In a move that shouldn’t surprise, Goose Island Beer announced sales of its coveted Bourbon County Brand Stout — the beer that prompts fans to wait in long lines annually on Black Friday — will move online. Those long lines have become an annual tradition for the last decade at stores like Binny’s in Lincoln Park which stands across the street from Goose Island’s original brewpub.
The novel coronavirus has health experts looking unfavorably at lines where people may not stand six-feet away or wear masks for a prolonged period. This is especially problematic at beer events where people routinely trade beers with each other to sample rare brews. Ordering online eliminates the need to stand in line.
Goose Island’s Bourbon County is a thick stout that looks like tar after and is aged in bourbon barrels. The company is credited as a pioneer for this type of beer style. Goose Island releases several flavors of Bourbon County every year (there are seven for 2020). They could be flavored with cherries, vanilla, or aged in different bourbon barrels that impart unique flavorings. The beer also has a heavy kick weighing in at more than 12-percent ABV. Beer fans shopping on Black Friday stock up and try to hunt down every single variant to add to their beer cellars. When the parent company of Budweiser purchased Goose Island, it increased production making the beer available across America and in places like China and England.
Two of the biggest sellers of Bourbon County, Binny’s and Jewel-Osco, on Wednesday announced online lotteries where entrants would have a chance to buy collections of beer. Prices aren’t available, but starting at 10 a.m. Friday, October 16 customers can enter a lottery on Binny’s website for the right to purchase one of two collections. Jewel-Osco has a similar website.
The Tribune’s Josh Noel spoke with Chris Quinn, proprietor of the Beer Temple, the Avondale beer store and bar. Quinn points out 2020 might be an aberration for Goose Island and digital sales. Standing in line is part of the experience. Three Floyds Brewing — which has also shifted to online sales this year — usually sells its barrel-aged beer at a music festival, Dark Lord Day. Companies need to provide customers these types of experiences in order to enjoy success, Quinn says.
Goose Island annual Proprietor’s Day is regularly held outside its Fulton Street production facility. This year, there’s no pomp and circumstance and instead Goose Island will offer curbside pickup at the United Center. While the Beer Temple will also shift to online sales, it will be up to the retailer. In a blog post, Goose Island reps write that they’ve “suggested safety recommendations and resources” to stores and hope retailers will take safety seriously.