Recently I raved about Goose Island’s Bourbon County Imperial Stout, which is easy to do because it is one of the great beers of the world.

 So I thought it time to try Bourbon County Barleywine. 

 Oh, yeah! 

 So much going on here, a symphony of darkness. Each sip is like opening a portal to ancient secrets. Yes, this beer makes you feel enlightened, even if momentarily.

 The Bourbon County Barleywine is not as rich and deep and complex and chewy as its cousin, the imperial stout, but it has its own world-class stuff going on  – darkest of fruits, rummy dark cane sugar just short of molasses, the sharpness of dark roast coffee and tobacco on the back end, and that indefinable fruity quality of a barleywine.

 If you are looking for a special celebratory beer, you need look no further than the Bourbon County line.

 Here’s a certain recipe for deliciousness:  Fill a 200-liter bourbon barrel with imperial stout and 75-pounds of tart Montmorency cherries from Door County, age for six months, and then enjoy Central Water’s Bourbon Barrel Cherry Stout. 

 The cherries charge across the palate, opening the way for the subtle darkness of the stout that follows and that palate-puckering feel of the bourbon-soaked oak. Finally, and curiously, the cherry returns to tap dance on top of it all with palate-prickling finesse. It’s Fred Astaire in my mouth!

 The flavors linger long. 

 I am going to pick up another four-pack of this 2014 vintage and put it away for a year to see where all these things go. Stay tuned.