Black Friday isn’t a thing in the UK. It’s an American import that, like Oreos, is gaining popularity despite the fact that it adds very little of cultural value to the already perfectly good deal we have going on over here thank you very much. But capitalists gotta capital, and so it goes on and we buy in – some of us with more enthusiasm than others – and it becomes more entrenched.
Sticking the boot in once again, beer baddies AB InBev – under the guise of Goose Island – are all set to whip us into a purchasing frenzy over their Bourbon County Stout. These ‘ultra rare’ (because Goose Island keeps it that way) imports will wash up on our shores this Friday 23 November, aka the afore-mentioned Day Which Is Not A Thing.
Now before you think I’m claiming some sort of moral high ground here, rest assured I will be wading through the murky moral waters with the best of ’em to grab myself a couple of bottles of delicious ethical relativism.
I went to the event at Ghost Whale last year and picked up my allotted two bottles, both of which I promptly pushed into a cupboard and out of my mind, lest I be tempted to taste them before they’d had sufficient time to increase in value. Or age. Whatever.
This year, should you wish to indulge, you can attend what looks to be a promising tasting session at Kill The Cat, or shiver in the queue outside Brixton’s Ghost Whale along with all the other beer nerds who have nothing better to do of a weekday morning than wait in line to buy strong beer.
Going in for a gander
It’s been about a year since I got my mitts on my bottles of Bourbon County. With precious internet clicks in the offing I decided now was a good time to crack the first one and take a gander at this beer close up.
Strong as wine and twice as fine, this gloopy engine oil beer is viscous AF. It’s strong and smooth with coffee notes that verge on mocha. It’s sticky-sticky boozy but gentle, eider down soft, with hints of sherry in a good way. There’s liquorice and plum. You’ll find bourbon on the nose and the finish, with alcohol heat and heady spiritous notes without the burn.
The aftertaste is packed with raisins, dates, and all the dried fruits. We’re well into sticky lips territory – a veritable sugar glaze of fusel alcohol and rich malt residue awaits you. Is there a hint of spice? Perhaps. I said there wasn’t any booze burn from the bourbon but there might be a hint, just, on the sides of the tongue only. This is power well controlled.
The carbonation is good, although there’s no head to talk of. The body is full, rich, thick, smooth, like booze-infused cream. It’s so full the surface almost seems to bulge like an inverted meniscus chock full of booze and flavour.
I’m not going to endorse getting shitfaced on the stuff (please drink responsibly) and I wouldn’t recommend drinking a bottle on your own, let alone having more than one at a time. But it’s worth noting that at 14%, if you’re a beer person and used to much lower ABVs, this stout will fuck you up pretty quickly. Before long you’ll be feeling warm and fuzzy like you’ve been hitting liquid codeine. Save this one for the end of the evening, kids. And seriously: share it with someone you love.
Have you tasted any of the Bourbon County Stout vintages? Which one did you have and what did you think of it? Or perhaps you have some thoughts on the hype around it all – I’d love to hear those too. Leave a comment below.