King Henry | Goose Island Beer Co.

1,477 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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,477 |  Reviews: 325
Photo of DangerDawg
5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of BDeibs
5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of Stoutsman
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of MBrausen
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%
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 -13.4%
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.

 882 characters

Photo of Exiled
4.25/5  rDev -8%

Photo of rpstevens
4/5  rDev -13.4%

Photo of Auror
4.75/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of MowryJC
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%

Photo of harrymel
4.17/5  rDev -9.7%
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 -2.6%

Photo of brewmudgeon
4.09/5  rDev -11.5%
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 +8.2%

Photo of jmpizzo
5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of BedetheVenerable
4.13/5  rDev -10.6%
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 -24.2%

Photo of davey101
4.67/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

 1,543 characters

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.11/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

King Henry, bottle bought at Whole Foods Chelsea for $13.99. Within NYC, I have also seen for sale at $9.99 (Flair Beverage in Inwood) and $23.99 (Community Beverage in Queens).

Appearance: The King pours viscous and luscious like a Pedro Ximenez. Deep solid black color with chestnut shades, rather flat in appearance. Barely a finger of very carbonated but ephemeral head that dies almost immediately.

Smell: Incredibly rich, varied and penetrating aroma. Raisins, chocolate powder, mellow spice and candied fruits. Plum cake, old port wine, brown sugar. Toffee and a thick sweetness. So much going on!

Taste: Not as complex as nose and with much more heat and fire. Cola, industrial glue. Heaviness. Liquorice, some wood and bourbon at the end. Caramel, diacetyl. Smoked butter. Smooth milk chocolate, cloying sweetness. A belly-warmer and -filler for sure!

Mouthfeel: Thick, oily, rich. Low carbonation, full body and flavor. A tad flat, but adequate.

Overall: I like this, but it's got issues. Too sweet (I'm sure it will mellow out) and slightly too hot, to start with. Too one-dimensional too! Pappy barrel? Not so much... I enjoyed Abacus and other similarly-barreled barleywines more.

 1,201 characters

Photo of Shagtastic
4.89/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bought at the Beer Sellar and split with a buddy.

A: Poured a really nice light brown with little amounts of head that didnt hang around too long.

S: Vanilla everywhere. I get the bourbon as well but the vanilla overpowers everything and I cannot be happier about it.

T: As awesome as I thought the nose was the taste blows even that away. Strong vanilla bourbon and oak notes assault the palate over and over.

M: Its a little hot but I love it. The burn just compliments everything and even with it is still incredibly smooth.

O: This is hands down the best barleywine I've ever had and if given the chance I'd grab as much as I could afford. This beer is spectacular and I was truly disappointed when my glass was empty.

 727 characters

Photo of Steamhead
5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of MeisterSmudge
5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of abar22
4.47/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quick notes...

Smells like vanilla, alcohol soaked nuts.

Tastes like vanilla, almonds, butterscotch, Bourbon and more. Complex and tasty.

Beautiful english barleywine that controls the butterscotch better than others I've had. Balanced and complex. Wish I had one more!

 273 characters

Photo of hansgruber
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very dark amber body with little carbonation. No head or anything else really. It has a nose of sweet bourbon, oak, and vanilla. Very little alcohol heat.

Bourbon, vanilla, oak, and sweet malts. Coconut with some dark fruits buried in there too. Very complex and tasty.
Full bodied. Light carbonation, but entirely appropriate.

Overall I thought it was a great beer. Plenty of flavor and complexity without being overly boozy or harsh. Highly recommended. Share it with a few friends.

 489 characters

Photo of bpfrush
5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of KAP1356
4.99/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Catching up on reviews as it has been some time. Was lucky enough to get a bottle of this when it came out a couple of years ago. I didn't think I would ever give a beer perfect 5's all around, but this one might be my all time favorite beer. Poured into a snifter...

A - Pours a nice dark mahogany color that is really warm and inviting. There are some darker amber red hues when held up to the light. A very thin eggshell white head forms and quickly recedes to a collar. Almost perfect, but I had to ding some points here.

S - Wow. Sweet and intense aromas of caramel, dates, molasses, figs and dark fruits up front. Vanilla, some more roasty stout flavors come through as well with a lovely mix of bourbon and oak. Some ever so slight maple syrup hints in there as well.

T - Here it is. This is my perfect tasting beer. The flavors begin with dark fruits like dates, raisins, figs, and prunes that taste like they have been rolled in caramel and molasses. Flavors of bourbon, vanilla, maple syrup and some slight spice - like cinnamon - all come through in a sweet and creamy fugue of flavors. Rich butterscotch comes out more as it warms along with some slight chocolate notes. Just wow. Yes, it's sweet, but the flavors complement each other so well and there is such a nice and almost perfect barrel integration here that it is hard to find anything wrong with the sweetness.

M - Rich, velvet, creamy full bodied beer with minimal carbonation. The booze is so well integrated into the beer here that it is hard to pick up completely on the flavors.

O - Just wow. My first 5 beer. For me, this is everything I would want in a beer. So happy to have had a chance to try this and I know this flavor will last quite a while in my memories.

 1,747 characters

King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.62 out of 5 based on 1,477 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.