In the long list of ways my life is better than yours, I present to you my recent attendance of the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout tapping party at Whirly Ball with my photographer, “Flowers”. At said party, I did not whirly, nor did I ball, though I did try to make my way through a distressing number of tiny beers and failed. For you.
Whirly Ball is a sport played by crazy people driving bumper cars waving cheap jai lai scoops at each other while trying to hurl a ball into a thing and slamming their vehicle into another vehicle at top speed, thereby causing their best friend to get whiplash (not corroborated by science). I know this because I’ve played Whirly Ball and bear the scars to prove it. It is not a sport. It is murder by bumper car.
Which might be your thing. I don’t know you. Maybe you like pain. Maybe you like bruises. Maybe you like the humiliation of all your friends piling their electric sleds into yours in the corner of the court, eyes wide, lips peeled back over a maniacal grin as they laugh at your various fractures. Maybe that’s you.
It’s not me. Not anymore. Not after the one and only time I’ve engaged in bumper-car-brutality. It’s not Flowers either. We’re not there for the pain. We’re there for the pain relief which on this night came in the form of shorties filled with Goose Island’s finest elixirs. When the Whirly Ball people came to our table and suggested we whirly and/or ball we fixed them with baleful glowers and said, no: no thank you, young person, for we are fat and old and have passed through the crucible of our stupid years to arrive here, at this table. Give us all the beer.
2018 Reserve Bourbon County Brand Stout aged in 12-year old Elijah Craig barrel proof bourbon barrels the way God intended. This was the 2017 whiskey of the year and you can’t have any. The stout is divine, probably made by vestal angels and blessed by a saint and it tastes like a really good beer had a dream about whiskey only you can drink it.
Bourbon County Brand Wheatwine aged in HeavenHill Bourbon Barrels. This is a weird beer, especially standing there in a line with the other stouts, all black as ink. Wheatwine is amber. It tastes like a sepia photograph of Nashville. It tastes like sorghum syrup.
Bourbon County Brand Vanilla Stout, normally a combination I steer clear of. Vanilla and beer? Not gonna be good on the way out. But I’m wrong here. It’s amazing. And though it is vanilla all up in the joint, it also has the malty chewy flavor of the stout and ends up smelling exactly like a box of Whoppers. I kid you not.
Bourbon County Brand Midnight Orange, It has chocolate and orange zest and is delicious and bitter and I want to sneak away with it to an island off the coast of Florida where we’ll spend long days together staring out into the Atlantic.
Bourbon County Brand Bramble Rye Stout, clearly the weird kid in the new beers. This is the most complex of all the stouts offered from Goose Island this year. It’s aged in rye whiskey barrels with raspberry and blackberry juice and “puree” which I assume has a couple of twigs or leaves in there somewhere because the bouquet is waaaay closer to a Pinot Noir than any beer I’ve ever known. I spent far too much time with my nose buried in this beer, ignoring my photographer who took this time to experiment with our table top bounty. Flowers poured a measure of the Midnight Orange into a glass with the Vanilla and somehow created a Frankenstout that tastes like a creamsicle. It took him eleven tries and he couldn’t stand up when he was done, but damn it was good. Take note, Goose Island.