Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine Ale
Goose Island Beer Co.

Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine Ale
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Barleywine - English
4.3 | pDev: 5.35%
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine AleBourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine Ale
Notes: Working with our friends at Intelligentsia, we flew down to Guatemala to source some of the world's best coffee to use as we release the first-ever Coffee Barleywine. The beer is an English-style Barleywine, meaning malt forward, and aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels before adding La Soledad coffee beans right before packaging to retain a bold coffee aroma and flavor.
Reviews: 68 | Ratings: 212 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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JohnnyHopps from Indiana

4.09/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - The beer was dark brown with red hues swirled into the mix.

Smell - The nose was much more of an Earthy coffee than a sweet coffee with hints of booze.

Taste - At the front, dark and slightly bitter coffee led the way. The barleywine backbone gave a modest amount of sweetness. Perhaps it was age, but the profile seemed more like an American barleywine than the English version. The overall profile seemed dry.

Mouthfeel - The body, or perhaps lack there of, did not seem interested in coating or lingering.

Overall - Even as a barleywine lover, I found it hard to fully appreciate this one.

Jan 31, 2021
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Zythophile from District of Columbia

4.41/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle Date: 2018
Palate Contaminants: other beer

Dark brown (even shading slightly toward red) and minimal head. It is somewhat clear, though.

Smell has lots of coffee up front. There is also molasses, along with a little mahogany and Brazil nut. It could stand to be richer.

And once more, I'm totally okay if what would be the scent stays in the liquid. The coffee is all the richer, and I'd even go as far as to call it espresso with cream and something sweet, like honey. The sweetness also has a grain syrup element. Can't get away from the tree nuts either, with hazelnut and toasted almonds. Mix all that in with some toffee, and you'd have a good candy bar.

Slightly prickly carbonation. Medium-heavy weight. Aftertaste is the taste, although the coffee abates. Alcohol certainly detectable, although not overbearing for a fifteener.

Jan 31, 2021
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mothman from Minnesota

4/5  rDev -7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle. Little head. Caramel brown color.

Very odd bourbon county variant. I like the coffee and I like the BW, but mixed is odd. It’s not bad, just odd. Lots of coffee, caramel, toffee, oak, whiskey, and dark dried fruits. Some vanilla. Kind of dry and roasted. Interesting.

Dec 19, 2020
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zac16125 from South Carolina

3.61/5  rDev -16%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500mL bottle into a snifter

Pours a dark mahogany with some ruby hues when held to light. Small tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is very interesting, it’s almost spicey like a capsaicin peppery heat. There’s a strong fusel ethanol character as well, maybe that boozy heat is masquerading as some spice. Coffee is noticeable, and some subtle sweet malts are there, but overall this is quite a strange aroma and not particularly great. Taste is a bit odd too, although at least it is more barleywine-esque and I don’t get any of those peppery notes I got in the aroma. I do get tons of booze, and tons of bitterness. A bit of black coffee adds to said bitterness. The base beer characters are some burnt sugar and caramel. Subtle barrel characters but admittedly you have to work for them. Although there are some interesting notes here for the most part they are overpowered by this bitter, almost astringent note. Mouthfeel is fine, it’s very warming, ABV is high and it’s certianly a prominent component of this beer. I have a very high tolerance (and if we’re being honest, love) for high ABV beers but the boozy prominence here is just too much. I think this is the first time I’ve ever said this about a BCB beer (and I believe I’ve had every single variant to date except a couple of the 2019s I’m waiting on), but this beer is kind of a mess. I try not to overreact to things, but Goose Island, WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THINGS HOLY WERE YOU THINKING! (*all caps for overly dramatic effect*). But in all seriousness, I just don’t get this. You have BCB Barleywine which is just a fantastic beer, and you have BCB Coffee Stout which is an elite beer bordering on perfection. Scrap them both and in exchange put out this? Big fail. Looking forward to the return of the OGs, whenever that may be. Easily my least favorite BCB variant to date.


Nov 04, 2020
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garymuchow from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

In the middle of a move and trying to purge the cellar, so now is the time. 1.5+ years in the cellar.
A bit of a gassy appearance Head is small and fizzles out altogether. Mostly clear, brown with hints of red. A little coffee in a rich malt with hints of candy sweetness.
Full rich flavors, much bigger than in the aroma. And an immediate awareness of the alcohol. Not in a bad way, but a quick shot of warmth in the gut, a ding in the prefrontal cortex and a perfumey and alcohol flavor. Not really hot, but certainly warm. This is a coffee barleywine and that is what it tastes like. Well balance. Get an essence of both and it is nice.
Full rich feel. Feels soft and slick and fluffy. Great feel. Carbonation shines here.
I like this. This is fine. There in time there is a fatigue from such a rich and big beer. The enjoyment starts to wane in time.

Jul 17, 2020
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stortore from Illinois

4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

500 ml bottle into a snifter. Bottled 9/27/18, had 12/15/18.

Pours a dark ruby, semi- opaque, with a quick flash of a head and light, spotty cling. Aromas of bourbon, coffee, caramel, dates, figs, malt, plums, some molasses and brown sugar, light tobacco and char, some oak, light raisins. A bit of a sweet aroma. The flavor aligns with the aroma- bourbon, caramel, coffee, figs, raisins, dates, some oak and brown sugar, light vanilla and molasses. A little sweet, but not cloying. Smooth, a very good medium to full body, well carbonated.

This has a great balance between the coffee and the barleywine. Terrific aromas and great flavors. Actually a little hard to describe, but it’s a pretty complex beer. They make it again, I’ll buy it again. Very enjoyable.

Feb 18, 2020
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Gajo74 from New York

4.34/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at DiveBar, NYC; a 7oz pour is just the right amount for a drink of this magnitude.

Pours a dark brown that displays an elegant and clear ruby color against the light. Although there is no head, a thin ring of lacing is evident at the beginning of the pour.

Aroma opens with notes of coffee and cocoa powder; the coffee in particular, dominating throughout and blending well with the bourbon spice. Additional aromatics of vanilla, wood, caramel, biscuity malts and minty hops.

The taste is sweet and boozy with a strong alcohol spice well supported by sticky and doughy biscuity malt. Full bodied, very smooth, mouth coating and moderately carbonated. The coffee flavors impart a unique taste to the bourbon spices and rich chewy sweet malts. Additional notes of chocolate, vanilla, oak, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, raisins and earthy hops bitterness. The finish is long and alcohol warming.

I really liked this variant; the coffee Barleywine combination is a real winner. Powerful like a top shelf spirit and a pleasure to sip on.

Dec 30, 2019
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mschrei from Illinois

4.06/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

One of the weakest BCBS offerings I’ve had. Looks nice-great ruby colors, minimal head/lacing. Plenty of coffee on the nose with some rich barrel aged Barleywine characteristics. Problem is the taste-coffee and barleywine just don’t mix, in my opinion. The barrel and malt clash with the coffee and while both flavors are excellent if you separate them, together, it’s not a pleasant mix. Medium bodied, boozy, mouth watering. Brave attempt, big miss.

Dec 30, 2019
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EMH73 from New York

4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a medium-dark brown with red hues, a quarter inch tan head that dissipated almost immediately and left no lacing. Smells of coffee, bourbon, caramel, dark chocolate and a mild earthy quality. Tastes of coffee, bourbon, dark chocolate, vanilla, caramel, toffee, raisins, figs, oak, rye and roasted malts. Awesome complexity. Medium to full bodied, minimal carbonation, full mouth feel.

Dec 29, 2019
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Saylor from Pennsylvania

4.84/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2018- bottle. Was eager to try this combination but also hesitant because of past both barleywines and coffee beers. This stout is awesome. Easily one of the best I’ve ever had. The coffee flavor wasn’t strongly present but the mix of flavors and smoothness made this beer an instant satisfaction. Hope to see it in the future 2020+

Dec 26, 2019
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Fordcoyote15 from Pennsylvania

4.26/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Looks pretty crappy. Murky brown, very little head.

Smells pretty muted. Theres coffee but not a whole lot else going on.

Tastes much more complex. Starts with pure coffee and reminds me of founders underground mountain. It quickly rolls into much more depth however. There are loads of toffee, and oak, and caramel, bourbon and cream.

Feel is pretty full and thick.

Overall very nice despite the lack of aroma.

Dec 08, 2019
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CHickman from New York

4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 27SEP18, 15.1% ABV, it pours reddish dark brown color with 1 finger foamy beige colored head that made a crackling sound and faded on the quick side and left basically no lacing. Not unusual for a barrel aged barleywine, but I wish the head lasted longer. The smell of coffee hits first with fresh ground coffee, beans, light espresso and then cocoa, bourbon, toffee, dark chocolate, spicy notes like rye or tea leaf, faint vanilla and earthy notes. A lot going on in the nose, but it's all good with plenty of malt complexities that allows the barrel aging to show through and the spicy/herbal notes to add accents. Not your typical barleywine, this is an amped up version for sure.

Tastes like it smells with the fresh ground coffee, toffee, burnt coffee grinds, caramel, espresso beans, vanilla, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, bourbon, smoked malts, rye, spices notes, tea leaf, piney hops, syrup, brownie batter, tree bark, black licorice and some heat even a year later from that 15% ABV. The barleywine aspects get covered up by the malty sweetness, booze from the bourbon and whiskey barrels, the bitter roasted coffee and the toffee that helps mask the alcohol while making for a dynamic, complex slow sipper. This was really freakin good and the coffee components really were pleasing and enjoyable.

Nov 30, 2019
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ovaltine from Indiana

4.34/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a mahogany brown with a tan head that dissipates immediately - literally before you can put down the bottle after the pour. The rich coffee aromas are welcome, and there’s a lotta boozy notes on the nose, and some chocolate as well.

The coffee leads the flavor parade, and there’s also cocoa notes and a significant boozy component. The mouthfeel is rich, appropriate to the style. Truly a pleasure to drink, this is exceptionally well done, IMHO.

Nov 28, 2019
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Oh_Dark_Star from Washington

4.31/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Black Friday 2018 - Enjoyed in a Teku glass 11/13/2019

L: Black with reddish brown fringes where the light can penetrate. Any head quickly dissipates to nothing.

S: Oak, raisins, caramel, toffee. This is a barleywine no doubt. The coffee is in there - just barely.

T: Dates and raisins. Sugars galore. The coffee sneaks in on the aftertaste which almost disappoints, but it does provide some bitter backbone and contrast to the beer.

F: No heat - just a touch of booze. Full body. Reasonably thick and coating for a barleywine.

O: This was good. I want to start with that. Would drink it many times. But the reason I was exited for it, it did not live up to. Little coffee presence. The coffee did soooo much more for the stout. Oh well. Better than Northwoods and nearly tied with the standard BCBW.

Nov 20, 2019
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DoctorZombies from Florida

4.47/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured ruby brown at 57 degrees; excellent clarity; fizzy fast grayish tan head; no cap retention or ring; thin legs. Nose is caramel, bourbon and mild coffee. Caramel entry, bourbon, sweet dark fruit notes; not finding any coffee. Medium full body, smooth feel, light carbonation. Overall, body looks thin, yet liquid sits hefty on the tongue; no hint of alcohol; very little coffee, but who cares - a delightful drinking barrel aged barley wine.

Oct 23, 2019
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.14/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a very dark burgundy with ruby-transparency showing against the light. Head foamed to less than half a finger in height, poured moderately from a cold bottle. Aroma is very light fleshy, earthy coffee with caramely, toasty, nutty, earthy malts. Toffee, raisins, plum, fig and molasses add sweetness and a touch of richness. Bourbon is present throughout, adding a little zest and heat throughout the nose. Flavor profile is more stone and dark fruits - plum and raisins, along with fig, toffee and molasses. Coffee comes on modest, more like an after thought than a headliner. Malts are caramely, toasty, earthy, nutty and bready. Bourbon comes through as a complimentary addition to the initial sugary notes at the start, adding balance, but not raw heat. Mouth feel is medium-thick with a rather straightforward texture that doesn't yield a notable level of creaminess, velvetiness or decadency. Overall, despite being high in ABV, it doesn't drink like a huge beer, instead layering out modestly rich notes with a boozy kiss from someone with coffee breath.

Served in a 15.5oz Speigalau tulip from a 500mL bottle.

Oct 14, 2019
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Herbertly from Washington

4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2018 Bottled on 9/27/18. Enjoyed on 8/22/19.
L: Dark golden with no retained head. Quickly dispersing carbonation.
S: Sweet classic barleywine aromas. sugar, sweetcorn, and caramelized smoke.
T: Smooth sweetness, syrup, and the essence of coffee lingers at the end.
F: Sticky, thick, and residual. No heat, but noticeably strong and numbing.
O: I am not too experienced with the style, but I think it's smooth and drinkable for a barleywine. Extreme sweetness, but this balances the strength. Almost too sweet for my liking. I thought this was an excellent beer and should have tried it fresh.

Aug 23, 2019
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Rristow from Ohio

4.25/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tasted from bottle. Pours dark brown with minimal head that fades quickly. Aroma of coffee, peppers, bourbon. Moderate to heavily sweet. Flavors of coffee, green peppers, caramel, molasses, bourbon. Very nice barleywine.

Aug 20, 2019
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.27/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2018 vintage. this is an awesome beer, a super cool variant, and a wodnerful use of the coffee. as much as the coffee stout was awesome, i think i like the way the coffee works in this a little bit better, even if the stout might be better than the barleywine overall (at least for me). without the dark roasty and chocolate heavy malts to compete with, the coffee really stands out quite a lot more, in a purer form, but its not without its synergies, which i guess is what makes this, and the whole series really, so special. the obvious one here is the whiskey and the coffee, something i like outside of the beer world, but sure works well in a beer too. the unifying element here is sweetness of the malts, which are super prominent from beginning to end, brown sugar and toffee and even spice cake, decadent and huge, chewy even, but somehow mellow too, even with all the alcohol thats on this, a sipper but not a burner. another cool synergy is the coffee and the wood, both earthy and charred, enhancing one another, and seemingly extending them too, making them pop at different times than they might on their own. i like the bitterness here balancing some of the grain sweetness, its much needed. toasted marshmallow notes i recall from the original barleywine, lots of vanilla from the bourbon, and a faint english yeast element, almost baked or something. delicious beer overall, the barleywine on its own is sick, and the coffee is a great add. super impressed with this, and holding up well so far too for having so much coffee in it. a fun one to share with new friends!

Aug 09, 2019
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michaelsmith11 from Illinois

4.68/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I wasn't sure about this variant or how they were going balance the coffee with the barleywine tastes but they pulled it off very well. This a very well balanced beer that is very rich and thick without being too overbearing and sweet. The coffee flavor is big upfront but then you get a nice taste toffee dark fruit and a little heat. Very well done by GI.

Jul 25, 2019
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DaveMaciolek21 from New Jersey

4.93/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Malty barleywine with the subtle addition of coffee flavors. Understated, mellow, good complexity, with a whopping 15.1% abv brilliantly disguised. Savor it!

Jul 17, 2019
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npolachek from New York

4.5/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Solid beer, but I prefer the original base beer. This is a solidly aged beer with malt forward. Just the right amount of sweetness and a true pleasure to drink.

Jun 19, 2019
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Buck89 from Tennessee

4.45/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wine glass. A light brown color on the pour, forming a clear chestnut color in the glass with a thin tan head. The foam receded quickly, leaving tan tracks around the rim. Big coffee aroma, followed by bourbon and vanilla. The taste Vanilla, bourbon, caramel, plum, and fresh coffee. A dessert beer with a thick feel that was decadent but not too sweet. Warm on the finish but in a totally expected way. Well-crafted and well-done.

Jun 19, 2019
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IvoryFoxhole from Virginia

4.32/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

From Black Friday, 2018. Poured into Kane chalice and allowed to warm for an hour.

L: No head, lacing, etc. Beer is a very dark chestnut brown, you definitely can see the difference from black when held up to the light.

S: Coffee, bourbon barrel, general malty sweetness

T: Woo this is really sweet. You do get the coffee and oaky bourbon at the beginning, but the sweet malt just cuts through everything. Toffee, caramel, dark fruits, on and on. Alcohol heat comes in at the end, as you just can't hide 15%.

S: Seriously full-bodied. No carbonation. Construction very good but sweetness maybe just a tad much.

O: I'm not a barleywine guy, but this one is one of the better ones I've had.

2020 Update: Definitely benefitted from 2 years of aging. Smoother, more subtle, less in your face sweet. Alcohol heat still there but halved. Kicking the ratings up a little bit.

May 20, 2019
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miniditka77 from Illinois

4.26/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Looks just like the normal BCBW, amber colored with very little head, with more clarity than you normally get out of a barrel aged barleywine. The smell is extremely different though. You can still pick out the awesome toffee and vanilla scents, but much of it is overwhelmed by the scent of coffee. The same goes for the flavor - the toffee, vanilla, and dark fruit flavors are somewhat overwhelmed by the coffee bitterness. It works sort of well, although I think the coffee is a little more acidic than I would like. I think a more mellow, chocolatey coffee would have worked better. Overall pretty good, but I much prefer the regular barleywine, which I think is close to perfect.

Apr 29, 2019
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 212 ratings