In 2004, Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery released a new beer from their portfolio called “Bourbon County Brand Stout,” or “BCBS” for short. This high ABV stout is aged eight to twelve months in bourbon barrels producing flavors of booziness, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, coffee and more. It’s typically very highly sought after and this year was no different.
Alongside the regular BCBS, there are multiple “variants” released with it. This year, those variants were Coffee , Barleywine, Regal Rye (BCBS aged in rye barrels with cherries and blackberries), Proprietors’ and Rare. Proprietor’s is a version that’s only released in Chicago as a “thank you” to the city that helped build the company. That version is the base BCBS along with toasted pecans and guajillo peppers. The Rare variant was aged for two years in 35 year old Heaven Hill whisky barrels. This would be the Holy Grail this year.
Today, BCBS was released and the lines for the beer at some spots started as early as last night. That wasn’t the case everywhere; either because people knew those establishments weren’t getting as much or people didn’t know that they were getting a lot. One place where the lines started only a few hours prior to the beer’s release is at Bombay Wines and Spirits. While they have two locations*, I visited owner Hari Patel at his location in St. Peters.
Opened in ’93, before craft beer stores really were around in St. Charles County, Bombay cornered the very small craft beer market. Original customers consisted of US Servicemen that were previously stationed in Belgium and Germany that were seeking their favorite European beers when they got back home to the States. This year, Hari managed to get the biggest allotment of BCBS (and admittedly just a few of the special variants) that he’s ever received. He said this was possible because he sells Goose Island’s other products at around a dollar cheaper than most places locally. Doing this makes both the distributor and the customer very happy.
The line for this year’s BCBS started at the St. Peters location around 4 hours before the door opened. Not too bad compared to other places. Hari had enough BCBS for everyone to get at least two bottles, but only the first few in line were able to get the Coffee and Barleywine (Regal Rye hasn’t hit the St. Louis market just yet). A bottle of BCBS was around $10 after tax and the variants were around $12-$13 each.
Once all the BCBS was sold, there was a lottery drawing to see who would get one of the few coveted bottles of Rare that Hari was able to sell. At over $60/bottle, a win in this lottery will actually hurt your wallet but you’ll still leave happy. One of the winners, Dan, said “My wife is gonna kill me,” as he walked up to claim his prize. That seemed to be a recurring theme throughout the shop. Two other quotes I heard from loyal wives/girlfriends were:
“I stood in line with you for this beer so you could buy twice as much. I wish you would’ve told me it would cost over $80 for 8 bottles. That’s not cool.”
“You better stop looking cuz you’re not buying anything else. If you think you are…..yeah right.”
Without exaggeration, that second guy won a Rare in the lottery and the look on her face was priceless.
So, were you able to score any of the BCBS or any Variants this year? If so, leave a comment and let us know about your haul.