I see your -21 degree windchill and raise you a 12.9% abv barleywine…

I see your -21 degree windchill and raise you a 12.9% abv barleywine…

Goose Island Beer Company 2015 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale, Chicago, IL

Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale poured into a beer chalice.
Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

12.9% abv. The last version I tried was 12.3% abv and it was fabulous, so let’s see what this one brings. Bottled on October 28, 2015 making this over 2 years old. Remarkably, this is one of just a few dates of the 2015 release that was not recalled due to an unplanned exposure to a wild yeast. I feel lucky to have this one. It pours very dark brown with virtually no head. Burst of cherries, black strap molasses, and oak aromas upon opening the bottle. First sip is rich, sweet malt and dark fruit. Almost immediate alcohol warming, so this is perfect for a night that sports a -9 degree windchill that is falling to a -21 degree windchill in a few hours. All kinds of flavors bounce around the mouth including bourbon vanilla, cocoa, dates, figs, and anise. Oaky and sweet bourbon flavors get stronger with each sip. Full bodied and heavy on the tongue. A touch oily, yet viscous at the same time. Taste continues to develop with each sip…tawny port, sherry, toffee, caramel, and rum drenched raisins. Bourbon vanilla flavor lingers and lingers! This beer is boozy and delicious. Despite the disappointing sale to InBev, I am glad they have not messed with a good thing.

Taking another visit to Bourbon County…

Taking another visit to Bourbon County…

Goose Island Brewing Company, 2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout, Chicago, IL

2013 Bourbon County Stout poured into a beer chalice.
2013 Bourbon County Stout poured into a beer chalice.

This is a follow up to my previous review of this beer. After 3 years of aging it pours pure black with no head at all. Cellaring has pretty much removed the carbonation. Coffee, bourbon vanilla, black strap molasses, dark chocolate, and oak on the nose. First sip is simply just viscous. I am talking 10W-30 here. You can almost feel the weight of the calories in this bad boy. Amazing range of tastes includes raw chocolate nibs, espresso, anise, smokey peat, caramel, dates, raisins, and fig. Second sip is boozy but still smooth with hints of earthy roasted chestnuts and some peppery spice from the alcohol. Third sip tastes like an oak log on a campfire with cigar tobacco leaf and hints of orange zest and turbinado can sugar. Ok, so strong I am losing track of how many sips now…was that 10 or 12! At 450 calories per bottle, it is something you really only need to have every few years, but it is simply amazing.

Good things come to those who wait…

Good things come to those who wait…

Goose Island Beer Company, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

This is the 2014 version that I cellared for more than a year. Many thanks to my buddy Jeff for the 2015 version that just took its place in the beer cellar. I was also lucky enough to get my hands on the Bourbon County Stout and the Bourbon County Coffee Stout. Patience is a virtue and these will have to sit for a while before I crack them open.

12.3% abv. Wonderful port wine, caramel, and dark fruit aroma. First sip is sweet and super smooth with a comforting boozy warming in the back of the throat. All of the oak, sweet bourbon, and rich dark fruit flavors you would expect from a beer this big. A touch of cloves and mildly peppery spice, but otherwise this is all malt and all delicious. Raisins, bourbon vanilla, fig, honey, port wine, caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, creme brûlée, and even a touch of coffee. Lot’s of similarities to an English style Old Ale. I mentioned a slight boozy burn at the beginning, but as you work through this beer the alcohol totally disappears. I drank this one way too quickly. Damn it is dangerous. A fantastic offering  that just made it to my top 100 beers of all time.