Details on all things Bourbon County Brand Stout ahead of Friday’s highly anticipated Black Friday release.
There are quite a few changes to this year’s release of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. For starters, the bottles and packaging are different. All varieties of BCBS will be sold in individual 16.9 ounce bottles. That’s a shift from both four packs of 12 ounce bottles for regular Bourbon County Brand Stout and BCBS Coffee and 22 ounce bottles for some of the rarer varietals.
Suggested retail for regular BCBS is $9.99, per the Chicago Tribune, however retailers can charge what they want — and some do, and then some.
Also new this year is what is going in to some of the more sought after bottles. The recipes for BCBS and BCB Barleywine will be the same as years past however new ingredients were tossed in to BCB Coffee Stout, BCB Regal Rye Stout and BCBS Rare.
This year’s BCB Coffee is made with a Nicaraguan coffee bean from Intelligentsia. Regal Rye has blackberry juice, cocktail cherries and sea salt added to the mix. This year’s Proprietor’s features toasted pecans and guajillo peppers. And BCBS Rare was stowed away for two years in 35-year old Heaven Hill barrels.
Here’s the entire lineup:
- Bourbon County Brand Stout
- Bourbon County Brand Barleywine
- Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout, made with Intelligentsia’s Los Delirios Nicaraguan coffee bean
- Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout, made with blackberry juice, cocktail cherries and sea salt
- Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, made with maple syrup aged in bourbon barrels, toasted pecans and guajillo peppers
- Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout, which is being aged for two years in 35-year-old Heaven Hill whiskey barrels
Goose Island has Black Friday and Black Wednesday events planned across the country this year. There are tastings and bottles for sale all over the city of Chicago — far too many to list (sorry, everybody). But arguably the epicenter of it all resides at the intersection of N Marcey St and W Willow St in Chicago, which is where the largest Bourbon County Brand Stout release in Chicago — and probably across the country — takes place at Binny’s Lincoln Park. And it’s right across the street from Goose Island Clybourn, where BCBS tastings are happening throughout the day and BCBS and its variants are pouring all day.
Here’s the skinny on the bottle release at the Binny’s Lincoln Park. Show up early and get in line. People, in year’s past, showed up at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to ensure their shot at BCBS glory. And there is extra incentive to do that this year.
The morning of the release Binny’s will hand out tickets to people in line. If you get a ticket then you get a shot to buy up to two 16.9 oz bottles of Bourbon County Brand Stout and one 16.9 oz bottle each of Barleywine, Coffee, Regal Rye, Proprietor’s and Rare.
Those at the front of the line get first dibs at some vintage bottles of BCBS. Last year there was a lottery for those bottles. This year ticket holders get a crack at buying them, but they’re first-come, first-served. Ticket holders can buy one 22 oz bottle or two 12 oz bottles of the following, per Binny’s:
- 2009 Bourbon County Brand Stout – 22oz
- 2010 Bourbon County Brand Stout – 12oz
- 2011 Bourbon County Brand Stout – 12oz
- 2012 Bourbon County Brand Stout – 12oz
- 2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout – 12oz
- 2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout – 12oz
- 2013 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale – 12oz
- 2014 Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout – 12oz
- 2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout Proprietor’s – 22oz
- 2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout Backyard Rye – 22oz
- 2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla Rye – 22oz
Other Binny’s locations, and plenty of other retailers, will be selling BCBS and its variants too. Best to check with your local bottle shop to see what their plans are, if you haven’t already.
Across the street, at Goose Island Clybourn, there are five ticket-only tasting sessions involving all of the BCBS variants — which sold out earlier this month. However all variants will be pouring throughout the day at Goose Clybourn. Here’s the schedule:
- ALL DAY: Bourbon County Brand Stout ’15
- 11:00a — Regal Rye ’15
- 1:00p — Proprietors ’15
- 3:00p — Barleywine ’15
- 5:00p — Rare ’15
- 7:00p — Coffee ’15
Now, no discussion about the annual Black Friday release of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout would be complete without checking in with Adam Vavrick. But he doesn’t run the show at Binny’s Lincoln Park anymore, having departed Chicago for Madison, Wisconsin to head up sales and marketing for Octopi Brewing. But that didn’t stop us from dropping him a line to pick his brain on the madcap release of BCBS and if he’ll be standing in line somewhere to buy some Friday.
GDB: What was most challenging in the weeks or days leading up to the BCBS Black Friday release at Binny’s Lincoln Park?
Adam Vavrick: Managing expectations? I went into it every year knowing that someone would be pissed off, but that 99 out of 100 wouldn’t be if I made sure to manage the expectations. I mean, there’s only so much you can do when you’re projecting 700+ in line. That, and keeping pictures of the massive piles of beer to a minimum.
GDB: Craziest thing that happened during a Black Friday release?
Vavrick: Hmm..craziest…Last year i threw a notorious muler out of line when a bunch of his mules joined him at 8:30 or so to attempt to cut in line.
Vavrick: Some dude brought bacon. Seriously, he cooked a bunch of bacon and brought it for the line. He posted on BA he was going do it again this year, which is awesome. May Satan bless that man for his bacon generosity.
GDB: If you could pass along a tip or two that most people waiting in line don’t already know, without divulging any Binny’s secrets, what would it be?
Vavrick: Tips: Don’t drink in line. They ask you not to do it, so don’t do it. It jeopardizes the event and is super disrespectful.
GDB: How will you spend your first Black Friday not doling out Bourbon County Brand Stout?
Vavrick: Sleep in. I actually put that on my weekly planner at the brewery. #8 is “Sleep in on Black Friday for the first time in 5 years.”
GDB: Bonus question: how are things going at Octopi?
Vavrick: Octopi is both challenging and rewarding. Every day I’m doing something new. Our house brand, 3rd Sign Brewery, is already in the market and has been quite well received. I’m also fleshing out our capacity, securing contract clients & looking for new ones. I have a LOT on my plate right now and while it’s frustrating and exhausting at times, it’s also the coolest thing I’ve ever done.
To those who have their tent packed for Friday night to camp out in front of Binny’s, or got their name on a list a month ago for bottles of Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout and the different varieties — happy hunting.