With today being Black Friday and the release of this years' allotment of Bourbon County, it only seemed fitting to look at the original base brand stout. 2010 and before, Bourbon County Brand Stout, or BCS for short, was popular but it wasn't an astronomical feat to come by. 2010 saw the release of Rare Bourbon County Stout, which was 2008 BCS that was aged for 2 years in 23 yr Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrels. The beer made headlines everywhere for being one of the most expensive bottles of beer to be released to market. The name Bourbon County became very well known, even to those who had no immediate interest in craft beer. When the 2011 release came around, it was almost impossible to find bottles. Stores limited sales to as little as 1-2 bottles per person. Even with Goose Island's amped up production, 

Early this morning, while shoppers were camped out in front of Best Buy and Wal Mart, beer geeks were in line at Binnys, starting very early, just to get their allocation of the Bourbon County releases. The beer is good, so it's not without the reward for waiting in line. The base beer of the Bourbon County lineup is one hell of a stout that set the bar for barrel aged stouts. Boozy, complex, rich and bold, BCS is great fresh but can age for several years due to its high ABV tag and complexity.

The 2010 pours thick and viscous. Deep black with very little to no head unless you abuse the pour. It coats the side of the glass and produces some faint legs.

The smell is sweet and very rich. Bold chocolate and caramel make up the bulk of the aroma. Vanilla, toffee and some very faint dark fruit follow the big chocolate rush. The barrel still has presence with a bit of oak and bourbon, but the more noticeable barrel quality is actually a charred note.

The flavor follows the nose, but doesn't deliver on any alcohol heat. Very smooth with low carbonation that still gives the body some life. The main component of the flavor is the cocoa. The sweetness of the bourbon mixes with the cocoa and caramel. Vanilla notes come through as the beer warms. The char from the nose comes in at the back of the taste and helps to end it with a bit of a coffee note.

This beer ages stupidly well. Sweet and cocoa forward, this beer could be deemed as a malt bomb, but it's not a sticky, cloyingly sweet mess. It still has levels of flavor and depth to it. It's one of the few stouts that could be aged for years on end and enjoyed during the time between all the same. If you find it is a little hot at first, put it away for a year (or few) and the heat mellows. If you like it a bit more booze forward, drink it fresh. There really is no wrong way to enjoy your BCS and everyone prefers it differently.


Our CELLARED series aims to explore the world of aging beer and sharing the effects of time in the bottle. Bottles have been kept away from light and at temperatures between 44-60 degrees. Individual experiences may vary depending on storage environments.

Posted on November 27, 2014 .