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:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 323 | Ratings: 1,468
Photo of allforALE
4.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured form a 22oz bottle into snifter.

Pours a deep ruby brown with a very faint head that subsides quickly.

This smells of Bourbon, carmel, oak, vanilla, and a bit of chocolate

The taste is sublime. Toffee, vanilla, caramel, and bourbon to a lesser extent than the smell.

Not too much carbonation, but a full bodied beer and very viscous.

This is probably the best barleywine I have ever had. Must get more.

 414 characters

Photo of axeman9182
3.83/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle, #948. This one was bottled on October 8th, and allowed to warm a little bit before being poured into my Duvel tulip.

King Henry pours surprisingly dark. It's almost stout black, with very sparse mahogany highlights. Maybe two fingers of foam, the color of light coffee, rise up and then fall right back down. The nose hits every mark for a bourbon barrel aged English barleywine, and does so nicely. Toffee, vanilla and burnt sugar are the primary aromas, with bourbon and oak providing subtle complexities in the background. The flavor sees those secondary notes come a bit too far in the foreground. Woody oak and boozy bourbon are fairly in your face, while caramel and vanilla are stuck playing second fiddle. Ideally those roles would be reversed. The body is full and creamy, but the carbonation is a bit too subdued, even for a malt forward style. The result is a carbonation that crosses the line at times into syrupy. King Henry's a solid beer, but given how well Goose Island's barrel aged beers usually come out, I'm just a little bit disappointed.

 1,074 characters

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

22 oz bottle shared by Paul.

Pours a dark caramel brown, relatively clear and still with minimal carbonation. Light beige head fades fairly quickly. Smooth is first word that comes to mind in both aroma and flavor. "BCS-like" bourbon is in the forefront throughout, but never overpowering. Vanilla, oak, figs, brown sugar, and milk chocolate blend throughout and produce a slightly dry oaky finish. Body is near perfect; full with a sticky, sweet coating on the palate. Tried this a few times in the past week against some other beers like Blighs, AftW, BB4D, BA Old Conudrum, etc and this always came out on top.

 614 characters

Photo of mdaschaf
4.39/5  rDev -5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Had at the Goose Island tasting at BeerThursday's place.

A: Poured a very dark brown/mahogany color. From the side it was sitting next to a bunch of stouts and it was hard to tell which was King Henry. Small white head with no lacing.

S: Strong aromas of caramel and vanilla, with a little bit of bourbon and brown sugar.

T: I got a good bit of bourbony vanilla upfront with some oak, brown sugar, caramel, and a little bit of toffee backing it up.

M: Medium to full bodied, very low carbonation. Alcohol is present and is warming as it goes down, but doesn't really detract from the beer.

O: For not being a huge BW fan, I liked this beer a good bit. The sweetness was a little much, but it drank very smooth.

 738 characters

Photo of drabmuh
4.62/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I figured I'd write a few reviews tonight so I thought I'd start with this. At the time of this review, this is the #1 American Barleywine on the "Top Beers - American Barleywine" -- serve in a Stone IRS snifter because it was handy.

Beer is dark brown, mostly clear, lazy thin head, no real lacing, low carbonation, low everything.

Aroma is sweet, nice, overall, a good liquor level, mildly oaky, sweet mostly.

Beer is fucking amazing, seriously so. Smooth as anything I've ever drank, at first bright sweetness, strong palate, i was worried for about a second, then boom, liquor, oak, malt sweetness, nice yeast presence, strong, great finish perhaps a little dryer than i like it but this beer? Seriously? wow. Just wow.

 727 characters

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

Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul.

The beer is dark brown with russet highlights. Atop the beer rests an oily beige head. The aroma brings roast, bourbon, malt, oak, booze. Fantastic flavor. Alcoholic warmth but unobtrusive. Well balanced and teeming with delicious flavor. Every drink begs another. I doubt I could ever grow tired of this beer. Medium to full bodied with a silky smooth feel on the palate. Simply put, this is easily one of the best beers I have ever had. My highest recommendation.

 503 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.62/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle courtesy of Lunch.

Pours a dark copper-caramel color with a good off-white head. The nose brings some very smooth bourbon. So smooth. Great vanilla and caramel in the background. Flavor hits smooth bourbon and light oak tannin. Body is incredibly smooth with a great bourbon character. Really delicious. Absolutely fantastic beer.

 339 characters

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.22/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass at Monk's Pub. Shared with my boys readbaron and RC0032 on a cold afternoon. 2011 bottle.

Appearance: A relatively small tan froth is touched with a few large rocky bubbles. The beer itself has a full brown color with some ruby edges. Mostly opaque with just a few transparent edges, this looks like a good barleywine.

Smell: The aroma is full of vanilla, oak, caramel, brown sugar, milk chocolate, figs, dates, and a large dose of bourbon for good measure.

Taste: There is a great bit of vanilla in the flavor. Vanilla sticks to the gooey caramel malt and brown sugar, coats the figs and dates, and leaves a good bit of residual flavor. Some cocoa adds a bit of further sweetness with a toasted bready malt before a strong bourbon and oak presence almost overwhelms my palate. I enjoy this flavor, but I was not quite as excited about it as the other two I shared the bottle with.

Mouthfeel: There is a fairly strong sweetness up front that rests on the tongue and adds a sticky feel, but this sensation is more than balanced out by the dry bourbon and oak toward the end. The carbonation is about 75% smooth and creamy and 25% adding a bit of bubbly crispness.

Overall: This beer has quickly gained a name for itself, from festivals last year and FOBAB this year. The bottles drink very well, and I imagine this will get even better as some of the flavors blend together over time.

 1,436 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.22/5  rDev -8.7%
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

 604 characters

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

22oz of King Henry

poured into a Deschutes snifter

A - nice dark brown pour with good lacing.

S - lots of bourbon. cherries, fruit, some oak.

T - certainly the best Barleywine I've had. no question about it. Had some good ones and living in Munster I think BA Behemoth is a nice sipper when poured at the brewpub. The first sip of this is overwhelming with TONS of flavor going on. It tastes like a sweet, candied, melted bomb!! Not a lot of alcohol burn at all....very mellow right now which makes it that much better. be careful with this one. And someone please tell me that the last drink of this beer at perfect temp doesn't taste like a chocolate covered pretzel....because it does. awesome!

M - great mouthfeel. done

O - an outstanding beer made by a craft brewery that I remember well learning about craft beer! I think this may be a statement that they are (and haven't lost anything) still pretty damn good at what they do and using barrels is a very very strong suit of theirs. Nice drink right here one out at all costs!

 1,051 characters

Photo of JoeyBeerBelly
4.46/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle served in a snifter.

L - pretty much black with a vigorous pour I got a thin beige head that hung around as a ring for a little while before just going away.

S - vanilla bean, bourbon and a whiff of cocoa powder.

T - sweet vanilla upfront with mellow bourbon smoothing things out, there's a light touch of cocoa before the smooth bourbon flavor finishes things off.

F - medium/full bodied beer that's creamy smooth for sipping.

O - it's a fine barleywine.

 472 characters

Photo of Gmann
4.47/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours a ruby brown color with a airy khaki head that settled into nothingness, no head.

The aroma is of sweet bourbon. Vanilla and caramel are forefront with light oak. Candied malt body with some berry fruitiness. Very smooth aroma.

The taste is extremely smooth. Velvety caramel with perfect hints of vanilla. The bourbon is flavorful and not hot. Some subtle milk chocolate notes. There is some toffee as well as a candied sweetness.

Incrediably smooth, not much smoother than this. Feels like you are drinking caramel ice cream it is so smooth. The body is moderate to full with soft carbonation. It is sweet on the palate and sticky on the finish. There is a bit of a ABV presence but it is light.

Super tastey sipper, very smooth. Great barelywine

 757 characters

Photo of theCoder
4.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Oh boy was this a treat when my buddy surprised me with this after me telling him to pass on it when he called me with the price. He felt it necessary as a pseudo Xmas gift/him wanting to see what kind of a beer could net $28 a bottle (see end of review as to why I'll never share a fancy beer that I pay for with him...).

Pours a beautiful dark almost syrupy mahogany color with a small maybe fingerish head that quickly vanishes.

The aroma slams your nose with wonderful bits of oak, strong bourbon, vanilla and bits of brown sugar.

Initial taste overflows the taste buds with wonderous flavors of oak up front which quickly dives into some Vanilla, brown sugar, bits of molasses, some raisins and toffee. Sweet finish but not too sweet in my mind but I've had some serious English Barlywines that were overpoweringly sweet.

Totally a medium to big body with very little to no carbonation which is perfect for this beast. The alcohol is present but man it does not take away from this one.

Overall - do it, get it, drink it, enjoy it with friends. Boy this was a treat I loved it. I'd love to thank my friend for bringing this over.

Followup why I won't buy fancy beer to share with this guy (EX: not sharing my Kate the Great with him). BUT this dude I poured all into a snifter (quarterish full so we could all three of us enjoy it) this dude powered it down, holy cow I think my heart skipped a beat seeing him tip his head back and pour it all down... OH it hurt me bad, so thanks dude but yea I'll keep that 6-er of Schell's on hand for you next time.

 1,564 characters

Photo of joefuzz
4.88/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours deep brown with a very small white head. Smells very english in a sence, big malt upfront with a smooth almost candy like bourbon scent on the end no hops to speak of. Tastes of raisins with sweet brown sugar vanilla and oak coming through. Mouthfeel and carbonation for a great barleywine, thick and low carbonation. Overall amazing, more than likely my favorite beer.

 375 characters

Photo of Azurescens
4.55/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle with bottled on date 10/08/11 poured into snifter reviewed on 12/14/11.

A: Pours a dark amber brown, clear when held to light with thin tan head that disappears about as fast as it appears. No lacing to speak of.

S: Aromas of dark fruit, toffee, oak and vanilla with a fair amount of alcohol which is no surprise here. Alcohol really stands out once it has warmed up a bit.

T: Quite sweet with tons of dark fruit, caramel, oak and alcohol. A fair amount of bourbon, vanilla and brown sugar in there as well. Well balanced and packed with flavor.

M: Medium-full bodied with low-moderate carbonation and sweet finish.

O: Up there with the best barleywines that I have had. Great sipping beer and amazingly easy drinking for how big it is.

 753 characters

Photo of siradmiralnelson
4.82/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bomber into Snifter.

A. Pours about a half a finger of head. Ok retention. Very moderate lacing. Color is as dark of brown as you can get before its black. Really almost looks like I just poured an Imperial Stout.

S. Smells like a bourbon barrel. Definitely can tell it was aged in the same barrels as BCS. Where to begin with this one. Caramel, molasses, oak, vanilla, raisins, brown sugar. The caramel, brown sugar, and bourbon meld into an almost rum like aroma. I still get quite a bit of alcohol aroma at this point in the life of King Henry. Get some dark fruit, and even a little cherry smell.

T. Damn! More flavors than I can shake a stick at. Caramel malt, vanilla, oak, brown sugar, raisins, more vanilla, molasses, toffee. This beer drinks and tastes nothing like a 13.5% Bourbon Barrel Barleywine. I know BCS has never been this smooth for me without a few years on it. There is no booze taste at all. Very super sweet caramel vanilla glory. One word to describe the flavor of the King would be Luscious.

M. Awesome mouthfeel. Full bodied for sure. Lingering sugary sweetness.

O. Amazing beer. The only thing I have had that compares to this beer is Weyerbacher Insanity, which this blows out of the water. The bourbon flavors on this beer I have only tasted in other beers in BCS and BCS Vanilla. This beer is incredibly smooth for 13.5%. The only way you would know the beer was that high ABV would be by the smell. Goose Island might be the "King Henry" of brewers that can barrel age beers. For anyone reading this review you should seek this out.

 1,587 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.42/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a Dogfish Head snifter glass. Bottled on October 8th 2011.

An incredibly oily, vinous and viscous looking pour out of the bottle. Color is a nice chestnut dark brown and red with light orange/brown hues on the edges. No foam and barely a collar produced, some minor leg action on this to show off some texture, the few bits of lacing manage to stick in there briefly.

Nose is an amalgam of typical bourbon aging. Some buttery like oak, but mostly anisette and faint caramel. Barleywine angle brings dark fruits coated in caramel sugars/molasses, anisette, rum angle takes over. It smells... like rum fruitcake.

Taste is more of the same. A quite surprising carbonation tinge on the front tongue, melds and playful in the mouth. Toasted brown sugar and dark raisin rum coated fruits. Some mild toffee, maple syrup, without all the cloying stickiness. Caramel rich, no hint of booze.. More anisette and lots of licorice comes out as the beer warms up becoming dominant taking away more of the brews other flavor and qualities. Aftertaste and finish seems to be missing a little, with everything in the front of the palate. Texture seems about solid, with nothing ridiculously notable or particularly faulty.

Pretty impressive, too bad I've never been a fan of fruitcake so take that into consideration. Overall another barrel aged win for the Goose.

 1,379 characters

Photo of SkiBum22
4.85/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Pours a dark mahoganey color with a thin ring of cream colored head. Nice lacing.

S - Very nice barrel aged barleywine smell. Some lightly toasted malts, burnt brown sugars, caramel, slight hops and wonderful pappy barrel smell. The barrels bring out some mild vanilla, wood, and a touch of coconut.

T - Similar to the smell, very sweet. I can feel the carbonation and taste it. The spices are very prevalent in the taste along with some subtle bourbon notes. I am getting some oak here as well.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation. astringency from the hops. big boozy feel all over my mouth and throat.

O - Wow, this is easily the surprise of the year for me. I had no idea about this beer until last week and can now say with ease that this is in my top 5 of all-time. I just got into barley wines this year and didn't think anything could beat abacus and this blows it away.

 892 characters

Photo of beerhan
4.35/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Yeah this one lives up to the hype. This beer is pretty much fantastic.

A big thanks to stbo101 for this one.

A-An incredibly dark red when looked at in the light. Looks like a very dark brown from a distance. Pours almost flat with a very faint light tan head.

S-Lots of toffee and some chocolate.

T-I was expecting a lot more bourbon upfront but that mostly comes in the after taste. Foremost there is a lot of milky chocolate and toffee as well as some caramel. It is such a different beer than anything I am used to simply because of how balanced this is. There is no alcohol taste, just sweet vanilla and chocolate.

M-This is such a smooth beer. There is a slight burn from the alcohol but it is barely noticeable. Perfect carbonation, there is just a faint linger of bubbles making this so slick. The high abv is not accentuated in the slightest bit.

O-When I finished my glass I really wanted more. It is delicious, worthy of any hype it gets and just so perfect. Rarely are beers of such high abv not booze bombs but this one is too smooth. I need more. I cannot express anymore how shocked I am that goose island made such a beer. This is probably the best barleywine I have ever had.

 1,199 characters

Photo of BEERchitect
4.82/5  rDev +4.3%
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!

 1,461 characters

Photo of stxSS07
4.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A- Pours a deep dark brown/black with a cap of khaki head. Carbonation breaks the surface. Leaves a film/big legs.

S- Sweet sugary caramel covered dark fruits. Some chocolate/toasted vanilla notes mingle with barrel and bourbon. Maybe pick up some cherry and tobacco? Extremely complex.

T- Wow. Follows the nose with caramel, toffee, vanilla, chocolate, dark fruit, and bourbon notes. Finishes with some alcohol and barrel notes.

M- Full bodied with pretty high carbonation. Really helps to clean off the palate, but damn this finish goes for days!

O- Easily the best barleywine I've had and possibly the best beer.

 653 characters

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

Thanks to SpdKilz for this trade.

This is the best barleywine I have ever had. Pours dark brown with tan head. Smell and flavor shine with a perfectly balanced blend of everything you expect and want from a top-tier bourbon barrel barleywine - bourbon, vanilla, toffee, brown sugar, caramel. It's all there and very polished and refined. Body is fairly thick, but not cloying or syrupy. I am giving this a perfect score because I really can't imagine a bourbon barrel-aged barleywine being any better. This beer isn't missing anything.

 537 characters

Photo of jsh420
4.84/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

bottled on 10/08/11 0915

pours dark clear ruby brown with a small fizzy tan head that fades as fast as it formed

smell - blindfold me and i would think this is GI BCBS - bourbon vanilla tiny bit of chocolate - more toffee and caramel and some rich dark fruit

taste - oak vanilla bourbon hit me right away then the toffee caramel nutty chocolate next to semi sweet dark fruit

mouthfeel is thick syrupy with the perfect fizzy carbonation that is needed to give it the life and the extra zip

overall - an almost perfect beer and one i might enjoy more then BCBS - however the serving size might have been overkill - 12oz bottles would have been perfect

 654 characters

Photo of schultzi22
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a tulip on 12/10/11. Shared with the fiance while watching "The Immortals." Thankfully, the beer was better than the movie.

A: Dark brown with minimal head.

S: Enticing nose with caramel and bourbon. A hint of vanilla comes through as well.

T: Buttery caramel and vanilla. The bourbon isn't as prominent as I expected from the nose; it is a smooth and integral part of the flavor, but the whiskey never overpowers. The finish is mostly oak.

M: Full body but not overly viscous. The carbonation is just right.

O: This is one of the best BBA barleywines I've had. Possibly one of the best beers. I expected more bourbon character, but I think they got it exactly right. It's smooth and apparent, but not dominating, allowing the incredible base beer to shine through.

I spent some time to track this one down, and it was completely worth it. I only hope that this will be released again, or that GI will churn out another BBA barleywine during the next BCBS hunting season.

 1,009 characters

Photo of Bellabananas
4.43/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A:Appears to have rich red hues with very little light penetration
S: Smells sweet with definite hints of alcohol
T: Tastes sweet rich molasses, needs to be sipped
M: mouthfeel is well balanced, slightly syrupy
O: I have to say the first barley wine I've enjoyed!

 263 characters

King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.62 out of 5 based on 1,468 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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