If you’re a beer nerd, you know the appeal that “Bourbon County” has. Their regular stout is much acclaimed, their barley wine is searched for, their varients are almost impossible to land, and their coffee stout requires some persistence to find in most liquor stores. Well, persistence paid off for me. I was lucky enough to purchase this brew a couple of years ago from a package store that knows my face and told myself I’d drink it on a special occasion. That occasion happens to be today. Why? Because I’m sick of waiting. Let’s figure out if the hype behind this beer is deserved. Time for them numbers…
Smell: Rich dark coffee, faint bourbon, roasted and charred grain, molasses, and some spice (faint pepper). Smell is pretty nice, but that spice is something I wasn’t expecting. I doubt it will show up in the flavor, but there’s only one way to find out.
Taste: Lucious. I get more bourbon in the taste than I did in the smell – it hits you with a large whiskey presence and a touch of vanilla and caramel sweetness warming all the way to the core while easing the burn at the same time. The grains in here are not to be forgotten about as they complement the bourbon with a rich and roasty taste – some toasted almond and coconut notes are coming out which are also likely accentuated by the wood and whiskey. Even though this stout is less than a month from being 2 years old, the coffee can still be found. It’s not as prominent as I would have thought, but it is there and it is delicious. It of course adds some depth of flavor, to the beer, but also imparts a little bitterness to hold at bay the sweeter flavors identified before. As I’m about halfway through the bottle, I also notice some maple syrup flavors that are staring to sprout in my palate. Love the sweetness I’m getting from this brew.
The carbonation from BCBCS was present. Although it left no head, the bubbles were more than I was expecting from a beer of this style and would have actually prefered it to be toned down a tad. Doesn’t impact the beer a whole lot, but just being a little nit-picky. The mouthfeel on the brew is solid, but again would like it to be a little more hefty. The addition of oats would do this beer wonders; why they don’t choose to chuck them in the boil is something that I won’t ever understand. Regardless, the mouthfeel is on the heavier side, but I’d like to see a little more heft. The ABV was big at 13.4% – and you could feel it – however it was actually very easy to drink despite this. The flavors in here were on point.
Overall: This is a decadent bourbon aged coffee stout. I enjoyed drinking this very much, but the little things could have really made this a HOF beer – more mouthfeel, less carb, slightly more coffee in taste. However, as the Rolling Stones once said, you can’t always get what you want. So what are we left with? A beer that has incredible flavor and an elusiveness that’s Barry Sanders-esque. Overall, I’d give this brew an A: great flavors all around, however since this is so tough to find, I have to give it a knock there and down grade it to an A-. If you have regular bourbon county, I don’t think this is all that much different since flavors of coffee prominent in that stout. It’s worth a shot to find it, but I wouldn’t give up my first born.