King Henry | Goose Island Beer Co.

323 Reviews
King HenryKing Henry

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

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 13.40%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Brewer's notes:
Aged in Pappy Van Winkle 23 bourbon barrels, previously used to age Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout. King Henry is a burgundy hued English-style barleywine with aromas of vanilla, oak, and dark fruit. Caramel and toffee flavors blend together with bold notes of bourbon delivered in a smooth body followed by a malty finish. No matter the occasion, King Henry promises a regal drinking experience.

Added by Kegatron on 08-16-2010

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 323 | Ratings: 1,469
Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.71/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

L: pours dark brown, medium syrup looking thickness, no head
S: sweet and sharp dark fruit, mellow bourbon.
T: big flavors...not lacking at all after 5 years. Big sweetness, bourbon still hugely present. Still has a bit of alcohol bite, not harsh but not as smooth as I figured / hoped.
F: medium thickness, smooth as can be. Coats well.
O: an awesome babw! But a step behind Ba vermilion's richness and thickness.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- The beer poured a murky brown color with a mocha colored head.

Smell - The beer had a muted sweet malt nose.

Taste - The sweetness of the barley wine and bourbon blend together perfectly. Notes of vanilla, chocolate, sweet malts, and candied prunes are present. Any burn from the bourbon is masked. It may be the aging but any hotness is gone.

Mouthfeel- With the style in mind, the feel is both malty and creamy. Any sense of carbonation has disappeared.

Overall- For purposes of comparison, I would've liked to of tried this fresh. Even five years later, this is a darn good beer.

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Photo of nawpnawp
4.55/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a very flat brown that let's a little bit of light through. The smell is very sweet raisin, vanilla and Rare like; a lot of the barrel comes through on this. Surprisingly there is still some heat in the nose. The taste is a lot of the same. It is impressive how well it has held up for 5 years. It could easily do another 5 IMO.

Honestly, I don't think it's much better than a BCBBW -- not in the way Rare triumphs over regular BCBS. If I were given one of the two randomly, I don't think I'd be able to get the answer right every time. I'm happy to have gotten to try it, but for what it takes to get one, I'll have a BCBBW instead.

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Photo of Jaunty
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

10/08/2011 Bottle of King Henry. Opaque sable brown poured, creamy 1/4 inch head. The aroma was delicious. Just heavenly! Taste- Nutty, caramel, bourbon. Like a smooth liquor, warmed me to my soul. Substantial mouthfeel, but not too thick. Syrupy smooth and very fine. Shared with friends, all had enthusiast words of praise. Wish I had another, but the first taste of the fruit will always be the best.

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Photo of KevBot89
4.8/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Dark, murky brown. Burnt caramel, dark fruits (plums and raisins), figs and dates, tobacco, toffee. Some bourbon, significant oak but not overwhelming. Some earthy and herbal notes in the background. The mouthfeel is super creamy. Somehow, after all this time, there's still a slightly boozy presence both on nose and taste.

This beer is worldly. Very glad I got to try it.

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Photo of rudzud
4.55/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Shared with JLindros. He's already had this, but, this is #3000 and I can't think of another person I'd like to share this with.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice clearish darker brown hue with a thin head that fades to leave thin wisps and a light halo.

S - Aromas of caramel, super rich bourbon, malt sweetness, nice dark fruits, nice vanilla. Quite aromatic.

T - Taste is similar to the nose. Loads of caramel, nice malt sweetness. Really good bourbon notes that are really pleasant and sweet. Loads of vanilla too with tons of juicy bourbon and barrel.

M - Mouthfeel is nicely carbonated, alcohol hidden very well.

O - Overall, this was an excellent barleywine. That being said it was still rather sweet, heavy malts. Realistically, this beer is past it's prime. There is good dark fruit with nicer sticky toffee. The bourbon here shines though.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, sweet, alcohol hidden well but it was a bit sticky.

O - Overall this beer was really good, great bourbon notes. That being said it really is a shell of the beer it once was. Delicious barleywine though with great bourbon qualities.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of tclipse
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the first 5/5 I have given out since April '15 (DB Hunahpu). This is unquestionably the best barleywine I have ever had, and it is drinking amazingly well right now. Now is the time to open it. Do it, you can thank me later.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.2/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown, moves to red towards the edges. Small beige head. Boozy as hell aroma. Lots of roast. Not a lot of hops.

Taste, dude, for all the Pappy hype, Pappy barrels sure do seem hot. More toffee, more mouthfeel needed. Seriously. Needs some sweetness or something. A little bit of chocolate in it. Just hot and some dark fruit stuff to it. Don't believe the hype.

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Photo of JamLand
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Looks exactly as you would want a barrel aged, English Barleywine to look. Brown, yet clear.

Smell was a great combination of roast, dark stone fruits and brown sugar. I could smell this all day during the winter.

Taste, a perfect example of this style. How you hope the barrel would add to a barleywine without taking anything away. So smooth. Sweet without being overly so. Everything someone who likes a good barleywine and good bourbon could hope for.

Feel exactly as I expect this style to be. Smooth, with a little alcohol heat at the end, but not overly so.

Overall, an amazing beer. I'd heard this was starting to fall off. Well, if this is falling off, I'm happy to go with it. A great beer and the best BA English barleywine I've ever had. It was a treat to try this and I recommend anyone who has the chance to, do so.

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Photo of ThrewRedButter
4.73/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Having this for no good reason on a Monday afternoon. Why? Because screw it, that's why!

A - Almost completely black, but actually dark burgundy with zero head

S - Overpowering dark fruits: figs, raisins, plums. Sweet, sweet bourbon, toffee, caramel, butterscotch, and a fair share of malts.

T - Sweet, sticky bourbon first and foremost followed by some vanilla, toasted coconut, and caramel. Heavy malt presence with a slight alcohol sting.

M - Smooth as all hell. Pretty thick and viscous like a stout. Some lingering malt flavors and a minor warmth on each sip

O - I mean, overall, this is a fantastic BA Barleywine, but I can't help but think the hype precedes it. Again, it's superb in every way, but just don't sell the farm to get a bottle. Bourbon County Barley wine is just as good and won't cost you an arm and a leg.

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Photo of pufftuff312
4.9/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

L- poured into 12oz shifter. Faint head dissipates almost instantaneously. Liquid when swirled appears to stick to the sides and pour down it like a syrup.

N- Bready , sweet maraschino cherries. Booze. Caramelized sugar, caramel, slight oak

T- Light bubbly carb. Sweet meat, berry, preserved dates, boozey barrel character ("dat pappy"). thick caramel. Smoke , with wonderful bourbon notes finishing . Very very complex, evolving flavor.

F- Mouth feel is perfect. Light carb, thick and viscous. warms you up like a brandy. Just a pure pleasure to drink.

overall, a perfect barleywine. Goose island shows their masterful understanding of the barrel aged beer! wish I could drink glass after glass.

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Photo of marct13
3.01/5  rDev -34.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I think that part of our feeling about this is the hype behind it, and I don't feel like it lived up to it. The bourbon was overpowering, and I don't feel like the base beer really made an appearance. With beers like ADWTD, Aaron, and Leon the barrel is a compliment and adds complexity to the beer with King Henry, I feel like it completely took over. Also, the mouth feel was lacking. It seemed thin for a barleywine, let alone a BA barleywine. I'm very glad I got to try this, again, I just don't feel like it lives up to the hype. Maybe we just had a bad bottle.

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Photo of SierraFlight
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle poured into taster glass at Hunahpu’s Day 2014. Brown body that lets no light through. No head or lacing. Dark fruits, bourbon, barrel notes - vanilla, coconut, charred staves, wood - booze, raisins, and brown sugar. Taste is sweet with all the same flavors followed by a touch of woody bitterness, and a blast of alcohol on the throat. Full body, smooth creamy texture, average carbonation, and a long boozy finish.

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Photo of timc100
4.88/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This bottle was properly cellared for all these years, and it has held up incredibly well. No real signs of oxidation.

Incredibly rich aroma of oaky bourbon and bright, sweet dark fruits. Tobacco, wood, molasses, vanilla, and brown sugar as well. Incredibly smooth, slick full mouthfeel.

Fantastic beer with one of the best bourbon barrel integrations.

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Photo of Fcolle2
4.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours black in color and viscous. Smell is incredibly rich with aromas if bourbon, sweet caramel, loads of English toffee ,blight amounts of cocoa, vanilla, and oak barrel. Taste is equally as decadent with rich caramel, toffee, dusting a of chocolate, saddle leather, tobacco, vanilla, bourbon and oak barrel. Mouthfeel is thick wit medium amounts of carbonation.

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Photo of mlhyatt
4.79/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from bomber into tulip glass.

A- black but not quite jet black if that makes sense. Abiut half inch of head but it wasn't as frothy as I expected it to be. The head dissipates rather quickly as well.

S- tons of bourbon with some fruity undertones. Lots of sweet malt xoming forward as well.

T- delicious. The bourbon hits first strong even after 3 years. Then there is a smooth sweet malt that follows and really holds this beer together. The aftertaste is definitely fruity but not like backyard rye or actual fruit, if that makes sense. Hint of vanilla and oak in there as well.

M - a little bit thinner than I thought it would be but still has a medium body feel and little carbonation. The sweetness of the beer is a little strong but it just makes it a sipper.

O- extrenely well made beer. I can definitely see the hype behind it. Glad I got a few in the trade!

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.74/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow, thanks Curran for the big ol 11 oz pour of this. Big time want.

Pours an opaque, murky brown, small film-like head, under a quarter inch, and no lacing.

Smells like dark fruit, smooth seductive bourbon, vanilla, brown sugar, and toffee, in large amounts. Smells quite concentrated and sweet.

Even at 3 years out, the flavors here are so bright and vibrant. Very, very sweet, almost to the point of cloying, but it finishes slightly dry, keeping it from being too much. The bourbon flavor here is to die for, as expected given the PVW 23 3rd use barrels used. Even though it's 3 years later and 3rd use barrels, the bourbon is still present and forward. Huge notes of maple syrup, toffee, caramel, burnt brown sugar, dates, figs, raisins, port, chocolate covered cherries, with a slight boozy twinge that integrates well with everything else and warms you right up. Sipping this on a porch on this cool summer night was just about perfect.

Medium bodied, sticky sweet mouthfeel, there's a bit of tingly booze and woody bitterness on the lips throughout the session for me. A slow sipper for sure, due to ABV and strong flavors.

This is everything I hoped it would be. At times it was a tiny bit too sweet, but that's the only knock for me. Otherwise, perfection.

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Photo of drmcleod10
4.81/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served into a Hunahpu's snifter following DB Huna and Kyoto Sump
This was a huge want and I was glad I could get this for my grad sharing

A - Surprisingly light carmel color, aged in used Rare pappy 23 barrels after rare was brewed. Small khaki foam head that retains decently

S - Lots of bourbon on the front with vanilla and carmel oak to close it out

T - Taste follows the nose with amazingly brilliant and blended flavors of carmel vanilla and bourbon. Oak comes through with some light toffee flavors

M - Smooth creamy relatively light for this beer.

O - I was so glad to be able to land this beer. It was either this Rare or Vanilla and with people saying that those are on the decline I went the English barley wine route. The pappy really brings out some tremendous flavors. This is definitely my favorite barley wine that I have had

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Photo of kojevergas
4.05/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

"Bottled 10/08/11 0813." This 650ml brown glass bottle was a gift from Duff27. I love the classy label art. Pry-off pressure cap is unbranded. Reviewed as an English barleywine. Expectations could not be higher; I'm extremely excited and this has been a huge want for a long time.

Served at fridge temp and allowed to come to room temp over the course of consumption. Side-poured carefully.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: Two fingers in width. Pale khaki colour. Retains well for the high ABV - about 2-3 minutes. Surprisingly well carbonated for a 2.5 year old beer. Could be fuller, creamier, and frothier. Leaves a boozy clear lacing as the head recedes - reminiscent of brandy.

BODY: Mostly brown, but it has some reddish hues. Nontransparent. Translucent and rich - decadent, even. Dark. No floating yeast particulate or hop sediment is visible.

Overall, it's quite an extravagant looking beer. The description on Goose Island's website calls it regal; I'd say that's apt. It's not a unique appearance for a barleywine, but I'd say it's special.

AROMA: Dark fruits - plum. Slight oxidation is helping it here. The malts are definitely English in character. Toffee. Marshmallow. Bourbon-wise, I'm not getting much beyond vanilla - but then I do have a broken nose. Cream.

A very appealing aroma for a barleywine; moderate in strength.

Not boozy or hot by any means. I don't detect any yeast or hop character.

TEXTURE: Smooth and wet. Full-bodied. Sticky and syrupy, sure, with plenty of heft and thickness. But it's not too weighty; it's surprisingly approachable. Well-carbonated.

Not oily, gushed, astringent, harsh, or hot. It does have a warm booziness, though, which I think helps the beer. The alcohol warmth does remind you she's a sipper, but also encourages the drinker to savour it.

Good overall presence on the palate.

TASTE: English malts and luxurious teasing toffee set the tone for a grand flavour profile replete with notes of marshmallow and lightly oxidized toasted malts. The bourbon barrel notes are much more refined and elegant than I'm accustomed to in something like an imperial stout; the vanilla is near perfectly balanced against the exquisite yet subtle dark fruits (mainly plum, but maybe there's some currant or fig).

I'm not finding any yeast character or hop notes, nor should I.

The caramel character here is the finest I've ever experienced in a beer period. As it warms, I'm picking up on some leather. Also some tawny sherry notes in the finish. There's none of the cardboard character you'd expect in an oxidized beer, but then this is near perfectly oxidized. Hints of raisin. Maybe even some brown sugar. A kiss of maple.

This isn't too sticky or sweet, but has plenty of well-layered malts. It's delightfully well balanced and pleasing to the palate, with a rich build that doesn't come off too heavy or overbearing. It's as complex as it is subtle, and the bourbon character alone lends it an almost unique nuance. Goose Island reminds the drinker - we popularized (if not invented) bourbon barrel aging - and we still do it best. Wow. The barrel integration is seamless and works with the base flavour profile rather than eclipsing it. I do wish there was more of a toasted oak presence.

The sweetness does pick up as it warms, which isn't ideal.

FINAL THOUGHTS: My expectations were very high, but this is an incredible barleywine. I still believe there are better barleywines out there, but this is a damn good offering from Goose Island and I wish it were more available. I'm far from disappointed. The bourbon integration especially is a highlight. It's simultaneously extraordinarily drinkable for the ABV and a sipper meant to be savoured.

Huge thanks to Duff27 for the bottle.


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Photo of WTKeene
4.79/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2011 bottle poured into a Prairie Teku glass.

Appearance: Sizable, eggshell head for a barleywine, and it sticks around a while as a large crown around the edge of the glass. The beer itself is veering on pitch black, just a hint of brown and amber as it’s held up to the light.

Smell: Lots of dark fruits. Dried figs, toffee, caramel. Bourbon is quite prominent as well, with a lot of vanilla oak barrel too. Alcohol is prominent too.

Taste: Dark fruits again, particularly raisins and figs. Loads of brown sugar and molasses, and some burnt sugar, caramel too. The finish is pretty barrel-forward, with a lot of the vanilla oak coming through. As it warms, the bourbon flavors become stronger. A little alcohol too. This is delicious.

Mouthfeel: Very very thick, and very, very sticky. Low carb, but sufficient for the style. Lips stick together while drinking the beer, it’s that oily and sticky and thick.

Overall: So damn happy I got to drink this, courtesy of cestlavie, and enjoyed with abbbp. This is easily one of the best barleywines I’ve ever had. It was just that good. I’d be surprised if this could possibly have been better fresh.

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Photo of dar482
4.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This is the same base beer as Bourbon County Barleywine.

What I notice that differentiates the beer is that it has a more aggressive complexity of caramel, brown sugar, toffee, and more fruit character. It has longer lingering character of bourbon on the end.

It is surprising that the beer has more complexity and depth of flavor. I am curious however whether Bourbon County with age will change into this King.

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Photo of spicelab
4.2/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bomber split 5 ways at tasting. Reviewed from notes.

A:Ochre bronze, clear and attractive with a bare tan head.

S&T: Sweet and rich, but not conspicuously. Fig and coconut brulee, vanilla Coke, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pappy characteristics are quite prominent but the base beer is lacking in stature in comparison with BCS.

Lightly syrupy with tingly carbonation. Not overly big or full for the style. Decent alcohol heat, but wanted.

Solid BA barleywine. Easy, not outrageous but a bit tamer than it could be with a ballsier base. Probably why I think Rare is the better beer.

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Photo of sprucetip
4.73/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Lightly carbonated, dark brown, good clarity, minima head and no lacing.

Boozy heat is the only distraction. Bourbon barrel, rich caramel, pruney/rasiny dark fruit.

Rich sweet caramel, dark fruit, a bit of boozy heat, chocolate, and vanilla. Elements play well with others. Lovely. Damned near perfect.

Light but adequate carbonation, full body, highly viscous, with a surprisingly clean finish.

Okay. I give it a 5 for overall. It's a little boozy, but that's to be expected for a 13% beer. Aside from that it is perfect. I've never scored anything a perfect 5, ever. And this is no exception. But it ranks right up there.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle generously shared by Kyle after, well, the event that was central waters freezeathon.

Tepid pour with nary a head

rollicking embrace of prunes and raisins while uncle pappy smiles and lays his sinful blanket upon the proceedings.

Chocolate, dark fruits, no booze, seemlessly interwoven barrel.

Plush, pleasant, and a beer that I waited a long time to revisit with a proper pour. No more wasted time...cheers Kyle.

PostScript: those who say this has fallen off are full of shit

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Photo of RutgersEng
4.73/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

I have had BCBBW and Sucaba and was impressed with their taste and style and quite convincingly thought that they were the ipitome of what a barley wine should be. But, thanks to Tony and his brothers, we performed a side by side of BCBBW and King Henry and I was just blown away by the King Henry. It is like comparing a picnic table to 1700's Williamsburg desk. The smell was subdued, but hinted at the bourbon back bone. The color was dark caramel with a very thin head, but the mouthfeel was joyous. It was silky smooth and polished as if a master craftsman had labored over it. The BCBBW was still good, but prickly in comparison. The barrel treatment sanded off all of the rough edges of the base beer and imparted a wonderful bourbon assault of the palate that was noticable, but refined. It is definitely a royal beer.

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King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.62 out of 5 based on 1,469 ratings.
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