We took last Friday off from the blog because Black Friday is beer Christmas in Chicago. The annual release of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout. So after a week off, we figured better make up for it. We’re back this week with not four, but EIGHT beers- the entire 2021 Bourbon County Brand Stout lineup. Not only is Goose Island a great customer, they are also the originators of barrel aged beer, so let’s get in to this years lineup:
Goose Island- Bourbon County Brand Stout (14% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
We start with the OG- BCBS. This year’s vintage is slightly thinner than in years past, but still a world class offering. Full of the almond, dark fruit, and char we’ve come to love and expect, this beer paired excellent with the braised short rib that accompanied it.
Goose Island- Bourbon County Cherry Wood Stout (14.3% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
The first variant of the this year’s lineup, Cherry wood is not actually adjuncted with cherries as you may expect, but conditioned on cherry wood. I got huge a huge amount of tannins throughout- almost like a rich red wine. It was nice and dry and paired wonderfully with a cherry tart.
Goose Island- Classic Cola Stout (14.1% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
Probably the most “exotic” of the 2021 variants, Classic Cola stout is Bourbon County with the addition of lime and orange juice, coriander, cassia bark, nutmeg, brown sugar, and vanilla. I could pick them all up on the nose, reminding me of RC cola. I enjoyed it with a fine pork loin and mushroom compote that paired excellent with the beer. The finish is full of oak, brown sugar, and orange peel. I absolutely loved my 3 oz. pour, but I’m not sure I could drink a full bomber.
Goose Island- Bourbon County Fourteen Stout (13.2% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
14 is a revamped version of the classic 2014 Proprietors Stout. This beer features a heavy dose of rye malt with cassia bark, cocoa nibs, panela sugar, and coconut water. I get tons of cinnamon on the nose with a velvety chocolate mid-palate. This finish brings back the rye spice with some barrel heat. I have a few bottles and look forward to revisiting 12 months from now.
Goose Island- Bourbon County Reserve 150 Stout (15.6% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
Resvere 150 stout is Bourbon County aged in barrels used for Old Forester’s 150th birthday celebration. The nose was classic Bourbon County, with tons of vanilla, chocolate, almond and char, but I was shocked how fruit forward the palate is. I got big notes of plum and dark fruit, but plenty of barrel heat. A very interesting beer.
Goose Island- Bourbon County Reserve Blanton’s Stout (15.4% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
Probably the most sought after and hardest to get of this year’s lineup, Blanton’s does not disappoint. At 15.3% ABV, we get a roasty, marzipan nose. Maple and burnt char hijack the palate and the beer finishes with vanilla, chocolate, and tobacco galore. The originator of single barrel bourbons meets the original of bourbon barrel aged beer.
Goose Island- Double Barrel Toasted Barrel Stout (16% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
The highest ABV of this year’s lineup, Double Barrel was aged first in Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrels and then aged an additional year in Elijah Craig Toasted barrels. As an Eljiah Craig fan, I was especially looking forward to this one. I get big notes of cherry and oak on the nose. A dead ringer for Elijah Craig small batch which I always considered a cherry forward bourbon. The palate bring loads of chocolate covered cherries and the finish is toasty barrel, full of leather, tobacco, and toasted oak. This beer is a complex mélange of a bunch of delicate flavors melded together exceptionally well.
Goose Island- Proprietor’s Bourbon County Stout (12.8% ABV Barrel Aged Stout)
I saved the best for last. This year’s Chicago only Proprietors was absolutely incredible. Liquid strawberry shortcake laced with a chocolate drizzle and small sips of bourbon. The freeze dried strawberry used comes through in the best with and balances perfectly with the beers vanilla and almond notes. But the flavors don’t overwhelm the barrel characteristics- coconut, molasses, and oak and makes for one hell of a finale.
So there is the run down of this year’s Bourbon County Lineup. Most of these beers see nationwide distribution, so whether you’re able to run down a $15 bottle of original Bourbon County or happen upon a Blanton’s that had conveniently gone missing in the back, we strongly encourage you to take a moment to share a glass of Bourbon County Brand Stout with friends and family. Cheers!