Goose Island Bourbon County Stout – The Review

This is a beer I’ve seen hanging around a couple of Lancaster pubs and, based on how wonderfully drinkable I found the G.I. Indian Pale Ale, 312 Wheat Beer and (especially) the Honkers Ale, I knew I’d like this, but how much? Especially since “one sip has more flavor than your average case of beer,” how true could this be?

This was an expensive beer in all the places I’d seen it, but based on the pedigree of Goose Island Brewery, I got more and more curious every time I saw it. Well, one place I went I saw it at 70% of its ‘usual’ price… big reduction? I was in!

Vital Statistics:

Taste

Phwoar! Vanillary, raisiny, lightly malty. Very warming, but smooth due the aging. Very buttery, a very small bubbliness, OMG. It doesn’t feel as strong as it is, not even half as viscous and syrupy. I gave my friends a bit of the bottle, there were amazed reactions all round.

The site gives it 60 IBUs, but I’ve had jaw-clenching IPAs at 60, this one is so delicious and lip-smacking, it’s hard to believe it’s even half that.

9/10

Aroma

It’s a strange but interesting mix; I get rum, burnt cocoa, malts and obviously a decent bit of vanilla (this is ‘Bourbon County’ after all!). Strongly reminds me of toasted, buttered malt loaf. It even smells warm, with that raisininess nipping at your nosebuds.

7/10

Appearance

The label has a classic plain look – not entirely unlike Jack Daniel’s Old no. 7 Whiskey. It actually doesn’t stand out that much – if I were you I’d ask your pub if they’re the kind of place that might stock it – you don’t wanna miss it!

In the glass it’s pretty much opaque, basically black. You get a small but lasting caramelised head. Everything about this beer is a joy to behold!

7/10

Value For Money

£7.00 it cost me for 330ml, which of course won’t be for everyone. You have to bear in mind that the brewers will have to pay a lot in duty for this beer to help make it to your bar, but by god there is not an ounce of experience sacrificed – quite the opposite! It is such a worthwhile thing to try, even if you don’t think you’re a dark beer fan, the sweetness and well-roundedness will appeal to you. If you love to lose yourself in taste – get some for yourself!

7/10

Brewing Uniqueness

It’s not just a stout. It has been aged in bourbon casks. That makes it pretty damn awesome and unique enough, but when you consider the strength, and how it can be kept for a long time before ‘going off’, it has a lease of life not available to most beers.

8/10

Even though I hate to say it (I’m quite the Scrooge) this is the perfect thing to get your taste-hunter for Christmas. Heck, if not for someone else, get it for yourself! At the price it’s no stocking filler, but at the intensity of experience it is a main present worth the glitteriest of wrapping and the biggest bow. Just make sure Santa don’t have it himself, or Mrs Santa doesn’t get thirsty.

I really hope you get the chance to try it and enjoy it at least half as much as I did.

Final score: 76% – have a merry beermas!

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