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
Photo of PrinceDarren
1.48/5  rDev -64.6%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

I know I like A) bourbon B) barrel aged beer C) brown ales and D) almost everything from Goose Island. Therefore I was excited to find - and sure I would love - Goose Island's Imperial Brown. Gawd... was I ever wrong.

This beer, served in a small 6oz glass, had some major flaws. It was way too hot and did not have much body or flavor. Also, there was too much malt with nothing to balance it out. Finally it was pretty "thin" on the tongue which is atypical for an Old Ale and everything else that GI makes for that matter. I'll bet that it has more than 10% ABV - it sure tasted like it. In fact, it tasted like nothing more than diluted Canadian Whiskey. I would describe it as similar to a "seven and seven" mixed drink, after all of the ice had been allowed to melt in the glass and dilute the drink down to tasteless dribble.

By the way, I am reasonably certain that they used Canadian whiskey barrels for this - and not bourbon like it is described. I KNOW my whiskeys and I know Canadian whiskey when I taste it, and I hate Canadian whiskey.

Anyway, to summarize, this was a disappointment. It was sold as "Goose Island Imperial Brown" so it is possible that it was not even "Imperial Brown Goose" but I am not aware of any other such beer that they make, therefore I believe this is under the right heading. I sure want to believe that I was not served GIIBG.

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Photo of chrispoint
2/5  rDev -52.2%

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
2.5/5  rDev -40.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Reviewed on 11/28/2009. Growler from St. James Beverage. Pours an incredibly cloudy mahogany brown with a small white head. Aroma of bourbon, oak. Flavor of sweet bourbon and vanilla with a hot alcoholic finish. There was not much to this beer besides the bourbon, which was very disappointing. Very one-dimensional.

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Photo of vfgccp
2.67/5  rDev -36.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

- Tasted at Split Thy Skull 2011 at Mugs Alehouse -

A - Murky dark ice tea. Clean white head that sits low in the glass.

S - Bright brown sugar. Whiskey. Vanilla, Oak.

T - Dry, almost woody, barely. Toffee sweetness. Some honey. Hint of oak. Flavors are nice but they feel disconnected.

M - Medium-light body with a lingering dry woody bitterness.

D - The flavor profile keeps me from grabbing a second.

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Photo of armock
2.76/5  rDev -34%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Poured a brownish amber color with an off white head that leaves lacing

S - Is of a lot of bourbon dark fruit fights to come through

T - Very unbalanced more bourbon and alcohol than anything not much beer taste some dark fruit comes out but not much

M - This beer has a thinner body with medium carbonation to it

D - Low drinkability just way too much bourbon if thats what I wanted then I'd buy some bourbon just an unbalanced beer thats not for me

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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 champ103
3.22/5  rDev -23%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I can't believe I have not reviewed this yet. I found a review from some notes after an Old Ale BA tasting (about a year ago now).

A: Pours a fairly clear brown color. A minimal bubbly beige head forms with light lace.
S: Sweet malt with a light fruitiness. Alcohol from the start. Not a lot of depth.
T: Follows the nose. Sweet malt and some dark fruits. Alcohol overpowers.
M/D: A medium body that is way over carbonated for my tastes. Pretty hard to sip on. Lots of alcohol shows itself everywhere.

I was a little disappointed with this. One of my favorite breweries, and one of my favorite styles. Though this just did not do it for me.

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Photo of RBorsato
3.26/5  rDev -22%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark brown with a nice full pillowy light brown head and nice active carbonation up the middle. Aroma is all bourbon, wood, and burnt character. Big bourbon flavors with not much else to off-set it. Medium bodied with a light burning bourbon finish.

Per Label: "Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels"

Per MJ Notes: "A strong Brown Ale aged for 9 mos in Heaven Hill Bourbon Barrels"

2006 Batch
Tasted: 04/16/07

(25 oz. / 750 ml tall brown champagne-style bottle, corked with a plastic white cork, and caged)

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Photo of malcontent
3.27/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Murky, brown body with a small amount of head and nice enough lacing. Still, the liquid itself is a bit unsettling.

Well, it's hard to judge this one because on one hand it's a nose dominated simply by the bourbon barrel with a touch of powdery sweetness. On the other hand, I really love bourbon so I can at least revel in said scent.

Man, I don't know about this. As much as I love bourbon the only flavor I'm picking up is exactly that. There just doesn't seem to be any balance with this brew and subtleties that the beer itself may have had at one point are just swallowed up now. This is my second time drinking this and I'm still left to wonder why GI chose the Christmas Ale for the BB treatment. It seems that something heartier would have weathered the storm and actually benefited from barrel aging. Hell, even the Hexnut would have been an interesting choice. I guess the temptation of mixing something of different vintages was too much to resist.

IBG has a good, solid mouthfeel with a perfect level of carbonation and no astringency picked up from the wood whatsoever. Unfortunately, drinkability suffers from the overall taste and this will certainly be my last shot at this particular brew.

NOTE: About halfway through I paired this with a nice, strong aged gouda and it helped a good deal in mellowing out the flavors.

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Photo of Crosling
3.31/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark ruby/burgundy color. Small head. Aroma shows a light touch of caramel and bourbon, with some dark fruit. Flavor is mainly barrel dominated, with corn whiskey, butterscotch and caramel flavors. Lighter body, with no texture. Smooth, fairly decent beer.

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Photo of craytonic
3.5/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: brown-red-mahogany pour, decent head

Smell: Vanilla, oak, molasses, alcohol. Very boozy, slightly oxidized

Taste: Slightly oxidized, I get vanilla, booze, molasses and oak. Not particularly well integrated.

Mouthfeel: Decent, carbonation a bit low

Overall: I wish I had opened this one sooner, could have been past its prime.

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Photo of brewcrew76
3.51/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2006 Batch - This is a different beer than the brewpub offering that is reviewed under the same name in the early reviews.

A - Pours a very deep brown almost black with ruby around the side of the glass and ruby highlights with a 2 finger off white head that leaves nice creamy lacing.

S - Vanilla, sweet malt, oak maple syrup. It is very sweet and very woody.

T - Maple syrup, toffee, dark candi sugar, hints of wet oak and vanilla. Very sweet .

M - Medium body and well carbonated.

D - A little too sweet for my taste. A very nice idea of 2 different xmas ales aged in 2 different ages of bourbon barrels. I am glad to see Goose take a chance on this beer. I would have found it hard to finish the full 750 on my own. Maybe a little aging on this one might do it well.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.57/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at the Jackie O's barrel aged festival, served in 4oz pours. The beer was lighter colored than I expected, being that the base is an "imperial" brown ale and all. It was light tan colored, fairly clear, with a few large bubbles on top, not covering the entire liquid.

The beer smelled more neutral than you'd think, a little bourbon mixed with sweet malts and caramel. It's definitely a pleasant aroma, just more muted than what you normally get from a bourbon aged dark beer. It tastes kind of subtle too, on the sweet side but in a light way, with a nice lingering hint of bourbon after each sip. Maybe even some vanilla too, possibly from oak (not sure). The alcohol isn't really noticeable with the exception of the bourbon flavors, everything is sort of subtle.

The body is very lightly carbonated, just shy of flat really, and this is probably why the head looked so flacid. The beer has a smooth and easy drinking feel to it as a result.

I've never tried Imperial Goose before so I can't speak to how the bourbon barrels change it, but nevertheless I'll guess that it removes some carbonation and adds nearly every flavor that I tasted. I was glad to get the chance to try this, but I wouldn't recommend anyone search too hard for it.

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Photo of harrymel
3.59/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.5

2006, opened with PhineasGage when he was in town.

Pours a nice dark tawny with a fleeting sheet of light tan foam. Smells sweet and rich. Lots of nougat, vanilla, toasted malts and a bit of turbinado. Taste was dark malt, nutty brown character, some oak, a bunch more vanilla, some cocoa (really faint), plenty of oxidized malts and a good leathery tone. Medium on full bodied with a watery feel from the seemingly lower carbonation. Happy to have had it, wouldn't probably search for it again.

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Photo of DavidEddie
3.68/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 vintage. Cellared for about 1 year.

Dank ruby brown in appearance with a soft white head. Huge aromas of bourbon/whiskey mainly. Followed by oak and dark fruits. Strong flavors of oak, vanilla, booze, apples, and raisins. Finishes with a bourbon bite and then becomes crisp. Very boozy and warming. Mouth feel is smooth and soft with lots of carbonation. Drinkability is good, if you like bourbon. A 750 ml was a bit too much though. There is no doubt about it, this one's a slow sipper for sure!

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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 charlzm
3.7/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottled, consumed on 1/31/08.

Slightly cloudy dark brown pour yields one finger head that reduces to thin skin. Bubbles cling to insides of glass throughout tasting. Aroma: sweet molasses, dark fruits, and something else... oh yeah, BOURBON. Mouthfeel is a hair thicker than water. Flavor is intense, if somewhat unnuanced. There is some sweet caramel flavor in the beginning and a finish marked by raisins. And BOURBON. Alcohol burn present from the moment beer enters mouth to long after it's gone down the hatch.

Not really all that fun or satisfying to drink, but I have to admire it anyway.

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Photo of quasimoto
3.72/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It was poured into a tulip glass and oozed out of the tap like a carvel ice cream cake. This is a full big Brown loaded with malt on the nose and subtle hints of hops in the background. Very interesting taste of sweet molasses and some kind of cookie in there. Granted there were malt flavors but the background favors (if really looked for) were there. Mouthfeel on this monster was typical if an imperial. Silky and full. In all, a simply good Imperial brown ale.

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Photo of thegerm87
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This must be one if the last bottles out there at this point. Decided to open it as I'm sure it's well past it's prime.

A - pale white, frothy head. Mildly dark brown body. Plenty of carb present

S - cherries, non-descript Christmas spices, slight oxidization

T - dark, artificial cherry, up front. Raisin bread, very light chocolate, mild alcohol rolls through the middle. Bourbon (partially contributing to the cherry flavor), vanilla, caramelly sweetness with a moderate bitterness finishes.

M - frothy and light. Not too sticky but still the beer stays well past your sip.

O - I'm happy I opened this when I did. I'm guessing it's past it's prime but I'm happy to have tried it. Pleasantly surprised with it despite it's flaws.

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Photo of Ego
3.73/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

bottle courtesy of my buddy yelterdow (parting with dreadnaught and alpha klaus is quite painfull), this is the 750 caged and corked variety from the mj beer club (2006 batch - 8%)

someone has to say it...
what has brown done for me lately?

let's find out...

even on a carefull pour this one has a massive, craggy, off white head of large gurgling bubbles, deep brown tone with some ruby highlights, carbonation is ample leading to good retention, lacing is good and this also has legs due to the kicked up alcohol, very nice looking brew, I think I will sit here and stare at it for a couple of hours.... nah...

boozy, and very bourbony, not as much as the jack daniel barrel aged stuff I had on sunday, more subdued than that, dark sugary tones, some dark vermont maple, the kind that can glue your fingers together, nothing is blowing me away here but it's good

taste etc...
velvety, very creamy, barley and bourbon flavors abound and the slight wood taste comes through in the end, you get some alcohol warming for sure. very balanced but the bourbon seems to dominate here, you can pick out the malt (sweetness) but this oe takes a smidge getting used to, a nice sipper with strong cheese helps break this up.

a nice smooth beer with good drinkability for the kicked up ABV, the mouthfeel is dead on imo.

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Photo of DP34
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -10.3%

Photo of Bitterbill
3.8/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Another bottle traded to me by TATTORSO. Thanks Jeff!

2006 black wrapped and capped 750ML bottle, with a small label on the back that says...$30.

I removed the cap and it started to gush. Thankfully, I only lost an ounce or 2. I wanted to serve this at rrom temp so I guess I paid the price...

It pours a deep amber colour with a 2 finger head of foam and some good lacing.

The smell? Bourbon and wood. Bourbon and wood. So, I guess saying alcohol in the smell would not be out of order? ;^) Bottled in 06 and this much of a "hot" smell intrigues me.

The taste is much smoother than the smell insinuated. Yeah, the bourbon and woodsy flavours are there with some lightish notes of vanilla but I can *just* taste the base beer here...the Brown Ale, that adds just a touch of chocolate and an ever so light presence of some nuttiness, but it is tough. In my mind and palate, this is *still* a "hot" brew that hasn't seen its real glory days. I imagine this would change in what....another 5 or more years? Maybe for the better, maybe not. A hard call.

It is, imho, pretty light bodied from what I expected and the carbonation is brisk, especially noticeable during the swallow.

Drinkability? A very slow sipping brew because of the ample and in your face abv and the dominant flavour of Bourbon but.... do I like it or dislike it? I give it a thumbs up due to the fact that it is still Winter around these parts and the warming is welcome. I would not want to drink this on a hot summer day as I would not for most Old Ales.

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Photo of RJUGA03
3.82/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I found this on tap at Hop Leaf in Andersonville 9/24/09. $6.50/ 8oz snifter. The menu at Hop Leaf claimed 7.2% abv.

A-Extremely dark and rich textured with a 1" off white beautiful head. (minimal lacing)
S-Very strong choclate, dark malts, and an overpowering bourbon/ whiskey aroma.
T-You notice the burbon/ whiskey flavor throughout the entire sip, but it settles down iun the middle to give you the essence of the wonderful brown, then calming much like a burbon/ whiskey on your tongue.
M-Rich and holding minimal carbonation.
D-It is very drinkable, but price might restrict me on this one.

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Photo of blitheringidiot
3.85/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottlecap opens with a healthy *fwisk!*

Pours with a huge 1/2 and 1/2 frothy dense khaki head cap leaving impressive lacing over a dark russet brown hue allowing only glints of light through the glass.

Scents of hot hot hot bourbon barrel, oaky wood, cake batter and dark fruit of figs and rum soaked raisin.

First swigs: Front flavor of boozy hot bourbon barrel. Too hot? Perhaps. More brown ale than old ale but no matter for this is a wicked big brew of dark cake malt front with reserved hop aspects. Finish is a tad flour dough dry with a linger of caramel and cocoa.

Feel is overly frothy with a medium body and a lingering caramel candy aftertaste.

Last swigs: Too frothy in the feel and too hot boozy. Even a year would doubtfully make a difference.

Beer is good. Happy boozy beering.

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