poured a 12oz 2009 vintage bottle into a snifter. It was bottled on
11/12/09. I’m not sure how much it cost at the time it was bought.
Appearance: Opaque ink black all around. Perhaps some dark maroon
highlights on the edge, but definitely one of the darker beers you’ll
see. Initially forms a small coating of brown foam, but it fizzles away
quickly and leaves no lacing.
Smell: Highly aromatic as it can be smelled from an arm’s length away. Massive black licorice, dark cherry and bourbon notes.
Taste: Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout is a monster of a beer.
Even after three and a half years of aging, this vintage still packs a
punch. Massive sweetness in the first half followed by overt boozy
character on the second half. Black licorice, chocolate syrup, black
cherry, vanilla and a hint of plum or grape can all be detected
throughout the palette (in that order). To call it sweet would be an
understatement, but to call it sickly or cloying would be a lie.
What’s so impressive about this beer is the fact it’s so well-balanced.
While there isn’t hop character per se as far as citrus, pine, flowers,
etc., there definitely is a prominent bitterness to this palette. This
makes the beer drink like the imperial stout it is rather than any kind
of borderline spirit other "extreme" beers tend to be like. The bourbon
character is quite pronounced as well, leaving a slightly woody
aftertaste along with hints of scorched sugar or vanilla. Sure there’s a
raw alcohol component as well, but it complements the taste so well I
can’t imagine this beer without it.
Drinkability: This is not exactly the type of beer you drink on a whim.
At 13% ABV, and a high price tag, Goose Island Bourbon County Brand
Stout is a special brew. That being said, savoring the experience is the
drinker’s responsibility. It’s not simply syrup plus alcohol, it’s a
genuine stout body. Thick and viscous in the mouth for sure, but not
sticky or chewy sensation. I’d describe the finish as clean if it
weren’t for the alcohol drying out my tongue. A fantastic liquid dessert
by itself - there’s no reason to distract your palate by attempting to
pair this with anything other than serenity.