Every year on Black Friday, eager beer lovers wake up with a crazy glint in their eyes. Shadowing delivery trucks from stop to stop or queuing up outside liquor stores at the crack of dawn, they wait with baited breath for some of the most widely anticipated beers of the year. Black Friday means one thing and one thing only: the release of the year’s Goose Island Bourbon County series.
Goose Island is one of the pioneers of barrel-aged beers. In 1992, the brewery used whiskey barrels for the first time and brought us bourbon-aged beer. This process led to the development of the first Bourbon County Brand Stout in 2004. In 2007, Goose Island expanded their barrel aging program to include wine barrels. The Goose Island barrel warehouse is not-temperature controlled; each barrel is subjected to the wild extremes of Chicago weather, which imprints each batch with a unique character that changes from year to year. We have enjoyed the fruits of Goose Island’s barrel aging program over the years. Check out our tasting of their Vintage Series and their Four Sisters wine barrel-aged sour ales. To celebrate the 2014 release of Bourbon County and its variants, we tasted four beers from the 2013 vintage: Bourbon County Brand Stout, Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout, Bourbon County Barleywine and Bourbon County Backyard Rye. Read on for our tasting notes and leave us a comment with your favorite BCBS campout stories!
A hefty imperial stout, the 2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout pours rich and syrupy with hues of amethyst and ruby. The aroma takes your breath away. Notes of buttery chocolate, vanilla and coconut from the barrel aging process float above the hot and heavy, deep berry body. The flavor is just as luscious: silky chocolate and buttery bourbon.
The 2013 Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout has a warm and dark richness similar to the Brand Stout. Shades of deep violet and burgundy colored our glasses, while dark roasted coffee and black pepper warmed our noses. We tasted smooth vanilla, dark chocolate, coffee and bourbon, which slowly faded out like a favorite 80’s pop song (this tasting included matching tunes, if you can imagine).
Pouring a dense ruby-hued, burnt sienna, 2013's Bourbon County Barleywine had the same color of a Tootsie roll with an aroma to match. Molasses, maple syrup and mahogany float to the nose with hints of vanilla, agave and leather. Sweet, thick and syrupy, this is the perfect beer for a snowy winter evening in front of the fireplace.
The 2013 Bourbon County Backyard Rye is an imperial stout aged in rye barrels with marionberries, boysenberries and mulberries. The stout picks up the deep violet from the fruits, as well as a crisp, juicy berry aroma. Chocolaty with a velvety sweetness, the Backyard Rye tasted like a dark chocolate truffle filled with blackberry cream.
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