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Goose Island typically releases their latest Bourbon Country Brand Stout and variants following the Thanksgiving holiday on Black Friday. Here’s a great read on this as well as the blogger’s review of each beer which is pretty much in line with my assessment of each beer: Click here to view article
Goose Island Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout
13.9% ABV. Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout is meant to show the brewer’s immense gratitude to their neighbors in Chicago – the loyal and adventurous fans whose support helped bring Bourbon County Brand Stout to towering new heights. Apparently, each year this release will differ from the previous year; a special variant created for Chicago and unique to the year it was released. This 2013 Bourbon County Stout release was aged in Templeton Rye barrels with toasted coconut. Pours black-brown color with a dark brown thin lacing head that dissipates rather quickly. Coconut flakes are visible floating around. I knew I was in for an interesting treat! Light notes of coconut were definitely detected in the nose along with rye, earthy wood, dark chocolate and sweet bourbon. The base beer, Bourbon County Brand Stout, was immediately recognized as it was first sipped. Notes of rye, wheat, coconut, bourbon, oak, chocolate, dried fruit, and vanilla are all part of the flavor complexities. Medium to full bodied along with mild carbonation throughout. Sticky mouthfeel. Beautifully made beer fitting enough to pay proper tribute to the loyal and rabid Goose Island Bourbon County fans! Too bad this is such a rare and extremely difficult beer to land for the faithful out of Chicago to try.
Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale
12.1% ABV. Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then the renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. Pours dark amber-brown with a half finger beige head that recedes quickly to thin lacing that lasts throughout. Aromas of that sweet bourbon character follow through with candied dates, raisins, burnt caramel, raisins, toffee, and some chocolate notes come through with warming. The flavors are welcomed by that bourbon booze which is then offset with a nice marshmallow and vanilla coconut-like profile blending with toffee, rye, dried fruits, and cooked caramel. The bourbon character is less than you’d imagine in the nose, but accents the malt flavors well. The same medium-dark chocolate note joins with a mocha like aftertaste. Silky mouthfeel and low carbonation throughout. This lush and sumptuous Bourbon County Barleywine is a fine, complex, sweet but balanced representation of the style. Although, this does not hold a candle to its bigger brother King Henry, a top 5 (and retired) beer of mine, but I will take this little brother any day!
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout
13.4% ABV. Everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to their brewery at Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from their friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years. Pours black with an one-finger toffee brown head which dissipates quickly leaving minimal lacing behind. There are loads of fresh roasted coffee in the aroma along notes of bourbon, cocoa and vanilla. The bourbon really come out as the beer warms. There is a perfect mix of Los Inmortales coffee, and vanilla up front followed by delicious bourbon notes in the middle before ending with just a light amount of dark roasted malt at the finish. Full-bodied with a good amount of carbonation throughout. There is a mild alcohol burn as it goes down due to the high alcohol content. Just a touch thinner than I’d expect from a big stout like this. This 2013 release using Los Inmortales is probably the best ever coffee variant I’ve tried to date! In fact, this is my favorite variant of BCS this year.
Backyard Rye Bourbon County Brand Stout
12.7% ABV. Always on the lookout for the next thing they can throw in a barrel, the brewer (of whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year at Goose Island’s Migration promotional tour) actually looked no further than his “own backyard” for this release. Pours a black brown color with a super quick little wispy tan head that leaves decent lacing behind. Aroma is typical Bourbon County with roasted malts, caramel, some coffee, chocolate, subtle berry, vanilla and marshmallow tones. The taste has a nice berry and bourbon flavor along with dried fruit, roasted malts, coffee, brown sugar, and even more berries in the backfinish! Medium bodied with a sticky palate. The alcohol is dangerously masked and you can see why the brewer was inspired by the berries he remembered first eating from the trees in his grandmother’s yard. Definitely had that pleasantly sweet flavors of mulberries, marionberries, and boysenberries. This trio of fruit nicely rounds out the spice and heat of the rye whiskey barrels in which they were aged, resulting in a smooth, jammy stout perfect for sipping on your back porch.