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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Ratings: 5,119 |  Reviews: 584
Photo of NeroFiddled
4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Goose Island Beer Co. "Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale"
16.9 fl. oz. brown glass bottle, "BOTTLED ON: 19OCT16" and sampled on 8 MAR17
$12.79 @ Spaz Beverage, West Chester, PA

Notes via stream of consciousness: 2016, listed at 13.6% ABV. Not a lot of head. I had to force it up and then it dropped away fairly readily. I find that odd. It's got to have a lot of malt to it, and it's not that much alcohol. Odd. What I got was beige, about a finger thick, and fairly creamy. The body is a hazy dark mahogany brown with some ruby and orange highlights when held to the light. No surprise in the aroma. It's malty, reminiscent of Ovaltine, and Bourbon soaked - Bourbon itself, and oak - a little dark skinned fruit as well. The flavor is much, much bigger! It's almost too much. I don't really see this as a barleywine, it's more of a Bourbon barrel beer. Not that I can't see the barleywine aspect of it, but the Bourbon and wood ride roughshod over it. Wow! It's a head turner, and eye opener, whatever you want to call it, it's BOLD in capital letters. Notes of cereal grains, Bourbon, caramel, coconut, oak, toffee, vanilla, subtle dark skinned fruit, brown sugar, almost burnt sugar, molasses, raw honey, grass, cherry pit, almond, and perhaps leather. I would imagine that I could keep going on, that it'll evolve as your palate adapts to it and its alcoholic strength, which, by the way, helps to balance it. It's pretty strong, and with the sweetness it's reminiscent of Bourbon to me. I had an Even Williams last night, and I can see a similarity. Ahh, I see the bottle also mentions tobacco, I get that. I think I like the Bourbon County Stout better, but then again that's really a Bourbon barrel beer as well, rather than a stout that's Bourbon barrel aged, although closer. Is it possible to have too much Bourbon barrel goodness? I think... both the stout and the barleywine... there's not another beer in the world like them. Some may come close but none have the richness. Leave it to Americans to take it to the limit, right? Thomas Hardy's or Samichlaus used to be my big beers, and then came Sam Adam's Triple Bock and World Wide Stout, (now I'm showing my age) but these beers are just that much better - "These go to eleven".

 2,247 characters

Photo of soundaurora
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Yancey82
4.33/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Noles9585
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.96/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Wow can't believe I haven't reviewed this gem yet. An interesting color, has that earthy presence of brown, dark red going on for it. Beige head only props up to about 1/4" and quickly recedes. Aroma is very little bourbon actually. Goes more for the earthen dirt, tobacco, vanilla in the nose.

Taste is nice. Nice and smooth. The barrel notes come out a little more, this is a nicer, easier drink than the bourbon county stout. Not as hot either it seems. Just less barrel impact on this one, but still a worthy contribution. Carbonation is spot on in the mouth feel, a mild dark fruit presence and bitterness, comes out more as it warms. Brown malt and toffee notes. Its weird, as heavy as BCS stout goes in on the barrel power, this one is much more restrained. Both good, but each year, becomes less and less of a good value as the cost per oz goes up and the formatting goes meh.

 899 characters

Photo of Michaelpro824
4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of jmasher85
4.39/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This is as fine a barleywine as I've had, and one that truly lives up to its name. 2015 bottles came full speed out the gate with flavor, while 2016's needed a good 20 or 30 minutes to oxidize in the glass before it's full flavor potential was reached. Either way, chill it, pour it, let it sit around for a bit, and then dive into a smooth, thick, luxurious pool of sweet malt, cherry esters, and just enough vanilla and oak bourbon barrel impression to make this one a standout.

 482 characters

Photo of Timc32
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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

Photo of shareallthebeer
4.46/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Studfarm69
4.83/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

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

A personal whale of mine. Excited to finally get my hands on a bottle. Pours a deep garnet, ruby-red with tinges of lighter hue at the edges. A small head surfaces after a rough pour but quickly fades. Looks like flat cola. Aroma is stewed dark fruits, roasted malt, oak, bourbon and vanilla. Outstanding aroma. It pulls you in like a tractor beam for your first sip. Taste is dark rich fruits - raisin, plums, dates, figs - dark roasted malt, sweet bread, toasted coconut, vanilla, oak. The bourbon is there as warmth not heat but it slows you down. Luscious mouthfeel as the liquid coats your palate. Slightly sweet due to the fruits. Amazing beer; second in style only to Sucaba, and that would probably change depending on my mood. Epic.

 741 characters

Photo of AppaZappa
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of NappyB
4.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of thebeers
4.09/5  rDev -8.9%
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.

 1,243 characters

Photo of ccg
4.44/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

 637 characters

Photo of MorpheusIPA
4.49/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

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

Photo of CSO
4.13/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Markyg21
5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of ead73
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Wrex68
4.67/5  rDev +4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of sjrider
4.55/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of BeantownBrews
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
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

 400 characters

Photo of Jake_Skayhan
4.77/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.49 out of 5 based on 5,119 ratings.
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