This post has been almost a year in the making. On Black Friday, 2016, I went to a Goose Island Bourbon County Release. The year before, I had been to a release, but got there late in the afternoon and all the bottles were gone. I got to try several vintages on draft, which was great, but I decided that the following year I would head out early to get bottles. 6AM early in fact. I secured my place in line and with less hassle than I expected (shout-out to John’s Marketplace) I received my allotment of bottles. Two bottles of the base stout, one bottle of the Coffee variant and one bottle of the Barleywine. In theory, I could have gone to a different release later in the day and picked up the same set again, but decided that four was enough. The two bottles of Base Stout fit nicely into my small but growing collection of double bottles for my aging experiments.
There wasn’t much reason to hang on to the Coffee stout or the Barleywine for long since those weren’t part of the aging experiment, but then we didn’t get to the Base Stout until late February. Obviously, I’m not going to remember what these beers tasted like a year later, even with detailed tasting notes, but I still think it’s interesting to look back at them.
Coffee Stout – 11-26-16: Super strong coffee aroma, like coffee grounds. Flavor less coffee heavy, vanilla and bourbon with some coffee bitterness. Thin mouthfeel.
I remember not loving the coffee variant. Supposedly it changes every year, so I assume some years are better than others. We popped this one on Black Friday, so maybe it needed some aging to mellow the coffee? (4.25 stars)
Barleywine – 12-31-16: Dark fruit and bourbon aroma. Dark fruit flavor, alcohol burn. Thick mouthfeel. Flavor lingers long on the palate. Slight smokiness.
Looking back at these tasting notes doesn’t really do it justice. The Barleywine stole the show. Tasted side by side on release day I felt the barleywine was even better than the stout. At the very least, the barleywine was ready to drink that day. (4.75 stars)
Base Stout – 2-26-17: Sweet malt, vanilla, coconut aroma. Cola, vanilla, coconut flavor. Light roast. Medium mouthfeel. Prickly carbonation.
Base Stout – 11-6-17: Strong raisin/dry fruit aroma. Light vanilla, oak. Roast burnt flavor, dark fruit, whiskey burning (aftertaste). Thick mouthfeel, low carbonation.
Not too surprising results with the aged sample of the stout. The oxidation character has emerged in the form of dark fruit, while the fresh barrel character (vanilla and coconut) has faded. The bourbon has almost disappeared as well, expect for in that after taste/throat burn. I can’t guarantee, since as I mentioned above, I don’t exactly remember the beer itself, but based on the tasting notes and the sensory characteristics associated I would wager a guess that I liked the fresh bottle better. That’s not to say the aged bottle is “bad” per se… just different. (4.5 stars fresh).
So there we have it. The slow tasting of the 2016 lineup of Bourbon County Brand Stout (and Barleywine). 2017 Black Friday is a couple weeks away and I’ll be curious to see what the line up is like this year. Hopefully, the barleywine is just as good and the coffee variant is better. The base stout I expect to be the “same”. Supposedly, there is a blueberry and almond variant this year that’s supposed to be marzipan inspired, but I’m not sure if that one will make it to Oregon. The Proprietors Variant is a Chicago only release. They also have a Reserve Stout, which is aged in 25 year old Bourbon Barrels, but that one is $75 (if I recall correctly) for a 22 ounce bottle, so the only way I’m getting to taste that one is if someone gives me a bottle, or pops it in my presence.