Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout 2018

Beer aficionados wait all year for this annual release

Barrel-aged beer might be a growing trend—and is even spilling into the wine world—but for the best, you have to go straight to the source.

We're talking about Goose Island, a pioneer of bourbon barrel-aged beer ever since the first release in 1992. For more than 25 years now, pros and casual drinkers alike have looked forward to the special annual release of the Chicago brewery's Bourbon County Brand Stouts—and the 2018 lineup is no exception.

Start with the original, which brewmaster Jared Jankoski says "ain't broke, and we didn't try to fix it." Then move on to the Coffee Barleywine, a new release made with Intelligentsia coffee beans that the team flew to Guatemala to source. We're most excited about the Midnight Orange Stout, whose flavors might not read like your typical beer, but the citrus and chocolate notes bring to mind those smashable, segmented chocolate oranges in a way that both surprises and delights. And at nearly 15 percent ABV, it'll be just the thing to induce a necessary post-Black Friday nap.

Some of these are so exclusive you'll have to be in Chicago to get a taste, like the Proprietor's Brand Stout, which "explores the broad spectrum of chocolate." Let's just say there's a reason people wait in line for this release. 

Call them beer for bourbon drinkers or bourbon-forward drinks that would satisfy beer lovers. Or just call the release what it is: one of the best excuses to drink a beer this weekend.