I'm not a huge fan of stouts; I can really take them or leave them. Back when I was on exchange in England during college, I loved having a pint of Guinness for lunch, knowing I was getting the good stuff that you couldn't get back home. The story was that the U.S. got the dregs from Ireland, and that the good stuff stayed on the other side of the Atlantic. I have know way of knowing whether that is true, but I know my pints of liquid bread tasted all the better when I was in England.
In the intervening years, as I came to know beer better, and came to enjoy other styles much more than Guinness, I kind of forgot about stout. Every now and then I'd have a decent one, but nothing really to make me sit up and take notice.
Recently I've had a bit of a reawakening, realizing some brewers are doing some pretty great things with stouts. I've particularly enjoyed Founders Breakfast, and a Chocolate Milk Stout from Penobscot Bay Brewery that has won some awards.
Well anyway, Carol told me that Goose Island (not strictly a craft brewery anymore, but still makers of great beers) had released some ridiculously small number of cases of this stuff to Maine, and she managed to get hold of one of the cases.
I was intrigued with the bottle, and with the idea of the bourbon barrel aging, and the knowledge that if Goose Island made it, it was likely very good, and with the high ratings it got from Beer Advocate. But at $8+ for a fairly small bottle, and little assurance that I'd like it, I passed. I took home a nice Ommegang Dubbel, knowing I'd be very happy with it.
Between the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and today, I've kicked myself over that decision numerous times. I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to try it. So today, after ski practice, I beat a quick path to Mrs. B's door, and found a few bottles still there. Yes, there are a few bottles still there, and let me tell you now, if you're a stout fan, stop reading this and go get one of them. It's more important than reading the rest of this review.
By 8:45 or so, my bottle was chilled, and I was home for the evening, and I popped the bottle. This stuff is like motor oil: thick, syrupy, bourbon-smelling, sweet, motor oil. I know that doesn't sound appetizing, but it's perfect for this beer. It's boozy, with an ABV of about 13.5%, which makes it an Imperial Stout. It's delicious. It's a sipper. It's worth sipping, so you can try to figure out all the flavors in there. I can't, but I'm enjoying the attempt. As I write this, I have about a half a pint glass remaining, and another half in the bottle. In all, it's about a pint and a half for about $8. Not cheap, but worth every penny.
Carol, sometimes I'm glad I let you talk me into things.
My three word review for Goose Island Bourbon County Stout: Stouts are back!