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Bourbon County Brand Stout | Goose Island Beer Co.

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2,866 Reviews
Bourbon County Brand StoutBourbon County Brand Stout

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

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.80%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
60 IBU

Added by drewbage on 06-26-2003

For Trade:
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Reviews: 2,866 | Ratings: 11,813
Photo of smcolw
3.58/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm unimpressed with this beer's look: Even with a violent pour, there is nearly no head. And what's there, dies to a single layer of minute bubbles on the edge. Nearly black in color, no light shines through (even on the edges).

Strong alcohol smells of sherry and port. Sweet and rich to the nose, almost as if there's an apertif added to this beer.

It tastes like a port-induced dark beer. It doesn't have the typical stout flavors of coffee and chocolate. Lots of sweet plum (like Japanese plum wine) and no bitterness. The swallow and aftertaste shows off the high alcohol content--very warming to the tongue and stomach. Rich like cream in the body, almost oily. Very low carbonation.

This is an after-dinner sipping beer. I believe it is closer to taste and feel to an overpowered barley wine. It's like no other stout I've ever had. All this said, it's very tasty but not for the faint of heart. Worth seeking out for the unusual flavors present.

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Photo of wd40
4.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle
Fantastic beer. Pitch black opaque appearance. Very little foam (perhaps because of age?). Smell would be stronger if there was more carbonation, but what is there is great. Bourbon aroma fairly strong (which I like), and lots of raison (perhaps even a little plum). Slightly raw alcohol taste which I marked off for a little. Strong sweet backbone to counter the bitterness of the alcohol. The rawness of the alcohol is reminiscent of bourbon, so perhaps it is appropriate.
The carbonation was quite low, but nice. It is a sipping beer for me because of the raw alcohol and very very sweet maltiness.
Interesting beer.

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Photo of carlborch
4.7/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured ink/black with a 1.5 inch thick, dark tan head, that dissipates with an obvious crackling. My glass is beer clean! The initial nose suggests smoke, bourbon and wet wood. Medium high, silky body with extensive lingering and delicious hints of chocolate, coffee, dark caramel and bourbon-macerated dried figs. The lace is mostly absent, excepting a few clusters of small spots that slide into into the stout. Density is high! The alcohol is evident and warming. I imagine it would be excellent in a snifter. Drink with care and devotion. The subsequent nose reminds me of Gethsemane Chocolate Bourbon Fudge. Although it is a warm sprig day outside, the Bourbon County Brand Stout makes me think of winter and roaring fires.

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Photo of anneseg
2.75/5  rDev -38.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Reading all of these other reviews I suspect that I got a bad bottle or something. It was essentially impossible to get a head on the beer during the pour. The overwhelming smell was of bourbon. The taste was also dominated by bourbon and a hot alcohol taste. There was some peat flavor but it was difficult to taste.

Overall not impressed but would be open to trying again since I usually have good experiences with Goose Island.

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Photo of kcdc
4.82/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've never been blown-away by the other Goose Island brews I've tried, but the Bourbon County Stout is definitely an exception. It's rather pricey--I paid > $5 for one 12 oz bottle. However, it was definitely worth it. At %13 ABV, one bottle goes a long way. Even before pouring it, I could smell the warm bourbon aroma from the bottle. When I tasted it, the bourbon flavor was solid, but not overwhelming. I could still taste the chocolate and caramel notes as well. Overall, this is one of best stouts I've ever had.

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Photo of etenbus
4.15/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Finally pulled this out after my book went back to the publisher. It's a 2008 bottle from Gomer's in Lee's Summit, MO, which has the best beer selection I have ever enjoyed.

Poured silky jet black and no light is allowed into this black hole of beer. Only the thinnest caramel colored head laced the top of the oil-colored liquid.

The aroma is complex. It is musty. It is sweet. There is a slight bourbon aroma, but certainly not overwhelming. It really does not have a coffee-expresso aroma like most stouts, but more of a candied sugar aroma.

The taste is where all the hype is. At first the taste is imperial stout with burned caramel, tobacco, espresso and a flat bitterness. It's oily and slathers over the tongue. The charred oak comes in the aftertaste and holds in place for some time. The alcohol is not over-present, but it is certainly warming. There is a lingering, almost burning sensation that sticks around like a hot pepper (or maybe that was Jalapeno doritos I just downed). But it wouldn't be out of place in such an ale.

The mouthfeel is very soft with little to no carbonation.

This stout gets on top of you quickly at 13%. I'm pleased with the experience.

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Photo of Wisconsinality
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 12oz bottle poured into Sprecher snifter.

A- Pours the deepest of black with very minimal head that gathers around the edge of the glass. A good stream of bubbles coming up from the bottom of the glass on the side. The head is mocha and leaves ok lacing on the side of the glass.

S- Strong bourbon right away. A little vanilla and some malt happen to peek in there just a little bit. A hint of oak and some black licorice. The bourbon is strong but not overpowering and the alcohol becomes a tad more prevalent with some warming.

T- Smooth bourbon, vanilla and some charred oak. A little bit of tasted malt and some sweetness in there as well. The bourbon is really rich and smooth. Again, like the nose, it is dominant but not overpowering. The alcohol makes itself known but it can be expected at 13%.

M- Full bodied and very smooth. A good amount of carbonation for the style. I would sum it up as rich, just coats the tongue. A nice warming sensation as it goes down.

D- One and done for sure but this is almost as good as it comes. Great flavor profile and a rich smoothness make this the perfect sipper. I have two in the cellar and can't wait to see how this one turns out in a year.

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Photo of ChrisPro
4.48/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Malt & Vine. Tasted blind as 1 of 15 in May, 2009. Pours black with only a little mocha head. Great aroma with smoke, borubon, chocolate and caramel. Nice sweet flavor of bourbon, chocolate and molasses with nice bitter balance. Slick, medium body with great finish. This was the highlight of the night.

(note: have had '07,'08 and '09 vintages and this definitely gets better with age as it loses some of the bourbon hotness)

Edit on 2/9/11: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Cliff's Notes. opened a 3-year vertical in December with a friend.

2010: Amazing bourbon, vanillla, molasses and oak aroma; though a bit too boozy to really put down 22 oz.

2009: seems like 1 year is an off year. The arom is a bit dull with hints of coconut and chocolate, but not much going on.

2008: While this doesn't have the amazing aroma of the fresh 2010, the beer pakcs a punch of flavor of molasses, chocolate, vanilla, with hints of licorice and soy.

Overall, seems like this beeer could go 2+ but 1 year is a strange develpmental stage or just the '09 was off.

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Photo of levifunk
4.38/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer. I recently picked up 2 bombers. Opened the first one last night for a friends birthday, and am cellaring the other. appearance was BLACK as oil. Smell was chocolate/caramel and Bourbon! True to its smell and name, the bourbon was definitely there in the taste. It wasn't overpowering (I can only imagine how smooth this will be after some aging), but a friendly reminder of the power in this beer. After a few drinks I could feel the warmth too. I think i'll open the other when winter comes.

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Photo of Deuane
4.52/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

How many times have I had this beer and yet no review--sacrilegious! Thanks to FooFaa for providing this 9 month old bottle for sampling.

A-Black with a thin dark mocha head that held on strong and left spotty lace.

S-HUGE, rich, massive bourbon and chocolate notes along with a hit of alcohol heat that singes the nares.

T-BOURBON, rich chocolate, heat and then mellowing raisin and plum---Mmmm

M-Medium-heavy bodied and maple syrup slick smooth. This is like liquid velvet, simple awesome.

D-This 9 month old bottle proves that the original bourbon barrel aged stout is still one of the best! With a bit more aging and mellowing this WILL become a masterpiece. Even at this "young" age it is damn solid!

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Photo of fropones
4.64/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a nice black with no light around the edges and minimal mocha head.

S - Woo, just as expected, a beer who's first word in the name is bourbon, reaks of bourbon (in a great way). Some caramel, vanilla, oak, molasses, and just a hint of soy sauce.

T - More of that delicious bourbon flavor with some unsweetened chocolate, chocolate covered espresso beans, smoke, oak, and a good amount of sweetness. Almost no hops detectable, but that's quite alright.

M - Big bodied, slick and mouth coating, chewy, smooth carbonation. Creamy.

D - Drink very well for 13 %. Alcohol has a nice warming effect to it. Delicious.

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Photo of Josievan
4.57/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Bourbon County Stout pours a sexy jet black. This beer, along with Founders Breakfast Stout, are the most opaque beers I've ever encountered. Describing beers as having the consistency of motor oil is probably overused, but here it is absolutely warranted. The head is a dark brown, always a good sign. However, this dissipates quickly and leaves little lacing.

Smell: The aroma is quite boozy, with the bourbon-aging coming through well. Caramel and vanilla are also present.

Taste: Wow, this has to be one of the most complex beers I've ever tasted! There's just so much going on. A glorious array of flavors cascade across the palate. Each sip seems to bring forth new and different delights. There's soft vanilla, woodiness, and booze from the bourbon. Then there's caramel and toffee notes from the malt. Dark fruit even seems to be in the mix.

Through all of this, the beer manages to be surprisingly sweet. There is also some cereal flavor, which is rare for a stout. The alcohol is certainly present, but is not obtrusive. Going by the taste, I would have guessed this to be in the 8-9% range, not as high as 13%.

Mouthfeel: BCS's body is as thick as molasses, quite viscous. It's also much smoother than one might have guessed for 13%.

Drinkability: This is a slow sipper by necessity, to be sure. But it is so delicious that I wish this weren't the case.

Notes: I believe this is the highest alcohol content beer that I've yet tried. It is a feat that the alcohol here is not as harsh as many beers with much lower ABVs. The alcohol provides a nice warming effect in the belly more than it is exhibited in the taste or mouthfeel.

I haven't had too many Goose Island beers that I've been truly impressed with, but Bourbon County Stout by itself solidifies the brewery as one of the great American breweries. I look forward to future opportunities to consume this rare treat. Bourbon County Stout is a true delicacy.

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Photo of dogfishandi
4.47/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

12oz bottle pours black, one of the darkest black ive prolly ever seen. a small layer of brown mocha colored head that is completely gone within a couple minutes. a little lacing, more of a brown film on the glass. id like to go a little low on the appearence rating because of the lack of head, but the super dark color brings me to a 3.5.

the first thing your hit with in the aroma is the big alcohol, somewhat solvent like. some bourbon like whiskey aromas seem to blend in with the alcohol. the booze really makes it hard to pick out much in the aroma. theres some deeply roasted malts, a little dark chocolate, whiskey, anise, and a touch of vanilla and burnt marshmallows.

such a wonderful taste, truly top notch. boozy and strong - yes, but in a totally good way, the alcohol seems to meld so nicely with the rest of the flavors. soo much going on, so much i dont even have words for. i just blurt them out in no paticular order- heavily roasted malts, dark dark chocolate, woody smokiness, cocoa, bourbon whiskey, hints of vanilla, anise, raisons, figs, dried dark fruits, burnt marshmallow. finishs o so chocolaty and bitter. i feel as though most of my RIS taste reviews are very similar, but this one really just does it for me. again, theres a lot i dont have words for, complexity to say the least.

lovin the mouthfeel, big, strong, chewy, smooth, velvity. very light light carbonation with a big huge body. just seems to linger, all sorts of different flavors appear and dissappear in the time after you sip.

i really hate to even judge a thing like drinkability for this beer. its all so great, but just like any big RIS, you cant take too much of it, sits in the stomach real heavy. but put that and the ABV aside, i would drink as much of this as my stomach would let me. putting the huge cost of this beer aside of course. the price of this beer was definatly holding me back for awhile, but im glad i finally came around, because this is definatly at the top of my list. go get it! dont be scared!!

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Photo of RiverCityBrews
4.27/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance - Dark oily black w/ no transparency. Pours slightly syrupy with a sticky resin like cling. This bottle, even with a 3in top straight down pour produces a 1/10th finger head that was a dark brown/amber.

Smell - Full and warm. Sweet but rich with a dense natural vanilla and dark caramel notes.

Taste - The smoke from the insides of the charred white oak barrels really comes through in this beer. The taste is permeating and long lasting. Round but direct, it gives slight hints of raisin of fig with undertones of rich dark chocolate.

Mouthfeel - Almost sticky. It lets you know it's there with an overpowering presence. Coats and warms the mouth.

Drinkablility- If you've got the money for it and it's cold enough enough outside. You could go for 3 or 4.

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Photo of gatorhophead
4.4/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured 6oz into a 13oz snifter

1/4" head fades quickly to a nice thin lacing, appearance is dark as night just like a stout should be. Smells of bourbon, oak, vanilla and a hint of chocolate and some more bourbon. Taste follows the smell, but I have to say this the most balanced beer I've had at this ABV. Starts out with a good balance of chocolate, oak, vanilla and bourbon and fades nicely into a bourbon finish with a touch of coffee and an alcohol warmth. For the "ABV" this beer is very drinkable and I have to say it measures up with the best of the bourbon aged stouts.

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Photo of tippebrewcrew2
4.15/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a pretty big brew. At 13 abv it hides a good deal of it. Pours a beautiful black oil with a dark brown head. There is just a punch in the face of coffee and chocolate. Upfront dark chocolate the smoothes to the back of the palate then turns into a dark bitter chocolate with a long bitter finish. The texture is velvet. Good brew.

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Photo of zoolzoo
4.3/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage, Duvel Snifter

A: Black. Not a huge head even with an aggressive pour, what did develop was mocha in color, less than a finger. I know this description is becoming hackneyed, but it looks like an oil slick in the glass. Blah!

S: This smells like a shot of whiskey, really. Upon further inspection, theres some chocolate in there, anise, some coffee. Many of the usual suspects regarding stout aromas are represented well, but bourbon, booze, and charred something, dominates the nose, without a doubt.

T: Much more complex, and pleasing than the smell. Bourbon nails you first, hits pretty hard. The bourbon mellows quickly and reveals chocolate, coffee, oak, vanilla, dark fruits - all the good stuff. I have to mention how sweet this is, definitely a sugar bomb. Finish is dry and bitter, almost completely abrasive to the tongue and throat - further reinforcing the notion that this is a SIPPER. Alot of nuttiness in the after taste.

M: Thick!! Oily, syrupy....

D: For what it is, I guess BCS is pretty drinkable. Although, given the ABV and flavor profile Im having a tough time finishing a 12oz myself (your mileage may vary). Id rather split this between 2 or 3 people.

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Photo of TCgoalie
4.5/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The pour is pitch black with a very nice brown head that quickly hides into the black abyss. A bit of agitation makes this foam come back, very nice.

Lots and lots of booze in the smell. It seems to cover up some of the other flavors that are trying to come through. There is some roasted peanuts, bourbon, and chocolate in there somewhere. I'm also picking up some smoky undertones.

Wow, this is very rich and delicious. The sweet bourbon taste seems to be up front in the taste with a lot of chocolate bitterness and smoky, toasted marshmallow balancing the back end.

This is a big boy that is extremely thick and sticky. I almost need a chaser of water to cleanse my mouth after each sip, it really sticks around.

Is this drinkable, oh yes. I want to keep drinking it to explore its complexity. 1 will be enough for the evening as any more would weigh me down.

This definitely did not dissapoint, it is a very tasty brew!

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Photo of dougofthefuture
4.59/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I think it is time to review this. One of my first "great" beers I had a chance to try. This one is a 2008, and one of the first beers I put in my cellar. Poured into my tulip.

A - Almost pure black - small amount of head faded quickly. Bubbles are closer to white than brown. Great legs, but minimal lacing.

S - This smells like heaven. Well, I'm not sure heaven smells like booze. If heaven does have a boozy smell, it would probably be a mellow, warming, sweet bourbon roasted malty stout smell like this.

T & M - Style defining. This was my first barrel aged beer, and it still might be the best balanced. At just over a year old, these flavors are coming together perfectly. Just the right level of bourbon combined with a rich creamy body of dark malt. If I were to nitpick, I would say it is slightly acidic.

D - The 13% isn't hidden, but highlighted. The warm burn is the perfect finish to an intense beer. The 4 pack that remains in my cellar is in no immediate danger for the time being.

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Photo of jmbranum
4.9/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(this is a tasting of a 2008 vintage bought in Junction City, Kansas)

Quite possibly the best beer I've had in my life. A singular experience in beer tasting, where stout, fine bourbon and a meritage wine meet.

Glorious beautiful dark brown beer with giant fluffy dark tan head that lasts forever.

Intense strong aroma. The flavor is very complex. I get some fruity wine like notes, lots of dark chocolate, some creamyness, some coffee. There is also lots of alcohol. I swear there must be some of the "angel's share" from the bourbon barrel that has made into this brew, as there is some toasty wood. Fresh vanilla bean.

Mouthfeel is from another planet. Smooth but rich texture. Velvety on the tongue.

The only possible negative I can think of on this beer is drinkability. This is 13% alcohol (as a strong as a big california red wine) so two 12 oz bottles is enough to get you snockered. This beer is one for slow sipping.

But boy it is so, so good. This beer good enough to make skeptics believe in the divine. It really is that good. Beer this good is a gift of the gods. On the other hand, my theology might be fueled by the high alcohol.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.45/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into an oversized wine glass from a 12oz bottle. Looking foreword to sipping this one. 2009 vintage.

A - A generous pour shows a pitch black oily and creamy liquid with some brown hints. There is a .5 inch head that is tan and dense but recedes pretty quickly and leaves little lacing.

S - Strong Bourbon smell is immediately and almost over-whelimgly present. Wow! Prunes and raisins, some anise and some woody hints. Very complex beer. Vanilla spice and some chocolate. Very Boozy and very delicious.

T & M - Creamy and oily with some strong, very strong bourbon flavors. tons of maple syrup, vanilla, chocolate and nice spices as well. Oaky flavors match well with the aromas. My taste buds are on overdrive! Complex and delicious beer. As the beer goes down a warming almost burning aftertaste engulfs my throat and tongue. Definitely 13 ABV. Creamy and complex full bodied beer. Great stuff.

D - Well. Definitely a sippin beer and a one bottle and done for me. But very delicious and would have again.

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Photo of Flashsp2
4.44/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout

Poured into a wide mouth stem glass from a 12 oz brown twist-off.

Generated a deep brown head with minimal retention, even with a pretty aggressive pour. Darker than a black hole, this brew draws the light out of the room. Around the edges a very minimal amount of light breaks through to reveal a deep red. Very scary stuff.

Roasty, BIG bourbon, some pruny notes, smoky-charred oak, lots of booze, faint vanilla on the nose. Incredible complexity.

Taste is immense, even compared to other impy stouts. First wave is prune, then smoke, sweet caramel malts, some roastyness, and a big lingering oak on the finish. Some vanilla sits on the palette after the swallow, along with some bourbon as well. Dark chocolate-chunk cookies. So much bourbon, but not overpowering. Alcohol is there, but not as much as would be expected for 13% ABV,hidden quite well. All the flavors come in waves, and even though they are intense, they create a great balance. A bit of dark bitter chocolate hiding in the background. It leaves a candied rum-raisin sweetness on the lips, which makes for a pleasant finish to the intense dark flavors of this brew.

Mouthfeel is dense, like eating a can of motor oil. Big chewy maltyness, oilyness, almost like syrup. It coats the mouth and throat on the way down. Full bodied.

Notes: This beer is borderline mind boggling. It's like a bourbon-chocolate milk shake; so thick, so many intense flavor profiles. This is definitely once an evening. Actually, more like once a month so your mind can readjust to normal beers again. This is a beer that you can only pull out on someone who really digs big beers, otherwise you are just going to scare the crap out of somebody. This is more akin to drinking a dark chocolate/vanilla liqueur than a beer, fo' sho'.

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Photo of beertunes
4.2/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This brew really hits the target on how to do bourbon barrel beer. The beer poured solid black and thick. There was no head, but perhaps a touch of legs on the side of the glass.

The aroma was a nice, balanced blend of beer and bourbon. The bourbon was noticeable but not overpowering, and the roast and malt scents provided a solid base. The flavor was dialed in even better than the aroma. The bourbon came solid across the tongue and seemed at first like it would dominate. The roasty, toasty, malty base beer proved to be an even match for the bourbons strength. This was the best tasting bourbon beer I've yet had.

The only thing I can say about the body and drinkability is, Very Fucking Good.

Goose Island really got this beer right. A job well done.

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Photo of palmdalethriller
4.16/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful jet black into the glass with a nice tan head on tap.

The first whiff brings a shot of vanilla and bourbon into the nose, followed by more bourbon and more vanilla. Roasted chocolate is there as well, but mostly in the background.

The bourbon isn't as up front in the taste, but the sweet maltiness is right there, and it's delicious. Rich and sweet, it is an unabashed malt bomb. The texture is velvety and smooth, and it coats your tongue as it goes down. There is a slight alcohol burn as it goes down as well.

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Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.02/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2008 12 oz bottle.
A: pours a thick black with a nice and dense brown head.
S: bourbon/whisky, chocolate, oak, vanilla, molasses, espresso, dark dried stone fruits. very big aroma.
T: big, thick sweet chocolatey malts along with everything noted above. complex. very long semisweet finish. boozy.
M: full-bodied, big, thick and very viscous.
D: dessert like, a sipper, would be great match for cigars.

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Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.5 out of 5 based on 11,813 ratings.
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