Bourbon County Stout is back and better than ever in 2015
Goose Island releases Bourbon County Stout on Black Friday every year, and every year people line up for figurative miles to get the limited release bottles. This year will be no different as the collection has only gotten better. 2015 might just be the most well rounded batch of the bunch.
The 1st Lady of Boozist and I had the good fortune of attending a Bourbon County Stout tasting event at Goose Island’s massive and delicious smelling barrel warehouse in Chicago. I’m a huge fan of the new Goose Island tap room, but amongst the barrels was the perfect place to experience this particular tasting. Many of Chicago’s finest libation scribes were in attendance to run through the new line, and it was an excellent example of why our opinions should be taken with a grain of salt.
Just about everyone agreed the 2015 line was good as a whole. But outside of Rare Bourbon County Stout, which was far and away the best, people had a wide margin between favorite and least favorite. It’s proof positive that subjectivity reigns supreme even in a lineup of all great beers. Nik from Chicago Beer Geeks couldn’t get enough BCBS Coffee. Craig, leading voice of the ABV podcast, was in spice heaven with Proprietors after it had a chance to warm up a bit. And Josh Noel from the Chicago Tribune eschewed the pomp and circumstance and declared OG BCBS as his favorite. Others in attendance for the showcase were Sarah Freeman for Zagat Chicago, Elizabeth Atkinson from Time Out Chicago, Sarah Ryan form Modern Luxury, and the full squad from The Hop Review.
My choice was easy; Proprietors is liquified happiness, especially when paired with the chili pepper chocolate. Oh yeah. The entire lineup was paired with chocolate. It was the perfectly accompaniment for BCBS and brought out some really interesting flavors. It was also a good lesson in tastings your pairings before serving. Brewmaster Jared Jankoski said they put together the list of Bourbon County Stout pairings based on what they thought would play well together, but they changed nearly all of them during their test run the night before the event.
Here’s the basic breakdown this year, but there are more details at the bottom.
- Bourbon County Brand Stout: Old faithful. As good as always and thankfully around in mass now.
- Bourbon County Brand Barleywine: Big but nuanced; aged in barrels used to age previous iterations of Bourbon County Stout.
- Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout: Blended with cold brew Nicaraguan coffee from Intelligentsia.
- Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout: Blackberries and cherries with a little sea salt. Sweet at the moment; could be the best in a year.
- Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout: Maple syrup, toasted pecans, and peppers. No, those aren’t notes. They’re ingredients, and they’re perfect.
- Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Don’t bother.
Bourbon County Rare is being sold at Goose Island Rare Day, which is essentially Dark Lord Day in Chicago. There was a lottery to get tickets, and you probably didn’t get one considering there were about 10,000 entries and 150 winners. Those lucky few were able to buy two tickets ($40), each of which gave them the right to buy three bottles of rare ($60 a piece).
Of course you could look to the second hand market where you can get a Rare Day ticket for $500 or a bottle of Rare Bourbon County Stout for $1,250. Tickets also being traded for other beers + $$$ on Facebook, which will certainly result in people being upset because they didn’t understand that tickets don’t come with beer. They come with the right to buy it.
Fortunately while the rest of the lineup might be a step behind Rare, they’re all fantastic. You should be able to get original Bourbon County Stout without much difficulty, but the if you want Prop or Rye you should pick up a tent and start camping out at Binny’s now.
There’s only one thing I wouldn’t recommend doing. Don’t combine all six versions of Bourbon County Stout in one glass like I did. Sure it was better than a warm flat Schlitz, but it’s not something anyone should drink. And yes, the unholy mat shotesque concoction is what’s pictured below along side the BCBS Proprietors box.
MORE INFO ON BCBS 2015 LINE-UP
Bourbon County Brand Stout: The Original. It’s nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than an average case of beer. Available nationwide.
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout: Everyday Goose Island smells Intelligentsia’s coffee roasting next to the brewery. This world class roaster puts the same craftsmanship into their coffee as Goose Island does with its beer. Each year this excellent coffee stout is made with a different bean variety, chosen in collaboration with our brewers and Intelligentsia’s experts. With the change in coffee comes a change in the flavor profile, making each release truly unique from the previous years. The 2015 incarnation features Intelligentsia Los Delirios coffee from Nicaragua. Available nationwide in limited quantities.
Bourbon County Brand Barleywine: Aged in the third-use barrels that were once home to Kentucky bourbon and then the renowned Bourbon County Stout, this traditional English-style barleywine possess the subtlety of flavor that only comes from a barrel that’s gone through many seasons of ritual care. The intricacies of the previous barrel denizens – oak, charcoal, hints of tobacco and vanilla, and that signature bourbon heat – are all present in this beer. Hearty and complex, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine is a titan and a timeline; a bold, flavorful journey through the craft of barrel aging. Available nationwide in limited quantities.
Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout: A unique blend of Bourbon County Brand
Stout aged in rye whiskey barrels with blackberries, Luxardo candied cherries, fresh sour cherries and sea salt. Developed by the team of Goose Island brewers, this year’s recipe was especially collaborative. The brewers submitted recipes, held a roundtable discussion dissecting each and in the end landed on Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout. Available nationwide in limited quantities.
Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout: The third annual release of Proprietor’s is aged in bourbon barrels and features maple, toasted pecans and guajillo peppers and is the brain child of female brewery, Di Rodriguez. This variant is meant to show Goose Island’s immense gratitude to their neighbors in Chicago – the loyal and adventurous fans whose support helped bring Bourbon County Brand Stout to towering new heights. Each year this release will differ from the previous year; a special variant created for Chicago and unique to the year it was released. Available only in Chicago.
Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout: Back in 1979 the folks at Heaven Hill Distilleries filled a handful of new freshly charred American white oak barrels with some of their finest whiskey. It is rare for Bourbon to age in barrels for more than twenty-three years. But these barrels patiently sat for over thirty years. The extra years developed a distinct and complex character that makes them truly one-of-a kind. We filled those barrels with Bourbon County Brand Stout, and then stored them away in our Chicago Barrel House to age for two more years. With these rare barrels from our friends at Heaven Hill we believe this is one of the finest beers we have ever produced. This is Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout for 2015.