The Great Bourbon County Brand Swerve

Hey guys! Are you excited for Neapolitan stouts?! Strawberry! Chocolate! Vanilla! You know, like that great beer Cycle and 3 Sons made, or the allegedly unsanctioned Bourbon County Brand Scooop also made by 3 Sons, or that More Double Rainbow that was pretty okay?

What about a cinnamon forward Horchata stout?  It could be a fun spin on the Mexican drink that’s very popular as almost a dessert drink. This beer style that has had fairly successful efforts done by Untitled Art, and Ballast Point. Just think what a fresh take on Bourbon County this could be.

Just kidding. Those beers aren’t real. Goose Island got you good.

They played beer people like a bunch of rubes

If you haven’t already read by now, the official lineup of bottle variants of Bourbon County Brand Stout was released today.  It included 2 of their mainstays, and several other variants learned about via TTB label filings. The list skewed towards bringing back old favorites like Bramble and Vanilla Stout, but missing from the list was the previously teased variants, as well as the now annual favorite Coffee and Barleywine, replaced with well, a Coffee Barleywine.

The 2018 Bourbon County Bottle Lineup

  • Bourbon County Brand Stout
  • Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout (12-year-old Elijah Craig Barrel Bourbon barrels)
  • Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (Prop with dark chocolate and cocoa nibs)
  • Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout (aged with Madagascar vanilla beans)
  • Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout (aged in rye barrels with raspberry and blackberry
  • Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine
  • Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange Stout (with chocolate and orange zest)
  • Bourbon County Brand Coffee Barleywine (with Intelligentsia coffee beans)

If you haven’t had BCBS randalled through Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso beans, you’re in for a treat. I’m personally excited for that being bottled for the first time, but this post isn’t about Coffee Barleywine, and it’s definitely not about the orange labeled bottle that has the same color as that photoshopped Pumpkin BCBS label from a few years ago.

“According to a source they were diversionary tactics to throw beer nerds — and the media — off the scent of this year’s actual lineup of eight beers,” – Josh Noel

How is intentionally creating higher expectations for your brand than you plan to deliver, a good business decision? Did someone think this was a Hulk Hogan joining the nWo level swerve? In reality it came out looking like the Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son angle.

I think a lot of beer nerds enjoy surprises, like going to a bottle release and the brewer dropping a secret 1pp without an announcement or going to a beer fest with a brewery whose list of beers in the program turn out to be way more pedestrian than what they actually tap.

Goose Island has done some cool surprises before like dropping Double Barrel BCBS out of nowhere or doing the Mystery BCBS festival pours before, where they didn’t tell you what variant you were drinking. However, promoting something that sounds great that turns out to be an intentional decoy really benefits nobody.

If we learned anything from the 2015 release, if the infected BCBS didn’t keep customers away from Black Friday lines, this certainly won’t either. Just think…for a month they convinced people they were making new beers that tickers were excited for. You sure got us all, Goose.

Also they made an orange beer for some reason, because citrus stouts are all the rage apparently.

Cruisin for a Geuzin II: Up a Kriek

A little over one year ago, myself and some other tasters in Chicago gathered for a bit of a bottle share experiment, called Cruisin for a Geuzin. The bottle share was inspired by a few questions. Is Lambic better than great American Wild Ales? In a blind setting, could tasters tell the difference? And of the Lambic available, did hype and reputation really equal better taste?

In a field that included Lou Pepe Gueuze, multiple years of Cantillon classic gueuze, Drie Fonteinen bottles, vintage Cable Car, Duck Duck Geuze, Jester King, New Glarus, and even an Upland, the bottle with the highest average rating was an aged $12 shelf bottle of Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene.

With the first attempt successful, we circled back around one year later to revisit the same concept, this time with Kriek Lambic and Cherry American Wild Ales. To find some level of uniformity, we decided upon the following rules for bottle eligibility

  • Beer must include cherries. No specific variety required. No other adjuncts permitted, ie: Cherry+Raspberry, Cherry+Vanilla.
  • Style should originate as geuze/lambic or American Wild Ale. Saisons also welcome
  • Flanders style, oud bruins, goses, and berliners are not permitted.
  • Each submission should be at least 750ml. Submission may be 2x 375s

Each bottle was decanted into a pitcher outside the sight of anyone rating. Each rater logged their rating with a Google Form built for the event, where tasters rated the bottle between 0-5, and could guess from the known bottles in the field, what beer they were drinking.

The Captain distributing pours. Much appreciated for all the work she put in uncorking bottles and filling glasses for 5 hours

With that out of the way, here’s the final rankings. Ratings were normalized from the blind ratings from 9 tasters. Tasting took about 5 hours from the first bottle to the finish

Normalized Rankings


Another one for HORAL

Paralleling last years results, an inexpensive bottle of Timmerman’s Oude Kriek Lambicus won, rather decisively. The date on the back was listed as 2013, which I’m uncertain if that’s a brewed date or a bottled date.

The Top 5 was dominated by Lambic including Cantillon Kriek, two bottles of Drie Fonteinen, which scored oddly similar, despite being drank nearly 4 hours apart, the only Scharbeekse cherry variety from Hanssens, and a lone De Garde bottle.

Medal Stand
The Top 3 Up A Kriek bottles. Originally Intense Red was #2 before we normalized the data, which then flipped with #3 Cantillon Kriek

Facts and Observations

  • Pour size was about 2oz per person, which left a good amount of beer for resampling, and cuvees after the results we announced
  • Total corks that hit the ceiling: 0
  • The bottle with the highest secondary value in the field, Kriek du Fermier finished in the top half of the field, behind 5 beers that have been readily found on shelves, at least in Chicago.
  • De Garde’s Kriek Premiere faired quite a bit better than The Kriek
  • Of the tasters, the highest correctly guessed bottles were 5 total by one person
  • Upland Cherry didn’t do as bad as forum commenters would probably have predicted. In fact, one taster even guessed the Upland bottle was a Cantillon Kriek
  • One taster correctly identified Belgian or American origin on 22 of 23 bottles, the incorrect guess? Mistaking Upland for a Loon.
  • Bottle Count:  Belgian- 13, American- 10 (if you include New Belgium’s 50/50 collaboration with Oud Beersel as American)
  • Yes, we did create a kings cup of 23 kriek beers. It was absolutely great.
Apparently our wordplay was already used for an average beer years ago. This one was not in the field

Goose Island Clybourn Brewhouse Wax Color Guide

Time after time I’ve seen people combing through their cellars struggling to figure out what Goose Island Brewpub bottle they have.

Goose Island’s original Brewpub previously started 750ml bottle releases in 2013. The bottle art has changed but one thing has not, the name of the beer is never on the bottle. The only way to differentiate beer from beer is the wax colors.

Below is a list of previous Goose Island Brewhouse (formerly known as Goose Island Clybourn) bottle releases sorted by name, description and wax color of the bottles. This list only does not include Proprietary or Vainglorious, but does include Night Fights

Last Updated: 4/5/18

Beer Name Description Wax Color Example
BA Big Lazy Joe Imperial brown ale with coffee aged in bourbon barrels Red  Big Lazy Joe
BA Impervious Imperial stout with coffee Olive Khaki  BA Impervious
Big Train Imperial Rye Porter aged for 10 months in Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve barrels Dark Cream Big Train
Brettanomite Sour wheat that was aged 13 months in oak barrels Yellow Brettanomite
Cherry Run Wheatwine aged in Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrels and finished with Tart Cherries Pink Pearl Cherry Run
Cthulhu Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in an 18 year Elijah Craig Barrel Periwinkle Blue Cthulhu Blue
Cthulhu Imperial Oatmeal Stout aged in an 18 year Elijah Craig Barrel Copper Cthulhu Copper
Dark Crusader Imperial stout aged in Woodford Reserve barrels Lavender Purple Dark Crusader
Double Date Belgian Quad aged for 10 months in 12 year Elijah Craig barrels. Black Double Date
Flanders Red Flemish red ale aged in wine barrels
Brick Red Flanders Red
Grimm Vicar Belgian Dark Abbey Ale aged 2/3 in red wine barrels and 1/3 in bourbon barrels. Black Sparkled Grimm Vicar
Ground Control Barrel aged strong ale Matte Silver/Gray Ground Control
Night Fights Raspberry Impervious Lilac, light purple Night Fights.jpg
Nutulhu Hazelnut Oatmeal Stout Bright White Nutulhu
Silver Jubilee Double Pale Ale Forest Green Silver Jubilee
Yellow Umbrella Description Yellow Yellow Umbrella

Photos courtesy of Untappd

Additional Notes

  • There was 2 releases of Cthulhu, but they are the same beer from the same aging period. Copper is the first release, and the Periwinkle Blue is the second.
  • Yellow Umbrella and Brettanomite are both Yellow wax. If the bottle has a 25th anniversary logo on it, it’s Brettanomite, if it doesn’t, then its Yellow Umbrella
  • BA Impervious, Big Train, and Ground Control all kind of a vague brown/gray/green going on. They can easily run together so check them closely if you’re unsure. A lot of photos make those wax colors look different depending on how well lit they are.

2018 March Madness Bottle Share Tournament Preview

The 2018 Tournament Bracket is live, with the event less than a day away.

Who are your picks? Who is the Cinderella to watch for? Does a stout or dark beer take the title for the 4th year in a row? This years field includes entrants from 4 countries. A selection of the pastry-est stouts going today, world class lambic, incredible coffee beers, and an event that’s always filled with surprises.

Details of the event including format and rules and previous winners can be found in the links

Download the PDF here: 2018-MMBST-Bracket-FINAL

The full bracket is below, but the PDF above is easier for zooming into regions

MMBST Bracket Final

Every year we change the theme for region names. In the past it has been favorite Facebook beer groups, friends who have participated but not been able to join, and beer cliches. This year our theme we’ve chosen is Beer Fests we personally have been to and like. Note, there is no specific connection to beers in each region with the Region Name. It’s merely done to throw in some color rather than calling them East/West/Midwest/South. With that out of the way, here’s a short breakdown of the regions.

Great Taste Region

Great Taste of the Midwest

The #1 overall seed Prop 14 looks to have a good potential run through to the Elite 8. The bottom of the region is clustered with impressive coconut beers and 2 great stouts out of St. Louis breweries. This region features only 2 wilds and is the most stout heavy. Two Fremont beers are represented in this region, including Coconut B-Bomb, descendant of 2015 winner Coffee Cinnamon B-Bomb. Look for Prop to get toppled by the fresher coconut energy of Coconut B-Bomb to take the region.

Wakefest Region


The Wakefest region is lead by Shared Mexican Coffee Shop Vibes and Willet Bourbon Mexican Cake. This region includes 3 wilds.  There’s a pair of Rum barrel beers with Rum Black Tuesday and J Wakefield Darkbier. Though one of my own personal bottle submission is in this region, I strongly think Omnipollo BA Extra Maple Lorelei will be the star of this region.

FOBAB Region


This region is headed up by the highest ranked wild in the event, 2015 Fou Foune, and an old classic, Chocolate Rain ’14. This region has the biggest cluster of wilds with 6, and has the only IPA in the field with the freshly canned You’re Derek Jeter from The Veil. This region has the only 2 lambic bottles in the field. This is also probably the most diverse region as every beer is very much different in style or adjuncts. I’m a little biased, but I think Fou Foune takes the bracket. If Hommage can break out of its first round 3-way matchup, it might pose the biggest threat to take the FOBAB region from the #1 seed.

Mikkeller Beer Region

Mikkeller Beer Celebration

One of the hottest beers of February from Modern Times leads the way with #1 Modem Tones followed by Central Waters XX. This region includes 3 wilds including 3 of the best American Wild Ale producers in the country, Side Project, Holy Mountain, and De Garde. This region feels like the most wide open of any of the regions. This feels like region where a Hailstorm Maple BA Vlad could sneak through and go on a deep run. The relatively unknown Cycle Brinner with its maple and coffee might be able to over power the less adjunct laden Medianoche, and XX. With that being said, Vanilla has done exceptionally well in previous years including last years Champion, Grimm Sumi Ink, so I’ll take the chalk Modem Tones to come out of this region.

Biggest Potential Upsets

  • BA Cocoa Shake has a relatively small amount of reviews and is kind of an unknown. If I had to pick a #9 seed, BA Cocoa Shake beating Modem Tones Vanilla would be the one
  • In the 2-7 matchups, the biggest potential upset I see is You’re Derek Jeter beating Chocolate Rain. Through the years, we’ve found that new beers previously not had by the group have generally outperformed against beers that people have had previously. While a hoppy beer has never won a March Madness Bottle Share Tournament match, the combination of The Veil’s You’re Derek Jeter being released 4 days before the event and being ridiculously fresh, and a triple IPA at 10% could stand up to the enormous 18% and well known and traveled Chocolate Rain.
  • From the 3-6 matches I like the potential of the coconut lead Benthic surprising the Coffee rarity Perennial BA Sump. Though I’m picking Omnipollo BA Extra Maple Lorelei to win it all, I would not be shocked if the sneaky underrated J Wakefield/Bottle Logic Rum Matusalem Dark Bier pulled off the upset
  • Looking at the 4-5-8 three way matchups, these are always challenging and historically don’t have a lot of upsets from the low seed.  If I had to pick a #8 to move on past the challenging three ways, I’d go with Hill Farmstead Works of Love: Tired Hands, if its nuance and balance can stand the test of 3F and the DFPF/Miami Madness Cuvee de Wakefield, it might make it to another lambic match against Cantillon Fou Foune.

Want to follow along with the action? Posts on social media will have the hashtag #MMBST