Stout season is here! My favorite stout is Bourbon County from Goose Island. They’re a Chicago based brewery that is now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev and most of you know what BCS / BCBS is. A few months ago, I decided to go straight to the source for this year’s release. We get BCS in Vermont and it comes to Mass as well but every store I know of will break the beer down into singles for $10 a piece despite is being sold in 4-packs for $25. We also don’t get to see the variants such as Coffee, Barleywine or this year’s Backyard Bramble Rye. Around the same time as I was thinking of going to Chicago, I got this inspiration to do a tasting at my place for our small meet up group. The group isn’t full of craft beer snobs, just beer drinkers that enjoy quality brews. I wanted to do a BCS tasting with every bottled year and variant that I could find.

While putting together the huge tasting and trading for some of the older bottles, my buddy Chris from RateBeer offered to join me in the Chicago trip. His Birthday falls on Thanksgiving this year, we both had a 5 day weekend so it only makes sense that share the driving responsibilities and make this an epic road trip.

I’ve never been to Chicago and the longest road trip I’ve taken was about 13 hours when I drove from San Francisco to Seattle in 2009. This trip is 15 hours and cross 7 states from our home in New Hampshire. We’ll also get to see 3 of the Great Lakes. Along the way, Chris and I setup some brewpubs and bars to visit and a stop-over in Cleveland to stay with a fellow RateBeer member that we haven’t met before. Here’s the schedule:

  • Depart New Hampshire Early-AM on Wednesday the 27th
  • Brief stopover in Buffalo NY for lunch and beers
  • Arrive in Cleveland at 3PM
    • Great Lakes Brewing
    • Fatheads
    • 2 beer stores
    • 2 bars
    • Crash with RBeerian Thanksgiving Eve
  • Up early morning on Thanksgiving day and head to Chicago
  • Three stop-overs on our way there and check in to an apartment I rented for 2 nights that overlooks downtown and is half a mile from Goose Island’s black friday festivities
  • Dinner @ 5PM at Lady Gregory’s Irish pub / restaurant
  • Walk over to Hopleaf for 6PM beers. Their kitchen is closed Thanksgiving but they’ll be serving beer.
  • Turn in early that evening to get some much needed stress probably in bed by 10PM
  • Black Friday, up at 3AM to get in line at Binny’s beer store in Lincoln Park
  • Hopefully, we each get a 4-pack / bomber of each of the beers coming out this year
  • At 2PM, we have tickets to the Goose Island Brewpub BCS tasting / pairings event that sold out in 2 minutes flat!
  • After that, it’s time for a short nap and we’ll hit Whole Foods near Lincoln Park and a few brewpubs (Half Acre & Revolution are taking priority)
  • Friday evening at 9, I have a reservation for Chris and I at Chicago Cut steakhouse. While technically not his birthday anymore, I wanted to take him somewhere really nice.
  • Saturday, we get up early and head to 3 Floyds in Indiana
  • Depending on how we feel, we either go back home the way we came (14 hours) or we drive through Indianapolis and Columbus and visit a few breweries and make the trip a 17.5 hour drive.
  • If we take the longer trip, I have a few breweries in mind to visit.

We will be back in town early morning on Sunday, December 1st. Maybe we’ll have a stop over to sleep in Pittsburgh or Allentown but I’m sure we can push through. I took Monday off from work to rest.

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I’ll try to take plenty of photos of our trip. The reason I’m posting this schedule up is that I’m sure a few readers here are on the route we’re taking or are based in Chicago or are going to be at the BCS sale / tasting events. If you are, please let me know. I’m looking to meet up with anyone that wants to grab a beer or food. If there are places we’re missing out on, please post a comment and let me know.

While our budget and time is tight, I’m trying to maximize this trip as a road trip like this only happens every 5 or so years.

Here’s the Map to Chicago:

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Here’s my proposed trip back from Chicago (adds 2.5 hours of driving)

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Here’s a few spots we want to hit on the way with push-pins. If you live near any of these, let me know:

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