Mar 28, 2014

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale

When I first got wind of Goose Island’s Bourbon Country Brand Barleywine, I knew that there would be a slim-to-no-chance of procuring a bottle. Beers like that don’t typically make it out to the sticks of Virginia, and if I’m lucky enough to find a shop near the office that may have it, it’s usually all gone by the time I arrive. I’m used to it, ultimately shrugging off the news and went on with my life.

Back in mid-January, the family and I headed on down to Culpeper one weekend afternoon to get out of the area and enjoy a good meal, perhaps walk around town. There’s a little shop down there (Culpeper Cheese Company) which usually carries a nice selection of imports that I don’t typically see closer to home. They also carry a solid selection of Virginia beers as seen in the below photo that I tweeted after the trip:

With purchase firmly in hand, we left the shop and headed back to the car, off-handedly deciding to stop in a wine shop (I can’t remember the name at the moment) that I rarely, if ever, visit. I had completely forgotten that they have a very small selection of beers available as we opened the door.

There, amongst a few bottles of items similar to those I had already picked up across the street, were three bottles of Bourbon Country Brand Barleywine. Needless to say, those bottles of this 12% bourbon barrel aged brew were snatched up immediately and we were on our way home — well, after my wife picked out a couple of bottles of wine, of course. Then! Then, we were on our way home.


This is, without a doubt, one of the darkest pouring barleywines that I’ve ever had. It pours a near black in color with a dense cap of brown foam that fell slowly to a full collar.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale photo


Wood, bourbon, dark fruits, molasses, hint of vanilla, chocolate, a touch of coffee and a light roast flow smoothly from the surface.


This is a seriously full-boded, viscous brew. It’s almost stout-like in body and texture. Dark fruits (raisin, fig), a moderate sweetness, very little bourbon, some wood and a light roast swell as the brew travels over the tongue. Bourbon County Brand Barleywine finishes dry with a bit of spicy hop bite and a pretty well concealed alcohol presence. There is a very unique array of flavors here.


I’m not entirely sure what to make of this beer. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it’s unlike any other barleywine I’ve ever encountered. The flavors of dark fruits that it brings to the table are incredibly unique for the style. Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a decadent and rich beer that almost drinks like a stout and is a vastly different take on the style, but I still enjoyed it a great deal. I’m curious to see how the remaining two bottle turn out with a little time under their belt.

Rating: 4.25/5

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