It’s that time of year again. Friends, Family, Feasts and Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS). On Friday, November 27th, Goose Island will launch the 2015 Bourbon County lineup both in bottles and kegs. This year’s Black Friday release will feature 6 different beers. In addition to the ever popular Bourbon County, we welcome back Bourbon County Coffee, and Barleywine. New to the mix this year are Regal Rye, a new version of Rare and a new blend of Proprietors.
But what will we see here in Colorado? AB’s told us that we’ll see 5 out of the 6 beers. (Sorry, but Proprietor’s is limited to Chicago as a thank you to Goose Island’s hometown fans.) Denver beer fans can go nuts and seek out all 5 beers. That’s right, we’ll see all variants around town. Up in Loveland, look for BCBS and Rare. Those down South towards Colorado Springs and up in select mountain resort towns should watch for Barleywine. Everyone else throughout the state should look for BCBS.
The line has been rebranded for 2015 and packaged in 16.9 oz (500 mL) bottles. 4-packs are a thing of the past. Each bottle will be sold individually, with a new label around the neck.
Here’s a closer look at each beer.
Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS). 13.9% ABV. The classic Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout.
BI Tasting Notes – Very well done this year. Oak, chocolate, vanilla. I hope to drink a lot of ’15 BCBS.
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout. 12.4% ABV. This year’s batch was brewed with Intelligentsia’s Nicaraguan “Los Delirios” coffee beans.
BI Tasting Notes – Oh man, this already looks like a personal favorite from the ’15 offerings. Bold, dark, roasted coffee notes all throughout. Breakfast beer.
Bourbon County Barleywine. 12.5% ABV. Now in its 3rd year, this English-style Barleywine is a blend of Barleywine aged in Bourbon Barrels and Barleywine aged in former BCBS barrels.
BI Tasting Notes – Seem to be missing my notes here, so I’ll share a few words from the Goose Island sell sheet. “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.”
Regal Rye Bourbon County Stout. 13% ABV. This is a completely new variant. The base beer was first aged in Heaven Hill and Jim Beam Rye Whiskey Barrels that were later blended together in a stainless steel tank and blended with fresh, tart Michigan cherries, Luxardo cocktail cherries and blackberry juice from Washington state. A dash of sea salt was added at the end.
BI Tasting Notes – After sipping on Rare and Coffee, this came off as a little odd at first, but ultimately proved to be a nice change of pace. It’s obviously very sweet, tart and fruit heavy at the moment. The sea salt is a bit hidden and should come out more as the beer warms, ultimately adding a subtle dryness to the beer. I’d love to revisit in 6-12 months as the fruit blends and smooths out a bit more.
Bourbon County Rare. 14.8% ABV. ’15 Rare spent 2 years aging in 35-year-old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. Heaven Hill Master Distiller Denny Potter said the barrels got lost in the mix of their inventory of more than 1 Million barrels. When they stumbled across the lost barrels 2 years ago, they were nearly empty and in bad shape. Goose Island was happy to nurse the barrels back to life and bring out the flavors locked away in the wood.
BI Tasting Notes – Complex, yet dangerously smooth. Bourbon, chocolate, vanilla. Ready to drink now.
A limited amount of Rare will be coming to Colorado and despite the hefty price tag ($60+), we expect it to sell out quickly. Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to attend Rare Day at Goose Island’s Barrel House. Click HERE for more on our visit and a closer look at this unique and delicious beer.
Proprietor’s Bourbon County. 14% ABV. First launched in 2013, this Chicago-only release is a different beer every year. This time around the base BCBS went into Bourbon Barrel-Aged Maple Syrup Barrels. From there, it was blended with raw pecans and guajillo peppers.
BI Tasting Notes – While it doesn’t stack up to the inaugural ’13 release, which was loaded with toasted coconut and reminiscent of a Samoa cookie, the ’15 is still pretty darn delicious. Super sweet up front and could probably use some time to let the flavors meld together a bit more. The peppers are subtle and really only noticeable in the finish and as the beer warms. Hit up your midwest trading partner for one.
*Sadly, this will not be distributed outside of Chicago, IL.
So don’t freak out just yet. These beers are coming to Colorado and most stores plan to release their allocations on Friday, November 27th. We’re not in the habit of telling you specific stores, release times, bottle limits, etc. That’s on you. Beer is meant to be fun and part of that fun is being able to hunt down that beer on your own. To help put you at ease, our GI contact said Denver is “getting more of BCS this year than ever before and hosting numerous events throughout the cities Wednesday and Friday”.
If you’re seeking out BCBS on tap, look for special tappings at Parry’s Pizza – Highlands Ranch, Falling Rock Tap House, The Cheeky Monk and others.
It’s a wonderful time to be a beer drinker. Have fun and good luck!
By: Mark Robinson