Although we are most likely still months away from official release, details from this years’ release of Goose Island Beer Co.’s popular Bourbon County Brand Stout and a number of the variants have come to light, including the possibility of the return of two versions of fan favorites from the past.
According to labels filed with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), Goose Island Beer Co. could be releasing at least nine versions of the barrel-aged stout, starting with Bourbon County Brand Neapolitan Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels blended with strawberry puree, chocolate, vanilla and lactose that will be bottled in 500ml bottles.
Next up is Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with “dark roast coffee” sourced from Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago added and packaged in 500ml bottles.
In addition, Goose Island filed labels for Bourbon County Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with cocoa nibs and with chocolate added before being packaged in 500ml bottles as well as kegs.
Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in 12-year-old barrels that previously contained Elijah Craig bourbon and packaged in 500ml bottles.
There were also keg labels of three BCBS variants filed, two of which fans my remember from previous years: the brand new Bourbon County Brand Horchata Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with ceylon cinnamon, vanilla and lactose; Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans; and Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in rye whiskey barrels blended with blackberries and raspberries.
Goose Island had previously released labels for two other Bourbon County variants, both of which will be packaged in 500ml bottles: Bourbon County Wheatwine 2018, a wheatwine-syle ale that has been aged in bourbon barrels, and Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels.
While release details have not been confirmed, all but two of the six bottled BCBS variants last year were available nationwide starting on the day after Thanksgiving, which fell on Nov. 24. The exceptions were Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, which has always been exclusively available in Chicago since its debut in 2013 and Bourbon County Brand Stout Reserve 2017.
Certain versions of BCBS 2018 will be packaged in 500ml bottles, which Goose Island introduced in 2015 for the Bourbon County Brand family, replacing the 12- and 22-ounce bottles that had been used for years.
In addition, all of the Bourbon County Brand Stout releases in 2016 and 2017 were pasteurized using a process called flash pasteurization, which Goose Island began implementing in direct response to the multiple infection issues the brewery encountered with 2015’s releases of Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Stout Coffee, Bourbon County Stout Proprietor’s and Bourbon County Barleywine.
Finally, it should be noted that the fact that a label has been filed for a specific beer or beers does not necessarily mean that those beers will ever be released. In fact, Goose Island filed labels for two different Bourbon County releases in 2016 that have not yet seen the light of day: Bourbon County Brand Maple Rye Stout and a version of Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout aged in Scotch whisky barrels.
In addition, last year the brewery announced that it would not be releasing Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale Reserve 2017, a barleywine ale aged for 20 months in 35-year-old Heaven Hill barrels, due to the fact that did not “taste like what we wanted it to.”
When reached by email, a spokesperson for Goose Island declined to comment, saying “Nothing to share at this point!”
Update (July 12, 2018) — This post was updated to include bottle labels for Goose Island Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018. It was originally published on July 8, 2018.