November 23, 2016
2 mins read

Hundreds of people will start lining up in the dark, chilly hours before the sun rises on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Some of these intrepid shoppers will not be waiting for the local big-box retailer to open, they will be waiting outside local beer shops for one of the beer world’s most anticipated brews: Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS). Since 2010, Goose Island Beer Company has been playing off Black Friday by releasing their coveted Bourbon County brews on the day after Thanksgiving. Inky black beers are much better than chaotic dashes to nab a $99 flat screen television, after all.

“Last year, for the Bourbon County release,” explained Jeff Burns, co-owner of Beer:30 in San Marco, “people started lining up behind our store very early in the morning before we had even opened for business.”

Several events intersected to create BCBS in 1992. The first was a chance meeting between Goose Island’s then-brewmaster Greg Hall and legendary bourbon man Booker Noe of Jim Beam, who has since passed away. Seated next to one another at a beer and spirits dinner, the two began chatting about Hall’s idea to age beer in bourbon barrels. By the end of the dinner, they’d agreed to try it. The second event was the brewing of Goose Island’s 1,000th batch of beer. Hall, wanting to make something special for the landmark batch, contacted Noe and acquired several used bourbon barrels, which then were filled with rich, thick stout and aged 100 days. The result was the first batch of Bourbon County Brand Stout.

In the beginning, the stout was only served at the brewery’s taproom. The beer-drinking public loved it and word quickly spread of the outrageously alcoholic, motor oil-thick brew that was like nothing anyone had ever tasted before. The marriage of the two was magical. The brew was heavy with bourbon flavors like oak and vanilla, but also retained the essences of stout beer, like coffee and chocolate. Hence, one of the first monster special release brews was born. 

Now, more than 20 years later, the competition to get a yearly allotment of the brews continues unabated. To wile away hours in line, many bring coveted bottles from their own collections to share. This sharing of beer has come to be a tradition of sorts in lines for bottle releases around the country.

This year, the lineup from Goose Island will include three brews: the flagship Bourbon County Brand Stout, Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout and Bourbon County Brand Barleywine Ale. A fourth varietal, Bourbon County Maple Rye Stout, won’t be ready for a while longer and when it is, will only be available in Chicago.

You might want to get in line early because this year’s release is smaller due to infected (soured) barrels. The infection is not harmful to humans, but it changes the beer from its intended flavor profile. In response to the infection, Goose Island implemented a controversial pasteurization program. In this process, bottles of the beer are quickly heated to kill off wayward bacteria.

You can line up for BCBS at the bottle shops listed below:

  • Beer:30 – San Marco, 1543 San Marco Blvd.
  • Beer:30 – King Street, 1271 King St.
  • Really Good Beer Stop, 323 10th Ave. N., Jax Beach

Folio is your guide to entertainment and culture around and near Jacksonville, Florida. We cover events, concerts, restaurants, theatre, sports, art, happenings, and all things about living and visiting Jax. Folio serves more than two million readers across Jacksonville and Northeast Florida, including St. Augustine, The Beaches, and Fernandina.

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