I feel again like posting my encounters with Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout and its variants. I know I’ve missed the media event back in October, but the Goose was kind enough to send me some of it, so I would be expected to open it and write up my impressions. I’ll update this if, and as, I run across more.
Bourbon County Stout – 2-Year Reserve 2019
2-Year Reserve Bourbon County Stout was aged 24 months in 11-year-old 25th Anniversary Knob Creek barrels. The barrels of this once in a lifetime bourbon delivered an oak-forward intensity accented with subtle hazelnut and chocolate notes that complimented the flavors inherent in Original Bourbon County Stout. 14.9% abv
I brought this to share with parent, siblings, nephews and nieces over Thanksgiving. I also had the 3-Year vertical box, but after dinner, we had just enough fortitude to get through the one bottle of 2-Year Reserve.
The family agreed that the pour was noticeably thick, but it also was a pretty smooth sipper. I caught the chocolate from the start. Bourbon notes started slowly, partly because in our dry house, my nose was getting stuffy. But it became more pronounced even from my little glass. The back of the palate had coffee going on. I felt like I was picking up smoothness from oatmeal, but I don’t think that’s been a part of the BCS grain bill. Gentle coffee and cocoa aftertaste lingers after the beer is finished.
Bourbon County Wheatwine 2019
The 2018 Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beers (FoBAB) award-winning variant is back for its second year, this year aged 100% in Larceny wheated bourbon casks from our partners at Heaven Hill. The result is a softer flavor profile, full of caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and toffee flavors, all while carrying the nuances of Larceny bourbon barrels. 15.3% abv.
I found this on tap at “the Cube” in Standard Market in Westmont, which had many barrel-aged goodies on tap, and which offers its draft beers at half off on Sundays. Yes, I’m letting one of my secrets out. Both this and the BCS from 2017 and 2018 were still on tap the following, suggesting the demand for BCS might be slacking as the supply increases. Then again, they also had some Epic Big Bad Baptist variants still on tap, too.
My draft tulip showed a dark brown barleywine color, with the usual thin layer of foam clinging to existence along the circumference. The nose is malty, with some fresh yeast still present.
The taste brings out the barrel aging, first in a sting of alcohol, then there’s a definite oak and vanillin character. The malts are very smooth with just a slight sting of spice. I get a bit of toffee, too. The whole effect is kind of like a mixed drink with tequila just as much as bourbon. Not a lot of discernible hop, the result, no doubt, of that year in a barrel. Yet the malt is kept from overwhelming the palate. Halfway through, I find more impressions: molasses cookie, tiramisu, even a note of chipotle. It’s a quite powerful little drink.
I will update this article as I encounter more BCS. Finances keep from from rushing out and trying them all, but this will be a nice distraction for the cold days ahead.