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Black Friday's Best Deal: Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stouts

By Ben Kramer in Food on Nov 25, 2014 4:30PM

Via Goose Island

What should not be lost among the Black Friday penny pinching and eye raking is Nov. 28 is also the release day for Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stouts. Holding a perfect 100 on Beer Advocate, this bourbon barrel aged beer has its own own holiday—a boozy precursor to Christmas.

The traditional Bourbon County Stout is aged for a year in the barrel. The barrels include Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, and Heaven Hill, just to name a few. Once ready, the barrels are mixed and poured into a large tank, where they all settle together. In the tank, the batch picks up the nuances and notes of each barrel before being bottled. Mike Siegel, Goose Island’s Innovation Manager, describes BCS' flavor profile as, “the difference between a chord and single note,” meaning it’s packed with flavors, including bourbon, chocolate, vanilla, cherry, and marshmallow.

Alongside the traditional BCS, Goose Island is releasing four other beers related to the stout. Bourbon County Coffee Stout is a collaboration with Intelligentsia Coffee. How this beer works is the coffee is cold brewed and then pumped into the beer after it’s left the barrel and in the tank. The reasoning for this Siegel says is, “We feel like you’re gonna get the best flavor and aroma from that coffee fresh. We want to brew the coffee, get it right in the beer, and package it.”

The Barleywine was introduced last year and returns again after a popular reception. Unlike the traditional stout, the Barleywine is aged in the barrel for six months. It’s also filled in barrels that once held BCS, not barrels that only held bourbon. These barrels have just enough bourbon and BCS flavor to give it an extra edge. Of what to expect in taste, Siegel says, “It’s a real malty beer, that has some residual sweetness...a lot of fruitness, lot of dried fruit.”

Proprietor's is aged in rye whiskey barrels, but it’s much more than stout and rye. Made with cassia bark (which gives the beer a cinnamon-like character), cocoa nibs, and a simple syrup comprised of vanilla sugar and coconut water, this beer may be the most adventurous of this year's BCS family. Unlike the other stouts in the line, Proprietor’s is served only in 22-ounce bottles.

The final family member is Vanilla Rye, a beer Goose Island hasn’t produced in four years. On why they brought it back, Siegel remarked, “People were asking...we could no longer say no.” This year's version contains a mix of Madagascar and Mexican vanilla beans. Madagascar vanilla is the type we’re most accustomed to, the type used in vanilla ice cream, but the Mexican vanilla, Siegel explains, has, “an earthiness to it...a distinct cocoa aroma (too).” Much like Proprietor’s, this beer is only sold in 22-ounce bottles.

Binny’s is your best bet to snag all the Bourbon County beers, but don’t wait too long. This beer disappears fast, and it’s not one to miss. (Just ask Beer Advocate!)