You have probably heard of Goose Island, and most likely you fall into two camps: you love the beer it produces or you hate everything about Goose Island because it was bought out by the “evil arch-nemesis” of craft beer, AB InBev. I, for one, fall into the first camp. I’m not a fan of what AB InBev is doing to the industry, but good beer is good beer and I’m going to enjoy it if it’s put out there.

With that said, this year, like every year, Goose Island released its Bourbon County lineup, which consisted of eight different variants:

  • Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
  • Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
  • Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
  • Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
  • Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
  • Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
  • Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
  • Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)

Bourbon County Wheatwine is the first beer in the lineup to have a different recipe since the barleywine debuted in 2013.

Wheatwine pours a very deep amber, sort of resembling a brandy in color. There is a pillow like white head that disappears for the most part, leaving only a white bubbly ring around the glass. There’s a lot of barleywine aromas going on when I take a deep inhale of this beer. Notes of caramel, barrel, raisin, plum, bourbon and syrup dance around the glass and swirl together to create a pretty sweet smelling brew.

Taking a sip gives much of the same first impression, it’s sort of like a barleywine, but not as full-bodied. I am getting a lot of the barrel characteristic, caramel and toffee sweetness, some light vanilla and dark fruits. I also pick up some wheat beer notes, like sweet banana and butterscotch.

I began by enjoying Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine fairly cold, straight out of the fridge. The carbonation is somewhat low on this beer and as the beer becomes warm, it becomes almost too rich and sweet without the carbonation to cut some of that. It is very much like drinking a dessert wine or sweet liqueur, so if that is your thing then definitely track one down.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine 2018
BREWERY: Goose Island Beer Co.
LOCATION: Chicago, Ill.
STYLE: Wheatwine
ABV: 15.4 Percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $15.99
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 23, 2018
AVAILABLE IN: 500ml Bottles
Overall, Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine was a very enjoyable beer and fits loosely into the barleywine mold. It is sweet, complex and really interesting. I can’t see myself sitting down and drinking a whole bottle by myself, but it is a great beer to share. There were times when I felt the beer was overly sweet and lost some of its complexity because of that. All in all, this is a well done beer in a unique style.
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