Brewery: Goose Island Beer Company (Chicago, Illinois)
Style: English Barleywine
I had a pretty good Christmas last year, especially when it came to beer. I received a four-pack of one of my all-time favorite beers, Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, as a gift (review to come later), as well as Goose Island’s new and exclusive King Henry. The latter was a very limited release, with its bottles selling out quickly all over the city. Goose Island has a knack for delivering unbelievably delicious bourbon-aged beers, and everyone wanted to get a taste of their latest.
The 2011 release of King Henry utilized barrels that were formerly used for Bourbon County Rare, and its final ABV clocks in at an impressive 13.4%. This barleywine is not for the faint of heart.
When poured into a glass, King Henry has a dark brown (nearly black) appearance. Its aroma brings notes of vanilla with a major bourbon kick. The bourbon is the first thing that is noticed upon tasting, and then hints of vanilla and caramel start pushing through. Ultimately, this culminates in a sweet aftertaste not unlike brown sugar.
King Henry is a remarkably smooth barleywine that any beer aficionado will love. It is a doozy, but it easily ranks as one of Goose Island’s best. King Henry will surely be hard to find in the very near future, so if you are in the Chicagoland area you should really make it a point to seek it out. This is one of the best beers I have had in a while.