac shifter at 48°F.

Huge thanks to dmd2210 for this one!

Pours a deep, murky iced tea brown, sitting in the glass somewhere between a brown ale and a stout in appearance. Zero head - just a quick ring of dark tan foam that builds and disappears in seconds. No visible effervescence.

Nose: Rich, sweet malts lend toffee, caramel, molasses, brown sugar, and just a ton of dark fruit. There are some darker malts in the mix as well pending some cocoa and coffee. Huve aromas of dried cherry, raisin, fig, plum, dried blueberry, and ruby port. Plenty of oak, vanilla, and leather, as well as some bourbon and barrel char. A subtle, but very interesting minty spearmint note as well. Just a little bit of sherry-like oxidation.

Palate: The barleywine greets the palate with a TON of malt. Rich, sweet, luscious flavours of toffee, caramel, coconut sugar, vanilla, and molasses. Next, a huge wave of dense, sweet dried fruits come in, lending notes of dried cherry, raisin, dried strawberry, dried blueberry, and more fruity port notes. There's definitely some darker malt character in here, which translates as a chocolate coating over those dried fruits. There's also some block milk chocolate as well. This moves into a huge malty nuttiness with pecan, vanilla, marzipan, and malted milk. There are some baking spice notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, before those dark fruit notes slowly fade, letting some dark chocolate, coffee and cream, and a huge malty nutty note emerge. I do believe the bourbon character is here, but it has just transformed beyond what I generally recognise as bourbon, and has taken on a more fortified wine profile. There is plenty of toasted barrel oak though, which emerges in the finish with dark chocolate, light coffee and cream, tawny port, vanilla, praline pecan, brown sugar, and caramel. Everything eventually slowly dries out, until all that's left is a lingering note of sweet malt.

Mouthfeel/Body: This barleywine really captures what do many barleywine fans love about barleywine. Straight out of the gate, this stuff ia just chewy, thick, viscous, you name it. It actually fights a little just getting past the lips, and it definitely clings - both on the lips and the palate. You can taste thing one for 5 minutes after a sip. Effervescence is extremely low. It isn't still - it still has some fuzz to it, but it's not a bubbly beer - just a little CO2 texture. Extremely full-bodied.

Overall: I've heard a lot about this barleywine, but I didn't really discover Bourbon County until after this was already phased out. It really can't be lumped into an English or American-style category. It definitely leans English-style, but the darker, roasty malts give it some American flair. I'm not sure what the hop presence was like when this was fresh, but here, 6 years later, they're way in the background. Still, it has held up with very minimal detrimental oxidation, and it's just such a full, bold, well-rounded barleywine that really has everything going for it. I think age has actually smoothed this out a bit -cooling off the heat and smoothing out the bite. It's a fantastic barleywine with some darker malts in it, and while it's a bit of a dark fruit bomb, it really does have some nuance and subtly, and it's well worth seeking out to try - even at 6 years old.

Jun 21, 2020
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Wolvmar from Michigan

4.54/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

March 2020 review
2016 vintage. Basically same review as last. Bumped nose rating to 4.5 from 4.25! This is amazing. Only possible criticism is looks but it’s over 3 years now. Absolutely awesome. Wish I had more.

Dec 27 2019
2017 vintage. Poured into hotel glass at Crystal Mountain. Basically same as Jan 2018 review of 2017 vintage. Definite molasses, burnt toffee, dark stone fruits, with booze, chocolate and a slight bitterness on the backend. Still looks just ok but taste is awesome.

=====

Dec 31, 2018. 2016 vintage poured into a tulip glass.

Pour: dark amber, no head, no clouds, no lacing.

Nose: see 2017 review but in a tulip glass this time. Even better!

Taste: similar to 2017 but maybe even more subtle and balanced. Lots of chocolate, still plenty of bourbon heat even after two years. Caramel, burnt toffee. Brandied dark fruits. Awesome.

Mouthfeel: very mild carbonation. Luscious, velvety, oily. Awesome.

Overall: hard to say if it’s better with age but this was exceptional. Might have one more 2016...hoping, hoping, hoping. If not, 2017 will be two years old soon!

==========

Jan 2018. 2017 vintage (4 months old) poured into. Highball glass (best available at hotel).

Pour: beautiful amber and rose color. Small head but pour was small and not aggressive. Minimal lacing.

Nose: dark brandied fruits, brown sugar, toffee, bready malt. Lots going on and really nice. Poured into a snifter would have been even better.

Taste: sweet, dark fruit, some bourbon, oak, smooth malts. Hints of toffee, brown sugar. Really complex but the sweet dark fruits dominate. Slight alcohol burn. Hops are present but not bitter.

Mouthfeel: great viscousity, oily, rich. Light carbonation. Wonderful.

Overall: this is great beer. Get any you can. Great complexity and easy drinking despite the big ABV.

Dec 28, 2019
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Msp004 from New York

4.24/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle date 18sep14
Pours a deep amber brown with no head or lacing.
Nose is dense with dark fruit (figs, raisins) sweet tobacco, vanilla and toffee.
Mouth is rich and semi thick again with dark fruits, charred oak and undertones of a subtle bourbon. Light carbonation . A dry slightly bitter sweet long lingering finish.
Very nice Barleywine that aged well.

Dec 24, 2019
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beersampler6 from Michigan

4.51/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got lucky and obtained a bottle of this beauty online. 2016 vintage, date printed on bottle was 10/18/16. Hung onto this one for as long as I could before cracking it open. Pours a beautifully honeyed rusty brown-light amber color with a little film of white head and some spotty lingering lacing. Honestly, the appearance was the worst part of this beer. Smells great, deep rich aromas of malt, fig, toffee, butterscotch, caramel, vanilla, bread, raisin, a little bourbon and oak. Tastes even better, amazing balance and richness and complexity and depth. And this is not even one of my favorite styles of beer! Everything melded so well together. Definitely a sipper but the incredibly high ABV wasn't overwhelming. Smooth, sticky, slightly luscious mouthfeel with just enough carbonation. Beer tasted and felt even better as it warmed towards room temperature. A real treat.

Dec 02, 2019
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DokiDokiLitFam from New Jersey

4.42/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A bottle of 2017. Seeing as this is a retired brew, this may be the only time I can experience this. Let's dive in.

Pours a dark ruby. Very little light shines through. Half a finger of off white head. Medium lacing. Dissipates quickly.

Nose is strong bourbon up front. Brown sugar, malt, dark fruit. Bourbon definitely dominates. You have to agitate it a little bit to get more scents.

Taste is certainly more complex. Bourbon and wood still coming through strongly, but not taking full control. Follows through with brown sugar/toffee, malt, raisin/prune or perhaps dark cherry. Very mild hop bitterness which eventually fades to a sweet and bready malt finish. The sweetness is consistentry present, but never overwhelming. A nice balance.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with fine carbonation. A little too thin to be considered smooth, but not disappointing. It serves the brew well, but not much more.

A very enjoyable brew. Maybe not better than Sucaba, but a worthy contender. Perhaps mellowed too much by time. Regardless, I drank this with a Thanksgiving meal and it complimented it nicely. Cheers!

Nov 30, 2019
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Tony210 from New Jersey

4.7/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a very dark and dense reddish brown, minimal head. Fantastic aroma of dark fruits: raisin, dried figs, molasses, brown sugar, bourbon. Tastes amazing. Lots of raisin, dried And bourbon soaked figs and dates, sweet and sticky, slight bitter finish. Full bodied, thick and syrupy.. Overall an amazing BA barleywine.

11/8/19
500 ml bottle, 2016 vintage
4.75 rating

Nov 09, 2019
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5toutman75 from Illinois

4.4/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Drinking a ‘17. I’ve always liked the lighter brown color compared to the regular BCS. It seems a bit thinner than the stout too. It has a nice sweet smell that’s inviting. You can taste the sweetness as well, but it’s not overpowering like a pastry stout. The carbonation is very low. Perhaps it could be a bit higher, but it should be low. This ranks up there with my favorite BA barleywine along with Sucuba. I’d have to drink them back to back to see which I prefer the most. I need to crack open a wheat wine too to see if that’s better. I’m glad that Goose is doing that again for ‘19. Don’t pass this up if you see it on a shelf!

Nov 04, 2019
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Joe_Tool from New Jersey

3.23/5  rDev -29%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This bottle has been in the cellar for 6 years. Sept '13 on the bottle. Very low carb. No head. I'm not going to waste any more time on this beer describing it. Suffice to say it was much better 6 years ago. A well made BW ages well. This got worse. Perhaps it went past its prime. However, I have numerous barley wines that have and continue to improve. Maybe give it a year but no more. Off to the sink.

Jun 29, 2019
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userPOOK from Wisconsin

4.77/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled 18 Sep 14

Look: Dark brown, approaching black. Very little head, which quickly dissipates.

Smell: Can smell this as soon as the bottle is cracked. Sweet malts, dark fruits, woody bourbon, chocolate, some oxidation. Excellent.

Taste: Follows smell. Sweet caramel, dark fruits, bourbon, chocolate, coffee. Mildly boozy. Oxidation is present but integrates well. Bourbon County Stout barrels are apparent. Shame they stopped using those barrels; they really elevate this beer.

Feel: Thick, smooth

Overall: Delicious, one of the best barleywines

Jun 20, 2019
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Oh_Dark_Star from Washington

4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Pours dark red/brown, but in a glass it is nearly black. The head was over a finger tall of loose bubbles, sizzling down to a thin half cap and ring of decent retention and clumpy lace.

S: Bourbon vanilla, roast and char, toffee, and caramel and burnt sugars, and dark fruits such as raisins and dates.

T: As complex as the aroma. Oak and a tiny bit of heat as well.

F: Smooth syrupy medium stout body, light but right carbonation.

O: I thought this was my least favorite until I had a 2016 in 2017 and it was sweet and beautifully creamy. Not a traditional barleywine but very nice nonetheless.

May 06, 2019
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BlackBeerPirate from Illinois

4.26/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Taste: Intense, spicy, oak, woody, bourbon, dark stone fruit, semi sweet, boozy, wine, hint of smokey notes. Same with the nose. Mahogany brown, clear, not much head but that sticky film to glass when you get a barrel aged ale. Full body. The 2016 vintage was smoother than the 17 as I expected being in the bottle longer. 60 IBUs

Apr 28, 2019
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Bitterbill from Wyoming

4.78/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2017 edition, bottled October 6th 2017.

A rather vigorous pour brought a finger of tan foam, quickly dissipating, very dark brown liquid with reddish hues.

Smells...English. caramel malt, burnt sugar, toffee, dark pitted fruits. Aromas worth remembering.

Vibrant flavours of caramel, burnt sugar, toffee, raisins, plums, oh my! All working in unison and hiding the ample abv very well.

Almost full bodied with perfect carbonation.

Amazing! World class!

Apr 16, 2019
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oberon from North Carolina

4.44/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Came in a sifter a deep rich amber color with a minimal off white head atop.Aromas of vanilla,toasted oak,raisin,and caramel,just a big time smooth malty aroma.Leather and vanilla upfront on the palate followed by oak and a little more dark fruit sweetness although for me it doesn't get too sweet.One to savor and sip on,the alcohol is big and the flavors are smooth.

Apr 11, 2019
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AllOfTheCats from Wisconsin

4.58/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 bottle consumed in late 2018, so about 2yrs old. This was almost as good as some of the best BA Scotch Ales I've had. Outside of what you get from a typical, great BA barleywine, I was getting a bitter, lingering finish. I have some 2017s to try later and will definitely keep buying and aging if it keeps coming out. Really enjoyed this!

Mar 22, 2019
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Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

4.44/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 Vintage
Pours a nice reddish, brown color. There's a slight brownish head that doesn't last too long.
This beer has a nice boozy aroma. There's a caramel aroma. A hint of raisin, and other fruit.
Taste - It starts off with a slight sweetness. A bit of caramel in there. It finishes up with a crisp dark raisin, fruit, flavor.
The body is thick. It is smooth, and it just the slightest boozy feel. Not harsh boozy, or strong.
Damn solid, and easy drinking barleywine.

Feb 27, 2019
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ajm5108 from Pennsylvania

3.9/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a muddy black, flat. Big wave of butter toffee on the nose - supporting notes of wet oak, mild fudge, roasted malt, earthy vanilla bean meat and bourbon caramel. That butter toffee is a tad muscular in comparison and especially coupled with the vanilla bean pit leans a bit heavy on the umami flavors.

Taste is very bourbon / booze heavy - lots of barrel characteristics but can’t quite shake that umami note. Notes of dark fudge, burnt treacle, blackstrap, charred oak. A little huskier than what I personally like in an English, needs some softer, sweeter needs to round it out.

Feb 18, 2019
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TH28 from Florida

4.06/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2017 vintage. 10/14/17 bottle date. Appearance: Dark mahogany brown, opaque, with a minimal light khaki head.
Aroma: Rich molasses, vanilla, oak, and a touch of vanilla
Taste: Intense, syrupy, molasses sweetness. Vanilla oakiness evolves on the back end. A touch of oxidized maltiness creates tobacco like flavors. Minimal perceived bitterness against the rich maltiness
Mouthfeel: Heavy bodied with an extremely light carbonation that leads to a syrupy like mouthfeel.
Finish: Strong vanilla and toasted molasses maltiness linger. Intensetmalt forward.
Overall: An intensely rich, malty barleywine with distinct bourbon barrel characteristics of vanilla, oak, and oxidized tobacco. This beer is 16 mths old and the carbonation has essentially vanished, which accentuates the malt character of the beer. Barrel character adds a lot of complexity to this barleywine, but the lack of carbonation makes it cloyingly sweet

Feb 16, 2019
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colts9016 from Idaho

4.84/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2016 Goose Island Barley Wine. The beer is 54 degrees and served in a tulip glass. The pour on the beer produced a two finger dark tan head with a reddish tint. The color of the beer is SRM 33 a dark amber brown with a mahogany hue. The barley wine head dissipated quickly, due to the high alcohol content. I am stoked to try this beer. The appearance of the beer is beautiful.
The initial aroma of the beer is a cloying malty sweetness with caramel undertones. Additional aromas in the beer are bourbon, wood, vanilla, toffee, bready, alcohol, molasses, and oranges. I love the way this beer smells.
The flavors of the beer develop across the palate. It starts with an immense amount of toasted malt follows by the malty sweetness. The beer turns a corner in flavor town. and toffee, bourbon, vanilla oranges, and molasses burst on the tongue. Lastly, bready, yeasty, wood, stone fruit, and caramel.

The mouthfeel of the beer is chewy and intense.

The body of the beer is full, low carbonation, and strong finish.
OMFG. This is a beer to get excited about. The age of the beer makes it drinkable. This beer is the reason why I drink beer. It is phenomenal.

Jan 27, 2019
Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 5527 ratings