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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: 547 | Ratings: 4,944
Photo of HipCzech
4.35/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Serving: 16.9 oz bottle poured into a 9 oz Libbey Embassy snifter. 2015 bottling, no hint of infection.

Appearance: Deep mahogany brown with a brief froth a khaki head. Leaves a small fringe of foam and spotty lace.

Smell: Sweet caramel, toffee and plenty of dark fruit (fig brûlée).

Taste: Full, layered malt body: caramel, brown sugar, and sweet and sour dark fruit (figs, raisins). Vanilla, tobacco, slight oak and emerging alcohol as it warms.

Mouthfeel: Full, sticky body with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Wonderfully layered with dark fruit and barrel notes, beyond just a malt bomb. Smooth despite its high ABV.

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

2015 vintage. Pours a ruby red color, barely any/no head. Smell: wonderful bourbon aroma, along with rich, sweet malt, raisin, toffee. Taste: a lot going on. Great burn from the barrel but doesn't overpower. Cherries, sweet malt, a hint of spice, caramel, toffee. Real interesting mix. Feel: slightly coats mouth. Medium /rich mouthfeel. Overall: very enjoyable

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Photo of Sandalwood
4.38/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2014 version, one year aged, pours a very dark brown to black color with a hint of reddish plum. The odor for me is dried fruits, fig, plum, dates, moss, cherry, slightly wine, dark chocolate, vanilla, some malty notes. The taste for me is rich, dried fruits, raisin, plum, figs, vanilla, berry, sweet, slightly nutty, dry woods oak aftertaste. Very velvety feel.

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Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.58/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into stemmed tulip.
Pours deep, dark brown that allows just a little light through on the edges. Minimal head.
Aromas are huge. Plum, raisin, some bourbon, some spice.
Flavor is even better, figs, plus, raisin with hints of coffee, toffee and bourbon.
Mouthfeel was very good, could have been slightly chewier.
Overall this beer is incredible.

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Photo of ryanhooks81
4.43/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2015. 12.1% dark reddish brown with very little head. dissipates quickly. there was a slightly tart note right when it first hit my tongue. idk. more research required. got some toffee fig raisin notes. pretty good. i think last years was better. this tart thing up front threw me way off.

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Photo of smanson56
4.24/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bottle dated 24Sep13. Poured a dark slightly hazy brown color into my snifter. The nose is sweet malts with hints of bourbon and oak. The taste is sweet molasses and bourbon with the slight taste from the oak also. The mouth feel is slightly thick and smooth. I think the couple of years of age on this bottle has helped the bourbon to smooth out a little. A very enjoyable beer.

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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.26/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. 2015 edition (12.9%). Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass, with a thin khaki head that dissipates to a thin ring with light lacing. Aroma of sweet caramel malt, fresh and dried plums, raisins, figs and dates, light bourbon and oak. Flavor follows, with rich fresh and dried plum, dark dried fruit, bourbon and oaky vanilla, finishing with warming bourbon and a slight tartness. Medium to heavy bodied with modest carbonation. A classic English barleywine base with the expected robust bourbon flavors. Initially complex with nice dried fruit flavors, the finish is slightly tart and boozy from the bourbon. Although enjoyable, I think the stout holds up to the strong bourbon better than this barleywine base. A well made and enjoyable barreled barleywine. I think this would get better with aging, but it has become such a nightmare (with a deliberate Black Friday circus release) to purchase the Bourbon County line of ales, that this is certain to be my one evening of enjoyment. Fine, but not irreplaceable.

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Photo of GuitarIPA
4.22/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Enjoyed on Christmas Day, 2015
L - black with a hint of red, thin tan head, disappears quickly
A - warm, molasses, caramel, brown sugar, and a warmth/spice that I can't quite figure
T - caramel, molasses, booze
F - rich, very sweet, a small bite at finish
*raisin flavor becomes increasingly present towards finish

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Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.25/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 12.3% abv tasted in a 9 oz snifter from draught at Firkin. Look is dark red brown with a tan head and spotty lacing. Smell is dried fruit and dark roasted malt aromas. Taste is raisin, prune and burnt caramel. Feel is heavy in body with a thick rich finish.

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Photo of TheElectricOne
4.13/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013-2015 vintages, poured into tulips. 2015 is reviewed here:

Appearance: pours a visibly thick, viscous dark brown color. Looks like dark maple syrup or molasses in it's appearance. Too dark to be translucent, but not totally black by any means. Medium tan head that dissipates rather quickly, but leaves tons of lacing.

Aroma: smells incredibly sweet. Caramel and molasses, along with some toffee, are the dominant scents for me, with a little bit of burnt sugar as well. I didn't really get any dark fruit as mentioned in some of the reviews here, but did in the taste.

Taste: Very, very sweet. I liked the 12oz size of the past vintages more for the barleywine as a result, but liked the new 16.9oz size for the stouts. As for actual flavors, I got layers of vanilla and molasses, as well as lots of caramel. Light notes of figs and date.

Feel: heavy-bodied, with a molasses like feel. Definitely a slow-sipper in my opinion, but a very good one at that. Carbonation is minimal but present, which is perfect in my book here.

Overall: incredible barleywine. Go back to the 12oz 4 packs.

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Photo of sittinggc
4.46/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 poured into tulip.

Look: Dark brown with a brown head. Darker than expected. Medium retention.
Smell: Strong bourbon aromas. Also get some caramel. Surprising amount off vanilla and oak.
Taste: Much like the aroma bourbon, caramel, vanilla. Also get leather, toffee and dark fruits.
Feel: Heavy bodied. Not as chewy as BCBS but almost there. Slight sharpness from alcohol.

Overall: Not usually big on barleywines but this one is really great! I'm sure it's because of the barrel aging but damn is this good! Just wish this wasn't so difficult to acquire. Cheers!

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.45/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 bottle poured into a snifter.

3.0 A: Deep deep amber color that looks black unless held to a light. A short fizzy head formed with an aggressive pour and vanished almost immediately leaving no lacing.

4.75 S: Like BCS, the nose is overflowing with bourbon. Leather, brown sugar, molasses, and light smoke. Oak and vanilla. The base offers a thick goopy caramel and toffee backbone. Next comes a bevy of fruits including raisin, fig, date, sugar plums, and black currants (and then more black currants). Despite the strong bourbon, the booze is well hidden. Complex and powerful, everything I want in a Bourbon County beer.

4.5 T: So many potent flavors. Molasses comes out even stronger than the bourbon with black currants and dates almost as powerful. Then caramel, leather, raisin, figs, prunes/plums, toffee, chocolate, and brown sugar. Woodiness, smoke, and vanilla follow. It's sticky sweet, perhaps too much so.

4.25 M: Heavy, viscous body. Quite sticky and almost chewy. Moderate carbonation level. Sticky finish with some warming booziness.

4.5 D: It's insanely complex and powerful, but I feel that it's much stickier than BCS and because of that it's less drinkable. Still, it's a wonderful beer!

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

Kudos to goose iskand, this is the best brew I've had, I poured this 2014 in 12.19.15 into a snifter and it's full of aromas. I get the aromas of dark fruits like fig, prunes, grape juice, maple syrup, and everything tasty. This brew has no head and it's pitch black like motor oil but it's good and tasty. Overall this is black gold.... this is one of the best brews I've had since the flavors are not overwhelming, but just right.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.68/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Black pour with thick tan foam; cap disappeared quickly leaving minimal, spotty lace; good clarity under cap. Caramel candy and whisper of black licorice nose. Flavors of Carmel candy, toffee and licorice; very little bourbon or barrel; mellow bitter roast finish. Velvety, rich, full mouthfeel; lite to moderate carbonation. Outstanding overall, lite roast malt and toffee with boozy linger.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
2.59/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine has a thin, yellowish, cream-colored, head, very little lacing, and a brown to dark-brown appearance. The aroma is of highly sweet & sour, duck sauce, bread, bourbon, and strong alcohol. Taste is of chewing tobacco, alcohol. wood, nut shell, coconut, duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, brown bread, wet bread, dark bread crust, faint bitterness, cloying sugar, alcohol, and bourbon. The mouthfeel is heavy and Goose Island Bourbon County Barleywine finishes sweet and boozy. I found it to be unpleasant. Sorry.


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Photo of HopBomb515
4.82/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Dark brown with ruby hues, small tan head with alcohol legs but not much lacing. Notes of bourbon soaked dark fruit, cherry, fig, anisette, plum, oak, bourbon, leather, vanilla, coconut, wood, and sweet dark fruit. Full body, little dry, no alcohol heat, and coating on the finish. This is up there with one of the best beers I ever had at 2 years old. Super smooth and mellow for a BBA Barleywine. I'm not sure you could improve this.

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Photo of Umdrunner
4.75/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours rich dark brown, not quite black. 1" tan head poured into snifter. Immediate aroma of malt, raisins, and bourbon. Bourbon flavor is much less intense than BCBS though it creeps up near the finish. Heavy malt flavors with noticeable raisins and other dried fruits. Perfect amount of heat to finish! One of my favorite beers!

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Photo of TruePerception
4.48/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Barleywine 2015. 12.9% ABv.

A: Pours the color of dry caramel (those cooking shows are good for something...). Black in the glass with a little dark brown/cola towards the top; glowing red in the light. Medium brown in the dimple. Clear meniscus on top. Strong sheeting. No lacing, at all.

S: Slightly earthy toffee. Lighter caramel. Oak. Raisin, Oatmeal cookie. Slight sweet char.

T/MF: Still really sweet, but not quite as much as the Stout. More raisin and sweet oatmeal cookie, Toffee, brown sugar. Sweet char, even moving slightly into graphite territory. Raisin is more prominent upon swallowing. Dry baking chocolate on the finish.

This is more subtle than the stout, an because of that, more drinkable, though still a sipper.

Poured from a 16.9 oz. bottle into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of SomethingClever
4.78/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

12 oz bottle poured into Spiegelau glass 2013 bottle

A: brackish brown color with bits of light escaping the edges of the glass head was decent but off white settles to a film

S: lots of caramel toffee vanilla and bourbon just layered then you get raisins figs and dates and light burnt sugars

T: lots of vanilla, and toffee not a lot of the dark fruits light hints of the burnt sugar lots of sweetness the barrel flavors are huge slight bit of alcohol heat.

M: cloying mouthfeel and bourbonesk watery feel

O: I am surprised I haven't reviewed this beer sooner. Fresh this beer is jaw dropping the plum fig and raisin flavors pound your senses while the soft vanilla and toffee of the bourbon caress your palate. 2 years later this beer is still a dynamo it has lost a little of the dark fruit flavor, but the toffee vanilla and light burnt sugars it has lost none of its nose. Easily the best of the bourbon county beers I have this is a leap over your neighbors dead body to grab kind of beer.

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Photo of Barnoloid
4.74/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Stellar BBA Barleywine. Fine sherry, dried fruit, English christmas cake notes with vanilla and oaky notes. Sweet but not cloying with a stone fruit rind mouthfeel. Smooth and rich in texture. So many layers and so much complexity here that you find something new with every sip. A delight, and one that I can see being the absolute best on a cold night by the fire.

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Photo of HopHunter19
4.5/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - 4.5 - nice dark brown/black colored opaque beer, tan head that dissipates quickly not much lacing
S - 4.5 - caramel, toffee, vanilla, coconut, oak, chocolate, sweet malta, cherries, figs, plums
T - 4.5 - cherry, figs, plums, caramel, toffee, coconut. Less of the dark malt character (chocolate) and straight Bourbon character than the smell.
M - 4.5 - medium to heavy mouthfeel. Alcohol completely covered at 12%. Aftertaste is cherries, vanilla, figs, plums, bourbon, sweet.
O - 4.5 - definitely not as good as the stout. Apparently this is aged in barrels that once held the stout, and you can actually taste the similarity that results, but this is definitely the inferior beer. FW sucaba outranks this in my opinion.

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Photo of leobageo
3.18/5  rDev -29%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1 | overall: 3.25

Had 2015 vintage poured in a short, stemmed, goblet from Congregation Ale House in Pasadena.

Look: Great color. Dark as night. Very little head and little lacing.

Smell: Smelled of coffee notes, no hops on the nose. Feint dark fruit notes, stone fruits.

Taste: Slightly sour. Mostly tasteless. Didn't get anything out of it.

Feel: Watery. No alcohol.

Overall: Highly disappointed. It lacked any character.

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Photo of nizzle8287
5/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottled on 09/18/2014. Poured from the bottle into a snifter at 55F. It's dark, but when held up to the light, a nice ruby red shines through. I inverted the bottle before I poured, so there is some sediment. I love a big, unfiltered beer. About a finger of khaki head that goes away completely within a minute leaving about a mm wide ring around the edge of the glass with no lacing - *even the ring is gone after I finish my review*. On the nose there is raisin, caramel, plum, fig, and an almost cashew like smell lingering in the background. The most robust, complex smelling beer I've tried in a long time. And since it's over a year old (on top of 5 years of age at the brewery), there are no hops to speak of. To taste, chocolate shines through the most, then some ripe dark fruits (raisins, figs mostly) as if they've been soaking in some of the smoothest bourbon on the planet for a long, long time, followed up by a distinct oak aftertaste with a tiny bit of char at the end. Minutes after each sip, there's caramel left on the palette, which is very pleasing to me. It's relatively dry, and I would guess around 10% abv, but 12.3% abv has mellowed very nicely due to the years of age - mellowed to the point that it really only warms me from the inside. It's actually very smooth on the palate, not a whole lot of carbonation to speak of, but it's there, sort of brightening up and bringing out the flavor profile. Very, very good beer. For 22 bucks a 4 pack, it had better be good... Anyone hesitant to shell out the dough should take my advice: buy this beer. It's definitely the best barleywine I've ever tried, and probably in my top 3 favorites of all time.

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

L: dark ruby red with no head
S: bourbon and sugar sweetness
T: mellow bourbon and very sweet. Man this is perfectly balanced. This is fantastic.
F: holy smooth. Not thick like a stout, but easy drinking and ultra smooth. Wow

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Photo of neurobot01
4.36/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle (2014 vintage) into a snifter at cellar temp. Tasted side-by-side with 2012 §ucaba.

Look: a hearty, viscous burnt orangeish brown; looks a lot like brandy.

Smell: my favorite part of this beer. Lots of fruity/jammy notes, basically to the exclusion of anything else, except for maybe a little pipe tobacco. Very reminiscent of brandy (without the heat).

Taste: more of the same—dark fruits, jammy berry, hints of super-dark chocolate, tobacco, brown sugar.

Feel: thick, and a bit undercarbonated. Impairs drinkability a bit.

Overall: first time trying this beer. I like the jammy/brandy profile. It's very good, but it's a little cloying and of a chore to drink, without the reward of incredible depths of complexity.

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Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.48 out of 5 based on 4,944 ratings.
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