King Henry | Goose Island Beer Co.

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King HenryKing Henry
1,485 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: 1,485 |  Reviews: 325
Photo of ColdPoncho
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of koopa
4.35/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A big thanks to my buddy beenity for hooking me up with my one and only bottle of the critically acclaimed King Henry English Barleywine from Goose Island. I was a huge fan of Rare so I'm really looking forward to trying the fruits of Goose Islands second use of those PVW barrels.

Appearance: Pours dark brown to burgundy with a 2 finger brown crown that shows little retention and no lace.

Smell: Light caramel, vanilla, some nuttiness, and a touch of dark fruits (raisins mainly) come forth seated on top of a mild Pappy Van Winkle bourbon / oak barrel foundation. Very balanced but not as pungent as I was expecting, although my nose is fairly stuffy at the moment. I'd give it a 4.2 if I could so I'm rounding down a bit.

Taste: First sip...and it's good! Caramel, vanilla, bourbon, oak, raisin, prune, an enjoyable grainy quality, a perfect minor alcohol note, and a hint of hops. Very well balanced bouquet of flavors here. Sweetness is enjoyably restrained. Definitely mellow in the PVW character department.

Mouthfeel: Thin side of thick bodied with moderate carbonation which works for the style.

Overall: This is a solid American brewed English Barleywine. It's got nothing on Wooden Hell, but what beer does?

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.82/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From 22oz bomber to snifter on 12/16/11
*From notes

-- Many thanks go out to Eric for cracking into this masterpiece. And thanks are also due to John for opening a fresh Mother of all Storms for comparison. --

A: A pour straight down the middle of the glass yields a meager .25 finger head that fades rather quickly. No lacing or collar remain. It's a pretty clean leather/tobacco brown in hue, with really top notch edge deliniation.

S: Absolutely on point. It overwhelms the nostrils with rich bourbon, mild booze and über concentrated dark, dried vine fruit.

T: Unreal. This is something special. From the moment it hits my lips and enters my mouth, it's easy to ascertain that GI's King Henry isn't your typical barleywine, be it English or American. Rather it's got the soul of an RIS, creating a hybird that's like the best mixtape you ever made. It's a bit sweet, yet it's in no way cloying. My cup runneth over with what many consider the best bourbon on the planet. It integrates itself perfectly with the dense and fruit forward nature of the base beer. The balance here is masterful, and makes for one of the most delicious beers I've ever consumed.

M: It rivals GI's BCBS as one of the most well put together beers around. If you could bottle wealth and luxury, this would be it. Creamy yet not overly bubbly. This is smooth like silk and packs the body of Anna Nicole Smith: voluptous in all the right places.

O: Goose Island's King Henry rightfully takes it's place in the upper echelon of craft beer. This might sound crazy, but to be honest, I don't know if this beer is hyped enough. It's the real McCoy, the beer that in time, you dump the cellar for. I may have a bottle or two in the cellar, but it isn't enough. It's brews like this that actually help me to understand why some folks hoard 'em away.

I can only hope that Goose Island finds a way to make this again, let alone every year. It's a magnificent achievement that ranks among not only the best of the year, but the top fermented liquids of all-time.

*And by the way, this absolutely slaughtered the Mother of all Storms.

 2,110 characters

Photo of SteelersX
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of scott2269
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of TheRealDBCooper
5/5  rDev +6.2%

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.

 479 characters

Photo of ASUBeer
4.82/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a Mother Earth snifter.

Big thank you to zrab11 for sending this to me.

The beer pours surprisingly dark for a barleywine even if it is barrel aged. A small dark tan head forms and then resides. The nose is a wonderful blend of barrel notes, bourbon, vanilla, toffee and raisins. The taste is not far off from the nose. Many of the same flavors. The surprising thing is how you also get a touch of stout (BCBS) in this beer. It's a beautiful infusion to this awesome barleywine. You also get a ton of barrel aged flavor without the beer being "hot". This is my personal favorite trait of a good barrel aged beer. The mouthfeel is nice and just what you'd expect of a barleywine. Overall this is an amazing beer. It's like a top tier barrel aged barleywine that carries over a few characteristics from a BCBS. Need to find more.

 855 characters

Photo of DangerDawg
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of BDeibs
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of Stoutsman
4.5/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of MBrausen
4.5/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Dougofthefuture for holding this tasting!

Poured from a bomber into a snifter.

A. This beer pours a nice dark caramel color with a reddish hue, nice half finger head, consistent bubbles stemming from the center of the glass, , good retention of a thin layer all the way through the glass.

S. The smell is extremely sugary, very sweet, sweet alcohol and obvious whiskey overtones.

T. Taste is extremely sweet. Lots of sugar, heavy chocolate, oak, some vanilla , and a hint of whiskey.

M. It feels thick and chewy, a wet taste with a dry after taste. I feel like this beer covers up how thin the body actually is with the super sugary after-taste. I feel like it is thinner than it is. Medium body

O. Overall this is a very good beer. This is the way barrel aging should be done. Lots of oak/chocolate/vanilla from the barrel, and only mild alcohol taste to compliment it's finish. That being said, this was an extremely sweet beer, to the point where I don't think I could ever finish a bottle alone. It was very overbearing. I felt like I was a kid eating direct from the mixer at a bakery. It was very pure and raw sugar tasting. This beer is very good, but I think it is over-hyped.

 1,201 characters

Photo of Dubber55
4/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 10/08/11

Pours a clear crimson/brown with 1/4 finger of head that quickly dissipates. Not much lacing.

You can definitely smell the barrels. Not a boozy smell though- oaky, nutty, buttery, caramel, raisins, brown sugar.

Taste is very much the same- nutty, buttery, oaky, brown sugar, raisins, caramel. I notice a little booze in the finish but nothing out of place. Pretty mellow compared to most fresh barrel aged beers.

Low carbonation. Medium mouthfeel. A little oily and syrupy.

This beer is extremely smooth for 13%. If I had to guess, I would say its under 10%. But, I am not blown away like other people. The flavor profile just does not seem to be that complex. I am drinking the bomber myself and the sweetness is kind of wearing on me. It is still a good beer, it just does not live up to all the hype I have been hearing. I preferred fresh Abacus over this.

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Photo of Exiled
4.25/5  rDev -9.8%

Photo of rpstevens
4/5  rDev -15.1%

Photo of Auror
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%

Photo of MowryJC
4.5/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of harrymel
4.17/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

You know when this was bottled.

Pours ugly. Looks like a dark, tawny port. No carb, brown with ruby tones. Vanilla, nougat, booze, bourbon, sex. Very nice and lovely nose.

Bourbon, vanilla, sugar, barley, dark sugar, molasses, prune, raisin, and other stuff I can't articulate. This is exceptionally well produced beer. A nice, velvet body with moderate carb and a near dry finish effervesces to a lovely bouquet in the mouth. Some bitterness on the finish.

I gotta say, this is the best well defined BBA barleywine I've ever had. But it's ugly. That being said, I would absolutely drink more of this and the alcohol is dangerously hidden in this beer. Danger.

 664 characters

Photo of mjtiernan
4.5/5  rDev -4.5%

Photo of brewmudgeon
4.09/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

King Henry
poured half the bomber into a pint glass, the only thing that was clean.

a 3.5-4 dark cola brown, with amber hues around the edges. not nearly as dark (duh) or as thick-looking (huh) as BCBS. a small, less than 1-finger head arose and left quickly, leaving only a spare ring. the look is fine, but not awe inspiring or anything.

s 4.5 vanilla, oak, beautifully rounded bourbon, butterscotch, figs, dates and other dark oozy fruity smells. a little wisp of alcohol. no hops.

t 4 the first wash across the palate is a dance of sweet fruityness, not as dark as expected. almost tropical fruit punchy. there is some burn on the back end which actually helps to keep the sugar from being overwhelming. melted candy. at times reminiscent of pyrat xo rum (which i no longer like), but in a pleasing way. the kinship to BCBS is present in the sweet vanilla notes, but this is clearly a different style of beer and could not be confused with a stout imo, as some have suggested. i want to scream “where are the hops” as even for an English style barleywine they are remarkably absent. something is needed to offset this immense sweetness. starting to taste very much like a sweet style of sherry, but with some fruit punch and carbonation added.

m 4 as expected from the appearance, not as viscous as BCBS. quite a bit of carbonation, which leads me to think i should have poured a little harder and raised more head and possibly triggered some lace in the bargain.

o 4 poured half of this into a 12 oz bottle and recapped. will have again soon and compare notes.
well. hmm. i am not really a stout guy, yet find myself preferring regular ole suddenly-hard-to-find BCBS over King Henry (to compare apples to oranges and prefer a certain orange to a certain apple despite being much more of an apple guy). All this “beer of the year” talk certainly had my expectations high, and I certainly tried to love this. it is a good dessert beer, for sure.

 1,965 characters

Photo of Jspriest
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of jmpizzo
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.13/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 22oz brown pop top with gorgeous, classy label. Clearly-marked bottled-on date of 10/08/11. Split this into two oversized wine to share with my wife on my 29th birthday. Thanks to my mom for tracking down (no mean feat) a couple of bottles of this for an AWESOME Christmas present.

Appearance: Beautiful dark garnet brew with a decent dark sand cap which actually sticks around for awhile (surprising with the abv) and settles into a thick ring. Nice looking brew; the pour is one of the thickest I've seen from a brew other than the biggest stouts.

Smell: There's definitely some alcoholic heat up front, but it's warm, rather than hot. Aromas of toasted nuts, almond extract, and dried cherries. No hop aromas to be found (no complaints here, as I actually prefer the English style to the highly-hopped American variety). Quite pleasant, but not the massive depth I was expecting.

Taste: Incredibly rich and sweet. Boozy heat up front, but not quite hot. Where the boozy aromas were almost winey, here a bit of bourbon barrel actually comes through on the palate with creamy vanilla and dry, toasty oak. Brown sugar sweetness. Nutty, with some dried red fruit. Perhaps just a hint of highly-toasted marshmallow on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Rich, sweet, and full, if not quite sticky or viscous.

Overall: While some have claimed that this beer simply will not improve over the years, I tend to wonder. This is quite nice now, especially considering the high abv, and the barrel character is nice, but for me this isn't what makes the beer. I've got one more of these and I think I'm going to hold onto it for a year or two if possible. I think there's a LOT of great stuff going on here in the base beer, and am wondering if the nutty/fruity flavors might become a touch more defined once the heat dies down a bit. Either way, one of the best beers I've had in a long time. A- to A

Also, this is by FAR best at room temperature.

 1,949 characters

Photo of GoNowhere
3.5/5  rDev -25.7%

Photo of davey101
4.67/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled on 10/08/2011 0908. 22 oz bomber into an over sized wine glass at cellar temperature.

A - Extremely dark red body. Its almost black its so dark. Doesn't let much light pass through. 2 finger dark khaki head lasted about 30 seconds before fizzing away into some random spotches and some light edging. Nice alcohol legs. Looks like a typical barley wine.

S - Huge bourbon presence. Very hot and intense, but pleasant and inviting. This is followed by sweet caramelized figs and raisins. Theres some light but complex notes of chocolate, molasses, and woody oak happening in the background. Crazy smooth vanilla rich bourbon aroma just steals the show though. Perfect aroma.

T - Starts with some biting alcohol. Vanilla and oak followed by a very sweet malt and dark caramelized fruit backbone. Not as complex as the nose, but theres still a lot of stray flavors happening here. Some toffee, caramel, and bittersweet chocolate. Very rich and sweet. The aftertaste is filled with perfectly mellow and smooth bourbon notes. I can feel the heat in the back of my throat, but its very easy to drink.

M - Medium to thick body with a nice low level of carbonation allowing it to drink extremely well. Really oily and smooth. The alcohol heat is there but doesn't interfere at all.

O - Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely! Is it the best beer of 2011? I don't think it is. It is one of the best barrel aged beers I have tried, and hands down the best barley wine I've had though. Stupidly good and worth the hassle of landing a bottle.

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King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 4.71 out of 5 with 1,485 ratings