Bourbon County Brand Reserve Rye Stout
Goose Island Beer Co.

Bourbon County Brand Reserve Rye StoutBourbon County Brand Reserve Rye Stout
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Stout - American Imperial
4.43 | pDev: 5.64%
Jan 01, 2022
Aug 14, 2019
Bourbon County Brand Reserve Rye StoutBourbon County Brand Reserve Rye Stout
Notes: For the first year since the brewery started doing the Reserve variant, Goose Island is releasing a second Reserve in the same year. For this variant, the beer spent time in Rittenhouse Rye barrels giving the beer a spicier taste that you would expect from a rye whiskey.
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Ratings by Beer_Economicus:
Photo of Beer_Economicus
4.59/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by Beer_Economicus from Ohio

Today is a new beer to me.

Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Reserve Rye Stout

14.5% ABV

The beer is listed as “Stout – American Imperial” on BA.

The beer was removed from a 45ish degree temp fridge after having been refrigerated for approximately 4 months. Beer poured into 2012 BCBS snifter.

First Impression: Pours dark/thicker for BCBS. Beautiful as always. While I don’t like the new bottle size, I do love the way the bottles pour. 4.5

Appearance: Similar to (and not substantively different than) standard BCBS. It’s midnight black. You can’t see through the glass except when taking a sip, and then only at the edges. Decent head on an aggressive pour (much more than an older vintage with more age). Head disappears at a reasonable space, with a faint ring left around the glass for some time. 4.75

Smell: Boozy, but not like you poured yourself a nip of whiskey. There’s a faint rye spice thing going on similar to holiday spices in cookies. Hints of dark fruits and also berries, -in particular, blueberries. Faint cola. No discernable chocolate or rich malt on the nose. This is a real pleasure. 4. 5

Taste: I think the rye integrates itself more with the base than bourbon, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I think it is better. It’s just that rye seems to mesh in a way that makes it feel more like it is one with the base, whereas bourbon feels like you have this bourbon…and then you have this base. The older the vintage, the more these mesh as one, and the younger the vintage, the more that bourbon reminds you, ‘HEY, I’M HERE FIRST.’

With the rye, you don’t really get that deep chocolate, fudge, bourbon soaked brownies note that so many people love, especially from 2014 BCBS. You still get a lot of chocolate, but it tends more towards cacao powder and bittersweet chocolate with perhaps only a hair of dark chocolate. The rye comes in two forms. On the front end, you notice there’s no bourbon. Because it is so well integrated, it’s almost like you miss it. But, then on the backend you get it. You start to get some of that rye spice. To me, there’s only the most mild of ‘spiciness’ associated, but you get many of those holiday baking flavors. For me, they aren’t distinguishable, they are just melding as one, but that is what it conjures up. Definitely not distinctively ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, etc. There’s just a touch, a kiss of berry. I can see how Backyard Rye probably would have played well. Unfortunately, that was one I never got to try. 4.5

Mouthfeel: To me, this seems a tad thicker than the bourbon versions. It’s no thicc boi, but it’s classic BCBS. Thicker than most, but not pastry. It’s thick enough to slow you down, but thin enough to make it so you can drink a full 16.9oz in a night if you so choose, assuming you can handle the ABV. By comparison, pastry stouts for me are difficult to stomach that many ounces due to their viscosity. They are too much.

I sat here debating how to rate this. For the style, a non pastry, I think it’s pretty much spot on, so I’m going with a 4.85. Perhaps it could be just a tad thicker, but that’s a pretty minor complaint. 4.85

Overall: You know, I wasn’t sure about this one at the start. I wanted to be googoo and gaagaa all over it. So my expectations were high. Then I opened it, and man, it felt like a let down. I had built it up so much it was just a big let down. Then I took a long time to get to know this beer. I sipped on about 12 ounces last night for a few hours while doing dinner prep (for tonight). Then tonight, after using a fancy champagne stopper, I consumed the last of it tonight. The more I consumed, the more I enjoyed this. I think I may have even enjoyed it more on night 2 than night 1, and I attribute that to the small amount of oxidation difference between Day 1 and Day 2. -And, further, I’m going to attribute that additional amount of satisfaction due to the fact that, in general, I think 2-3 years is kind of the sweet spot “base” bourbon County. At least since 2016. I just don’t like it right out of the gate quite as much. The 2-3 year mark may come as a surprise to anyone that has seen my love for older vintages. Much as it pains me to say it, I do think there is a difference 2015 and earlier vs. post 2015, but I don’t necessarily attribute that specifically to the new process; partially I attribute that to the changing recipe for the base, which definitely has changed. 4.65

In summary, this was a real pleasure to drink. And I think the BA review score of 4.58 gives a pretty accurate picture. There’s no way to not call this world class, in my opinion. I think the only turnoff for some is the rye.

BA Review Score: 4.58

Nov 26, 2021
More User Ratings:
4.35 by GreenMind from Pennsylvania on Jan 01, 2022
Photo of Tony210
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Tony210 from New Jersey

Pours the typical BCBS dark with moderate head. Aroma is boozier than its OG counterpart. When drank side by side with the original BCBS, the rye is much spicier and way less chocolaty. Almost like it has a heat to it. I didn’t review this beer in 2019. Cause it was so hot, I felt it needed to mellow a few years, and here we are. I do enjoy it, but in drinking it side by side with my wife and her dad, we all agreed we liked the OG better.

16.9 oz bottle, 2019 vintage
4.25 rating

Dec 25, 2021
4.27 by Cpmitchno1 from Virginia on Dec 13, 2021
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of rye whiskey barrels with some sweet chocolate notes and some woody notes. Taste is also a nice mix of rye whiskey barrel notes with some woody notes and blakc chocolate notes with some hints of residual sugar still perceptible. Body is full with a nice creamy texture and good carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Solid re-invention of BCBS with less residual sugar and rye whiskey barrels noted quite dominant.

Nov 27, 2021
4.5 by BEER88 from Washington on Nov 25, 2021
Photo of MacMalt
4.49/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by MacMalt from New Jersey

I received a bottle of this gem from @fbarber in the NBS BIF #14. It pours a dark mahogany-walnut color with a thin, fizzy, medium-mocha head that dissipated quickly leaving scant lacing. The nose is fragrant with roasted malt, chocolate, rye cracker, and lite though noticeable whiskey. This is delicious! It opens with a lovely blend of fudge, spicy rye, charred nuts, and freshly-brewed coffee. The Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey adds a lot of flavor and nicely compliments the other tastes without distracting a bit. Its mouth feel is vintage BCBS: creamy, thick - almost chewy, with lite carbonation, and I'm surprised by the 14.5% ABV. It's a sipper but an easy one. Overall, this BCBS variant is fabulous - one of the best I've had the pleasure to drink.

Oct 30, 2021
Photo of FBarber
4.5/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by FBarber from Illinois

Pours a dark brown-black color. Completely opaque, thick and viscous. Velvetly, 3 finger, mocha colored head forms on the beer, lingers, then slowly dissolves. A thin layer of velvety foam remains on the beer.

Aroma has notes of spicy rye, oak, ash, bakers cocoa, roasted malts and plain oatmeal cookies.

Taste follows the nose with notes of brown sugar, oatmeal cookies, oak, dried oak, rye, spicy whiskey, ash, tobacco, with a spicy rye alcohol bite on the back end. Surprisingly even at roughly 2 years old this is still quite a bit hot.

Feel is medium to fuller bodied. Moderate carbonation. Very, very dry finish.

Overall a lovely barrel aged stout from GI. An excellent showcase for the rye barrels here.

Oct 01, 2021
4.5 by rare_bird from Michigan on Sep 21, 2021
Photo of Zythophile
4.43/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by Zythophile from District of Columbia

Bottle Date: 2019
Palate Contaminants: other beer

Dark brown, lets light in about half and inch. Some fine head that goes away quickly, and no lacing.

Molasses and anise up front. There is a whiskey scent, and it does shade toward rye, although it lacks the spiciness I usually associate with that spirit. Another scent that I get a lot of is banana, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's sweet and has some depth.

The initial taste reminds me of Coca-Cola. Then it splinters into herbs, non-overwhelming cane sugar, and toasted wood. There is a distilled spirit flavor that's somewhere between rye and dark rum. Anise is more present as it warms. There's a little non-acidic citrus in there, or at least that's the best I can convey it. I have to say, I was getting worried that so many BA stouts are becoming so similar to me, but this one really shows something new.

Medium weight for the type. Alcohol is present, but not bad for a fourteener. The rye/rum really drives the aftertaste, along with toasted wood. Carbonation manages to be both foamy and prickly.

Jun 20, 2021
4.41 by SayBoom from Ukraine on Apr 03, 2021
4.49 by dsshuck from Delaware on Mar 15, 2021
4.69 by weavere15 from Illinois on Jan 06, 2021
Photo of bluegrassbrewer
4.39/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
by bluegrassbrewer from Kentucky

Bone dry with a peppery finish. Wildly different than the base Bourbon County and other Reserve series bottles. Worth seeking out and trying. Could see this being some folks favorite BCBS in recent memory.

Jan 02, 2021
Photo of barrelbeer
3.73/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75
by barrelbeer from Indiana

Did not stand up well to regular bourbon county. Very little nose, thin and didn't have the normal chocolate and coffee of regular, nor did it have any rye spice from the barrels. Not sure if it's just falling off with a year of age on it, but this one is definitely tailing off already if you have any left.

Dec 31, 2020
4.51 by Beer21 from Florida on Dec 30, 2020
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.34/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by LiquidAmber from Washington

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. Pours a very dark mahogany brown, appearing opaque black in the glass with a thin khaki head that dissipates to a patch with light lacing. Aroma of dark toasted malt, molasses, dry caramel, cocoa, whiskey, oaky vanilla. Flavor follows with dark toasted malt with slight char, dry caramel, rye whiskey, light cocoa and coffee, barrel vanilla and oak. Finish is rye whiskey and dark malt. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess and sharp, active carbonation. It was time to drink my last 2019 BCBS and it was this Reserve one, the first Reserve I've ever been able to find for sale. Having had the many iterations of BCBS for over a decade, I knew what to expect. The rye whiskey is a clear and authentic note in the classic deep base malt of this stout. The thin head was a big fizzy and the mouth feel also had a sharp carbonation to it. Although everything seems fine, I'm glad I didn't age this one much. The one year seems to have tamed the booziness I expected and blended the flavors a little. This is still rye forward, but the base stout holds up to the barrelling beautifully. This is a fine series of barreled stouts. Many are kind of gimmicky, but I will certainly pursue the straightforward whiskey/bourbon barreled ones. As I expected, I'm not sure I detect a huge difference between this hard to find Reserve version, but the rye is welcome and well done.

Dec 25, 2020
4.38 by NolaHopHead from Louisiana on Dec 10, 2020
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.49/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by GreesyFizeek from New York

2019 batch of Bourbon County Reserve.

This one pours a fairly dark black, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells like charred oak, cedar, cinnamon, dark chocolate fudge, peppery rye, roast, coffee, etc.

The Rittenhouse barrels add a complex and distinguishable dimension to the base Bourbon Count, as there's a whole lot of spice here. It almost feels like cedar or balsam, with some cinnamon. There's a hint of mint, too, but not a lot. There's chocolate and dark roast coffee, with a hint of dried fruit as well.

This is medium bodied, very creamy, with a hint of spicy bitterness on the back end.

My favorite Bourbon County variants lately have been the non-adjunct single barrel variants. This is really tasty, with a fantastic spicy flavor from the barrel.

Dec 06, 2020
4.41 by InfernoBoss from California on Dec 05, 2020
4.61 by Wisconsin_IPA_Lover from Wisconsin on Dec 03, 2020
4.44 by djcira from Pennsylvania on Nov 28, 2020
4.5 by paulish from New York on Nov 27, 2020
Photo of zac16125
4.36/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
by zac16125 from South Carolina

2019 BCB Rye Stout (Rittenhouse)
500mL bottle into a snifter

Pours an opaque black with less than 1/2 fingers width of tan colored head. Head dissipates quickly and leaves pretty much no lacing. Aroma is huge rye whiskey barrel notes, oaky, a pete like character. Base beer notes not very prominent at all in the aroma and are mostly roasty notes. Taste is MUCH bigger and bolder than the aroma. Some sweet notes up front, huge roastiness and some bitterness on the finish. Like the nose, barrel notes are huge. Just huge rye whiskey notes, almost to the point of being unbalanced but the sweetness helps keep things in check. Mouthfeel is full bodied, approaching syrupy, ABV present but not in a bad way, drinkability average for the ABV. Overall, this is very good as is every BCB stout, but it’s far from my favorite variant. It’s also probably the variant that is the least different from the regular BCBS. Don’t get me wrong, I’d drink this everyday if I had an unlimited supply, but i’m terms of BCB variants it’s one I would be unlikely to seek out multiples to cellar.


Oct 23, 2020
4.28 by cd34 from Illinois on Oct 20, 2020
Photo of GrumpyGas
4.38/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by GrumpyGas from Illinois

As compared to regular:
the tan head lasts longer and has more leggy lacing;

the aroma has that distinct rye bite and a stronger barrel presence;

the flavor retains its complexity with an added peppery bite;

the mouthfeel remains full and creamy;

overall a great variation that somehow looks, smells, and tastes better than the regular.

Oct 04, 2020
Photo of CraftFan5
4.7/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by CraftFan5 from New Jersey

26 September 2020 - Beer #188

Price: $19.99 at Food Emporium on 8th Ave in Manhattan

Appearance: 4 - you know, it's not completely black.

Nose: 4 - all barrel, but it's not terribly strong on the nose.

Taste: 5 - yeah, alright. Massive barrel up front, but not too sweet. That's the rye. The sweetness hits you as a slight tingle on the very back end.

Mouth: 5 - just a sip fills your whole mouth and almost chokes you. Well played.

Overall: 5 - I love bourbon county with no adjuncts. Fantastic.


Oct 02, 2020
4.25 by Eziel from Ohio on Jul 30, 2020
4.36 by loganburgh from Michigan on Jul 22, 2020
4.54 by lemmy187 from Missouri on Jul 10, 2020
4.25 by Dactrius from Wisconsin on Jul 08, 2020
4.28 by MTKATL from Georgia on Jun 21, 2020
4.59 by Mikexw from New York on Jun 21, 2020
Photo of q33jeff
4.66/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by q33jeff from New Jersey


Rating #2000.
BCBS vs. Reserve Rye.
Quarantine porch sampling with DC.

Similar rating as BCBS, but it is definitely different.

LOOK: same as BCBS.
AROMA: less chocolate and fudge. More wood.
TASTE: more wood, added pepper. Less fudge and fruity flavors. A touch some light vanilla and nuttiness, but very subtle on those.
FEEL: alcohol burn is less. Much smoother also.

Not sure if I like this better than BCBS or not, but it is definitely more complex.


Jun 05, 2020
Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.25/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by JohnnyHopps from Indiana

Appearance - The beer was thick and black in color with a small mocha colored head crowning the glass.

Smell - The nose was that of a sweet boozy stout.

Taste - Like regular BCBS, the beer was like sweet chocolate. However, this one had a better sense of balance. It was not overly sweet with very detectable rye. The profile was not hot, but the ABV definitely left its mark. The profile was consistent through the taste.

Mouthfeel - The body was really smooth on this one. There was little carbonation or burn to get in the way of the boozy chocolate.

Overall - Without all of the adjuncts, this was nice.

May 30, 2020
Photo of NoYouDidnt
4.87/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
by NoYouDidnt from Indiana

Pours black with a finger head on aggressive pour. Aroma- alcohol, chocolate,cherries. Taste-chocolate, toffee, alcohol, salted caramel, a little pepper. Mouthfeel- very smooth velvety and full. Overall- very very good one of the best variants to date.

May 24, 2020
4 by imperialking from Illinois on May 22, 2020
5 by Hallertau from Wisconsin on Apr 22, 2020
4.24 by 22Blue from Kansas on Apr 22, 2020
4.33 by Vicirus from Massachusetts on Apr 21, 2020
Bourbon County Brand Reserve Rye Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 122 ratings