Goose Island’s Official Bourbon County Stout 2020 Lineup Released

In Beer News by Karl

Kentucky Fog is a go. Peaches & Cream Wheatwine … sadly, that’s a “no.”

Bourbon County Stout 2020 Lineup

Goose Island just released this year’s Bourbon County Stout 2020 lineup, and while I’m a little disappointed that a couple things didn’t make the cut, we are definitely getting some interesting (and unexpected) options this year.

The official lineup for this year’s Bourbon County Stout release is:

  1. Bourbon County Stout: The OG.
  2. Bourbon County Kentucky Fog Stout: Black tea, Earl Grey tea and honey (aka BCS Picard)
  3. Bourbon County Special #4 Stout: An oatmeal stout with Intelligensia Coffee and barrel-aged maple syrup (aka Bourbon County Brunch)
  4. Bourbon County Caramella Ale: Wheatwine with “with apple, cinnamon, and natural caramel flavor”
  5. Proprietor’s Bourbon County Stout: Made with “fresh pistachios, cacao nibs, candied Amarena cherries, and natural vanilla flavors” (aka Bourbon County Spumoni)
  6. Birthday Bourbon County Stout: Aged in Old Forester Birthday Bourbon barrels
  7. Anniversary Bourbon County Stout: Aged for two years in Weller 12 Year barrels
Bourbon County Stout 2020 Lineup

Per Brewmaster Keith Gabbett, this year’s offerings are “some of the most exciting flavor combinations yet” and he hopes that BCS fans are “taken on a journey through flavor profiles and nuances that are thought provoking and truly unique.”

Goose President Todd Ahsmann is also excited for the milestone that is the decade-long tradition of the Black Friday beer release. (More on this later.) “Back in 2010 we had no idea the impact our Bourbon County Stout release on Black Friday would have on the craft beer community,” he said, “and today we are proud of the tradition it’s become.”

What About Those Other Labels We Found?

Last week I outlined what we knew thus far from the labels approved by the TTB. Now that the new official lineup is out, it appears that two of the Anniversary options didn’t make the cut. Neither did the Reserve nor the President’s Choice.

Instead of those, we instead get Proprietor’s and Caramella, which were not on our radar at all. (Though I probably should have expected a Prop to pop up.) In addition, Toasted Coconut BCS and Peaches & Cream Wheatwine won’t be making an appearance either. Bummer.

Is this a huge surprise? No. Like I said in our last post:

“From what we’ve observed … 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.”

This year I don’t know if this was really them continuing to mess with us. Maybe they just tried a lot of things, and these were the ones most Ready For Prime Time. If I get the chance to ask, I will.

Unlike other years, though, I’m a little disappointed we’re not getting some of the options they dangled before us. I’d have loved trying Blanton’s BCS (Blanton’s being my go-to fancy bourbon), and the Peaches & Cream Wheatwine sounded genuinely compelling.

Initially, I didn’t think caramel apple had the same appeal as the other varieties, probably because I generally think of apple as an off-flavor. But apparently some early samplers of a barrel-aged “Apple Cart Stout” at Goose Fulton really loved it, per these Untappd scores from last September/October that clock in at a 4.39. If it works in a stout, I can see it working in a wheatwine — so I’ll put it back in the “maybe it’ll work” category.

Similarly, if you got to try this Brunch Stout: Test Beer that’s been making the rounds since last November, it looks like it was finally ready for wide release as well.

Bourbon County Stout Kentucky Fog

BCS Proprietor’s 2020

Bourbon County Stout Special #4

Bourbon County Wheatwine Caramella

Bourbon County Stout Lineup 2020: Some Specs & Details

Goose provided some interesting details about some of these beers — let’s take a quick spin through them.

Kentucky Fog is Goose’s first tea-infused variant, a riff on the London Fog (essentially a tea-based sweetened latte). Brewer Paul Cade’s tea-drinking girlfriend served as inspriation, and this blend is years in the making. He notes that the tea+honey blend “presented an interesting opportunity, a way to bring the rich deep flavors of tea and balance that with the brighter bergamot characteristics like citrus, floral and herbal.”

This year’s Proprietors blend is the first time a brewer gets a second crack at a Prop. Brewer Emily Kosmal also created the 2016 Prop which blended cocoa nibs and chipotle peppers to evoke “a mix of a nice cigar, paired with a Mexican dark chocolate brownie.” This year’s spumoni-inspired version offers “notes of chocolate, sweet cherry, pistachio, and vanilla paired with the rich, oaky, bourbon base of BCS,” per Kosmal. “[It] is the dessert of my dreams.”

The Caramella is definitely going to be the most divisive this year. Last year’s Larceny-barrel-aged Wheatwine was an explosion of boozy sweetness. I’m interested to see what happens when caramel and apple come into play. Created by Goose lab tech Joey Tidei, this blend has its roots in his aunt’s “insanely delicious” apple crumb dessert. He describes the overall effect as “reminiscent of a bold apple brandy.”

Finally, the Bourbon County Brunch, Special #4, offers both cold coffee and Ethiopian “Metad Buku” coffee from longtime partner Intellgensia. That sounds great, but it’s the barrel-aged maple syrup on top that gives me high hopes for this one.

What About The Vertical Collection?

Last year, the company introduced a three-year vertical tasting of OG Bourbon County. At the time, I called it “Ahsmann’s real passion project” and a way to get people into trying different beer vintages, an idea we’ve always loved.

As he told us at the time, “It was really hard to hold beer back … but we did it, and we’re going to continue to do it.”

They aren’t.

The Vertical Collection is not going to be a part of this year’s release. Expect to see plenty of 2018 and 2019 BCS available for many years to come. Or they’re going to sell it overseas. Either one makes sense.

What About This Year’s Black Friday Release Plans?

With an Anniversary BCS celebrating ten years of Black Friday releases, is there going to be an event this year? In spite of … everything going on in the world? Maybe.

According to Ahsmann:

“Our flagship Black Friday BCS release is special to Goose Island and we’re hopeful that we can celebrate our great city of Chicago alongside our fans again this year. We’re continuing to monitor the current situation to ensure the safety of our fans and employees is at the center of our plans. Plans are in progress but details are subject to change and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this situation.”

So there you have it — this year’s Bourbon County Stout 2020 Lineup in all its glory. Seven options means there’s one less BCS variant to track down this year vs. last year. And dare I say… I have higher hopes for the different options this year vs. last year’s adjuncted options.

What else have we learned? Get to Goose Fulton more often if you want to have a chance at the occasional Bourbon County Test Batch. See you in November!

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About the Author



Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago, AskMen and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, is now available via Amazon and other booksellers.If you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.

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