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Hop Notes: Black Friday Brewery Tour offered by West Michigan Beer Tours

In previous Hop Notes articles, I’ve suggested several beer ideas for Black Friday (and Dark Saturday) and here is another offering from West Michigan Beer Tours.  

They will host the Black Friday Brewery Tour which will include samples of one of the world’s most acclaimed stouts from Goose Island Beer Co. Bourbon County Stout, which will be released Black Friday, is the gold medal winner at the 2006 World Beer Cup. A sample flight will include samples of Bourbon County Stout and several of its variations.  

This year’s release will include Bourbon County Stout, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine, Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout, Bourbon County Brand Regal Rye Stout, Proprietor’s Bourbon County Brand Stout (only released in Chicagoland) and for only the second time ever, Goose Island Rare Bourbon County Brand Stout. Probably not all of these will be included in the flight.


There are probably only a handful of brewers that can claim to have brewed Bourbon County Stout. One of those brewers lives in Michiana and is a bartender at Goshen Brewing Company. Ryan Thompson was a brewer at Goose Island from 2004 to 2009 and although he is not brewing at Goshen Brewing Company, he is working toward opening his own brewery in Elkhart County. You can quiz him about his Bourbon County Stout experience next time you are enjoying a beer at Goshen Brewing Company, but here is the fun part of the story as I heard it from him.

Greg Hall, Goose Island Brewmaster from 1991 to 2011, wanted to brew something really special for his thousandth batch and Bourbon County Stout was that beer. In 1995, he entered the beer at the Great American Beer Festival in the Russian Imperial Stout category. It got disqualified for not being true to style. But on the bottom of many of the judges’ sheets, they wrote it was the best beer in the competition. Several of these judges’ comments are framed and hang in the brewery.

John Liberty is a friend of mine and is a co-founder of West Michigan Beer Tours. In 2008, he co-founded the Michigan craft beer blog, KalamaBrew, and has written extensively about the beer industry for the Kalamazoo Gazette and MLive Media Group.

“West Michigan Beer Tours wanted to offer an alternative to the big shopping craze that allows guests to experience one of the top beer bars in the state and visit a trio of exciting and relatively new breweries in the region,” John told me. “This is a nice way to relax and unwind with friends and family during the long holiday weekend.”

The Black Friday Brewery Tour, sponsored by St. Joseph Today, will begin with registration at the gorgeous Buck Burgers & Brew in downtown St. Joseph where guests will begin with the flight of Bourbon County beers.  The Buck is no stranger to good beer. With 74 taps, they serve plenty of great local Michigan beer as well as other craft beer from around the country. Check out the tap list at its website.

After leaving the Buck, the tour will travel to a trio of new West Michigan Breweries: Tapistry Brewing Co., Cultivate Brewing Co., which opened in July, and Arclight Brewing Co. Guests will receive either samples or a pint at each stop and the opportunity to meet with the staff and tour the facilities.

The Hilton Garden Inn of St. Joseph/Benton Harbor is offering a special rate for guests of the tour and will offer an optional pickup and drop-off for Hilton Garden Inn guests. For details about lodging or the tour itself, check out West Michigan Beer Tours.

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