Brewing Bourbon County Stout is a rapid, chaotic endeavor, the process of which spans a few days. The real wait begins when brewers place the imperial stout into its wooden confines, the bourbon barrel. There it rests, seeps in and out of the staves with the changing of the seasons. The hot Chicago summer swells the wood drawing the beer into its bourbon soaked pours, the cold Chicago winters tighten the wood, squeezing the beer back into the barrel. The Goose Island Barrel House is an expansive, quiet place. A cavernous library of bourbon barrels with zero climate control. The occasional forklift passes by, but for the most part the Barrel House is a departure from the hustle and bustle of the brewery. A few times a month, the warehouse will liven up when its time to empty the barrels on the processing floor. Only then do the brewers know if the year of waiting was all in vain.
A big thank you goes to the hard work of our brewing interns and Barrel House crew. They have the daunting task of caring for, filling, and emptying thousands of barrels at the Goose Island Barrel House.