Friday, November 21, 2014

My Thoughts on Bourbon County Brand Stout Beers by Goose Island Beer Co.

Wow, 7 months between posts this time. Awesome! Okay, well I felt compelled to write a bit because I finally tried some of the most hyped beers in the US craft brewing world these days, the Bourbon County Brand Stouts by Goose Island Beer Co. Goose Island made some waves a couple years ago by selling their brand to Anheuser Busch, which is why you can find their standard offerings anywhere Budweiser is sold. But, Goose Island still does plenty of limited batch beers and none of GI's brews are more sought after by nerds than these BCBS fellas. Beer Advocate rates pretty much all the variants at 100, so there you have it.

Bourbon County Brand Stout (2012) - Goose Island Beer Co.
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout
ABV: 15%


I found this bottle at Zipp's Liquor in Minneapolis about 2 years ago and muled it back to Seattle where it was aged gracefully in my cellar. I decided a couple weeks ago it was high time to crack it open and see what the fuss was about. As with most aged stouts of this nature, there was basically no head retention or carbonation at this point. Poured dark and thick as motor oil. Typically when you age a high ABV beer, the alcohol flavor tends to get hidden a bit by other flavors or get more mellow in general. Not this bad boy. Hot like moonshine. You could taste every bit of that 15%. The bourbon flavors were fantastic, though. Deep, woody, and chocolatey. 

Rating: 4.25/5

Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (2013) - Goose Island Beer Co.
Style: American Double / Imperial Stout
ABV: 13%


I recently turned 31 (boo!) and I celebrated with some friends at the 3rd annual Coffee Beer Fest at the Burgundian. My friend Bobby noticed they had bottles of this hype beast for $15, so he ordered one to share with a few of us at the table. This one definitely justified the hype quite a bit more than the regular BCBS, but maybe that's just because I love coffee beers a lot. Low carbonation and not much head. Similar dark and deep bourbon flavors, but infused with Intelligentsia coffee, a famous fancy-pants coffee roaster from Chicago. Phenomenal beer.

Rating: 4.75/5

Bottom Line:

All right, now that I've finally tried these hyped-up, sought after beers, I feel like I can firmly say that yes, these beers are both great and overrated. The fact is, as a Washington resident, I have access to several local bourbon barrel aged beers that are every bit as good as these, if not better. Fremont Brewing and Reuben's Brews both offer multiple bourbon aged beers that, even in their limited local release, are far, far easier to attain than the BCBS beers. One upper hand that Goose Island has, and it's because of their vast Budweiser-fueled backing, is that they offer these high ABV beers in 12 oz bottles. Having 12 oz of a 15% beer is far, far more manageable than 22 oz of similar gravity, but bottling lines are super expensive so that's the give and take there. Anyways, yes these beers are great, but in general I would rather support smaller Washington brewers than give my money to Anheuser Busch, whom could care less about what I think.

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