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.

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Reviews: 323 | Ratings: 1,469
Photo of PHBoiler
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured 22 oz bottle dated October 2011 into snifter glass

Pours deep mahogany with light carbonation that creates no head even with a swirl. Opened this bottle to celebrate birth of our first child and shared with three non-BA drinkers that were blown away by the flavor.

The beer smells of bourbon but without the heat on the nose. You can smell some toffee and fruit. The appearance and taste almost reminds me of a high end Belgian Quad. The sweetness from the dark/dried fruits, some caramel flavor from the oak and vanilla combo from the bourbon barrels, and only the best essence of bourbon. This beer never fades throughout the entire bottle. You can leave the beer sit and the temperature doesn't impact the flavor either. It never thins out. The mouthfeel in terms of viscosity is right on point as well. Not heavy but nowhere near thin. This is truly a marvel. Easily one of the top 5 beers I've ever had. You get it in every single drink. It is as consistent as it is fantastic.

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Photo of Hugonaut13
4.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle poured into Bourbon County snifter at cellar temperature. Has sat in a 50 degree fridge for over a year. Let's see how it's drinking.

A - This is a dark BA Barleywine. Looks like an extremely thin stout with ruby tones when held to the light. Minimal carbonation. Some bubbles around the edge of the glass. No lacing.

S - Smells of bourbon soaked dark fruits with some vanilla splashed in. Smells fantastic.

T - Bourbon soaked chocolate covered raisins right off the bat, fading into a rich vanilla oak. Leaves with some sweetness that hangs around well after the sip. This is absolutely delicious.

M - The 13.4% is not present at all. This is an easy drinker. (admittedly, to those who like BA beers) Not much in the way of carbonation, I'm also not finding that to be a problem here. If this was more carbonated, it would seem out of place.

O - It's bittersweet that this is my last bottle as it's probably my favorite beer I've ever had. I truly hope the new Bourbon County Barleywine can even come close to resembling this. If you have a chance to try/get one, do it.

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Photo of imscotty
4.4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Dark brown in color. Very little head; very little lacing; very little carbonation evident.

S: Strong malt smell, caramel and vanilla

T: This beer is impressively smooth in taste. Besides the malt bomb base, I detected plum, raison, vanilla and current. Not as powerfully flavorful as other Barleywines I have had (Thomas Hardy's for example) this beer is smooth and very drinkable. I did not feel the 'heat'. I usually like my Barleywines aged for several years to knock down the sweetness, but this one was not too sweet. Seems ready to go now.

M: This beer had a surprisingly light mouth feel. I did not find it as thick or sticky as others described. King Henry had a great finish and left a nice lingering aftertaste.

O: From the reviews I was expecting the best Barleywine ever, but it did fall a little short for me. It was so smooth tasting that it seemed to lack the power factor. There was complexity, but it was subtle. This reaction is undoubtedly my bias to the slow sipping English Barleywines (I've had some fine aged Thomas Hardys).

I have one bottle of KH left. I intend to age it a few more years and revisit this review. I shared the first bottle with several friends, but maybe I should have the next bottle to myself to fully feel the love :)

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Photo of beerdrifter
4.45/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up in a great trade with Evan! An aggressive pour yielded absolutely no head or lacing, only a dark mahogany very flat looking beer. Probably the darkest Barley Wine I've had. That's where the minimal downside ends. The nose is amazing and complex with loads of dark fruit along with hints of chocolate, bourbon, maple, licorice, and molasses. The taste is bold and complex as well. Bourbon, chocolate fudge, oak, and dark fruits up front along with hints of maple, toffee, licorice, molasses, and just a touch of black cherries. Considering the 13.4% ABV, this is one smooth beer. The mouthfeel is thick and somewhat heavy and syrupy, but with an almost creamy feel to it. Yes, it's a sipper, but it's not hot and boozy and has an amazing subtle warming on the finish. Overall, this is absolutely a world class Barley Wine. And it was bottled after AB InBev's takeover to all you haters. Goose Island is here to stay!

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Photo of Knapp85
4.39/5  rDev -5%
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.

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Photo of Skull40
4.96/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A - Dark reddish brown. Nice legs and carbonation. The head dissipated quickly.

S - The smell was a sweet scent reminiscent of caramel, molasses, dark fruits and some oak.

T - I picked up heavy caramel the whole way through the bottle. I also got toffee, dark fruits including prunes and black cherries, slight vanilla, oak, a red wine taste and bourbon with little alcohol burn.

M - Creamy mouthfeel

O - This really is a great beer and one of the best barleywines I've ever had. I wish I could have tried this fresh, but at this point it's still very hard to beat.

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Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2011 Bottle: Thanks Marti403

Appearance: Dark brown opaque, with a small head that quickly recedes to the perimeter.

Smell: Coconut, chocolate, bourbon, dark fruit(raisins, dates, figs), brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, yum.

Taste: Good lord. Barrel character right off the bat with caramel and chocolate/vanilla/coconut blend seamlessly and fade out gradually into a finish that begins with dark fruit and ends with a sweet, caramel tinged, malted barley finish that's clean, leaving you yearning for the next sip. Subtle elements of the drink are left on your tongue, but in a way that doesn't fatigue the palate, like many other barley wines. There is also little to no alcohol burn in the finish, even if you drink it fast(which I don't recommend), which is remarkable for this abv.

Mouthfeel: Velvety, on the borderline of viscous, and just right for the style.

Overall: Well, hype is one thing, but when you get results to meet it, that's another story altogether. This is without a doubt, the best barleywine I've ever had. From smell, to mouthfeel, to taste, there is not much that makes up this brew that can be defeated by others for the style, imo. I say this having held the highest hopes for Sucaba, and although enjoying it, I wished it tasted exactly like this. I've finally found that perfect barleywine. Let's hope BCBW can come close to this masterpiece.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.74/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Deep brown with a tan head this Barleywine is deep, rich and clean in appearance.

The scent is magic. Robust tones of chocolate, caramel, malt and molasses dominate but don't overpower. Touches of coconut and dates can still be found in the background.

The taste is WOW! Never have I said wow after drinking a Barleywine but I actually exclaimed Wow! Rich and robust caramel mixed with chocolate fudge brownie! Even raisin, light coconut and a port or wine like complexity can be discovered in the richest flavored Barleywine I've ever had.

Imagine my disappointment when I'm in beer ecstasy and I'm told this is retired. WOW!

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Photo of barczar
4.78/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Pours a deep brown with amber highlights and a fleeing beige head.

Deep chocolate, raisins, bruised cherries, dates, figs, and booze forms the aroma. It's absolutely exceptional.

Raisins, chocolate, prunes, cherries, figs, vanilla, coconut, and bourbon overwhelm the palate with greatness.

Slightly syrupy body, with minimal carbonation and significant alcohol warmth.

Wow. Delicious. Aged a year, it's a touch hot, but damn it's tasty!

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Photo of jaasen64
4.57/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled on 10/8/11. Poured into HF stemmed glass. First beer in our big barleywine tasting.

A- Pours a translucent mahogany brown without any head or lacing, fairly minimal carbonation but fairly normal for the style.

S- Caramel, brown sugar, oak, bourbon, vanilla, a hint of booze. Balanced, complex, fairly aromatic, but a little bit more booze then I would have liked but not bad considering the 13.4% abv.

T- Caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, oak, hint of booze. Very sweet yet complex, extremely well balanced with a nice integration of flavors, nice barrel characteristics while still maintaining nice qualities of the base beer, in my opinion this is pretty much as close to perfection as you can get in a barleywine.

M- Incredibly smooth, fairly low carbonation, extremely easy drinking for 13.4%. Can't believe how smooth this is for 13.4%.

O- This was an absolutely fantastic barleywine that definitely lived up to my very high expectations. This was the best barleywine of our tasting, even better then Leon. Easily the best barleywine I've had, and just about as close to perfection as you can get for the style from I've seen. I definitely recommend seeking this one out.

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Photo of dbc5
4.94/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 ounce bottle poured into 10 out Kentucky Bourbon Stout snifter.

A: Pours a deep brown with ruby edges. Held to light, some amber tones shine through. Color is beautiful (although I'm sure some would complain of it being too dark for the style). Very minimal head, even with fairly aggressive pour. No lacing to speak of, but do get some alcohol legs with each swirl of the glass.

S: So much going on in the nose. The bourbon is present and yet not overpowering, letting oak, vanilla, candied caramel, dark fruits, graham cracker, and a brown sugar sweetness push their way through. Phenomenal nose.

T: So much complexity. I am experiencing the beer differently with each sip. Caramel, toffee, dark fruits, vanilla, coconut, marshmallow, brown sugar, and of course bourbon. It seems that with each sip, a new flavor takes the prominent role. The use of dark malt (chocolate I believe) imparts an interesting element that isn't present in your typical English barleywine. I'm picking up some interesting flavor similarities between this and Dark Horse's BB Monster 29, although they are clearly different beers and the Monster 29 is far sweeter.

M: Sticky, thick, and tongue coating. Carbonation is mild and appropriate for a barrel aged barely of this size.

O: Hands down, the finest barleywine (barrel aged or otherwise) I have had to date. I'm honestly not sure that I have ever enjoyed a beer more than this one. Were there slightly more head and lacing, this might have been my first ever perfect 5. Simply phenomenal.

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Photo of falloutsnow
4.36/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

From: Beertopia, Omaha, NE
Date: Bottled 10/08/11 (cellared for over a year)
Glass: New Belgium globe glass

Goose Island's King Henry is an excellent, if not somewhat extreme, English barleywine. The heavy malt and dried fruit sweetness is well complemented by the oak aging, and there's deep complexity to be found in the cornucopia of other scents and tastes one can pick out. It's unfortunate that the beer is retired, because the beer is complex enough to be enjoyed many, many times over.

Pours a 1.5cm head of small and medium-sized bubbles, tan in color, with average to below-average retention, lasting under a minute. The beer leaves little lacing, a few dots and lines scattered across the sides of the glass. The body itself is a dark brown, opaque, with light bringing out burnt orange and red hues. Carbonation is not visible through the dark body.

The aroma is very complex: I suspect you could drink this beer many times over and still find elements in it that were new to you. I detect bourbon (obviously), but it's not the only focal point here. There's also plenty of caramelized sugars from the malt, raisins, prunes, dried dates, and dried figs, modest oak from the aging, and I'm also getting some vanilla and graham cracker, surprisingly enough.

Taste is similar to smell, with the beer exhibiting substantial bourbon and caramel-like sweetness with esters similar to raisins, prunes, and dried dates, hints of chocolate and vanilla. Specifically, tasting opens with sweet, but dark caramel malts and aged bourbon characters, becoming more complex with raisin, prune, and dried date flavors. Mid-palate continues to note the sweet, dark caramel and bourbon flavors, along with the dried fruits, but also adds in a bit of dry cocoa and vanilla. Back of palate notes some spicy ethanol characters, but these end up complementing the vast array of heavy flavors rather than detracting them.

Body is heavy to medium-heavy, as expected, with fairly low levels of carbonation, creating a smooth and sippable beer. A bit more carbonation would not have harmed the beer, and might have helped the flavors be further expressed. Closes dry, from the ethanol, and leaves a substantial stickiness across the palate.

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

Drank from a 1 pint 6fl oz/650 ml bottle
Bottled on: 10/08/11
Served in a snifter
Acquired in a trade with celticfutblclub

Review #725

Deep, dark, shimmery, burnt umber appearance. The liquid was topped by a thin layer of tan bubbles that quickly dissipated to an anemic looking ring.

The aroma was intense. Super sweet. Loads of toffee and brown sugary goodness. Punchy raisin and plum notes. Spicy. Strong indications of candied fruits. Brandy soaked fruitcake came to mind. Bourbon was evident, but with so many other strong aromas it was almost an afterthought. Vanilla and coconut notes were apparent. Touch of port. The nose got sweeter and more extreme as the beer warmed.

The flavor profile was fantastic as well. Lots of sweet caramel malts and brown sugar on the front end. Super strong raisin and plum notes. Lots of candied fruits and spices. Christmas cookies came to mind. Strong bourbon and port-like notes on the finish lent a touch of heat. Considering that this beer is 13.4% ABV, however, the alcohol was surprisingly mellow. Vanilla lingered in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel was super smooth, slick and creamy. Oily. Medium bodied for style. A touch thinner than I anticipated. The liquid contained a frothy, finely bubbled, moderate effervescence.

Although King Henry did not blow me away like Rare BCBS did, it still impressed me greatly. Hopefully Goose Island will brew this again at some point, even if that requires using different barrels.

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

A: Deep brown with ruby edges, medium clarity, very low carbonation. Syrupy with legs.

S: Huge molasses, buttery caramel drizzled on dark fruit (dates), vanilla oak, hints of chocolate. Gigantic and complex.

T: Starts with big malty dark fruits, finishes with a wall of BCBS-like molasses and fudge. Spicy wood notes. Toffee covered raisins. Some booze, but fantastic.

M: Full and syrupy, a beautiful sipping beer.

The best barrel aged barleywine I've had. An extremely sweet beer. Huge complexity. I was reminded of the bruery's Melange no 3.

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

Had this one in the frig for a while.

Opened this and poured it into a goblet. Ended up with little head and a dark brown glass full.

Nose. I don't think I have ever had a beer with such a complex nose. Caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, spice the list goes on.

Taste: I really like the taste, but quite frankly it leans more toward their stouts. Not saying it is bad; not at all. Heavy duty malts, but not bitter. Sweetness, maybe a tad too much. Caramel, chocolate, whiskey also. All the tastes are not subtle. How can one beer have so much flavor.

Mouth feel is also finely carbonated. This is a viscous type beer.

I really love the taste of this beer. The only fault, if it is one, is that it leans more toward a stout for me. Lots of gravity, lots of flavor, lots of booze and lots of enjoyment.

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

Tulip glass.

A: Pours a coca cola caramel color with smattering of grey head dissipating to a still surface. Looks OK I guess.

S: Caramel, anise, a little vanilla and bourbon, baker's spices, a little sweet fudge brownie.

T: Decadent rich liquid caramel, lingering on the palate for a long toothsome finish. A little fudgey, moderately sweet, with a touch of dried dark fruit and cocoa.

M: Medium-full body and medium-high, biting carbonation. Sticky, mouth coating. Not much heat evident.

O: Superb barley wine. Nice complexity. My only complaint is that it's toeing the line of too sweet/rich.

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


pour was a very dark deep ruby feb, with some dirty rusty brown.

rich toffee, vibrant dark fruit, port wine, smooth vanilla.

very similar to the nose. this was very smooth and rich w/o being too sweet and obnoxious. lots of toffee and caramel, vanilla and port wine.

very smooth mild carbonation. velvet feel, lace finish.

i was skeptical but this is legit good shit.

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Photo of RuckusDu
4.17/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

No much head but light caramel in color. Body is clear and looks like root beer. The nose is lots of alcohol and sweet caramel. There is bourbon there as well. The tongue tastes bourbon, caramel and vanilla. Not as much alcohol as on the nose but still evident. Pretty weak carbonation on an average body. Not as syrupy as I expected. Nice apart from the lack of carb.

Overall this is a delicious beer that I would take more of, but won't go crazy over. Really a nice combination of sweet.

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Photo of HereforBeer
5/5  rDev +8.2%

I recently opened up a King Henry with a few friends and it had gone completely bad. I had already drank it about 5 times before, so I was really excited to open my bottle. It was basically just a big, gross raisin bomb. We all agreed that it was way over the hill and we drank less than half the bottle.

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Photo of eclipse54
4.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A 22 ounce bottle from fortsambo; I can't thank you enough for this one. Split into tulips to share just prior to our Thanksgiving meal.

Pours a brown, ruby color with about a centimeter of fluffy tan head. Not much in the way of lacing or retention, but given the ABV, I’m not shocked. Some mahogany and even burnt orange hues in the light.

The aroma is wonderfully complex. The first thing I get is some toasted marshmallow and a bit of brown sugar, almost like a graham cracker. Warm bourbon, oak, vanilla, toffee, melted chocolate, some faded hop citrus notes follow. There is a distinct “bcbs” item in there as well.

The flavor is sublime, beginning with toasted marshmallow, caramel, hazelnut, and a bit of vanilla. Oak, bourbon, milk chocolate, brown sugar, and citrus are all present as well. Again, there’s a faint “stout” quality to it, as well as a bit of maple syrup.

Mouthfeel is rich, smooth, and just lively enough from the carbonation to keep it velvety and delicate. There is a warming sensation, but not ethanol burn. All the best flavors linger for just the right amount of time, with a vanilla-hazelnut flavor being the last to go.

This beer is unlike anything I’ve had before. So incredibly complex, and I can’t help but feeling there are aromas/flavors I’m missing and unable to describe. It embodies everything that I want and love in an English barleywine, and it pains me to think I probably won’t have this again.

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

A: poured an opaque chocolate brown in color with mahogany highlights and a thin head that left some good frothy lacing sticking to the glass.

S: definitely was able to sniff out the pappy van winkle bourbon barrel character with lots of caramel, brown sugar, molasses, sweet chocolate notes with a bit of booze heat, a little dark fruit, some toffee and hints of vanilla.

T: really different type of barleywine that seemed to me like a mix of barleywine and stout. Lots of chocolate goodness upfront on the palate alongside lots of caramel, toffee, a little maple syrup, pappy van winkle barrel accents, mild dark fruit flavors and nice vanilla accents; very complex taste.

M: the brew was full in body with a moderate amount of carbonation which had a sweet, chocolatey, bourbon barrel booze, dark fruity, creamy and rich finish.

O: very solid beer all around and definitely lives up to all the hype. Wish I had a case of it. Good lookin out on this one Todd

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.6/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A bottle poured into some glasses thanks to TSAFEVIL, served with some pappy van winkle on the side.

In the world of barleywines there are some light looking ones and some darker. King Henry has a dark tone to it, deep brown with a blackish look, a hint of dark bronze when up to light. Thick looking, yet not stout thick. No head on arrival, not sure what it looked like out the bottle. Gooey. Smell is really deep with bourbon tones, Charred oak, vanilla, deep caramel, toffee scent, wet wood. English yeast present with some hints of chocolate, dark fruit. It smells great. And the taste is nice on the tounge. At 13 odd percent, the alcohol seeps through subtle, the flavor is amazing with sweet bourbon, dark fruit, cocco, caramel, vanilla and oak. A trace amount of coconut and some candy taste. It melds real nice like. Feel on this sucka is great, not a ton of carb here, it's basically still after 20 minutes or so, this goes down too easy and rich with not a ton of heat. Body is gooey and above medium. This is great beer, one I hope to try again. The hype is deserved, this is a treat.

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Photo of portia99
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle (bottled on 10/08/11 - bottle 950) poured into a Founders CBS snifter. Big thanks to hoppymcgee for sending this bottle my way!

A - This pours out of the bottle really thick. Muddy mahogany brown in the glass without hardly a trace of head. Only the thinnest of collars forms, rimming the glass in fine tan bubbles.

S - Quite intense aroma...sweet, sugary, syrupy. Buttery toffee, light caramel, raisins, figs, vanilla, bourbon, touch of licorice, alcohol. mild citrus.

T - Wonderfully intense flavored, rich and complex...and absolutely as smooth as glass. Definitely a sweet beer with notes of buttery toffee, sweet light caramel, burnt sugar, creamy vanilla, brown sugar, super smooth bourbon, a bit of brandy-like notes, surprisingly light alcohol tingle/warmth/burn. Wow!

M - I"m still trying to get over the complexity of flavor, while realizing this is a 13.4% beer, and wondering how this can be so incredibly smooth. Body is rather full...I've felt thicker, but this is definitely satisfyingly big. Carbonation is mild and understated, yielding only a faint trace of life in the form of a fine tingle on the tip of the tongue on each sip. As sweet and loaded with various sugary sweet dessert like flavors, this is never even approaching cloying. I never really even detect the presence of a hop here, but the masterful use of the barrels provides the balance with a firm bourbon component in the flavor that somehow remains reserved and well in the background for feel. Only a slight alcohol warmth and tingle can be felt which really amazes me.

O - Overall, this really is an outstanding beer and exceptional example of a barrel aged barleywine. This is every bit as smooth as Rare, which I was totally impressed with (another thanks to hoppymcgee for sharing that bottle too). This is really just a very complex beer in flavor and aroma. Silky smooth feel and deceptive alcohol content. I came into this expecting that there would be little chance of this living up to the hype, but happy to say that is in fact exceded my expectations. One of the top 10 beers I've ever had.

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Photo of Jeffo
4.4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle of this from SliverX. Cheers for the stuff man. Always a pleasure!

From a bomber into a snifter
Bottle 915
Bottled on 8 October 2011

APPEARANCE: Pours a one finger, very loose and fizzy tan head that quickly vanishes, leaving only a faint ring behind. Darker in color than most in the style. More of a clear bistre or seal brown with higher levels of carbonation. A ring remains with lots of carbonation all over the place but no lacing is left on the glass. Looks a bit flat as the glass begins to empty. Nice body, but lack-luster head.

SMELL: Wow this is nice. Bourbon, milk chocolate, vanilla and plenty of coconut on the nose initially. Toffee and caramel for sure, with light notes of pure chocolate. The oak, coconut an milk chocolate work really well here. No sings of a booze bomb here. Bold and wonderful nose that is probably the best in the style so far. Wonderful.

TASTE: Really good as well. Bourbon, oak, milky coconut, caramel and toffee sweetness up front. Nice pure chocolate in there though the middle as well, then lots of bourbon barrel at the finish. The barrel lends nice coconut and milk chocolate along with the bourbon flavors, but the caramel and toffee sweetness and the bitter, pure dark chocolate from the barleywine play a roll as well. Bold and lingering finish is quite nice, and only a bit of alcohol at the swallow gets in the way of perfection. A real treat.

PALATE: Medium body and medium carbonation. Enough weight, but a touch light for top marks. Creamy on the palate, goes down smooth with a burn at the swallow and finishes rather sticky. A bit of heat lingers, but it's not off putting. Pretty nice and smooth for the style.

OVERALL: I hate to say it, but this really is that good. This put Mother of all Storms to shame and pretty much beat all the other barleywines I've had prior to this. The look was lousy, like many in this style, and the feel not quite as full and heavy as I'd like for such a big beer, but the aromas and flavors were just decadent. By far the best Goose Island beer I've had to date, and well worth the effort. One I'd gladly drink again. Thanks again for the brews SliverX. Outstanding stuff.

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Photo of jlindros
4.75/5  rDev +2.8%
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!

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King Henry from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.62 out of 5 based on 1,469 ratings.
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