Tasting Notes: Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2014

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

While many of you spent Black Friday waiting in long lines outside bottle shops, calling every beer store within a 50-mile radius or driving from liquor store to liquor store hoping to cobble together a four-pack of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2014, I was comfortably seated at Crunchy’s in East Lansing, MI sipping my way through a $12 dollar flight of four pours of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. The flight included 4 oz pours of 2014, 2013, 2012 and Coffee 2014. What follows are brief tasting notes and overall impressions of each.


(L to R: BCBS ’14, ’13, ’12 & BCBS Coffee ’14)

– 2014 –

By far the most alcohol-forward, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2014 has a lengthy alcohol burn that lingers from start to finish. Layered underneath are equal parts creamy milk chocolate, vanilla bean ice cream, room-temperature coffee and a dash of brown sugar. The ever-present bourbon is no more overpowering in the finish as it was at first sip — but it is most certainly there.

– 2013 –

The bourbon takes a bit of a backseat in a year-old pour of Bourbon County Stout, allowing similar flavors to a fresh pour to gain some traction. Palate highlights include Milk Duds, French vanilla coffee creamer, plums, sticky toffee pudding and a dose of bitter coffee in the finish. The bourbon lingers on the back-end and the heat isn’t quite as harsh as a fresh pour.

– 2012 –

Dry and smokey is the name of the game when it comes to a two-year-old pour of Bourbon County Stout. The alcohol present in a fresh and one-year-old pour has backed off nicely and a rich smokiness has emerged to compliment flavors of a chocolate milkshake, vanilla creme brulee, molasses and a distinct woodiness. The bourbon hits you in the finish but doesn’t have nearly as long a tail as it did in the two fresher pours.

– Coffee –

Perhaps I’ve had my fair share of barrel-aged beers or maybe I was a little bourbon-ed out at this point, but Bourbon County Coffee Stout 2014 was by far my favorite of the flight. The bourbon lingers in the periphery, allowing the onset of a light roasted coffee with a touch of creamer to fade into sharp espresso flavors mid-sip finishing with notes of sweet molasses and cream cheese frosting. Bourbon County Coffee Stout bordered on cloying, pushing it to the brink but not crossing the threshold.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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