King Henry | Goose Island Beer Co.

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321 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.

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Reviews: 321 | Ratings: 1,462
Photo of cosmicevan
4.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

very excited to try this beer...shared with yagman

a - opened the bottle and poured two oversized snifters...poured a shiny ruby red that sat dark in the glass with reddish tints and highlights. one glass poured with a small head, the other nothing, but swirling the glass brought it back to life. lacing stuck to the glass as you move it, but then sludges back down to the surface leaving nary a clue that it was ever there. has a really nice barrel aged shine. (yagman's beer has a foamy heart sitting on the surface after his first sip...for real - )

s - abaca-who? yowza!!! barrel aged barleywine goodness. deep ripened fruits...cherries, figs, plums, yum. i also get a backing of BCBS!!! smells just fantastic. yagman said it is like a raisin through an amplifier...and that is a great way to describe it. good chocolate and sweet notes in there (seems to be from the BCBS barrels?)

t - an incredible barleywine. great grape, plum, raisin flavors...a bit of cloying sweetness in there, but only on the backend and it seems to work really well. the sweetness is very reminiscent of nightstalker and obviously BCBS. the booze is a subtle compliment to the beer and is seemlessly blended in the flavoring. really decadent, like a good malt forward barleywine dipped in boozy chocolate. caramel ooziness.

m - aside from the hugeness of this beer, it is pretty silky and easy to drink. i can take huge gulps of this and find myself yumming from the deliciousness. the heat is kind of invisible to me. tingle in the mouth.

o - when it comes to beer, this sort of embodies what i love about beer. the barrel aging is a *perfect* match for this beer. the barleywine is delightful and the barrel just makes it that much better. the folks at goose island really know how to age a beer in a barrel and i'm not sure if AB was at the helm when this was made, but if so...hats off to you! if not...don't change a damn thing!!!

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

Bottled on October 8, 2011.

Beer is a dark chestnut brown, close to black. A vigorous pour results in a thin, tan head that disappears immediately.

The bourbon and oak scents are just enormous. Huge scent right from the bottle opening. Vanilla is there as well. A nice and enveloping smell but the barrel aspect is a bit overpowering.

The taste is excellent, much more happening than in the nose. The bourbon, oak and vanilla are right upfront, but toffee, brown sugar and raisin are all there as well. Aftertaste is slightly sweet, a bit like molasses, and leaves a very nice taste. For a beer this strong, and given the barrel aging, it is surprisingly well-tamed. Not overly hot, though clearly a monster beer.

Beer is incredibly full bodied, fairly syrupy. Very mild carbonation. Some alcohol heat, but not as much as may be expected for the strength. Very smooth.

Overall, a really excellent beer. From the nose, I was worried that this one would be overpowered by the barrel and too boozy. Not so. Really well integrated, lovely flavours. Would love to try one after a year or so, but I am happy that I managed to get a single bottle. A real treat.

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

Dark mohagany color. It appears to be a deep brown unless some light peeks in. The head is off white with a quick lifespan.

Smells of caramel, brown sugar, soy, vanilla, coconut, cola, in no particular order. It's a whirlwind of aromas with no single one dominating.

Wow. What a complexity in the flavor. Vanilla, brown sugar, and oak are at the front, butterscotch, caramel, finished by a cola aftertaste. The most amazing part of the taste is that this is 13.4% abv, aged in bourbon barrels, yet it extracts the flavors without being abrasive.

The mouthfeel is soft, smooth, and mellow. Again, I'm amazed at how little of a burn there is. It's still a sipper because it's heavy and complex so I want to savor every sip.

This is an awesome, awesome beer. I'm going to lay another bottle down for a while and see what it does for it. Put this up near the top of my list of favorites.

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Photo of celticfutblclub
4.56/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a pint glass

A - burgundy colored body with a thin off white head that settles quickly but whats left has good lacing.

S - big whiffs of bourbon oak alcohol heat and a bit of dark fruit in the back.

T - huge tastes of chocolate raisins bourbon coffee. grass hop finish oh man this thing is intense and amazing.

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

O - wow when i first poured this i was not too impressed but man is this one big amazing beer.

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

Thanks for sharing, Dan.

Pours a dark amber color with a finger of off-white head. Rich bourbon aroma as well as plenty of dark fruits such as raisins and plums. A nice caramel and brown sugar aroma, too. A strong flavor of bourbon, vanilla, and caramel. Heavy on the brown sugar and toffee as well as some dark fruit notes. Medium to full bodied with medium carbonation.

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Photo of hawks10
4.54/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottled October 8th, 2011 - Poured into a Goose Island taster...

Pours a nice clear, dark burgundy color with a bit of light tan head that sticks around for a while...

Wow, this beer smells delicious! Rich, sweet caramel and toffee, dark sugars and even a bit of chocolate. The bourbon aspect of this beer, while strong, is so smooth and mellow it is remarkable. The best smelling Barleywine I can remember and one of the better smelling beers period.

This Barleywine tastes as if I have kept it in my cellar for at least two years. Damn. This beer is smooth, any rough edges or sharp corners have been rounded down to give you a smooth decedent treat. Brown sugar and toffee dominate with some creamy vanilla peaking its head out. The bourbon is here in flavor but not in heat, sweet and smooth. Redundant yes, but the beer is just so damn smooth...

Full bodied with lower carbonation. Creamy and coating with just a tiny bit of heat in the end...

This beer is the real deal. The aroma and flavor are spot on for what a barrel aged beer should bring to the table. This beer also shows that better barrels = better barrel aged beer. I only wish I had known how good this was so I could've driven around a bit trying to find another bottle...

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Photo of HopHead84
4.47/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Bottle shared by Dan at Strong Ale 2011, thanks!

A: Deep brown with a reddish tinge and an inch of light brown froth.

S: Decadence itself. Dark toffee blends with caramel and brown sugar. Bourbon is evident and complements the traditional English Barleywine characteristics. I get a little earth and vanilla.

T: Sweet toffee with pronounced brown sugar and well integrated bourbon. Vanilla blends with oak and a light coconut presence. Alcohol is evident but not inappropriate for such a potent ABV. Very nice.

M: Upper medium in body with lower medium carbonation. The mouthfeel is sticky and smooth.

Overall: Very good. I'd love to try this again.

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

Pours black with a thin and quickly disappearing head. Aroma is fudge and toffee but not incredibly rich, just smooth and inviting. The flavor is sweet and rich and hot. Luscious caramel, marshmallow, and fudge. The body is full and carbonation is on point for the style.

Although this style has grown somewhat tiring for me, this beer is clearly a standout and worthy of praise it receives.

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Photo of DirtBoy929
4.42/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Haven't had a barrel-aged barley wine in a while. Nice beer to make a reintroduction. Pours a silky deep brown that turns translucent carmel at the edges when swirled. A little fizzy carbonation escapes on the pour, but no head develops.
Lovely light molasses and bourbon nose, bourbon is subtle. Mouth feel is thick and sweet and not as dry as some bourbon stouts I've had recently. Flavor is also reminiscent of molasses with a lightly earthy touch, and an earthy bitterness like dark chocolate. Of course there is a note of bourbon, but not hot like the liquor. Taste is more boozy than the smell but pleasantly rounded. Appropriately clean and dry finish. Should develop well in the bottle, I hope the sweetness becomes more dry and adds to the already abundant depth of flavor.

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Photo of Agold
4.61/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer is a brown color with just about no head. Almost stout dark, but more of a burnt caramel color with a bit of light that comes through. Aroma is big caramel, toffee, vanilla, and a mild smooth mellow bourbon. Outstanding. This beer is the smoothest -bal beer I have ever had. Smooth rich, caramel and toffee again. Lots of vanilla, more than the nose, warm, but not hot. The bourbon is very well integrated into the other flavors. Mouthfeel could use a touch more carbonation, but it is damn close to perfect. Overall, I love this beer. Great price ($14), great beer.

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

Super stoked to get to drink this. You know that I <3 Barleywines, especially when they are a high abv and bourbon'd, and that i think Goose is one of the very best barrel breweries in the nation, so this is my Perfect Storm(no pun intended) of beverages right here. Last night i had a long tiring night fighting a fire inside a building and only slept 3 hours, so tonight i am relaxing at home by drinking a bomber of King Henry by myself. Lets get ready to rumble!

The pour shows a body that when held up to light has a strong crimson red color to the body. When absent from light it darkens up into a "pitch red" color i'll dub it. I had heard that at a recent blind tasting the people who tried this at FOBAB could tell this was King Henry by the appearance, and now i see why, it will now be unmistakable. On top of the body is a thin head that fades from the 13.4abv into a super thin collar.

Wow, what an aroma. An aroma this rich and dense is a thing to cherish, and makes me dip my nose into the glass as much as sip it. This is a beer that has that pre-aged aroma, in that the barrels are very full and rich but incorporated, that this was put into a bottle 55 days ago is remarkable. The richness is derived from strong vanilla, brown sugar and caramel, and is balanced by bourbon warmth. The barrels used here are the same ones they aged Bourbon County Rare in, 23yr pappy used for a 2nd time, and must be a large contributor to this beer.

I taste all my barleywines from 4oz snifters that i keep refilling as i go through the bottle, but this really is a beer that a single 4oz pour could last you half an hour. The flavors in this one coat the palate and lingers on. Toasted Caramel and Chewy Nougat flavors smother the palate into oblivion, sprinkled with brown sugars, vanilla, toasted oak and maple,butterscotch, and a deep yet mingling bourbon attribute that brings it all together tighter, and the bourbon heat grows as you go through a bottle.

Wow, fantastic. I have had most all of the big Barleywine releases in the past 3 years, and this one is at least a peer among the very best. let me end our time together with a single word: Phenomenal.

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Photo of wschmit
4.69/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber, bottled 10/08/11, into a New Glarus pint glass.

A: Pours like a thick Coca Cola, with the exact same head that fizzles loudly and quickly into almost nothing. The Wisconsin-shaped nucleation etching on the bottom is doing its job, though--plenty of carbonation welling up the middle. Nearly black until held up to light--a deep, dark brown, which would be clean and transparent if not so black.

S: Holy lord, chocolate. Prominent but gentle bourbon notes, subdued compared to BCS. I could smell this all day. Chocolate and booze, chocolate and booze. Like after-dinner whiskey mixed with chocolate mousse. Just a touch of port-like grape scent.

T: The alcohol tastes a bit stronger than it smells. Sip starts off like Hersheys syrup, followed up by a hit of bourbon. Some astringent bits detected, but they work well and keep things from getting to saccharine. For a beer this big it is not Overly sweet, but it's close. Still, it's packed with dark, roasty flavors.

M: Definitely warms your throat as it goes down. Inky, syrupy, with barely enough carbonation to keep it flowing along. Top tier.

O: Well, it's a big-ass beer, even for a barleywine. It is, however, the perfect size for marriage with even a second-use bourbon barrel. This is a sipper up there with the best of them; glad I had my shot at it. A beer I will remember.

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Photo of AmericanGothic
4.44/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a Sam Adams pint.

A: Pours a dark, copper brown color with a thin, dark brown head. No retention or lace. Active carbonation.

S: Dark fruit, rum, spice, some dry cocoa. Pretty complex and full.

T: Very complex, hard to sort it all out. Port, chocolate, coffee, stewed dark fruits, orange zest. Alcohol is tad strong but not a major flaw, substantial sweetness to balance it. After a while, bubble gum joins in. Then cinnamon takes a turn.

M: Full mouthfeel, a bit of cream and lots of oil, very smooth.

O: This is a great beer. Reminds me in some ways of a high octane doppelbock in the flavor profile, especially the port notes, but with more bitter flavors. Pricey at $13 for a bomber, but well worth giving it a try. My bet is that it will improve with age; glad I have another bottle to test the theory. Will need to look for more.

Update: one year of aging has done wonderful things for this beer-- perfect Christmas brew. Glad I still have a few more in the cellar; taste is a five now.

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

Got to the release too late to actually buy bottles, so I just went straight to the pub and got a 5oz sample. Served in a Goose Island taster pint.

A - A thin tan foam settles to a thick collar, a few wisps, and minimal spotty lacing. The body is an attractive brown-ruby color that reveals some transparency when held to the light.

S - Toffee, caramel, red fruits, burnt sugars, oak, milk chocolate, vanilla, a bit of spicy alcohol, and very faint bourbon notes.

T - Taste has less barrel presence, and is heavier on the sweet stuff with intense treacle, toffee, red licorice, Sultana raisins, burnt brown sugar, toasted malts, and a bit of oaky vanilla and coconut. Again, overt bourbon presence is low.

M - Sticky, full body, with an extremely chewy and viscous texture. Stickiness lingers indefinitely actually. Lower carbonation, and minimal alcohol warmth.

D - A very good barrel-aged barleywine that has a lot in common with the base beer. The barrels were second use, so this didn't pick up a lot of additional alcohol, resulting in a nice aged, mellow character. Not quite top-tier, but worth trying for sure.

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Photo of jegross2
4.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewing the King Henry from Goose Island Brewing Company. Pleasant surprise: I got to drink this one with the current head brewer of Goose Island (who I made certain to complement).
Score: 99

Sampled a generous glass from a 22 oz bottle at Goose Island's Black Friday bonanza. Later shared a 22 oz bomber in an oversized snifter glass (image to the right).

Appearance: Pours a thin cream colored head that quickly disappears, leaving a pencil-thin ring around the glass. Deep walnut brown molasses color. Largely opaque with ruby-brown highlights around the perimeter. 4.5/5

Smell: Red grapes, oak and vanilla. Sweet molasses and brown sugar. Caramel, some bourbon sweetness. Some major booziness if you take a big, direct whiff. Editor's Note: I had this beer again in June 2012, and the booziness to the nose (and palate) is almost completely gone. What's left is a sublime medley of rich, barrel aged flavors. 5/5

Taste: Very complex and sweet. Vanilla and oaky bourbon. Syrupy brown sugar and molasses. Some caramel. Touch of honey. Red grapes and plenty of dark fruit flavor. Surprisingly balanced. Finishes with a little warming alcohol kick and sweet vanilla-bourbon. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Creamy and sweet. Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Syrupy and smooth. Alcohol warmth in the finish. 5/5

Overall: An absolutely delicious, complex and balanced brew. I am not the biggest fan of barleywines, but this one blew me away. I can't wait to nab a bottle of this stuff and age it. Editor's Note: I had this beer again in June 2012, and the booziness has almost completely smoothed out and the beer is drinking near perfect.

Recommendation: Of the many barleywines I have had to date, this one was the smoothest and most balanced. I can confidently recommend this one all around.

Pairings: An earthy, organic hamburger with a generous heap of goat cheese on it? At least that's what I had this one with. A pumpkin pie would go great with this too.

Cost: $25 for a 22 oz (bomber) bottle.

[NOTE: the original score from the day of the release was 97]

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Photo of ChugginOil
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured at Goose Island Clybourn for the release event.

Pours a dark mahoganey color with a thin ring of cream colored head. Oily lace.

The nose is very nice. Warm bourbon, caramel, and vanilla dominate. The heat is only noticeable after a huge whiff.

The taste is rich, warm bourbon offering filled with vanilla, oak, caramel, and a bit of heat. There is a charred oak presence as well which adds to the overall flavor profile.

The mouthfeel is creamy and big-bodied. Filling and damn delicous.

Overall, missed out on the BCBS releases but now I dont care. This beer is a bombshell butte.

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Photo of AgentZero
4.67/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Someone (from GI I believe) shared a bottle of this at the Sour Bitch release at West Lakeview Liquors.

A - Brown color beer with some ruby highlights and hue. Tan head that faded to a decent ring.

S - Wow, just great 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 - Utterly fantastic. Maybe it's the pappy, maybe it's the combination of the pappy and base beer. Whatever it is, this so good. Nice brown sugar and burnt sugar malts. There is a little bit of coconut, mellow bourbon, wood, vanilla. This beer basically has it all. Amazing beer.

M - Full bodied, smooth, soft carbonation. There's a little bit of alcohol heat in this on the end, but all it does is help to bring out and balance some of the sweeter characteristics.

O - Holy hell, let the hype train begin or keep chugging or pick up speed or whatever. One of the best beers I've had this year, and I've drank a lot of beers. The PVW barrels give it such a great barrel quality and the slight bit of heat (which isn't a bad thing itself) just means this one is going to progress and develop in the bottle. I'm so pissed now I'm going to be out of town (damn Turkey Day and friends and family) for the release. Get this beer, it's awesome.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.72/5  rDev +2.2%
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.

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Photo of Alpar
3.95/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

***This review was done prior to the Pappy Van Winkle Barrel aging on King Henry***

A: A very rich mahogany red. Little carbonation, barely a ring on the outer perimeter of the glass.

S: Really sweet, lots of malts, spice, bread, pit fruit e.g. plum maybe peach and bourbon. Is there some nutmeg in there?

T: Similar to the smell, very sweet. I can feel the carbonation and taste it. This beer is not flat, although it does appear to be. The spices are very prevalent in the taste along with some subtle bourbon notes. I am getting some oak here as well.

M: Oily yet thick thus very smooth. Coats the mouth perfectly.

O: Very well done. I was expecting a not so great barleywine yet this was phenomenal. I am beginning to realize that I really enjoy almost all of GI's special barrel aged beers. Can't wait for the bottling.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.3/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Goose Invasion @ Small Bar Fullterton.

A - Pours a rusty reddish color, cream head, thick collar that leaves no lacing or retention.

S - Sweet dark fruits, burnt sugars, caramel, candy. Very sweet and the alcohol is nearly undetectable...very rich.

T - Goose has this listed at 13% on the tap menu, which I really can't believe, I barley get any alcohol from this beer. Super sweet, sugars, light bourbon, oak, big dark fruits. Sweet candy finish.

M - Full, good carbonation, uber rich.

O - I think this might be too sweet for some people, but I really loved this one. The rich sweetness was amazing and if this beer is really 13%, I'm amazed at how well they hid the alcohol. Def want this one again...hope it pops up somewhere soon!

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Photo of mothman
4.39/5  rDev -5%
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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King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.62 out of 5 based on 1,462 ratings.
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