Our Barrels

To the employees of Goose Island, Bourbon County Stout has always been more than liquid in a bottle. We’ve always known that, but to what extent we had no idea. A lot has changed at Goose Island since the first batch of Bourbon County Stout was brewed and barreled in 1992. As time marched on, the folklore surrounding Bourbon County Stout became as rich and layered as the beer itself. Fact starts to blend with myth, and myth takes away from the process.

That’s why a group of Goose Island employees set out to uncover the full story of Bourbon County Stout. What we found was a story larger than we had ever realized. A story that uncovers a large cast of characters, crosses state lines, and spans generations. From the loggers that down the American White Oak used to make bourbon barrel staves, to the distillers that fill and age bourbon on those staves. This is Grit & Grain. This is what it really takes to get Bourbon County Brand Stout into your hands.

Chapter 1 – BCS Origins

In 1992 Greg Hall, wanted to brew something truly unique for the brewpub’s 1,000th batch, he just needed inspiration. Then a chance encounter between Greg and Jim Beam’s Booker Noe led to Goose Island acquiring the barrels for what was to become the world’s first bourbon barrel aged beer. The young brewmaster soon found himself in the uncharted waters of bourbon barrel aged beer.


Thank you to John Hall for having the vision and grit needed to open a brewery in a time when the concept of craft beer was novel. Thank you to Greg Hall for looking at a used bourbon barrel and seeing a second life. Going back into the original Brewpub with Greg as he flipped through old brewing logs and told us about first time he brewed Bourbon County was an experience the team will never forget.