The Vintage Bourbon County Review Thread

Discussion in 'Cellaring / Aging Beer' started by Beer_Economicus, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (738) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio

    Alright, as some of you know, I said that I'd be starting a Vintage Bourbon County thread. If ever there was a beer that should have it's own thread, it's Bourbon County.

    Bourbon County is widely considered as one of the best beers to age, albeit a potentially expensive endeavor if you are not well experienced with aging this beer.

    I'm the biggest fan of Bourbon County, and not only that, I'm a huge fan of just how well it ages. I'm also a proponent of the mentality that Bourbon County gets better after a few years; thus, i prefer it with at minimum 3-4 years on it compared to fresh. Moreover than that, I've enjoyed 10+ year old Bourbon County beers, and 10 year old variants - and they have held up beyond any other beers that I have tried.

    Without further ado, let's get to reviewing. Please use this thread for any Bourbon County beer, whether it's the "regular," a variant, the barleywine, etc.

    Best Regards,
    Your Bourbon County Whore
  2. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (738) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio

    First up, the 2018 vintage of Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Bean Stout. -OR, BCBVS (2.0, since this was originally, i.e. OG, was released in 2010 as one of the original variants alongside OG Rare and OG Bramble).


    First Impression: This beer that I poured tonight does not much resemble the same beer poured 2 years ago when fresh. It seems like a completely different beer (detailed below), in the most exciting way.

    Appearance: First, it's stellar. When it was fresh I remember it being thin - CRAZY thin. This poured thick - very thick. I wouldn't even know it's the same beer. Dark as midnight, as usual, and with good (but obviously minimal, as is standard) head (for BC).

    Smell: It's more muted compared to regular BC when your nose is 6-12 inches over the glass. Once your get your nose inside the glass though? The vanilla is bright, and almost a little floral. The smell reminds me substantially of what store-bought vanilla icing smells like (in a good way). Another analogy might be the smell after you've added vanilla to something, like a sweetened cream cheese icing. It's so much less ethanol-forward than what vanilla extract is.

    Taste: This is the biggest improvement over fresh. I was discussing this beer with a friend (also a BA) tonight, and we were both commenting on how this beer didn't get the love it deserved when fresh. The reason, we both surmised, isn't that it actually has less Vanilla now. Instead, it's the way it's incorporated. When it was fresh, it kind of felt/tasted a bit like someone added vanilla extract. Not necessarily in the flavor profile of the beer and what vanilla extract tastes like, but rather the fact that the vanilla felt like an addition to the stout. NOW, and much like OG Vanilla tasted to me Last year when I opened it (I.E. at 9 years old), the vanilla is incredibly well incorporated. It's like a vanilla stout, not a stout with vanilla. It's as if the vanilla is one with the stout. It's integrated in the best way possible, and all the rough corners have been rounded out.

    Besides vanilal, you actually get the barrel and the bourbon. It's not quite the intensity that you'd get from regular BCBS, but it's close. The vanilla - on the palate - takes the place of the "heat/flavor" you'd get from the barrel, and by that I mean the timing. Normally, the barrel/bourbon is one of the first things that hits. Here/now, it's Vanilla.

    The finish is long, slow, and warming.

    Overall: This is amazing. My first and last thought were: How do I get another. I wish I had more. It's just an amazing beer.

    I'll do an actual rating/review tomorrow, but I'm putting this at a review rating of around 4.8. That says it all.

    Also: I opened this, believing I wouldn't have time to finish it tonight. I poured half, and then "rabbit-corked" the other half, with the plan to drink it tomorrow. I hope nothing fades - this would be a sad one to lose.
    Electros, FBarber, Bitterbill and 7 others like this.
  3. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    Excellent review! I am not a big vanilla fan, in stouts or in general, but do appreciate when it is incorporated to compliment, not overwhelm. A few years ago, the Clybourn Brewpub pulled out draft 2014 Vanilla Rye. It was an excellent variant, one of my highest rated, due to the way the vanilla blended and provided the balance you noted after a few years since the 2018 was bottled.

    I didn't recall the thinness noted in your initial review. However, I went to my review notes and sure enough I see "Thinner mouthfeel than the other variants" . In fact I don't recall saying that about any other BCS pour before or since. The note was short and sweet, so I didn't find it to be Central Waters thin or I would have expanded on the thin comments, but I am curious as to why it turned out thin versus the other variants.

    I didn't have to refer to the notes to remember the overwhelming vanilla extract aroma and taste, so much so that I didn't mind giving the rest of my Amateur Night Preview Party pour to a stranger who came after vanilla tapped. I thought it would mellow out in the bottle, but I don't think I ended up grabbing a bottle of it (didn't purchase an allotment in 2018 due to the Binny's 2017 release fiasco).

    Never held an opened bottle overnight before (of any beer), but it should work well with this style. Looking forward to any updates regarding changes and your full review.
    #3 ChicagoJ, Aug 29, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
  4. toolbrew

    toolbrew Defender (637) Feb 26, 2008 Indiana

    2012 Bourbon County Brand Stout - Bottled on 8/23/12 1409.

    12oz bottle vigorously poured into a BCBS snifter. Little to no head and initial aromas were roasted malt with some chocolate. Taste initially was strong black licorice, followed by a chocolate finish. Warmed over an hour period and the initial licorice lessened some, but the chocolate grew stronger. No other flavors. Mouthfeel was good as always. Overall this may be past its prime - was good to drink after all these years!
  5. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    In the Beer Talk forum, the next Beer Advocate online tasting will take place Thanksgiving Day Weekend (Friday - Sunday). All Bourbon County Stouts, current or prior years, are welcome for the tasting.

    Hope you are able to join.
  6. toolbrew

    toolbrew Defender (637) Feb 26, 2008 Indiana

    2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout - Bottled 07NOV13 1009.

    12oz bottle vigorously poured into a BCBS snifter. Some dark brown head which dissipated rather quickly. Aromas of chocolate, dark fruit, maybe some barrel. At first I was worried because of a strong oxidized/wet cardboard taste, followed by the chocolate-bourbon barrel flavor. After sitting out for close to an hour that initial oxidized taste subsided and mostly barrel aged stout flavor remains. Thicker mouthfeel than 2012. Overall it turned out to be very good after warming up.
  7. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (455) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I'll have to dig into my cellar on this one. I have BCBS going back to one lonely 2009, and from 11 on, at least a few bottles of each year, plus a few variants. Barleywine, coffee, vanilla and I think a proprieters. One of these days I need to get in there and actually catalog my cellar, figure out exactly what I do have down there.
  8. toolbrew

    toolbrew Defender (637) Feb 26, 2008 Indiana

    2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout - Bottled 17OCT14 1420.

    12oz bottle poured gently into a snifter. Low brown head and an initial whiff of oxidation that led quickly to rich chocolatey stout aromas. Tastes like a boozy BA stout! Rich, roasty stout, with sweetness from the barrel and some barrel heat on the back end! Silky-thick mouthfeel. This...THIS is on the money!
  9. toolbrew

    toolbrew Defender (637) Feb 26, 2008 Indiana

    2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout - Bottled 12NOV15 1047. 14.3% ALC/VOL

    16.9oz bottle poured into a snifter with thin brown head. Roast malts, chocolate, barrel aromas. Chocolate taste, some barrel heat, fades to some vanilla from the barrel. Like the 14, silky viscous mouthfeel. Overall very tasty (and not an infected bottle). This beer aged well for the past 5 years!
  10. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (455) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    So I miscounted - I actually had 2 2009 BCBS. Decided to open one tonight.
    |Even after 11 years, it's a bit hot. But tasty for all that. lots of chocolate, plenty of the bourbon left.
  11. toolbrew

    toolbrew Defender (637) Feb 26, 2008 Indiana

    2016 Bourbon County Brand Stout - Bottled 07OCT16 1450 13.8% ALC/VOL

    Poured from a 16.9oz bottle into a snifter - no head although some lacing. Aromas of chocolate and barrel (no surprised). Very smooth taste - chocolate is more subtle than prior years. Finishes with a dry feeling and some barrel heat. Mouthfeel is silky but thinner than prior years if that makes sense. Overall very drinkable but not as complex as prior years. I would note that this bottle had little to no sediment - prior years had a lot at the bottom.
    cavedave, FBarber, Bitterbill and 3 others like this.
  12. toolbrew

    toolbrew Defender (637) Feb 26, 2008 Indiana

    2017 Bourbon County Brand Stout - Bottled 07SEP17 12:34 14.7% ALC/VOL

    Poured from the 16.9oz bottle into a snifter. Not much head to speak of - aromas of chocolate and black licorice. Taste is roast chocolate with some vanilla notes from the barrel. Very smooth and medium mouthfeel. Overall this is holding up well and tastes like BCBS.
    cavedave, FBarber, Bitterbill and 2 others like this.
  13. CityFarmer

    CityFarmer Initiate (162) Mar 19, 2015 Illinois

    I've drank through 14-19 the last week. The 14 had fallen off the most, I'd say. But the 15-19 were all excellent, and different. Tasting notes escape me now buy they were all tasting really good. I might splurge and go buy the overpriced vertical that's turding away at Binnys.

    BTW @Beer_Economicus that snifter you have in your post up top.....I need one of those like I need air.
  14. Whyteboar

    Whyteboar Champion (859) Jun 7, 2008 Michigan
    Society Trader

    It looks like I will be in town for this, so if it's still open, I'm in. I'm normally in a small village in TN so acquiring this has been a challenge most years. But there are a couple in the cellar now and I anticipate being able to get some this year.
    FBarber, Bitterbill and ChicagoJ like this.
  15. Jaycase

    Jaycase Meyvn (1,454) Jan 13, 2007 Illinois

    Cross post from BCBS Online Tasting Thread (link)


    My preference was 2013 then 2014 and then 2012. 2012 was clearly losing the bottle with oxidation although there was still some barrel presence and other remnants of BCBS past. 2014 was still in good shape flavor wise and a fine, fine iteration of BCBS. However, 2013 seemed to have a 'whole greater than the sum of its parts' quality. Aroma was not ideal but the meld of flavors was the best of the three. Having said this, I don't think 2013 has much longer until it moves into the 'BCBS bygone' phase like the 2012. Sadly, after digging into the cellar I still have a 4pk of 2012 and no 2013 bottles left. Drink fresh(er), folks. PS: Anyone interested in a 4pk of 2012 BCBS? :smile:
    FBarber, Bitterbill, JMN44 and 4 others like this.
  16. ChicagoNick

    ChicagoNick Disciple (353) Nov 16, 2012 Illinois

    Anyone have a 2012 cherry rye recently? The most recent review on beer advocate is from 2 years ago.
    FBarber and ChicagoJ like this.
  17. CaptainHate

    CaptainHate Champion (833) Apr 22, 2006 Ohio

    2018 BCBS

    I'd post an image but Postimage is acting funky tonight, reading images in ok but not returning any urls. Anyway this was my second Black Friday event and I only picked up one of the regular BCBS (unlike this year where I picked up 3) so I don't have any unaged to compare it to but this tastes great. The carbonation is still producing a full head and there's no sign of any oxidation or off notes. Smell is very rich of malts, barrel and booze along with a molasses tinge to it. As it warms it gets better but being this is December and I'm in my attic in front of the stereo (BCBS makes all music sound better; I finished a record review tonight with imagery and insight I'd have never reached otherwise) it only gets so warm. The taste mirrors the smell. The mouthfeel is very rich and full.

    I don't care what anyone says, there's something special about BCBS. And at one pint and nine ounces it's perfectly priced where it's at, plus it's just the volume to sip over the course of an evening and experience something very pleasant all by itself.
  18. CaptainHate

    CaptainHate Champion (833) Apr 22, 2006 Ohio

    Here's my belated image

  19. CaptainHate

    CaptainHate Champion (833) Apr 22, 2006 Ohio

    This thread seems to have gone dormant for three months. Anyway during the post Black Friday BCBS group tasting there were quite a few comments on how good the 2019 version was. Not having had access to lots of opportunities to buy multiple bottles of the non variants then (unlike 2020 where I snagged three bottles of the standard at what I thought were reasonable prices) this is my first tasting of that year's version


    As soon as I popped the cap the booze just permeated the immediate vicinity. Even before it warmed to room temperature the taste had a richness that let me know I was in for something special. Once warmed up the smell has a malty boozy molasses texture I can't get enough of. But even though it's obviously boozy it's not excessively so; for example I've had some Evil Twin similar alc level concoctions where I had to moderate my breathing to prevent a massive coughing jag. This was much more balanced. Just an outstanding experience.

    I'm open to suggestions on an optimum way to consume the 2020s.
  20. CoreyC

    CoreyC Aspirant (212) Mar 16, 2015 Wisconsin

    I'm sure the 2020 will age great as all the BCBS do, but I thought the 2020 was the best fresh that I remembered over the last five years. In the past I thought they were a bit too hot for me fresh, but not the 2020.
    J_mo, Hoppedelic, 7irondave and 2 others like this.
  21. CaptainHate

    CaptainHate Champion (833) Apr 22, 2006 Ohio

    Thank you @CoreyC for your input. Accordingly on this chillier than usual Spring night I'm cracking the first of the 2020s.


    I see your point. As usual as soon as the cap was popped I could smell barrel and bourbon with the typical large head and as it warmed to room temperature it was indeed very balanced. But it started out somewhat hot to the point that I don't think I'll open the next one until at least mid October. I don't think there's a downside to doing that and who knows what will happen.
  22. Davl22

    Davl22 Disciple (342) Sep 27, 2011 New Hampshire

    Has anyone cracked a 2016 BCBS recently? I opened one last night that was a gusher (bottled Sept 16th). Oddly enough it didn't exhibit any off flavors from brett/bacteria, but was definitely over carbed compared to normal bottles.
    ChicagoJ and Bitterbill like this.
  23. CoreyC

    CoreyC Aspirant (212) Mar 16, 2015 Wisconsin

    Bummer - I had one a few months ago (Oct.) and it was fine/great.
    ChicagoJ, Bitterbill and Davl22 like this.
  24. zeile33

    zeile33 Initiate (128) Oct 8, 2014 Connecticut

    Just had a 2016 in February with no issues! We did a vertical that night, 15-20. The 15 was not an infected date but it definitely tasted off.
    ChicagoJ, Bitterbill and 7irondave like this.
  25. Electros

    Electros Poo-Bah (2,423) Feb 20, 2007 Canada (ON)
    Moderator Society Trader

    Just remembered I have been sitting on three bottles, one of each variant from 2012 that was sent to me from a CANBIF I want to say in 2017. I found them when looking through the cellar last weekend. I am going to open one soon and I will post. Great thread idea and some enjoyable reading. Keep them coming BAs!
  26. carlso_aw

    carlso_aw Aspirant (223) Jan 10, 2016 Indiana

    Had one last week. All rich baking chocolate and subtle roasted malt. No issues with carb or off flavors - even my wife (who normally HATES BCBS) thought it was tasting amazing - almost to the point where she was surprised it was BCBS.
    Bitterbill, Davl22 and ChicagoJ like this.
  27. Jdub2839

    Jdub2839 Aspirant (236) Mar 15, 2014 Florida

    Anyone had a 2014 BC VR recently? How's it drinking? Still worth trading for? Last time I drank one was 2016, just wondering if its still as good as when I had it or at least close to it. Cheers!
    7irondave likes this.
  28. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (738) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio



    Today is a new beer to me, so nothing to compare it to.

    Goose Island Brewing – Bourbon County Brand Brunch Stout Test beer (2019)

    12.5% ABV

    This test beer is akin to the 2020 release titled “BCBS Special #4”, which is listed as an oatmeal stout aged in Bourbon barrels with intelligentsia coffee and Bissel Maple syrup” – and listed as “Stout - Oatmeal” on BA.

    The beer was removed from a 50ish degree temp fridge after having been refrigerated for approximately 10 months. Beer poured into a 2012 B1 BCBS tulip snifter. Consumed across approximately 1 hours, across 2 separate pours with the beer kept refrigerated between pours.

    First Impression: As soon as you pop and pour it, you know it’s BCBS – from it’s first hiss and pop of bourbon to its’ dark and thick (but not thicc as pudding) pour. 4.35

    Appearance: Classic BCBS. Not much to say. As is always the case from bottles, a small very dark brown head forms which quickly dissipates to a light khaki ring around the class, lasting for as long as you let the beer exist. I love BCBS, so perhaps I am bias, but this gives me all the right feels, and I’m not sure one can ask for more from the appearance. The only way I think you can is if you’re looking for that thicc as hell pudding pour, or specifically wanting a thick head, or you’re not into that oily-slick coating on the glass. 4.8

    Smell: Pretty much all coffee. Smelling this reminds me exactly of opening a BCBCS – it’s straight up BCBS with intelligentsia coffee. Very little if any barrel on the nose, and no maple on the nose (but, it is 2 years since bottling). 4.0

    Taste: It’s actually incorporated better than I remember the coffee in 2017 BCBCS, and even after nearly 2 full years the coffee hasn’t turned to green pepper. I know that isn’t the case for everyone, but it happens to me sometimes, and 2017 was one of those. If I am being 100% honest, there’s perhaps a small amount of that here, but it’s hard. With coffee in a stout, it’s very hard when adding coldbrew for it to not have a certain astringent quality to it that is almost like coffee beans were ground directly into the coffee. That sounds like a negative, but it’s not something that bothers me here. Perhaps because the maple is offsetting anything too strong. I am really loving this. I only get a touch of maple – a kiss of it. Wish there was more, but it is 2years old. Lots more to say, but see ‘Overall’ below. 4.8

    Mouthfeel: This is a little thinner than I’d prefer, but it’s a coffee stout, and coffee stouts are always thinner than their non-coffee counterparts. Also, this isn’t worlds thinner, it’s maybe 5-10% thinner than standard BCBS. Perhaps the use of an oatmeal recipe is what’s helping the thickness, because this feels thicker than I recall 2017 BCBCS. Or maybe it’s the maple Syrup. Either way, this is great, and totally doable for 12 – 16.9oz. 4.75

    Overall: This is basically everything I want KBS/CBS to be, but better. I know KBS is supposed to have chocolate, but mostly I get coffee. -And, I know CBS has maple syrup, but no chocolate. This is nothing short of great and really enjoyable. Would I pay almost $30 for 16.9oz of this on the regular? Not a chance. It’s far better than CBS, but it’s not 5x the price better. I’m not normally someone to make that comparison, but it is true. This just isn’t special ‘enough’ to warrant the price. –Perhaps because it is so close to BCBCS, and that is ~$17, or about 33% less (although not brewed for several years). For me, this is one of the best coffee-forward BCBS variants.

    One question that I have to ask myself is whether I would rather have this or Revolution’s Supermassive Café Deth. That’s tough. I think the coffee is actually better in Rev’s, but I prefer BCBS. Also, I feel like I detect more barrel in this than Rev’s, but I detected less barrel in BCBCS. Overall, I think I’d rather have this, but given prices, I’d rather buy Rev’s about 4 out of every 5 purchases, or perhaps even 6 out of every 7 purchases. 4.7

    BA Review Score: 4.52

    My review can be found here:
  29. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (738) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio


    Today it is time to revisit an old friend.

    Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Barleywine (BCBBW)

    14.4% ABV

    The beer was removed from a 40ish degree temp fridge after having been refrigerated for approximately …either 6, 8, or 12+ months. Beer poured into 2014 mini BCBS snifter.

    First Impression: Pours just how I remember it with a dark mahogany in the glass. 4.35

    Appearance: This has a viscosity that something like a Jackie Os BA BW just doesn’t have. It also has an oily slickness that is both visually pleasant and I think adds to the mouthfeel. Only opaque when at the edge of the glass. Not as deep/muddled looking as 2013/2014 varieties. 4.5

    Smell: Real pleasant boozy alcohol burn on the nose as my nose fits in the snifter. Strong notes of granny smith apples, with a hint of berry and carmel. Underlying ‘must’ most often associated with common BW flavor descriptors. No distinctively bourbon barrel smells. 4.35

    Taste: Slight bitterness up front and lasting. This is something I always get that is akin to having a mixed drink with ice, and your first sips taste like pure alcohol without any flavor. On the backend some bourbon. Somewhere inbetween, after the swallow, I get some fruits, especially green apple, followed quickly by the classic leather and tobacco notes, with a hint of that ‘must’ that I most associate with wanting to describe something as being “old”.

    I suppose part of the taste might actually be what I’d called ‘alcohol filled raisins.’ If you’ve ever had rum-raisons, or boozy bread pudding, sometimes those raisins pack a punch, but it isn’t distinctively bourbon or rum flavored. Instead, it’s just…alcohol flavored. Well, with the flavor of that deep, dark, rich raisin. I get a bit of that here, but it took me awhile to pinpoint. I’m not a fan of ‘dark fruits’ in anything. Not knocking the rating for that – that is what it is – just a statement of how I feel. 4.35

    Mouthfeel: It’s a bit crazy to say that mouthfeel is where this beer shines, but to me the mouthfeel is about as spot on as you can get for a barleywine, although admittedly I haven’t had any of the “chewy” barleywines, like Anabasis. It’s the right thickness, the oily texture is perfect, and it drinks beautifully. 4.85

    Overall: This is a fantastic beer, as it always was. It’s everything you look for in a great BA BW. The one thing I would certainly change is that I think it could actually be a tad sweeter, and that bitter note has never gone away for me. 4.40

    I remember this fresh – both in 2017 and every year since. It was a bit hot, boozy, and way more bitter. The hot and boozy aspects were definitely a hot alcohol burn rather than being a deep, rich bourbon burn like you might get with fresh BCBS. Over time this has really mellowed. I don’t think the bourbon has faded (much); to me, it never really was bourbon-forward. Honestly, neither was the 2013/14; they’ve always just been incredibly well done BWs. To me, this is a better BW in 2021 than any year prior. It’s had a chance to really form something new rather than just being a sum of its’ parts.

    I certainly prefer 13/14, but to me they are a different beer than this. I don’t consider that a fair fight.

    BA Review Score: 4.42
  30. Fordcoyote15

    Fordcoyote15 Meyvn (1,045) Nov 19, 2011 Pennsylvania

    2009 bcbs. Second oldest I have (2007 still sits). I have a picture but I always struggle to get them uploaded and working on BA. If anyone wants to help I'd love to add it.

    L - teku pour. Overall head is minimal but still frothed nicely on the perimeter of the glass. A swirl has it looking extremely oily. Color is nothing apart from the norm.

    S - muted. There is no smack in the face of anything like bcbs always gives me. I can tell its bcbs and it has the signature older touch of extra roastiness/less sweetness that post 2015 has. Overall the aromas are completely underwhelming and gone down hill.

    T - man im excited. Have had quite a few 2012s and maybe a 2011 but this is easily 4 or 5 years older than the oldest ive drank.

    Interesting. Again no smack in the face like bcbs does. Its super subtle up front peculiarity tasting almost void of anything (do I have covid?). As the sip is washed down bcbs in all its glory hits me all at once... only no sweetness. Okay, well much less sweetness. Prominent oxidation reminding me of the many 2002-2007 jw lees I've had recently. I appreciate oxidation in sweet beers and its a reason that I cellar so much bcbs.

    F - is probably half as much carbonation as a freshie. You have to work for the flavors a little more tasting around your mouth after each sip but man do they goes down gently.

    Overall - an entirely different beer from the 2021 I drank a month or so ago. I prefer this. Aged too far? I think many or most would think so but I'm loving it.
  31. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,906) Mar 12, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    From a phone I used to have great success with
    Upload photo, choose the "direct link", paste that into the text box brought up when you click the image icon above the main posting text box
  32. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (738) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio


    Goose Island – King Henry Barleywine Ale (2011)

    13.4% ABV

    The beer is listed as a “Barleywine – English” on BA.

    The beer was removed from a 40ish degree temp fridge after having been refrigerated for approximately 3 years. Beer poured into 2012 BCBS Tulip.

    First Impression: Bottle hissed, and an aroma of raisins rose to my nose. Beautiful color. Low carb. 4.5

    Appearance: Poured beautifully. A wonderful, deep mahogany with a seemingly black backing. Limited head quickly disappeared. Murky (but it is 3rd use, so of course it is); only visible at the edges. 4.75

    Smell: Rich and boozy. Alcohol heat up front followed by sugars (momentarily), before quickly giving way to granny smith apples, cotton candy, gummy candy, and finally raisins. Man is this complex. No barrel on the nose (but never is with BA barleywines compared to stouts). 5.0

    Taste: This is heaven. There’s so much here. There’s layers. Heavy and prominent is the classic leather, with tobacco taking a back note (more so than in 2013/2014). The taste leads with vague sweet fruits, followed by sweetness and leather followed by a drying, oakiness. The booziness is subdued compared to a fresh Bourbon County, but the alcohol is warming and “soft”, starting in the chest and moving up.

    How does this compare to 2013/2014? There’s a smoothness with more rounded corners compared to 13/14. The same way that a more refined whiskey has fewer harsh edges, the same thing here. In this case, there are no harsh edges. This is rich and decadent without an overemphasis on the raisin, which is where many barleywines suffer. (Yes, Raisin is a common and delicious flavor, but sometimes it becomes overpowering.) 4.80

    Mouthfeel: It’s about perfect. It has just the right viscosity, but perhaps once warm – if anything – it comes off a tad syrupy. It feels wonderful in the mouth. (Yep, I said it.) 4.75

    Overall: I’ve had this for probably 3 years, and I’ve been scared to open it. I looove 2013/2014, but particularly 2013. I’ve always dreamed of this, particularly after having rare and especially being a fan of wheated whiskies. I’ve built this up to be this monolith that I’ve worried it wouldn’t live up. Turns out, it does, but not at first. When I first opened the bottle, I was disappointed. I said, oh man, this must be past it’s prime. The flavor is every bit as good as MJK (which I had just 3 days ago), but there’s something about it – perhaps it not being as fresh – that just left it feeling like it was lacking. Well, first impressions aren’t everything. After a few ounces, these first impressions faded away. It’s a little low carb compared to what it should be from the age, but that hampers it only a little given that it’s a barleywine (and something like MJK is served still).

    This is every bit as good as MJK. Really, the only thing that sets those two beers apart is the age (this is older now), and the ABV. That beer is 20%, and the booziness is noticeable. For some reason it works, though, and it works well. I’m getting a bit lost in this comparison, but the point is that this isn’t just world class, it’s at the pinnacle. I am very grateful that I got to experience this beer, and feel fortunate to have done so. 4.75

    BA Review Score: 4.83

    My Review Can be found here:
  33. SiepJones

    SiepJones Zealot (595) Nov 20, 2008 Pennsylvania

    2018 Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine. Tons of sweet apple flavor, not much in the way of barrel except for the slight spice on the finish. Full mouthfeel, really enjoyable beer.

  34. Fordcoyote15

    Fordcoyote15 Meyvn (1,045) Nov 19, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Photo to go along with post #30 as its too late to edit the post. Thanks for the help @unlikelyspiderperson

  35. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (738) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio

    Today is a new beer to me.

    Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Reserve Rye Stout (2019)

    14.5% ABV

    The beer is listed as “Stout – American Imperial” on BA.

    The beer was removed from a 45ish degree temp fridge after having been refrigerated for approximately 4 months. Beer poured into 2012 BCBS snifter.

    First Impression: Pours dark/thicker for BCBS. Beautiful as always. While I don’t like the new bottle size, I do love the way the bottles pour. 4.5

    Appearance: Similar to (and not substantively different than) standard BCBS. It’s midnight black. You can’t see through the glass except when taking a sip, and then only at the edges. Decent head on an aggressive pour (much more than an older vintage with more age). Head disappears at a reasonable space, with a faint ring left around the glass for some time. 4.75

    Smell: Boozy, but not like you poured yourself a nip of whiskey. There’s a faint rye spice thing going on similar to holiday spices in cookies. Hints of dark fruits and also berries, -in particular, blueberries. Faint cola. No discernable chocolate or rich malt on the nose. This is a real pleasure. 4.5

    Taste: I think the rye integrates itself more with the base than bourbon, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I think it is better. It’s just that rye seems to mesh in a way that makes it feel more like it is one with the base, whereas bourbon feels like you have this bourbon…and then you have this base. The older the vintage, the more these mesh as one, and the younger the vintage, the more that bourbon reminds you, ‘HEY, I’M HERE FIRST.’

    With the rye, you don’t really get that deep chocolate, fudge, bourbon soaked brownies note that so many people love, especially from 2014 BCBS. You still get a lot of chocolate, but it tends more towards cacao powder and bittersweet chocolate with perhaps only a hair of dark chocolate. The rye comes in two forms. On the front end, you notice there’s no bourbon. Because it is so well integrated, it’s almost like you miss it. But, then on the backend you get it. You start to get some of that rye spice. To me, there’s only the most mild of ‘spiciness’ associated, but you get many of those holiday baking flavors. For me, they aren’t distinguishable, they are just melding as one, but that is what it conjures up. Definitely not distinctively ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey, etc. There’s just a touch, a kiss of berry. I can see how Backyard Rye probably would have played well. Unfortunately, that was one I never got to try. 4.5

    Mouthfeel: To me, this seems a tad thicker than the bourbon versions. It’s no thicc boi, but it’s classic BCBS. Thicker than most, but not pastry. It’s thick enough to slow you down, but thin enough to make it so you can drink a full 16.9oz in a night if you so choose, assuming you can handle the ABV. By comparison, pastry stouts for me are difficult to stomach that many ounces due to their viscosity. They are too much.

    I sat here debating how to rate this. For the style, a non pastry, I think it’s pretty much spot on, so I’m going with a 4.85. Perhaps it could be just a tad thicker, but that’s a pretty minor complaint. 4.85

    Overall: You know, I wasn’t sure about this one at the start. I wanted to be googoo and gaagaa all over it. So my expectations were high. Then I opened it, and man, it felt like a let down. I had built it up so much it was just a big let down. Then I took a long time to get to know this beer. I sipped on about 12 ounces last night for a few hours. Then tonight, after using a fancy champagne stopper, I consumed the last. The more I consumed, the more I enjoyed this. I think I may have even enjoyed it more on night 2 than night 1, and I attribute that to the small amount of oxidation difference between Day 1 and Day 2. -And, further, I’m going to attribute that additional amount of satisfaction due to the fact that, in general, I think 2-3 years is kind of the sweet spot for “base” Bourbon County. At least since 2016. I just don’t like it right out of the gate quite as much. The 2-3 year mark may come as a surprise to anyone that has seen my love for older vintages. Much as it pains me to say it, I do think there is a difference 2015 and earlier vs. post 2015, but I don’t necessarily attribute that specifically to the new process; partially I attribute that to the changing recipe for the base, which definitely has changed (and that's not an opinion, it's a note the brewers have mentioned and then been repeated on the Binny's podcast, for example). 4.65

    In summary, this was a real pleasure to drink. And I think the BA review score of 4.58 gives a pretty accurate picture. There’s no way to not call this world class, in my opinion. I think the only turnoff for some is the rye.

    BA Review Score: 4.58

    My review can be found here:

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  36. Beer_Economicus

    Beer_Economicus Crusader (738) Apr 8, 2017 Ohio

    Goose Island – Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (BCBCS – 2014)

    12.6% ABV

    The beer is listed as “Stout – American Imperial” on BA.

    The beer was removed from a 40ish degree temp fridge after having been refrigerated for approximately 2 years. Beer poured into 2012 BCBS snifter.

    First Impression: Pours dark, thinner than BCBS. 4.5

    Appearance: Standard Bourbon County. An aggressive pour years only a small amount of khaki head that fades quickly, leaving only a small ring around the glass. 4.25

    Smell: Coffee up front. Mostly this cold-brew smelling with a hint of grounds and also the dread ‘pepper’. Weak barrel on the nose. 4.25

    Taste: 2014 and earlier BCBCS is what all coffee stouts should be judged on for me. As the kids say, ‘it fucks’. And after this many years, to still say that? Come on. Taste starts with the coffee, shifts to bourbon, pulls in some chocolate fudge brownies, shifts back to bourbon, finishes on coffee, and then a slow finish lasts for longer than most BA stouts, let alone BA coffee stouts. Impressive for 12.5% abv. 4.70

    Mouthfeel: Coffee stouts are always thinner than their regular counterparts. They just are. While this is clearly thinner than the regular, not appreciably so. For judging this against other coffee stouts, this is still upper echelon. 4.75

    Overall: This is a great beer, and I’m jamming on this. I debated about whether to have this tonight, because I have to get up in 4.5 hours to hit the BCBS release. Well, I’m glad I did, but only because I chose to drink this tonight. It’s really fantastic. It’s incredible how well this has held up. I did have this a few years back (just once), and while it was great, I don’t remember enjoying it quite this much. This is just singing tonight. It’s everything that I want. And the finish just keeps going. I’m in heaven. All this said – could it be better? Of course. I’d love to have even more barrel. I’d love to see how this shined at 15%. But for what it is, and compared to others, this is Heaven. 4.65

    BA Review Score: 4.56

    My review can be found here:

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