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Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ChicagoJ, Nov 26, 2020.
Correct. Very tasty, but I prefer the Stouts.
Ah ok, never had that particular beer. So it’s a Wheatwine instead of a Barleywine just based off the different grains? New to me.
Even though it's after the fact, this gives a good description with photos of everything offered this year
Maybe I missed them but I don’t think I saw a Birthday or anniversary in this thread. Just wondering how they are as I passed them up when I saw them. No idea on the price but guessing close to $25+ each. For my pocket I would rather two 4 packs of Willetized for a few $ less.
pulled out my Goose Island box that hadn’t been touched in about a year and found this had occurred. ???
Some had obviously escaped the bottle and very little carbonation was left and the mold on the bottle was off putting, but I drank it anyway.
Not fair to review really, but I will state it was what I would imagine a malty, Bourbon laced port would be like. Enjoyed it with that in mind. Time will tell if it was a bad idea or not to drink it.
@FlintB sent me this bottle earlier this year I think. I’ve been saving it for a weekend like this I guess. I got into beer after GI had already made the switch to the 16.9oz format so I never saw these in the wild and was super grateful for the chance to try this. Ok enough chit chat, down to business.
The aroma is bourbon soaked brownie batter with the slightest hint of smoke and char. Taste follows in the best way. There’s a bourbon hit up front, followed by sweet brownie batter, some roast, char, and oak. Finishes sweet brownie and vanilla with a little warming as it goes down. Feel is heavier than medium but not quite chewy. Overall this is right up my alley, super awesome. Much better than the ‘15 version I had yesterday. Thanks again Brian
Oldest bottle left in the cellar, 2016 Regular into a snifter.
Limited head with nearly no retention. Nose is barrel forward, then leather and dark candied fruit. Taste has more dimension, adds in some caramel and roasted malt. All the edges are really soft, flavors flow into each other. Still some perceptible ABV warmth on the tongue and swallow.
Held up really well, drinking super smooth, I'd almost consider it borderline crushable for 13.8%.
Maybe more regionalized, I paid $27.99 for Anniversary, passed on the rest. NC has a sub 15% abv law, so Anniversary had no shot here to begin with. We only got B4 and regular, I didn’t buy any regular, it’ll be around for a few weeks, the demand either isn’t there of they’re bottling a shit ton. I’d lean mote towards a shit ton, it’s what AB had in mind for a once a year release.
I’d be curious to see a distribution chart, the trade forum was pretty active yesterday.
Pours a very dark color with a slight tan head and lacing
Aroma has abundant coffee, bourbon and maple syrup hints
The taste follows the nose with a silky coffee, bourbon and maple syrup flavor
A medium bodied decently carbonated beer
A very nicely balanced coffee bourbon stout
ps-my favorite of the three variants.
went barleywine, tasting better than ever, really has melded into itself well. The sweet, boozy, and oak notes all are complementary and deep
As usual, I’ll talk more about what the beer is than what the beer is like. Barrel aged beer is certainly nothing new, but let’s put a spotlight on beer aged in bourbon barrels in particular.
I’ve seen it stated that most Scotch whisky is aged in used bourbon barrels shipped to Scotland from America. Before getting filled with whisky, some producers fill the bourbon barrels with beer to “season” the barrels. The beer permeates the wood of the barrel to create a good habitat and influence the flavor of the whisky. The beer used for seasoning is discarded.
Scottish beer brewers have found ways to take advantage of this whisky production process. As early as 1993 (but probably earlier), the small Scottish brewery Borve (1983-2001) used the bourbon barrels to age their strong beer in after the barrels were already used to age whisky. Looking at a different part of the timeline of a bourbon barrel and seeing opportunity, in 2003 Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn was formed to package and sell the beer used to season the bourbon barrels rather than discard it.
Let’s jump over to the other side of the Atlantic. Goose Island claims that Bourbon County Brand Stout first came about in 1992. Personally, I believe the stories that put it at 1995 instead. Samuel Adams Triple Bock, which saw time in Jack Daniel’s barrels and was an inspiration for Goose Island, was conceived in 1992 and first released in 1994. Bourbon County was finally packaged for the first time in 2005.
From my point of view, Bourbon County Brand Stout deserves to be considered one of the most important beers in the identity of what folks consider “craft beer” (even though Goose Island is no longer considered a “craft brewer” by the BA since their 2011 purchase by AB InBev). The story of BCBS - from the beginning as a very strong bourbon barrel aged stout from a brewery that began as a late ‘80s brewpub, to the “variants” with added ingredients that people collect each year, to the special release date that united craft beer with holiday consumerism at its worst, to the controversial sale to big beer that became an industry turning point, to the disastrous “infection” recall… is there a single beer that embodies all of the angles of the craft era as well as this one? This is an incredible beer… or perhaps it’s better to think of it as a sub-brand series of beers rather than a beer.
Goose Island produces annual posters for the “Black Friday” release that sell out to collectors for a decent chunk of change. I remember first seeing such posters and thinking to myself that craft beer consumerism has reached a crazy apotheosis. People weren’t just buying posters of breweries they were a fan of and also standing in long lines to buy expensive beer… they were actually buying posters that commemorated the standing in line for the beer! It’s almost meta. “Black Friday 2020.”
I always thought the main beer was a really nice example of it’s type and the variants (from what I’ve had) were more about novelty. I didn't even like the old coffee version. BCBS is not a beer I gravitate to though - other than Harvey’s imperial stout, I don’t really care for imperial stouts.
Today I’m having a 2017 edition BCBS. I had a cup of Earl Grey tea (aka heaven in a cup) separately today. I’ll have to live with that beverage separation but I wouldn’t mind trying that 2020 combo. This beer was aged on a store shelf and likely exposed to just about everything that would hurt it. I think they put a heat lamp directly over it just for kicks.
Upon opening it, I immediately get the odor of an old stout - not a quality I like at all. The poured beer forms a tiny head that disappears fast. The beer is black with brown edges and opaque at glass volume.
It tastes of a touch of bourbon character and a big hit of nuttiness from the barrel aging. Also tastes of ash, burnt Brussels sprout bitterness, black licorice, red wine acidity, and a hearty richness. That sounds disconnected, but it manages to hold together (just barely). The alcohol presence is wonderfully low considering the ABV level. My concerns about age didn’t need to be there because this beer is still very satisfying. The last time I had BCBS, it was not an old bottle, and just going off of my extremely imperfect memory, that beer was much richer and this beer is more about the edges hitting one another.
Reopened the bottle from last night to have something to sip on while I started dinner prep (porkchops in a lemon caper sauce, sweet potato salad and various Thanksgiving leftovers on the side). At room temperature it is very much a dessert beer. I only get the vanilla and dried fruit notes; the only sign it's aged in bourbon barrels, to me, is the heat on the finish.
I put it back in the fridge while I went out to run; just took a sip now and definitely think the oak comes through more when it's cooler. I'll probably hold onto what's left of this bottle until tomorrow but that's probably pushing it as far as wringing any interesting tasting notes out of it.
Also the cat spilled my first pour of the bottle this afternoon, and now owes me two dollars.
I opened a 2016 Regular and split it with my brothers in law. It was fantastic. I have two from 2018 left. I didn’t get a chance to go out yesterday.
Well, here is a bit of a mystery. My tasting group used to have an annual stout event, and every one featured as much of a vertical of BCBS as we could assemble. Three years ago the 2011 that I brought from my cellar was amazing. Two years ago a 2011 of unknown storage history was in serious decline. Was that one stored poorly (my cellar is great for storing beer)? Is that the reason it wasn't very good? Or is that year just not good now? Is this 2011 from my cellar going to be two more years worse than that one was? Or sublime?
Those thoughts are in my head as I open this. Let's find out, shall we? Live review.
Oh, my! Strong aroma, very blended, but I know to look for chocolate syrup, molasses whip, prune, raisin, bourbon, vanilla, malted milk ball, spicy alcohol, and a hint of roasty bitter, and they are all delightfully here in spades.
Been smelling that aroma as this beer sits and opens, and it's been a hard ten minutes wait. First sip is thinner and roastier than I remember, less sweet, and a bit of a port note. Chocolate and fruit notes are very subdued, almost missing, there is now no vanilla flavor, the bitter is quite pronounced, and as it warms the port note starts to dominate. The flavors I expect are there, kinda washed out, and the alcohol overwhelms the bourbon flavor. If only this taste delivered on the promise of its aroma. Ahhh, well.
Thinner than normal, almost no carb., evidence of oxidation, and the finish is a less tasty shadow of its former glory.
Last one I have from 2011, but it's obvious nine years is a bit much for this baby, at least for this particular year. Still enjoying this very much, but this year was sooo good for so long, it's a shame I let this happen to it.
On the good side, @zid was right, and the desired inebriation he predicted has pleasantly arrived. I miss everything about enjoying beer whenever I want one, including a good beer buzz.
These are two very different beers at this point. The 2013 has developed a distinct dark cherry note, as well as that umami soy sauce flavor that comes standard with aged BCBS. 2020 has more carbonation and the barrel notes seems a bit livelier. I'm honestly not sure I could pick a favorite between the two, as they are very different but great.
I have one more of those and your notes are much appreciated! I will hopefully be cracking my last one with my dad and my brother. Cheers!
My Thanksgiving break drinking marathon continues:
Dark fruit and light barrel nose, chocolate covered berries in the taste, and barrel that comes through as it warms. I do wish it was a bit thicker. As of right now, 2019 is still my favorite regular since 2014.
Cheers, BAs! I might have one more in me.
Great thread so far, everyone! I'm finally able to dig into a big beer, so here's the one I managed to pick up last weekend:
2020 Kentucky Fog
I really love the nose on this. There's a slight perfumy and airy quality that somehow manages to work beautifully with and elevate the rich, earthy and woody platform. Vanilla and dark chocolate seem to play the middle ground, but overall I'm getting more oak than bourbon, which is fine and dandy because it dovetails nicely with that tea leaf earthiness.
First sip and kaboom, there's the Earl Grey. No more 'suggestions' of its elements, that unmistakable taste hits you straight away. Subtle bourbon, very rich fudgy feel, some gentle heat from the alcohol, a twinge of honeyish sweetness, and then that long lingering finish of the oak and tea leaf. Unique and surprisingly cohesive, big thumbs up, and I'm really glad that this is the one I kind of randomly chose.
First taste of a 2020. Doesn't disappoint. Tastes like I remember
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Special #4 Stout, 13.3% ABV....Overall world-class. This beer is for fans of solid and thick BA Stouts, not fans of sweet pastry Stouts. I like both.
4.4/5 rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
I may revise my score as I work my way through it, pacing myself. This is clearly better than many previous variants, and the oatmeal really makes for a smooth and thick BA stout.
A midnight pour nearing concentrated coal, with mousy brown and viscous motor oil shades. The head is muddy yet short lived to nurture oily dregs
Smell suggests leathered black currants against molded tree bark, which have a tannic overcoat in astringent fruits that befall to a chocolatey fondue fountain. Lesser indications hint at berry-cocoa torte with further delicacies in blackberry cobbler, toasted oak chips, and smoked old fashioned. Foraging yields/progresses the mileage in dark fruits, while patience and warming ties espresso marks, scotch-mallow bars, barreled-aged figs/prunes, and whiskey charred walnuts
Blazed, crystalized malts aiming at palate, with a softer barrel presence than aroma. Concourses have a slight decadency, but nothing that stirs a syrupy glut via burnt liquored custards, cognac truffles, and warm molasses raisin bread. Moreover is timing on leathered vanilla, strawberry shortbread, and the candied, red cherry licorice
A calculated richness across a technically thin surface with moderate heat alertness and minor causticity over +5yrs
Drinking a Plain 2020 tonight (no distiller info, so the Normal blended version):
Delicious as always. I’ve been drinking 2017, 2018, and 2019 versions accumulated over the years at least once a month so I think I have a fairly good point of reference to start with. I would say it is very much like the others - wonderful balance between rich malt and a bracing whiskey bite (although balance may be slanted a bit more towards malt than normal in this bottle - must study more to be sure)
Hard pass on the variants for 2x the price of the masterful plain version
2013 Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout
*Brewed with Intelligentsia Los Inmortales coffee beans*
@ChicagoJ You opened a '14 right? I was expecting this to be lacking any and all trace of coffee, and then after seeing your review, I was sure of it. Somehow, against all odds, this 7-year old coffee stout is absolutely exploding with coffee.
I didn't cellar this. Someone sent this to me less than a year ago. Here's what I make of it:
Appearance: Pours a coal-black hue - slightly thin, with a deep reddish-mahogany ring around the top edge. Zero head, zero foam, zero collar. Just sits like liquorice-coloured liquid in the glass. Lifeless. 4.0
Nose: Surpriseingly, the coffee is still here - and quite strong. The coffee is deep, dark, roasty and pungent, with an almost stale quality to it - like a gas station coffee maker that hasn't been emptied or cleaned in a day. It almost smells sticky and concentrated, very much like Kaluha. Zero green pepper. There's some deep roast beneath the coffee, along with a bit of an ashen/smoky note. Some tangy dark fruit peeks through, as well as some bourbon, and if you really dig deep, some vanilla, oak, and baker's chocolate emerge. Not much warmth. Coffee dominates. 4.25
Palate: This 7 year old stout greets the palate fairly sweet, with some rich chocolate fudge, brownie batter, vanilla, bourbon, and oak, before an intense coffee presence explodes and takes the lead. It's a miracle there's still so much coffee in here. The coffee is sweet, black, roasty, with some fresh whole bean notes. Saturated, almost like coffee liqueur, and then finally showing some of that stale back coffee character. A whisper of tangy dark fruit pokes out, before some coffee bean bitterness begins to show, quickly compounded by blackened malt bitterness, drying this out very quickly and fully. Some more subtle bourbon, followed by some less subtle barrel reappear, and the finish approaches, bringing sticky black coffee, roasty beans, bitter malt roast, pure cacao, charred malt, and spicy charred oak. No lingering sweetness. 4.25
Mouthfeel/Body: Admittedly, I expected this to be thin, given its age, but surprisingly, it's actually packing some nice heft when chilled. It isn't luscious or chewy, but before it warms, it does have some nice viscosity, though it does thin out as it warms. Effervescence is extremely low - not still, and there is some subtle fuzz in there, but like a cup of soda the morning after you poured it. Quite sticky around the lips, but almost fully dries out in the finish with all that roast. 4.0
Overall: This is a difficult one to rate. Is it fair to formally review and rate a 7 year old coffee stout that I've never had? It may actually not be. I'll never know how this was when fresh, but even now, I'd say this is a perfectly respectable barrel-aged coffee stout. Strong coffee presence, no green pepper notes, essentially no oxidation, and maybe just a hint of staleness to the coffee. The bourbon and barrel are subdued, and the effervescence is lacking, but as-is, this is still a great coffee stout. The fact that it has held up so well is definitely a testimony to the early-mid BCBS era. Smoke 'em if you got 'em. This is the most you could ask for in a 7 year old coffee stout. I have to wonder if the 2013 was particularly coffee-forward, because apparently less ancient bottles have already lost their beans. Certainly not the case here, but I wouldn't hold onto one any longer than this. Gracefully aged. 4.25
You'd drown, but the first few seconds may be enjoyable.
If you gotta go....
Hope you’re all enjoying some time off this weekend and staying safe. No time like the present to open a special bottle...
Birthday pours black with a plum-red hue and a half-finger of short-lived, dark tan head. The head leaves a crown, but very little lacing.
Smooth bourbon stands out in the nose, with plum, raspberry and vanilla notes sitting on top of rich chocolate and a hint of leather.
The fruity elements carry over to the taste and stand out first: more berries and plum. There’s plenty of chocolate and caramel as well, and the beer is fairly hot. Hints of vanilla, licorice and root beer make appearances, too. Lightly acerbic bitterness then shows in the finish — like from coffee or a quality hot chocolate. Caramel and fruit linger in the aftertaste.
The mouthfeel is a bit of a let down. Oily and medium bodied at best, with fizzy carbonation. It’s not off-style, but isn’t as thick and luxurious as I was hoping.
Overall, there’s a ton of depth and excellent flavor to this one. The body and carbonation seem a little pedestrian by comparison and prevent this from being next-level, in my over-indulged opinion. It’s still excellent stuff.
Awesome notes and feedback. It's much appreciated, as I plan to open mine in the next few weeks.
Most age pretty well, but I like them fresh
Decided to open my 2016 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale tonight. Did a little early Saturday shopping and secured a variant to have tomorrow. This beer is drinking pretty well right now with notes of rich toasty brown bread, hints of chocolate, dark stone fruits, plum, cherry, red grape, dark berries, bourbon, oak, vanilla, char, caramel, baked toffee, molasses, brown sugar, some tobacco, leather, and a touch of earthy hops. Feels medium plus bodied, viscous and thick with moderate smooth carbonation and mild boozy spice. This is a really great bourbon barrel aged barleywine. Cheers everyone!
This is one of the best posts I’ve read on this board in a while. Exceptionally well done, IMHO.
Even though I've seen it many times by now, your large cap bottle opener still makes me do a double take.
I'm surprised there was much vanilla or orange left in those two variants two years after release. There were reports about six months after release that orange was falling off, then shortly thereafter vanilla was falling off. I had both at nine months after release, and while they were good, the intended flavor had fallen off substantially. Earlier vintages of vanilla reportedly lasted well, so presumably the vanilla used in 2018 was different somehow.
Cafe de Olla 2019. Started this post as a capsule review but I ended up actually reviewing it instead.
L: 4 | S: 4 | T: 4.5 | F: 4.25 | O: 4.25
Cellared for about, though not quite, a year. Drink by 7 Aug 2021. Poured into a Goose flute glass.
L: Pours like a BCBS, dark and viscous. Head dissipated almost immediately; for some reason I get more carbonation if I let it sit in the fridge with a stopper overnight and pour it then. (Probably I'm not cellaring them ideally.)
S: Initial nose doesn't have much coffee on it, mostly woody, maybe a mix of the barrel and the cassia bark. A hint of cinnamon, becoming more than a hint as it hangs out in the glass.
T: There's more coffee, and a lot more cinnamon, on the initial taste. The coffee lingers, though; I'm taking pretty lengthy breaks between sips and as I do I notice it more. I don't get much orange on first taste but I'm wondering if that will come out as it warms up.
F: It's maybe a little lighter than BCBS regular? But the cinnamon gives it kind of a sharp spiciness that counters it nicely. I'm actually going to bump this up to 4.25, since I'm liking the complexity of it.
Overall I think based on other people's reviews that this has lost a step from when it was fresh, but it's still got a lot of depth and complexity to it. Not the usual coffee stout, and very enjoyable.
Started to reach for a 2015 BCBW, but thought better of it. Of course, it's going to be infected. (I guess I keep hoping there's this one bottle that isn't.)
So I grabbed a 2014 BCBS instead. Still delicious. Lots of bourbon. Sweet but not overly so.
I'm in my Happy Place.
Here we go: beer #2 in this magnificent thread for me. Let’s go!!!
4.62/5 rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
Pours onyx black with a dense, medium tan head. Simply gorgeous in the glass. The nose is dominated by heavy char aromas, some chocolate and cinnamon, and a decent amount of coffee. No sign of the orange.
The orange is present on the taste, though, a subtle citrus taste at the back of the palate, long after the magnificent char and coffee flavors vied with the chocolate and cinnamon. Wow, is there a lot going on here - and it really works (for me).
The mouthfeel is really full and creamy, which surprised me, as did this beer - my expectations were that it would be good, even very good, but it is world class, IMHO. Wish I had another bottle to share with our son, because I think he’d love this.
For today, the 2018 BCBS. I bought it in 2018, and it has resided in my cellar since, kept at Minnesota Basement Temperature for 2 years.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 tasted in 2020
Deep black with a short tan head that disappears within 60 seconds. No lacing, just a slight foam ring that deposits a bubble or two after each sip, which promptly slips back down into the beer.
Aroma is mellow and sweet. Rich caramel and vanilla. Very, very nice.
Flavor is roasted malts, sweet caramel, vanilla, and bourbon. This is a sipping beer, for sure. This is a contrast with my take on the beer when fresh, which I then called it easy drinking and smooth. It is still relatively smooth, with alcohol heat, but is much too thick and sweet to be called easy drinking.
Mouth feel is thick and viscous. Syrupy.
Overall, the easy drinking, thick, rich tasting, beer when fresh has changed after 2 years into a still thick, but sweet, sipping beer with a nice alcohol warmth. Still excellent, for sure, but quite different from my tasting notes of two years ago. Some of that MIGHT be a change in my palate, or in my reviewing perceptions, but not all of it. I would not characterize this beer as "easy drinking"... that is the phrase that sticks out to me from the first review.
L: 4.0 | S: 4.25 | T: 4.25 | F: 4.5 | O: 4.25 | Rating: 4.26
Shoot man. I don’t deserve that.
Its a wheatwine. They did barleywines in '13, '14, '15, and '16, then they did a coffee barleywine in '17 (that might be their all time worst variant), then in '18 and '19 they did Wheatwines aged in particular barrels (it was Larceny one year, forget the other one), and then this year they pastried up the wheatwine.
Love the write up! Good to have you imbibing. I remember 2011 being a particularly delicious year and winning the best year a few times in our annual tastings.
I mean, it is @zid he's one of the best reviewers on the site ...
I have never reviewed a single beer. It’s true - check my stats.
I was thinking of doing this myself since I still have the bottom of the bottles left from the '16 Stout and Barleywine. I'm debating if I should tonight or wait til tomorrow with 3 different varieties...