properhops (88) - - FEB 20, 2012
Appearance: Opaque mahogany w/ red transparencies, minimal head, average lacing
Aroma: Vanilla, oak, bourbon, bleach/chlorine, lavandar, maple syrup, powdered cinnamon, thick musky aroma
Taste: Full body, bitter chocolate, vanilla bean, bourbon, oak, butteriness, walnut, maple syrup, coca-cola sweetness, cake batter on finish, cheesecake/cream cheese residual, viscous mouthfeel, gentle warming, mild/medium carbonation, rich + complex
Pairings: Lamb, falafel, Mediterranean, Greek, Indian, Pizza, Smoked gouda + bread, anything cause this brew is awesome bootsjohn (68) - Texas, USA - MAY 10, 2012
UPDATED: OCT 23, 2012 22oz poured into snifter, shared with great company. This is unbelievably good. Aroma is wicked. Toasted marshmallow, bourbon, vanilla, biscuit, caramel. Head is gone in 5 seconds. Beautiful hue; reddish mahogany. Flavor is outstanding. Never tasted a bourbon barrel aged brew that’s so balanced. Chewy caramel, toasted coconut, exquisite bourbon (thanks Pappy!), raisin, charred oak, dark chocolate. New top 5 beer.
Edit 10/23/12: this is definitely a perfect beer for me. In the five months since I first tried it, flavors have mellowed ever so slightly and more nuances have emerged. I pray I can land another bottle or two to try after another year. Best beer I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. Huhzubendah (3736) - Washington DC, USA - JUN 25, 2012
Bottle shared by Lunch. Thanks Paul.
The beer is dark brown with russet highlights. Atop the beer rests an oily beige head. The aroma brings roast, bourbon, malt, oak, booze. Fantastic flavor. Alcoholic warmth but unobtrusive. Well balanced and teeming with delicious flavor. Every drink begs another. I doubt I could ever grow tired of this beer. Medium to full bodied with a silky smooth feel on the palate. Simply put, this is easily one of the best beers I have ever had. My highest recommendation. Sleuthdogg (31) - Illinois, USA - JUL 1, 2012
Bottle dated 10/08/11 and bottle number 811 poured into tulip
Appearance: King pours a slightly darker than mahagany brown in color with a one half finger size cream to light brown head. The small amount of head that does form dissapates fast. Held directly up to the light the color changes around the edges to a beautiful ruby red. There is some small tight bubbles rising along the side of the glass to a tiny ring around the edge. There is a decent amount of lacing present.
Smell: One of the best smelling beers. Very sweet bourbon hits me first followed up by dark fruits (raisin, plum, dates) and vanilla. There is molasses, caramel,toffee and butter evident and some obvious oak. I also get a brown sugar sweetness too. The smell on this is oh so intoxicating!
Taste: Wow the taste does not disappoint one bit! I am tasting the bourbon layered with the sweet dark fruits and the oak with a malty backbone. Vanilla mingling with brown sugar, caramel and toffee. The alcohol shows itself but does not burn in the slightest way. It is oh so smooth!! This is an outstanding complex tasting beer that has left me amazed!
Mouthfeel: The feel on this is pure velvet and smooth to the highest degree. It is superbly sticky and thick to the point where it sticks to my entire mouth including my lips. I feel like I should be chewing this instead of drinking it. The alcohol is present but again is so well hidden that it makes this so damn dangerous.
Overall: What more can I say? Best English-style barleywine I have ever had without a doubt and best beer I have ever had to date. I know this is impossible to get now but if there is any way possible to get this, GET IT! trumpetskid (106) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - NOV 18, 2012
Poured into a snifter from a 22oz bomber. Smells like buttered pancakes with syrup. Tasts just as good. Quite possibly my favorite beer I’ve ever tried. Too bad they’re not making any more. If you get the chance, try it.
IrsLuver (29) - Maryland, USA - JAN 27, 2013
UPDATED: NOV 8, 2014 Smells of fruity malt, bourbon,wood and alcohol. Pours jet black with virtually no head. Palate is thick, heavy and syrupy. Tastes of alcohol, raisin, malt. Smooth for 13.4%, unbelievably so. This beer just cant be brought to justice with words. I know its retired now but if you haven’t had it and can get your hands on it, do so. You wont regret it. I’m lucky enough to have a bottle or two put away. ksurkin (1021) - Norfolk, Virginia, USA - SEP 1, 2013
finally getting around to cracking this one. bottle #1010, dated 10/8/2011, decanted into my bourbon county snifter. this one pours as imposing as it is beautiful with a rich, rusty, deep garnet color capped by a thin, creamy head of beige that leaves sharp rings of lace. aroma is simply spectacular with rich, decadent dark fruit notes of fig, raisin, and date layered atop smoky bourbon, vanilla frosting, coconut, and toasted almonds with subtle notes of chocolate cake, roast, and molasses derived from the spent bourbon county rare that laced the barrels emerging as it warms. flavor lives up to every superlative that has been spoken about this brew. it begins as barleywine with rich caramel, pralines, and butterscotch layered atop sweet, slightly tart dark fruit notes of raisin, black cherry, and fig with just a hint of bourbon and then something amazing happens as the barleywine notes give way to decadent chocolate, smooth, silky coconut cream, vanilla beans, and dark roast with unabashed notes of the finest bourbon, toasted oak, and sweet toffee on the finish. palate is smooth as silk, never brash or harsh, with a dense yet restrained texture and just the perfect amount of boozy warmth to let you know this one is to be sipped and savored. this truly is the best barleywine I’ve ever tasted. bravo. dctriman (60) - USA - SEP 20, 2013
Loved this. Really amazing. Better than any BCBS variants. Great flavor and everything. Prufrockstar (2132) - Moscow, Idaho, USA - SEP 16, 2015
2011 bottle, shared on a camping trip last weekend by @beerscenes (if you folks use instagram you should probably follow him -- he’s a good dude who takes good beer pictures). First, I’ll talk about the beer: dark brown/mahogany/ruby pour by firelight on a clear starry night in the great northwest. Aroma big on plums, figs, dates, toffee, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon. Well-integrated, subtle oxidation (no cardboard here). Taste is beautiful -- sweet, rich, decadent, without ever being cloying. Full silky velvety body, soft carbonation.
PhillyCraft (7707) - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 21, 2012
Now here’s the dilemma. I can no longer imagine awarding any beer a perfect 5, but ... this beer immediately followed a 2011 Firestone Walker Abacus. Same age, same style, nearly same ABV. By comparison, KH was superior in all regards -- fuller body, less apparent oxidation, richer, smoother. Sucaba/Abacus is my all-time favorite barley wine; it tasted nearly perfect to me before we opened this one, and I refuse to adjust the 5 I awarded it years ago in my youthful exuberance. So my hands are pretty much tied. King Henry, congrats -- you’ve just found the loophole to get you that perfect 5.
UPDATED: APR 12, 2012 Bottle, thanks again to Brad for hooking this up. Pours a deep, and dark brown shade. Head was small to medium with a decent amt of lacing. Lightly carbonated and velvety in texture. Aromas are circus peanuts(bannana sweetness), vanilla, oak, bourbon, cloves, caramel, cinnamon, blueberries, and other sugary goodness. Flavor is similiar with vanilla bean, bannana, buttery oak, toffee, cheesecake. Pleasantly warming, and perfectly balanced for a 13.4% beer. I think this is what the Rare will be more like after another year or two of aging. Rare was way too hot but this is easily the best goose island beer I have tried. Cheers.