Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla StoutBourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout
1,334 Ratings
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla StoutBourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

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

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.00%

Availability: Rotating

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

Added by rudylaw on 11-08-2009

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Ratings: 1,334 |  Reviews: 420
Photo of MikePint
1/5  rDev -78.3%

Photo of deebo
2.35/5  rDev -49%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A-Black as night without any sign of head
S-Vanilla and playdoh aroma, some alcohol bite
T-Vanilla and bourbon is the strongest flavors tasted. No hop character. A vapor like ethanol bite is also very present. Taste is more 1-dimensional as compared to the BCS I had. More vanilla is tasted towards the bottom of drink.
M-Not as thick as BCS, but mouthfeel is very heavy.
D-Obviously a sipper. This is hard to drink, alcohol bite is distracting.
O-Too much like a whiskey and not enough like an Imperial stout. 13% ABV but drinks like it is 20. Could be improved if this bite was reduced.

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Photo of Mavajo
2.6/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Appearance is typical for the style and the series. Dark body, tan head. No lacing.

Aroma is big bourbon and vanilla. The taste, however, is where the wheels start to really fall off. Total overload of bourbon and vanilla, to the point that it's acrid and unenjoyable. Boozy, sweet mess. Vanilla extract flavor that stings the sides of your tongue. Some roastiness behind all that.

Mouthfeel is good. Slick and smooth.

All in all...yeesh. Didn't like this one. I like regular BCS, and the coffee iteration was one of the best beers I've ever had -- but this one is just a mess on the palate. The vanilla is totally overdone and interacts pourly with the bourbon barrel aging.

I think this beer gave me diabetes. In fact, if I was an alien from some faraway planet, and my primary form of sustenance was sweetness -- I think I would still need an insulin shot to drink this. In fact, this beer should come with an insulin shot. I think I need a bottle of Creme Brulee and a bottle of Dark Lord to try to dilute the sweetness some.

Not a success. Perplexed by the A rating on this one. Reputation has got to be a major factor in that.

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Photo of mulder1010
2.6/5  rDev -43.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bomber poured into a tulip. Thanks to Nicks6217 and Forgetfu for the bottles. Shared with Mr Kennedy

A-- Straight black. Very straightforward. No light penetrating this puppy at all. Very short lived dark mocha colored film. Even on swirling just got film and film only. Very thick looking and a little syrupy.

S-- HMMM...Vanilla?? That would be correct. Lots of vanilla. Vanilla Extract, Vanilla pods, vanilla candle. If it is vanilla it is in this. Some dark chocolate and a bit of the bourbon barrel but this was massive vanilla.

T-- Chocolate, bourbon, and more vanilla. As it warmed it just became overbearing vanilla to me.

M-- Really thought I was at times drinking Vanilla Liquor (Navan) at times. Just extremely syrupy and sweet. Had a bit of milk chocolate feel in the middle of my mouth and it smoothed out some but just got so much vanilla I just struggled with it. Not a lot of the barrel taste at all and at times it reminded me of BA Victory at Sea but much sweeter.

O-- Was not a fan at all. Too syrupy and sweet for me. At times all I got was vanilla. No base beer and very little barrel. Just a lot of vanilla and more than I needed for a night. Did I say really boozy?? Guess not. Not a big fan at all.

Edit: A week later I hate the beer more. Not sure why I gave it a C rating when I just totally did not like it at all.

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Photo of EdwardFortyHands
2.9/5  rDev -37.1%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

I did not taste any vanilla, this beer was not good and fell flat. Were it not for its name and my respect for the brand and franchise this would have been a drain pour. It is not drinking well. I do not like it. I would not drink it with a fox I would not drink it in a box.

It is just not a good stout in my mind. It is old and tired and not doing well any more. Maybe it used to be good, but it is not drinking well now.

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Photo of harrymel
2.97/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottled 05NOV10

Pours BCBS inky black with little mocha foam. Smells of vanilla, bourbon, mostly vanilla, and some dark and sweet malts. Flavor is plenty of vanilla, cocoa, and roasted malts and some bourbon. The beer reminds me of a vanilla porter I brewed once, not a diss, it was nice, but the vanilla was too much, way too much. Medium bodied with subdued carb and a surprisingly dry finish. This beer is nice, but I really don't see myself drinking the other two bottles I have without motivation. Meh, not nearly close to the world class folks are pimping on this one. Then again, I can't speak to the fresh version.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.98/5  rDev -35.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. Generously shared by black13. Thanks, Michael!

A: Pours a pitch black body with large-bubbled dark mocha head. It retains poorly and leaves no lace, as I'd expect from a 13% beer. No legs.

S: Vanilla extract, thanks to the combination of vanilla beans and small alcohol burn. I'm not a huge fan of vanilla in such pure quantities, but it manages to stay below the point where I would find it totally off-putting. Chocolate, bourbon, caramel, barrel.

T: Vanilla extract again; I find it much more pleasant on the taste, particularly with the chocolate (cocoa, really) integration. Bourbon, caramel, charred oak, a slightly nutty finish. The normal BCBS shines through pretty clearly. I'm not sure the vanilla adds anything positive here; it's incredibly sweet and I find myself a little put off by it. At the very least, the vanilla seems to tame the heat somewhat. This is much less hot than BCBS.

M: Chewy, full-bodied, viscous. This seems more underattenuated than the Black Tuesday also opened at the tasting. It is also smoother in terms of heat. A sweet finish (too sweet), offset slightly by barrel astringency.

D: It's far too rich for a bomber. I also vastly preferred the Coffee fresh; that one had more contrast than this one, which goes full bore into dessert territory.

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Photo of callmemickey
3/5  rDev -34.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: Deep brown black with a moderate khaki cap. Spotty lacing.

S: Bold bourbon notes along with plenty of vanilla, oak, chocolate, and caramel.

T: Disasterously unbalanced. Harsh bourbon, cloying vanilla. I like bold flavors as much as anyone else in my imperial stouts, but this just isn't a well integrated flavor profile.

M: Thick bodied, but enough carbonation. Cloying sweetness from the vanilla and harsh bourbon in the back end of each sip just turns me off.

O: With nearly every brewer making a super imperial stout these days, this just isn't one of the good ones.

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Photo of BirdsandHops
3.21/5  rDev -30.4%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: Pours a thick black with about a finger of coffee-colored head which quickly and completely vanishes into nothing with no lacing to speak of.

S: Some slight caramel aromas along with some vanilla and oak as well as sweet chocolate. Then the bourbon strikes, wiping out all aromas. Very strong bourbon and alcohol aromas finish off the nose.

T: Similar to the aroma, there is a bit of vanilla, oak, and sweet chocolate up front. The vanilla was more apparent at first, but as I progress through the glass, it fades well into the background. Foremost is the bourbon. Lots and lots of bourbon, which overwhelms every other flavor the more sips I take. The aftertaste has strong toffee notes along with a strong alcohol burn. Not quite as sweet as the original BCBS, but still very sweet.

M: Very thick with little carbonation, this beer coats the mouth with its syrupy sweetness.

D: I've spent well over two hours working on this bomber and am still not done. The sweetness, thickness, and strong alcohol burn keep this from being very drinkable. This beer really should come in 12 oz bottles as 22 is way too much.

Overall, it's not a bad beer, but it's very one-dimensional with the bourbon overwhelming any subtleties that could be found. The vanilla makes a strong showing at first, but quickly takes the back seat to the bourbon. If you really like bourbon, you'll probably like this beer. To me, if I wanted this much bourbon in my beers, I'd probably just opt to drink straight bourbon.

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Photo of aszatk01
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

Photo of pixieskid
3.25/5  rDev -29.5%

Photo of emmasdad
3.38/5  rDev -26.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to schmittymack for bringing me some of this one back from his holiday trip to the illini state, and graciously sharing a bottle at his birthday party, which served only to remind me of how litle I cared for this one, especially compared to the other 3 versions I have tried.

Like the others, poured a deep, rich black, with a thin, smallish light brown head. Huge vanilla aromas, almost dominate the roasted malt, chocolate and bourbon. Thick (seems thinner than the other 3) and rich, with flavors of vanilla (too much vanilla), roasted malt, hot bourbon, roast and chocolate. Not bad, but a let down for sure.

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Photo of standardcherry
3.44/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle served into a snifter. Originally had it in November 2012, but writing this review from notes.

A: Pours pitch black and thick. Flat. Only a few bubbles of head.
S: No vanilla at all. Smells great otherwise, lots of chocolate and bourbon.
T: Wow this is VERY boozy and sweet. Lots of chocolate and bourbon again, but not very balanced.
M: Nice for a BA stout, thick/syrupy. Very boozy though which detracts a bit from it in my opinion.
O: This beer has fallen off (at least my bottle has). I did not get any vanilla at all, just a hot and chocolatey bourbon brew. Good, but not worth what people ask for it.

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Photo of ehammond1
3.45/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bottle (2010)

Thanks for sharing, Cavery!

(Aged for 1 year)

Midnight black with a thin ruby brown head that doesn't stay for long. Some spotted lacing down the glass. As expected, this beer is gorgeous.

The best aspect of this beer is it's aroma. The combination of bourbon, wood, sweet and earthy vanilla, and alcohol heat make for a divine combination.

Unfortunately, smelling this was the greatest joy I got from it, as it is far too hot with alcohol. Yes there is plenty of bourbon and wood character along with lots of sweet vanilla, but the burning harshenss from the alcohol is overpowering. Interestingly, I did not experience a similar ?flaw? in the other variations of this beer. Disappointing, namely because my expectations were so incredibly high.

Medium to full mouthfeel, though a touch slick and oily. Hot with alcohol.

Way too boozy, at least at this age. The aroma saves it from falling completely from grace.

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Photo of Spica66
3.48/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Enjoyed at romm temperature from tulips on Black Friday with gwuilliums right after we had split of bottle of Rare BCBS with my mother-in-law.

A: Extremely dark and somewhat viscous pour. Medium head formation and minimal retention. Some lacing as you drink.

S: This smells much sweeter than the Rare. The vanilla is definitely in the forefront of the nose on this one. There is still a good malt base and some booziness to it, but vanilla is the main player here.

T: Too sweet. Flat out, just too damn sweet for me. The usual BCBS maltiness and booziness are there, but the vanilla is overpowering to me.

M: Beautiful, full-body with enough carbonation to be lively on your tongue. Very, very nice.

D: If you like your RIS towards the sweeter end of things, you will give a higher score than I did.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A hard one to track down. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Portsmouth snifter. Shared with schen9303.

A: Pours like all the other versions of GI BCBS. .5 finger dark mocha head with moderate retention. Beer is an opaque black. Lacing is spotty and with no stick. Appropriate but still, not much to look at.

S: Nose is heavy on the bourbon and heat. Notes of chocolate, dark fruit, sweet soy sauce, creamy hops, and booze. Vanilla is detectable but very very muted. Pushed way in the back. Not nearly what I expected.

T: Opens chocolate, creamy hops, sweet soy sauce, and a hint of prunes and raisins. Booze creeps up little by little and crescendos right at the finish before fading out gradually. No bitterness whatsoever. Incredibly sweet. Heat is prominent throughout. Vanilla sweetness finally detectable right at the finish. Aftertaste is oily and sweet bourbon.

M: Full bodied and lightly carbonated. Slightly prickly in the mouth. Oily and heavy on the palate and really coats the entire inside of the mouth. Very hot throughout even for the 13% ABV. Finish is accented and aftertaste is sticky and lingers.

D: The coffee version this is not... nor is it the aged regular version. Vanilla is very muted here and only serves to make a sweet beer even sweeter. Hot throughout. This is on par with a fresh GI BCS but not much more. Worth a try if you get the chance but if you don't, you're not missing out on much.

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Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of sarro
3.5/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of beerwolf77
3.53/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Huge thanks to BeerFMAndy for busting this one out. Nice surprise.

A: Pitch black with a modest finger of mocha head. Fast fading with spotty lace.

S: Vanilla extract all day! It reminds me of when your mom would make cookies and you would take a whiff of the vanilla extract bottle. Hot booze is just oozing out of this sucker. I really can't pick out much else.

T: Thankfully the flavor is much less harsh and more complex than the nose. The vanilla is still strong but I can at least pick out coffee and chocolate with a bit of roastiness. The booze is up front which it is in all BCS varieties. No surprise there.

M: Thich rich body. Mouth coating without being too syrupy.

D: Overall a bit of a let down with all the hype surrounding this one. Kind of a chore to drink. So far regular has been my favorite with coffee coming in second and this one bringing up the rear. Don't mortgage the house or give a kid for this one please.

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Photo of Spider889
3.54/5  rDev -23.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Owen49 for this extra in our first deal. I still feel like I owe you some more beer, but first you've got to actually make it to a tasting or down to Jackie O's!

Shared this at our Bourbon County tasting a while back.

It looked the same as the others, thick, black, with little to no head. I did NOT spill any though.

Smells like BCBS alright, though mayhaps a bit sweeter and smoother. Overall though, the vanilla isn't super strong on the nose, and I don't really find it an improvement over the base beer.

Tastes really sweet and at a year+ old at the time of opening, it was very boozy still as well.

Overall I found this beer to be a disappointment. I prefer regular BCBS over this. Not really getting the hype, though in retrospect this would have served better as trade fodder given what some seem to be demanding for it these days.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.58/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pour is jet black, dark tan head, small tight fizzy bubbles. The nose is heavy of bourbon, light notes of vanilla, has the fudge like cake quality all bcb's have, strong roasted quality underneath. As it warms the wood and bourbon become stronger and make an almost magic marker type note. The taste is rich, drinking a lot like the 09 bcb bomber I cracked a little bit ago actually with a touch more heat in the back and more malt dark berry sweetness. The barrel, booze, and sugar do add a bit of an off flavor, almost olive like. Not quite as viscous but still big bodied. Gentle but full carbonation helps balance the body but the finish actually seems a hint thin. Still rich fudge, strong roasted quality, light wood and an assertive bourbon that lasts throughout. Not quite as good as bcbs, wish the vanilla was more present and judging by reviews it was.

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Photo of hopsbreath
3.59/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A big thanks goes out to zimmerbloke and GraniteSkunk for each hooking me up with one of these. Tonight I'm cracking the top on one to try fresh and the other is gonna get stashed away for a few years. Thanks guys. I'm really looking forward to this one.

A: Split into a pair of Goose Island goblets, I shared this bomber with my wife TulipSnifter. The pour yields about a finger of dark sand head that quickly recedes to just a ring inside the glass. About a dime size island of froth lives on top of an almost black dark brown body with ruby brown edges. No lacing but who cares. Its a 13% bourbon barrel aged stout. Whad'ya think was gonna grace the inside of this glass. 3.5/5

S: The aroma of this beer might just be the single best thing it has going for it. The over-powering (in a good way) Bourbon essence singes the nose hairs oh-so-short while the caramel from the same Bourbon lends a nice sweetness. I just had a regular Bourbon County Stout last week but I kind of wish I had opened another along side this because while I smell some vanilla here, I can't remember if its more so than the base beer. Either way its quite a fantastic smell that is a great showcase for the Bourbon. Its truly memorable. 4.5/5

T: Whoa! There's the big booze again! I'm a sucker for some big boozy barrel aged beers though so I like it! The alcohol on this bad boy is definitely "tongue numbing". Reaching past the numbness, a sweet dark chocolate is a big part of the flavor profile that shares the big Bourbon yoke with a definite vanilla that is not there in the base beer. Its almost off-putting sweet and IMO was much better when coffee was added in the BCBCS. Its not bad though. 3.5/5

M: A little too sticky on the finish. Its nice and thick on the palate but just not as clean as I would prefer. If I think of this more as a dessert beer I'm more okay with this aspect of the beer. I should mention again here that this is literally tongue numbing. 3/5

D: I wanted to love this beer but just couldn't. It took me a few hours to work through an eleven ounce pour of this. I am more than curious what this will turn into in a few years, but for now the intense heat and almost cloying sweetness are fighting too hard to let the vanilla shine as brightly as I think it should be. Hopefully it hangs in there while this mellows so my future review will be more favorable. Right now, its kind of meh. 3/5

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Photo of atrocity
3.61/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This one has really fallen off I think. It's a shame for what it took to land one. Side by side with Vanilla Rye and VR blew it out of the water.

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Photo of ffejherb
3.62/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to FooFaa for sharing this bomber on 2/1/11.

A - Poured an extremely dark brown liquid with garnet hues around the bottom edges and half an inch of frothy burnt tan foam on top.

S - Huge vanilla presence akin to creme brulee dessert... almost too much, actually. There is also a strong whiff of boozy bourbon notes.

T - Vanilla just dominates the flavor, much like David Lee Roth sucks up the spotlight on stage. Alcohol warmth is quite burly as well and delivers a swift punch in the face with plenty of bourbon power. A hint of coffee emerges in the middle, followed by a huge wash of beefy alcohol warmth in the finish with residual vanilla sweetness.

M - Full-bodied, thick and creamy but with bristly carbonation. Mouthfeel is warm, sticky and sweet. Finishes with a moderate alcohol burn and lots of residual sweetness on the palate.

D - I'm kind of on the fence about this one. I think it's a little too much in terms of the vanilla just dominating everything. Also, this definitely drinks like a huge 13% ABV stout, as there is plenty of boozy heat present throughout. This is definitely the lesser Bourbon County Stout, in my opinion.

Brewslut's Quote of the Day:
"Oooh... this is like hard caramels... or like cowtails!"

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Photo of Wisconsinality
3.63/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bomber poured into Delirium tulip.

A- Pours the typical pitch black with a nice caramel colored head. The head dies down quickly and leaves no lacing behind.

S- Like all the Bourbon Counties that have come before this, this one is heavy on the bourbon, malt and vanilla. The alcohol is pretty pronounced as to be expected. There is also a bit of caramel and brown sugar sprinkled in as well.

T- That is a lot of vanilla. Almost sickly sweet. There is also some bourbon hidden under all that vanilla. There is a big amount of heat form the alcohol.

M- Full bodied as usual and just coats the inside of your mouth. Lots of alcohol burn on the back of the throat. The vanilla seems to add a nice creaminess to the beer.

D- For someone who likes vanilla this is a beer for you. If not you may want to pass. I would take the original over this any day. I wonder if some age on this one will help mellow out the vanilla.

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Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 4.61 out of 5 with 1,334 ratings