Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series) | America's Brewpub

very good
72 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series)Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series)

Brewed by:
America's Brewpub
Illinois, United States

Style: American Double / Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial Stout aged in 10-year-old Heaven Hill barrels.

Added by GbVDave on 03-08-2008

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 72 | Ratings: 80
Photo of BEERchitect
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A very fine imperial stout. Like most, this beer looks opaque, black, and with remarkable tan head retention. Smells of roasted malts and barley sweetness. A light lactose sugar aroma adds a twangy scent. Hop detection, but not overpowering. Flavored with roastedness, coffee, chocolate, and a fruity touch (plumbs?) Unlike most imperial stouts, this one is aged in Blanton's Boubon Barrels which adds a serious kick of cocoanuts, vanilla, pecan, and caramel. The wood age always mellows out the hops to very smooth levels. The bourbon aging adds another layer of alcohol warmth and sweetness. Thick and heavy to the palate but smooth and silky. Not over carbonated or prickley to the palate. Mild cherry notes in the alcoholic finish. Lingers with roasted grain and fruity alcohol. Very nice.

 793 characters

Photo of emerge077
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Viscous pour, black liquid with a creamy head of chocolate mocha. Some lacing, it manages to stick around.

Aroma of wet oak barrel, some light roasty chocolate and vanilla.

Lightly bitter dark chocolate is up against a hefty level of astringent oak/whiskey. This disperses quickly, and leaves a tasty bourbon/chocolate/espresso aftertaste. It may be slightly rough around the edges, but it tastes great. Lingering bourbon flavor isn't too overpowering. Slight alcohol burn in the esophagus, but not perceptible in the overall flavor.

Feels slightly thin, but has a good milk chocolate lactic quality about it. I liked this, even though I wasn't sure what to expect.

 671 characters

Photo of russpowell
4.2/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

Got this up & comer front jo1510, thanks Joe!

Pours ebony with 2+ fingers of brown/mocha colored head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Maple syrup & vanilla

T: Molasses, toffee, vanilla, & butterscotch up front. Slight boozeyness & maple candy as this warms. Finished oaky with leafy hops

MF: Medium bodied with slightly too much carbonation

Super quaffable, purists may sneer at the sweetness in this, but I really liked this! Went great with my rib eye, but would sure as hell work with dessert or breakfast!

 524 characters

Photo of mikesgroove
4.29/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Elric for the great extra. I had never heard of them before but that was about to change. Served straight out of the fridge, I poured this twelve ounce bottle into a snifter glass. Consumed on 07/31/2008.

The pour was jet black, rich with a nice one inch tan head that quickly faded leaving behind nothing more then some token side glass lace. Some residual crown across the top, broke up and clung to the sides producing a little bit of interest in the dark chocolate brown liquid.

The aroma was bourbon gone mad. Rich notes of bourbon and vanilla dominating everything in sight. It was intensely sweet on the nose as well, really pushing through how long it had sat on that bourbon. The taste was more of the same. I have to admit, this was one of the strongest effected bourbon beers that I had yet to try. Rich notes of vanilla washed in through the bourbon, with highlights of oak and molasses. A slight boozy touch on the finish, but super sweet, and just all around very well done I have to admit. The feel was nice, adequately carbonated and a bit slick, but still done very well. A sipper all the way on this one, and to be honest I am not sure of the alcohol level, but it felt very nice, not too hot, just overwhelming hints of vanilla which were stronger then even some of the Alesmith BA I have had.

Overall I was shocked by how good this was. I had the amber easier in the night and was equally as impressed with that. This was an all around fantastic beer that I would love to get more of, in fact I need to go work on that one.

 1,556 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours completely black with a smaller dark tan head that disappears quickly. Nose is deep but fairly mild. Cocoa, molasses, vanilla are all present. Flavor is sweet with vanilla. Roasted tones on the backside. Liquid feel is slick and the carbonation is lower. A sweeter barrel aged stout.

Thanks to TATTORSO for the sample.

 325 characters

Photo of jwc215
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Tattorso for this one!

Pours opaque/pitch black...can see my reflection perfectly off the glass! The brown head builds, then stays a bit before descending to a thin cover. The cover eventually becomes a few islands. Not much lacing, but "legs" do stick.

The smell is of a very nice bourbon (checked out website, but don't know which one was used - will call during the week to find out, if I remember.) Regardless, it is used correctly - it smells of bourbon that has strong vanilla notes mixed with a stout that had strong chocolate and earthy, dried dark fruits, with a hint of cinnamon (from oak? or alcohol?) coming through. This is the smell of a nice bourbon/stout mix.

The taste, while very nice, does take a hit because of the water that is mixed in. It has chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, musty oak. Delicious! There is water, though it doesn't seem to change the taste, just softens it. It has a nice balance of sweet, with some sour fruit, and a touch of bitter. Alcohol is very well-hidden in the taste. Finishes with a soft dryness.

The body is on the thin side. But, then - it adds to drinkability. It is not syrupy, sticky or thick. I checked out the abv on the website. It is stated as 12%. Not in the taste or feel...maybe in effect...It is carbonated, though it is not fizzy.

The body does add to its "dangerously drinkable" aspect. This is a great bourbon-barreled stout with characteristics of both (Bourbon and American Stout) showing!

 1,470 characters

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.11/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I'm broke and still drinking random stuff from the cellar ... Tonight seems like a RIS night. Got this one way back in October '08 from orbitalr0x ... Don hooked my up with an awesome trade.

Poured into my Delirium goblet.. Short lasting brown head... no real lacing.. black brew.

I don't know if the age helped, but this smells fantastic... Deep milk chocolate .... nice bourbon and vanilla notes ... hints of brown sugar and cinnamon ... really a great nose.

Flavor loses anything from the nose... a bit of dark cherry essence rounds out the RIS flavors... fudgy toward the finish.. oak seems a bit musky/tannic.. medium body with good carbonation.

The nose couldn't get much better... the flavor while good, was a little too fruity and had too much oak for my tastes... this is gonna take me a while to finish this.


Thanks again Don... We should do it again sometime.

 890 characters

Photo of weeare138
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

from notes...

Thanks to Josh for sharing this.

Appears a thick, black motor oil with a dark hue. A tan cap slowly fades. Spotty bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of vanilla, butterscotch, toffee, caramel, and cream.
Taste is of the aromas with some tart berries mixed with bourbon and oak.
Mouthfeel is medium-bodied, chewy, and mildly tart in the finish.

 374 characters

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.63/5  rDev +21.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks to brewcrew76 for throwing this in.
Poured a deep, deep brown almost black, much burnt motor oil with a big tannish head and excellent carbonation. This brew looked damn good! Nose is bourbon upfront, cocoa, roasted malts, vanilla. Taste is bourbony and boozy good, not so boozy as to be obnoxious either. I thought it was very well balanced and the taste followed the nose. Mouthfeel is nice, wanted a little more thickness to it but damn good. Exceptional beer!

 470 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.7/5  rDev +23%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a pitch black body of opaque liquid with a thick creamy dark tan head that last as a thick ring and sticks to the glass with each sip. The beer is too dense to see any carbonation except for a few random tiny bubbles sliding up the edge of the glass.

S- This beer has big chocolate roasted malt aromas wit oaky bourbon and a flowery vanilla aroma that grows with each sip. The aroma is strong even during the pour, and makes me just want to sniff and sniff the beer.

T- The roasted bitterness of black malt has a creamy chocolate velvety flavor with some slightly sweet vanilla notes to follow. There is a nice full bourbon and oak flavor with the oak growing into a cream and butterscotch pudding flavor as it warms. There is a bitter bite from the black grain at the end that finishes the beer nicely.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with some alcohol heat that compliments the flavor nicely and a creamy texture that really gives this a nice mouthfeel.

D- This beer is delicious. It is quite the sleeper, rich complex malts with a great big barrel flavor and a wonderful smell that can keep me sniffing for days. The black roast blends great with the alcohol making this a perfect winter sipper.

 1,247 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to hwwty4 for this 12 oz bottle.

A: The stout is a dark black color that pours with little head.

S: Chocolate and sweet bourbon battle for prominence. Vanilla, oak and alcohol play a big role in the nose.

T: Vanilla beans and cocoa powder drive the flavor. Woody oak amplifies the vanilla. Roasted grains and coffee linger behind the bourbon. The range of flavors run their course in a short period of time, leaving only the dark stout elements in a short period of time. Vanilla does pair with the roasted flavors in the finish.

M: Lots of vanilla up front, this ale isn't afraid of its barrel origins. It doesn't taste like a 12% monstrosity.

D: While it doesn't weigh heavily on the taste, the 12% price tag is a tough one to really swallow. The bourbon is good, not great.

 788 characters

Photo of scruffwhor
4.34/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours a thick black with very dark brown and garnet highlights. No head at all, but a light string of fam that reminds me of people at Starbucks making cool shapes in your latte. The aroma is a warm brownie mocha. Lots of milk chocolate. The taste is warm throughout the whole palate. Lotsof creamy chocolate with the hops tricking you into thinking its 78% cacao. ery complex, malty beer. Great alcoholic warmt that integrates splendidly with the flavor profile.

 463 characters

Photo of DefenCorps
3.53/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle received from brewcrew76 in an IP trade at DLD. Thanks, man! Into my snifter

A: Pours a jet black with a thin dark brown head that settles to a disk fairly quickly

S: Bourbon vanilla boozy goodness. Vanilla's a bit more prominent than I'd like - in fact, i'd have liked it if the Southern Tier Creme Brulee had this amount. In the back, there's some malt character, with a heavily roasted malts, almost burnt and acrid. Decent

T: Short of the Brewdog Paradox beers, no beer I've had has such a massive liquor quality. This beer is bourbon all the way - massive with a TON of vanilla. Some oaky sweetness. There's a little bit of chocolate and coffee in there somewhere but damn, this is all bourbon

M: There's a big enough body to this beer to go with the bourbon but the carbonation is a little higher than I'd like. The finish is long and boozy

D: This beer's an experience in booziness and everyone should try it. However, I'm not sure I'll be drinking my other bottle in a hurry - just too much bourbon - and this from someone who thinks the GI BCS is great as is.

 1,085 characters

Photo of maximum12
3.32/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked up a four-pack of this beer I'd never seen before during a September visit to Chicago & stuffed it into socks & shoes for the flight home. Was it worth it?

Well. This beer is definitely classified wrong - I believe it should be "Bourbon Aged in Imperial Stout Barrels" because holy bourbon-ass, man. The bourbon smell is overpowering, as is the taste, wiping out any trace of the brew. I think this could have easily been a bourbon barrel-aged hefeweizen & it wouldn't taste much different. Mouthfeel is flat, boozy, with no head & little in the way of carbonation. Couldn't drink more than one of these, & as is, I'd like to have about six ounces of it rattling 'round with a couple ice cubes in a tumbler. With some Ronnie Milsap on the radio & the screen door banging in the wind.

Not bad if you like bourbon, but too one-dimensional. I'll leave the others rest in their bottles for a spell to see if it moderates any.

 932 characters

Photo of Bung
2.91/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. From notes, 2008.
Dark brown/black pour. Rather dark brown head that disappated quickly. Boozy aroma, some roast malts. Taste was a little light, roast malt, caramel. A bit of tartness. Oak barrel comes through a bit as it warms. Finishes with too much alcohol. Definetely on the thin side as well. In my opinion the stout was not able to stand up to the barrel aging.

 375 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
2.64/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. No date or info.

My thanks go out to orbitalr0x for this brew. I didn't even know there was a brewery in Aurora!

A - It took a vigrorous, splashing tall pour to coax the finger-tall dark mocha head from the beer. Did the room get darker when I poured this? It's as black as ink. Moderate retention and a lack of lace from the head.

S - Slap-in-the-face strong oak and bourbon unleashes from this beer. Alcohol isn't shy one bit and it seems a bottle of soy sauce may have accidentally made it into the batch as well. Roasted malts are an afterthought and give the beer a little character beyond booze. I like the wood but the soy and hot alcohol need some taming.

T - Bitter chocolate, coffee, and molasses hide helplessly behind an onslaught of hot bourbon, dry oak, and a disgusting soy finish. The first sip was a punishment to my taste-buds but somehow I worked up the courage to try some more. It's not so bad when you're expecting if that's a good excuse.

M - This is surprisingly thin! It's more medium-bodied and very booze-rich but not solventy on the finish. Dry and acrid bitter but not too strong in that regard.

D - Sorry Don! I hope it's not an insult to you and the home-town boys, but I won't be finishing this one, but I appreciate the chance to try something new. The flavor is pure alcohol and I trembled with fear when I smelled the soy sauce as it sent my mind reeling back to the horror of Sam Adams Triple Bock. It seems that it was in barrels far too long or the original beer put in was incredibly weak. This needs some real work to hang with the bourbon-barrel-big dogs that dominate the market right now. Additionally, from a brewery that calls themselves "America's Brewing Co." (maybe there's history to this - don't know) I'd expect something a hell of a lot better.

 1,846 characters

Photo of gford217
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of Elric73 poured into a Terrapin snifter.

Pours oil-slick black with a thin but dense mocha head that lingered for quite a while and left some very good lacing. The smell is bourbon all the way with only hints of malts and dark fruit behind the massive boozy aroma. The taste starts with bourbon as well but brings a little bit more to the party. There's some chocolate malts and dark fruits in there but the bourbon comes back in the finish and lingers in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is very good though a tad light for my liking. This is a nice bourbon barrel stout but could use a little more balance to be great. Thanks again to Scott for sharing this one.

 680 characters

Photo of hopdog
4.37/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle.

Poured a dark black color with a small sized brown head. Aromas of bourbon, vanilla, wood, chocolate, and roast. Tastes of bourbon, vanilla, caramel, wood, and some dark fruits lurking in the background. Definitely a bourbon barrel aged beer - and I'm still a sucker for those! I found the alcohol content to be fairly well hidden. The body was a little on the thin side.

Notes from 7/20/08

 406 characters

Photo of Vancer
4.4/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

No dating or abv on the production label of a stately crown burned into barrel slats. Guess this is now in production as their "Signature Series".

Pure black as night pour of rich motor oil, still manages to pop up a nice inch of tan head in the Corsendonk tulip. Sheets of lace slide down the glass.

But the aroma, my, are we on to something - sweet cherry bourbon mash with a dose of malt and vanilla. And good Lord, this is bourbon beer in a glass - guessing Jim Beam, my favorite, for the barrels. When one picks up a bottle with "Bourbon Barrel" on the label, wtf would ya expect?

One bummer ; body was on the thin side.

First beer from this brewery and only picked up one bottle from Corral Liquors - GOTTA get some more of this great beer.

 750 characters

Photo of srandycarter
3.91/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours pitch black - almost no head. Small, mocha bubble floaters on top. Thin bubble lacing, although not much. Hoped it wouldn't be flat.

S - The wood overshadows the smell, combined with bourbon, burnt malt, chocolate and coffee. Pretty busy nose.

T - Refined, nice creamy sippin beer with notes of booze, coffee and bitter chocolate.

M - Good coating, not so much carb, medium to full bodied.

D - Would exhaust easily.

Nice one! Although BA has not been updated, their site says 12% and I believe it!

 512 characters

Photo of GbVDave
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Val-Dieu goblet.

A: Pours a slippery looking and very still coal-black color. Covering this is a foamy/bubbly one-finger head that's a lovely dark khaki color. The head recedes very quickly and leaves a few little gobs of lace in the glass.

S: The bourbon really comes through in the nose with this one. Add to that a large helping of vanilla, cherry, licorice, dark fruit, molassas, tobacco leaf, and charred oak.

T: Once again, big bourbon shares the stage with dark chocolate covered cherry, tobacco, black licorice, vanilla, blackened malt, dark fruit, burnt bark, and brown sugar/molassas.

M: Slightly on the thin side but there is a lot of interesting things going on here to draw attention away from that. Quite tingly/spicy on the tongue. Leaves a nice and sweet coating on the lips which contrasts nicely with the spicy and bourbon-y burn going on in the mouth and throat. Creamy chocolate and tangy fruit in the finish.

D: Not sure of the abv, but this feels like it weighs in at the 9%-12% range. Very interesting and great to see this bottled and available for sale at the beer store.

 1,144 characters

Photo of Overlord
3.51/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Thanks to Schneid for the brew, and congrats to him on his first review.

Pours a dark black with a surprisingly robust deep tan head. The appearance, sadly, was the best thing about the brew.

Smells of bourbon. Which I don't mind, but I like a bit of something else to balance out the aroma. The taste adds some chocolate, maybe a hint of vanilla, and a wisp of malt; but it's mostly bourbon. I'm growing weary of heavily bourbon-ed beers, and this is an example of the style. Nice thick/viscuous mouthfeel.

Not a bad brew by any means, but I may have sampled it at the wrong time in my reviewing career.

 607 characters

Photo of deereless
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: The color of obsidian, as dark as coal, the thinnest of heads which is an espresso brown color - 4.50, S: Long before putting this under my nose, I'm catching wisps of some significant fragrances including hints of bourbon, under my nose this beer emits strong bourbon as well as a nice oak aroma - 4.75, T: Lots of chocolate and black malt, some bitter espresso, noticeable hops, some strong acidity on the end which reminds me of a dry red wine, the bourbon is up front and very pleasing - 4.25, M: My only true negative on the beer is the mouthfeel, it is deceptively thin and un-stout like, it really takes away from the enjoyment of the beer, a little gritty - 3.25, D: Overall this is an exceptional beer, but when I stack it up against Goose Islands version of the bourbon stout it falls short on a couple of fronts, I would recommend this beer - 4.25

 861 characters

4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I actually have to sip off the top of the growing head as it reaches four fingers and over the top of the glass. Spots of lace are left behind. Body is pure total blackness. Nose has distinct bourbon notes with hints of toffee, raisens, vanilla and dark cherry alchol. The alchol is a bit hot as it wraps around burnt malt, slightly soured dark fruit and anise with first sip. The palate is really painted with blackness and stays with a more bitter than sour feel on the back of the tongue. The bourbon feel is there in the hot alchol throughout. This brew would benefit from some time in the cellar. Solid drinkability now and especially as it warms to room tempature.

 670 characters

Photo of Arbitrator
2.26/5  rDev -40.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Lightly chilled 12oz bottle into a glass. A very generous gift from Dyan. Thanks, man. I was waiting for a tasting to share this, but I seem to miss them all lately.

A: A pitch black body in my Palm tulip. A vigorous pour is rewarded with a finger of dark mocha-colored head. Retention is short, but the film persists as a thick, fine-bubbled collar on the brew, with some broken film on top.

S: Caramelly bourbon and chocolate. A hint of tannins and vanilla. Light booze and a hint of soy.

T: Leads off with bourbon, caramel, bourbon, and hints of bourbon over chocolate. The mid-taste produces a hint of roast and more tannins than I encountered in the nose. The finish brings out vanilla, smoke, and notes of oxidation (manifesting as a salty soy flavor). Slight peppery sting in the finish. Not bad, but decidedly supbar and one-dimensional for an oversaturated style.

M: Oily texture and a fairly viscous body. Low carbonation. Some booze is noticeable in the finish; I don't know how old this is, but it still has some heat.

D: I didn't hate it, but for a barrel-aged IS, it's well below average. I appreciate the opportunity to try this, though. Thanks, Dyan.

 1,176 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (Signature Series) from America's Brewpub
3.82 out of 5 based on 80 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.