Here Comes Goose Island Bourbon Barrel Aged Seltzer. Yes. For Real.

In Beer News by Karl

Yes: Goose Island is reportedly making a bourbon-barrel aged hard seltzer. Forbes had the first mention of these in their story earlier this month about Goose Island’s hunt for a new brewmaster:

…Goose Island is also looking for two other inventive people to join their innovations team…because Goose Island is expanding into other alcoholic areas. With the reach and the knowledge of barrel-aging, they’re expanding into barrel-aged seltzers. “We will release them later this year,” [Goose GM Todd] Ahsmann says. The Goose Island seltzer line is going through the same level of testing and tasting its beers go through.

Now, we’re seeing the first labels from this new line of beverages emerge.

Let’s just let that sink in for a second. Bourbon barrel aged hard seltzer. From Goose Island. Per one of those labels, “sediment may form.” That’s the first time I’ve ever thought about that in a seltzer. And how long is this actually aged in these barrels? If these bourbon barrels are “freshly emptied,” then is the Goose seltzer getting the first use of these bourbon barrels? And then from there do they go to the Bourbon County Stout team? Will we see a Bourbon County Seltzer Stout this fall? So many questions.

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Per Untappd, drinkers at the Fulton Avenue taproom got an early taste of this back in August-September of last year. At the time it was “aged in Jeppson’s bourbon barrels from Pilsen’s CH Distillery.” The early response appears to be mixed, with a 3.5 Bottlecap rating and most comments ranging from “so weird” to “I think I like it” back to “It’s a bit weird.”

Other Examples of Bourbon Barrel Aged Hard Seltzer (yes, there are some):

Believe it or not, this is not entirely new. New Holland’s Dragons Share barrel-aged seltzer emerged in April with four flavors: Orange, cherry, blackberry and “original” which I guess just means unflavored aside from the barrel aging?

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Similarly, Upland Brewing’s “Naked Barrel” line of seltzers came out in January, promising “a unique blend of naturally fermented hard seltzer with oak-aged wild ale.” And that sounds pretty good!

Goose is reportedly also entering the canned cocktail world later this year as well, with Forbes saying it’s thanks to, “in part, … the relationships that Goose Island has grown with Kentucky distillers. ‘We’re going to enter the canned cocktail world of brown spirits,” Ahsmann says. “I think we’ll put our twist on some traditional cocktails.'”

The brewery that launched Chicago’s craft beer scene just celebrated their 33rd birthday – an astounding run for an American beermaker. Now, it seems, they’re entering a new chapter, where beer is no longer 100% of the focus. Is the Goose brand strong enough to stand up a non-beer option amongst the thousands of seltzers and canned cocktails already in the world?

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I guess we’re going to find out. Here comes the new Goose Island beverage company.

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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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