Vanilla Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout
Goose Island Beer Co.

Vanilla Rye Bourbon County Brand StoutVanilla Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout
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American Imperial Stout
4.73 | pDev: 6.98%
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Vanilla Rye Bourbon County Brand StoutVanilla Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout
Notes: First brewed for the legendary festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer in Chicago, drinkers enjoyed this Bourbon County Variant so much we bottled it the next year (2010). People flocked to stores to get their hands on a bottle and have this one of a kind barrel aged stout. Over the past few years we have heard our fans express their love for this version and we are extremely proud to bring it back in 2014. This years version features a little twist of aging the stout in Rye Whiskey Barrels with a mix of Mexican and Madagascar vanilla beans!

35 IBU
Reviews: 242 | Ratings: 1,979 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Hopheadjeffery
4.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 vintage tasted in a snifter from draft at Consume on November 15, 2019. This vintage is aged in rye whiskey barrels with a mix of Mexican and Madagascar vanilla beans. Highly recommended.

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Photo of GuyFawkes
4.59/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 10/31/14; drank 10/3/15 @ the Yarchives.

Black appearance.

Minimal dark khaki head which quickly dissipated; no lace.

Vanilla, marshmallow & milk chocolate notes in the nose.

Creamy, medium thick mouthfeel.

Vanilla, marshmallow & milk chocolate flavors; sweet vanilla settled on my lips over the course of the session. Faint booze heat emerged as this warmed.

Sweet & rich but not cloying; dessert perfection!

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Photo of Rristow
4.73/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Tasted from bottle aged 5 years. Pours black with beige head. Aroma is incredible with vanilla mixed with bourbon notes. Molasses and caramel notes. Flavors of strong vanilla along with caramel, brown sugar. Hides ABV ridiculously well. Awesome BCS variant but I’d like the vanilla component to be a little more subtle letting the bourbon and stout flavors come through more.

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Photo of FireMedk
4.61/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours like you're draining your oil pan. Just like a 20+ year marriage, there is little to no head. Oak, vanilla and toffee give me a tingle down yonder before the sip. Like sipping a fine bourbon, you wanna give this one the respect it deserves.

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Photo of DEZ01301960
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Thanks to my friends at Binny's I was able to score this whale for $50 bucks. Money well spent. Freaking World Class Amazing.
GI is still at the top of the BBA beer world. 2018 Vanilla, Regular, Coffee Barley wine were fantastic. Wheatwine was really good as well. GI often imitated, rarely duplicated.

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Photo of edisacoolcat
4.7/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2014 Vanilla Rye opened in Dec 2018

A: very smooth blend with loads of vanilla followed by chocolate, rasin, and a gentle boozy background. Likely fading a bit but still and wonderful light and balanced blend. Super smooth.

A: black with essentially no head. No visible carbonation after the initial pour

F: follows the nose perfectly. More vanilla with waves of chocolate, prune, rasin, oak, and boozy notes. Again, exceptional.

M: full body with silky mouthfeel. Lingering vanilla and chocolate with light booze. Neither sweet or bitter but nicely balanced

O: I seem to end up with similar flavor descriptors for many BCBS beers, but the 2014 series is indescribably better than any since (includes 2018). This was an amazing beer but I think it’s now past it’s prime with the nose starting to fade a bit. Still amazing though.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.94/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Pours dark black and stains the glass. Beer to celebrate completion of my MSN.

Aroma of fudge, vanilla ice cream, a little soy sauce, whiskey, alcohol-forward vanilla extract.

Taste is rich and super complex. The only reason it gets a 99/100 is due to a slight soy sauce taste and acidity. I preferred the reserve over this one. Spicy rye whiskey, brownie and fudge batter. Vanilla creaminess with a slight acidity. A bit of booze and a slight alcohol bite; almost like a vanilla extract. Delicious beer!

Overall, an amazing beer. Happily shared with my dad for a graduation celebration after dinner out. It gets a 99/100.

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Photo of WickedBeer
4.96/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Another whale off the list. Bottled on Halloween, 2014.

Fudgy, smooth, motor oil pour. Tan head, not much head. The lace is minimal, it bubbles away quickly.

Nilla wafer nose. Very subtle chocolate, oakey booze. Good balance.

Low/medium carb , super creamy. All vanilla , followed up by roasty coffee and milk chocolate. Awesome balance. Nice even burn, oakey bourbon.

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Photo of Tobin776
4.78/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Get excited, the most coveted of Goose Island beers exceeds expectations offering a ridiculous harmony between spirit and sweet Vanilla adjunct flavor. Many other brewers of the same style would be lost without the pain staking conceptualizing behind this fine cake bomb. Smells greatly of Vanilla and oak, with a more rich center to drink bringing you to the depths of the base before letting you go with a fine note of rye to complement the vanilla. I would only say get it well you can, this beer like all will have a lifespan of brilliance and soon to be overshadowed by its more fierce competitors.

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Photo of Jangoon24
5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L - Black as night, with a subtle, tan head that locked in the vanilla scent.

S - Tons of vanilla and chocolate, followed by the rye barrel and a hint of toffee.

T - This beer does not need any more praise, but I have to give it where it's due. The front of my palate is dominated with well-balanced vanilla and chocolate, followed by a nice, subtle kick from the barrel. Absolutely outstanding!

F - Very thick, and leaves a nice residue on your lips and the glass for you to keep tasting the vanilla.

O - Easily one of the best beers I've ever had. Again, no further praise is needed, but it's one of the best heavy-hitters in the game.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.56/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2014 vintage.

A: Pitch black with a short lived brown head. Minimal lacing. Not unusual for such a big barrel aged beer.

S: Heavily fudgey with aromas of hot fudge sauce, brownie batter, chocolate truffles, etc. Wave of vanilla bean washes over it all. Undercurrents of roast and char. Faintest whiff of berry-like fruitiness. Barrel brings traces of coconut, bourbon ball candy, caramel, whiskey and wood.

T: Fudgey up front with flavors of German chocolate cake, brownie batter, dark fudge. Tide of vanilla bean owns the mid palate, but then the rest of the beer catches up. Heavy roast, char, a bit smokey. Barrel character brings woody char, caramel, bourbon balls, oaky vanillins of its own, and rye whiskey. Current/berry fruitiness peeks out. Long barrel driven finish.

M: Thick and weighty. Creamy, chewy, and coating. Gently prickling carbonation. Deep whiskey warmth.

O: What an excellent spin on the Bourbon County line. It's a shame they discontinued it. It has the braun and thickness you'd expect of a Bourbon County entry. Vanilla is used with a heavy hand, but the beer is so big it can take it. The rye barrel aging is the touch that brings it all together and into perfect balance. Worthy of white whale status.

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Photo of Buck89
4.46/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Just phenomenal. Opaque brown color with a modest tan head. Everything was balanced - the nose had a nice blend of vanilla, oak, and malt. The taste brought a nice mix of vanilla, bourbon, oak, chocolate malt, caramel, and some coffee. Medium bodied and medium carbed. One of my favorite BCBS variants.

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Photo of WhaleSlayer85
4.71/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours pitch black, with little to no head. Smell is luxurious vanilla marshamallow, chocolate, mild oak, char, mild bourbon notes. Taste is simply fantastic. Liquid fudge, roasted Marshamallow, oak-bourbon notes. Full bodied, smooth, silky, but not the most viscous I’ve had. Overall, this was one of the best stouts I’ve had. Simply outstanding, enjoyed this more than 17 Handjee, more vanilla, marshmallow notes. Wow, has aged wonderfully, a real treat.

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Photo of rmpic82
4.8/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Aromatics on this are phenomenal. Perfect slug of vanilla on the nose and great carryover to the palate. Easily better than the other vanilla BA stouts hierarchy.

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Photo of Futbolmanby
4.75/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014 rated at a vanilla share, sampled winter 2016

Looks: pitch black with a 0.5 inch khaki head that is thin and dies quick
Smell: big vanilla and whiskey and a hint of smoke
taste: its a big vanilla beer, the vanilla is present throughout and the barrel is more mid to late.
feel ; super smooth and full body with a hint of bourbon burn

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Photo of maximum12
4.85/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My lovely, wonderful wife won this at a raffle at a great local store (France 44). Had it on tap a few times fresh, really looking forward to sitting down on my couch with a pour. 22 oz. bottle…split with my wife. Because I value my life. And testicles.

Pour: black. Smells like a vanilla orgasm. Heavy vanilla, chocolate, with the barrel a bit more subtle, perhaps due to the turning of the calendar. But damn nice.

Vanilla Rye - two of my favorite words, on my list right behind Heather Locklear. What can be said that hasn’t already been typed? Vanilla, real vanilla, bounces off of the rye whiskey & echoes into lustful infinity. Chocolate booms off the palate: this is more after-dinner liqueur than something my Blatz-loving father wood (ha!) recognize as beer. First level cleric of alcohol, lactose, roasted marshmallow, with a finish that nearly turns to rum. Thick, decadent as Caligula (without the horribleness). I could drink an entire bomber of this every week for the rest of my life & wish I could have it twice. There should be a lottery for that. I’d cheat my way into it any way I can (hey Mom? Grandmamma? I have to sign you up for something…).

Just as bloody fantastic as I remember. I can only hope that the current regime running GI can match the magnificent aging of past vintages. And put shit back in bombers! An elite beer that deserves its place in any beloved pantheon.

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Photo of MattLev
4.82/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a dark pitch black with a tan head that dissolves immediately
Smells like straight vanilla extract with a small bourbon heat
Taste is caramel, vanilla and slight tang of bourbon heat
Feel is not as viscous as I would expect, super smooth and rich
Overall, amazing beer, one of the best ive ever had

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Photo of Sabtos
4.44/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Classic sleek black with a thick blanket displaying a gradient of light to dark tans from top to bottom.

Oh, when the hype lets you down--this wasn't phenomenal, and with such a massive train, anything less than stellar seems like a let down. To me this puppy had a notable chew to it with a roasty grit. The classic chocolateyness was there with some cocoa, wood, and rummy vanilla, but this is no Marshmallow Handjee, to be certain.

Putting it into context with pretty much all other BA stouts with vanilla, okay, yeah, it's still deserving of being in, or maybe competing to be in, the top tier...


And while that above review isn't something I'm stepping away from, I opened another full bottle in March of 2020, and found that I actually enjoyed it more than I did 3 years ago. Also, having this next to 2010 OG, as well as 2018 and even Handjee, it stood up quite well indeed. VR had more of that banana skin-like vanilla character, with notes of vanilla pudding, as a nice but less assertive woody whiskey presence was the throughline. The viscous body had a crisply cutting yet firm fizz that came to a semi-sticky finish with a floral vanilla exhale. It wasn't quite the delectably deep and rich vanilla I often get from Handjee, instead having an almost sassafras or cola lightness to it, but it did have a sweet fudge element.

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Photo of pezhead_79
4.64/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Just a vanilla bomb of a beer. I drank this with a regular 2014 for comparison and I think it helped bring out the vanilla even more. The heat gets turned down and the flavors all come forward.

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Photo of Gambyt20
5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My God! This is freaking stupid insane good. Granted I love and am partial to rye barrel flavors, this still is about as perfection of a vanilla barrel aged beer there is. Slightly ahead of FO B2 (still need to try FO B1) and way better than Handjee. Surpasses the hype for me and perhaps due to a great friend that split his bomber with me. The nose is rich vanilla and deep salivating complex spicy rye wood notes. I could just snift the beer all night. The taste follows perfectly with the nose and all the scents hint to the greatness that is to follow. Literally the texture is so creamy it feels like a vanilla milkshake/ice cream sludge with some booze to balance the sweetness. Simply Perfection of BCBS variant.

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Photo of strohme2
4.66/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Opened with friends on April 14, split into 2 tulips. Deep dark, pretty much black with mocha head that was medium lasting. Still huge hits of vanilla, spice. Taste...what can I say? Mellow vanilla, with a spicy rye character. Some licorice and slight oxidation on my bottle. Still has some boozy heat coming through. Glad to have ticked finally!

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Photo of CityFarmer
4.83/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bomber into bourbon county snulip. Balanced fudge and vanilla, heavy marshmallow on the nose. Opens up as it warms. Very happy to have had the opportunity to enjoy!

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Photo of REVZEB
4.65/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Had on tap. So somehow I am rating this one lower than the average, which is funny because I absolutely loved this beer. It is amazing like the normal BCBS but with a wonderful rye barrel twist and a sweet vanilla finish. My only qualm is the vanilla is way too strong as the beer warms up. Still amazing, but would like more balance

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Photo of mschrei
5/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Cigar City Spiegelau. Dark brown bordering on black with thinning edges. Very little activity. Smooth sweet scents with mild Bourbon presence. Strong vanilla and barrel taste with a mild alcohol burn and a thicker syrupy feel. So much aroma, flavor, and richness. Just a world class beer.

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Photo of gatornation
4.43/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap several times. Pours dark black with a small head but fresh cap of khaki lacing. Vanilla bean and bourbon both subtle on smell. Taste the same with the vanilla and bourbon complementing each other both up front and superbly delicious, rye and oak with roasted malts linger. smooth delicate moutfeel with warming bourbon, vanilla notes never overpower. A delicious variant.

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Vanilla Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 1979 ratings