Bourbon County Brand Stout

Review Date 3/9/2019     By John Staradumsky

Black Friday has become a beer day. It wasn’t always a beer day, but it has become a beer day. Thanksgiving is an exhausting holiday for me. There’s all the cooking my wife and I do, a house full of kids and grandkids, and then taking the wife out shopping. The next morning, Black Friday Proper, we go out for more shopping, and I hit the beer store for the special releases. Later that night, I relax at home with a brewski or twoski. Or six.

Anyway, this year, something weird happened. I got some very interesting beers at Total Wine, but decided against the Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. At $24.99 a bottle it is just ridiculous if you ask me (and you did, because you’re still reading). This was the 2018 release, but there were so many other great beers to be had: I got a 4-pack of barrel aged Guinness Stout Aged in Bulleit Bourbon Barrels for $5 less, and they had 4-packs of barrel aged Bells Expedition Stout for $1 more (I got a single of that).

Later that day, I was talking about the fact that I had passed on this beer due to the price when the wife remarked that I should have bought it as a Christmas present from her. I told her that it was fine, and they would be long gone now anyway. The Bourbon County beers are hard to find and don’t last long usually when you do, although that is changing a bit. Time was you could not find them at all, or had to get your name on a list and then stand in line and say the secret password to get a bottle. I don’t do these things.

On Black Friday of 2017, though, I did find bottles of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout at Total Wine, and picked up one. This was the first (and heretofore only) BBCS beer I had tried, absent a sample of one of them at Taco Mac. This year, it was the Bramble Rye variant Total Wine had out on display. As I said, I passed.

Then a funny thing happened. I went to Target Saturday morning, and looking in the beer section, was shocked to find bottles of the Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale for $18.99. I snapped one right up of course. Then the next day, back at Target, I spied two bottles (only two mind you) of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2016 edition and Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Northwoods Stout 2017 edition. These were also selling for $18.99 a bottle, but I could not buy them because it was around 10:30 AM and you can’t buy beer in Canton before 12:30. Luckily, they were willing to hold them for me behind the counter until I came back at 12:30, although they thought I was a weirdo.

The wife told me to pick one and drink it and put the other two under the tree. Score! That very night, I enjoyed the Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout while putting up Christmas lights.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2016 Edition has an alcohol content of 13.8% by volume with 60 IBUs. The alcohol content changes from year to year and I am not even sure if the 2018 was sold in Georgia, because it has an ABV of 14.7% or 15.2% depending on the batch you get. Both are over the 14% limit for beer in Georgia. Mine was bottled 07OCT16. Goose Island says about the beer:

Brewed in honor of the 1000th batch at our original Clybourn brewpub. A liquid as dark and dense as a black hole with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.

They list these ingredients for the 2016:


Malts:2-Row, Caramel, Chocolate, Debittered Black, Munich, Roast Barley

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2016 pours to a jet black color with a wisp of tan head (and that on a vigorous pour) and chocolate, raisin and boozy bourbon in the nose. Taking a sip, the beer is immediately smooth and full bodied in the mouthfeel, gently rolling over the tongue with a rich oily texture.  It features pronounced woody notes with soft charcoal, coconut, vanilla, dark chocolate, boozy bourbon and a very warm alcohol finish.

This is really an amazing beer, exceedingly complex, but is it worth the price? I think it is at the $18.99 price point. It’s a rare treat you won’t drink but once or twice a year, and taken that way, I will indeed buy this one again.

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.