Style: Imperial Coffee Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Malt: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roast Barley, Debittered Black
Coffee: Intelligentsia La Tortuga Beans Intelligentsia Los Inmortales blend
Brewer’s Note: “Everyday Goose Island smells the wonderful coffee roasting next to our brewery at Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea. This world class roaster puts the same passion and skill into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. This excellent stout is made with a different coffee from our friends next door each year. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years.”
The beer’s label is very similar to the classic BCBS label, but with an orange-red color and a nice addition of Intelligentsia’s logo at the bottom of the label. This label is worthy of the shelf for sure.
The beer pours an inky, midnight black, much like regular BCBS, a dark tan head briefly forms and then fizzles away to a scrim; the head is slightly lighter than the head that forms on BCBS. In body, the beer is thick, viscous, and opaque, and when swirled, the beer leaves a brief set of alcoholic legs on the glass. On the nose, the beer shows its departure from regular BCBS. Rich fruity coffee buffets the nose with just a trailing hint of spicy solvent and alcohol. The coffee smells of a beautiful medium roast, moving from cocoa beans, to touches of vanilla, dark chocolate, earth, cinnamon, nutmeg, and even a touch of chili powder as the coffee interacts with the spicy alcohol. This beer has a truly delicious nose to it, reminiscent of sticking your head inside a bag of fresh coffee beans. The stout beneath the coffee does get a little confused in the richness of the coffee, blending in places, and muting in others, but I’m not all that disappointed by that as I see this beer’s nose as a vast improvement over the boozy BCBS. The barrel is light in the nose, but seems to be contributing to the vanilla notes, and perhaps also the slight boozy notes. On the tongue, the beer tastes richly complex, blending fruity coffee, rich bourbon barrels, and boozy stout. Sweetness pairs well with the bitters of the coffee, creating a nearly chocolaty sweetness, while rounded tannins lightly touch the finish and provide mild structure in the mouth. Coffee acidity is also present, giving the beer a slight tingle. In flavor, this beer is far superior to BCBS at this age. Rich, fruity coffee beautifully blends with the barrel as the beer touches the tongue bringing fresh medium roast coffee, prunes, earth, and rich dark chocolate flavors. Vanilla and soft oak dance alongside the coffee notes as faint roasted malt character is sensed along the edges of the flavor. As the beer splashes over the back of the throat, hot alcohol does come through, providing spicy notes of cinnamon to coincide with the rich coffee flavors as the coffee is slightly muted. The finish is briefer than BCBS, bringing notes of raw coffee beans, and then freshly brewed coffee, as well as spicy alcohol. In the mouth, the beer is full and slippery, feeling thinner than BCBS but still full with a silky mouthfeel and weak carbonation. The beer remains chewy and luscious, though the coffee has certainly diluted the initial fullness of the beer. Alcohol is smooth and warming, with just a touch of bite. Overall, I like this beer more than I like BCBS. I’ll admit that part of that is how the coffee hides the alcoholic bite in this beer, but I’m also a coffee-lover and the coffee flavors found in this beer are rich and complex, beautifully blending with the barrel aging. This beer is not KBS, however close it might come, and does still carry some booziness in the finish. I wouldn’t age this bottle for more than a couple months, seeing as how the awesome coffee flavors will die out, but I would certainly advise picking up a bottle and trying this puppy out. Good stuff.
4.39/5, 44/50 BJCP, Blended Style A