Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

BA SCORE
99
world-class
5,135 Ratings
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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
BEER INFO

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

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.60%

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
5,135
Reviews:
589
Avg:
4.49
pDev:
8.24%
 
 
Wants:
724
Gots:
2,501
For Trade:
341
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,135 |  Reviews: 589
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of acurtis
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of kylehay2004
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Single finger off white head on a very deep dark amber brown body with excellent lacing. Aroma is a bit light with notes if dark fruit, caramel, some coffee and the bourbon but mild. Flavor follows with more dark fruit mostly raisin, dark grapes and strawberry follows buy caramel malts coffee and brown sugar rounded off at the end by the bourbon finish. This one is unapologetically boozy. Medium to full body and light carbonation. Although I have had better barleywines, few compare to this one.

 499 characters

Photo of GRG1313
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of jaydoc
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Retsinis for sharing this one at Instant Replay in Canoga Park, CA.

Bottled 9/24/13.

Pours a clear dark orange-brown with a foamy khaki head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is of malt, caramel, toffee, brown sugar, bourbon, and alcohol aromas. Taste is much the same with vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and bourbon flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness and an alcohol kick on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with a great bourbon presence even though the barrels were third use for the barrel aging process.

 738 characters

Photo of spycow
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.42/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

worthy of all the high praise, this is a social barleywine with a great bourbon complexion and so much body it drinks like syrup. the looks are the only part that didn't really turn me on, dark mahogany in color with almost no head, and even a vigorous twirl of the glass can't arouse one. thick and dense and viscous. the nose is very sweet, tons of layers of grain and sugar, but also a great deep char and vanilla aspect from the barrel, not unnecessarily complex, but dynamic to say the least. i feared a sugar bomb that would be close to undrinkable, and almost immediately wished i had shared the bottle, but after the first sip it eased up a bit, temperature helped it unfold, and by the bottom of the glass i was wishing for more. a toffee style sweetness starts off a long flavor journey that bounces from toasted marshmallow to vanilla extract to charcoal and rum raisin cake. some spice to this, classic english ale yeast, a bunch of residual sugar, and not much hops at all. the finish is long and smooth, and while the alcohol is there, it adds a layer rather than distracts. more body than i thought possible, almost gelatinous, slippery and slick, but chewy too. mild carbonation is all it needs. i like this at least as much as the stout, if not more. its a world class beer that showcases the barrel very neatly. id like to have one with some age on it just to compare.

 1,386 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of Knapp85
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured out as a deep brown color with a very minimal head on top. The smell of the beer is malty with a good amount of barrel on the nose. The taste is about the same as the aroma, lots of malt, plenty of bourbon flavors. The feel is heavy and rich. Overall it's a damn good beer for the style.

 299 characters

Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of oriolesfan4
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of metter98
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is clear but very dark reddish brown in color (black when viewed from afar). It poured with a short beige head that rapidly dissipated, leaving only a thin collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of bourbon and vanilla are present in the nose. The smell becomes stronger as the beer warms up.
T: Just like the smell, the taste has flavors of bourbon and associated vanilla; these linger into the finish. Hints of the underlying barleywine are also apparent.
M: air feels medium-bodied and silky smooth on the palate, coating your mouth with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer is very drinkable considering its strength—the only alcohol you get is from the bourbon.

Serving type: bottle

 732 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.56/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Its with incredible resplendence that Goose Island even dares to follow up their King Henry that shared elements of both their famed Bourbon County Stout and their second-use Pappy 23 barrels. Yet, there's more life to the ale as Bourbon Barrel Brand Barleywine is borne.

Its pour would be easily mistaken for stout because of its black and ominous body, except for its tawny low-lights around the edges. As its initial pour yeilds a rich mocha-laden blanket of foam, the eventual collapse leaves the ale with an appetizing brandy-like appearance, equipped with streaming legging and all.

Its aromas are a culmination of all things both sweet and savory- black-strap molasses, toffee, maple, honey and sorghum all play a part in the beer's malty scent. Light coffee, nutty aromas, and a rich "umami" tone of something soy sauce and fudge wrapping around the sweetness. A trailing fruit liqueur note, similar of brandy, rum and bourbon all contribute to the beer's character and rich scent.

Its lavish taste is sultry, decadent and seductive with its very first scent as its booze-infused flavors of maple syrup, molasses, chocolate and coffee play equal parts in the beer's early complexity. After that, the taste really opens up to share savory port wine and aged sherry tones as the rich and "meaty" taste takes hold. Adding a sprinkle of salt to amplifiy its taste, a flavor of soy sauces joins with the judge-like richness for a taste that's spot on with the aroma. A trailing bitterness in lightly coffee-like and timidly signals its closure.

Silky smooth and lightly peppery, the ale's texture opens with a creamy film that coats the palate with a cling of sweetness. Its middle retains much of its richness while the mild acidity of seemingly wine lightens the body as the carbonation recedes. Finishing like port, its long linger of boozy sweetness is satisfying and rewarding to the palate like fine dessert or cognac.

The ale is alive with a tremendous amount of savory sweet notes- appealing to all that is sweet, earthy, boozy and salty all at once. Beers like this might as well be like catnip to a savory fiend like me.

 2,138 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.55/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2013 vintage 355ml brown glass bottle with classy iconic label design and branded black pry-off pressure cap acquired at a Colorado bottle shop and served into an Odell stem-tulip/snifter hybrid glass in me friend's gaff in high altitude Fort Collins, CO Reviewed live. Expectations are sky-high given its current 100 rating and my past experiences with Bourbon County Brand Stout. 12.1% ABV confirmed. Bottled 17 Sep 13.

Served chilled and allowed to come to room temperature. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a half finger head of khaki colour which recedes fully inside of ten seconds. That's a bit disappointing. Based on its brief appearance, the head was fairly creamy and nicely thick. No lacing, but it does leave a cognac-esque clear streak on the sides of the glass when you tilt it. I've seen that before in boozy beers like Utopias, and it's an effect I quite like.

Body colour is a dark murky opaque brown. Not real vibrant or open, but certainly distinguished. No floating yeast particles are visible. I'm looking forward to trying it. Not unique, but the boozy legs make it special to me. There are no egregious flaws here.

Sm: English oak, bourbon-derived vanilla, soaked wood barrel notes, dark malts, and some pleasant boozy notes that evoke a fine liquor. Sherry wine, maybe prunes or dates, some type of leather, and English brown malts.

I do worry that the barrel is overwhelming the base beer. It's not unique or special, and I did expect better, but I'm optimistic.

No yeast character or hop character is detectable.

T: The duration of flavour is quite brief, with average depth and intensity of flavour for the style. Tobacco, rich raisin, prunes/dates, a leathery note, sherry wine, well-integrated oak, faint vanilla, and soaked wood. Marshmallow. Caramel. Some faint wet cardboard notes are present - indicative almost of oxidation. The bourbon isn't as fully developed or complementary here as it is in bourbon county brand stout. Certainly on the sweeter side.

Pretty well balanced for what it is. The build is nowhere near as complex or subtle as I expected given it's a bourbon county brew.

Constructively, it seems like the base beer wasn't all that great to begin with, and the beer relies on the bourbon barrel as a crutch rather than a means of accentuating already present characteristics. Additionally, amplitude is quite low - the flavours don't blend together seamlessly but rather feel distinct and separate. The whole is not more than the sum of its parts.

Mf: Coarser and more dry than anticipated. Rough; it drags on the palate. Very chewy. Thick and full-bodied. A biteen syrupy. It's got what I'd call a pleasant boozy warmth. Well-carbonated.

Not oily, gushed, or astringent.

Dr: She's a sipper, alright. It demands to be appreciated with care. It's an armchair beer. I'm glad I have a few more bottles, but this isn't amongst the best in the style. A solid barleywine across the board, but I'm not sure I'll buy it again. I was ready to love this when I opened it, but unfortunately the execution wasn't quite up to par with Goose Island's best offerings.

Low B

***
2015 vintage tried on June 9th, 2017:

Leathery. Prune. Caramel. Dates.

Chewy. Full-bodied. Aptly thick.

High B- / WORTHY

 3,352 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.24/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a burnt caramel, just a shade lighter than a stout; the modest head fades rather quickly, though the lacing is leggy and viscous

Smell: Caramel and Bourbon, with tones of sugar cake, dates, oak, coconut and vanilla

Taste: The closest thing to a Bourbon sundae I have come across, with Bourbon-infused caramel sauce topping vanilla ice cream; hints of oak, coconut, milk chocolate and dates; the finish is treacly, with some boozy ethanol

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; some warmth in the gullet

Overall: This is a very nice beer though a bit too sweet when first bottled; let it settle for a year or so and it will mature nicely

 669 characters

Photo of oline73
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of SocalKicks
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of emerge077
4.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown nearly black with mahogany highlights around the edges in the light. Initial finger of light tan foam that settles after a few minutes. Wispy broken skim on the surface.

Rich and sweet caramelized sugars in the aroma, brown sugar, maple syrup, bourbon. Reminds me of a glaze I've made with those exact ingredients. Trace woodiness.

Toffee and caramel in spades, bourbon-soaked wood, vanilla, plum, malty bread crust in the aftertaste and dry wood. Full bodied and smooth, though the bourbon is fully present, it's more of a warming feeling. Very rich but drinkable, with some nice complexity from both the barrel and base beer. Different from King Henry obviously, but not a bad substitute by any means.

 716 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Bottle: Poured a deep murky brown color ale with a medium size foamy head with medium retention and limited lacing. Aroma of toffee, heavy caramelized malt notes and some vanilla and bourbon notes. Taste is also dominated by loads of toffee and caramelized notes with a healthy dose of residual sugar notes with some nice bourbon and vanilla notes. Body is quite full with a good amount of carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Very well brewed with nice balanced with the barrel-aging notes. Maybe a tad too much residual sugars.

 538 characters

Photo of WillieThreebiers
4/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of zeff80
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.49 out of 5 based on 5,135 ratings.
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