Instead of waiting in line at all the big-box stores and getting a TV on Black Friday, wouldn't you rather wait in line for beer? Really, really good beer? This year's Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout lineup is pretty impressive, and Binny's locations across the city will be slinging it out until their supplies run dry.
All Chicagoland Binny's will have an allocation of the beers to sell starting at 9am, but the largest will be at Binny's Lincoln Park location, across from Goose Island Clybourn (which is also doing a ticketed tasting event, but will not have any bottles for sale). Binny's recommends that anyone who wants a bottle should get in line early, because those at the front of the line will get extra special perks—think doughnuts, Goose Island gift bags and coffee. Plus, Binny's announced that they will allow people in line to buy one 22-ounce or two 12-ounce vintage bottles of BCBS, though numbers on allotments are not available. But if you missed out on Vanilla Rye last year like I did, now's your chance.
BCBS is in a new bottle this year—all varieties will come in a 16.9-ounce bottle with Goose Island's branding embossed on the glass. Binny's is allowing everyone in line with a ticket (tickets will be passed out when the line starts forming) to buy two bottles of the original Bourbon County Stout and one bottle of any variety (Barleywine, Coffee Stout, Proprietor's, Rare and Regal Rye).
We got a chance to try out the whole lineup for 2015, and admittedly, they're all pretty darn good. Rare stands out at the top of the list, and it's aged in forgotten 35-year-old Heaven Hill barrels for two years, giving it the smoothest bourbon and oak taste. Proprietor's follows it, and it's made this year with bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, toasted pecans and guajillo peppers. It's a concoction from Di Rodriguez, who was tasked with the (actually amazingly difficult) task of tasting each barrel of BCBS for consistency in 2014. Beyond that, Regal Rye, Coffee and original are all great choices. The cherry in Regal Rye really shines through, the coffee is nicely balanced and the original may be the most rounded and immediately drinkable BCBS original I've had. Barleywine, the only non-stout variety of the bunch, is aged in barrels that housed original BCBS last year. It rounds out the bottom of the list due to its similarities to previous years' barleywines and is a bit too sweet for my taste, though it's still a truly great beer for those who love the style.
Vintage offerings at Binny's Lincoln Park:
2009 Bourbon County Brand Stout - 22 oz.
2010 Bourbon County Brand Stout - 12 oz.
2011 Bourbon County Brand Stout - 12 oz.
2012 Bourbon County Brand Stout - 12 oz.
2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout - 12 oz.
2013 Bourbon County Brand Stout Backyard Rye - 22 oz.
2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout - 12 oz.
2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout Proprietor's - 22 oz.
2014 Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla Rye - 22 oz.