January 28, 2015

Interesting Tidbits from Goose Island Barrel Warehouse Visit

While out in Chicago, I got to meet up with Eric Ponce, the Grand Poobah of the Barrel Program at Goose Island. For those of you who have not yet heard of Eric, you probably know of his work. Besides being responsible for the latest wave of barrels aged projects from GI, he has also worked at Alaskan Brewing, Crooked Stave, and Lost Abbey, where he played a big part in the Ultimate Box Set.

I was meeting with Eric to get some input on a barrel blending piece I’m working on for All About Beer, and thought I’d share a few interesting notes on some of their upcoming projects:

+Bourbon County Brand Stout  has been put in bourbon barrels that were used to age maple syrup. Before you totally lose it though, here some’s more deets:

*They only have three barrels, all from the same maple syrup company, but all different types of bourbons

*They’re unsure how this is going to turn out, this being the first time they’ve used these barrels, so he didn’t commit to there being a BCBS Maple. Said if it didn’t meet expectations, they might use it to blend into something else to add complexity

*If they do end up serving it “as is” it will probably just end up in kegs to be served at select events, since 3 barrels is not enough to make up a bottled variant.

+They’ve got quite a few sherry and port barrels filled with Bourbon County Brand Stout. The plan is for a Bourbon County Brand Sherry variant in the near future

+They’re working on a Rare Part Duex. For those of you who don’t recall, the first (and only) batch of Bourbon Country Brand Rare was their classic stout aged in 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle barrels. It was released back in 2010. This second batch actually manages to top that by using a combination of 32 year old (!) freshly-emptied Heaven Hill barrels. Yeah, I think my jaw is still on the floor.

+The warehouse is beyond gigantic and they’re doing their best to fill it. Instead of a once-a-year brew they’re now brewing it about 6 months a year, filling roughly 120 barrels every two weeks. Great news for us BCBS lovers. And while not yet, sometime in the semi-near future the warehouse will be open to the public for tours. I can tell you right now it’s one of the most delicious smelling places I’ve ever encountered.

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