Bourbon County Brand Stout 2020 Tasting Notes
The Barrel to Bottle team had the pleasure of tasting through this year’s Bourbon County Brand lineup, and we’re happy to report that we were quite impressed. Check out the following podcast and tasting notes for our initial impressions. Cheers!
With all the rare releases and variants, OG BCBS rarely gets the credit it deserves. We’re starting to sound like a broken record, but this year’s Original is as delicious as ever. Produced using a blend of barrels from Wild Turkey, Heaven Hill, and Buffalo trace, the nose delivers notes of vanilla, molasses, and dark cherry. Rich and full bodied, notes of fig and brown sugar give way to a bright and spirited finish, accented by notes of dark cocoa and sweet spice. As we’ve said before, the majority of the BCBS lineup is best enjoyed fresh, but if you want cellar some to see what a bit of aging can do, your best candidate is the original.
The FoBAB decorated Wheatwine is back, but with a twist. Once again aged in Larceny bourbon barrels, Caramella incorporates apple, cinnamon, and caramel into the mix. If it sounds like a caramel apple, that’s what it tastes like. The addition of cinnamon also brings to mind baked apple desserts and mulled apple cider. A perfect release for fall, drink this fresh!
Inspired by a trip to the diner for breakfast, Goose Island tweaked the normal BCBS base stout by adding in crystal oats. Oats are famous for imparting creaminess to stouts, which they do here, but these crystal oats also deliver a toasted nuttiness to the brew. The true star of the show here is an Ethiopian single origin coffee from Intelligentsia called Metad Buku. This coffee imparts a tangy blueberry flavor, which melds wonderfully with the addition of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup from Bissel Maple Farm. The maple syrup is used judiciously here, providing just a touch of sweetness to balance the coffee acidity, along with a hint of maple to the aroma. Remarkably well balanced and integrated, this is one of the finest releases from 2020.
This years Prop was designed by brewer Emily Kosmal, who also designed the 2106 rendition of Proprietor’s. Her 2020 recipe was inspired by the Italian dessert spumoni. Right off the nose you get pronounced pistachio, which makes sense given Goose used over ten pounds of nuts per barrel. Italian Amerana cherries meld wonderfully with the cocoa notes, producing a delicious chocolate covered cherry effect. The finish is rich and dessert-like, making this a perfect choice for serving after dinner.
There are thousands of coffee stouts out there, but finally something for the tea drinkers! Kentucky Fog is a riff on a London Fog latte, incorporating black tea, Earl Grey tea, and clover honey. For the unfamiliar, Earl Grey tea is flavored with bergamot oranges, a unique citrus that not only delivers orange flavor and aromatics, but also a bit of lemon and grapefruit. Goose Island turned to neighboring Kilogram Tea for the black and Earl Grey teas and they’re expertly integrated here - imparting some citrus, spice, and earthy notes to the rich BCBS base. A tip of the hat to brewer Paul Cade for designing this excellent cuppa.
Anniversary commemorates a decade of BCBS releases on Black Friday. While the realities of 2020 put a damper on our ability to celebrate, the beer is still quite remarkable. You can definitely taste the difference barrel selection makes in this bottling. Last year’s 2 Year Reserve spent 2 years resting in 11 year old Knob Creek (a high rye content bourbon) barrels, whereas Anniversary spent two years resting in 12 year old Weller (a wheated bourbon) barrels. Much like a wheated bourbon, the Anniversary BCBS is much softer and more rounded, with vanilla and caramel at the forefront. Overall a delicate and refined Bourbon County Brand bottling.
Goose Island clearly wants its fans to understand the difference a good whiskey barrel makes, going so far as to list distilleries as collaborators. This Birthday release was aged exclusively in 11 year old Old Forrester Birthday Bourbon barrels. The results are nothing short of magnificent, perfectly illustrating the remarkable complexity that can be achieved through barrel aging alone. Old Forrester bourbon is famous for its fruity esters and they shine though here, evoking flavors of pineapple, strawberry, and banana. There is a pronounced vanilla component here, which when coupled with the velvety mouthfeel brings to mind fresh whipped cream. We don’t like naming favorites, but this one is right near the top.
Barrel to Bottle: Bourbon County Brand Stout 2020 Preview
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