2012 edition served on tap in a wine glass at The Tap Room 307. Pours a pitch black color with a half inch white foam head. Immediate smells of bourbon, much like the famed Bourbon County Stout. There is also the slightest hint of coffee in the aroma, thought not terribly overpowering. The mouthfeel is a rush of coffee beans and cocoa, with a light to medium carbonation. This beer is strangely sweet, with warming qualities brought on by the high alcohol percentage. The aftertaste starts off as straight bourbon, but fades into a coffee flavored paradise that lingers on the tongue for nearly 30 seconds. Each sip gets better, and the aroma of the beer improves as the beer warms. This is the best stout I have ever tasted, and perfectly combines the coffee, bourbon and malt flavors into a wonderful medley.
Goose Island, though owned by Anheuser-Busch, has maintained its independence as a craft brewery while enjoying the financial resources of a big brewery. The Bourbon County Brand is highly acclaimed in the craft beer industry for consistency and quality of their high ABV and difficult to brew beers. Pepe Nero, Matilda, Lolita, Pere Jacques, Sofie, Madame Rose and others have enjoyed a cult-like following as well, as the brewery produces these world class beers at a high level year after year. Being owned by a beverage behemoth may hurt their reputation in some circles, but to the trained and educated palate, they clearly are in a class of only a select few.
The Bourbon County Brand is a special one. I have sampled the traditional Bourbon County Stout on numerous occasions, as well as the Barleywine and the Coffee. I can honestly say that this coffee blew the other two out of the water. The complexity of the brew combined with the intense coffee flavor and the surprising ability to mask the high alcohol percentage is nothing less than astounding. I would highly recommend this if you are able to purchase, though be warned it is a very difficult find. A 12 oz bottle typically sells for $9.99, and at a bar a 5 oz glass goes for around $12. However, it is truly worth it. There is a reason this is a top 5 ranked beer in the world.
Sorry about so many high ratings but this deserves it. Would rate higher if I could.