Bourbon caramel. Bourbon-infused whipped cream. Bourbon vanilla (which, yes, I know, is named for a place and not the drink - Ile Bourbon which is now Reunion and controlled by France off the coast of Madagascar). And, of course, bourbon beer - I'm all over it.
Last year I tried Goose Island's (based in Chicago) 2009 Bourbon County Stout and thoroughly enjoyed it. The chocolate, coffee, and caramel flavors of the beer were well balanced with the bourbon of the barrel. And while some beers of this variety can be lacking when it comes to bourbon, this one was definitely not.
I only had one issue with last year's version: the size. As you can see in this picture from Beer Advocate the 2009 version came in a 22 ounce bottle, which, for a beer that is 13% alcohol is one hell of a lot of alcohol. How much? Well, even though I spread it over two days, I could have sworn I wrote about it but apparently not. Hmm...
So if that's my only complaint, you knew I had to try the 2010 version, right?
Photo from Goose Island's page.
When it appeared at New Seasons last week in a 12-ounce bottle that sealed the deal - into the cart it went. How kind of Goose Island to address the only issue I had with an otherwise perfect bourbon barrel-aged stout.
Unfortunately I can't do a side by side taste test because I didn't pick up a 2009 to save - and, well, because I wouldn't remember anything from it anyway - but I do feel the 2010 version may be even better. The bourbon is prominent but not overdone. Fresh from the fridge the chocolate and caramel flavors were clear to me, but as it warmed up the coffee became a lot stronger.
The alcohol is still strong, but in a 12 ounce bottle it's not as overpowering. I cracked this for the Oregon State football game last week with full intention of hopping on the treadmill for the later Oregon game. Needless to say, after this bottle was empty that did not happen.
Bourbon County Stout is definitely a beer to be sipped, enjoyed, celebrated, and maybe even split with a friend depending on what you plan on doing the rest of the day.
But that's not all. Oh no - Goose Island apparently has more versions of Bourbon County Stout. Bourbon County Vanilla? Bourbon County Coffee? Rare Bourbon County? Yes, please, these I need to try. Unfortunately I'm not overly sure I'll be able to find them in Portland when they are released, since they are limited and may not make the trip from Illinois. Might be time to delve into the secondary market for beer...
I have to say, Goose Island's other offerings seem pretty tasty as well. I've had a Matilda before (and thoroughly enjoyed it), have another in reserve, and many of the others look worth a try as well. Citizens of Chicago, you have quite a gem on your hands. Goose Island also does sodas, something else I'm going to keep an eye out for.
Give it a try - I wholeheartedly recommend Goose Island, and plan on working my way through their entire library of offerings.