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 yamar68
4.77/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Many, many, many thanks to dsal89 for sending me this bottle. I never thought I'd have the chance to try this gem.

Black. Sexy.

Easily the best smelling Bourbon County beer I've encountered. Mellow sweetness, really showcases the vanilla bean. Caramel, fudge... the bourbon presence is really subdued in the best kind of way. Toffee, Kahlua, super mellow compared to its brethren.

That classic BCBS bourbon profile makes itself known on the palate. Subtly sweet with layer after layer of oily vanilla bean and caramel candy. What an awesome twist on an already incredible beer. Fuck me running.

Thanks Dan!!

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Photo of Rutager
4.59/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bought a great house today, time to celebrate! Big thank you to mrbubbler for getting this to me around a year and a half ago. Drank alongside a 2010 BCBS to compare.

Appearance. Pours a thick dark brown, black in the glass and topped with a half finger of dark tan head that fades to a thick skim and leaves some decent lacing.

Smell. Sweet woody bourbon and molasses and a little maple syrup (surprisingly). Not a ton of vanilla besides the oaky bourbon which is also surprising. Not a big difference between the 2010 base beer and this except for the maple and a little more wood in the vanilla version.

Taste. Big vanilla and again some maple! Lots of woody bourbon but with very little heat. Smooth dark malts and some molasses, then the rich dark chocolate kicking in at the finish. Nice. Taste is quite different when compared the 2010 BCBS with the vanilla coming through in and almost marshmallow-like way.

Mouthfeel. This is where BCBVS shines most imo. Thick, rich, and velvety smooth. Low carbonation that is so soft and fine its hard to distinguish immediately after a sip.

Overall. Fantastic stuff. I don't think I'd trade half my cellar for it which seems to be the going rate these days, but it is a damn fine brew.

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Photo of timc100
4.71/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Bottled bourbon county has that fizzy head and is overall not attractive, on tap this thing looked amazing. Creamy mocha head with great lacing and that lasted throughout. Poured out pitch black.

S: A lot of vanilla still left. Blends perfectly with the base beer. The fusion of vanilla, bourbon, and chocolate create a nice cinnamon and hazelnut spice. Very sweet - like chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. The bourbon is more balanced and some of the caramel is lost, but still has that nice heat.

T: Incredibly rich and smooth. A lot of vanilla that makes for a smoother, sweeter experience - enhanced milk chocolate. Strong bourbon caramel heat and some oak. Really fantastic

P: Rich, smooth, delightfully soft carbonation. Full body that gets syrupy after a while.

O: An incredibly decadent, sweet, desert beer. Amazing vanilla blend - definitely has not faded in the keg. Overall has held up amazingly with age.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.25/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I'd been sitting on this bottle for a while, but once I got the official Bourbon County goblet, I decided the time had come to pop this one open. Looked like a typical BCBS, dark brown-black--might as well call it black--with a small tan head that receded to a ringlet. Some oily streaks on the glass, but no real lacing, as would be expected. Dark roasted malts in the nose, semi-sweet chocolate, bourbon; traces of vanilla, but this aspect was almost completely faded. Taste of roasty malts, thick, notes of coffee and chocolate, bourbon-soaked wood, with a slight vegetal vanilla presence, that I'm sure was stronger when it was fresh, but had by now faded to a background flavor. But it was still BCBS and it was still good. Still quite hot with booze even after about 3 years of aging. Full body, and a good sipper. Nice overall, but I really think the original BCBS is still my favorite of the bunch.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.4/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This poured out as a nice black color, as it should. The head retention is thin and lacing is thin. The smell is actually of cardboard right now. It's not bad, but it reminded me of boxes with a subtle vanilla aroma. The taste is still awesome, plenty of vanilla left in this bad boy! Very nice flavors in here. The mouthfeel is smooth and silky. Overall it's awesome and so glad to try it! Despite the smell, the flavors do the justice! Very good!

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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 ShanePB
4.24/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Vintage 2010, opened at our Bourbon County tasting yesterday.

A: Classic Bourbon County appearance. Deep black with some dark brown edges, no head, retention or lacing.

S: Bourbon soaked oak, dark chocolate, fudge, and a little bit of vanilla the more this warmed up. Surprisingly not that much different to regular BCBS.

T: As this beer warms and opens the vanilla comes out a bit more. Touches of vanilla beans, dark chocolate, plenty of warm and sweet bourbon, oak.

M: Soft carbonation, medium to full-bodied with a very oily and coating texture.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed in the lack of vanilla in this beer. I would have loved to try this one fresh but it wasn't all that different than regular BCBS. Certainly not worth giving up what you'd have to for it at this point.

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Photo of mdagnew
4.91/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

650ml bottle bought from McHughs, Dublin... 2010 vintage

My 1000th beer on Beeradvocate so i thought i'd make it something special...

Poured blacker than black even when held up to the light... Dirty mocha brown head poured quite loose and fizzy and faded very quickly to just a ring around the edge... very little lacing..

Aroma - Very strong sweet oaky bourbon to the fore straight away, very woody and earthy, lots of fresh vanilla, roasted malts, hints of tar, cigar smokiness, rich stewed dark fruits (blackcurrents and prunes), molasses and burnt brown sugar, alcohol is pretty noticeable, butterscotch, fresh black pepper

Taste - Tons of roasted and charred malts mixed with strong molasses / black treacle sweetness followed closely by warming bourbon, lots of vanilla, liquorice, defnite cigar / tobacco smokiness, rich dark sweet fruits (prunes, figs, raisins, blackcurrents), very earthy, espresso, soy notes, alcohol definitely comes through, dark chocolate...

Feel - Rich, thick and syrupy... very full bodied.. suprisingly drinkable for a 13% brew although you definitely notice the alcohol after one bottle..

Overall - An exquisite and incredibly full flavoured stout and one of the best i've ever had... highly recommended. I do have to say though that it isn't a great deal different from the regular BCS and at 20 Euro a bottle not something i'd be buying too often...

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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 kawilliams81
4.81/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Reviewed from notes. Poured from a 22 oz bottle into a Half Acre snifter.

A- Pours black with a 1 finger tan head. Minimal lacing.

S- Big fudge aroma, lots of vanilla, bourbon, and more chocolate.

T- Rich chocolate, lots of vanilla remains, fudge, and bourbon.

M- Full body and medium carbonation. Thick and creamy mouth feel.

O- I have had this a few times at tap takeovers over the past 2 years, but this beer is still Amazing!

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Photo of Etan
4.28/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle courtesy of Jason. Thanks a lot!

A: Looks like normal Bourbon County. Very dark brown, reddish hues around the edges, tiny light tan head.

S: Thick bourbon, dark chocolate, toffee, dry oak. Maybe a hint of vanilla. Not very different from regular Bourbon County.

T. More vanilla is apparent in the taste than the nose. Sweet vanilla, light cherry and booze, oaky bourbon, sugary caramel, charred grain.

M. Between medium and thick-bodied. Light but active carbonation.

O: While the vanilla is certainly still there, it's not as much of a marked difference from regular BCBS as I would have liked. Better off not spending/trading heavily for this beer when BCBS is readily available.

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Photo of vivasbeer
4.9/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This was my favorite of any Bourbon County variant, and to my knowledge, I have had all of them that has been bottled. Whoever said the Vanilla is fading is just plain wrong. The only reason I popped this was because of fears of the vanilla fading. Well, it was still VERY present in this beer, and it is sublime. Perfect beer for me, as I love vanilla. It was my last bottle, so I'm guessing I will never get another chance to taste it. LOVE it, probably my favorite beer of all time.

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Photo of standardcherry
3.44/5  rDev -23%
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 RuckusDu
4.35/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I was told this was a lighter vanilla than the regular. Got this on tap right after 2012 GABF at a special BC tasting. This was one of 4 beers they were trying out.

No head. Pitch black. Leaves some legs. Nose is vanilla, chocolate, molasses. A little heat and a lot of sweet. Tons of alcohol on the tongue. Sweet as can be. Some chocolate. Vanilla. Burns on the way down. Smooth. Some carbonation. Thick.

Overall quite excellent. I love sweet. Barrel tastes great and everything goes well together. 4.0 4.0 4.5 4.5 4.5

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Photo of jeonseh
4.2/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter. Had as part of a NWI tasting group Bourbon County tasting night.

A - Looks just like regular bourbon county. Pours a dark, dark deep chocolate brown with a small head floating on the top it disappeared pretty fast but left a nice chocolate brown ring on the edges the whole time.

S - Light oak, sweet bourbon and a light whiff of vanilla. I didn't get as much chocolate and cocoa as I get in regular BCBS

T - Sweet vanilla hits you upfront and stays throughout. There is a slight milk chocolate in the middle that helps cut the vanilla. Finish is bourbon whiskey and a light oak spice. Reminds me a lot of regular BCBS but much sweeter.

MF - A thick and syrupy beer. The finish was a slight oak spiciness that lingers on the tongue. The beer is really sticky as well from the vanilla and leaves that stickiness in the finish.

O - Overall, this is a sweeter version of bourbon count with lots more vanilla sweetness found in the normal BCBS. It's good but probably a bit too sweet for my tastes. Overall, this is probably my least favorite variant as it doesn't add much of a twist to normal BCBS.

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Photo of hooliganlife
3.65/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pour was thick jet black ala all BCS bottles. little to no head. oily looking.

light vanilla, but heavy on sweetness and and overall a big stout. light on an bourbon flavors.

subtle and faint up front. very sweet, boozy, and some faint vanilla on the finish. lacked any real complexity. overall, i thought it lacked any of the amazing characteristics of BCS as a whole.

gums tingled and burned. thick and chewy.

i was disappointed. vanilla is falling off badly, body lacks complexity to back that up.

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Photo of EdwardFortyHands
2.9/5  rDev -35.1%
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 Googs
4.5/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

8oz pour at the Blind Tiger's VerySpecialKeg Day. 2010 Vintage

A: Black as night. A few big brown bubbles here and there. Alcohol lacing on the glass.

S: Bourbon city. Chocolate, roasty malts and vanilla sweetness. Oh man this might be a bit intense, I'm excited.

T: Pretty much the same taste as regular BCBS but with a whole lotta sweet vanilla at the finish. Real good stuff, I like my vanilla in and out of my stouts.

M: Thick, viscous, sticky, chewy. Flavors coat your mouth and stay for a while. Not much carbonation. Pretty much what you'd expect out of this beer, it's a nice sipper. Your still getting that booze at two years old and it makes me wonder what this brew was like fresh.

O: I'm loving it. If your a fan of BCBS and you like vanilla, I'd go out of your way to get this. But at the same time, not that much different than the base beer so I won't be trading for this anytime soon. Thanks again Blind Tiger.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.61/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 1 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Flat in appearance. Very little Orange/Brown soapy bubbles rise when heavily poured. Brew is like burnt oil.

WOW! Great bourbon scent. I can smell it from the other end of the couch... Greatness. Heavy (milk) chocolate. Metric ton of Vanilla and caramel. No bitterness or over sweetness.

This brew will knock your socks off. Not overly boozy or sweet. Very balanced and smooth vanilla barrel flavors. Not nearly as think in flavors as it looks. Carbonation is much higher then the appearance. Sweetness is nice, but not over bearing. Zero bitterness. AWESOME!!

A perfect lunch! This is one of the best brews I've had in a long time. Highly recommended, super sad this is a retired brew. I could drink this all day (and night).

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.21/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared tonight by HopasaurusRex, thanks for the opportunity.
Pours an inky thick black color with a smallish tan head that dissipates almost instantly. Wonderful aromas of bourbon, brown sugar, lots of vanilla, roasted grains, coffee, chocolate, ethanol, and caramel. I could sit here all night and sniff this beer out of the glass. The flavor is quite sweet with a heavy brown sugary caramel malt base with a fair amount of roasted grain, coffee and chocolate which is tempered with a solid hit of bourbon, alcohol, oak, and vanilla. Thick sugary body with a light level of carbonation and a sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. This beer really works for me, but my tastes lean towards a thick heavy stout. I honestly feel that if the alcohol wasn't so present in the flavor and the aroma that this beer would be incredibly cloying. With that out of the way I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of Dennoman
4.55/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Shared by Simon at Borefts Beer Festival 2012, reviewed from notes (09/29/2012). Thank you so much, can't wait to get a few bottles of this soon!

A: Black as your ex-wife's heart, as some other reviewers quip. Thick as anything, amazing looking beer. Little to no head, which is a shame as many brewers prove every day that a high-ABV beer doesn't need to be flat by definition.

S: Huge wafts of vanilla, butterscotch and bourbon. Some oak and roasted malts come in, but they definitely play second fiddle. Stay away if you're not a fan of bourbon and vanilla, because this packs it by the truckload!

T: Wow, this is just so beautiful if you love barrel profile. Vanilla, bourbon, caramel, oak, coffee, dark chocolate, milk chocolate and maybe even some white chocolate (cocoa butter). The balance seems a little thrown however with the amount of vanilla in there, so it begs the question whether this comes from fresh vanilla beans or some kind of butterscotch extract. Providing you have a sweet tooth, this is incredibly good.

M: As close to syrup as a beer will probably get. Very low carbonation makes this a sweet and sticky sensation that will coat your mouth like an oil slick. Surprisingly the alcohol does manage to wash some of it away though, so you're not stuck with a dry and powdery mouth.

O: An amazing sensation and a true explosion of flavors on the palate. If I can fault anything about this beer, it's the completely flat appearance (yes, sorry, Belgians will always love their heads!) and the amount of vanilla. The balance seems a little thrown, and from what I hear they did a better job in this aspect with the Rare version. Can't wait to taste the other Bourbon County variants now, and I'll be sure to review them when I do! They sure do some great stouts in the Windy City!

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Photo of sweemzander
4.67/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

** After having this again recently I feel that this beer definitely warrants an updated review. I left the original below.**

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 11/05/2010 bottled date. Huge thanks to Chris for opening this on a special day!

Very similar in appearance as before, but surprisingly has kept quite the carbonation level so surprised to see some froth appear.

The smell has completely changed into a velvet-like chocolate bourbon front that flows into some awesome subtle vanilla combined with oak.

With additional time on this, it has really become much more balanced, complex, and far more dynamic than when it was fresh. While the vanilla is still there, it is not the forefront of the flavor profile. Overall, it has really turned into a s'more like flavor: chocolate, graham cracker, and finishes in a subtle oaky bourbon vanilla that is really quite nice. The mouthfeel is infinitely more smoother that definitely does not drink like a 13%ABV beer.

In the end, time has done absolute wonders for this beer in both complexity and smoothness from the booze & vanilla bomb it was before. Very very good now. Makes me wish I had more of this around now.

---old review---
22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 11/05/10 bottled date. Huge thanks to BeerFMAndy for opening this with us!

(A)- Pours very thick and pitch black. Produced a minimal tan head that dissipated after awhile. (3.5)

(S)- Ridiculously rich; plenty of boozy molasses and raisin. Some creamy vanilla and bourbon notes. Minimal cocoa.(4)

(T)- Again, very rich with a blast of vanilla up front. Bits of chocolate and molasses behind it with an ever present boozy heat. (4.5)

(M)- A good carbonation level. Extremely rich and boozy. The vanilla is nice, but in my opinion, is overwhelming some, if not most of the other flavors completely.(4)

(D)- On par with the regular version as its base, but it seems even more boozy than that. The vanilla definitely adds additional richness and sweetness to this. It needs time in my opinion, though, what that will do the the vanilla character, only time will tell. In all seriousness though, I really do not see what all the fuss is about. I will stick to the regular version.(2.5)

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Photo of funkyaudio
4.6/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pitch black with almost no head but no legs. The aroma has notes of vanilla (duh), chocolate, bourbon, prune, liquorice, molasses, hazelnut, espresso, and light spicy hop esters. The taste is quite sweet and vanilla toned where it is almost too much of a good thing. There is the base BCS as well with the chocolate, molasses, fruity, smoky, and spicy notes. The mouth feel is luxuriously smooth and little bite, a tad tannic and chalky on the finish

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Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.2/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks Brandon for sharing your rare and vanilla...we probably should have opened them in reverse order though.

The beer pours a rich looking black with no head it lacing and a slightly oily inner residue. The nose is an intense caramel with some wood and a subtle vanilla. The taste is buttery bourbon, vanilla, and a lingering oak. Unfortunately the vanilla doesn't come out that much, definitely less than expected with only a slight lingering caramel-vanilla.
Overall I'd definitely drink this beer again, but won't fall prey to the hype.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.67/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

A bottle opened on my birthday 8.22.12.
Bottled on 11/05/10

A - Pours a very dark brown with a few dark brown bubbles that are gone very quickly.

S - Lots of bourbon, oaky, woody and vanilla.

T - Lots of vanilla, bourbon, booze, chocolate, wood.

D - Lower carbonation with a heavier body. A sweet vanilla finish.

O - Happy Birthday to me! A true delight!

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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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