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): 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

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Reviews: 577 | Ratings: 5,079
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.71/5  rDev +4.9%
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 bonesTdog
4.61/5  rDev +2.7%
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 Radcpa
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Dark appearance with a slightly sweet aroma of bourbon and slight vanilla. The taste is wonderful and one of the better barleywine beers that I have tried. Very slight alcohol taste. Overall very good with some aging it would be better.

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Photo of teromous
4.58/5  rDev +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 +4.9%
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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Photo of RacerX5k
4.78/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Delicious. And I'm impressed, I like this much better than : 3 years ago the first bottling in 4 paks. Didn't have last 2 years. Did read used first run barrels this time, did that make the difference? IDK. What I do know is this maybe better than the 2016 stout I had yesterday ... and now I wish I would've got the other 2 (maybe 3 more if I would've bugged) had the chance to yesterday. On the other hand, 4 paks of Backwoods Bastard are still available for the same $12.

Burgundy, beautiful, second pour an improvement in appearance over the first. The crimson highlighting I love,
and now it looks alive in teh snifter. Huge aroma. whiskey, barrel, caramel, vanilla forward as advertised. Taste to
follow, huge whiskey barrel, vanilla, caramel, fresh and dark fruits, smooooooth. Mouthfeel spot on perfect, thick
and so rich, liquid desert. Perfect.

OK, along with this years Parabola (another surprise) the best beer Ive had this year. And I only got one? that's what I hate about limited beer, chances are I could've felt the same meh I felt 2 years ago and regretted my 3 or 4
purchase. so I'm gonna say Fuck limited beer ... Enjoyed at 4 AM I woke up in anticipation of trying this ... Outstanding.

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Photo of nola1988
1.37/5  rDev -69.5%
look: 3 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

2015 vintage in a tulip (infected)

L: light darkness, red hue, no head.
S: sharp and sour, not unlike cherry. No notes of bourbon.
T: follows smell. A tart sourness. No maltiness, no notes of bourbon. Still syrup sweetness. Everything is masked by a sour funk and it holds none of its original features.
F: viscous but very thin for the style.
O: as GI releases BCBS today, I revisit this brew to reminded myself of last year's failure. Under normal situations, this barley-wine is a fine brew. But I can only review what is given... and it is a mess. Frankly, it is a sour, sweet mass that shows the horrors of "spontaneous fermentation." Any bourbon flavor has been destroyed. The sweet maltiness? Transformed into some sort of rotten cherry. While lines form at bottle shops around the country, I doubt few would wait for this offering despite GI's claims that some may enjoy it. Perhaps they right the ship this year. last years venture is certainly worth forgetting.

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Photo of Barracudas
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very nice bourbon aroma, very nice color and it tasted just as good as it looked and smelled. Very well balanced beer and packs an incredible punch! (13.6%ABV)

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

Bottled September 17th 2013.

L - 12oz bottle poured into a snifter. Pours a thick ruby hued mahogany color with thin white head. Thick alcohol on the glass. It's extremely, extremely viscous and I'm hopeful the mouthfeel is as thick and chewy as BCBS.

S - White grapes, doughy yeast, figs, raisens, mild alcohol, leather, champagne all mixed into one see less aroma.

T - mmm. Brown sugar and molasses with a side of diabetes. Stupid sweet. The alcohol is there but it isn't hot at all... Though this has had over three years to mellow. Very little to no detectable bitterness. Heavy, heavy on the fruit with a tobacco like smoke on the backend.

M - Love it. It's everything I ever wanted in a >12% beer. It's a meal with it's chewy syrupy goodness.

O - Love it.

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Photo of Griffin2
4.74/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a 2013 Barleywine.
Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a snifter.
L - Pours a dark brown with a minimal tan head.
S - Smells of bourbon.
T - Very bourbon forward win some nice sweetness on the finish.
F - Really nice mouthfeel. very smooth with a nice body.
O - This is probably the best barleywine that I have ever drank.

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Photo of Marius
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled at THT June tasting. Possibly infected bottle. Dark ruby pour with no carbonation. Smells like red wine, caramel, chocolate, coffee. The taste is quite sour for a barleywine, with notes of red wine, sherry, port, coffee, chocolate. Not bad for an infected beer.

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Photo of LAp
4.19/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Served in a taster at a barleywine tasting event. Lots of fruit up front. An almost syrupy fruit taste (raspberry, cranberry, cherry) with a malty, bourbon-laced backend. Very different from what I anticipated from a bourbon barrel barleywine. Different from most other entries in the style I've tried. Good, but unusual.

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Photo of von_kaiser
4.39/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

vintage 14'...15' was an absolute abortion. the bourbon brings out a sweet caramel flavor that i can enjoy. alone, barely wine just doesn't do it for me. paired a 13' a few years back w/ an artuo fuente...wished i had done it again. great offering.

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Photo of chinchill
4.21/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

12 oz, 17 Sept. 2013 bottle consumed in October 2016 from a Belgian snifter.

Dark mahogany body with some sediment that eventually settles to the bottom of the glass.

Aroma: ABV over 12% is evident, as is bourbon barrel. Hints of dark dried fruits, vanilla, dried cherries, and wood.

Flavor: less boozy, but no less complex than the aroma suggests. Lightly sweet. Very rich.

Feel: full, creamy smooth body with well hidden alcohol.

Overall: excellent and highly complex version of the style.

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Photo of kwakwhore
4.52/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 9/24 2013. Apple butter red brown color which doesn't admit any light. Dark fruit on the nose. Getting some bourbon notes as it warms. Dark fruit on the tongue, reminiscent of the best Thomas Hardy's Ale or JW Lees Harvest Ales, Additional depth comes from the barrel aging. Three years of aging has moderated the heat from the alcohol. Mouthfeel is suitably syrupy. Barleywines are not my favorite thing, but this is really really good. Would like be to try one fresh,

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Photo of arizcards
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a single of the 2014 edition at the Tops Liquors 2015 Black Friday event for $6.99. Bottled on 9-18-14.

Beer poured a deep reddish brown with a smallish off white head on the initial pour.

Nose is wonderful, toffee, vanilla, oaken barrel, and bourbon round very nicely together.

Taste has hints of bourbon, vanilla, a touch of leather, and toffee meld together very well.

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and very smooth.

Overall this is an awesome beer, definitely one worth seeking out. Unfortunately with the 2015 release disaster has left me questioning whether I should stand in line for two hours again in cold Phoenix weather for something that might be tainted. But this edition is swaying me to be one of the crazies out there on Black Friday!

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Photo of RNbeerfan
4.71/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vintage
Look: Very Deep Ruby/Mahogany color. No head at all when pouring
Smell: Bourbon up front followed by a sweetness with hints of toffee and vanilla
Taste: Probably my favorite BW. Taste follows the nose. Also get overripe fruit
Feel: Velvety smooth with a slight carbonation
Overall: The used bourbon barrels add so much depth of flavor to this beer. BC excels in the mouthfeel compared to other BA beers to me

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Photo of tbryan5
4.39/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Let's just say that previous years of BCBBW were world class. I could tell something was up with the 2016 edition. It wasn't as smooth or balanced. But I'm not basing this rating on the latest release. Still love me some bourbon county, I just hope they can turn it around next year.

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Photo of PDXAmbassador
4.35/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage enjoyed summer 2016.

Pours a murky translucent dark mahogany. Head is a bit foamy and disapates quickly. I found it a rather ugly beer. But the aroma was lovely -- bourbon forward, a bit of Sherry oxidation, smells sweet and boozy.

The tastes followed suit. Pretty much exactly what one would expect. Much like BCBS...but a bit less boozy perhaps, and definitely less roasty. There's a hint of cocoa powder in the taste, but it's far more raisin and plum forward. Sticky caramel. A bit of oak. Possibly a hint of vanilla and spice if I search for it. Mouthfeel is pretty sticky and lush. Still quite a bit of alcohol burn after 18 months in the bottle.

Enjoyable, if rather un-memorable. Maybe it's just too similar to what I would expect of a beer aged in BCBS barrels, exhibiting so many of the flavors i have enjoyed so many times in their stout. I guess i was secretly hoping for a more significant contrast. I would want to try some other BA Barleywines before I return to this one again.

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

2013 Vintage

Appearance: Dark-brown root beer color with a small light beige head that slowly faded to a ring.

Smell: Bourbon, brown sugar/toffee, mild vanilla, and moderate dark fruit notes.

Taste: Upfront bourbon, brown sugar notes followed by toffee, vanilla, modest oak, , and some dark fruit notes. The beer is mildly sweet initially but the finish is reasonably dry with tannic oak notes present in the end. Very restrained alcohol presence

Mouth-feel: On the heavy side of medium bodied with a modest level of carbonation. Very nice.

Overall: 2013 Vintage but this one has held up well. A top notch English Barleywine.

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Photo of Masonz223
4.28/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Smell: sweet black cherry dark chocolate dark fruit rasin plums hint of vanilla and a slight booziness.
Taste: sweet black cherries hit the palate right upfront middle of the mouth dark fruits sugar coverd raisins plums figs sweet malt finishes with a hint of vanilla and cherry juice.
Feel: big body a beer you should sip on.
Overall: cherry dominates the flavor profile. Really good but not as good as bcbs and bcbcs.

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Photo of Gambyt20
4.59/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally got a proper 2015 BCBBW on tap after going thru 3 infected sour undrinkable bottles. Now that is a great barleywine that I have read about and finally having. Solid smooth, not boozy, great finish.

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Photo of aleigator
3.87/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bourbon County Barley Wine 2014

Pours a dark brown color with glowing ember hints, woven into the beers appearance, which comes along with almost no head at all. It produces a small, bubbly ring of lacing, revealing alcohol legs after swirling.

Smells of bright, sugar coated malts and boozy, ripe plums. Bakers chocolate blends into molasses and a warming oak quality. Roasted walnut shell compliments dried, scented wood and sun burned earth.

Has a pleasantly low carbonation, while featuring a decadent huge, sweet body, defined by sweet malts together with a spicy, oaken dryness. Does not have the thick, creamy mouthfeel the regular version provides, although it offers a pleasant silkness on the tongue.

Tastes of soft earth, hazelnuts, toasted malts and melted caramel among dried, sweet plums. Creates a pleasant sweetness of milk chocolate, wild honey, rock sugar and licorice, finding its balance in the dry, spicy Boubon barrel. Finishes with caramel, fudge and more molasses and a pleasant, boozy dryness, with a nice, bubbly refreshment from the carbonation, preventing the beer from becoming cloyingly sweet.

Comes very well together, its prominent, taste defining sweeter qualities find their balance in the perfect nuanced Bourbon barrel, which provides enough body to the malts to make this interesting till the last sip.

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Photo of FinestCityBeerGuy
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

OK, first of all: this is the best BBA beer I've ever had.

Once you open the bottle, the aroma is intoxicating. Maple syrup, toasty bourbon, caramel, molasses, have mercy. Once of the best-smelling BBA beer's I've ever had, too.

Taste So good. Thick, dense, formidable. I've had a lot of BBA's, and many times, the bourbon is simply ttoo overwhelming, taking away from other base ingredients. Not so with Goose Island's. The bourbon is smack-your-lips tasty, sweet, and residual. Aftertaste is very pleasant; I was going to smoke a cigar with this one, but I didn't want to do anything to change the flavor. Caramel chocolate, mocha, vanilla. Wow.

Very warming. I got shivers from drinking it.

Overall, I'm glad I picked it up. I love great beers, but I normally avoid going over $15 for a bottle - still, I'm very happy with this selection. A must-try. Definitely looking forward to trying the other Bourbon County's by Goose! (I stumbled upon this one in a janky, sketchy-looking liquor store on the way home. Can't judge a liquor store by the outside!)

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Photo of SayBoom
4.81/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Sucaba 2014 vintage vs Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale 2014 vintage.
L: Sucaba <BCBBw. Pours a deep ruby, brownish. Cloudy, not much head, disappears quickly.
S: Sucaba >BCBBw.
T: Sucaba <BCBBw. Hides the alcohol, and is sweet but not cloying. Ultra smooth and balanced.
F: Sucaba >BCBBw.
O: Sucaba=BCBBw. Two outstanding barleywine. Balanced and well executed, overall.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.49 out of 5 based on 5,079 ratings.
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