Goose Island is just over a week away from launching their 2015 Bourbon County lineup. They’ll once again launch Bourbon County, along with all 5 of this year’s variants on the Friday after Thanksgiving, commonly referred to as Black Friday.
On Friday, November 13th, Goose Island gave a few lucky fans the opportunity to attend Rare Day, a unique event featuring bottle sales of the Rare variant, the chance to try more than a dozen different Bourbon County beers, live music and a few additional surprises, all set in Goose Island’s Barrel Warehouse in Chicago. Those looking to attend Rare Day had to enter a lottery that was open for a week in early-October. 700 winners were chosen from the nearly 75,000 entries. The lucky winners were able to purchase 2 tickets to one of two sessions for Rare Day.
The actual Rare Bourbon County variant 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 pretty rough shape. Goose Island was happy to nurse the barrels back to life and eager to bring out the flavors locked in the wood.
Our Rare Day began in line at Goose Island’s Taproom on Fulton St. The few hundred attendees gathered in a line that ran down the block and wrapped around the building.
We patiently made our way to the entrance, checked in for our passes (pictured above) and were given the chance to purchase up to 3 bottles of Rare. The beer comes in a 16.9 oz bottle, packaged inside a wooden box and runs $60 / bottle. Despite the high price tag, we didn’t see anybody purchase anything less than the 3 bottle limit.
Once we had our bottles secure, it was time to hop on the Goose bus for a short ride over to their Barrel House. Not normally open to the public, it was a rare glimpse inside the magical building. We walked in and were immediately greeted with a pour of Rare in a commemorative glass.
The Barrel House is massive. 130,000 sq ft of space to age and experiment. It’s a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, we had 3 hours to explore, taste and enjoy.
With presentations by Goose Island Brewer Jared Jankoski, Heaven Hill Master Distiller Denny Potter, live music by the Black Oil Brothers, food trucks and so much great beer to try, time seemed to fly by.
Here’s the beer lineup:
- 2015 Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout
- 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout
- 2015 Bourbon County Coffee Stout
- 2015 Bourbon County Barleywine
- 2015 Regal Rye Bourbon County Stout
- 2015 Proprietors Bourbon County Stout
- 2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout
- 2014 Bourbon County Coffee Stout
- 2014 Bourbon County Barleywine
- 2014 Vanilla Rye Bourbon County Stout
- 2014 Proprietors Bourbon County Stout
Click below for a short video as we made our way into the warehouse.
There was a mystery station that poured two different beers and continually changed as kegs ran out. This was a major highlight of the day, featuring some fun vintage tappings, including Cherry Rye, Baudoinia, Templeton Rye, Vanilla and others.
Truly an amazing day. Many thanks to the Goose Island staff on pulling off such a fun and well run event. We loved every minute of it.
For those here in Colorado looking to pick up bottles of Bourbon County, your day is almost here. Black Friday is coming and we’re told all of this year’s Bourbon County and variants, with the exception of Proprietors (only released in Chicago), will be sold locally. If you’re looking to purchase bottles, good luck on your hunt. We’ll post more details later this week. If you’d rather sample, head to Parry’s Pizza for a special day of BCBS tappings, including the release of a few Rare bottles. Either way, you’re going to love this year’s release.
By: Mark Robinson
Photography: Patti Robinson