Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2013 Review

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout is one of those elusive, limited beers in Southern California.  Lucky for me, I have friends with great beer collections who brought a bottle of the 2011 version of Bourbon County Stout on a brewery tour bus.  I instantly realized what the hype was about.  Though the taste was incredible, I always wanted to try more.  When I heard a few cases of Bourbon County Stout made it to San Diego, I jumped on it.  I wanted at least my own bottle to enjoy for myself.  I heard Distillers Outlet had a few in stock  so I drove from my work in Del Mar to Poway for this rare gem.  I raced home and poured it into a tulip glass to analyze this rare treat.

For a little background on Bourbon County Stout, it’s a limited bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout put out every December by Goose Island Beer Co.  The 2013 edition clocks in at a high-octane 14.2% alcohol by volume, making a 12-ouce bottle more than enough for one and best shared with small pours amongst friends.

The bottle is 12 ounces with a nice label with gold foil embossing and a Bourbon County Brand Stout bottle cap.  I served this at room temperature, which is my preferred temperature for all imperial stouts.  The beer poured dark like a black hole, with absolutely no head, and a oily consistency that coated the glass.  There was very little visible carbonation.

The aroma of the Bourbon County Stout was wonderful!  Big caramel and bourbon notes, followed by fresh baked brownies and smoke.  The smell was even better than I had remembered.  Last time I had this beer, I was riding in a bus on a brewery tour.  Likely not the best tasting environment.

The taste of Bourbon County Stout was as you’d expect from the smell but much, much more.  The smoke was surprisingly more present in the taste.  I was not sure if this was from smoked malt added, or the charring of the inside of the bourbon barrels, that this beer was aged in.  The overall flavor is sweet, with vanilla, caramel, bourbon, roasted cocoanut, cherry, smoke and tobacco.  The finish left you warm, with a slight sticky mouth but huge chocolate and smoke notes.

If you can find a bottle of Bourbon County Stout from a store who had some hidden, or a buddy who is saving a bottle, do yourself a favor and try it.  You will not be disappointed.  That said, this beer is not so unique as it’s the only beer in this league.  If you can find either Chocolate RainBlack Tuesday or White Chocolate from The Bruery, you will get a very similar experience.

Interested in more information about Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, click here to read our exclusive interview.


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