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Goose Island Bourbon County Stout stands as a monumental figure in the craft beer scene, particularly celebrated for pioneering the bourbon barrel-aged stout category. Since its inception in 1992, it has not only defined but also set the bar high for the style, blending the intricate flavors of a stout with the nuanced characteristics imparted by bourbon barrels. This beer not only holds a cult status among enthusiasts but also celebrates its legacy with an eagerly awaited annual release on Black Friday.

The Genesis of Bourbon County Stout

The journey of Bourbon County Stout began with Greg Hall, the then brewmaster at Goose Island, during a bourbon tasting event. Captivated by the rich flavors of bourbon, Hall was inspired to age stout in bourbon barrels, a novel idea at the time that led to extraordinary outcomes. This process introduced an additional layer of complexity to the stout, marrying the robust malt flavors with the distinct notes of wood and whiskey.

Crafting and Maturation Process

Bourbon County Stout is crafted using a rich assortment of ingredients such as roasted barley, chocolate, and caramel malts, which contribute to its deep color and viscous body. Post-brewing, the stout undergoes several months of aging in bourbon barrels, during which it absorbs the essence of charred oak and bourbon, adding sophisticated layers of vanilla, caramel, and a comforting warmth from the alcohol.

This maturation not only enhances the beer’s complexity but also smooths out the stout, perfectly integrating the bourbon traits with the beer’s inherent roasted flavors. This pioneering method has since inspired numerous breweries to explore barrel aging, though Bourbon County Stout remains a revered standard in the genre.

Tasting Profile: A Symphony of Flavors

Recognizable by its opaque black appearance and rich, creamy head, Bourbon County Stout offers an aroma rich in malty sweetness with prominent bourbon attributes of vanilla, oak, and caramel, complemented by undertones of chocolate, coffee, and toffee. The palate is voluptuously full-bodied and silky, mirroring the aroma with a luxurious blend of flavors and a subtle boozy heat, making it exceptionally gratifying during the cooler months.

The finish is extensive and multifaceted, balancing sweetness with a refined bitterness that beckons for another taste. Despite its boldness, Bourbon County Stout is surprisingly smooth and eminently drinkable.

The Distinction of Bourbon County Stout

  • Innovative Heritage: It stands as one of the original and most esteemed bourbon barrel-aged stouts, marking a significant chapter in craft beer history.
  • Complexity of Flavors: Achieved through its unique barrel-aging process, it sets a benchmark for depth and variety in stout flavors.
  • Exclusivity of Release: Its annual limited release adds an element of exclusivity, with each year’s batch widely anticipated and often collected by aficionados.

Perfect Moments and Pairings

Bourbon County Stout is ideally savored slowly to appreciate its complex profile, making it perfect for special occasions or as an indulgent dessert beer. It pairs splendidly with bold cheeses, smoked meats, or rich desserts such as chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream. It also serves as a contemplative drink, ideal for winding down an evening.

Where to Experience Bourbon County Stout

This esteemed stout is available at select retailers, specialty beer shops, and directly from Goose Island, especially during its celebrated Black Friday release. Its popularity means it often sells out quickly, making its annual release a notable event for craft beer enthusiasts.

In summary, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout transcends the ordinary, offering a sophisticated, layered tasting experience that showcases the innovative spirit and dedication to quality that Goose Island continues to champion in the craft beer community. Each bottle is a testament to the art of barrel-aging, delivering a taste experience that is both luxurious and profoundly satisfying.

Bourbon County Stout Rating

Appearance: 96/100
Aroma: 97/100
Taste: 98/100
Mouthfeel: 96/100
Overall Experience: 97/100

What Our Score Means 100: The Holy Grail: A rare gem worth every effort to obtain.
95 – 99: Elite: A prized possession for the discerning connoisseur.
90 – 94: Exceptional: Guaranteed to impress and delight.
85 – 89: Superior: A remarkable choice that stands out.
80 – 84: Reliable: A dependable selection for everyday enjoyment.
Below 80: Adequate: Decent, but not extraordinary. We seek to elevate your palate beyond this threshold.

Breakdown of the Ratings:

Appearance (96/100): The deep, opaque black color and rich, creamy head are visually striking and inviting, reflecting the robust body of the stout.

Aroma (97/100): The rich aroma offers a complex bouquet of vanilla, oak, caramel, chocolate, coffee, and toffee, with prominent bourbon characteristics, creating an inviting and multifaceted scent.

Taste (98/100): The palate experiences a luxurious blend of malt sweetness, bourbon warmth, and rich flavors of chocolate, coffee, and caramel, making it exceptionally satisfying and complex.

Mouthfeel (96/100): The full-bodied, silky texture with a subtle boozy heat provides a smooth and indulgent drinking experience, making it perfect for savoring slowly.

Overall Experience (97/100): The innovative heritage, complexity of flavors, and exclusivity of the annual release make Bourbon County Stout a standout choice for special occasions and a must-try for craft beer enthusiasts.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout Review


  • Chad Curtis

    Chairman / Chief Editor / Web Development / Applications Chad Curtis combines his extensive background in web development, online applications, and content creation to lead Liquor Spirits toward becoming a premier source for liquor news and education. His entrepreneurial spirit and deep experience with tech innovations drive our platform’s growth, ensuring we deliver engaging and reliable content that supports our readers’ and business partners’ success.

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