Monday, June 15, 2015

A Whale A Week: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2009

Last week we covered the tart raspberry gem Atrial Rubicite from Jester King.  This week we return to the boozy RIS category.  This was the last of an epic whale tasting with a group of friends.  We poured this into Surly Darkness and Steel Toe snifter glasses for tasting.  Here is our cast of characters: Me (Eric)--homebrewer for over 25 years, beer judge, beer geek.  Sj--my wife who inexplicably is a woman of few words when it comes to reviewing beer.  Sean Kampshoff--Winner of National Homebrew Competition medals, beer judge, cool guy.  Jim & Cindy Moldenhauer--a very fun couple of craft beer geeks we got to know at several McCoy's Public House beer dinners.  Sean contributed this wonder to our tasting after storing it properly for over 5 years in his cellar.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2009

I've talked in the past about my personal history with Goose Island--being one of the first brewpubs that I frequented in Chicago and leading me down the craft-beer road I now speed over.   Check out my very first A Whale A Week post on GI's Coffee BCS for more background HERE.

Bourbon County Stout was one of the very first commercially available barrel aged beers in America, and in many ways Goose Island started the trend for these beers back in the 1990's.  Over the years this beer has grown incredibly popular and demand has risen.  Back in about 2008 I remember buying a 4 pack of this for $8.99 at the liquor store and no one working there knew what it was.   But I did!  Now, with expansion and AB-Inbev taking over, the quantity of this beer has sky-rocketed, but demand has also continued to rise.  Now I'm lucky if I can track down individual 12 oz bottles for under $15.  2009 was the first year they moved away from the twist-off cap and the boring white label to the newer sleeker black labels.  The bottle we tried for this tasting was a harder-to-find bomber bottle, oh and this comes from before the AB buy-out so even if you hate the "Big Guys" you can still drink this beer with impunity!  For BCS the brewery claims first-use bourbon barrels that have aged bourbon for more than 8 years.  They store these in a non-climate-controlled facility that encourages swings of hot and cold that enhance the aging process and lead to more wood character in the beer.

Fun with Photoshop!


Eric: Strong bourbon, vanilla, milk chocolate.  Deep dark fruit.  Some definite alcohol zip.  Toasted oak.  Moderate roasted malts.  A hint of cinnamon.
Sean: Roasty/Whiskey combo.  Vanilla and oak.  Dark chocolate and medium caramel.
Jim: Bourbon of course!
Cindy: Chocolate


Eric: Black, pretty much opaque.  Very light tan head that fades quickly.
Sean: Very dark brown/black with off-white head.
Jim: Dark ecstasy.
Cindy: Moonless night.


Eric: Sweet maltiness up front--like a fine dark chocolate torte topped with a vanilla cream sauce.  Vanilla, mild coconut.  Thick mouthfeel and quite coating.  Very boozy and warming.  Ends sweet, but not quite cloying.  Hints of coffee and roast is actually retrained in this. No hop flavors.
Sean: Rich whiskey character of vanilla and marshmallow.  Dark chocolate and caramel.  No hop flavor and low hop bitterness.  Finishes medium-sweet but flavors meld together well.  Mouthfeel medium-high.  High alcohol warmth.
Cindy: Sweet!  Cognac.  Cherry.


Eric: Very sweet beer but not overwhelming.  One of the boozier barrel aged beers I've had (but not Black Tuesday boozy).  I love this beer.  Strangely there was almost no oxidation in this aged beer.  Flavors have smoothed out and melded well over the years. 5
Sean: 4.75
Jim: Take me home Goose! 4.5
Cindy: 4.5
Sj: Delicious!  4.75

Overall Tasting Score: 4.7

This was a great beer and has held up amazingly well for its age.  Right on the bottle it says "Ages in the bottle for up to 5 years."  And they are right.  Thanks for sharing Sean!

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