Sunday, November 20, 2016

There is no reason to buy Goose Island Bourbon County Stout anymore

Black Friday is coming up, and we all know that’s a day associated with literally breaking down doors to buy Christmas presents at deeply discounted prices. But in the beer world, Black Friday is now synonymous with the release of Budweiser’s Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (they seem to have dropped the word “Brand” in recent years).

BCS lineup main


Now obviously you noticed another word was struck-out in the previous sentence: Budweiser. Though it’s very old news at this point, in case you didn’t know, in 2011 Goose Island – a formerly independent craft brewery based out of Chicago – was acquired by Anheuser-Busch/InBev a.k.a. Budweiser. That huge company then went on to buy several other craft breweries such as Elysian, Blue Point, Breckenridge and Golden Road among others. Those “others” include the entire SABMiller/Coors/Molson portfolio which was finalized just last month. That means that one company owns a third of the entire beer market on all of Planet Earth (a list of all the brands under this brewing monolith can be seen here).

Wow.

I’ve ranted about the transgressions of the ABI Empire many times in recent years as have many bloggers and journalists. If you’re a craft beer lover, no doubt you’re familiar with the shade ABI has thrown at us as their market share as slowly dwindled while ours has grown exponentially. This includes numerous attempts by ABI to monopolize the market by buying up distributors, bullying the competition with litigation, and lobbying at the state and national level for more ridiculous regulations that only harm small breweries. This article at ithinkaboutbeer.com does a great job of rounding up some of the most egregious examples.

As an AnCap, I actually don’t like criticizing ABI for fear of sounding like a Bernie Sanders type who associates the word “corporation” with evil. I’m not calling for more government regulation or anti-trust lawsuits to be initiated. In principle, I have no problem with a corporation buying out competitors and other perfectly legal business practices. I also have no problem with a business selling a fraction, a majority, or their entire ownership to a larger company or just merging with another. What I do have a problem with is ABI’s all-out war on craft beer which is now so deeply entrenched that they are going after the homebrewing market too!

Admittedly, this one little blog is probably not going to generate massive sea change in the entire beer market (though one can dream). However, I feel compelled to write this to remind my fellow craft beer lovers – many of whom have forgotten, never knew, or simply don’t care – that Goose Island is owned outright by Budweiser. That means when you plunk down $10 (or however much it costs) on a bottle of Bourbon County Stout, you are no longer sending money to an independent craft brewery, you are sending it to the largest brewing conglomerate on Earth. A conglomerate that not only gives us the proverbial (and literal) middle finger to our faces, but is hellbent on destroying it (or at least owning it).

Yes, Bourbon County is a delicious beer (even when cellared a few years), but there are comparable imperial stouts being made by real craft breweries that may be more readily available and less expensive. Here are just a few examples*:

Boulevard Dark Truth Stout 001















Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Break

Founders Breakfast Stout (2)
Great Divide Yeti 001
Great Divide Yeti (and its many variations)
Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

The entire Southern Tier Blackwater Series

handbookofportersandstoutsFor even more examples, please check out a book I co-authored on the genre: The Handbook of Porters & Stouts. In fact, you can buy it directly from me for 50% off the cover price and I’ll sign it for you.

*NOTE: I didn’t include rarities like Founders KBS, Brooklyn Black Ops, Cigar City Hunahpu, Three Floyds Dark Lord, etc., since these beers are just as expensive and difficult to acquire (if not more so) than Bourbon County though I think they’re better than Bourbon County.