There will be more versions of Goose Island Beer Co.’s popular Bourbon County Brand Stout in 2018, more than any other year prior.
In November, Goose Island will be releasing eight different variants in 500ml bottles, including the first-ever BCBS Coffee Barleywine. The confirmed line-up for 2018 is:
- Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
- Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
- Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
- Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
- Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
- Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
- Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
- Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout 2018 (14.9 percent ABV)
“I had my first sip of Bourbon County when Greg made the first batch back at the Clybourn Brewpub,” said Todd Ahsmann, president of Goose Island, in a press release. “I was amazed back then and I’m still blown away every year when this beer comes out of the barrels. Our brewers invest so much creativity in this beer and I’m excited as hell for drinkers to try this year’s original and the variants. We bought some new gear this year for the brewers and it’s allowed them to make more of the variants than we have in years past.”
Original Bourbon County Brand Stout Aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels, the original bourbon barrel aged stout is as good as when we first made it over 20 years ago. Flavors of cocoa, vanilla, caramel, almond, cherry, plus leather and tobacco flavors permeate this complex beer that deepens with each sip. As Brewmaster Jared Jankoski stated, “It ain’t broke, and we didn’t try to fix it.”
Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 is an imperial stout brewed with two-row, Black, Caramel, Chocolate, Munich 10 and Roasted Barley malts and is hopped with Millennium hops before being aged in bourbon barrels that previously held Heaven Hill bourbon for more than four years.
Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout The same recipe as BCBS, but aged in 12-year old “Elijah Craig Barrel Proof” bourbon barrels. This bourbon was awarded 2017 “Whisky of the Year” by Whisky Advocate, the top honor in the world of international whiskey. Reserve is intended to showcase the nuances of a premium single source, and highly sought after bourbon.
Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018 is an imperial stout aged in 12-year old “Elijah Craig Barrel Proof” bourbon barrels.
“We’ve been longtime fans of Elijah Craig,” said Mike Siegel, research and development manager at Goose Island, in a press release. “We started brewing the beer well before they won Whisky of the Year, but it was certainly no surprise when they did – it’s a fantastic whisky. We want the best quality ingredients, so it was a simple choice to go with Elijah Craig. We had all the confidence in the world that this would make a great variant.”
Proprietor's Bourbon County Brand Stout This year’s Proprietor’s explores the broad spectrum of chocolate. Using a combination of dark chocolate and two types of cocoa nibs, this rich and decadent beer highlights the whole range of chocolate from smooth and silky milk chocolate flavors, to deep and earthy dark chocolate.
Bourbon County Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with a combination of dark chocolate and two types of cocoa nibs added.
Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine Made from two-row and malted wheat, Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine is making its debut this year. As the first recipe to veer from the original Imperial Stout since Barleywine in 2013, Wheatwine is a deep amber color, lighter than it’s BCBS counterparts and a true medium to convey the characteristics of 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. Wheatwine is full of high caramel, vanilla, butterscotch, and toffee flavors.
Bourbon County Wheatwine 2018 is a wheatwine-syle ale brewed with two-row and malted wheat before being aged in bourbon barrels that previously held Heaven Hill bourbon for more than four years.
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout This longtime favorite is making a long-awaited return to the BCBS roster. Utilizing whole grade A vanilla beans from Madagascar, this year’s BCBS Vanilla delivers on all the quintessential things fans love about this variant: aromatic vanilla, marshmallow, toffee, oak and floral notes highlighting the creamy mouthfeel and enhancing the chocolate flavors that are ingrained in BCBS.
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with whole grade A vanilla beans from Madagascar.
Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout For this variant we aged Bourbon County Stout in rye whiskey barrels then added raspberry and blackberry juice and puree from Michigan and Washington. The result is complex jammy fruit notes that are prominent, but well integrated with the caramel and chocolate flavors of the beer and spicy rye character from the barrels.
Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in rye whiskey barrels blended with raspberry and blackberry juice and puree from Michigan and Washington.
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine Working with our friends at Intelligentsia, we flew down to Guatemala to source some of the world's best coffee to use as we release the first-ever Coffee Barleywine. The beer is an English-style Barleywine, meaning malt forward, and aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels before adding La Soledad coffee beans right before packaging to retain a bold coffee aroma and flavor.
Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine 2018 is a English-style barleywine aged in four-year-old bourbon barrels that previously contained Heaven Hill bourbon before adding Guatemalan La Soledad coffee beans sourced from Intelligentsia Coffee.
“The folks at Intelligentsia are awesome to work with, they’re really guiding us to areas, people, and farms that make a lot of sense,” said Jared Jankoski, brewmaster at Goose Island. “This year we went to Guatemala and got to source our beans from a 5th generation family-owned farm. To me, it really resonates with what we do – feeling close to the ingredients that are in our beers and making a conscious choice of how we source our ingredients.”
Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout Brewer Oscar and Quality Analyst Paul created the concept for this new variant of BCBS. The result? Midnight Orange. They combined two things we love, orange and chocolate, taking Bourbon County into a new and exciting direction. While the chocolate compliments the Bourbon County base, the orange zest offers a point of contrast for a bold new flavor profile to delight Bourbon County fans and newcomers alike. With dual inspiration from a favorite childhood treat and an exquisite Mexican Mocha the bright, orange aroma provided by the fresh Spanish orange peel leads into a rich cocoa flavor.
Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout 2018 is an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels before Spanish orange zest and chocolate were added. This is the first time that fruit zest has been incorporated into one of the Bourbon County variants, which was thought up by “brewer Oscar and quality analyst Paul” at Goose Island.
There were also three additional labels filed that have not been officially announced by Goose Island: 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 Coffee Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with “dark roast coffee” sourced from Intelligentsia Coffee and Bourbon County Brand Neapolitan Stout 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels blended with strawberry puree, chocolate, vanilla and lactose.
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. Also perhaps a clarification: generally speaking, when Goose makes the official variant announcement about the variants that are being released every year, that is typically all that is released.
In years past, Goose Island has released the majority of bottled BCBS variants nationwide starting on the day after Thanksgiving, which this year falls on Nov. 23. The recent exceptions have been 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.
In 2015, Goose Island suffered multiple infection issues with various BCBS beers, including Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Stout Coffee, Bourbon County Stout Proprietor’s and Bourbon County Barleywine. Since then, all BCBS beer has undergone flash pasteurization to eliminate the issues.