Stout fans rejoice: Goose Island has unveiled the 2021 lineup for their popular Bourbon County Stout series.
More than twenty years ago, former Head Brewer Greg Hall wanted to create something unique for the brewpub’s 1,000th batch. A chance encounter between Hall and Jim Beam’s Booker Noe led to Goose Island acquiring barrels for what was to become among the world’s first bourbon barrel-aged beers.
Today, Bourbon County Stout is a globally distributed brand, annually released, and often collected by beer fans. This year’s lineup features partnerships with distilleries such as Heaven Hill, Old Forester and Buffalo Trace.
Goose Island will release eight variants this year:
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Cherry Wood Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Reserve 150 Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Double Barrel Toasted Barrel Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Reserve Blanton’s Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Classic Cola Stout
- Goose Island Bourbon County Fourteen Stout
- Goose Island Proprietor’s Stout
These bottles hit shelves the day after Thanksgiving.
Individual descriptions of each release are as follows:
Bourbon County Stout
14% and 14.4% ABV
The original. This rich imperial stout is blended from a mix of bourbon barrels from distilleries such as Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey and Buffalo Trace, each aged in freshly emptied bourbon barrels for 8-14 months. Expect flavors of chocolate and vanilla, oak, whiskey and molasses, followed by caramel, berry fruit and almond.
Bourbon County Cherry Wood Stout
This is fully matured Bourbon County Stout finished with toasted fruitwood — specifically, honeycomb-shaped cherry wood chips. The versatility of the cherry wood and honeycomb shape allowed for maximum flavor extraction, the company says, revealing characteristics like red fruit, ripe cherry and light toffee, which are not found in the original oak barrel itself.
Bourbon County Reserve 150 Stout
Aged for one year in Old Forester’s 150th Anniversary Bourbon Barrels. Expect barrel-forward flavor with notes of chocolate, vanilla and coconut, followed with molasses, almond, berry and oak.
Bourbon County Double Barrel Toasted Barrel Stout
Aged for one year in Elijah Craig’s Small Batch Bourbon Barrels, then another year in Elijah Craig Toasted Bourbon Barrels. In addition to the familiar chocolate, caramel and vanilla comes flavors of toasted marshmallow and a fruit and oak finish. This is only the second time the brewery has packaged a “Double Barrel” Bourbon County Stout
Bourbon County Reserve Blanton’s Stout
Aged for 18 months in barrels from one of the most sought-after bourbons — Blanton’s Original Single Barrel Bourbon. This has dark chocolate and oak notes, finished with warm aromatics of baking spices such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Bourbon County Classic Cola Stout
Brewers Paul Cade and Jason Krasowski bonded over their love for a classic cola while creating the Classic Cola Stout, the company says. They added lime and orange juice and zest, plus coriander, cassia bark, nutmeg, brown sugar and vanilla to bring out the characters of the classic drink.
Bourbon County Fourteen Stout
TBD ABV; awaiting final bottling details
Available only in Chicago. This pays homage to the popular Proprietor’s 2014 recipe, but adds rye to the mash bill. Layering cassia bark, cocoa nibs, panela sugar and coconut water, this stout has a sweet and spicy flavor profile.
Proprietor’s Bourbon County Stout
TBD ABV; awaiting final bottling details
For the second year in a row, Proprietor’s Bourbon County Stout is inspired by a classic frozen treat and brewed again by Emily Kosmal. Aged in bourbon barrels and blended with strawberries, vanilla and coconut, reminiscent of a strawberry ice cream bar. These elements come together to create flavors of shortcake, layered with vanilla and topped off with the slight fruitiness of strawberries, similar to the ice cream bar’s strawberry core. Kosmal — who also created the concept for 2016 Proprietor’s and 2020 Proprietor’s — is the first brewer to have three Proprietor’s concepts picked for release.