Stout aged in bourbon barrels – an experiment born at Chicago’s own Goose Island Brewing Company. Bold aromas, layered complexity and rich mouthfeel all made Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout one of the most treasured beers on the market. Binny’s is proud to continue the tradition of hosting one the largest annual releases of this iconic beer for nearly a decade. Over the years we’ve seen its fanbase swell, with devotees desparate for details on each year’s unique variants. The Beer Buzz paid Goose Island a visit for a sneak peek at the 2017 Goose Island Bourbon County lineup. Surrounded by barrels in their massive new warehouse, we drew our first tastes.
Bourbon County Brand Stout
The original, the classic. Stout aged in bourbon barrels.
This is the first year that all Goose Island Bourbon County expressions were aged in first-use bourbon barrels, wet and fresh from Kentucky. This classic bottling is the base beer for all the variants besides barleywine, and a great reminder of why BCBS is an institution. Sweet and rich on the nose, with plenty of chocolate notes. Plush and round, showcasing fig fruit and bourbon truffles. Always a class act, BCBS would be a front-page story if it stopped here. But it doesn’t.
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout
A newer, annual favorite – stout aged in bourbon barrels with coffee added.
This year’s coffee variant is an homage to the original coffee bottling, using the very same Black Cat Espresso roast from Chicago coffee stalwarts Intelligentsia. A familiar peppery nose along with freshly ground coffee leads to a rich palate with espresso bitterness over toffee and nutmeg-heavy baking spice. We recommend drinking this one fresh.
Bourbon County Brand Barleywine
Barleywine ale aged in bourbon barrels.
The holidays in a bottle. Softer, sweeter than the rest on show today, and sweeter than we remember. An incredible nose of chocolate covered cherry and candied orange peel. Caramel, chocolate, fig, date and raisin before a touch of warming heat on the finish. It’s perfect for this holiday season, or many to come if you have the patience for aging.
Bourbon County Brand Northwoods Stout
Totally new for 2017. Stout aged in bourbon barrels with blueberry juice and almond extract added.
The immediate standout in this year’s lineup and the obvious hedonist in the bunch. Blueberry coffee cake with almond creme frosting. Amaretto. That isn’t to say the almond or blueberry seem artificial or overly sweet – it’s all up-front fresh blueberry and candied almond in a delightfully fun package. Drink it right away.
Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout
This year’s Chicago-only prop release, stout aged in bourbon barrels with bananas, roasted almonds, and cassia bark added.
Possibly our top pick this year? The idea here is to highlight what makes bourbon county great and to build on top of that foundation. A cinnamon bun nose with hints of fresh banana. Banana bread, cinnamon and allspice lead off the rich palate, reminiscent of banana cake with rum icing and a dusting of cocoa. Drink it fresh. Drink it fresh.
Bourbon County Reserve Brand Stout
Stout aged in 11-year-old Knob Creek bourbon barrels, only released in Chicago and Kentucky.
Bourbon County Boilermaker. Bottled as a nod to the legendary meeting between Booker Noe and Greg Hall back in 1994 that kicked off this whole enterprise, this release wears bourbon on its sleeve. Round and refined, classy, the palate is full of cocoa, making for a more dry and less fruit-forward package than the standard BCBS. The bourbon lover’s BCBS, this can stand up to years of aging.
By the way, Goose Island had previously announced a Reserve Barleywine. It didn’t meet their standards, so they declined to release it this year. Also, there are rumors of a “double barrel” variant, a tap-only and super-limited release. Keep your eyes peeled.
Needless to say, we’re looking forward to this year’s black Friday release at Binny’s Beverage Depot. We’ll have more detailed release info in an upcoming Beer Buzz and Binny’s Blog post, including estimated allotments and any other special details. Be sure to keep an eye on the Beer Buzz.