What can I even say, you’ve probably never heard of this super under the radar, micro brewery and their ultra exclusive line of barrel-aged beers, but I’ll let you in on it anyway.

Nope, that’s a different review.

The 2017 lineup of Bourbon County Brand beers includes:

  • Bourbon County Brand Stout 2017 — imperial stout aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels
  • Bourbon County Brand Stout Reserve 2017 — imperial stout aged in freshly 11-year-old Knob Creek bourbon barrels
  • Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout 2017 — imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with Black Cat Espresso coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago
  • Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout 2017 — imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with bananas, roasted almonds and cassia bark
  • Bourbon County Brand Northwoods Stout 2017 — imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with blueberry juice and almond extract added
  • Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale 2017 — barleywine ale aged in fresh bourbon barrels

As in previous years, the Bourbon County Brand Barelwine is an English-style barleywine that is aged in the barrels that previously held the Bourbon County Brand Stout, making them second use barrels. This year’s offering, as in the past, has a hefty ABV, with the 2017 clocking in at 14.4 percent.

Side note, there was supposed to be a Barleywine Reserve that was aged in barrels used in 2015 for Rare. It was pulled by the Goose Island because it was not happy with how the flavors had developed.

Bourbon County Brand Barleywine pours a very dark brown, very muddy looking and as is with many high alcohol beers, the head retention is very little. The smell has a lot of classic barleywine notes, loads of caramel, molasses, plum, raisin, vanilla and oak from the barrel. It picks up some chocolate/stout notes that lend a slightly different smell from other more traditional barleywine.


Upon the first sip, I’m greeted with a lot of sweetness, caramel, dried fruits and the finish is very oaky with some bourbon burn and sweetness. The finish is very dry and mimics something like a port wine, leaving you wanting to drink more. There is some bakers chocolate that rounds everything out, but predominantly this is a barrel aged barleywine that tastes more traditional with additional sweetness.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine (2017)
BREWERY: Goose Island Beer Co.
LOCATION: Chicago, Ill.
STYLE: Barrel-Aged English Barleywine
ABV: 14.4 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $12.99
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 24, 2017
AVAILABLE IN: 500ml bottles
This years barleywine is very approachable as the sweetness from both the base and barrel are very strong. All the earthiness that sometimes accompanies this style has been overshadowed with a higher ABV and barrel character from both the bourbon and previously held stout. I do like that it feels more balanced because of the introduction of the stout, while it’s not an extremely predominant flavor profile, there is enough there to keep things more interesting and allows for more flavor development as the beer warms. As in previous years this is limited, but it did appear to be more readily available than in the past. Also, for what it's worth out of everything I've tried this year, all have been better out of the bottle versus on draught.
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