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Welcome to Bourbon County

One of my favorite things about holidays is getting the chance to spend time with my family back home in the Midwest. For me, home is Chicago, but more recently our family home base is Mattawan, Mi. Mattawan is quite literally beer country, USA, with probably no less than 50 craft breweries within a 50 mile radius. Naturally, with so many options available for craft beers, I always discover exciting new options that are unavailable to me on the east coast.

Here is just a sampling of beers I picked up in the area last July 4th weekend.

This Thanksgiving holiday, on Black Friday, I came to understand, admittedly very late to the game, the magic that is bourbon barrel aged stout. Goose Island, the renowned Chicago brewery, which has now become a staple in most beer aisles, released its highly anticipated and very limited annual Bourbon County stout lineup on November 24th. Now, I should have known this was special when we saw a sign posted on the shelf at Meyer, "special release - limit 1 per customer", but I was uninitiated. Me, my Dad and brother Dorian had only stopped here to pick up some paper products and were pleasantly surprised. At Dorian's suggestion we each bought a bottle to subvert the rules and proceeded to head home to try it out. I was luke warm on trying it, as I would be driving 2 hours on dark country roads later that evening in order to make my 5:50 am flight from O'hare back to New York, but I had to have the tiniest sip. My first reaction, "wow, that's good," then, 30 seconds later, "it really warms your chest". Both malty and sweet, this dark stout is almost syrupy. The bourbon is sweet and finishes with the type of warmth anyone who's experienced a Midwest winter can appreciate. I was intrigued. But I knew I would be driving shortly so I cut myself off. I thumbed my phone, scrolling thru facebook and as Dorian finished his pint I saw countless posts from hometown friends who also snagged a few Bourbon County's today. How did I not know about this?

After returning to New York, I did some research and discovered that there is an entire lineup of Bourbon County, including a coffee stout and a reserve aged in Knob Creek barrels. My challenge now is to quickly, before they sell out, find as many varieties as possible, so I can share with my east coast friends the deliciousness that is Bourbon County.

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