“We thought we’d never make it again.”
In 1992, Greg Hall wanted to brew something truly unique for Goose Island’s 1,000th batch. He just needed inspiration. Then a chance encounter with Jim Beam’s Booker Noe led Greg to one of craft brewing’s uncharted frontiers, and Bourbon County Stout – the world’s first bourbon barrel-aged brew – was born in six Jim Beam barrels in the crawl space under the original Clybourn Brewpub in Chicago.
As the love for these innovative beers has grown, so has the number of barrels in which Goose Island ages beer. Today, the Goose Island Barrel House is a state-of-the-art facility on Chicago’s West Side dedicated to the pursuit of the finest barrel-aged beers in world.
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout is a limited release imperial stout as dark and dense as a black hole, with thick foam the color of a bourbon barrel. The nose is an intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, caramel and smoke. One sip has more flavor than your average case of beer.
This very special brew arrives at select Midwest Meijer stores on Black Friday, November 25. Look for it at these locations:
A Timeline of Bourbon County
- Bourbon County Brand Stout is first brewed in celebration of the 1,000th batch of beer brewed at Goose Island.
- Bourbon County Brand Stout is entered into the Great American Beer Festival. It’s disqualified due to the beer not fitting into style guidelines of any beer categories at the time. However, it’s awarded an honorable mention.
- The Fulton Street Brewery opens and begins brewing beer for Goose Island fans to enjoy outside the pub.
- Trials of Bourbon County Brand Stout begin at the Fulton Street Brewery.
- Bourbon County Brand Stout is packaged for the first time and released in Chicago.
- Juliet, a Belgian-inspired wild ale with fresh Michigan blackberries, is released. It’s the first new release to come out of a newly formed innovation team at Goose Island. Juliet features 100% secondary fermentation in wine casks with fresh fruit additions.
- The first Bourbon County variant is served at the Festival of Wood and Barrel Aged Beers in Chicago.
- Goose Island expands the barrel program to a warehouse directly across the street from the Fulton Street Brewery. Barrels are filled in the brewery and transported across the street on forklifts.
- Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout is released. It kicks off a partnership with Goose Island’s next-door neighbor, Intelligentsia Coffee. Goose Island uses Intelligentsia’s Black Cat Espresso for the first Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout. Each year thereafter, Goose Island works with Intelligentsia to feature a new coffee bean.
- Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout is released. The beer is aged in bourbon barrels with hand-scraped vanilla beans. Each year, Goose Island develops new variants to highlight flavor profiles inherent in the Original Bourbon County Brand Stout.
- Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout, aged for two years in 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle barrels, is released on Black Friday – starting a tradition of lining up for Bourbon County that continues to this day.
- Lolita, a Belgian Style Wild Ale with fresh Michigan raspberries, is released.
- Madame Rose, a Belgian Style Wild Ale with fresh tart Michigan cherries, is released.
- King Henry, an English-style Barleywine aged in the 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle barrels that aged Bourbon County Stout Rare, is released. (You might think this beer is named for one of England’s noble Henries, but it’s actually named after John Hall’s grandson.)
- Goose Island expands the barrel program to include an adjacent warehouse solely focused on alternative fermentation beers in wine casks with fresh fruit.
- Halia, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale with fresh whole peaches fermented in wine casks, is released.
- Gillian, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale with fresh strawberries, white peppercorn and local honey fermented in wine casks, is released.
- Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout, a special variant previously released only in Chicago to show Goose Island’s gratitude to hometown friends, is released for the first time. This beer features a new recipe each year.
- The Goose Island Barrel House on Chicago’s West Side opens. The Barrel House is over 130,000 square feet, designed and built to the specifications of its brewers, and dedicated to the art of barrel aging beer.