Nov 23, 2021 - Food and Drink
Where to go for Black Friday's special beer releases in Denver
Goose Island's Bourbon County stouts. Photo: John Frank/Axios
Goose Island's Bourbon County stouts. Photo: John Frank/Axios

On the Friday after Thanksgiving, some people line up in the dark outside Walmart or Best Buy.

  • Not our resident beer geek. John arrives early to wait on the sidewalk outside the local specialty beer stores.

What's happening: Black Friday is Beer Friday — an unofficial industry holiday filled with releases of rare beers from local and national breweries.

  • The most anticipated is the debut of Goose Island's Bourbon County stouts.
  • The 2021 lineup is winning rave reviews for the refined wood and spirits characteristics imparted by barrels from distilleries that include Old Forester, Blanton's and Elijah Craig.

Between the lines: Bourbon County Brand Stout was the first-ever bourbon-barrel aged beer and debuted to massive acclaim at the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado in 1995.

  • It still holds a cult following, even after the brewery was purchased by Anheuser-Busch.

How it works: Colorado only gets a limited supply of Bourbon County stouts, and they only arrive at certain stores — the ones that typically sell the most Goose Island beers.

Be smart: Colorado breweries are releasing some amazingly tasty stouts on Black Friday, too.

What to know: The beers released Friday are as dark as the day's namesake. Here's a list of John's can't-miss beers. (Find even more beer events in this Westword roundup.)

  • Strange Craft Beer: Start on the lighter side (and two days early) with a festive and seasonal delight — Gingerbread Man Brown ale on tap at this Denver brewery.
  • Wiley Roots Brewing: Order the night before and travel to Greeley for the release of Midnight on the Run, named after the brewery's cat. Variants include brews that feature coffee, macadamia nuts and barrel aging.
  • River North Brewery: Mr. Sandman is an anomaly these days — just a pure big stout without the kitchen sink of ingredients added. It also comes in a barrel-aged version.
  • Baere Brewing: This year's tappings and can releases include big stouts, and more. A black IPA and three dark sours offer something for everyone at this "RyeDay" release.
  • Copper Kettle Brewing: Find vintage editions of its amazing Snowed In stout and Well Bred barleywine in this cellar sale.

What's more: Once you grab the bottles, settle in for a sip or three at these special Black Friday beer events:

  • Day of Darks: Wynkoop Brewing is hosting a mini-festival 11am–5pm that features stouts and dark brews from more than two dozen local breweries. The one to try: Wynkoop's new "vegan" edition of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, made with 50 pounds of roasted chestnut chips. Tickets are $35 and include unlimited tastings, food and more.
  • Station 26: The Eternal Descent Russian Imperial Stout is a can't-miss beer, but it’s the wild variants that make this tasting so fun. This year's lineup includes orange chocolate, coffee, Mexican chocolate, s'mores, Mythology Distillery whiskey barrel-aged and Stroopwaffel editions.
  • Fiction Beer: Six different stouts hit the tap list, variants of three different base beers: Malice & Darkness Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout, a sweet stout and Partigyle Stout. Look for beers with coconut salted caramel, Mexican chocolate, peanut butter and vanilla, pecan pie and the flavors of an old-fashioned.
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