On Thursday, I was at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, about to have the best turkey of my life (non-fried edition) and one question directed at me was “are you going to shop on Black Friday?”
That question when directed at me is like asking one of my cats when they’re going to start working on their screenplay. It’s not going to happen. Except that it did happen.
I got in line at 7:50 on Friday morning for beer at a joint called Craft Brewed. Not only that, I got in line to get a ticket for the option to buy beer with the clear instruction that there was a chance that the beer I was there to purchase might not make it to my ticket number. Then I hung around for two hours.
Sound like fun? Oh yeah, there was beer, and music, and omelettes. And about 50 fellow beer freaks to discuss the “whales” of our past like kids coming back from summer vacation talking about that girl from Canada that we totally dated and she was totally hot and no I don’t have any pictures. These beers actually exist.
Goose Island Bourbon County Stout isn’t the original whale but it’s one of the first ones I heard of when I started my beer journey. According to the Goose Island site, they were the first brewery in the country to age beer from 8 to 12 months in bourbon barrels and in 2004, Bourbon County Stout was born. They had their first Black Friday release with a “Rare” version aged in Pappy Van Winkle whiskey barrels.
If you know anything about beer, you know that a “whale” beer often comes with variants. That means a special type of that beer that’s even more rare. People trade across the country for these beers and even though there are more breweries than ever before in America, these beers are highly coveted.
This year Bourbon County had the regular, the coffee, barleywine and Proprietors. The last version was only available in Chicago. The former three were shipped across the country, although the barleywine version didn’t make it to Tennessee, I assume due to some arcane legal limit on alcohol content in beer.
Cases of one BCS variant literally were shipped in than shipped out of Georgia last year because it came in at 14.3% alcohol and the state limit is 14. This arbitrary number was probably created with as much care and thought as the number of Commies Joseph McCarthy knew were in the government in the 50s.
So we were about 50 people waiting in line for about 8 cases of the regular BCS and one case of the coffee. I’m not so hot on coffee beer but if I got a variant I would surely find someone who was. I did not (spoiler alert).
Did I mention strange alcohol laws already? Craft Brewed has two stores. They do that because of the odd 6.2% limit on beer. This means that the store could display the BCS in the window to the other shop without causing a riot. That also meant that we hung out in the other space which included a growler/pint shop. Yep, it was time for beer for breakfast.
There was a $25 deal that included breakfast (omelette and biscuit/gravy) plus a pour of a one-time Yazoo sour that came in your own cool take-home glass. I had breakfast already so I got a pint of a Black Abbey Belgian Brown that admittedly didn’t blow me away. I’ve heard great things about Black Abbey but soon, my pet, soon.
I hung out with my new best friend Mark and talked about how he managed to be a beer snob in Auburn, Alabama. It’s actually pretty easy. He had a stash of previous year BCSs and hoped to get multiple of this year’s version.
Craft Brewed = genius, because they locked in a group of beer enthusiasts for two hours with nothing but beer to drink, holiday tunes (the double turntable was going full bore), and of course people could buy take-home stuff before the other store opened. I purchased three local bombers and put them in my car for safekeeping. I drank my Black Abbey Miette on this week’s Going for 2.
At 10 in the morning we lined up and the first five people in line got to enter the store and purchase their BCS. I didn’t see how many bottles they got. Some people bought additional beers (naturally they had a second pint/growler location with the higher alcohol beers and people were picking up crowlers, which is a cool concoction that creates a can containing 32 ounces of draft beer). My hopes of getting a BCS crowler in addition to the bottle were quickly dashed.
One reason why I was in line, other than having nothing to do on a Friday in Nashville, was that on the previous Saturday at a Taco Mac they served 2015 BCS on tap. It was $12 for an 11-ounce pour, an almost nonexistant markup and that totally made up for the bad wings.
Around 10:30 I got to enter the store. I was happy to see one of my Atlanta favorites, Wild Heaven’s Dionysus, in bottles and cheaper than in Atlanta so I bought two bottles of that in addition to my one of BCS.
My plans of “cellaring” this beer lasted until Sunday. I brought it to my friend Don’s house in honor of the huge Chicago/Tennessee game. It was deep, dark, boozy and everything we hoped it would be.
Will I get in line in 2017? These things are more about the experience than the beer, but it helps when the beer is extraordinary.
Next on Zach on Beer or Beer of the Week or I’ll Try to Post More Often is: what’s the most you’ve spent on a beer and was it worth it?