Up From The Cellar – Bourbon County Stout 2014

I have found a beer that I guess I hid out of spite for SABInBev. Time to open this 2014 pre-variant heavy slate of Bourbon County Stouts.

BCS14 – Pours a murky dark brown.  Light bourbon on the nose.  A little cherry in the taste but this is not heavy at all.  Some chocolate and wood notes as well with a tiny touch of sour at the back. Alcohol doesn’t really show.  Thinking that maybe 7 years was too much time? Just amazed at how thin it is overall

Review – Bourbon County Stout (2013 vs 2015)

OK, so it not a battle when it involves two great beers. But let’s take a look at my thoughts on the 2013 and the 2015 versions of the original Bourbon County Stouts from Goose Island.
The most notable part of my first sips of the 2013 is a biting sharpness in the middle. I was expecting a beer mellower and heavier.  And this BCS is both heavy and light with hot chocolate notes. As it warms the heat starts to show more throughout the taste instead of that spike in the middle. This stout is very dry. The Bourbon is tucked in there but not oppressive it is more 1/3 of the pie.

The latest version starts with that same sharpness as the 2013 with more vanilla to it as opposed to chocolate. That vanilla fades though into more raisin notes that I associate with Quads and Belgians. Seems less complex than the 2013. And again the bourbon is just a member of the team and not the star.

These are my thoughts as I sipped from both beers.  The take-away is that these beers are extremely similar.  The shared DNA is obviously there but to each individual palate the flavors with the biggest bounce might differ from mine.

Sean Suggests for November 2014

header_beer_shopping_listHere in Los Angeles, the weather is finally making tentative steps to fall.  Which means we can begin to drink some lighter stouts and barley wines and wait for any type of moisture to fall from the sky.  These are my 3 picks to drink this month and because the Dark is so dark, the other two selections are quite light.


Bottle Logic/ She Shot First 4.7% ABV

“Our twist on an American Pale Ale, She Shot First, is brewed with generous amounts of malted wheat, and Pacific North West hops. This particular combination produces enormous flavors and aromas of citrus. “


Commons Brewery/ Myrtle 5.1% ABV

“Myrtle has a pleasant acidity from a Lactobacillus fermentation. Lemony Meridian hops grown in Silverton, OR enhance the citrus character of our house Lactobacillus strains and the fruity ester profile of our house farmhouse yeast. “


Goose Island/ Bourbon County Stout 14.2% ABV

“The Original, a liquid as dark and dense as a black hole. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than an average case of beer.”

BCS (the beer one, not the college football one)

I had the opportunity to sit down with Goose Island Brewmaster Brett Porter to talk about the 2014 slate of Bourbon County Stout beers, in Beverly Hills of all places.

The answers to my questions posed that day will appear over on Food GPS in early November. For now, you get my tasting notes on the spin-offs and variants of the classic Stout that debuted over 20 years ago.


This year the BCS consists of the following: (with my tasting notes in italics)

Bourbon County Brand Stout – Original: A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.
One of the rare bourbon barrel beers that doesn’t scream bourbon. I like that the previous occupant of the barrel is an additional note here. And this year the alcoholic heat is much less. No need to wait for this one, it is ready now. Quite viscous with milk chocolate notes here.

Bourbon County Brand Stout Coffee: Everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to our brewery at Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from our friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years.
The 2014 wasn’t ready yet but brewmaster Porter really liked the coffee choice from Intelligentsia for this year. But the 2013 really held up well. Big coffee nose with lots of unroasted bean notes to it

Bourbon County – Barleywine: Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.
When left to warm up, this really showed off some complexity. Lovely garnet color, this beer spent 6 months in barrels that previously held BCS. Slick on the tongue with cola and cranberry fruit notes. A little Umami action as well.

Bourbon County – Vanilla Rye: First brewed for the legendary festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beer in Chicago, drinkers enjoyed this Bourbon County Variant so much we bottled it the next year (2010). People flocked to stores to get their hands on a bottle and have this one of a kind barrel aged stout. Over the past few years we have heard our fans express their love for this version and we are extremely proud to bring it back in 2014. This year’s version features a little twist of aging the stout in Rye Whiskey Barrels with a mix of Mexican and Madagascar vanilla beans!
I so wish this one had been ready but I will really like to see how these flavors meld together.

Proprietors Bourbon County: Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout is meant to show our immense gratitude to our neighbors here in Chicago – the loyal and adventurous fans whose support helped bring Bourbon County Brand Stout to towering new heights. Each year this release will differ from the previous year; a special variant created for Chicago and unique to the year it was released. Whether your first sip is today or was from that first batch in 1992, thank you for lifting us up on your big shoulders and joining us every year to celebrate the original bourbon barrel aged stout.