What comes out once a year and still has craft beer panache in spite of the brewery being owned by AB-InBev? I am talking about Bourbon County Stout by Goose Island of course! For many beer drinkers Goose Island is controversial and its status as a craft brewery the subject of many a debate but the beer is above reproach. For me, I personally aspire to become a highly opinionated beer snob but even if I succeeded this beer will still get a green light every time! Let’s face it if we claim it is all about the beer then this beer is a success. So when the Daily Pint hosted a tap takeover featuring past and current Bourbon County Brand Stouts (and Barleywine)
I still jumped at the chance to taste them.
As a homebrewer I find myself firmly in the camp of “Drink local, drink craft” but at the same time I will on occasion go after the beer that is just a damn good beer, and Bourbon County Brand Stout was a damn good beer long before they were bought up and for the most part that still has not changed as far as the product goes!
So I had a flight of all 3 years one right after the other starting from oldest (2013) to newest.
You can read last year’s blog to see how I judged the 13 and 14. The 13 was big aggressive and HOT with alcohol when I tried it last year and while the alcohol has cooled somewhat the beer still smacks you right in the face when compared to the smoother and more subtle 2014. Still it had many fans who liked it best, I am/was just not one of them.
The 14 was sublime, it is so smooth and silky with hints of chocolate, cream, and caramel sweetness, it was my personal favorite of the 3, and it had many fans in attendance.
The 15 is still young, however it too shows some serious character and is sure to mature as a runaway success. It is velvety smooth, balanced in spite of being 13.7% ABV and I told Phil he should hide a keg away for a year because I am willing to bet, this is going to fabulous with age!
The Coffee was impressive and I heard many in the bar comment on how good it was, but it is not my personal cup of tea, the coffee presence is so profound that it actually overpowers the flavors of the stout itself, and while BCBS is a great platform for the coffee, I prefer the original.
The BCBS Regal Rye was the big surprise of the evening, when first served cold, I wrinkled my nose at it thinking I was not going to like this much more than the coffee version but boy was I wrong! As it warmed up and the rye announced its presence and started smelling so inviting, I changed my tune fast! While the rye did compete with the flavor profile of the base beer, it did so in a way that was completely collaborative and delicious. The rye was not overpowering at all, but rather it was subtle on the tongue and softened the chocolate notes with oak and whisky notes. I would order that beer again if I had the chance but alas! It was the first keg to drain so I am not the only one who thought it was good! If you can get some!
Oh and there was a BCB Barleywine too. Big deal. Soap box time…while I like the bareleywine OK, it is just a barleywine, and not even in the same stratosphere of goodness that the BCB Stouts, where they are sublime, this is just OK. There are better barleywines to be had out there and I just don’t get the concept of diluting the BCBS cachet that it holds amongst stouts by introducing a bareleywine into the mix. Ok soap box rant over.
I wish I took a photo of the bar during the evening, I pointed out to Phil how cool it was seeing all these dark beers sitting on the bar next to a glass of pale beer, the owners were letting the BCBS warm up and having another beer while they wait! It was not just one or two folks either, it was lots of people!