As recently as a few years ago, obtaining bottles from Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout lineup of barrel-aged wonders wasn't very tough. Just go to Chicago, stop by the Binny's liquor store nearby their brewpub, and stock up. InBev, a new and enormous barrel-aging facility, and—most of all—hype has changed all of that.
Nowadays, Goose's annual BCBS release on Black Friday is a coast-to-coast event, marked by lotteries, waiting lists, degenerate beer speculators chasing delivery trucks around, and dozens of people waiting outside liquor stores in Philadelphia at 4 a.m. (A typical night in Philly, in other words.)
What's the big deal? BCBS, which debuted in 1992, is the front face of one of America's oldest barrel-aged beer programs, earning a well-deserved reputation for depth and complexity in an era long before every neighborhood brewery had a couple whiskey barrels bumping around. The 2015 edition comes in six variations—regular stout, coffee stout, barley wine, rye stout, the Chicago-exclusive Proprietor's BCBS and Rare BCBS, aged in 35-year-old Heaven Hill whiskey barrels for the past two years.
If you're planning to pick some of this up around Bend, you're likely already too late by the time you read this. Regular BCBS will be found in relatively small quantities around Central Oregon, but the variants were mostly distributed on tap across the I-5 corridor, including four at once at Belmont Station in Portland.
This year, that might be for the better. Rare BCBS, assuming you found one, retails at $60 for a 16.9-ounce bottle—a price point that made Internet commenters howl about InBev attempting a cash grab with its vaunted brand. Early reports indicate, however, that regular old BCBS (at a much more reasonable $10) is the best of the 2015 lot anyway. Alcoholic without featuring a major alcohol burn, it's packed with heavy chocolate and vanilla flavors, making it easily drinkable now and even more delectable if you're willing to sit on it for a few more months.
Can't find any? Don't worry. The Abyss is coming soon anyway.