Goose Island Bourbon County Stout: 15% abv
Breaking the record for the strongest alcohol content in a beer that we’ve ever reviewed, Bourbon County takes the idea of barrel aged stouts to a new level of intensity. And that’s not just because of the alcohol content. You might ask yourself, can you really tell the difference? Yes. The intensity of this beer is unmatched, not only in how it will make you feel, but also in how it will fill you up. I’m inclined to say it is probably wise to drink this beer with another backup on hand. That’s all I’ve got to say regarding the warning labels. Now, about the beer itself. Is this something new? Not necessary. Is it something that you’ll never see again? Again, that’s not really the case. Bourbon County is just a yearly special, which kicks you between the legs if you’re not careful. From this point on, we will go into the land of tasting notes.
The nose on this beer will start off pretty powerful. You might have guessed this, but there are some pretty obvious notes to this one, starting with chocolate, vanilla, cocoa, oak, coffee and grain. The graininess comes from some wheat and rye character. If you look beyond these huge flavors though, you start to see some raspberry and strawberry open up. This obviously isn’t hugely complex, partially because the over-balance of dark flavors. This is consistent throughout the beer, so for sake of time, I won’t repeat myself. The arrival is very strong when you go to try the beer. There is strong notes of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, but also contain a sprite-like citrus note that couples with the carbonation.
Into the body, there is a huge fudgy chocolate taste, with tons of coffee, heavy whipping cream, vanilla, toffee, and butterscotch. There is also a strong fruitiness in the form of sweet, dark berries like raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and cherry. There is even a slight nuttiness at the end of the beer. The finish contains caramel, oak, cream, chocolate, nuttiness, and some strawberry. Overall, this beer is a statement to the uniqueness of bourbon barrel aging, but certainly doesn’t do much for the complexity and balance that we enjoy in our stouts. It was concluded that besides the fact that this could be mistaken for liquid coal, or chocolate syrup you might put on your ice cream, this is a very select beer that should only be enjoyed by those who can handle it. It’s good, but without a good balance, and super sweetness, it lacks the practicality and enjoyability of other beers. Maybe the other Bourbon County’s will be even better.