Black Friday has always been just another day for me. I have always foregone the insanely long lines and early mornings just for the chance to score a discounted TV or that video game that everyone has been talking about.
Several years ago, I did however start to get up semi early on the biggest shopping day of the year to begin seeking out the elusive and exclusive release of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout and all of its wonderful variants, which are released nationwide on Black Friday and oftentimes sell out pretty quickly.
For the first few years, I did fairly well scoring what I wanted to acquire and was able to enjoy some of the stouts immediately and also put away a few for aging. A couple of years ago I noticed something that allowed me to sleep in on that Friday and still get what I wanted. In 2018, I walked into my local Total Wine And More store three days after Black Friday and lo and behold, there were still seven cases of the Bourbon County stout just sitting in the middle of the floor with no purchase limit. It made me start to wonder how rare and hard to get the beer really was. Fast forward to last November and once again, BCBS was everywhere, even finding over two dozen bottles still sitting on my local Kroger Supermarket’s shelves over a week after the release. So, now I don’t get too worried about getting my share as I now believe that this beer is produced in higher quantities than previously said.
I have enjoyed some of the variants over the years and this year was no exception, as I am about to drink my third in two weeks.
The line up for 2019 was as follows:
- Bourbon County Reserve Rye Bourbon County Stout 2019: an imperial stout 100 percent aged in barrels that previously held Rittenhouse Rye
- 2-Year Reserve Bourbon County Stout 2019: an imperial stout aged for 24 months in barrels that previously held Knob Creek 25th Anniversary for 11 years
- Bourbon County Café de Olla Stout 2019: an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels and brewed with coffee beans and cold brew coffee sourced from Intelligentsia Coffee as well as additions of of cassia bark, orange peel and panela sugar
- Bourbon County Mon Chéri Stout 2019: an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels and brewed with Balaton and Montmorency cherries, oats, and “a dash” of brown sugar
- Proprietor’s Bourbon County Stout 2019: an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels and conditioned on toasted pecans, coconut, cocoa, and vanilla
- Bourbon County Double Barrel Stout 2019: an imperial stout that was first aged for 12 months in 11-year-old Elijah Craig barrels sourced from Heaven Hill. Goose Island then emptied the beer from those barrels and aged it in fresh 12-year-old Elijah Craig barrels, “the same barrels that housed the Whisky Advocate 2017 Whisky Of The Year.”
Mon Cheri is a 14.1 percent ABV stout with Balaton and Montmorency cherries, oats and brown sugar is on deck and I am definitely ready for this newer variant from Goose Island. Millennium hops were the hop of choice and malts were 2 Row, Black Malt, Caramel, Chocolate, Munich 10 and Roasted Barley.
A medium strong pour produces an almost copper-colored head rising from the near-black beer and dissipating as quickly as it appears, leaving a swirly, golden colored, oil-like film on the top. Before I can actually get my nose into it more deeply, I get essences of semi-sweet chocolate, dark fruits and light bourbon. Delving deeper, I receive vanilla, coffee and a boozy feel.
The first sip opens up a melange of tastes with the dominates being bourbon, chocolate-covered cherries, figs and dates and sweet chocolate. On the back end, more flavors emerge including almond, espresso and light oak. The lingering taste is sweet, almost jam-like. Carbonation is extremely light as I expected and there is a big overripe dark cherry flavor that continues to rise to the top. Even with the strong sweet and dark cherries, the balance is well done as the other parts stay somewhat incognito yet still manage to make themselves known.
Mouthfeel is slick and coating and somewhat boozy especially as the beer starts to warm. The balance remains about the same throughout the drinking process and the finish brings out raw sugar, sweet chocolate and cherries and a light cereal taste which I am assuming is from the addition of oats. The last sips continue to remain balanced even though the booze and sugar make a last minute run for the top.