Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2016 by Jared Jankoski
Greetings from Goose Island!
I wanted to write a note to let everyone know how this year’s Bourbon County Stout is coming along and provide some information related to this year’s batch. This year has been an incredible learning process and one that has made us a better brewery with a better barrel-aging program.
As a result, we have done a number of things that are in the best interests of quality. There are two primary items that have a big impact:
I couldn’t be more pleased with our progress and where we have come to as we approach the 2016 BCS releases. Ok, let’s get on to the fun part of this post and talk a little about this year’s variants!
Bourbon County Stout Original:
Of course, we will once again have our flagship and the standard bearer for the line-up. This year’s edition should take you right back to where you started with BCS. Rich and deep with plenty to ponder, it features toffee and molasses, fresh tobacco and a bit of leather to go with the roast and barrel notes you are used to.
Bourbon County Stout Barleywine:
Barleywine will be more barrel forward this year as we have gone to first use barrels with a similar aging time. This should lend to a rich beer with lots of malt body and depth playing with notes of vanilla and whiskey.
Bourbon County Stout Coffee:
This year’s coffee holds a special place in my heart. We were fortunate enough to take our coffee sourcing relationship to the next level by visiting Santa Maria de Dota in Costa Rica. It is home to an amazing local cooperative, Coopedota, that receives coffee cherries from around 850 farms throughout the valley. It was truly an amazing sight to behold and our host Roberto Mata has been involved with the co-op for decades. We were able travel throughout the valley and see several farms, meeting farmers and coffee harvesters along the way. The terrain is beautiful and rugged, covered in sustainably grown and managed coffee farms.
Learning about the history, culture and community that is woven into the fabric of everyone’s lives in the area had me feeling connected to the process in a new and deeper way. That is putting it lightly. Of all the amazing “micro lot” coffees (very high standard, individual lots) we were able to taste and assess, we chose to source our coffee from the El Cidral lot, a farm way up at 1900 meters of elevation that produced trees heavy with very consistently ripe, deeply colored cherries. In theory the stress of higher elevation yields a coffee with higher sugar content, sweet and balanced once processed. In the end we chose it blindly through tastings and found it to lend a wonderful balance of fruit and cherry, chocolate and nuttiness and a sublime aroma. It will be labeled under Intelligentsia’s mark Flecha Roja, which hearkens back to a tradition of coffee mills at origin creating different marks, or brands for the different coffees produced and groups of farmers they work with.
Bourbon County Stout Proprietor’s:
We have continued a now standard tradition of inviting brewers and others to share their ideas for BCS variant additions, and we once again found our answer among Goose Island’s brewers. Emily Kosmal has been at Goose for close to two years and came to us with a solid background in food science. She paired some ingredients she loves together that she felt would be a home run in BCS – dark chocolate and chipotle peppers. This one, simply put, is awesome! The earthy, smoky notes of the chipotle peppers in both the aroma and flavor are perfectly balanced by the rich chocolate aroma and flavor of the selected cocoa nibs. The BCS base aged in maple barrels adds the balancing sweetness and the expected depth and complexity to complement and fill out the final blend.
So there you have it, what we’ve done as a brewery to continually improve the quality of our beers and barrel-aging program and what we have to share with you this year from the BCS lineup. I’m immensely proud of all of our efforts and, most importantly, the final product. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.