Last month we were able to get our hands on some used Goose Island Bourbon County Stout barrels from their 2016 batch. We barrel-age all of our ciders in American oak or French oak barrels, but the Bourbon County Stout barrels have a special significance. Our head cidermaker Seth takes us through the collaboration and how we get to experiment with barrel-aging cider.
"When our founder Gregory Hall was brewmaster at Goose Island, he pioneered barrel-aging beers in the United States. It just seemed natural to me to try incorporating this iconic beer into the cider we are making somehow. So this year we reached out to our friends at Goose Island and scored a bunch of used Bourbon County Stout barrels.
All of the barrels were emptied, rinsed with ozone, and filled with a cider blended to hopefully emphasize the characteristics of the barrel and beer that was previously inside, such as coffee, vanilla, or coconut. The rest of the story is unwritten for these barrels. In a perfect world we might incorporate them into a variant for our bourbon barrel-aged cider — a BCS Mitten perhaps? Only time will tell. Patience is a virtue after all…"