Sunday isn’t a typical day to release a single keg of a specialty beer to a market. But then again, Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout isn’t a typical specialty beer. Yesterday, The Chimes East in Baton Rouge put a single keg of it on tap just in time for Sunday brunch. Fortunately, I had a heads up that this was happening, so I got there as the Chimes was opening at 11 AM. They gave you the option of a 13 ounce pour of it, or you could order a flight of Goose Island beers in 4 ounce tasters, such as the 312 Urban Wheat, IPA and Matilda alongside the Bourbon County.
I opted for the 13 ounce snifter pour of it, and it’s a good thing I got there early. We sat at the bar area with a good view of the tap. We were able to see how much of it was being poured, and had a pretty good idea that this keg would not last long. Sure enough, two hours later, the entire sixtel had been floated. The beauty of this was that this was entirely an organic release, with only a Facebook post and word of mouth promotion of it.
I was excited to get a couple pours of this amazing beer. But there’s more to be excited about. What this shows to me is that Louisiana, and Baton Rouge specifically, is far from the craft beer wasteland that it’s been portrayed as in the past. When a keg of this type of beer can sell out in two hours with little to no promotion, it tells me that there are a lot of people who appreciate these kinds of beers in our market. And that’s a good thing to show to other craft brewers who may be weighing whether or not to expand their distribution into Louisiana. For too long, we’ve been known as a state who drinks a lot of beer, albeit bad light lagers. That is changing. The craft beer market here has really taken off over the last several years, and especially in 2014. Just this year has seen the arrival of big time craft brewers such as Terrapin, Founders, Lagunitas and Santa Fe. 2013 saw New Belgium, SweetWater and The Bruery come into the state. And the emergence of more local breweries such as Gnarly Barley, 40 Arpent, and Great Raft to go along with the established breweries like NOLA, Parish and Tin Roof has been a great thing. More and more people are turning to this artisan brewers for flavorful beers and are shunning the mass produced swill. Sure, there’s still lots of work left to be done, but our state is trending in the right direction.