Review of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout-Ep008

Posted on March 6, 2010 by

Tonight Dan, from Novice Runners, joined me as my first ever guest on Mike’s Brew Review. We decided to give a taste to a brew we both have been eying up for quite some time. At a price tag of $20 for a four pack, it isn’t a decision made lightly. However, when you split it, it can be easy to accept. We picked up a 4-pack and do a review of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. I have to tell you straight up front, this brew was awesome.

Side note and borderline rant:

I’m only going to say this once. I think packaging plays a huge role in craft beer taste testing and I know that when a beer is judged by the BJCP guidelines it is always a blind taste test. However, that is not what it is like going into the beer store. With all of the wacky packages and names, it is hard to sift through all the people yelling at me. So, I say it once, I think packaging is important to the average Joe beer drinker, so therefore, its going into my reviews from here on out.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

Review of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout


With a black, glossy, elegant package highlighted by just a touch of a yellowish brown, the package actually mimics the beer you are about to pour. If you are a stout fan, you’ll look at this package and your mouth will start watering. The elegance makes paying $20 for it seem worth it. Its like buying a Mac vs a PC. You pay a lil more, but when you open the package up you feel like a kid on Christmas.


The beer pours a deep black, and I mean black. You can not see through this one. The head on ours wasn’t that good, but it could totally be the glasses, as I can see that it wants to be more. What is there almost mimics the package perfectly.


The moment I opened the bottle I could smell the liquor steaming off this beer. It jumped right into my nose. After the liquor smell subsided I could smell the chocolate, roasted malts. There is very little hop aroma if any.


Amazing. The moment you drink it the bourbon comes through completely and overwhelms you right off the bat. After a drink or two though you start to taste the chocolate and coffee followed up by a vanilla after taste. It tastes a bit like Breckenridge Vanilla Porter, but with a lot of liquor and a more chocolate bitter taste. I did not taste a lot of oak. It was there, but I was more amazed with the bourbon and sweetness than I was the oak.


Its a bit thicker, but not terrible. Once it starts to warm up you get more of the thickness. The carbonation is light.


Depends on what you have going on the next day. I drank 2 and I was pretty much done. I had a good buzz going on and I could have easily switched into my regular whiskey water drinks. It is filling, but for a person who likes bourbon, this is a great dinner beer or night cap.


I definitely recommend this brew if you like whiskey, bourbon and stouts. One of the best ways I could describe this beer would be to take the syrup they use to mix up coke products, mix it with whiskey, and drink it. Its sweet and spicy with a bit of roasty bitterness. Totally worth the money.

Anyone else try this bad boy? What did you think of it?

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  • aaronmielke

    I like the addition of the “packaging” category in the review.

    You may want to taste this beer in a snifter glass as well. I noticed the aroma and flavor characters changed a bit from when I drank from my stein. I would be curious to hear if you noticed an difference…

    Good review!

  • mikebiewer

    Yea, agreed.

    I haven't gotten into all the glass ware stuff yet. I just know I won't have a clean glass for the appropriate beer. Plus, most people are not going to either ya know. I guess I feel that if the beer is solid coming out of a regular glass that I've got lying around, or even the bottle for that matter, it will probably be good in the correct glass.

    I bet that the bourbon smell would be simply amazing coming out of snifter though.

    Thanks for the comment man!


  • aaronmielke

    I agree from the standpoint that if the beer is *good* then it shouldn't matter the type of glass.

    However, my experience has proved to me that a beer will take on a different aroma and flavor when drank from different types of glassware – case in point being Bell's Hopslam that I've been enjoying for a few weeks. The flavor of this beer out of a goblet is nowhere near the flavor from a tulip glass. I haven't done all the research as to why this is the case, but I have found it to be true.

    That said, I'm sure not all beers would taste and smell different when drank from different glassware.

    Looks like I've stumbled across a topic for a new blog post!

  • mikebiewer

    Yea, I don't deny that the beer is going to be better out of the proper glass, and I'm sure at some point I'll get the proper glasses. My only concern is that if I start using the proper glass and for some reason can't in a review, people are going to flame me for not using it for one beer and using it for another. I just don't have the money or space to go out and buy the proper glassware. At least, not at this time.

    I agree though, beer has a glass associated with it, and I probably should drink out of those glasses to do a “proper” review. But I also think there are thousands of people out there that don't, that are going to try these beers in regular glasses, so I try to keep it to what my audience is going to be experiencing as well.

    Make sense?

    Thanks again for the comments dude.

  • Chipper Dave Butler

    I like your thoughts on how packaging helps complete the overall rating experience. There is a lot to that. I find that at times I do enjoy a beer better based on the “image” I get from the label and carton. It helps create a mood or sets the tone for the experience to come. Loved BCS '08. I still have several bottles stored away for later. You should try drinking this beer from a snifter glass to really bring out all the bourbon aroma.

    If you enjoyed this beer, you'd also like Bourbon Barrel Aged Black Gold Imperial Stout from Full Sail Brewing (west coast). The bourbon aroma on that brew is just heavenly. One of the best smelling imperial stouts out there.

  • mikebiewer


    You are the second person to tell me to get a snifter. I suppose I should have a set of glasses for particular styles of beer. I just prefer to do reviews of beer in regular old glasses because I feel most of my audience is that type of person.

    I may go pick up another 4 pack of this and store it till like 2012 or something. I'm not sure I can get anything from Full Sail, but I'll take a look when I get back to the store. Thanks for the tip!

    Guess, I'll go look for a new snifter glass. You and Snobby Hops have convinced me that I at least need this for my personal pleasure.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Dan Nisbet

    Yeah- you can probably blame me for no snifter glass lol. Mike has really been getting me into the brewing scene though, so I'd imagine I'd have something more than a glass mug soon :)

  • Kurt

    Definitely get either a snifter or a tulip glass- de rigeur for enjoying belgians, as well.
    Also: don't
    a) undersell your audience
    b) shortchange your own tasting experience
    because you feel most of your audience are the “regular old glasses” type.
    Drink the beer to maximize your experience, we'll do the best we can to use the proper glass when we sample same!
    Great point on the packaging, it can add or detract from the perception of craft and quality.
    Here at the BBC we sampled Bourbon County Stout and Brooklyn Black Ops (I know, it doesn't exist) back to back. Somebody please call a cab! Great stuff, the Goose Island being superior.
    Great review, keep up the good work. A real sacrifice, this beer tasting.

  • mikebiewer

    You make a good point.

    Some point react indifferently when you start talking about specific details and ways to do things. I suppose its how you present it though. I feel like I struggle with the line of coming off as a beer snob when I talk to people sometimes, even when I'm only trying to present a new idea to them. Again, its a fine line, because I never want to be a beer snob, just someone who knows a lot about beer!

    I may have to start my glass collection!

    Thanks for the comment.

  • Mikey

    You'd be surprised at how easily (and relatively cheaply) you could get a decent set of “proper” glassware.

    It seems to me that everybody seems to think that the Duvel glass is the quintessential “if you only have one glass own this one” beer glass. You can pick one up for $5-10 (or I got one with a four pack of Duvel for $16).

    My personal favorite is the Dogfish Head signature glass. I'd drink literally every beer in my collection out of this glass if I had to and wouldn't feel like I was missing out. Not a bad deal at $7 either.

    The other glass that I really like drinking out of is the trappist chalice. I think the best deal for that is buying the three pack of Chimay that includes the glass for $16-17 or so.

    But to be honest, if you had to drink every beer out of a pint/shaker glass you'd be OK too. It does help to have something with the tulip/snifter shape for aromas but as long as you're not drinking out of the can or bottle you'll get the idea of the beer in my opinion.

  • mikebiewer


    I've actually put a set of glasses on my birthday wish list. Hopefully my family or friends pick it up for me. One thing I get nervous about with using these glasses is if I don't use the right one, some snob is going to call me out and be a real ass to me. Though, I shouldn't be afraid of that because I've always been honest that I'm still learning here and I love advice from others, so whatever…

    Anyway, thanks for the tip on the Chimay glasses. I really would like to stay away from having it branded unless it had the “Mike's Brew Review” logo on it :P but it is also a good deal. I have an upcoming series on Redhook the brewery and they sent me some beer. Along with that beer came a Redhook glass, so I'll probably use their glass while I do their reviews.

    Anyway. Thanks for stopping in and saying hi! I really appreciate it!


  • Mikey

    I actually stumbled across this blog entry that's worth a quick read regarding this subject:

    As for having the glasses branded, whenever I'm drinking a non-Chimay out of it, I just turn it around for when I take my pics most of the time (if I care, if not then whatever).

    The other thing you could do if you want take advantage of a good deal like the Chimay gift pack would be to just use a paint remover to get rid of the logo if it really bothered you.

    As for the snobs calling you out, tell 'em to piss off. We're beer geeks and we should have no time for beer snobs. They're the ones that give the rest of us a bad name.


  • mikebiewer

    Good tips for sure!

    Thanks for the advice too. I really appreciate it. I agree, we are beer geeks and I just like to drink beer and help others learn to appreciate it more. It is tough sometimes, with even a let loose kind of attitude, to sometimes not come off snobby. You ever get that feeling?

    Thanks again!


  • Mikey

    I totally get that feeling sometimes. But it's usually with people who talk like they know about beer even though it's obvious they don't.

    I almost got into a screaming match last week because of someone who was arguing with mme that “dark beers are typically bitter”. It's one of the most tired misconceptions about beer ever. That or “dark beers are typically high in alcohol content”.

    Ugh. But when people come up to me and ask me questions because they legitimately want to learn more about beer instead of showing off how much they don't know about beer, it's easy to be a spokesman for better beer.

  • mikebiewer


    I agree with you 100%. I just really hate when I'm sitting at a table with people and they all order a Bud Light and I get a Vanilla Porter and they go, “ewe…” I ask them why and I get the same response. Oh, thats bitter, thick and gross…I say, well, this one might surprise you. When you take a drink, imagine your drinking a cold coffee from Starbucks.

    I usually end up getting a surprised look and a, “thats not bad, but I still won't drink it” response. Either way, my point was made.

    I love talking and teaching beer. Its part of the reason I started the blog!

    Thanks for stopping in.


  • Tony

    You don't even need a specialty glass – just use a wine glass. There are two reasons to use a specialty glass:
    1) Head retention – this is why tulip glasses are so popular for full-bodied, bubbly beers. The lip at the top will help suspend the head above the glass and keep the bubbles from essentially collapsing in on themselves (diminishing head). I don't worry too much about this.
    2) Aroma concentration – this is why wine and brandy lovers use snifters. Essentially, they concentrate the aromas into your nose. A wine glass works just as well for this.

    While a pint glass will let more aroma escape and won't retain the creamy head on a lot of beers, any wine glass will fix that.

  • mikebiewer


    Thanks for the tip. I do really want to get myself a set or two. I just like having things like that. For example, I've got a decanter with my initials on it for my whiskey. When it comes to my beer/booze, I enjoy all the little details and such. If I wasn't so poor, I'd have a set of beer glasses by now. LOL.

    Again, thanks for the tip!

    Do you have a set of glasses?


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  • Anonymous

    I’m a big stout fan, and lately have really enjoyed “Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale”, so when I saw Bourbon County Stout I thought it was a match made in heaven. I have to disagree with your review though; this is one of the most vile tasting brews I’ve ever had the misfortune of trying. If I had to sum it up I’d say it tastes like a mixture of treacle and bile – I was unable to finish half a snifter before I poured this ludicrously priced bottle down the sink.
    Obviously this stout isn’t for everyone’s tastes. I’d advise anyone curious to try a sampler before forking out for these $12 bottles.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry you didn’t like it.

    I still stand by this though. One thing that I’ve learned from other people is that it tastes much better after it has aged in the bottle for a while. Obviously, you don’t like it, but what about it don’t you like? Is it the bourbon, is it watered down? A “mixture of treacle and bile” doesn’t really help me to understand what it is you don’t like. Could you describe your dissatisfaction in beer terminology a little bit so we can understand it better? I don’t think I’ve ever had bile before :)

    Just curious.

    Thanks for the response.

    I might have to see if I can find that Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Where do you get yours?


  • steves

    They put this on the shelf before they were supposed to, the woman that was running the register knew me as a regular so she sold it to me for 6.25 because there was no price on it yet. after the first sip i knew i got a deal but damn…is this really selling for 20 per 4 pack?

  • steves

    if this is worthy of pouring down the drain then i urge you to never try an imperial stout.

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