Imperial Brown Goose | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Imperial Brown GooseImperial Brown Goose
165 Ratings
Imperial Brown GooseImperial Brown Goose

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

Style: English Old Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Blend of Goose Island's 2004 and 2005 Christmas Ales, both of which were aged in 4-year old Jim Beam and 12-year old Heaven Hill barrels.

Bottled once in 2006.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 07-29-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 165 |  Reviews: 122
Reviews by Phatz:
Photo of Phatz
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

WOW! To say Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Brown Goose just doesnÂ’t even begin to describe the glories of this Old Ale. Many in our company felt the booze and bourbon was too high but as a bourbon fan myself I must disagree and sing a loud my praise. I am not going to fall to my knees in worship but the thought crossed my mind. This is damn good beer.

Appearance: Pours a gorgeous dark brown color with an ivory head that never completely fades during the entire duration of the beer. The lace is thick and sticky. Odd to see that much head retention on a 9% abv beer. but nice.

Smell: Bourbon hits you right from the start. Sweet caramel vanilla and oak with some raisins and apples and more musty earthy woodiness. Magnificent.

Taste: It starts of with an intensely sweet caramel flavor but the alcohol warmth actually serves as a balancing agent for the beer. There is a burnt caramel and smoked wood flavor with heavy dose of dark roasted malts and cocoa flavors to back up the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: It is extremely palate coating and smooth with rich soft body and a dry long lasting finish.

Drinkability: This beer is desert. Nuff said. Delicious!

Hope this is helpful.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Billolick
4.17/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Glad to have a chance to try this delicate, tasty creation at the Cleybourn Goose Island location in Chicago. It poured dark mahogony brown under a minor dark tan head, that left just a tease of fine lacing. Nose of dark, goey raisins,bourbon and some wood. Rich, thick and chewy brew, lots more raisins, smoky wood, rum soaked goodness. Plenty of smooth, dark malts. Nice night capper.

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Photo of standardcherry
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%

Photo of professorninja
4.97/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had this after trying a few local porters and stouts at the Bomb Shelter in Milwaukee. Awesome, awesome beer.

A - Dark, rich brown. Like a melted beer bottle.

S - Bourbon cake.

T - Carbonated bourbon. I love these bourbon barrel aged beers. This one tasted like it was beer barrel aged bourbon. Soooo good.

M - I have to go back to the cake metaphor. Like drinking liquid cake.

D - Can I have some more? Seriously? If I didn't have to drive that night, I would have bought three or four more glasses, easy. Shit was pricey, too.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.26/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a tulip glass)

A- This beer has a dark opaque black body with a hint of light at the base of the glass showing a warm deep brown hue. There is a sea of micro bubbles racing back and forth to the surface where a thick light tan head stands. The head last and last and starts to pull away from the sides of the glass but still keeps its shape.

S- This beer has a slightly sweet oak and bourbon note but I can't really detect any malt characteristics even as it warms.

T- This beer has a sweet dark toasted malt flavor with a wet wood and oak flavor followed by a slight soft bourbon note. There isn't any alcohol taste to the bourbon just a slight sweetness and a faint smoky hint. The finish has a faint green hop hint that comes through as it warms.

M- This beer has a full mouthfeel with a creaminess from the carbonation. There is no alcohol heat noticed until the last few sips, which were pretty warm.

D- You really have to like lots of oak to get through this big bottle by yourself. I like oak but it would have been nice to have some malty aromas and flavors to support it and add complexity. I don't usually pair food and beers as I like to taste the beer alone but the recommendation on the bottle was perfect. I had some nice sharp cheddar cheese that cut the sweetness and enhanced this beer quite a bit. I would give this beer a 5 if I rated it with the cheese.

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Photo of zjungleist
4.22/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dull brown with an unremarkable off white head. Smells, initialy, of vanilla, grapes, oak, and very faint beer smells of caramel. Taste is fairly heavy on the bourbon, but not as much as an bourbon imperial stout might, with all the vanilla and tannins to go along with it. Some caramely beer tastes and some hops are presant, but more or less overwhelmed by the bourbon. Very lingering and somewhat complex flavor, but not overly bold. Mouthfeels is thinner than I expeted, and sweetness was not overpowering. Overall I loved it.

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Photo of cokes
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It sits in the goblet with a toasted mahogany, trimmed in honey, with a thin beige skim on top.
It noses of bourbon, specifically, toasted vanilla, oak, black cherry, and booze. Underlying tobacco-tinged choco-caramel maltiness.
It rolls into the mouth, and bourbon is all over it from the word go. It blankets everything with toasted oak, vanilla, and caramelized black cherries. The forwardness of the barrel-aging teeters on being uncouth, but yet the malts shine through. Tobacco-y, earthy, dank, rooty semi-sweetness plays off the barreled notes. Sweeter as it goes with dark fruits joining in on the Bourbon cherry suggestions. Some toasty, nuttiness to harmonize with the wood. It you strip Bourbon County Stout of its roastedness, this is what you get.
Thick, gripping body, lowly carbonated, and yet still alluring. This is a hot, riled beast in the mouth. But the booziness never gets out of hand.
BCS lovers will find a kindred spirit here. the barrel-aging adds a great deal of depth. I'd love to try the non-bourboned version. BCS is one of my favs, but Night Stalker was also amazing. As good as this is...and it's very, very good...I think it'd be damn near perfect with a less agressive barreling.

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Photo of FernMaster
2.86/5  rDev -31.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Served on tap, poured into a goblet.

The color on the Imperial Brown Goose was satisfactory, moderately brown, little light shown through, but in the light it had a crimson appearance. However there was less than a finger's worth of head. What little head there was stayed around for some time, but if failed to lace the glass. The smell is definitely in your face, it says that it was aged in Bourbon barrels, but my friend and I were getting whiskey from this. It seems like that it was aged in whiskey, not bourbon. I'm fine with either, but just a heads up if that matters to anyone. The bourbon smell was very very dominating, there may have been some other smells trying to get attention standing on the outskirts of the bourbon, but I couldn't pick them up. The smell is only fitting because the bourbon is the main flavor in this beer. My friend - who's not a beer person, but a hard liquor person - appreciated this, however, I didn't. I'm very fond of beers that are aged in bourbon barrels, or any other barrel, but the Imperial Brown Goose is one that lacks subtly. The bourbon is completely overwhelming of any other flavor in this beer and surprisingly enough, it burned like bourbon. I'm serious about this, it freaking burned to drink! The taste was also too sweet, so much so that I didn't feel like finishing it (come to think of it, I don't believe I finished the entire glass). This beer just lacks balance, so much so that I can't really recommend it to anyone except the most curious of people. I was saddened by this too because I love Goose Island, but every brewery makes a mediocre brew every now and then.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.69/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

on-tap at Romans' in Milwaukee. I believe i've had this once before but was very happy to see it again...

cellphone notes

appearance: served in one of those silly Goose Island mock-chalices...muddy mahogany body with a creamy tan ring

smell: just one whiff of this one reminded me instantly of my love for this beer. smooth bourbon, vanilla and oak, creamy caramel. a divine aroma

taste: great things going on here - everything plays out harmoniously - the effects of barrel aging are perfectly executed. The bourbon is smooth and warming without being abrasive. Vanilla and oak compliments are presented flawlessly. Support is provided by smooth caramel and cream, milk chocolate, toffee, brown sugar and dark fruit

mouthfeel: superb smoothness

drinkability: good

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Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4.5

Lucky break found me this bottle recently, haven't had it in two years. Split with Jyp, into the Chimay goblet...

A - Dark, rich amber that can almost pass for brown. Real good retention on this cream-colored head.

S - Glorious sweet bourbon! Oak, vanilla, cherry, alcohol. Very, very, very minute toffee and caramel malt flavor. Chocolate cake like sweetness.

T - Wow, this is much different than I remember. The bourbon is still present, but is secondary to the rich dark fruits and smoke than one expects in a good Old Ale. Starts out with a slight rock sugar sweetness with good roasted malt to back it up. Cherry, apple, maybe pomegranate-like sweet/tartness become more present in the midpalate, but only as highlights. Bourbon notes do make an appearence right before the swallow, but does not last too long, and allows for the smoke and alcohol to dominate in the finish.

M - Very carbonated for it's style, would not have minded a thicker, silkier, less lively mouthfeel.

D - So this evolved from a fun, although one-dimensional product to a deep, complex old ale. The bourbon is a nice touch to a flavorful old ale. If you can tract down a bottle, it's worth it, but don't expect it to be a bourbon bomb.

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Photo of thagr81us
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to my boy aasher for sharing this one at the Down South Beer Tasting while he was in town to visit! Massive thanks Al! Served from bottle into a Mikkeller taster flute. Poured red brown with a minimal off-white head. Maintained excellent lacing throughout the glass. The aroma was comprised of sweet malt, caramel, wood, sweet alcohol, and a subtle metallic note. The flavor was of sweet malt, caramel, wood, sweet alcohol, and toffee. It had a light feel on the palate with mild carbonation. Overall this was a pretty good brew. This beer had definitely held up quite well over the past 5 years or so since being bottled. The aroma and flavor on this one screams barrel aging; and a well done one at that. All of the components of this one worked extremely well together to enhance one another while not overpowering another. Glad I got the opportunity to try this one Al and thanks again!

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Photo of hopsbreath
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to black13 for sharing this at a recent tasting.

A: Amber with oatmeal head and some spotty lacing. 3.5/5

S: All bourbon with nothing else other than the vanilla that typically goes with -bals. 3.5/5

T: Buttery bourbon. The base brown is simply a delivery system for the dark liquor. That can be a good thing if the bourbon is good quality. It is here. 4/5

M: Average body with low carbonation and a slightly sticky finish. 3.5/5

O: Not bad overall. Good brown alcohol presentation, good delivery. 3.5/5

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Photo of Beertracker
4.32/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GI's Imperial Brown Goose pours up with some cascading effect that creates a wafer thin tan head that neatly crowns the slightly hazy, deep reddish brown body. Lots of sweet, treacle/toffee notes from the caramel. Bourbon noted along with some spicy hops, oak, roastiness & cherry-vanilla. Starts off with some brown sugary, chocolate maltiness that dries out towards the complex, warming bourbon-laced finish. Medium-full bodied, smooth, creamy. This was a lucky find on cask to fill out my MBA Passport! I'm still partial to the Naughty Goose, but big brother makes a fine "cheek warmer" on a cold, blustery winter's day in Chicago. Here's to Clybourn's new lease on life!

CHEERS! Beertracker

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Photo of jhoban19
4.08/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, served in a goblet.

A: deep, dark brown with a strong caramel head and good lacing throughout.

S: smells of maple syrup and bourbon. caramel malt and hints of vanilla also present.

T: bourbon and maple syrupy goodness, just like it smells.

M: Full bodied, thick, syrupy. sticky on the lips and fills the mouth will all kinds of sweetness (though well balanced) and warm alcohol.

D: I like this one, but only one. this is a great beer to drink as a nightcap, but not to session. though it is well balanced, still a bit too sweet to drink more than one (ok, maybe two). another great brew from one of my favorite breweries.

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Photo of ChuggyMcBeer
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the brewery. Served in a snifter.

A: Dark caramel with a small head that clings to the glass.

S: Buttery vanilla and oak. The bourbon asserts itself without being dominant.

M: Caramel and brown sugar up front, cut off by oak and a subdued vanilla taste. Tastes like the topping for apple crisp, but served over oak chips.

M: Light and sticky at the same time

D: Very drinkable for a barrel aged beer.

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Photo of emerge077
4.47/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

ON TAP @ Goose Clybourn. This has to be batch #2/3, as it hasn't been available for a year or so. Aged one year in bourbon barrels according to the menu.

Served in an 8 oz. snifter, this murky, tawny brown old ale had a slim cap of foam at first, that retreated to a thin skim after awhile. It took about half an hour to drink it, I was too busy inhaling (not huffing). Vanilla, tobacco, brown sugar, and fruity bourbon notes take center stage. No alcohol that I can smell, just the distilled essence of sweet bourbon perfection.

Flavors were rich and malt dominant, plenty of strong bourbon flavor, fruity with drying oak bitterness in the finish. The heat is there, but it's not all that boozy. You get all the complex flavors of the bourbon without the burn. Vanilla, apple, pear, brown sugar, tobacco flavors are all intertwined nicely, wrapped in a malty blanket. Carbonation was low, and the ale was full bodied. A slow sipper, the small snifter was just the right size.

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Photo of jbrown1
4.9/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Requested 1/2 pour at Bad Apple located on Lincoln Avenue.

Knowing this was a bourbon barrel ale had come to expect the powerful Bourbon County Stout, but no, this was an elegant surprise. While Goose has some hits and passes, the Imperial batch is a standout.

This pours a bright golden brown and was served in a snifter. In fact, the Imperial demands a snifter. It offers the sweet peat and aromas of bourbon coupled with the fine drinkability of a pleasant beer. I 'thought' that Bad Apple advertised this at 10% APV, but it is strong regardless and pleasantly easy to drink.

This is one of finest beers.

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Photo of CRJMellor
4.42/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Advertised as 60% more malt and 2x the hops of Naughty Goose.

Poured dark mahogany with a red tint throughout. Small tan head fades away quickly revealing the potent brew and leaving streaky alcoholic tannin marks on the glass.
Aroma of chocolate and crystal malts with an underlying toffee and caramel note. Dark citrus fruits as beer warms as well as orange peel and a bread and dough-like qulaity. Little bit of roastiness also appears as it warms up a bit.
Flavors are sticky sweet toffe and chocolate fudge with a very bready middle. Sweeter citurs notes near the finish with some gran alcohol alos kicking in.
Mouthfeel is full-bodied wiht a slightly syupy character. Great variety of sweet malts sliding to a citrusy and hoppy finish. High ABV is fairly well covered by the variety of flavors and transitions.
Drinkability is very high for such an alcoholic brew. But you can't just have one it's that good. If you are near GI- Clybourne stop in try this rare beauty.

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Photo of zach60614
4.11/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Photo of CaptainNomihodai
4/5  rDev -4.3%

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.15/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I got this one a while back from Czoch75 during the 2nd Round of the Fight Club BIF... I shared this with a few Boise peeps and a couple out of SLC during an epic tasting.. Thanks Clint... This was very very well received and everyone was sorta astounded that an Idahoan would have one..

2006 bottle poured into my small La Trappe goblet.. slightly hazy brown... nice lite tan head with great retention.

Nose has a bunch of well mixed bourbon notes that melt into some brown sugar and other brown malts... toasty and very nutty.. yet the barrels just merge so well into the base beer.

Flavor is more balanced than the nose with vanilla and lite wood ... the brown sugar is still there with a good mix of dark dried fruits... the body is a tad lighter than expected, but the carbonation is spot-on.

As it warms, a little bit of EtOH still shows.... I'm amazed about that... the bourbon is softer so is the dark sugars... more complex after it has been open for a while... Very very interesting and more complex than I was expecting.. definitely not a "bourbon delivery device" .. instead the wood and long time in the bottle has has made this pretty damn nice.

Thanks again Clint... the Fight in the Fight Club was certainly worth the bruises.... I still need time to recover for Round 3 though :-)

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Photo of matjack85
4.25/5  rDev +1.7%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.64/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

caramel colored pour with a light head of off white that caps it off rather nicely. Settling down it left a little bit of a light sticky lace along the sides. Aroma was the best I have ever come across. Rich toffee and butterscotch, tons of sweet nectar notes. Candy in all its glory. Perfectly aged with a smooth, perfect profile of vanilla, toffee, and rich butterscotch that will not let up. Rich bourbon flavor just rolls across the palate with a smoothness unlike anything I have run across before. Rich vanilla and boozy notes combine to form a perfect balance of rich sweet notes and oak soaked barrel

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Photo of Orangeman
4.35/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer lets you know what it's all about right from the beginning. As soon as it was placed in front of me, the smell of whiskey and bourbon hit my nose. The taste was surprisingly mellow, but still with a heavy taste of bourbon and some maple syrup. This beer reminded me, to a small extent, of Sam Adams Utopias. This however, is far more "drinkable," not to mention far more affordable.

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Photo of rallison
4.5/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 bottle.

Pours a beautiful dark brown with a 3 finger off-white head that never fully dies and leaves extensive lacing.

Smells of sweet bourbon with pleasant waves of vanilla and hints of chocolate and oak. Beautiful.

Layers of bourbon and oak dance on top of a smooth layer of this imperial brown. The base beer seems to only serve as a staging ground for the bourbon barrel aging; that said, it works. Molasses, light candied fruits and a finishing touch of alcohol warmth round this out.

Mouthfeel is very smooth with a slight bit of lightness on the tongue. Just enough carbonation to keep the beer from dragging itself down. Nicely played here.

Drinkability is, all in all, quite good.

I've had many samples of this beer - but, only fresher bottles. Fresh, it is rich in bourbon, but there is no subtlety and no balance. With age, it appears that, while the bourbon is still the strongest player, the supporting actors finally get their voice and get to bring a promising beer to greatness. Age this one a couple of years, you won't be disappointed.

Highly recommended (2+ years old).

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Imperial Brown Goose from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 4.18 out of 5 with 165 ratings