King Henry | Goose Island Beer Co.

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King HenryKing Henry
1,488 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,488 |  Reviews: 328
Photo of kylehay2004
4.68/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of jaydoc
4.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of acurtis
4.25/5  rDev -9.8%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.27/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour provided by ehammond1 at the blind barrel aged barleywine tasting hosted by DarthKostrizer.

Pours a clear dark brown with a khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form randomly around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, brown sugar, vanilla, wood, and bourbon aromas. Taste is exactly the same with an alcohol kick in the throat with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good barleywine that is worth the hype surrounding it. This beer was the unanimous winner of the blind tasting.

 604 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
4.25/5  rDev -9.8%

Photo of GRG1313
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of spycow
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of Knapp85
4.39/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This was sent to me by mjmadsen21, big thanks on this one. This poured out as a very dark burgundy color with a fizzy tan head head on top. The head doesn't last long and only leaves a thin ring around the edge of the glass. Not the most impressive looking beer that's for sure. The smell is big, lots of bourbon, sweet fruity malts and plenty of ethenal heat filling the nose. The taste of the beer is sweet, loaded with dense malt and plenty of sweetness. Elements of vanilla and caramel. The mouthfeel is heavy, creamy and oily thickness with some bubbles that gently dance on the tongue. The beer is smooth and sticky. Overall it's huge, very boozy even after sitting in the bottle for a couple years. Really nice barleywine.

 729 characters

Photo of djrn2
4/5  rDev -15.1%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of nmann08
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of t0rin0
4.5/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of BEERchitect
4.82/5  rDev +2.3%
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!

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Photo of oline73
4.78/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

We opened this during the tasting this past weekend. Poured into my Chimay goblet.

Appearance: Pours a mahogany color with a layer of off white head that disappears completely.

Smell: This smells like bourbon and caramel. Quite sweet, but not in a negative way at all. Extremely smooth, the barrels have done wonderful things to this beer.

Taste: One of, if not the best barleywine I have ever tastes. It not only lives up to the smell, it tops it. Caramel and dark fruit along with some cocoa and bourbon. Everything blends flawlessly, just awesome.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thick side with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Just an amazing beer. I would drink this any time I get the chance. Everything works here.

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Photo of kojevergas
4.05/5  rDev -14%
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 WillieThreebiers
4.57/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of emerge077
4.62/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Healthy pour into a tulip glass yields a thin layer of ecru foam on the surface that fades away quickly. Given the ABV, it's no surprise there's not much head retention. Color is a stunning deep crimson when backlit, otherwise a dark reddish copper with perfect clarity.

Sweet and confectionary aromas of rich toffee and bourbon caramel syrup.
Mellow traces of wood and vanilla from the re-used bourbon barrels.

Pralines, toffee, toasted almonds, toasted coconut, vanilla, cajeta. Trace oak woodiness and bourbon traces blend seamlessly, though there is a hint of spirit that bites just a tiny bit. Low carb, somewhat tannic and oaky, lip smackingly sweet upfront like homemade toffee, impossible richness. The flavor lingers so long, it could easily be 5 min. between sips, just savoring it. It may not be Wooden Hell, but it's on the same level for sure.

 861 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.27/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out a burgundy color with little to no head. It did leave some sudsy lace on the glass.

S - It smelled of bourbon, vanilla and oak. It had some sweet caramel and toffee notes, too.

T - It tasted very malt and sweet with caramel and sweet toffee. Nice vanilla, oak and bourbon flavors show off the aging.

M - It was crisp, sharp and relatively smooth. A full bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a delicious English Barleywine. Goose Island can still bring it.

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Photo of brentk56
4.22/5  rDev -10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2011 release

Appearance: A small head caps the fudge colored liquid and quickly becomes a ringlet without leaving much lace behind

Smell: Caramel, figs, dates and chocolate

Taste: Caramel and chocolate, up front, with both citrus and bourbon elements arriving by mid-palate; the bourbon dominates the finish, though there is plenty of caramel to go around

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; a bit of heat in the gullet

Overall: This beer packs a wallop of flavor but at this stage of its development, it is rather hot; I imagine this will improve dramatically over the next year or so

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Photo of SocalKicks
4.5/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of mothman
4.39/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at the Great Taste 2010

Pours a light layer of tan head. Color is a copper brown with a slight ruby hue to it.

Aroma/Taste: This beer has a lighter bourbon flavor than most -bal aged barlywines. I am guessing it is due to the fact that it was aged in old bcs barrels and the bcs took most of the alcohol notes. It has a lot of malts going on here. Big toffee notes with some caramel flavors. Also there is a decent amount of dark fruits showing. Also has some chocolate and burnt sugar flavors.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and smooth with some warmth to it. A fuller body with a medium amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a pretty decent beer. I want to try it again when it is released to re-evaluate it, but so far I like it. It is pretty drinkable for how big it is.

Edit: bottle 12-2015

Barrel flavors show nicely. Nice bourbon oak and vanilla. Drinking well for how old it is. Much better than the original tap version I had.

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Photo of largadeer
4.65/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Another fine tick shared by womencantsail. Thanks, Andrew.

Mahogany body topped by a lasting leather hued crust.

Smells pretty damn great, nutty and caramelized with subtle barrel notes. Bourbon is still surprisingly present for second use barrels, lending a great richness to an already rich foundation.

The palate is boozier than the aroma, but still really nice. Nutty, lightly oxidized with a big caramel malt backbone. Little bit of earthiness, somewhat tobacco/cigar-like. Bit of dried fig fruitiness. Full-bodied, rich, decidedly sweet and malty but not cloying by any means. Nice fruit-oak-caramel finish.

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Photo of jlindros
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

There are a few very memorable things in life. So trying to find a full day of pure memories, sudden vicarious flashes, pinching yourself to be sure you're not dreaming while trying to survive through long spells of anticipation, which was today as my new daughter was born.
Then cap all that off with a nightmarish hell of driving for 2.5 hours through unplowed many inches of snow with your 4 year old is fidgeting constantly in the back seat asking "are we there yet" every few minutes of the hellish journey, and the only thing you keep thinking is to make sure you get him, and the father of your brand new daughter, home safe. Well, all that is now somehow behind me, and I still think I'm dreaming, which means time to crack the beer that is pretty much how I feel, like King Henry. bottled 10/08/11, so a bit over a year old by now.

The pour flows out in a lush fashion and cascades down the sides of the glass, bubbling up a smooth but fizzy 1/2 finger head which at first looks good for the abv, but then fades fairly quickly to give way to the gorgeous beer below. A light lacing reminds me that it was ever there in teh first place. The beer leaves long gorgeous legs down the sides,and coats the glass enough to make it like a new layer of the glass, it seems to fuse with the glass, and hte beer streams ruby light through super dark molasses brown almost black beer.

Nose was already wafting out of the bottle as soon as the top popped off and just kept racing into my endorphin maker from there. A huge malt orgasmic bomb comes out the glass in waves, my knees would have buckled if I was standing. Darkish malts, reddish sweet malts, nutty, light roast and coffee, but so much of it it's almost unreal. Also plenty of the syrups... caramel, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, little maple syrup, etc. Then the cascades of bourbon, pure sweet bourbon aroma, with plenty of vanilla barrel, oaky barrel, etc. so much vanilla, and just a hint of cocoa, with a bit of brandy soaked raisins, nuts with date, oh and did I mention a little piece of heaven? Just a tad short of perfect.

The taste profile of this just picked up even more from the aroma. It's already one of the most memorable beers I've ever had. Big fluffy malts and thick super rich malts and syrups layer every part of my mouth, and it somehow finds its way into every nook and cranny of each tastebud, as they all rejoice in ecstasy. Malts of heavy and dark origin, a bit of roast with coffee, plenty of reddish sweet syrupy malts, a hint of cocoa, etc, and fairly nutty. Lots of soft aged malts, with a subtle richness but not so subtle greatness. Candy galore, caramelized everything, toffee with nuts, chewy fig, date, brandy soaked raisins, orgasm juice soaked malts, molasses, syrup, etc. Oh and it slowly moves around my mouth like molasses. Light bitterness balances all that fairly well. To continue the epic poem, bourbon, with bourbon layered on top of barrel, with a little oaky barrel, and a bit of delicious vanilla. Booze? Yes it has some warming booze, maybe slightly tingly, but the fair but not nearly overpowering sweetness, big rich malts, and bourbon flavors really balance the booze so that it drinks more like an 8-9% beer. Finish, I keep waiting for the finish, but with the thick mouth coating that leaves a big coating layer in my mouth it never really seems to finish. Fairly rich thick syrupy, a bit sweet, lots of bourbon and vanilla, tons more dark fruits and malts, and everything else awesome you can dream up for a beer.

Mouth again continues the momentum of amazingness. One word, big-thick-rich-creamy-syrupy-smooth-sexy-lucious-transcending-glass-of-pure-awesomness, well more of a Scandinavian style language type of word. also some booze but not a lot, just enough to warm the soul as it tries to invite friends, and a bit of decent carbonation.

Overall, need I explain more. This is very close to perfection, and top 10 beers ever probably. Just a few things it could have done to make it perfect, but otherwise very close, and sooo good. I could sip it for hours upon hours and still be ready for more, that is until the 13.4% abv knocked me on my ass. But until then I'll just enjoy the sh*t out of it! What a way to cap off a crazy awesome and scary as hell day. I can def say this day ranks up in the most memorable of my life!

 4,349 characters

Photo of zestar
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%

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King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 4.71 out of 5 with 1,488 ratings