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The Beer Circle » English Barleywine, Goose Island Brewing Co., Pappy Van Winkle » Goose Island’s King Henry

Goose Island’s King Henry

For those of you who follow Russ, Greg or my own personal social media accounts, you saw that we had a pretty awesome tasting two Saturday’s ago. There were a few beers that we considered duds, but Goose Island’s King Henry was one of the highlights. By the numbers, our third highest rated overall beer, though tied for second with the Bramble Rye Bourbon County Stout (which Russ reviewed) once you eliminated the rating from a non-beer geek, whose samples were served in a 2oz shot glass, in contrast to our wine glasses.

From Goose Island’s website…

Aged in Pappy Van Winkle 23 bourbon barrels, previously used to age Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout, King Henry is a burgundy hued English-style barleywine with aromas of vanilla, oak, and dark fruit. Caramel and toffee flavors blend together with bold notes of bourbon delivered in a smooth body followed by a malty finish. No matter the occasion, King Henry promises a regal drinking experience.

King Henry has unfortunately been retired from production.  Former head brewer Greg Hall continued the tradition of naming beers after his family with King Henry named after his son. This follows Sofie, named after his daughter, and Pere Jacques, which is translates to Father John, after his father.

King Henry
King Henry poured jet black, without a lot of head. What was there was a dark caramel color; it only emerged in one of the one glasses, but for the rest was just a ring around the top with a few dots on top. It was completely opaque.
The nose of King Henry was somewhat unremarkable; I don’t really get much of the bourbon. There are sweet notes, with a slight soy-sauce smelling undertone. There’s a slight touch of vanilla as well. When it warms up, the smell of alcohol takes over.
The bourbon is definitely present in the taste. This beer hides its 13.5% ABV really well, and isn’t overly sweet. There are undertones of chocolate and dark caramels, with some bittersweet chocolate and vanilla notes to tie everything together. Everything is really well balanced. As it warms up the alcohol content becomes much more apparent, to the point that there’s an edge to it. It's particularly interesting because in some respects I feel like every sip tastes different.
King Henry has very low carbonation, and the texture is very syrupy (my initial comparison was melted jello). It has a medium amount body in that it isn’t overly heavy. This paired with the texture and low carb is kind of strange, but it isn’t off putting.
I paid $14.99 for this, which was retail in Chicago. I think that's really reasonable considering the beer and the great lengths people are willing to go to in order to get ahold of a bottle.
I'm breaking our arbitrary rules and giving this beer a 4.25. I really enjoyed this beer, but I can’t say that it knocked me off my feet like people make out King Henry out to be. For me, 1/3 of the bomber was definitely enough. It’s a very assertive beer, and much more would be really overwhelming. As I said, it wasn't my favorite beer of the night, but it had stiff competition and was still damn good.

Beer Stats
Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged English Barleywine
Serving: Bottle
Size: 22oz
ABV: 13.5%
BA Score: 100
RB Score: 100

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Written by Paige Deckert

Paige is a fifth year graduate student at Penn State; she received her craft beer education while bartending during undergrad at the University of Illinois. Over several months, Rogue’s Dead Guy served as her gateway beer, because it was $2/pint on Thursdays, and thus offered the highest ABV/$. This eventually turned into enjoyment, and everything is history from there. Her first legal beer was Robert the Bruce on cask at the Blind Pig in Champaign, followed by the Duchess de Bourgogne. Paige has visited over 15 breweries, including Great Divide, Bells, Jolly Pumpkin, Three Floyds and Dogfish Head, with plans to add more in 2012 via trips to San Diego, Phoenix, and Austin. Paige became friends with Russ (and subsequently Garrett) when they became friends on untappd. She clearly remembers seeing a check-in of his and thinking, “Who is this clown checking into Miller Light at the Shandygaff?” Soon thereafter he introduced himself at a Zeno’s beerfest, and they bonded over their beer geekery (sans adjuct lagers). Find Paige Deckert on Google Plus

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