I like going on a limb. I don’t do it often enough, but I really enjoy those moments when I dive in headfirst, not really thinking about what I’m about to get into. Sometimes, this goes terribly wrong and I fall on my face. But other times, it’s simply magic.
Tonight, it’s pure magic.
When I went to the beer store, I was instantly attracted to a certain naughty four-pack. He gave me a cat call and I couldn’t resist. Bourbon County seemed too good to be true — a commemorative stout aged in bourbon barrels. Oh, and not for nothing, but it’s produced by Goose Island, a brewery that has its shit together. Seriously.
I brought the four beers up to the counter. Handed them to the friendly booze dealer. And he, in turn, told me that I would be paying $21.37 for the small collection. Over twenty dollars for four beers?! Where the fuck are we, back in the USSR?!?! I muttered under my breath. This is an astronomical sum of money to pay for less than fifty ounces of beverage. But I wasn’t going to back down. Call it a sixth sense or just plain stupidity, but the newly revealed expense was appealing in a way. As though the maxim you get what you pay for might be true.
Returning to the Krueger Cave, I decided to give the beers a cursory investigation. As per usual, I rocked the brewery website to figure out what I was getting myself into. Bourbon County is described in the following terms;
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. A great cigar beer.
I don’t smoke cigars. But I like the idea of smoking cigars. Yeah, I’m a pussy. But don’t blame me, it’s my parents that decided that I had to grow up in the suburbs. Sorry.
Anyways, the aforementioned description is pretty much everything I could hope for in a beer — complex, dense, and touting an open indictment of the fact that most beer tastes like a soggy piece of white bread. This all made the price tag seem slightly less preposterous. Preposterous, yes, but less preposterous. There’s an adverb, damn it! Doesn’t anyone love the language anymore? Am I screaming at a field of corpses, a barren wasteland of linguistic numbskulls?! What the fuck is happening?!
I popped open a bottle of Bourbon County and tossed that sonofabitch into a beer-drankin’ glass. The first two impressions that I got were that the liquid is blacker than William Hand’s soul and it has a nice fizziness to it. In my admittedly amateur experience, stouts don’t usually carry too much carbonation, so it’s nice to have a little bit of the `ole running against the grain.
Smelling the mouth of my glass, I almost fell on my keister! This shit smells strong! And this makes sense, especially when one considers the fact that Bourbon County has a more-than-potent 13% ABV. Yeah, this isn’t your granny’s lager!
Ok, the real test was at hand. I took a sip held it in my mouth for a few seconds, swished it around and then swallowed. The alcohol coated the inside of my face-hole, offering a warmth on every inch of flesh that it came into contact with. If you’re a regular, run-of-the-mill beer drinker, this shit isn’t for you. If you try to swig it like a Bud Light, you will spontaneously combust. Guaranteed.
As far as the actual flavor, there is a lot going on with a single swig of Bourbon County. There is a smokiness punching its way to the forefront, but it can’t quite shake the tinge of saltiness off its hind legs. Maybe I’m buying too much into the product’s self description, but I swear that a distinct wood note appears, a sensation on the tongue that reminds the drinker that the potable was once stored in a barrel. A fucking barrel!
But seriously, the interplay of a roasted quality with a mild sweetness can’t be understated. I can’t pound Bourbon County, but every small sip is a real reward for my taste buds. This is a beverage to savor. This is a beverage savior.
I cannot express how satisfied I am with the experience this stout is providing. I’ve got my window open, the cool breeze is hitting my inebriated face, and I’m jamming out to Through the Never. I’m halfway finished with the second bottle and I’m feeling good. If only every evening were like this!
I live in Boston, so I’m partial to Sam Adams. But I have to admit, Goose Island has never let me down. In fact, their Bourbon County is remarkably comparable to Sam Adams Utopias. If anything, it has the edge because it’s more drinkable and less expensive.
Bourbon County is the real damn deal.
The grade: A