Goose Island – Backyard Rye BCBS Review

Backyard RyeAll You Need to Know

Brewery: Goose Island
Style: Imperial Stout
ABV: 12.7%
Cost:  $30 (22oz)
Glassware: Snifter (served in a water goblet)
Temp: 50°
Availability: Limited
Purchased@: Station Taproom

Quick Take: Quite the fruity beer. The syrupy mouth feel and extreme fruit may be overindulgent for some. It’s rich berry teeters on cloying, making a modest pour thoroughly enjoyable, but a single glass (possibly a cordial glass) is all I would want. This doesn’t strike me as a beer you want to age either as the sugary quality could get out of control. The bottom line is that this is a dessert beer built for sipping, sharing, and pairing and one I’m glad I got the opportunity to try even if I had to overpay for it.


Brew Facts: Goose Island, which is legally named Fulton Street Brewery LLC, was purchased by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2011. For 5 years leading up to the 2011 purchase, Anheuser-Busch InBev handled the breweries distribution. When Goose Island was sold, brewmaster Greg Hall stepped down and went on to found Virtue Cider.

Appearance: Initially poured into a water goblet (no snifter?) by our waitress, but the action on this beer is tame. When I distribute the rest of the beer, the thinnest brown head flares on the final pour, but the beer resists any attempts to agitate it. A light tan ring around the glass rims the calm, dark pool of this berry mistress (oh, the poetry!). Sudsy brown bubbles coat the glass on swirling.

Aroma: The aroma wafts out in a powerful cloud of buttery whiskey and jammy raspberry sweet overtones. No need to bury your nose in the glass as the scent hits you from a foot away. There are flirty hints of dark chocolate and maybe, just maybe some roast/raisin as well. I say maybe because the berries have such a massive presence that it’s difficult to pick out subtleties.

Taste/Mouth Feel: Just like other variations of Bourbon County, the Backyard Rye is thick and syrupy with the tinniest presence of carbonation. Not quite velvety, but rolls around the mouth and down the throat without reminding me of cough syrup. The taste starts with tangy booze and stays smooth to a cherry/raspberry flair. There is a vague presence of vanilla that barely surfaces from the fruity sweet depths. The diacetyl/whiskey elements blend well and just become part of the overall experience. The beer finishes with light roast and a huge hit of dark berry sweet and chocolate. As a beer, it verges on cloying, but would probably work as an indulgent berry, chocolate liquor. Reducing this and serving it over ice cream would be spectacular. I also see this as an ideal sipping beer once you and your guests have retired to the parlor after a heavy dinner.

Final Thoughts: Quite the fruity beer. The syrupy mouth feel and extreme fruit may be overindulgent for some. It’s rich berry teeters on cloying, making a modest pour thoroughly enjoyable, but a single glass (possibly a cordial glass) is all I would want. This doesn’t strike me as a beer you want to age either as the sugary quality could get out of control. The 30 dollar price tag I paid for the privilege of this beer is a pretty large markup that most people won’t have to deal with. I don’t mind over paying for an experience once, but I don’t think I would pop for it a second time at that price. That said, if Goose Island decides to brew this for next year’s batch, I’d gladly hunt down a bottle for 15-20 dollars when it is released around the end of November. The bottom line is that this is a dessert beer built for sipping, sharing, and pairing and one I’m glad I got the opportunity to try even if I had to overpay for it.

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