In 1992 Goose Island started our barrel program with just six bourbon barrels from Jim Beam. We aged that beer in the crawl space under the Original Clybourn Brewpub. As our love for these innovative beers has grown, so has the number of barrels in which we age beer. In 2005 we cordoned off an area at the Fulton Street Brewery to expand our program. In no time at all we were putting barrels in a warehouse across Fulton Street. Today, the Goose Island Barrel House is a state of the art facility on Chicago’s West Side dedicated to the pursuit of the finest barrel-aged beers in world.
As with most young breweries space is a luxury. In 1992 Goose Island first brewed Bourbon County Brand Stout to celebrate the 1000th batch at the original brewpub on Clybourn Street. The space dedicated to producing beer is a fraction of the pub and finding space for 53-gallon wooden barrels to sit for months was challenging. Luckily the building is old and there is a crawl space that extends under the floor of the bar area. During the maturation period, customers were sitting directly above the barrels being stored beneath the floorboards. Although we never intended to brew Bourbon County Stout again more barrels were acquired and Goose Island continued to brew this revolutionary beer whenever possible – packing barrels into every nook and cranny of the pub.
In 1995, production of our beers began at the Goose Island Fulton Street Brewery. It wasn’t until 2002 that Bourbon County Brand Stout was brewed at the facility. That initial batch was just a trial, and only a few bottles were packaged in 2003. In 2004 another batch was produced, packaged and released in 2005 and every year since. We began storing our barrels in the brewery, and eventually in a warehouse across the street. Over the years we filled the warehouse with as many barrels as we could.
In 2014 we opened the Goose Island Barrel House on Chicago’s West Side. The Barrel House is over 130,000 sq. ft. dedicated to the art of barrel aging beer, and was designed and built to the specifications of our brewers. Each base beer continues to be brewed and fermented at the Fulton Street Brewery before being transported two miles down the road to the Barrel House on a dedicated tanker truck. The beer is then pumped into one of two stainless steel tanks. Our brewers fill the barrels and the beer settles in to its residence in this incredible Barrel House.