natejgood (390) - Bozeman, Montana, USA - DEC 15, 2012
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Pours a reddish brown with a warm looking head that goes down in large bubbles. Aroma of spices, pine and light hops. Slightly sweet and malty and the bitterness cuts the sweetness nicely to leave a pleasant flavor in the mouth. Medium body, very smooth and creamy in the mouth and easy to drink. This beer has a nice holiday flavor without being overly sweet or thick, so it is quite easy to drink.
KickInChalice (860) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - FEB 21, 2012
3.7 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
From notes. First reviewed 12/30/2008. Poured from a bottle into a goblet. This was the 2004 batch, made mostly for employees and friends of the brewery. I had this particular one at Delilah’s in Chicago, glad I had the opportunity to taste it. It looked the same as the regular Christmas Ale, except with no label on the neck and a note on the lower part of the label stating that it was a 2004 bourbon-barrel, written in Sharpie. Awesome.
This pours slightly darker than its regular counterpart, with the ruby tint almost disappearing. The bourbon-barrel variety is a walnut/ chocolate color and is also much less transparent. When poured, a nice, off-white 5 cm head forms, slowly receding to about 2 cm. A nice appearance overall.
Smell: To me, the smell is the biggest problem with this beer. Although a few flavors like vanilla, caramel, and maybe even a little nutmeg sneak through, the smell is overpoweringly just bourbon. I understand that it is aged in bourbon barrels, but I thought the bourbon county stout did a much better job in the aroma department.
Although I grew cautious from the smell, the taste is the strongest aspect of this beer. The bourbon aging bursts through the natural flavors of the ale, with vanilla, caramel, figs, and molasses being the most up-front taste. Nice and complex, even from the start. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice flavors creep into the background, but stay somewhat light throughout the sip. A hint of alcohol and hops in the middle, with molasses, bourbon and vanilla finishing it out. The flavors do not really transition, but rather jump up and bite you, which is my only real issue with the taste.
The aging pushes this from smooth to lightly creamy. Somewhat light carbonation, but it is slightly thicker than the regular version, changing the texture substantially.
I found this slightly more drinkable than the regular Christmas ale, simply because of the more complex flavors. Also, the ale does not have much of an alcohol flavor, even with the higher ABV.
Overall I found this quite enjoyable, but also somewhat coarse. I wish there were a little bit more balance to the flavors, with the bourbon barrels not dominating quite so much. This may be only a matter of preference though; others may really like this change.
andyhwcinc (1429) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - DEC 12, 2010
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
2004 vintage. I enjoyed this at Delilah’s 12th annual Winter Beer Tasting in Chicago, IL. This definitely took "best in show" for me. Appearance was a caramel brown, slightly cloudy, with a small tan head. Aroma of bourbon, spices, lactose/milk, just fantastic. Taste was very smooth, rather boosey, great balance between malts and alcohol.
snakeoilpete (324) - Seattle, Washington, USA - JUN 2, 2009
4.3 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle at the Wrigleyville brewpub before a Cubs game. Had to negotiate with the waiter for a minute before he’d serve me one (some weird game day restriction). Easily the best one I had there. Pours dark reddish brown, almost black, with minimal head. Huge malty nose of toasted coconut, bourbon, and toffee. Those tastes are all there, but not as powerful, and the mouthfeel is not as thick as I would have liked. Pretty good bitter bourbon finish.
cgarvieuk (14082) - Edinburgh, SCOTLAND - MAY 3, 2009
3.6 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 2/5 OVERALL 15/20
bottle at DLD 2009 ... WOW.. Copper sweet toffee malt nose ... bit thin body but real tasty toffee malts ... light bitter hop ... little bourbon.
daknole (8949) - Scottsdale, Arizona, USA - APR 28, 2009
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Jesus what a find at DLD! Amazing! 2005 vintage and friggin delicious!! Brown pour. Tons of bouron hits your nose followed by spices, caramel, wood and some dark fruity esthers. Flavor is sweet, rich and full of bourbon. Good fruit and oak. Spices round this out. Damn this was fun to try. Much thanks!!
tmoreau (2325) - Lombard, Illinois, USA - MAR 9, 2009
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
12oz. bottle served to a pint glass at Wrigleyville before the DotLA on 3/7. Was under the impression that this was a retired beer, made at Fulton, and was mainly a gift brew for Goose employees. On further investigation, I found out that this was a 2007 batch. A brown color with ruby tones, the head was a diminishing off white with minimal lacing. Bourbon dominated the nose, but the flavor exposed a more mellow bourbon that didn’t overpower the other interesting notes of roasted malt, nuts, and a touch of caramel. The body was medium to full, not much dryness on the finish, but flavorfully drinkable.
holdenn (2078) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - APR 29, 2008
3.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
12 oz bottle thanks again to drewbeerme for pulling out the rare goose here. Pours mahogany with a beige head. Nose is fruity and malty. Caramels, toffee, aged malts, raisins, prunes, brown sugar. Light bodied but smooth. Brown sugar, aged malts, and dark fruit flavors that fade and leave some whiskey in the finish. The finish is dry from the alcohol. The sum of its parts seem a bit strange but I thought they worked really well together. Really drinkable and all around a good beer. So all we need is that 10th rating to put it on the map ......
pantanap (3351) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - APR 27, 2008
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 14/20
12oz bottle. thanks to andrew for sharing this rare bottle.... poured dark caramel brown, mostly opaque with a moderate soapy off-white head.... aroma of soft bourbon notes, sweet dark fruit..... flavors of bourbon barrel upfront. pretty soft upfront with just an ounce of hops in the finish. somewhat watery and thin but not bad.
drewbeerme (3879) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - APR 25, 2008
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 15/20
UPDATED: APR 26, 2008 12oz bottle, 2005 vintage. pours murky brown with creamy off white head. aroma of bourbon, butter, nuts. flavors are bourbon, coconut, raisins toffee, a bit hot and prickly. mild chocolate in the finish. watery body. still nice.