Bourbon County Stout lives up to its name

In its dark and rather plain packaging, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout doesn’t look spectacular by any means. Black labels with old-school print, Bourbon County is minimalist advertising at its best.

Goose Island Bourbon County StoutBut the fact that there are no bells or whistles with packaging is very telling. This barrel-aged imperial stout speaks for itself and makes quite a bold statement.

At $20 for a four pack of 12 oz. bottles, it’s not a low-priced beverage by any means and not something I’ll be drinking every weekend, but it’s a nice treat to have on occasion.

Without ever opening the understated bottles, you learn a few things. Aged in bourbon barrels, this imperial stout clocks in at an impressive 14.5% and has been brewed since 1992. If it was terrible, hopefully Goose Island wouldn’t continue making it for 20 years.

Pouring the Bourbon County into a brandy snifter, the beer looks thick, leaving a slight creamy brown head. As light hits the dense brew, reddish hues appear, making the Bourbon County look a bit less sinister.

The aroma is a whiskey lover’s dream, with a rich bourbon and maple scent emanating out of the snifter.

The first sip is a combination of smooth — and strong — bourbon notes and oak flavors. The beer is sweet, but with a very prominent alcohol finish. The brew has more of a carbonated feel than I expected, but still keeps a full-bodied, heavy character. 

I found Bourbon County to be much easier to drink than the strong smell at first implied. That being said, if you’re not a bourbon fan, this may not be for you. While you still get the chocolate-y and caramel hints of most stouts, the bourbon flavor is a bit strong and slightly overpowering. 

For more info on Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, visit http://bit.ly/kA4o4.

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