Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stouts return


Some Black Friday shopping goals are filled with foam and fermentation.

Each year since 2010, beer lovers have lined up – some even camped out – at beer sellers around the U.S. on the day after Thanksgiving to snatch up the Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Co.’s bourbon-barrel aged original Bourbon County Brand Stout and additional flavored beers.

“As far as we know, it started the whole craze of people enjoying lining up to buy beer,” said Goose Island president Todd Ahsmann. “Now you can find people lining up pretty much any weekend all over the country for different beer releases, but back then it was really novel.”

Just as traditional stores plan to monitor and modify Black Friday crowd flow stressing online shopping and curbside pickup, Goose Island has asked retailers to take safety measures to prevent any unneeded crowd gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic. Some stores have already held lotteries and others will have special processes to pre-purchase the beer and have select times to pick it up. (Check local retailers.)

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“We are all in this together and ask that you respect social distancing measures put in place and be patient with us and your local retailer or bottle shop,” the brewery said in a blog post last month. “While the process of purchasing this year’s BCS lineup may be a little different, what’s in the bottle is what it’s all about … and we promise it’ll be worth it.”

Those who’ve gotten an early taste of the seven beers being released Friday say this year’s batch of Bourbon County Stouts is exceptional. “It is one of the best lineups Goose Island has done in a long time,” said Josh Noel, a beer writer at the Chicago Tribune, who surveyed several beer writers about the brews.

What’s the big deal about Bourbon County Stout, which pour out inky smooth and have a boozy richness? “What attracts me is how layered and flavorful it is,” said Noel, who is also the author of “Barrel-Aged Stout and Selling Out: Goose Island, Anheuser-Busch, and How Craft Beer Became Big Business.” Anheuser-Busch set off a wave of big beer company acquisitions of independent regional breweries by buying Goose Island in 2011.

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