Goose Island Beer Company is flying south for the winter and making pit stops at several local venues in Miami for Migration Week from March 18 to 20, including Lokal and the Butcher Shop. And the company will bring some rare beers from Chicago to share.
Goose Island's head cellarman, Brian Taylor, who is going on seven years with the brewery, is making the trip and will be on hand during the week to pour and talk beer. Among the topics of discussion will be the brewery's success due to exclusive hops farms, sour beers, and barrel-age brewing.
According to Taylor, Miami is one of at least 32 markets Goose Island representatives will visit in the coming weeks to share rare beers brewed and generally distributed only in Chicago. They will also talk about the brewery in the wake of its recent acquisition by Anheuser-Busch.
Despite being bought by AB in 2011, the brewery has had the best of both worlds, remaining independent to expand its special programs, particularly its barrel-aging program, while enjoying distribution in all 50 states.
"Obviously, when it happened, we were all freaking out," Taylor said about the acquisition. "But it has been three years now, and they've kept their word on what we wanted, which is our barrel-aging program."
One benefit of the acquisition, Taylor explained, was that the fermentation tank space that formerly held the 312 beer was freed up for special batches that tend to be more popular among connoisseurs, such as the brewery's Bourbon County series.
But one of their prime beers, which can be found only in Chicago -- Rasselbock -- will also be available. Rasselbock is a part of the Fulton and Wood series, a group of beers that is devised by the brewing staff, brewed in small batches (100 barrels or less) and distributed among Goose Island's most valued accounts in the Windy City.
As Taylor describes it, the Rasselbock is an American dark wheat ale fermented with Weizenbock yeast, containing a caramel-like flavor but not too hoppy. He says it's made "with a little bit of everything" and named for the Bavarian mythical creature, the Rasselbock, which is akin to a jackalope, or a rabbit with antlers, fangs, wings, or parts of other animals.
The kickoff for Migration Week runs from 7 to 9 p.m. March 18 at the Butcher Shop. The main event -- the Migration Tap Invasion -- will take place March 19 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Lokal. The third formal event will be held at Whole Foods in Coral Gables for the Ladies' Night Beer and Cheese Pairing Class March 20 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Several Goose Island beers in draft and bottle form will be available to try, including the super-rare Rasselbock and the ever-popular Bourbon County varieties.
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Between the first and second event, Taylor plans to swing by Wynwood Brewing Company around noon to see some old friends. He'll bring a keg of Rasselbock with him.
During his stop in Miami, Taylor said, he will visit about 20 accounts in the market. Stay tuned for a possible updated list of venues.