King Henry
Goose Island Beer Co.

King HenryKing Henry
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Barleywine - English
4.77 | pDev: 8.6%
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
King HenryKing Henry
Notes: 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.
Reviews: 333 | Ratings: 1,502 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by tbone1384:
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tbone1384 from Wyoming

5/5  rDev +4.8%

Nov 03, 2012
More User Reviews:
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.74/5  rDev -0.6%
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.

Jun 14, 2014
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.82/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

As rich, powerful, and succulent as any Barleywine that I have tasted. But with exquisit balance and surpring smoothness- is this the premiere Barleywine going forward?

The beer opens with a rusty garnet pour, very viscous, the beer carries an oily visual texture with cordial-like legging upon modest foam light tan and slight orange barley stains. Its overall appearanc is that of rich ale meets brandy.

Mouthwatering and succulent flavors and aromas of bourbon-soaked plubs, dates, cherries, figs, dates, nuts, apples, raisons, and prunes all layer upon the rich barley malt flavor of toffee, maple, brown sugar, molasses, and chocolate. Barrel-rich caramels, vanilla, and vinous woods also offer all the flavor of bourbon but with little of the associated fusal heat. An absolutely delicious staple that sets the bar extremely high for any barleywine wishing to compete for top honors.

Lush textures depend on the sheer weight of the ale plus the creamy and rich medium carbonation that gives an English-like robust textrue that chases the flavors from start to finish. Growing heat rises to provide a long and tawny finish of Port and Sherry with a long and moderate dryness in finish.

I have never been saddened more to see an empty glass as I was after this one finished. I'm an absolute sucker for sweet barleywines and this one delivers with the perfect culmination of all the Barleywine flavors that I appreciate the most. Marvelous on all fronts!

Dec 13, 2011
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tectactoe from Michigan

4.39/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to Ron for opening this one with us... I don't know how he does it. Dark brown and mahogany on the pour, with a light-tan head that settles to a collar pretty quickly. Still, thick, somewhat viscous and slightly menacing as it sits in the glass quiety. Good clarity when held up to the light, with not much haze detectable at all.

The aroma is absolutely huge... whether it's good or not, that's one thing... but the size of it is captivating. Sticky caramel, toffee, brown sugar, sweet molasses, deep figs, heavy oak, prunes, a big, boozy underbody, handfuls of woodsy raisins and a polished dusting of cocoa and chocolate in the end. Huge. Robust. Sticky sweet and largely complex. The best nose on the planet? Probably not... but still, pretty damn fantastic.

I'm a little more blown away by the first sip, as the flavor is even more omnipotent and commanding than the aroma (and even a little better, if you ask me). Lots of oak up front, sticky, heavy toffee, molded vanilla and caramel drizzle, warm bourbon and booze, cavity-inducing brown sugar, more dark fruits like figs and prunes, with a mild touch of cola in the finish, quickly survived by a touch of chocolate and the faintest addition of roast.... Wow.

King Henry is a monster of a beer. I guess that's what happens when you take an already massive barleywine and age it in Pappy 23 barrels that previously held a badass stout for two years. The bourbon character itself is relatively tame, I'm guessing since this is the second usage of the barrels, but King Henry still retains that barleywine-ish boozy character throughout - not to a menacing degree, rather just enough to let you know exactly what you're dealing with here.

There's no doubt this beer is a slow sipper, and the mouth feel is more justification of that. Thick and viscous, such a large body that has a sticky and almost (I repeat, *almost*) syrup-like retention to all sides of your mouth, leaving you with the lasting impression of oak, dying dark fruits, and huge brown sugar and molasses sweetness. Something that must be savored, one sip at a time.

So - King Henry. What a damn fine barleywine. While I do believe the hype train took hold of this one long ago, and it still may be *slightly* over-hyped, it is still a fantastic beer... I just wouldn't give up the farm for a bottle. It still deserves recognition as an incredible beer, although it wanders pretty far from the realm of English barleywines. In any case, it was still a lovely treat and I can't thank Ron enough for letting me indulge.

Sep 27, 2013
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emyers from Illinois

4.94/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bottle at Ball & Biscuit in Indianapolis, IN. Review from notes 5/13.

Appearance: Pours dark brown color, near black, with a thin light brown lacing. Not much head retention.

Smell: Wow. Bourbon, oak, vanilla, rich caramel malt, a healthy dose of fig, some dark chocolate, and hints of toast. There are layers upon layers of aroma here. Incredibly complex. I wish I could be smelling this all of the time, forever. OK, that might be a very slight exaggeration, but really, this smells impossibly good.

Taste: Unreal. Rich, top shelf bourbon, fig, date, caramel, some dark chocolate, vanilla, and toasted oak. Slight bit of alcohol heat on the finish (which only adds to the deliciousness). In order to imagine this flavor profile, take a world class barleywine and add some imperial stout characteristics and a healthy dose of bourbon. Then make it exponentially better. There may come a day when I taste a beer better than this, but I honestly doubt it.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and extremely smooth. Rich and velvety going down with an appropriately low carbonation level. Once again, wouldn't change a thing.

Overall: Based on some of the comments I read about this beer on the forums, I didn't think it could possibly live up to the hype. Then I tasted it, and it blew the hype out of the water. Words cannot describe how good this beer is.

Jul 20, 2013
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WTKeene from New Mexico

4.79/5  rDev +0.4%
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.

Apr 26, 2014
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mlhyatt from Georgia

4.79/5  rDev +0.4%
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!

Jul 03, 2014
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korguy123 from Canada (ON)

4.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Special thanks to sliverX for grabbing me one of the last bottles.
Into snifter.

A- Super dark brown pour. Almost resembling black, and has red tinge when held to the light. Zero head, but after being bourbon barrel aged and at 13% I don't expect any. Alcohol just clings onto the glass as if it was a 50/50 mix of beer and bourbon.

S- Massive vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, toffee notes with a nice woody backing. This is sexy smelling; the Pappy Van Winkle really shines I can only imagine how wonderful the BCBS Rare smells too. There is a slight burnt smell that resembles the syrup you make for sticky buns.

T- Massive brown sugar and sticky bun goodness. Caramel, toffee, maple syrup and vanilla. That is followed but a smooth oak woodiness and a gigantic bourbon presence. This has no hint of alcohol. Everything is just blended together wonderfully. The Pappy adds a smooth sweetness and makes this beer just sing.

M- Full bodied, creamy and silky. Sticky on the lips.

O- I'm totally blown away by this beer. I could go on for hours. It's a slow sipper not because you have to, but because you want to savor every sip and make it last all night. Goose Island has truly found a winner with this beer and I'm truly thankful to get a chance to enjoy this.

Jan 29, 2012
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siege06nd from Virginia

4.62/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Jackie O's 6th Anniversary 4 oz. snifter...

A: A super dark ruby brown. A beautiful crimson glow around the edges when held to the light. A tiny creamy white head that vanishes almost as quickly as it appears. It dwindles to a thin ring that rims the edges. The color is simply divine.

S: Well, I smelled the bourbon the minute I opened the bottle. Haven't even held the glass to my nose yet and I'm getting a good amount of vanilla bourbon aroma. Let's go in for a closer look, shall we? Oh. my. goodness. Is this the best smelling barleywine ever? It might be. As strong as the bourbon is, it's surprisingly well integrated, allowing the other notes to really shine in the bouquet. The Pappy barrels just give this an incredible complexity and smoothness. Vanilla, ripe cherry, dark plum, some grape, and a decadent chocolate undertone. A quick swirl yields some nice oak notes. The nose seems to change with every swirl. This is right there with Abacus and in a dead heat with MoAS. Spectacular.

T: Goodness gracious is this a thick and smooth beer. Coats the mouth like maple syrup. Caramel and toffee, vanilla, and lots of oak. The bourbon is very well integrated and not offensive in the least. Finishes with a fairly strong booziness, but it is mellowed by the dark fruit and caramel malt. Dark fruit and a splash of chocolate are also lingering in the background. The oakiness dominates the finish a bit, but I think that will settle with some age. It also helps keep this from being an overly sweet barleywine right off the bat, though I have no doubts it will get there with a year or so. Decadent is the only way to describe this brew.

M: I think the mouthfeel was absolutely crushed. Incredible balance, richness, and smoothness for such a fresh barleywine. Positively coats the mouth, but not in a sickly sweet way. I think the beer needs just a little age to let the barrel aging calm down a bit, as the wood notes are all over this on the finish and it has a bit of burn on the back end.

O: Well, Abacus and MoAS have some competition. GI absolutely hit this one out of the park. It's rich, smooth, and decadent. The barrel aging is surprisingly controlled for such a fresh barleywine, but I still think it could use 6 months to a year to reach its peak. That being said, right off the shelf it currently stands as one of the top examples of the style, IMO. An absolute grand slam home run from GI. Would love to see them continue to release this.

Dec 11, 2011
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SalukiAlum from Colorado

5/5  rDev +4.8%

Feb 29, 2012
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NarcoSolo from Pennsylvania

3.25/5  rDev -31.9%

May 29, 2012
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Petevocals from Indiana

5/5  rDev +4.8%

Jan 27, 2013
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homebrew311 from Illinois

4.72/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at FoBAB.

A: appears a deep burgundy with a light brown collar of head, decent clarity, some lacing

S: the nice smooth toasted coconut character that I loved so much in BCS Rare is prevalent, the PVW barrels shine among notes of leather, raisins, honey, and molasses

T: leather and bourbon up front, notes of marshmallow, cream, honey, and molasses. The balance is impeccable. No heat whatsoever.

MF: smooth and creamy, mellow carbonation

O: the fact that this beer didn't even place at FoBAB is quite shocking. A GI brewpub only brew called Honey B took best in the Barleywine category as well as best in show... I firmly believe that this brew was leaps and bounds better. To each their own I guess.

Nov 13, 2011
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CuriousMonk from District of Columbia

4.76/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

2011 vintage. Poured from 750ml bottle into a tulip glass. Pours a burgundy-hued color along with a very thin off-white head with extremely little lacing that lasted throughout. Aromas of yeast, dark fruit, vanilla, and nuts. Flavor was packed with some hot heat up front, cherries, come caramel, and vanilla. Smooth and amazing thin to medium mouthfeel. Good carbonation throughout. Excellent barleywine with an amazing maltiness to it. I can only wish that Goose Island would have continued to brew this beer!

Jan 23, 2012
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emsjf from Virginia

4.97/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Opaque mahogany w/ red transparencies, minimal head, average lacing

Aroma: Vanilla, oak, bourbon, bleach/chlorine, lavandar, maple syrup, powdered cinnamon, thick musky aroma

Taste: Full body, bitter chocolate, vanilla bean, bourbon, oak, butteriness, walnut, maple syrup, coca-cola sweetness, cake batter on finish, cheesecake/cream cheese residual, viscous mouthfeel, gentle warming, mild/medium carbonation, rich + complex

Pairings: Lamb, falafel, Mediterranean, Greek, Indian, Pizza, Smoked gouda + bread, anything cause this brew is awesome

Feb 12, 2012
JDJTEXAS from California

4.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Sep 07, 2013
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keanlacrosse from New Jersey

5/5  rDev +4.8%

Mar 08, 2012
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Auror from Massachusetts

4.75/5  rDev -0.4%

Jan 13, 2012
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BeerHunter76 from Texas

4.75/5  rDev -0.4%

Jul 19, 2012
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ohtheguilt from Georgia

5/5  rDev +4.8%

Apr 17, 2012
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NW2285 from Ohio

4.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Jul 28, 2014
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awdturboiv from Indiana

5/5  rDev +4.8%

Dec 17, 2011
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OneBeertoRTA from California

4.75/5  rDev -0.4%

Apr 05, 2012
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zrab11 from Indiana

4.5/5  rDev -5.7%

Apr 09, 2014
King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 1502 ratings