I know. I know. I said yesterday that I only wanted the two variants I bought yesterday—the Mon Chéri and the Café de Olla—and that I was happy to leave Total Wine without the Wheatwine variant. I know! I said that maybe when I got my bonus in two weeks, I’d go back and try to find more variants. Stop judging me!
Today, my wife and I went to the vet to pick up the memorial prints they made us for Brutus (our birdy that we had to put down last week). Afterward, we decided to stop by Stop & Shop for groceries. We were in a different town, so we popped Stop & Shop into the GPS and went. Guess where it was! Yep… the same shopping plaza as Total Wine. I said to myself OK. I’ll pop in. They’ll be sold out, and I won’t be able to buy it. And I’ll be happy to go home. Turns out they had the Wheatwine Ale. So now I do too. I’m only one man. I’m weak!
Anyway, this one is different from last year’s award-winning release because it is aged in Larceny wheated bourbon casks from Heaven Hill. I hope it’s good!
Did you guys find any others on Day 2? Let me know in the comments below!
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If you guys recall from last year, I managed to track down every single Bourbon County Brand Stout release from Goose Island Beer Company. This year, with that hunt out of my system, I decided not to go all-out crazy on Black Friday, setting my sights on the regular release and two variants—the Brand Café de Olla Stout and the Brand Mon Chéri Stout.
According to Goose Island, the Café de Olla is inspired by the traditional Mexican beverage of the same name. They added coffee beans and cold coffee to regular BCBS and then added cassia bark, orange peel and panela sugar to make it even better. The Mon Chéri, meanwhile, is billed by the brewery as a “love letter from our brewer, Quinn, to his wife who loves cherries.” It’s made with Balenton and Montmorency cherries with a bit of brown sugar added for flavor.
Thankfully, my local Total Wine in Norwalk, CT had everything I wanted! They also had the Bourbon County Wheatwine, but I decided to save myself $25 and just stick to the ones I had my heart set on. That being said, I do get my bonus in a couple of weeks…perhaps the hunt will be back on then?
Are you guys on the hunt for this year’s releases? Let me know in the comments below!
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A month later, I got a random DM from my good buddy, @bedwetr7 aka Josh. He had seen in my Instagram stories that I was hoping to score a Proprietor’s—a story I had posted mostly as a shot in the dark—and he’d answered my call.
Josh contacted me saying that he’d bought one with me in mind, if I was interested in a trade. All Josh wanted was some Trillium brews. I was pretty shocked. The Proprietor’s goes on Ebay for tons of money, after all. To get an offer for a fair amount of brews was great. Thankfully, I don’t live prohibitively far away from either Trillium location, and I’m always looking for a reason to go to them. I asked Josh to cellar my stout for a month while I planned a road trip to Canton. Two Saturdays ago, I went (you’ve been seeing the fruits of that trip for the last 9 days). A week later, I shipped out his beers, and he shipped me mine.
Last night, I got my end of the trade, and completed the greatest beer hunt of my Windowsill’s young life. So, what makes the Proprietor’s so special? Every year, Goose Island makes a special version of their Bourbon County Brand Stout for the ones they consider “the adventurous beer lovers who responded so favorably to our first batch of Bourbon County Brand Stout in the early 90s, and who loyally, year after year, share our passion for bourbon barrel-aged stout.”
The Proprietor’s is always the best of the best, made with unique ingredients from the rest and a special recipe put together by Brian LaGro. For 2018, the magic word is chocolate. It uses a combination of dark chocolate and two kinds of cocoa nibs. It’s rich, decadent and includes all the chocolate flavors, from “silky milk chocolate” to “deep and earth dark chocolate.”
Head over to Instagram to see this one it all its glory. Make sure you follow Beers on Windowsills for more great beer!
One thing beer hunting has taught me, it’s to never give up. This beer is proof that it pays to keep working the internet and the phones when you’re trying to track down specialty brews. Being that I don’t want to pay over $100 or more for the Chicago-only Proprietor’s Stout (that’s what “empty” bottles are selling for on Ebay), the acquisition of this 2018 Bourbon County Brand Reserve brings to an end my hunt for this year’s BCBs from Goose Island Beer Company. It was a fun ride, too!
How did I get the 2018 Reserve? I went back to a watering hole that had previously been emptied—the East Side Grocery on 2nd between 74th and 75th. Knowing they were expecting another shipment, I called them Thursday afternoon, and they graciously held me a bottle. Store policy dictated that I also had to buy another flavor in order to get the 2018 Reserve, which I suppose is fair enough. I ended up deciding on another bottle of the regular Bourbon County Brand Stout, which was the cheapest option available. Good to have another one for cellaring anyway, right?
I have to give yet another shout out to Windowsill Hero, Kristena, who once again saved me a 30-block trek to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. She actually also saved me from not getting the 2018 Reserve at all. As it turns out, through what I assume is a miscommunication, when she got to the store, they didn’t have my bottle held, and claimed to never have heard of any Kristena. Did she give up? No! Like any true Windowsiller, she—in her own words—caused a scene until they “magically found” one last bottle behind the counter. She made the clerk so nervous that he had to call the owner… twice! Anyway, she bought it, and delivered it to my desk the next day. Hero! It’s good to have friends who enjoy a good treasure hunt!
The difference between the 2018 Reserve and the 2018 regular is all in the barrels. The recipe for both beers is exactly the same. Same malts, same hops, same aging time. Other than the packaging—how cool is that box and the silver label?—the only distinction between the two is that the 2018 Reserve is aged in 12-year-old Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bourbon barrels. The Elijah Craig won whiskey of the year from Whisky Advocate, which is basically the top prize in the industry. I bet it’s gonna be smooth. I hope so, anyway… it was pricey!
Anybody want to send me the Proprietor’s Stout? Lol. Worth a shot, I think!
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I’m still hunting down the BCB releases for my Windowsill!
BeerMenus saves the day again! I sat down to eat my lunch today, which gave me an opportunity to search for more places around my office that might be carrying Goose Island Beer Company’s 2018 Bourbon County Brand releases. Again, I hit upon a local shop with several of the variants, including the Bramble Rye Stout! The place, Malt & Mold-Gramercy on 2nd Ave between 21st and 22nd, is a small shop that sells two basic things: Craft beer (the Malt part of the name) and Cheese (the Mold part of the name). I’d never heard of it, but it ended up being pretty awesome. Check out the beer and cheese gift baskets they do!
As any good hunter knows, if you have the chance to get your prey, you take it. I called up Malt & Mold to confirm that they, indeed, had the Bramble Rye, and had them hold me a bottle. I gathered my heavy jacket (it’s cold out there in these NYC streets), and my hat, and started the roughly 24-block-walk. I hustled all the way, making it basically in 20 minutes. I couldn’t browse long because I had to get back to the office, but the little I did see was pretty impressive. Lots of solid craft beer, including what looked like the remnants of several cases of the BCB releases and even the 2018 Founders CBS (You’ll be mine soon, horse). In short order, I picked up the bottle from behind the counter and paid for it. I returned to work feeling great… the thrill of the successful hunt! I may or may not have changed the lyrics to “Bamboleo” by the Gypsy Kings to “Bramble-eyo.” Reports of that are, and will remain, forever unconfirmed.
The Bramble Rye is a little bit different than the other BCB stouts. First of all it’s aged in rye whisky barrels, rather than the traditional bourbon barrels used for the other variants. Secondly, Goose Island brewed this one with additions of blackberry and raspberry—in both juice and pureé form. The fruity stout is something I haven’t been able to taste too often, but I’m excited to crack this one open, and soon.
What’s your favorite variant so far? What has been the toughest to track down?
Check this one out on Instagram right now! You can also see the other variants!
As the great Beatles song says, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Every good beer hunter knows that sometimes you have to rely on the eyes, ears and hell sometimes even the feet and money of your buddies to get those rare brews. That’s how I ended up getting my hands on this bottle of the 2018 Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine from Goose Island Beer Company.
I have the luxury of working in Midtown Manhattan—ok it’s not always a luxury—with access to an entire city’s worth of craft beer. A quick search on BeerMenus revealed the existence of a little bodega named the East Side Grocery, on 2nd Avenue, between 74th and 75th on the Upper East Side. Not only did the site say the grocery had the Bourbon County Brand Stout, it also said they’d gotten the Barleywine, the Bramble Rye Stout AND the BCBS Reserve. Say what?
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to make the 30-block walk. Rather than give up, I did some digging and found a friend that lived near the store. Kristena didn’t know she was going to be a Windowsill hero when she woke up yesterday, but she stepped up to the challenge and, although the bodega was out of the Reserve and the Bramble Rye, she snagged me the Coffee Barleywine on her way home!
The exciting part about this beer is that it’s the first ever Bourbon County Coffee Barleywine release. It’s a traditional, malt forward English-style Barleywine aged in 4+ year old Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels. Goose Island worked with Chicago’s Intelligentsia Coffee, flying all the way to Guatemala to source some of the world’s best coffee—Finca La Soledad. I’ve never had a coffee barleywine before, and I can’t wait to try it!
Pop over to Instagram to see our other 2018 Bourbon County Brand Releases. Make sure you like and follow!
Thought I was done with these on the sill, but surprise, surprise!
There’s only one thing better than scoring a specialty release beer on the day it hits stores: Getting one of the rare variants three days after it reaches shelves! Thanks to my good buddy, Brian, and a well-placed day off from my day job, I managed to snag the Goose Island Beer Company Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout from Ridgefield Wine & Spirits in Ridgefield, CT.
I was driving around town after running some errands, when I got the word from Brian. I immediately drove to get some coffee—a little Nitro from Donut Crazy in Westport—and then made the roughly 30-minute drive to Ridgefield. Although the cashier temporarily put a fright in me by saying the system showed they didn’t have any left, she quickly asked the manager and he came out from the back with a bottle for me. I snagged the second-to-last one!
I will be reposting this once I taste it—probably some time in early 2019—but I was too proud of my find to not share it with you guys. Like the other Bourbon County Brand Stouts, this one is aged in bourbon barrels that are at least four years old. However, Goose Island’s brewers decided to add Grade A vanilla beans from Madagascar to the mix. The vanilla variant has been gone from the Bourbon County Brand release lineup for a number of years, but it’s back for 2018… and on my Windowsill.
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Now, this release is not without controversy in the craft beer community. You see, back in 2011, the Chicago-based brewery was purchased… by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Yep… Big Beer. For many craft enthusiasts, this was the end of the Goose. No Big Beer will touch their lips, and so, no matter how good a Goose beer is, the Goose is dead to them. I respect that, but for me? If you take the time and care to make a beer like this, you’re still making craft. It’s craft supported by a giant corporation—the enemy of small batch and craft breweries everywhere—but it’s still a work of art. I still believe this beer is great, and I’ll continue to try to snag some every year… Big Beer or not.
What do you guys think? Should BCB lovers be ousted from the craft beer community? Or is it OK to lust after this quality stout every Black Friday? While you mull it over, check out some more information about the releases I’ve been able to score so far.
2016 Bourbon County Brand Stout
Style: Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Special Notes: Aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels that are at least 4 years old.
Malts: 2-Row, Black Malt, Caramel, Chocolate, Munich 10, Roasted Barley
Special Notes: The Wheatwine Ale is making its debut in 2018 as the first of the Bourbon County Brand brews to deviate from the imperial stout recipe since the Barleywine debuted back in 2013. Aged in Heaven Hill Bourbon barrels that are at least 4 years old.
Malts: 2-Row, White Wheat
Availability: Even more limited… Why are you still reading?