For whatever reason, at this site we have only reviewed a Goose Island beer on one occasion, which was Shaun's take on the Christmas ale from several years back. We have yet to give the proper Mark and Shaun Beer Blog treatment to Chicago's highest profile brewer, remaining mum even on their acclaimed Bourbon County Stout. Allow me to narrow this long-standing deficit by briefing on Goose's lovely little edition, Baudoinia. That's using the term "little" quite loosely, as Baudoinia is a funky-barreled version of the BCS wielding an ABV of 15%. Brewers Brett Porter and John Laffler concocted this brew for Goose Island by taking standard BCS, delectable enough in its native state, and barreling it in wood barrels harboring the namesake bacteria.
Baudoinia grows in wood barrels kept within spirit rickhouses, such as in the type of bourbon barrel used to imbue BCS, that are stored in low physical locations. According to Brett in this video posted at BeerAdvocate, the fungus feasts upon alcohol at lower percentage levels. It was the unique colors of the Baudoinia-carrying barrels that inspired the two alchemists to have fun with fungus and, for kicks, let it feast on some BCS for a while. Boy, would I love a BCS barrel just for play. But the results of that - er - "experiment" could not be more predictable.
However, results of the actual Baudoinia experiment were quite notable. After its journey from the cool innards of cultured barrels to select taprooms around the city, I finally had my chance to try it. It arrived in an understandably ultraconservative 6 oz. snifter. You could still smell some of the original bourbon, but it hovered among the odors more subtly than before and was accompanied on the nose by some dark fruit. Strong odors of coffee and dark chocolate also disseminated. Within moments the meager head had dissolved into a dark pool. The brew just sat there, idly, like a tar pit, much like The Lost Abbey's Angel's Share and betraying no secrets. It feels lush and dense on the palate. Gone is the alcohol heat so germane to young BCS, which recalls Brett's observation about Baudoinia's reliance on lower ABV's for survival. It maintains a bit of its parent's smokiness and honeyed bourbon sweetness. A strong licorice and berry flavor seizes the mid-palate and refuses to surrender. The sweetness creeps up but never tips the balance, as can happen with native BCS. A long, supple finish descends into some residual dark berry sweetness.
This is a very complex beer. After a while there's even a fleeting moment where a tangy tartness emerges, stopping just short of being a sour, before dissipating. That's the fungus talking. Who would have thought that fungus could sound or taste so elegant.
4.7 of 5 stars.