Purchased: 22oz bottle from a Binny's in IL; 2012 (bottled on 12/07/2012)
Style/ABV: Russian Imperial Stout, 11.5%
Reported IBUs: 60
"Develops in the bottle for up to 1 year," she wrote. I guess that makes tonight's review timely. About Goose Island:
Goose Island is a Chicago-based brewery that began as a brewpub on Clybourn, which opened on May 1988. The actual brewery opened on 1995, and is located on the Southwest side of Chicago. The second brewpub, located in Wrigleyville by the Chicago Cubs, was opened in 1999. On March 28, 2011, Goose Island sold 58% of the brewery to Anheuser-Busch. The remaining 42% of the brewery is supposed to be acquired by A-B InBev in the future, and there has been much discussion about the brewery's takeover. On November 16th, founder and CEO, John Hall, announced he would be leaving Goose Island. On January 1st, 2013, Anheuser-Busch "veteran" Andy Goeler will take over Goose Island. Additionally, around the same time as John Hall's departure, resident barrel-program leader John Laffler also announced his departure from Goose Island. There have been many changes regarding Goose Island...so we will see what the future has in store for Goose Island.A little over a year ago I jumped into a bottle of the Goose Island Big John. I really enjoyed the beer at the time, with its big chocolate-umami character, but I'm really excited to see how this one has aged down the stretch. You can read about the Big John on Goose Island's website, but all you really need to know is that this is the Bourbon County base beer brewed with tons of cacao nibs. The suggested cellar window is one year, which puts my bottle just a few months past its supposed prime. This one has been properly cellared, so without further ado....
|Goose Island Big John (Vintage 2012)|
Like my soul, this beer is dark and inky black. The only thing more impressive than the black, oily, opaque body is the three fingers of thick, bready, mocha-brown head that is produced. The head settles into a coating one centimeter thick, and swirling the beer in the glass produces glossy alcohol legs and streaks of brown, residual head trickling down the sides of the glass.
I thought the aged Night Stalker was going to unlock the Bourbon County base beer (Cook County Stout), but the aged Big John is evidently where it is at. I'm getting HUGE Bourbon County qualities on this beer's aroma. There are big brownies, chocolate, deep fudge aromas, and tons of fruity notes. I'm picking up big raisins and figs, courtesy of the time spent aging. There's some coffee and dark fruits in here, along with some hints of meaty roast, and last but not least: a little oxidation.
Wow, this is fantastic! This is a huge improvement over the fresh version. This tastes like Bourbon County Stout without the Bourbon. I'm getting huge chocolate, brownies, big fudge, subtle hints of coffee, and tons of raisins, figs, and elusive dark fruits. There's a subtle kiss of umami and soy in here, but it has mostly dropped and would probably go unnoticed unless you are familiar with the beer fresh or the Night Stalker. This is very much a chocolate/brownie/fudge-driven Stout, with intense chocolate sweetness balanced by nice bitterness and roast, alcohol, and a giant mouthfeel.
This is full-bodied with a huge, chewy mouthfeel...but despite the chew this is also pretty smooth, and the roast, hops, and alcohol cut through the beer. At 11.5%, this is fairly drinkable. It pretty much tastes identical to Bourbon County, without the bourbon. Palate depth is off the charts good, and the duration here is amazing. The complexity is average...this one definitely leans on the chocolate. Up front is huge chocolate, syrup, molasses, brown sugar, brownie, fudge, and big sweetness; that rolls into some more chocolate, dark fruits, coffee, some woody creamer, chocolate-dipped cherries; the back end has lingering roast bitterness, anise/licorice, coffee bitterness, dark fruit acidity, and finishes bitter, dry, and sticky. This is good fucking shit.
Like the aged Night Stalker, this is a Strong Above-Average from me, and WOW. I highly recommend aging these two beers. The Big John wasn't bad fresh, but what I hold here in front of me is this epic Imperial Stout...it's basically Bourbon Count sans bourbon. I have nothing else to add here, I'm happy I pulled this out when I did. If you do age this, shoot for that one year window. Food pairings here include dry chocolate cakes, ice cream, steaks, burgers, grilled red meat, and chocolate fondue.
Random Thought: And my heart was just broke as the Hawks lose to the Blues..../sigh.