Today is Black Friday and along with its comes the yearly releases of Bourbon County Brand Stout from Goose Island Beer Co. Every year since 2010 celebrates this day that officially kicks off the holiday shopping season with its popular barrel-aged beer offering, a style that the brewery has embraced since the early 1990s.
The eight variants of 2018 BCBS being released today, Friday, November 23rd includes Original Bourbon County Brand Stout, Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout, Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine, Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout, Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout, Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine, and Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout. The availability of all eight variants will vary by distributor and state.
Also being released at the Goose Island Tap Rooms is a new book written by Goose Island employees in conjunction with a couple of folks from the blog, Good Beer Hunting. The book Grit & Grain: The Story of Bourbon County Stout sets forth to uncover the myth behind Goose Island’s iconic BCBS.
From reading through Grit & Grain, the story behind the origins of BCBS are explored in greater detail and sort of dispels some of PR material that Goose Island sent out a few years back stating that BCBS origins date back to a beer brewed in the year 1992. The writing in the book brings forth history that leans more towards the year 1995 when the first BCBS was released.
Grit & Grain will be available on Black Friday through Goose Island’s online store and at Goose Island in addition to Goose Island and its Philadelphia Brewhouse.
Last evening we were able to sample two of the variants of 2018 BCBS – Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout and Original Bourbon County Brand Stout. The Reserve BCBS was aged in 12-year old Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bourbon barrels. Strong chocolate, oak and bourbon aromas around your senses and continues with your first sip. As the beer warms up the flavors of dried fruits come forth that compliments its chocolate qualities. This beer is a bit warm and at 15.2% ABV, it will mature nicely in the bottle for the next few years. On the label Goose Island states to age this beer up to five years.
Below are descriptions of each of the eight variants provided by Goose Island Beer Co…
2018 Bourbon County Brand Stout Variant Descriptions: Bourbon County Brand Stout (ABV: 14.7%):
Aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, the original bourbon barrel-aged stout tastes as good as when we first brewed it over 20 years ago. Flavors of cocoa, vanilla, caramel, almond, cherry, plus leather and tobacco flavors permeate this complex beer and deepen with each sip. As Brewmaster Jared Jankoski stated, “It ain’t broke, and we didn’t try to fix it.”
Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout (ABV: 15.2%):
The same base recipe as Bourbon County Original, but this beer is aged in 12-year old “Elijah Craig Barrel Proof” bourbon barrels. The bourbon from those barrels was awarded 2017 “Whisky of the Year” by Whisky Advocate, the top honor in the world of international whisky. Reserve is intended to showcase the nuances of a premium single source and highly sought-after bourbon.
Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (ABV: 14.4%):
This year’s Proprietor’s explores the broad spectrum of chocolate. Using a combination of dark chocolate and two types of cocoa nibs, this rich and decadent beer highlights the whole range of chocolate from smooth and silky milk chocolate flavors to deep and earthy dark chocolate.
Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine (ABV: 15.4%):
Made from two-row and malted wheat, Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine makes its debut. As the first recipe to veer from the original Imperial Stout since Barleywine in 2013, Wheatwine displays a deep amber color, lighter than its counterparts and acts as a true medium to convey the characteristics of our 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. Wheatwine overflows with flavors of caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and toffee.
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout (ABV: 14.9%):
This longtime favorite makes a long-awaited return to the Bourbon County roster. Utilizing whole grade A vanilla beans from Madagascar, Vanilla delivers on all the quintessential things fans love about this variant: aromatic vanilla, marshmallow, toffee, oak and floral notes highlighting the creamy mouthfeel and enhancing the chocolate flavors that are ingrained in Bourbon County.
Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout (ABV: 12.7%):
For this variant we aged Bourbon County Stout in rye whiskey barrels, then added raspberry and blackberry juice and puree from Michigan and Washington. The process resulted in complex jammy fruit notes that are prominent but well-integrated with the caramel and chocolate flavors of the beer and spicy rye character from the barrels.
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine (ABV: 15.1%):
Working with our friends at Intelligentsia, we flew down to Guatemala to source some of the world’s best coffee to use in the first-ever release of Coffee Barleywine. A malt-forward English-style Barleywine, the beer aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels before we added La Soledad coffee beans right before packaging to impart a bold coffee aroma and flavor.
Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout (ABV: 14.9%):
Brewer Oscar and Quality Analyst Paul created the concept for this new variant of Bourbon County. The result? Midnight Orange. They combined two things we love, orange and chocolate, taking Bourbon County into a new and exciting direction. While the chocolate compliments the Bourbon County base, the orange zest offers a point of contrast for a bold new flavor profile to delight Bourbon County fans and newcomers alike.
With dual inspiration from a favorite childhood treat and an exquisite Mexican Mocha, the bright orange aroma from fresh Spanish orange peel leads into a rich cocoa flavor.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.