22 November 2009

KOTBR #91 - A Second Helping of BCS

Lately, the Knights of the Beer Roundtable have been very busy. We have a fairly long "to-do list" that we've slowly been whittling away at (Mike never lets us forget about the list). But just when we've crossed several things off of the list, more beer events pop up, so the list gets longer again. It's a never-ending process, but one that we're happily stuck in.

In keeping with this theme, we found ourselves occupied with a beer event every night last week. Because we all have lives outside of the beer world, not all of us could attend every event. Therefore, we decided to spread out the responsibility. On Wednesday, Gina, Matt E., and I hit MacNiven's (339 Massachusetts Ave., Indy, (317) 632-7268) for a special tapping of Goose Island's 2009 Bourbon County Stout (13% ABV). Even though we reviewed the 2008 BCS back in June, we felt that it was too good to pass up the opportunity to get a fresh pour of the 2009 vintage ($10.00 a snifter at MacNiven's).

First, a little history, courtesy of the Goose Island folks in attendance at the tapping--

Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall came up with the recipe for BCS and brewed the first batch at Goose Island's Clybourne Avenue brewpub back in 1992. Originally, the beer was aged in Jim Beam barrels, but the brewery has been using 12- to 14-year-aged bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill Distilleries since 2006. This year's BCS was brewed in honor of the 1000th batch brewed at the brewery's Clybourne Avenue location.

I find some bourbon-barrel-aged stouts to be too heavy with the bourbon notes. To my palate, these sorts of beers taste like an imperial stout spiked with a shot or two of bourbon, so the bourbon barrel aging ends up overwhelming the beer rather than enhancing it. The 2009 BCS, however, has a noticeable yet nicely subdued bourbon character and is quite smooth for a bourbon-barrel-aged stout. Indeed, the alcohol is hidden well in a beer that ought to be pretty hot. Moreover, the nose and flavor contain a sumptuous mix of vanilla, chocolate, and cherries. The cherry and vanilla notes are front and center, blending together in a wonderful sweetness that lingers on the tongue. This beer is exemplary and merits the rare perfect mug rating. Get down to MacNiven's while the keg lasts (if it hasn't already blown). 5.00 Mugs.

Goose Island has really outdone themselves with this year's release of Bourbon County Stout. From the new packaging to the remarkably drinkable beer, the BCS really exceeded my expectations. The nose is of chocolate, vanilla, and bourbon. The flavor is like a liquored up and velvety chocolate truffle. 4.25 Mugs.

As of press time, Matt was too busy working on his latest H.P. Lovecraft-ish novel to get his review completed. Fortunately, we do have his mug score: 4.30 Mugs.

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (2009)

Jim: 5.00 Mugs | Gina: 4.25 Mugs | Matt E.: 4.30 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 4.52 Mugs


  1. Just a correction on the price - a 12 oz. pour of BCS is $9.00, not $10.00 as originally noted.

  2. We had the BCS last night at MacNivens and it was really good! I highly recommend it if you like russian imperial stouts!