Review: Bourbon County Brand Stout (2018 - Goose Island Brewing)

Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout - I finally get to mark off another beer in my beer bucket list - this is something I've been wanting to try for the past five years, whether or not if they're now owned by AB-InBev now days. Many beer connoisseurs consider the Bourbon County brand of beers to be one of the best in the world with their Bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout. I couldn't really find any information about the 2018 edition of the beer on their website, while label only states "intense aromas of charred oak, vanilla, caramel & smoke." The stout is 15.2% ABV, making it one of the strongest beers I've ever had. It was bottled on July 6, 2018.

Here's what I found on the interwebz: "Bourbon County Brand Stout (ABV: TBD): Aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, the original bourbon barrel-aged stout tastes as good as when we first brewed it over 20 years ago. Flavors of cocoa, vanilla, caramel, almond, cherry, plus leather and tobacco flavors permeate this complex beer and deepen with each sip. As Brewmaster Jared Jankoski stated, “It ain’t broke, and we didn’t try to fix it.”

Oh I'm so looking forward to trying this!

Appearance: The beer pours a very murky dark brown and close to being near-black in appearance. The head starts off with a glorious burnt caramel head on top that quickly diminishes to leave behind only a small amount of burnt caramel-looking bubbles, mostly near the side of the glass and a few trickled throughout the top of the beer.

Aroma: Jeebus this is boozy, like incredibly boozy to the point that it burns your nostrils - this is flat out Bourbon with a splash of Imperial Stout added. This is sweet, lots of caramel, a tad smokey and peaty. I like the fruitiness coming out of this beer - it has nice amount of apple and pear popping out.

Taste: Very boozy even this time around as the Bourbon really hits you in your face to give off notes of caramel, a booziness that quickly warms you up and a sweetness that I'm finding is overly aggressively sweet, almost to the point that it's hard to drink.. until my palate gets used to it and now it just wants more. It's almost like someone dumped a couple big bags of sugar in this beer, that's how sweet it is. Once I get past that, it's decently roasty to give off a mild coffee-like presence to it, there's a good amount of burn from the 15.2% booziness, a moderate amount of vanilla, a light amount of peaty earthiness to it, and a moderate fruitiness of it consisting of dark fruits (raisins/figs) and apples/pears.

Overall Thoughts: It's really had to say much about this beer, I could do a whole essay about it but I won't. I've had several beers just like this over the years but this may be the one Bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout many breweries were aiming to brew over the years. This is incredibly over-the-top in every sense, boozy, sweet, burns your nose/throat, it's completely an experience like no other. The second I opened this I thought "this won't be as good as Nickel Brook's Kentucky Bastard" as I'm a huge fan of that overly boozy Imperial Stout. This is well worth trying at least once in your life if you're a stout fan, jeebus.. I'm out!

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