Keeping it real … Real Ale
Black Friday has been and gone, people are still happy after fighting someone for their new 4k telly, the long queues outside the shops have gone and business owners are still counting their riches while rolling around in their piles of cash. Just hearing Black Friday makes me cringe, that image instantly in my head of people in America fighting and climbing over people in complete rage to buy stuff they don’t really need for a bit less. Thankfully scenes of orderly British queues while security men hand out mince pies and tea is a more likely scenario here in the UK. I tried putting my personal views about Black Friday to one side as I found out about Goose Island releasing Bourbon County Stout for the first time in the UK on Black Friday.
It was only few weeks ago that I got to first try Goose Island Bourbon County at the Block Party in Shoreditch and it is safe to say that I loved it. Before trying it I was excited as well as worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations, but it did and more. I had the same excitement and concerns when I was invited to try the new 2016 version at the beer launch in Shoreditch, had I bigged up the 2014 so much that a new beer couldn’t match it, as well as being undecided on how I felt about the 2016 version being pasteurised. Again, there was no need to worry.
I joined a group of other beer writers and beer geeks in going head to head with the 2015 version and the 2016 version, both incredible. It was interesting, the 2015 having had some ageing had a longer alcohol warmth and all round tasting a bit boozier, whereas the fresh 2016 was mind boggling smooth, dangerously drinkable and had even more of those chocolate, vanilla, coconut flavours that you recognise from the previous year’s releases. It really is a beautiful beer and I was surprised that I preferred the new 2016 version.
Along with going head to head with 2015 and 2016 Bourbon County we also had a chance to watch the superb Grit and Grain video, which you can view below.
Josh Smith and Tim Faith Innovation Brewer joined us for the evening and we had a questions and answers with Tim, one question that interested me was the reason for pasteurising the beer, Tim explain how in doing so they could cut the risk of having another infection like they had with the previous year’s Bourbon County.
Goose Island released only a 100 bottles off Bourbon County 2016 in the UK on Black Friday at Clapton Craft in Kentish Town, Peter McKerry posted a blog post on his opinions on the Black Friday release the day before Black Friday, which baring in my mind my personal views on Black Friday I did partly agree with but thankfully from the looks of things when Matt Curtis loaded a photo of the queue outside Clapton Craft to Instagram, there was no signs of people losing their shit trying to get a bottle of Bourbon County. I do think it is a shame there was only 100 bottles, the beer is incredible and I would love to see more people enjoying it, hopefully it will be available again.
But now as the whole Black Friday dust has settled I can think about the beer for what it is, an amazing masterpiece of beer history. At £20 a bottle, at a time of the year when there is a long list of big imperial limited stouts to wave a debit card at, Bourbon County stands its ground and is worth the high price tag. It’s just a shame that so many of us never had a chance of purchasing a bottle or two due to the timing of the release. Here’s hoping for the 2017 version…
Disclaimer – I was invited to the event free of charge. I was very grateful for the invite and I was incredibly lucky to be able to consume as much Bourbon County 2016 as my body could handle (much to my pain the next day was about 2 and a half pints worth!). Shine PR company who dealt with the entire thing was excellent and the best PR company I have dealt with, extra thanks for the Bourbon County beer tasting notepad too. I would also like to say that I thought the crowd was excellent, there was a real mix or the established beer writers mixed up with some of the new younger up and coming beer writers and bloggers. I was honoured to be amongst them.