Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla StoutBourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

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

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.00%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bourbon County Brand Stout spiced with fresh vanilla beans.

Added by rudylaw on 11-08-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 418 | Ratings: 1,264
Photo of adamdarcy
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I did this review only so that I can think Chris for being such a great trading partner. You seriously rock. Thanks so much!

Amazing brew as expected. The best drink that I've ever put into my mouth! There is still some vanilla on the nose. The finish is long caramel...

This review is for 2010 BCBS Vanilla.

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Photo of trodersark
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a tulip.

I must say, I think I've tasted perfection. BCBVS pours a dark chocolate black, much like its sister BCBCS. Pours with a small head that quickly dissipates. When going in for a smell, this beer reeks of Vanilla and bourbon. You can also notice a hint of smokiness, maybe a peppery touch, and malt. At first sip, bourbon explodes in your mouth, along with the vanilla. To be honest, those are the two major tastes in this brew. I couldn't really taste much else besides malty goodness that goes along with it. Excpetional mouthfeel. You can taste this beer in your mouth long after you're done drinking it. In terms of drinkability, I could drink this beer forever. Excellent stuff!

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Photo of jegross2
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewing the infamous and retired Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Company.
Score: 100

Bottled on 11/05/10. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 03/24/12. After having a couple of ounces of this stuff the other night, I could not resist opening a bottle and enjoying a full glass.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color, totally opaque, with a thin layer of creamy mocha-colored head that quickly settles into a pencil-thin ring around the glass. Average, maybe slightly below average, lacing, but pretty solid lacing -- especially for an imposing imperial stout. 5/5

Smell: Rich, sweet vanilla upfront. Molasses/maple, raisin, smooth bourbon, cocoa and dark chocolate. Just a ton of sweet vanilla and molasses and brown sugar sweetness in the nose. Not too much sweetness though, and the aroma is not overpowering. Rather, this beer strikes the perfect balance and blend of barrel aged imperial stout aromas. Truly perfect. 5/5

Taste: Blissful synergy. Like the aroma, this beer is perfectly and delicately crafted in flavor. The first sip reveals waves of sweet vanilla with bourbony maple and molasses. The midpalate is drenched with bourbon soaked raisin, milk chocolate and dark chocolate flavors. The beer is on the sweeter side of bittersweet, but oh so perfectly so. Each rich sip layers, refreshing the palate with more and more vanilla and maple sweetness that absolutely lingers on the tongue. There is a robust, velvety bourbon flavor, without any of the alcohol bite or any booziness, towards the back half of the beer that lingers with the vanilla -- growing as the beer warms and layers. There is a bitter chocolate backbone that perfectly balances out the sweetness of the vanilla/maple/raisin/bourbon flavors. There's a hint of a smooth tobacco flavor in the mix too. More chocolate as this brew warms. The beer has a modicum of warming effect on the palate as it approaches room temperature, but it's not a booziness. Truly delectable. Each sip soaks the palate with plenty of long-lasting flavor. There's is nothing more I could possibly ask of this beer. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Thick, syrupy mouthfeel. Finishes on the sweeter side of bittersweet with lots of bourbon soaked raisin flavor. 5/5

Overall: The only thing that is wrong with this beer is that it is no longer made. I need more. I could live without every other stout if I could only have this beer at my whim.

Recommendation: Seek this beer out, and do it sooner than later. This beer will never be made again, and I just reduced the remain and limited supply by a bottle. If you are sitting on a bottle, on the other hand, crack it open now. It is drinking perfectly and can go nowhere but down from here. This one, at least right now, is drinking better than Bourbon County Coffee.

Pairings: The finest steak in all the land, served with caramelized onions.

Cost: $11.99 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle back when it was briefly on shelves in November 2010. It'll cost you much more than that now, but it is well worth the cost.

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Photo of FLBeerGuy
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 Vintage, can't save it any longer...
Pours black with a thin tan head that leaves a little lacing.
Nose is strong bourbon, vanilla, chocolate & oak, very nice reminiscent of Bailey's.
Taste is exceptional, bourbon, vanilla, chocolate malt, kinda taste like Bailey's. Alcohol is pretty evident, but not overpowering, considering it's 13%.
Mouthfeel is creamy and full bodied, not too carbonated, as a good stout should be.
This is an exceptional beer, one to sip and enjoy all evening long. One of the top stouts I've had.

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Photo of mportnoy
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Phenomenal. Wonderful blend of vanilla, bourbon, and barrel. Can't believe this beer is 5 years old. Has aged beautifully and feels like it still has more years to go!

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Photo of Bubba569
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Unbelievable...this is an outstanding balanced beer! The smell is great, almost as enjoyable as the taste! Looks dark like melted Chocolate that stains the glass with a thin brown head. Tastes like Coffee, Vanilla, Chocolate, Bourbon perfectly balanced to show off each flavor without a single one overpowering the other! Mouthfeel coats your mouth with an unbelievable taste that lingers for a while making you want more! Overall this is a perfectly brewed beer I gave it a well deserved 5! Crying shame to retire this one!!

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Photo of Jlabs
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Jet Black...nice lacing in the glass
Smell: off the charts!...Vanilla and bourbon lead the charge..I've never smelled Vanilla like this in a beer before..I can already tell its gonna be amazing...nice hints of oak and chocolate bring up the rear..
Taste..a nilla wafer w/ alcohol!...the perfect example when a vanilla stout is done right...not overpowering a all, but the Vanilla flavor lets you know it's here and ready to rumble..the bourbon plays a perfect sidekick, and complements the vanilla perfectly by balancing out the sweetness
feel: perfect carbination for this beer..thick, chewey..HEAVY MAN..HEAVY!
overall: this is one of the best beers i've had, and probably will try in my lifetime...the demand and hype on this are still huge 6 years after its been bottles and there is a reason for it...ITS THE REAL DEAL FOLKS!

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Photo of nihiloexnihil
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served from a bottle at the DC Goose Island Migration Event, at both Churchkey and Meridian Pint.

A: Black as night, like every stout ever made. Imposing. Very thin mocha head. Great lacing.

S: Ridiculous. Mellow vanilla notes, BCBS bourbon notes, incredibly complex. Maple? Smells like Utopias from the bottle.

T: OMFG. Have you even had BCBS? I want you to take that incredible flavor you know and love, but you know that kind of sweet imbalance that happens at the end of regular, fresh BCBS? I want you to imagine pillow-y vanilla/marshmallow flavors picking you up, balancing everything out, and carrying you off into vanilla Wonderland.

M: Thick, chewy, ridiculous. Everything you love about Bourbon County, and everything that makes you wonder "how do they make a beer taste and feel like this?"

O: I never thought I would have this beer, and between the two DC events, I had almost a full 22oz bottle to myself. I couldn't stop ordering it. This is the best beer I've ever had. Bar none. I've had every single BCBS variant, including Rare. This blows them all away. I hope I get to have it again someday.

I don't want to be that guy, but seriously: give up on trying to find a bottle of Rare for yourself and track this down. I had King Henry alongside this beer, and it made KH taste thin and diminished its bourbon flavors. In fact, there were four of us, and everyone agreed: better than Rare, better than KH, better than Bramble/Cherry Rye/Coffee. Unbelievable, 5/5, my only perfect review.

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Photo of winningwes91
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Well, here it goes. Pours out the typical motor oil black with zero carb bubbles. Smells like a typical bourbon county with a bit more vanilla than usual. Definitely not a nilla bomb on the nose. The taste is much more vanilla forward. Like a fudge bar topped with vanilla frosting. Wow. Time has done this beer wonders. So very smooth. Probably the best varient next to vr.

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Photo of funkybuddha
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

These guys at Goose Island have mastered the bourbon barreled beers! The nose is an explosion of bourbon, vanilla, dark chocolate and roasted goodness.

I had the opportunity to drink this one along with the regular bourbon county and the bourbon county rare and I have to say, this one was by far my favorite. I also happened to love the other two, so that tells you much I loved this one.

Grab this one if you can!

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Photo of seedyone
5/5  rDev +11.9%

On tap at Rattle n Hum, NYC. I think this is the first 5 rating I've given. For the un-hoppy beer fan this takes the cake. Aroma is both intriguing & inviting. Texture is spot on with the slightest burn, but at 13.4% what can you expect. As for the's deep, rich, complex & captivating. You want another sip befor the first has dissapated. One might think the vanilla aspect would lend to a overt sweet but it just lays back on the edge.

If I were condemed to only having one beer available for the rest of my days, hands down this is it. Magnificent.

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Photo of vonnegut21
5/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Traded for this beer almost a year ago... finally decided to break down and pop it open.

A: Deep black, slight tan head.

S: Chocolate, bourbon, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla.

T: Bitter chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, lingering sweetness. Caramel/toffee notes and lingering heat.

M: Thick bodied, nicely carbonated.

O: I've loved every Bourbon County variant I've had, but this is the best yet. It might be the best beer I've ever had. It's going to be tough to get another, but it will definitely be worth it.

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Photo of deadsincebirth
4.98/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Black as night. Smells of big bourbon and slight vanilla backend. Taste is of bourbon, chocolate and a suprising vanilla backend that just grows. Feel is of wonderful vanilla that lasts for days. Overall I can't believe the vanilla has that kind of staying power and the beer has morphed into a balanced phenomenon. Seek this out!!

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Photo of GbVDave
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into three glasses. Special thanks to pop and HollyAnn for the assist!

Bottled on: 11/05/10

A: Typical of all of the other BCS variants. Viscous, pitch black pour that slinks into the glass and sits there...poised to unleash all kinds of evil on the drinker. A tiny 1/4 finger of dark mocha foam disappears in an instant and didn't leave one bit of lace in the glass. Shows off some healthy legs when swirled.

S: Goodness! Absolutely heavenly vanilla aroma. Where the espresso in the Coffee version acted as a counterpoint to help cut the bourbon, the vanilla in this version actually worked hand in hand to accentuate it. Loads of fresh vanilla bean, overripe dark fruit, bourbon, dark fudgy chocolate, and coconut.

T: Tastes exactly as it smells...seriously.

M: While seeming to lose the dark roast/espresso bitterness of Coffee, this actually gained a healthy amount of rich savory sweetness, and also tiny bit of spicy bitterness (possibly due to the alcohol not have the espresso to hide behind?). Lovely, sticky, and decadent.

D: The BCS series has been an absolute joy to have been a part of this year (and it's been a treat to see regular BCS evolve since almost the very beginning). Vanilla wowed me with its' restrained sweetness and "just right" vanilla content. Going by past history, I'm going to assume that GI is continuing to use FoBAB as their testbed and I for one am keeping my fingers crossed that they release the Ancho pepper version in bottles next year.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

301st review on BA
bottle to NB Globe
11/5/10 Bottle date

Thanks to GuruDel for sharing

App- Huge dark brown pour with a nice dark tan head and almost no lacing. I expected a bit of cling from this big stout.

Smell- Huge Bourbon, Much bigger than the BCBS. Vanilla was there in spades. Just oozed with a great scent all around. It was big, sweet, and had a lot of elements to it.

Taste- I want to rate a 5. I really do. So I am going to. This matched if not bettered what the base BCBS did. Huge flavors of the bourbon with vanilla added. Just great all around.

Mouth- Just like BCBS- Full bodied with a well balanced profile. No carbonation so the thickness of the beer and the flavors really allow you to savor it.

Drink- I can see why everyone I asked to trade with me for this wouldn't. I NEED more. I WANT more. Outstanding.

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Photo of BeerMaverick
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Served on tap at ACBF in 2 oz. cup (reviewed from notes).

A - Pours an extremely dark and viscous syrupy liquid with almost no head (due to small cup). The head that is present is light brown. A beautiful thing to withhold.

S - Smells like fresh coffee beans, a chocolate milkshake, bourbon, and vanilla ice cream...the most pleasant aroma in a beer I've ever experienced next to KBS.

T - Holy shit...strong mocha, coffee, and chocolate notes backed by a bourbon undertone. Some hops, but the malt and other flavors I mentioned are the most dominant and thank god for that. The alcohol is definitely present as well. This beer is clearly on the sweeter side.

M - The thick and creamy beer coats the mouth in bliss. Extremely full-bodied and addictive...too bad it's retired.

O - This is possibly the greatest beer I have ever had. Soooo much flavor in such a little sample...I wish I had more of this stuff. It is extremely smooth and although the alcohol is detectable, it won't turn you away.

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Photo of JohnQVegas
4.97/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle into The Bruery tulip. Another in the superlative list of beers from Jeff (Alewatcher) - one thousand thank yous are not enough.

Pours pitch black, with a beautiful one finger, tiny-bubbled brown head on top. Fantastic retention, and impressive stickage as well, though not too terribly much lacing. The legs on this one would make any cab blush.

Nose is as close to perfect as I'll ever see in a barrel aged stout like this. Huge vanilla bean presence in the nose, like bourbon-soaked mocha with a dollop of homemade vanilla ice-cream. Phenomenal.

Taste goes toe to toe with nose easily. Massive, rich vanilla bean notes mesh up with the bourbon, oak, and lush chocolate-mocha base underneath to create the perfect desert-in-a-bottle. Alcohol has a bit of bite to it, but never excessive, always adding to the conversation. Long, lush finish carries more bourbon, a bit boozey, traces of oak to get you ready for the next sip.

Mouthfeel is so lush and creamy - just amazing. Full bodied, thick, but with a lightness that seems impossible. Lush, and again, perfect.

Overall, I can't imagine a better IS of any type. huge but somehow balanced, with seemingly 2 or even 3 times the flavor of some other stouts of the similar abv's. Insanely drinkable, remarkably delicious. Bourbon County is my favorite beer, but this is actually better. Phenomenal.

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Photo of dar482
4.95/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

At a Bourbon County tasting, this was my favorite of the bunch, including Rare. This beer is very much Bourbon County, but with a smooth flavor. What vanilla does is it adds some sweetness and rounding flavor, which in generally compliments the beer instead of being a prominent flavor.

On the finish, you push towards a vanilla sweetness. The beer is still drinking extremely well.

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Photo of seedsofchaos
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

After having two of these when they were released and my final bottle last night after just a bit over a year of aging, I'm finally willing to weigh in on Bourbon County Vanilla. At the risk of sounding repetitious along side hundreds of other reviews... Wow. Seriously. It's that good. I'm not quite sure how GI does it.

As with all of the other BCBS varieties, the appearance is the offering's ONLY shortcoming. Not to say that a brandy snifter filled with Bourbon County is an unattractive thing, as my snifter more resembled a black crystal ball than anything else. Low carbonation but a bit more head than other BCBSs. Khaki meets cocoa for a thin and quickly fading head.

Smell and taste are phenomenal. It's not in the complexities that make this beer so fantastic but in the seemingly simple balance. Both in the nose and in the flavor, one is presented with a perfect mixing of bourbon, vanilla bean, oak, light roast, chocolate malts and a bit of toffee. The vanilla beans effect on the malty sweetness really shines in the aftertaste, leaving behind hints of homemade vanilla icecream. Fantastically smooth, this is a beer to sip and share. My last bottle of BCBVS, with about 15 months cellar time on it, had a significantly less vanilla-y bouquet. The vanilla is still there without a doubt but doesn't overcome the senses. In my humble opinion, about a year aged suites this beer perfectly.

All in all, this is a world class beer with the title well-deserved. For the beer lover... For the bourbon lover... For the barrel-aged lover... For the sweets lover... For the vanilla lover.... This is perfection.

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Photo of heysuz
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Brew: Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

Intro: 22 oz. bottle served in a tulip glass

Appearance: Dark black, opaque. Ample head with good retention. It looked creamy when poured into the glass. It caused anticipation to build for the first smell/taste. It’s one of those beers where you can just tell it’s going to be good just from the appearance.

Smell: Rich malts, chocolate, dark fruits, bourbon, and alcohol with the vanilla shining through. At 13+% ABV you can’t hide the alcohol but there is a host of fragrances that come through. The anticipation builds. It is a VERY inviting brew.

Taste: BINGO!!! Game over! The Holy Grail has been found! WOW!! This did not disappoint, in fact it exceeded all I’ve heard about it. You taste alcohol but not overpowering. There is sweetness but not cloying so. A perfect balance IMHO. This beer does it for me. The bottle was removed from the fridge and allowed to warm for an hour before tasting. This allowed the vanilla to really stand out.

Mouthfeel: Creamy coating that lasts throughout. Just adds to the pleasure.

Overall: As I said, GAME OVER!! It has been found. It’s #1 in its class so far. I haven’t given a perfect 5.0 rating to anything because I figure I haven’t found it yet and don’t know what’s around the corner, but this is as close to perfection that I have found so far. Do yourself a favor; if you like stouts… seek this beer out. You won’t be disappointed.

NOTE: I've only had this one bottle of Vanilla but it's still there and not breaking down. I've had the regular black label, the coffee (2 or 3 years), the Backyard Rye, Proprietor's, and Rare but this one is a personal favorite of mine. Even more so than the Rare.

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Photo of OlieIPA
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to my good trading partner paco for this beer! Poured into a Stone IRS tulip glass from a 22 oz. bottle.

A: A big black body that supported a brief deep mocha colored head and lacing. I'll take into account the ample amount of alcohol present in this beer and it's affect on it's appearance, but it's retention in both the lacing and head have to be accounted for somewhat.

S: Just like the original, the bourbon and alcohol take center stage in the aroma profile. The vanilla kicks in immediately after, lending a gentle/masking agent to the oak, molasses and residual sugar qualities. Both complex and robust at the same time...very impressive!

T: The vanilla bean has an immediate impact on the flavor profile. It adds a graham cracker flavor that wasn't present in the original and perhaps adds a softness to the overall flavor profile. Lots of a oak, bourbon, chocolate malt, molasses and brown sugar...but again, the vanilla adds more complexity and helps round out the beer.

M: Creamy, carbonated, and helps highlight the best qualities of the beer! Absolutely perfect!

D: The only problem I've had with BCS in the past is the ability to polish off a full pint...but with this added ingredient, there's no problem. Again, perfect!!!!

Overall: Can't say this for all modified versions...but VBCS is a definite upgrade from the original. A must try! Cheers!

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Photo of Fux
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes. On tap at the Mikkeller bar before 2012 S&B and CBC. One of the highlights of a fantastic beer week!
A: Dark, black, opaque. Very thin off-white head with a low retention.
S: I got vanilla, chocolate, bourbon, oak upfront. Smooth and deep with a woody character. Wonderful smell!
T: The taste is quite intense with chocolate and vanilla. Woody with some acidic notes from the oak. A bit of alcohol in the aftertaste but nothing disturbing. Great!
M: High bodied, smooth, sweet, still very drinkable.
O: A very very nice brew. The vanilla gives some smoothness to the already very enjoyable base beer, and melts gracefully to this awesome bourbon beer. One must have!

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Photo of BRami127
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is a 2010 version of Vanilla BCS 4 years later. I'm mentioning the vintage since there is rumor that it is coming back for "Black Friday" 2014. Poured into a snifter. Special thanks to Link's Taproom in Chicago, IL for having this event.

A: Jet black, very little brown bubbles but no significant head.

S: After almost 4 years the scent of bourbon and vanilla is STILL apparent, maybe stronger than when I 1st had it back in 2010. On 1st sniff, the vanilla immediately attacks the nose.

T: Boozy. The bourbon and vanilla taking over the mouth. Still strong after all these years.

O: Surprisingly STILL strong. The vanilla is still present and the beer, in my opinion, has become stronger over time. I wish I could've taken it home with me instead of being opened at the bar, especially if there really is a 2014 version coming out to do a side by side tasting.

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Photo of kubeerfan1
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Feel very lucky to have this one. Posting a review late. Poured 7/20/16 for a birthday share. Typical BCS inky black pour. Still great carbonation after all of this time. Nose is amazing, not quite marshmallow like other fresh vanilla stouts. Having Vanilla Rye at the same time, nose on VR blows this away but taste is a different story. The stout, barrel and vanilla are in perfect harmony. By far my favorite variant to date. Job well done Goose. Will seek more out.

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Photo of pmccallum86
4.94/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a great deep dark near black color with a small head.

Smell is incredible, huge vanilla, bourbon, oak, and roasted aromas smack you in the nose, awesome.

Taste if of big bourbon with a slight alcohol burn. The sweetness from the vanilla comes through in the finish and complements everything else very nicely. So good, possibly my favorite Bourbon County beer so far.

Mouthfeel is smooth, rich, medium to low carbonation and just plain awesome.

Very drinkable, the most drinkable 13% ABV ever made

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.47 out of 5 based on 1,264 ratings.
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