By Nate Johnson
While shoppers are fighting crowds for the hottest bargains on Black Friday, beer aficionados will be lining up at their favorite bottle shop for the once-a-year gem from Chicago’s Goose Island, Bourbon County Brand Stout.
First brewed in 1992 by Goose Island’s then-brewmaster, Greg Hall, the standard BCBS and its varietal brethren have become some of the most heavily-anticipated and highly sought-after beers anywhere. This year’s batch sees a major change as the bottling will go from 12- and 22-ounce options to a standard 16.9-ounce bottle.
Besides the standard, this year’s varietals include: Bourbon County Brand Barleywine; Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout; Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout with blackberry juice, cherries and sea salt; Proprietor’s BCBS with maple syrup, toasted pecans and guajillo peppers; and Goose Island Rare BCBS aged for two years in 35-year-old Heaven Hill barrels.
Once you’ve finally made it to the front of the line and secured your bottle(s) for this year, you would be well advised to head to the Olympic Tavern for their annual Bourbon County tapping. Various vintages will be tapped throughout the day, starting with this year’s batch at 11 a.m., the 2013 stout and barleywine at 2 p.m., and the 2014 stout and barleywine at 5 p.m. A very limited amount of individual bottles will be available to take away as well, one per customer.
Aero Ale House will also be tapping this year’s BCBS as part of a Goose Island tap takeover on Friday starting at 11 a.m. Besides the stout of honor, the takeover will feature GI’s 4-Star Pilsner, Festivity Ale, the Muddy and Lolita. The bar will have a limited amount of Bourbon County-branded glassware available for purchase for the early crowd.