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Bourbon-Barrel Christmas Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon-Barrel Christmas AleBourbon-Barrel Christmas Ale
12 Ratings
Bourbon-Barrel Christmas AleBourbon-Barrel Christmas Ale

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

Style: Winter Warmer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by bultrey on 07-21-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 12 |  Reviews: 6
Photo of Zekenyce
4.15/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Hohnbaum
3.33/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of Hellpop65
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of Bubba569
4.75/5  rDev +16.1%

Photo of brandoman63
3.5/5  rDev -14.4%

Photo of sbricker
4/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of GbVDave
4.47/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into two small snifters. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist! Extra special thanks to kidadam for this from a long time ago!

"Bourbon Aged" written in grease pencil above the label.

A: Pours a clear-ish, dark chestnut brown. A tiny light-khaki wafer of foam spread itself out on top and stuck around for the duration. Carbonation was suprisingly lively (considering the age on this).

S: Fantastic bourbon barrel aroma. Toasted coconut, oak, vanilla, and pan roasted nuts. We tried our hardest to find any notes of oxidation, but couldn't.

T: See above.

M: Smooth and slick without any hint of syrup. The tiniest beginning of a burn.

O: I'd completely forgotten I had this in the fridge and to be honest, our hopes weren't that high for this considering the abv and how old it was. Well, this was a very well made beer and it had been cared for extremely well in the years that I've had it. Sorry to see it go, but glad to have enjoyed this very rare treat!

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Photo of trbergman
4.07/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle into a cervoise.

A - Ruddy auburn color with an airy head that disappears fast, revealing a thin lace of foam.

S - Volatile bourbon barrel aroma of toast, vanilla, and a snort of whiskey. Rich maltiness with notes of crusty bread, baked apple, and brown sugar. Light spice in the background, chiefly cinnamon.

M -If you're trying to conjure up a bourbon barrel aged winter warmer, this hits the mark. Interesting interplay of wood, malt, and spice.

M - From the nose, I would have guessed this was a bit heftier than it turned out to be. Felt somewhat thin in the mouth on that account, but objectively rather nice.

D - I thought I'd crack this for an early Christmas in July, and it turned out to be a really mellow, easy sipper for a muggy summer's night. I doubt I'll get the opportunity, but I'd definitely drink this again.

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Photo of oregonskibum
4.2/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Huge thanks to bainard for throwing this in as an extra. I didn't even know it was a special version of the Christmas Ale until I opened it.

A: Pours fairly dark brown with some amber tints. Seems pretty thick and heavy. Moderate slightly tan or off-white tan that quickly dissipates.

S: Wow, this isn't your normal GI Christmas Ale. Smell is rich, complex. Bourbon dominates. Vanilla, caramel, and spice come through as well, but it's clearly all about the bourbon.

T: The taste continues where the smell leaves off with a strong bourbon presence. Although the bourbon is better balanced in the taste. The vanilla and caramel notes smelled come through a little more clearly. A little warm spiceness- cloves, nutmeg, etc. A little boozy heat towards the end, but very minimal. Nice long, mellow finish.

M: Slightly flat, with low to medium low carbonation. Medium body up front, although finishes a little weak. Mouthfeel is likely the weakest part of the beer.

D: I really enjoyed drinking this beer. Did not know this was a special brew when opening the bottle, so was pleasantly surprised. Bourbon aging really added to the complexity and enjoyability of the GI Christmas Ale. Given the opportunity, I would definitely enjoy this beer again.

 1,297 characters

Photo of emerge077
4.25/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to nerdnire for this one!

Poured into a small chalice, the body was a dark auburn, a finger of tan foam on the surface. Irregular bits of lace dotted the edge. An island of skim floated on the surface. Oak barrel in the nose, nutty from some light sherryish oxidation. A sweet touch of bourbon in the back. Flavor retains all the complexity and toasted coconut/vanilla from the bourbon barrel, without the heat. A long dry finish lets you savor the oak tannin and milder sour mash notes that linger forever. Full bodied but never heavy or syrupy. The intensity is soft yet complex. Really tasty, reminds me of some Firestone Walker stuff.

 646 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
3.86/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a goblet. This was the 2004 batch, made mostly for employees and friends of the brewery. I had this particular one at Delilah's in Chicago, glad I had the opportunity to taste it. It looked the same as the regular Christmas Ale, except with no label on the neck and a note on the lower part of the label stating that it was a 2004 bourbon-barrel, written in Sharpie. Awesome.

Appearance: This pours slightly darker than its regular counterpart, with the ruby tint almost disappearing. The bourbon-barrel variety is a walnut/ chocolate color and is also much less transparent. When poured, a nice, off-white 5 cm head forms, slowly receding to about 2 cm. A nice appearance overall.

Smell: To me, the smell is the biggest problem with this beer. Although a few flavors like vanilla, caramel, and maybe even a little nutmeg sneak through, the smell is overpoweringly just bourbon. I understand that it is aged in bourbon barrels, but I thought the bourbon county stout did a much better job in the aroma department.

Taste: Although I grew cautious from the smell, the taste is the strongest aspect of this beer. The bourbon aging bursts through the natural flavors of the ale, with vanilla, caramel, figs, and molasses being the most up-front taste. Nice and complex, even from the start. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice flavors creep into the background, but stay somewhat light throughout the sip. A hint of alcohol and hops in the middle, with molasses, bourbon and vanilla finishing it out. The flavors do not really transition, but rather jump up and bite you, which is my only real issue with the taste.

Mouthfeel: The aging pushes this from smooth to lightly creamy. Somewhat light carbonation, but it is slightly thicker than the regular version, changing the texture substantially.

Drinkability: I found this slightly more drinkable than the regular Christmas ale, simply because of the more complex flavors. Also, the ale does not have as much of an alcohol flavor, even with the higher ABV.

Overall I found this quite enjoyable, but also somewhat coarse. I wish there were a little bit more balance to the flavors, with the bourbon barrels not dominating quite so much. This may be only a matter of preference though; others may really like this change.

 2,300 characters

Photo of bultrey
4.49/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had a bottle of this at Blind Tiger NYC's "Christmas in July" event. The bourbon-barrel ale bottle looks just like the regular Christmas Ale bottle, except it doesn't have a label on the neck.
Poured into a tulip glass, this came out a murky dark walnut color, with an admirable creamy tan head that simmered down after a minute or so.
Smell is unbelievably bourbon-esque, and easily distinguishes this beer from its non-oak-aged counterpart. Heavy aromas of vanilla, maple, mace, and perhaps allspice or clove.
The taste is unbeleivable -- but a word of warning, if you don't like the whole bourbon-barrel idea, then you might want to avoid this beer, as the bourbon characteristics come through more than any other bourbon-aged beer I've ever had. In my book, this is a good thing ... this tasted of creamy vanilla, ripe nuts and figs, black-strap molasses, cocoa powder, maple, toffee, and some holiday spices -- not for the faint of heart. An up-front bourbon-barrel sweet slap in the face yields to a surprisingly woody, dry finish and a mild, lingering bitterness. Mouthfeel is really good -- smooth and creamy, nice tight carbonation struggling to make its way through the thick malty body. Drinkability is merely good, because although I could have had three or four, you probably wouldn't want more than one or two due to the extreme character of this beer. A real winner, and I hope I can find it around NYC when the snow drifts start piling up.

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Bourbon-Barrel Christmas Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 4.09 out of 5 with 12 ratings
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