The very first barrel-aged beer America stills stands strong today as Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout continues to make beer headlines nationwide as one of/if not the best barrel-aged beer around. I got up very early on a cold Iowa Tuesday morning to capture the prize of a few four-packs of this brew, and was glad I did. As I have slowly evolved into a barrel-aged beer lover, I’ve come to appreciate what the booze offers a really good crafted stout. Earlier in my beer drinking days, I would have scoffed, and possibly spit this beer out proclaiming it to be too boozy and downright undrinkable, but now, I relish the opportunity to taste the vanilla from the bourbon and oak flavor from the barrel.
Goose Island has made many headlines in the beer world this last few years as the Evil Empire that is AB-InBev bought them out, and as much as I avoid buying the big 3, I’ve also come to appreciate that Goose Island hasn’t sacrificed their quality of product with the buyout…. yet, and I hope they never do.
From the brewery:
“I really wanted to do something special for our 1000th batch at the original brewpub. Goose Island could have thrown a party. But we did something better. We brewed a beer. A really big batch of stout-so big the malt was coming out of the top of the mash tun. After fermentation we brought in some bourbon barrels to age the stout. One hundred and fifty days later, Bourbon County Stout was born-A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with a thick foam the color of bourbon barrels. The nose is a mix of charred oak, vanilla,carmel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer. It overpowers anything in the room. People have even said that it’s a great cigar beer, but I haven’t yet tried a cigar that would stand up to it.”
I will be letting a few four packs age and hopefully at some point I can put together a vertical tasting of this beer, but as I was sipping the last one, (about 2 weeks ago), and as it warmed, it might have been the best barrel-age I’ve tasted. The aroma of the vanilla shines through the longer this beer sits, and as I finished the last half of it, it started tasting like a liquid form of an almond joy candy bar. Anyone else get that flavor? Such a great beer to sit and sip on, especially on a cold winter night! The alcohol warms you up nicely but does not overpower the fantastic flavor of this wonderfully well-crafted brew. Cheers!
Style: Imperial Stout
Purchased at: Hy-Vee
Pour: Viscous black pour, very thick.
Aroma: Bourbon sweetness, vanilla, coconut.
Flavor: Chocolate flavor, the bourbon is there, coconut is well. Liquid almond joy (that can get you drunk)
Ratebeer.com rating: 100/100
Beeradvocate.com rating: 100/100
My recommendation: A fantastic beer, proceed with caution as a few of these could put you on your ass pretty quick. If you are not into barrel-aged beers this would be something great to try with a group of people at a tasting event.