I have a conflicted relationship with this oppressive monarch. Initially I went after this at the brewery release on Black Friday, landed it, drank it, and that was that. Landed a few more bottles and thought nothing of it. Then all the Johnny Come Latelies jumped on the bandwagon and all of a sudden people who discovered Blue Moon last August thought they were slaying whales. Technically any beer that had 12,000 bottles available off shelf shouldn’t be mentioned during Whale Week, but oh well, after enough demands to review this beer, the time has come to depose this asshole.
Goose Island Beer Co.
Style | ABV
English Barleywine | 13.40% ABV
By way of background, here’s the deal behind this beer:
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.
A: This beer is a bit dark for my liking and seems to have picked up some of the residual traces from the barrels. I don’t like my barleywines cross polinated with huge stouts, but call me crazy for that. The carbonation is dead on and the lacing looks like a B-Roll from a haunted house combined with a Lil Jon skeetfest.
S: As much as I have distaste for this beer and what it has done to the trading community, I cannot deny how amazing this smells. This is the archetype of BA Barleywines on the olfactory profile. You get a full brown sugar, carmelized sugar, sticky caramel, marshmellow foam, light roast, and turbinado sugars. I have reviews that list a ton of items because it connotes “seriously? You picked up all that, liar.” But seriously, there’s a huge medium of dark cherries, currant, and plum on the backend. Those usually belong in quads but I will let it slide this once, I GUESS.
T: This tastes incredible. There is a nice sticky brown sugar that is as decadent as a trip to Gene Wilder’s house. The taste could never match how it smells but it is still incredibly well done the sticky sugar notes integrate with the smashed dark fruits. I would never mix plums and brown sugar but somehow this works well. The barrel presence seems kinda muted since it took the sloppy seconds from BCS Rare, but I guess it bears mentioning that the bourbon aspect is smooth and imparts a light crackle on the backend like a janky sparkler. One thing I have to mention is that it has a sort of chocolatey roast to it that is offputting, not on style, and makes me wonder how much of the residual BCS Rare splooge was left inside the barrels.
M: This has a chewy mouthfeel with heavy sticky coating that lingers long after the beer is swallowed. The bourbon tosses a light tingle on the gumline like doing Ajax rails, been there done it. The sweetness has a good balance with the oak and vanilla from the wood and is very refreshing for a massive 13% abv. I am just glad that I drank my last bottle of this so that I can be free from its tyranny.
D: This is exceptionally drinkable and maybe that it the reason so many people are jumping headfirst into the trading came to lock it down. The bottom line is, you don’t need to go name brand on this when world class “Shasta” BA Barleywines will do. The following barleywines are AT LEAST as good as this beer:
BA Owde Engwish
The list goes on. If you can try this, go for it, but don’t pawn nana’s broach collection to try this.
Narrative: The Wars of the Roses were raging in the streets and the public discontent was palpable in the air. Despite the decimated and overtaxed populace, King Henry VII turned to more pressing matters: making sticky treats for his court. The pressing from the Papal dynasty was reaching intolerable levels and yet Henry was left to wonder how he could improve upon sweet bread puddings and brown sugars that most vassals would never even lay eyes upon. “Sire! MY LIEGE! The Earl of Warwick is mobilizing forces and marching upon YORK- sire?” “Mmmm nom, awhh yeah that’s the stuff there” Henry moaned decadently while dipping mallow foam into a pool of baker’s chocolate. The smeared chocolate ran down his pronounced jowls. Henry had become everything that was wrong with the ruling classes, a hyped up product of yes-men and an illegitimate dynasty. It was his turn to rule, but at what cost? The masses were teeming in support but destroying house, home, and industry in the process. “Nahmm now we take the apple slices and mmm awh yeah” he exhaled an epicurean sigh that reeked of beef jerky and chocolate while dipping apples in what appeared to be chocolate milk and vanilla extract. The court looked longingly on the product of their support, an inflated, overbearing beast.