Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout (BCS) put out a lineup this year that has been well-received with variants that highlight the subtleties of the stout as well as the impressive array of barrels used for this year’s batch. It turns out, however, that the brewery wasn’t entirely done with that theme.
The Anheuser-Busch InBev-owned brewery has secretly put three other variants into stores, something confirmed by the Chicago Tribune over the weekend. Each of the three “secret” variants is a single-barrel expression of barrels featured in the blend for the BCS Original. The single-barrel expressions, which Goose Island President Todd Ahsmann refers to as “Easter eggs,” were only aged in barrels from either Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey, or Buffalo Trace.
The secret was discovered by perceptive drinkers and has been confirmed to Thrillist by a brewery representative. The limited-edition bottles look exactly like the original stout, but on the back, near the barcode and ABV mark, the print-on numbers for these editions will end in two letters. “BT” for Buffalo Trace, “HH” for Heaven Hill, and “WT” for Wild Turkey. That’s the only way you’re able to distinguish an original BCS from these single-barrel versions that are normally reserved for brewers to taste as a part of the blending process.
“We always like to keep our fans on their toes, and this year we wanted to celebrate the great distillery partnerships we’ve formed over the years,” Brewmaster Keith Gabbett said in a statement provided to Thrillist. “We can’t wait for you to taste the different flavor nuances, and we know people will be excited but we encourage fans to follow social distancing guidelines at their local stores and be courteous to employees as we continue to try and keep things safe and fun for all.”
Here’s the inevitable bad news for anyone excited about these extra variants: You’re only going to be able to find them in the Chicago area. Nonetheless, this release is likely to get fans excited about the original BCS as drinkers have paid more attention to the variants in recent years. Turning the original into a variant is one way to reinvigorate interest in the standby.