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Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
Written by Team
Michael: With great anticipation, I cracked open one of Goose Island’s most renowned brews. The classic black label had called to me from the liquor store shelf many times, but until today, I hadn’t the pleasure. I popped the top (unscrewing it seemed innapropriate for such nobility) and gazed down the neck into an abyss of blackness. Now all unnecessary dramatics aside, when I peered down through the opening, a literal fog wafted about the rim. Veiled in mystery, I decided it was time to solve the riddle and poured the black gold into my glass. The consistency was thicker than anything I had seen. The puffy, although fleeting, head, became weighed down by the final drips that I eeked from the bottle. The overwhelming scent was bourbon. Obvious, I suppose, but both exciting and reassuring. This beer meant what it said.
Now I was prepared for this beast of a beer. I had recently been told by a fellow PHM reviewer that I needed to sit and sip over a matter of hours. So I did, and as it warmed to air, so too did it improve in complexity, and smooth to a silk. While the initial sips were impactful, practically stingy, the same sip an hour later had calmed and I could taste each layer of flavor. There was toffee in a way that I had never tasted, not pungent or powerful, but distinct and incredibly accurate. There were dark fruits peppered through the coffee and bourbon and even the ever so slight pinch of coconut at times. To pin down flavors became a task, but to decipher mouthfeel, that was easy. Silk, smooth, creamy, it coated your mouth and went down with an incredible feel. While the alcohol was present, its visibility was nowhere near its 13%. Hidden well it pushed me into a comfortable mellow, my mood only changing when I realized I had just finished off the last drop. Grade: A
John: Slow down! I mean really slow down. Don’t drink this stuff quickly or in gulps! This is the highest octane beer I’ve ever had. At 13% ABV I’d recommend stretching the enjoyment of the stout over several hours. It took me about 3 hours to get the full enjoyment out of this premier beer.
My expectations were high from purchase to the first sip. It was a recommendation of the owner of Dennis Brother’s Liquor in Cottage Grove, Mn. These guys know their stuff so when John (one of the owners) suggested Bourbon County I expected it to be a winner. The price raised my hopes as well. Not only is this the highest octane beer but the most expensive (good thing I had a gift certificate). With that in mind here’s how things went….
It started with pouring the deep, black rich concoction. A darker stout was my first impression. The light tan head didn’t froth up much and didn’t hold very long. The bourbon aroma was immediate. Unlike any beer I’d smelled before I proceeded with anticipation and caution. Bourbon, smoke, charred oak, dark-roasted flavors and a hint of solvent needed to be sorted out. It felt like a truck load of flavor had been dumped on my tiny little palate. Abundance of flavor is the calling card of this brew. I had decided to stretch out my Bourbon County experience so I sampled starting at 40 degrees and went warmer. The warmer it got the better. On the cold end bourbon was the dominating flavor but as the temperature rose the chocolate became more pronounced and the bourbon toned down. At the 55 degree mark (I’m guessing not measuring) I detected a hint of raspberry and a fuller chocolate taste. By the time it was room temp all the flavors came together to make a great, heart warming drink, although bourbon is the most obvious. You can imagine this is a smooth beer. Velvet and silk are good words to describe it. Some reviewers believe that putting it away for a few years could tame the bourbon and bring about a mellower taste. At four or five bucks a bottle it could could help with your retirement if you want to sell it to someone on the open market. Every beer drinker has got to try this once just to say they’ve had the richest, most flavorful, high octane and priced brew ever (I’m guessing there are others out there more expensive). Grade: A
Final Grade: AGoose Island Bourbon County Stout,