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.”
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 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.”
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 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 2018, an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels with whole grade A vanilla beans from Madagascar.
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 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 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.