The beer gods have been trying to force Goose Island's Bourbon County stout down me for a couple of months now. First it appeared in local off licences, then I got given a bottle from a returnee from the US (cheers again, Derek), and then James the proprietor of The Salt House forced some upon me when I was last in Galway. Obviously, a 13% ABV bourbon-barrel-aged stout from an excellent Chicago microbrewery wouldn't be my thing at all, but it's been hard to resist. It's only recently that I finally decided to sit down and get it out of my system. Or into my system. Whatever.
I followed James's recommendation and accompanied it with a cigar: a spicy Ecuadorian number imported by my globetrotting sister and really rather pleasant. But this isn't a cigar blog.
Above all, Bourbon County is sweet -- thick, molasses-like, with chocolate in spades and masses of blow-your-head spirit or liqueur notes. It wears its whisky ancestry very prominently: you don't get much by way of wood flavours, just lots and lots of Kentucky firewater. Of the smoothest sort imaginable, of course, adding a lovely touch of balance.
I wouldn't say the cigar is necessary to enjoy it, nor does it add much to the flavour, but it certainly doesn't interfere with it either: you could have this with a pickled skunk curry and still pick out the beer's flavour complexities. It demands your attention and it's more than welcome to mine a second time over.
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