Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout | Goose Island Beer Co.

414 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla StoutBourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout

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

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.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 414 | Ratings: 1,254
Photo of Fux
4.94/5  rDev +10.8%
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!

 687 characters

Photo of ShanePB
4.24/5  rDev -4.9%
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.

 800 characters

Photo of mdagnew
4.91/5  rDev +10.1%
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...

 1,392 characters

Photo of vonnegut21
5/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

 514 characters

Photo of kawilliams81
4.81/5  rDev +7.8%
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!

 434 characters

Photo of Etan
4.28/5  rDev -4%
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.

 699 characters

Photo of vivasbeer
4.9/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

 485 characters

Photo of standardcherry
3.44/5  rDev -22.9%
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.

 619 characters

Photo of RuckusDu
4.35/5  rDev -2.5%
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

 523 characters

Photo of jeonseh
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

 1,131 characters

Photo of hooliganlife
3.65/5  rDev -18.2%
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.

 506 characters

Photo of EdwardFortyHands
2.9/5  rDev -35%
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.

 424 characters

Photo of Googs
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

 932 characters

Photo of chugalug06
4.61/5  rDev +3.4%
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).

 730 characters

Photo of johnnnniee
4.21/5  rDev -5.6%
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.

 875 characters

Photo of Dennoman
4.55/5  rDev +2%
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!

 1,805 characters

Photo of sweemzander
4.67/5  rDev +4.7%
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)

 2,214 characters

Photo of funkyaudio
4.6/5  rDev +3.1%
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

 450 characters

Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.2/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

 544 characters

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.67/5  rDev +4.7%
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!

 359 characters

Photo of alexgash
4.79/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle. Bottled on 11/05/10.

Inky, viscous, dark blackish brown body. Finger of gauzy, bubbly, bright peanut brown head. Some lacing. Bourbon reaches the nose first. Oak, tannins, and vanilla. Rich caramel and sugary dates. Dark chocolate, molasses, and more vanilla. Big, rich, impressive, and seductive.

Roasted coffee bitterness up front. Opens up to sweet, smooth caramel and dark chocolate malt flavors. Dates, prunes, and figs continue with the sweetness. Meanwhile, the Bourbon and its associated oakiness and warmth builds in the background until it nearly takes over the finish. Chocolate cake, fudge, and molasses malt sweetness also peaks before the finish. Vanilla, cocoa nibs, and coffee bitterness in the long, warming finish. Wow! This is one complex, rich, and delightful sipper. Full-bodied, viscous feel. Almost chewable. Outstanding!

 861 characters

Photo of greenmonstah
4.4/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

22 oz bottle into tulip glass

A - Black as night with a wisp of brown head. HEad fades, leaving a ring about the circumference.

S - Maraschino cherry, dark fruits, vanilla, bourbon.

T - Vanilla is the key flavor. An incredible taste of vanilla, accompanied by chocolate, bourbon, dark fruits, and the other base BCBS flavors. Unreal.

M - Full bodied and chewy. Perfect.

O - Overall a brilliant variant of the beer. Vanilla ifs used perfectly and fits just so well. Enhances the vanilla flavors of the original and makes it just brilliant.

 543 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.54/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour at the bottle share hosted by Adam Fine Wine & Liquor held at Sophie’s Place in Redondo Beach, CA.

2010 vintage. Bottled 11/5/10.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to an oily film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, tons of vanilla aromas, wood, and bourbon. Taste is much the same but really vanilla forward with an alcohol kick and woody finish. There is a mild amount of roasty bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer with an absolutely fantastic smell and great flavor that make it dangerously drinkable for its ABV.

 743 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.04/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured into a CCB snifter. Bottle dated 11/5/10. Reviewed from notes.

Appearance - Inky black as it pours. No head. A ring of foam just masks a slight translucence at the edge.

Smell - As always, booze first. Then vanilla, oak, and bourbon. Vanilla is pretty intense. Not much stout is coming through the rest of those flavors.

Taste - Bourbon and a ton of tingly alcohol. Chocolate with an intense vanilla backdrop. No bitterness and oodles of booze. I will say that the vanilla really does improve the flavor. Maybe not improve it up to a 5, but it's better than regular BCBS.

Mouthfeel - So Goose Island makes some boozy-ass stouts. No exception here. The barrel doesn't tame it at all. Thick and not easy to drink. The alcohol really is too much.

Overall - It tastes way higher than 13% alcohol. Really tasty, at the expense of drinkability.

 850 characters

Photo of cradke
4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: fantastic dark with brown head. finger thick head dissolves to just a rim.

Smell: very bourbon. sweet. not much in the way of malt or dryness. quite similar to bcs. maybe a bit too 1 dimensional.

Taste: Bourbon notes up front. Quite sweet and pretty hot. i would say less sweet/ more complex than he regular variant. There is certainly some vanilla leaf and more earth and fig. very strong caramel and brown sugar. Molasses in a good way.

Mouthful: A bit thin but nice corbonation. It works really well with the flavors and helps make a great vanilla bourbon aftertaste.

Overall: very nice. a more earthy and fig variant. less sweet but nice and true to its bourbon county heritage. excellent.

 710 characters

Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Goose Island Beer Co.
98 out of 100 based on 414 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.