Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout (2015)
Goose Island Beer Co.

Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout (2015)Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout (2015)
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American Imperial Stout
4.68 | pDev: 6.41%
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout (2015)Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout (2015)
Notes: Back in 1979 the folks at Heaven Hill Distilleries filled a handful of new freshly charred American white oak barrels with some of their finest whiskey. It is rare for Bourbon to age in barrels for more than twenty-three years. But these barrels patiently sat for over thirty years. The extra years developed a distinct and complex character that makes them truly one-of-a kind. We filled those barrels with Bourbon County Brand Stout, and then stored them away in our Chicago Barrel House to age for two more years. With these rare barrels from our friends at Heaven Hill we believe this is one of the finest beers we have ever produced. This is Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout for 2015
Reviews: 190 | Ratings: 1,029 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by AndyEdgar:
Photo of AndyEdgar
4.83/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

More User Reviews:
Photo of tjfilippo
4.99/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As someone previously mentioned... this beer reminded me of when I had my first BCBS back in '06. This is BCBS on STEROIDS... yet at the same time it is soooo smooth.

I don't understand how people say that this beer it hot. It is the farthest thing from hot. Is it packed with flavor???.... YES!

A group of us had a '13 BCBS, '15 BCBS, and '15 Rare side by side. Oddly enough... '13 was the hottest of all the 3.

Rare is a sophisticated drink. Strong notes of caramel, chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, and charred oak. It is truly amazing that the same beer can differentiate so much by adding twice the amount of time in a "35 year old" barrel.... but it does.

Is it worth the price?... probably not. Is it better than regular BCBS? ... hands down. And that means a lot because the '15 BCBS is probably my favorite version since 2011.

I just wish these were 22 oz bottles.

Hopefully Goose finds some Rare barrels again and continues to make this every 5 years!


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Photo of vileplume
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

a member on the forum put it best.

"remember when you first had bourbon county? its kinda like that. the marriage surpasses beer and bourbon to create something beyond belief."

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Photo of MJSFS
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Opened my bottle today to celebrate my retirement. This is everything I hoped it would be, and the perfect compliment to my incredible day. Velvety smooth. Taste like liquid leather, with hints of cherries, chocolate, vanilla, and coconut. There's a lingering oak and bourbon flavor that I am savoring after each sip. I feel a little guilty consuming the entire bottle by myself, but I earned it. Such an amazing treat.

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Photo of KVNBGRY
4.96/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is pretty intense. Everything is heightened. The aroma could be smelled from the other side of the room as the pour opened up in the glass. It looked the part. Black body, just a hint of carb ring and the deepest red when held up to a light. The aroma was unbelievable. Just. Unbelievable. The taste (which was similar to the aroma) was full of coconut, oak, BOOZE, rare notes, tobacco, molasses, cocoa, hints of vanilla. I mean, it's just all the stouts. Mouthfeel was a touch thinner than I expected. But that's just nitpicking at this point. Every mouthfeel is compared to sr71 and CCB stouts. Unfair, but that's life. Well done Budweiser. ;)

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.51/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

while this is incredible beer, no doubt about it, i think we need to make no mistake that its entirely different to the original. people often wonder how much a different barrel can impact a beer, and the answer, even when its two bourbon barrels, is a whole lot! there is much debate about what whiskey is the best out there, but honestly, thats all personal preference, and entirely subjective. pappy 23 better than this particular heaven hill? who knows, it can never be definitive. there will also be differences in the process and timings of the beer, the specific quality of individual barrels, the blending in the end, and of course when we drink the beer. in my case, i had this one fresh and the original at three or four years old, so it had changed considerably. in conclusion, the two cannot really be compared and contrasted reasonably, although i will come right out and state i think the first was was superior to this one, but this is sensational beer well worth acquiring. its thick and shiny on the pour, more dense brown than black, and with more head than anticipated for a beer this old and this strong. long legs on the edges of my glass, and a great aroma of rich rich bourbon, heavy on the sweet, and heavy on the vanilla. its not so much though that the oak itself, and its charred ancient nature doesnt come through as well. the interaction of the barrel and the malt is amazing, thats where the genius exists. some of the bitter from the char balances the sweet and chocolate notes of the base beer, and booze on booze is nice for once. smooth and layered in the flavor, every bit as dynamic as the whiskey that flavors this beer. i guess there will always be debate about which huge barrel aged stout is the best. i think this should always serve as one of, if not the singular benchmark for this style. it takes regular bourbon county to a special place, and probably stands as one of the best examples of barrel ageing that is on the market. is it the best? who can really say, but there isnt a whole lot we could really think about improving, and at this quality, just like the whiskey, its all about personal preference. hopefully i get the chance to try this in three years and stack it up against my memory of the original rare...

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Photo of pmoney
4.84/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Opened a bottle of Rare and BCBS 2015 for a side-by-side comparison on 4/29/16 about 5 months after their release. Both bottles were split with one buddy, and we both had an 8 ounce pour of each.

Going into it, I expected the two to be similar but Rare being slightly better and taking the "win". Boy was I wrong. These were night and day different beers! Whereas BCBS '15 was amazing - very balanced, well-rounded, and one of the best years fresh that I can recall, Rare was on a whole other level.

Huge oak barrel character. Huge boozy bourbon character. Huge notes of coconut, chocolate, and vanilla. All of these flavors were competing with each other to stand out the most, and it completely blew my palate away. Rare is absolutely a luxurious, rich, over-the-top BA stout, and I must admit I'm impressed. I can't figure out how Goose Island got so much spirit character out of 35 year old bourbon barrels. I'd have to imagine the Angels' Share was nearly 100% and those barrels had to be dried out like raisins.

Simply because of how bold and forward all of the flavors were and because of the high ABV, I would imagine this beer will hold up quite well for years to come, and I can't wait to revisit it in another year to see how all of these characteristics have melded together.

Well done, Goose Island. Well done.

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Photo of cultclassic89
4.56/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Alright, here we go.

First off, I love this beer. It was one of my favorite beers last year. Now, let's do some comparisons.

Is it as good as 2010? I would say no. By how much? It's very close, but 2010 was an otherworldly experience for me. '15 is very rich and oak forward, and I love that. 2010 however was the best tasting bourbon I've had in a beer.

Does it have the brownie batter quality like TG stouts and a few others? No. And that's okay, but in that respect, it keeps it from being Assassin/SR-71 level. The richness of the bourbon is what elevates this.

How does it compare to '15 BCBS? Honestly, it's not that far ahead. '15 is my favorite vintage and I'd say it's incredibly close. It just misses a bit of richer bourbon and oak, but that's fine based on how much more difficult and expensive Rare is.

Was it worth $60? Maybe not, especially when you can have 4-5 bottles of regular for the same price. What was worth it, was sharing it with a couple of my best friends.

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

wow. so no one has bothered to review this yet. drank on tap at goose island migration week in louisville ky @ new vintage on 11/29. ~4oz pours were free, they gave a free snifter, and towards the end they just gave out extra pours to kill the kegs. i drank three pours and all were good.

look: black as night; standard bourbon county
smell: wood, toffee, tobacco, but mostly wood. this specifically smells like heaven hill barrels (not four roses, buffalo trace etc).
taste: nearly all oak and heaven hill.
mouthfeel: nice and thick, and alcohol was hidden.
overall: 4.5/5 very good. doesn't touch bourbon county coffee, and the 2014 prop and vanilla rye on tap were also better. hopefully this is better from a bottle, but i feel like this beer needs time. i plan on sitting on my black friday bottles for at least a year.

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Photo of TX-Badger
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was lucky enough to score a bottle on Black Friday, decided to share with friends. Pours a very dark opaque brown almost black color with khaki colored head. Lots going on on the nose, bourbon and plenty of it, chocolate, vanilla, oak, initially, as it warms, there is a candied sweetness and some roasted notes; follows onto the palate. Full bodied. Finishes with a plethora of flavors including those already listed. Great beer, glad to have shared it with friends. I have never given out a 5 rating, but this is a 5.

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Photo of lemmy187
4.84/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Damn......pours motor oil black with the slightest hint of head. Smell is out of this world....bourbon dominant with notes of vanilla, caramel, wood, and toffee. Smooth taste....not as hot and sweet as regular BCBS. Oak and vanilla really start to shine as the beer warms. Feel is world class.....silky with the perfect amount of carbonation. Damn.....

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.95/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

500 mL bottle. Inky black. Smells of molasses. Very strong oak. Bourbon. Tastes really sweet. Bourbon. Molasses. Deep fudge. Extra oaky. Sharp and tingly oak and booze. Heavy and sweet. Aside from being more oaky, I really don't think this is all that different from regular Bourbon County.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.95/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

From the bottle.

Easily the "worst" variant of 2015, and possibly my least favorite BC variant overall.

Looks about like any other BC in the glass, dark and unctuous, black hole; this one was lacking any head at all, which is kind of disappointing, as BCBS usually has a nice dark chocolaty layer on top. Boozy aroma, sweet bourbon, dark malts, notes of chocolate and vanilla. Taste was hot with booze, flavors of aged wood, malt and molasses, tobacco, vanilla sweetness. No matter how old the barrels are, HH is pretty low-to-bottom shelf, and the bourbon character here is more just "in your face" as opposed to the well-melded richness in say, just the regular BCBS (and the 2015 was really good!). Mouthfeel was slick and a bit lifeless, and combined with the heat, gave this kind of an awkward body.

Hopefully time will do these bottles well, because right now, they're pretty messy. But considering this is essentially '13 BCBS, and that beer is tasting much better than Rare right now, who knows? Either way, it's still BCBS, and therefore still at least good.

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Photo of dbl_delta
4.66/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Draft at Forgotten Mile Ale House in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Tulip glass. Oily black with essentially no head. Absolutley awesome mix of chocolate, bourbon, coffee, and vanilla - all blended together and complimentary rather than in competition with one another. Very boozy, but then you'd kind of expect that at 14.5%. A sippin' beer for sure.
Probably one of the best beers of ANY style IMHO. I'd revisit in a heartbeat.

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Photo of jmasher85
4.26/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This year is my first trip to Bourbon County. I got 1 bottles of this one plus some regular, Regal Rye, and Barleywine after about 7 hours of waiting in line...not too shabby. I also got a nice BCBS 2015 Spielgau tulip snifter for free at the event, which of course I am drinking out of for this review.

It looks just like regular Bourbon County - thick black motor oil - except for one notable difference being that there's no head, like, at all.

Smell is...also a lot like Regular, only, well, no duh, but more bourbony. A bit of coffee, some heavy malts, a bit of umami soy sauce. Yeah, it's pretty rich stuff. Not as much smoke or fruit as regular, which is sad - it's a bit less complex, but pays off with the nice bourbon action.

Taste - first sensation is tootsie roll and chocolate, aftertaste is bourbon and oak, but not nearly as much as I was hoping for. A bit of vanilla appears as it warms, but not much else besides that. As you could have probably guessed, this is all malt action here - no bitterness, no smoke, just stout with a hint of bourbon. God, I wish it had been better!

Overall, worst $80 I ever spent on a beer. The differences between this and regular are not particularly strong, and not necessarily even superior. It may have been aged in awesome, ancient 35 year old barrels of expensive bourbon, but the effect doesn't seem to have worn off as well as I would have hoped. BCBS has so much flavor of its own that I fear it is masking a lot of the barrel qualities, which is a shame. So, while it's unequivocally delicious, it doesn't live up to itself, and gets serious points off for that, especially after forcing such a high price tag.

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Photo of KevSal
4.82/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Christmas gift to myself, must be a lot let over for this to get released again. recenlty got promoted so this is a double gift haha. Hoping to start the year off right.

i'm going in expecting regular bcbs or something a bit better.

500ml poured into a GI wine glass

looks fantastic in the glass. nice and thick with a small dark brown head

nose is very subdued, need to swirl it up, but when it come up it's really good. dark whiskey soaked brownie. it's definitly lining up to be good

the flavor is off the charts! wow i was not expecting this to blow me away. but it has, really amazing bourbon flovors coming thru unlike i have ever experienced before, those 35yo barrels really made wonders to this beer. this after taste is fantastic!

body is really where the magic is here. thick and smooth. alch presence with out the burn

overall ok dammit i was wrong, i'm glad i was wrong due to the price tag. but i must say the price tag is also its biggest knock. that being said if you have an opportunity to check this guy out, even for the price i believe it's worth to try once. perfect special occasion beer here

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Photo of Kevinpitts
4.35/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Unreal!!! Soooo smooth. Smells of vanilla. Smooth easy drinking bourbon taste. Can't even imagine this with more age on it. Amazing tasting beer. You need to try. Had again with some age on it (a little over a year). Lost a lot. I preferred regular 2016 BCS over this.

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Photo of willis870ace
5/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Incredible beer. Had it twice--at goose brewpub tasting, and bottle at home. Incredible noise--if i was blindfolded, I might think it was a bourbon. Taste is also top notch. Very very hot. I honestly think this beer will developed and improve over 7-10 years. I asked Brett Porter in line at LP Binny's about when to just drink, and he said to just f****** drink it--no wait needed, so what do I know.

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Photo of Fireman_RK
4.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L: Dark black with minimal head and lacing
S: Gorgeous stout nose with definitive bourbon notes
T: Large waves of chocolate immediately fade into hot bourbon and alcohol
F: Obviously has the standard thick BCBS mouthfeel, but has a nice amount of carbonation and smoothness
O: Clearly this was an exceptional stout. I really enjoyed it, however it felt a bit hot for my tastes. I'd like to try this with a year or two of aging to see if it settles down a bit. I actually drank this side-by-side with some W.L. Weller just to compare bourbon notes. In the end straight bourbon clearly has a different taste profile, but this beer has very rich bourbon notes. At the end of the day, this is a bourbon drinker's beer and for that I love it. While this isn't the top beer of all time for me, it is clearly a best of breed and worth seeking out.

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Photo of Jslay013
4.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Really not sure why people are calling this thin. Kind of the opposite of regular BCBS in that it is bourbon up front and fudgey in the finish. Probably not worth $60 a bottle, but pretty good.

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Photo of Hopislovehopislife
3.84/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was a good BA imperial stout but I don't think it was that noticeably different from the regular BCBS to justify the increasing the price six times. Pours like motor oil, pitch black, little head if any at all. Very oaky barrel notes, nice Bourbon like regular bcbs, not much vanilla like many other BA stouts. Thick mouth feel, and nice coffee, mocha and dark fruit but more bitter than I would want in a BA stout. It was a good BA stout but nothing crazy

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Photo of RubbleRubble
3.96/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Sadly disappointed by this. Too boozy still after being cellared after 9 months. I love whiskey, and I love stouts aged in whiskey barrels, but this isn't the best example of that style. This style is my wheelhouse, and I wouldn't seek a repeat.

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Photo of troupos40
4.92/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I figured a random Tuesday in March was about the right time for a mini whale share. Bottle courtesy of @dymmig89 had this and then BAVSS. Rare pours minimal head, huge nose, smelled it from a ways away. Bourbon, leather, chocolate. First sip, it's a thick mouthfeel, this one coats everything, lots of bourbon, but not overwhelming. As it warms to room temp, cherry, vanilla, chocolate all come to the forefront, and it's not overly boozy, each sip is enjoyable. Overall an amazing beer, not sure if it's worth $64.99 for 16.9 oz but it is awesome and I'd gladly drink it again given the opportunity

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Photo of Phineasco
4.99/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer pours Pitch Black with a thin tan head that recedes immediately. It has low carbonation. The beer smells of bourbon heat, charcoal, vanilla cake frosting, fudge, and a little spice. It tastes of vanilla cake frosting, smoke, fudge, spices, and bourbon. This beer is thick, deep, complex, and smooth. This is one of the best Barrel aged stouts I’ve ever had.

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.81/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Chasing perfection isn't easy- but it's worth it! As the acclaim for Bourbon County Brand Rare Stout meets an all-time high, it set the benchmark of what beer can be. And when replicating that flavor, special nuance, charm and uniqueness can be seen with each sip.

Rare '15 crawls out of the bottle with a creamy ink appearance. Onyx-black and completely opaque, an ominous mood is set. A patiently constructed espresso creme comes with a gentle swirl, showing off the beer's premiere brandy-like legging. Mouthwatering scents of dark Belgian chocolate, espresso, sherry, bourbon and burnt cream round out the most succulent scent. Its robust sweetness is dense and decadent as the overwhelming flavor of chocolate covered espresso bean come to mind.

The middle palate reveals a plethora of complexity that's unyielding. Sweet and creamy roast is of utmost espresso and roasted marshmallow. Bittersweet chocolates layer on the tongue with fudge-like sweetness and brownie batter texture. Savory umami notes approach soy sauce before being cut by the vinous tang of sherry, madeira and burgundy wine. Barrel influences round the taste with the maturity of coconut, leather, almond, vanilla and weathered woods.

Superior in its lavish texture, full-bodied is merely and understatement. Milkshake-like in its consistency, the beer engulfs the entire mouth with decadent warmth, vinous and whisky spice and seducing dessert-like whimsy. A long after current of chocolate, coffee and bourbon bring the session full circle while the notion that perfection in stout is once again realized.

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Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout (2015) from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 1029 ratings