I, along with many of my fellow beer enthusiasts, friends and just about everyone that is into craft beer, look forward to Black Friday each year. Not because of the great deals on televisions, toasters and the like, but the anticipation of what will await us as we arise from our slumber in the morning and make the trek to our favorite bottle shop.

The excitement of the annual release of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and all of its variants. The shiny, almost without label bottles, perched upon the shelves at the front of the shop, just begging to be bought and drank; and of course the few to put away to enjoy at a later date. Last year did not disappoint with the magnificent variations that Goose Island offers.

  • 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)

All coming in at a healthy 14.9 percent ABV, some of the variants were easier to find than others with a few of them being available with the luck of the draw, or being in the right city or state at the right time. I am never very lucky finding many of the variants in my home state of Virginia, but I was happy to come across the Midnight Orange Variant, which is one of the ones I definitely wanted to try. I happily forked over the money and walked out with one, excited to indulge in what I hoped would be an extraordinary journey.

Poured from a 500ml. bottle, the color is damn near pitch black with a good solid finger of creamy tan head and showing very minimal lacing. The first arrival at the nose provides exactly what I had anticipated, lots of rich chocolate and a pleasant aroma of fresh orange peel. I also get a touch of smooth vanilla with some bourbon and a bit of raw earthiness.

The first taste brings me a memory from last Christmas, the taste of chocolate covered orange, the kind that you can get in fine chocolate shops. It is the main dominate flavor in this beer, but it does not overpower as bourbon, leather and faint hints of licorice are present.

Mouthfeel is slightly chewy and coating and the carbonation is very light, but in my opinion, is perfect for the style. This beer has warmed slightly during the process, and as this happens, the alcohol level is rearing its head more and more. The alcohol becomes a tad too much as the beer reaches room temperature so my recommendation is to drink it at about 45-55 degrees before it gets to warm to keep the balance and flavors in check.

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout 2018
BREWERY: Goose Island Beer Company
LOCATION: Chicago, Ill.
STYLE: Imperial Stout
ABV: 14.9 percent
IBU: 60
PRICE: $13.99
RELEASE DATE: November 2018
Although I have not tried an abundance of the BCBS variants, I can say with confidence that this is probably one of the best produced. The balance of flavors was spot on, the mouth feel was pleasant and the overall flavors were pronounced and natural. A great stout from Goose Island and one that I hope continues with the same quality for the next several years.
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