For fans of Goose Island Beer Co.’s famous Bourbon County Brand Stout, today is like the Super Bowl, Olympics, World Series and NBA Playoffs combined.

As has been the case In years past, the Chicago-based brewery will be releasing the majority of bottled BCBS variants at retailers nationwide today. The lone exceptions is Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, which has always been exclusively available in Chicago since its debut in 2013.

However, fans have another thing to be thankful for: this year, there are more versions of Goose Island’s popular barrel-aged stout than any other year prior. This year there are eight different variants released 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-style 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 an 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 were never officially announced by Goose Island: 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.

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.

Finally, while the vast majority of the Bourbon County Brand Stout beers will be released at various times today, there have been multiple accounts of retailers selling the beers before the deadline, with some bottles being released as early as Monday.

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