Collaborations · Video Projects

Grit & Grain — Chapter one — We Thought We'd Never Make it Again

For folks in Chicago, at least those Gen Xers and older, the story of BCS is a tangible memory. A strange idea that blurred the lines between bourbon and beer, served over the bar for the first time at Goose Island's Clybourn brewpub as a special "Batch 1000" by brewmaster Greg Hall back in 1992. Originally intended as a one-off celebration of this brewing milestone, BCS has gone on to define this brewery's place in the world. It's the beer that launched a thousand barrel-aging programs around the country in the decades to follow. 

This year, I was invited to work with the Goose Island team in the run-up to the 2016 release of BCS, its sought-after variants, and a new Rare. The five of us worked, for the better part of the year, on following the story of Bourbon County Stout all the way back to it's beginning, as an invention, as a product of barrel-aging, barrel-making, and even into the Ozarks where the white oak grows. It's the most ambitious storytelling project I've ever been a part of. And it's all going to start, chapter by chapter, with the Origin story. 

The Clybourn brewpub cellar. 

The Clybourn brewpub cellar. 

It's an apocryphal tale that Chicago beer geeks have heard bits and pieces of over the years, but it's never been brought together and explored, all in one go. It involves a number of voices, characters, and memories from some who were there the day it was first tapped, and some who are now in the brewery making the beer more than 20 years later. And this is only the beginning. Over the next nine weeks, leading up to Black Friday, when Goose traditionally releases the year's BCS bottles, we're going to share one chapter at a time, always on Fridays.

Greg Hall looking through the old Clybourn log books for the first BCS brew. 

Greg Hall looking through the old Clybourn log books for the first BCS brew. 

I hope you enjoy watching this as much as we enjoyed helping create it. I worked as Creative Director helping shape the look and feel of the film, crafting the overall narrative, storyboards, photography, and brainstorming with the team. Alongside me was Mike Smith, the BCS Brand Director who tirelessly produced the film, Ken Hunnemeder, who shot, edited, and generally kept the whole thing in his head for months and created the final film, Sergio Selgado who served as Ken's number two and color-corrected, and Mike Erickson who recorded hours and hours of audio. 

The Clybourn brewpub still manages to squeeze in a few barrels.

The Clybourn brewpub still manages to squeeze in a few barrels.

This is more than just a great documentary. As someone who works with breweries all the time to help them tell their stories, this is an example of what a company can do when they take ownership of their story and produce something meaningful from the inside rather than hiring an agency to do it for you. At the end of the day, in the screening room in Denver where we premiered this at GABF yesterday, there was more than applause from the 150 people who came out to see it, there were tears in the eyes of the people who made it happen. Cheers to a great team. 

Collab by Michael Kiser
+ Goose Island

Michael Kiser

Michael is the founder of Good Beer Hunting. He travels the globe — writing, shooting, and collaborating with breweries of all shapes and sizes. This site is his chronicle of a life in beer as he witnesses the cultural explosion first-hand and finds the people, places, and products with amazing stories.

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GBH works with artists, deisgners, organizations, and breweries of all sorts to create compelling experiences, stories, and products that help tell the tale of beer.

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