If you missed the Daily Pint Goose Island Tap Takeover you must be the only one who did! Goose Island Beer Company is one of those breweries that has both fans and detractors, the detractors claim that since InBev. (one of the largest beer distributors in the world, think Anheuser-Busch) bought out Goose Island Beer in 2011 that Goose Island is no longer a craft beer. However that did not seem to affect the crowd last night! The offering of several Bourbon County Stouts plus the Barleywine and other Goose Island beers really brought out the crowd and packed the house! The staff was kept hopping from the moment I arrived until well into the evening! Most of the customers seemed very enamored of the bigger beers trying several of the bourbon barrel beers!
I wanted to try them as well but I also saw 2 new offering from the Goose that I added to my tasting and will review them here.
New beer #1: Madame Rose Flanders Brown Ale:
The Brewer’s notes on this beer says Madame Rose is a 6.7% ABV “crimson colored Belgian style brown ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on cherries in wine barrels with layers of malty complexity, sour cherry, spice and wood”. What I saw was that the color was straw brown with some red highlights. It displayed a light brown color head, with good lace that clings to the glass. It had some funk in the nose, like a baby’s ass in a barnyard plus some hints of tartness with a hit of sour cherry. The Mouthfeel was thin but that is to style for a Flanders style, dry and refreshing on the tongue. It tasted of sour and tart, it starts with a hit of mild tart cherry then a hint of leather; it was semi-sweet and semi-dry with a good clean finish. This beer would pair well with red meat or chocolate. If you like kreik’s or Flanders style ales than this would be the beer for you!
New beer #2 Muddy Stout:
The brewer’s notes on this 9% ABV Imperial Stout say it was “brewed with molasses, brewer’s licorice, and Belgian dark rock candi sugar. The Muddy is an imperial stout with amplified sweetness for a taste as distinctive as the Chicago blues that inspired its creation”. It actually is quite dark black and actually is ‘muddy’ in the glass with swirls of particles making it opaque. It had a thin light brown head displaying instant dissipation with the lace apparent only in a ring around the glass. It smelled of dark malt and oats with a hint of sea breeze and oysters. The mouthfeel was surprisingly light for an imperial stout, it was bright and refreshing with a clean dry finish. The taste was delicious! Light sweet candy corn and caramel apples was my first impression, then came the sweet caramel from the dark malts and candi sugar; both were present yet subdued. The hops used were west coast hops, but they added backbone and bitterness and not a lot of floral flavors. It had slight alcohol warmth at the finish. This beer reminded me of wet tobacco and sunshine, a very interesting yet refreshing and tasty stout! One I would like more of!
Next I tried all four of the bourbon barrel beers and I will review them in order.
Starting with the 2014 Bourbon County Stout:
The brewer’s notes claim that this year’s 14.2% Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels was “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”. What I saw in my glass was dark black brown with a good strong light brown head with long retention and lace. It smelled of dark candy sugar, dried plum and both resin and raisins. The mouthfeel was an explosion of foam and flavor, a dense yet wet liquid tootsie roll that impacts and tickles the back of the throat. It tasted very complex with dark sugar and tootsie roll candy mixing with molasses, leather and green apples. It reminded me of burnt toast dipped in caramel but in a good way! The bourbon barrel note is subtle yet apparent in the warming alcohol finish. This beer is huge and complex yet not unruly. For all of its complexity of big flavor it is still very well balanced and finishes with a mellow chocolate sweet finish. Some age could continue the mellowing process.
Next I had the 2013 Bourbon County Stout:
Last year when I tried this beer for the first time I thought it was hot with alcohol and 1 year later, although the beer has mellowed somewhat, that was still my first impression! It poured dark black mud with a thin light brown head, but the lace did cling to the glass. Most of the aroma had muted leaving behind alcohol, coconut and with a faint hint of caramel. The mouthfeel was all chocolate foam and alcohol disguising the density of an imperial stout.
The first taste was of booze! It was big, hot and tangy. Flavors of brown sugar and leather compete with pronounced alcohol presence with just hints of caramel sugar in the finish. The flavors have become more blended over the last year but the booze has come out of hiding in a big, not necessarily good way! This beer is not nearly as complex and impressive as the 2014 is. This version is definitely the boozy older brother!
Next up was the Bourbon County Coffee Stout:
Self disclosure, I am not a real fan of coffee stouts in general, I like them to be rare pours and served in small glasses, however this beer may just change my attitude! The brewer’s notes on this tell us this is a 13.4% Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels. They add that “everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to our brewery at Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from our friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years. This year’s 2014 Release features Intelligentsia Zirikana from Rwanda”. The beer poured dark black brown, with a very thin off-white head, and clingy lace, it had good retention and good cling. The smell was very coffee forward, masking most other notes. If you like coffee (and I do) this was a very pleasant smell. No alcohol nose or hops was apparent but it had some tar in background. The mouthfeel was medium bodied, just like good coffee. It felt tart and tingly on side of my tongue yet dry. It felt creamy only without the cream. Some alcohol warming. The taste was of sweet coffee and caramel candy, sweetened with brown sugar and raisins. Some mild leather notes in the background and just a hint warm bourbon in the finish. I must say that this is a very impressive coffee beer and I don’t know if it was due to their choice of coffee they used but damn (!) I really like this beer!
Last up was the Bourbon County Barleywine:
The brewer’s notes tell us that this 12% ABV English-Style Barleywine Aged in Bourbon Barrels was “aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then our renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possesses the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging.” It was lighter brown than the stouts yet still dark brown yet it also had a hint of red crimson. There was no noticeable head, and light lace. It smelled of wet pavement after a rain, with dark malt sugar present and hints of raisins and plum. The mouthfeel was sweet, light and just slightly boozy that just rolls off the tongue. It is thinner then it’s brothers. It tastes like a good English style barleywine with light sugar notes, not much in the way of hops and the bourbon flavor not as apparent except as a subtle warming alcohol finish. It was boozy yet with sweet finish. There were some tannins apparent in this beer that I did not notice in the stouts. I also got some leather saddle and sweet sugar rounded out by oak and plum. This beer was a sweet finish to this beer tasting!
There you have it, the scene through the bottom of my beer glass; as seen, tasted and reported by me! If you missed the opportunity to try these beers, you really did miss out on some wonderful tastes! I can’t wait for next year!