If you were amongst the people out getting a head start on your Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving you might have noticed a line of customers at your local beer store. I am not a Black Friday shopper, while I imagine that watching people get in a fist fight over a $90 TV at WalMart would drive some to drink, this wasn’t the reason for this particular line. Beer does make an excellent Christmas present (hint, hint to anyone who needs a gift idea for yours truly), but it’s not one of the commodities that usually draws the Black Friday crowds. The reason for the line was probably the release of Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS), the barrel aged series of beers that Goose Island releases just once a year, only on Black Friday. BCBS has always been amongst Goose Island’s most popular beers, and while they have recently expanded production these brews are still very limited and the rare variants typically sell out within hours. I spend my Thanksgiving holiday in the middle of nowhere in Maine, which is nice and peaceful but doesn’t put me close to any bottle shops that stock BCBS. Fortunately the nice people at Goose Island provided me with a few samples of this years run, and I found a few more at a local store when I got back from break, so I have some to sample now and some to age. The standard BCBS is a big and bold imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels, ready to drink now but also worth storing in a cellar to see how it evolves over time.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2015 pours midnight black with a mild light brown head. The scent is full of bourbon, roasted malt and oak. The taste starts with the bourbon barrels, touches of vanilla and boozy sweetness, evident but not overwhelming. There is also full malt flavor, notes of chocolate, espresso, toffee and toast. The hops are minimal, but enough to keep the beer from being overly sweet. BCBS is a full bodied sipper, but it’s incredibly smooth and dangerously easy to drink for a beer with 14.2% ABV. The finish is clean with some lingering malty and boozy sweetness. There is a reason people wait in line for this beer, it is spectacular, one of the best barrel aged stouts I’ve tasted. I am excited to try a few of the variants and see what a year in the cellar does to my extra bottles! Hoppy Boston score: 5.0/5