See, Sniff & Sip: Vol. X

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With Black Friday just a few hours away, we thought it’d be fun to check in on a few bottles from last year’s Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout release and variants. The BI Team pulled together the base Bourbon County, along with the Barleywine, and Coffee variants to sample and share. Hope you enjoy.

For updates on the upcoming 2014 release, please click HERE and check out the Weekend Beer Buzz for any additional release information.

goose island bcbsBourbon County Brand Stout

Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL

Imperial Stout
14.9% ABV

It’s been a year since the release of Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS), and it’s been a year since I’ve had the pleasure of tasting one. With the Black Friday release upon us, this is the perfect time to taste a cellared version. BCBS is the base for the variants (Coffee, Proprietors, etc) and should give some indication of how the variants have evolved. The bottle says age up to 5 years, let’s see what one year has done to this beer.

Format: 12 oz. bottle
Availability: Winter Seasonal / Black Friday Release
Cost: $18-25 / 4-pack
Appearance: With a mildly aggressive pour, a bubbly, coffee color head dissipated quickly. The beer is pitch black in color.
Aroma: The first thing that comes to mind is chocolate and vanilla. There’s still enough whiskey to create a slight burn on the nose. Caramel, molasses and prunes round out the aroma.
Taste: The chocolate and vanilla on the nose are definitely present in the taste. It’s reminiscent of a chocolate shake. The whiskey is there and creates a slight burn on my lips, but not nearly what it was a year ago. Much of the alcohol heat has faded, but in a very good way. Dark fruits round out the flavors to create something delightful and complex. There’s a very slight black licorice on the back. Remembering back to last year, I’d say this has aged gracefully. The whiskey has taken a back seat and brought forth some wonderful flavors.
Insane Pairing: Chocolate cheesecake. ‘Nuff said.

Score: 4.8 / 5

bcbs barleywineBourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL

English Barleywine
15% ABV

One of our favorite beers clearly remains a strong contender for best barleywine out there, if nothing else the year on the shelf has made it smoother and more delicious. Go on, get in line now because you are going to want to get some of this year’s vintage for the cold winter months ahead.

Format: 12oz. bottle
Availability: Winter Seasonal / Black Friday Release
Cost: $18-25 / 4-pack
Appearance: Poured from a 12oz bottle into a snifter, the beer is jet black with a ring of ruby-red when held to the light. A thin half-finger of mocha colored head persists while drinking.
Aroma: First note is smooth bourbon with just a touch of alcohol burn. As it warms and you sniff deeper, you get toffee, caramel and a rich aroma that has to be what heaven smells like. 
Taste: This beer should be in the textbook for how a barleywine should taste. You get tons of deep dark stone fruits, some sherry notes, bourbon, chocolate, toffee and a light coffee note as well. Absolutely delicious!.
Mouthfeel: The body is thick and coating, very satisfying. It drinks very smoothly but lingers on the tongue and gives you the full experience throughout the glass.
Overall: Amazing example of the style that is perfect for slow sipping in front of a roaring fire while watching the snow fall outside. Delicious fresh, superb at one year, who can tell how long this one will keep improving? We’ll check back next year and let you know.
Insane Pairing: New York Cheesecake, Pumpkin Pie, a second glass of the same!

Score: 4.9 / 5

goose island bcbs coffeeBourbon County Brand Coffee Stout

Goose Island Beer Company, Chicago, IL

Imperial Stout
13.4% ABV

Bourbon County Coffee remains one of the best coffee beers we’ve ever had. Even after a year, the coffee still comes through strong and leaves us wanting more. While we’re sad to say this variant will not be coming to Colorado in 2014, those of you lucky enough to still have some 2013 bottles in the cellar will be happy to know it’s drinking extremely well right now.

Format: 12oz. bottle
Availability: Winter Seasonal / Black Friday Release
Cost: $18-25 / 4-pack
Appearance: Deep, dark black, with a 1-finger, creamy, mocha head.
Aroma: In your face aroma of coffee, bourbon, coffee, vanilla, coffee and coffee.
Taste: Oh snap.  The first sip is heavenly.  It’s sooo boozy, thick and delish.  Notes of coffee, raisins and plums, along with bourbon, oak and espresso.  This is an amazing beer and a great Winter nightcap.
Insane Pairing: Raspberry Cheesecake

Score: 4.5 / 5


By: Mark Robinson, Scott Steigerwald, and Greg Nelson

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