It’s starting to look like … maybe there won’t be any fake labels this year?
Every year around this time, those of us who watch the TTB like hawks start anticipating the roll out of the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2020 labels. In fact, we’ve already started seeing labels clear the TTB approval rolls since April. And this year is finally shaping up to be pretty interesting.
Some back info: A few years ago, Goose Island started sending a variety of labels to the TTB, some of which they were not going to produce. The Tribune covered this a bit here, but suffice to say — for the last few years we’ve learned not to get our hopes up over a Dry-Hopped BCS or a Horchata County Stout. (I still think that last one would be solid.)
From what we’ve observed, there’s a bit of structure to this. If a label came out only for keg release, it was a fake. If they also had a designer prepare labels for the bottle, it would be a real one.
So far this year, every BCS label has both.
So either Goose got tired of the joke, or they’re doubling down. Either way, they’ve got some interesting ideas for 2020! Let’s take a look.
Bourbon County Stout 2020: The Year of Buffalo Trace & Old Forester?
The first labels we saw pop up (outside of the OG BCS) were for beers much like the 2019 lineup — extremely barrel heavy. Great news for Buffalo Trace-brand bourbon enthusiasts — we can expect BCS aged in Eagle Rare, Weller and Blanton’s barrels.
All of those barrel-focused stouts include a part of the label marked “Anniversary” . Is this another indication that the company is accepting the research that the beer started in 1995, instead of ’92 as they originally claimed? Sure seems like it.
This also represents a break from the last few years which saw a Heaven Hill heavy focus (last year’s barrels included Rittenhouse Rye and Larceny Bourbon as well as Elijah Craig).
On the Old Forester front:
There’s also a beer called Birthday Bourbon County aged in Old Forester Birthday barrels, Bourbon County President’s Choice in 2019 Old Forester President’s Choice barrels, plus a Bourbon County Reserve label for Old Forester 1910-aged BCS:
We found those a few months back … and since then we’ve waited for a while. I was starting to think Goose was going to give us an all-barrel Black Friday this year but within the last couple weeks a few more options have appeared.
And they sound kinda fun.
Bourbon County Stout 2020: The Adjuncts
The first one we spotted is what they call Special #4 Stout, but we’re calling Bourbon County Brunch. It’s got barrel-aged maple syrup and Intelligensia coffee listed as adjuncts, which means that we get some kind of return to a coffee BCS this year. (Last year just Wheatwine had coffee added, so no doubt hardcore BCS Coffee fans will be looking forward to this one.)
Next we spotted Bourbon County Toasted Coconut:
Following that, we found a label that seemed fake initially. Recently however, a bottle label emerged for Bourbon County Kentucky Fog, boasting Earl Grey tea, black tea and honey. This one will be unlike any BCS we’ve ever seen.
Finally comes the weirdest one we’ve seen in years — Peaches & Cream Wheatwine.
The last couple years of Wheatwine have been divisive amongst fans but we’ve loved both years for offering a big, sweet, syrupy, boozy dreamsicle of a beer, so aging this on peaches and vanilla honestly makes perfect sense. Bourbon and peach is a classic cocktail combination, and extra vanilla never hurts — so we’re looking forward to this one for sure.
So when will we know what’s coming out for sure?
Last year, Goose released official details in mid-August, so I find it unlikely that any final labels will trickle out — but one never knows.
Are these the real deal? Is this the full lineup? We should find out pretty soon.
Need more BCS news? Here’s all of our previous Bourbon County Stout coverage, including our yearly reviews going back a half-decade.