I know I normally write on Sundays, but I decided to get crazy and mix it up a little this week (ooOOOooo). After all that fishing the previous week/weekend, I truly slogged through this past week. But then, I had a buddy named Tio Blanco shoot me a text talking about Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout for this year.
I tried the 2017 version and it was like drinking Kentucky Gentleman (bottom-shelf bourbon) mixed with lighter fluid and even though it was cold, still felt hot. What I read from his text was, “I even got the last bit out of the bottle,” and I took that to mean he loved it. What he actually said was, “I only got a little bit out of the bottle,” which means it was, let’s say, less than palatable. While it clocks in at 14.6% ABV and will probably be fantastic aged, this sucker is fresh.
Appearance: This pours a blackwater swamp dark with a mocha-colored head. It’s super dark and has more carbonation than I would expect with slight lacing throughout the beer.
Aroma: The tag bills it as “Intense aromas of charred oak, vanilla, and smoke.” Well, it smells more like intense imitation vanilla extract with a touch of smoke.
Taste: To quote the great Ralph Wiggum, “I’m in danger!” Thankfully, this is a far cry from the disaster that was the 2017 Bourbon County Stout. While it is still very unfinished, it is relatively drinkable. You start with a heavy coffee and vanilla flavor profile. However, there isn’t much to it; it’s your standard cup of joe with a touch of vanilla bean. Then you transition to a boozy, lower-end bourbon that has an aftertaste of charred marshmallows over a campfire. While all of this is still rough, I’d be a pile of cash if this is aged 12-24 months. The flavors will mellow and blend fantastically.
Mouthfeel: As expected, this is a very heavy beer that lends itself to slow sipping.
Value: At $14 for a 500 mL (16.9 oz) bottle, definitely ain’t the cheapest thing out there.
Overall: For an Imperial/Barrel Aged Stout, this has a high potential aged, but as it stands fresh off the shelf, it is a major let down. The flavors are harsh, do not blend well, and it is hard to drink due to that. I can think of quite a few 4 and 6 packs of Imperial Stouts that cost less than this bottle and are much more complete. I should probably buy one and age it two years to see how it ends up. Overall, this gets a 3/10. Tio Blanco, you set me up, kid.
Until next time, tight lines in cheers!