For thousands of craft beer fans across the country, Black Friday is about much more than a good deal on a flat-screen TV. It’s the annual release of Goose Island’s coveted Bourbon County Brand Stout, the original barrel-aged stout with tasting notes of chocolate, vanilla, almond, leather, and tobacco. Basically, it’s a heavenly marriage of beer, barrel, and bourbon.
BCBS began in 1992 when then head brewmaster Greg Hall wanted to create something special for the 1,000th batch at Goose Island. This beer was well received, but it wasn’t until 2005 that Goose began bottling it. By 2010, it had a handful of variants available, like coffee and vanilla, and daylong lines were forming for the Black Friday release.
This year’s release includes the Original, Double Barrel, 2-Year Reserve, Reserved Rye, Proprietor’s (a changing variant released only in Chicago; this year’s mimics tiramisu with toasted pecans, coconut, cocoa, and vanilla), Wheatwine, Cafe de Olla, and Mon Cheri (think: cherry cobbler with oats and brown sugar).
Many of Chicagoland’s finer liquor stores will begin BCBS sales on Black Friday (be sure to contact your local haunt if you’re unsure.) Here are a selection of some of the best places around town to catch this bold and boozy Chicago legend.
BCS Tap Takeover at BaseCamp Pub
Head to BaseCamp in suburban Lisle on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for a chance to try all of the 2019 variants in a lively eatery with live music.
Details: November 27, 6–11 p.m.
Binny’s Black Friday
Binny’s Lincoln Park is kind of ground zero for the Bourbon County release. Located directly across the street from the original Goose Island Clybourn brewery, the store begins sales at 7 a.m. on Black Friday, but the line may begin Wednesday night, and Binny’s will begin to manage things with wristbands on Thursday evening. Everyone in line at Lincoln Park will have to purchase a full allocation of all variants. All other Binny’s locations will open at 9 a.m. on Black Friday and offer à la carte sales, but expect lines anywhere BCBS bottles are sold.
FatPour Tap Works
This West Division Street beer bar will be pouring all of the 2019 variants (sans the Double Barrel), plus a wide selection of previous years’ offerings. No need to go for its famous 22-ounce pour of BCBS—keep the pours lean and try ’em all.
Details: November 29, 2–5 p.m.
The Brass Tap Orland Park
Starting at 9 a.m. on Black Friday, head over to the Brass Tap in Orland Park for a full lineup of this year’s variants and some mature favorites from years past.
Details: November 29, 9 a.m.–11 p.m.
Black Friday Tasting Sessions
Goose Island Clybourn does not sell bottles of BCBS, but it will be open and holding guided tastings of all eight 2019 variants by Goose Island brewers for $120. There are six different sessions, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., and they include a take-home bottle of one of this year’s variants, along with small bites and a BCS snifter. Act fast!
Details: November 29; $120
BCS Vintage Tasting & Whirlyball Beat the Brewer
Attending this event will be the best decision you’ll ever make: Enjoy samples of 15% ABV beers and then hop into a bumper car to engage in vigorous competition. There will be vintage BCBS variants from 2009 to 2018 on tap and all of Whirlyball’s interactive games to enjoy.
Details: November 29, 6–10 p.m.; $30
Beer on the Wall BCBS Tapping
This Park Ridge beer store and tap will offer a raffle to allocate its Bourbon County allotment. Between November 20 and 27, sign up for the raffle in-store only. On November 29, the shop will draw names and announce winners, and pickup will happen November 30 and December 1. On Saturday, Beer on the Wall will team up with its neighbor, Harp & Fiddle, to offer all variants on tap.
Details: Raffle sign-ups available through November 27; drawing on November 29