Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Co. is calling 2022 its 30th anniversary for its popular barrel-aged Bourbon County Brand Stouts, the pitch-black beers which customers stand in long lines after Thanksgiving to collect. Goose, via a news release, has revealed this year’s beer lineup consists of seven brews. The group includes a biscotti variant and another meant to remind drinkers of fig cookies.
The beers have become a winter tradition — big, and boozy, the type of drink to slowly sip on a frigid day. Many breweries have launched their own versions as it’s a good way to generate buzz among fandom. Bourbon County beers drop on Black Friday every year, with fans standing in line at stores and bars offering tastings of this year’s lineup while also offering vintage pours (many drinkers elect to hoard their bottles, hoping the flavors change with age). In recent years, due to the pandemic, lines have reduced and many beer stores have opted for online drawings to make distribution easier. Ever since Budweiser’s parent bought Goose Island, the beer has been easier to find across the country; Goose makes more of it. Over the last few years, customers could find a few scant bottles at their local grocery store with a few bottles (beer fans call these “shelf turds”) available as late as the summer.
Last year, Goose released eight beers. Here’s the 2022 lineup:
- Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (traditional black label)
- Goose Island Bourbon County Two-Year Barleywine Reserve (dark green label)
- Goose Island Bourbon County 30th Anniversary Reserve Stout (beige label)
- Goose Island Bourbon County Biscotti Stout (dark blue label)
- Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout (red label)
- Goose Island Bourbon County Sir Isaac’s Stout (purple label)
- Goose Island Bourbon County Proprietor’s Stout (sky blue label)
For 2022, the new biscotti stout uses anise, buttered toffee, cocoa, and marzipan, influenced by a chocolate-dipped biscotti, according to a Goose news release. Another beer, Sir Isaac’s Stout, uses Black Mission figs and takes inspiration from graham crackers (Goose didn’t mention Fig Newtons). The beer’s flavors include “dried fruit, honey, molasses, and citrus, all reminiscent of the classic fig cookie sold on shelves today.” This year also brings the return of the coffee stout. This year’s version uses Intelligentsia’s Burundi Turihamwe coffee blend from East Africa.
While the other beers get national and international distribution, Goose Island annually holds back one variant, the sky blue-labeled Proprietor’s, only for the Chicago market. Goose holds an annual festival, Prop Day, based around the beer that comes boxed. This year, Prop takes inspiration from a jungle bird, a rum cocktail first made in the ‘70s in Malaysia. The beer uses banana, coconut, and lime. This will also be the first Bourbon County beer to use pineapple. The tiki drink is meant to give northerners visiting tropical climates an escape from the cold, and the beer hopes to do the same.
Goose Island has been releasing Birthday and Anniversary beers over the last few years to celebrate different milestones. Goose maintains 1992 was the first year the beer was brewed, so this year it’s time for the 30th Anniversary Stout. This will probably get the deluxe packaging of other big-ticket releases. The beer is made with “a blend of Jim Beam barrels from their small batch bourbon collection barrels.” Flavors include chocolate, vanilla, cherry, and almond.
There’s also a barleywine without adjuncts; there are no special ingredients added. Instead, it’s aged for two-years in barrels from Old Fitzgerald. The barleywine’s flavors include toffee, cherry, vanilla, fig, and almond.
While the original isn’t hard to find, it’s hard to predict what variants will be hot and in demand. In Chicago, fans can find most of the beers year-round at Goose Island’s Lincoln Park brewpub or its Fulton Market brewery tasting room. However, those beers won’t be at their original prices.