Chicago's Goose Island Beer Company is back in Miami for its annual Migration Week. The firm brought copious amounts of its famous Bourbon County Stout for you to drink during this week filled with beer dinners and events through tomorrow, October 16.
All of the remaining events are not ticketed and open to the public. At some events, you'll get a chance to beer it up with Goose Island brewer Bjorn Johnson.
Back in 2011, Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased a 58 percent stake in Goose Island. There was a bit of an uproar because Goose Island was no longer a craft brewery. Not only that, but AB InBev is loathed among some die-hard craft beer enthusiasts. There was a general feeling that Goose Island lost some of its beer-making independence.
But that's not exactly the case. Goose Island has remained relatively free from the clutches of corporate beer as far as the creative side goes. Under the deal, Goose Island's brewpub at 1800 West Clybourn stayed and is still under the ownership of John Hall.
With craft breweries getting snatched up by larger companies and now the merger between AB InBev and SABMiller, Johnson gives a little insight on what happens after small beer gets swallowed by big beer.
There are some things that are better, Johnson says. "The biggest changes are related to safety," Johnson told the New Times. " AB InBev has really high safety standards. We have environmental health and safety manager whose job is to make sure the that the process isn't dangerous and damaging to the environment."
That's right. Making beer can be a dangerous job, as any professional brewer will agree. There's boiling wort as hot as 200 degrees Fahrenheit, large vessels under high pressure and many other risk factors. Having that extra person on the floor can make a world of difference as far as safety goes. "That's definitely something I appreciate," Johnson says. "Things can happen. We all have so much fun, we tend to forget how dangerous it can be."
When it comes to creating new recipes and getting them to market, there is a hierarchy. Johnson works in the actual brewing side (the "hot" side) of Goose Island. All of the experimental beers are first tested on the small pilot system. If it's something they like, they have the opportunity to push it forward.
A prime example of that is Four Star Pils, a pilsner Goose Island launched in August. "We worked with them to push it out and now we have something we're very proud of," Johnson says.
Other than that, there are a few other things you should know about Johnson: he has Swedish roots, he grew up on the south side of Chicago and he went to the Siebel Institute to learn how to make beer. Any more details must be had from Johnson himself if and when you get to meet him.
And if you're really into craft beer in Miami, it shouldn't be that hard as he'll be skipping around for various events during Migration Week. All events are not ticketed and open to the public. In order to go, it's important that you call and RSVP the venue. Here are the events.
Thursday, October 15
"Meet the Brewer” event at Mega Liquors (8525 Bird Rd.) from 3 to 5 p.m. Johnson will be on site to pour samples and speak his knowledge of the best beers around. There will also be a bike giveaway at this event. Various bottles of BCS will be on sale.
The Sweets & Sours Desert Dinner event happens at Boxelder Craft Beer Market from 6 to 9 p.m. It's not dinner, it's dessert with each course paired with rare Goose Island beers. Beers showcased: Lolita, Juliet 2010, Halia, BCS Coffee 2014, BCS 2014.
The Celebration of Beer event happens from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. at Kush in Wynwood. Here, some of Goose Island's most special beers will be available to try. Beers showcased: Bourbon County Stout 2014, Bourbon County Stout Barleywine 2014, Bourbon County Stout Vanilla Rye 2014.
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Friday, October 16
Total Wine and Spirits in Miami Beach hosts Meet the Brewer from 3 to 6 p.m. Johnson will be there again pouring samples and giving away prizes. Beers showcased: Bourbon County Stout 2014, Bourbon County Stout Vanilla Rye, Bourbon County Stout Coffee (bottles).
R House hosts “Catch, Cook, Consume Beer Dinner” from 7 to 9 p.m. R House's finest fares paired with Goose Island's freshest beers. Beers showcased: to be determined.
All things must come to an end. Brick House (187 NW 28th St.) hosts the "Closing Ceremonies" event starting at 9 p.m. Live barrel art installments, a live DJ and tallboys will be had at this party. Beers showcased: 312 Wheat, 312 Pale, Goose IPA.