Wild Goose Chase – Goose Island Bourbon County Stout 2016

I attended the 2016 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout (BCS) press launch last night, and as you would expect the beer was wondrous. I won’t attempt to convey its essence with tasting notes – that’s better left to those whose palate hasn’t been wrecked by a west of Scotland diet of fried food, Irn Bru and Wham Bars. Goose Island’s ‘Innovation Brewer’ Tim Faith talked us through the brewing process and there was a Q&A in which he answered my question about flash pasteurisation with honesty – this is a beer that will still develop with time (for the background on why Goose Island made the decision to pasteurise see here).

The purpose of the event was to promote the silly ‘Black Friday’ event at Clapton Craft in Kentish Town tomorrow. If you don’t know, 100 bottles of Bourbon County Stout will be available from 11am, with a two bottle limit per person in what is the only UK release. I had planned on asking our hosts whether they were attempting to artificially transport the phenomenon of crowds camping out for beer releases, as witnessed in the USA, but didn’t need to as it was made clear that this was indeed the event’s raison d’être.

This is a concept that doesn’t sit well with me. For starters, it’s unlikely that students, the out of work or senior citizens have £20 to spend on a bottle of beer – and who else is free on a weekday morning? How about the two bottle allowance? If I was free I’d grab two as I’d like to drink one and age one, but this also runs the risk of people looking to turn a profit on this high demand product. I don’t believe for one moment that Goose Island couldn’t have brought more BCS to the UK, and believe this is simply designed to create hype (I do see the irony in writing a blog post about it, give me some credit).

You’re probably thinking ‘so fucking what, that’s capitalism’, and I agree. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’m not a ‘craft beer’ zealot who refuses to drink beer made by macros, and believe that Goose Island remains an amazing producer of beer. I listened to The Full Pint podcast this week in which ‘Danny Fullpint’ (sigh) came across as sad and bitter when discussing the infection of BCS 2015 – it was very unseemly. To his credit, Jim Crooks of Firestone Walker Barrel Works didn’t indulge him, and it made for awkward listening. However, I don’t like it when any brewery indulges in such blatant manufacture of hype, especially when there is no need to. With BCS it really would be better to let the beer do the talking.

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event by Goose Island’s PR company, Shine PR, and didn’t pay for the beer or the food that was provided. I’m very grateful for the invitation, and regard myself as incredibly fortunate to have tasted Bourbon County Stout 2016 – it’s exquisite. Whether I’m invited to future events remains to be seen…

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