Until dawn, the day after Thanksgiving, the crowd queues early, excited by the opening of the doors and the possibility of opening something that is only available in limited quantities and for a short time.

These warm souls don’t wait for a new television, big discounts on clothes or toys to put under the tree. No, they’re waiting for a beer.

Black Friday has become a day of retail sports competitions, and the breweries are waiting for the fans to start the holiday season with their own special outings. This year the day will be different in the shadow of a new coronavirus pandemic, but breweries across the country are still celebrating the day with limited edition bottles, usually in the form of an imperial barrel.

The Bourbon County Stout on Goose Island is credited with making Black Friday a beer day. Currently owned by the world’s largest brewery, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Chicago Brewery has been producing Bourbon County Stout since the 1990s. Ten years ago, on Black Friday, it began to produce barrel-shaped imperial clouds.

Goose Island Brewery decorated for the holidays Photo courtesy of Goose Island

Goose Island has added options to the Bourbon County Stout line every year. Some are matured in special, popular bourbon barrels, while others contain additives such as coffee, tea and spices. Previous discharges in Chicago have been documented by local press helicopters as discharge lines in local shops and a brewery has set up in blocks.

This year, the brewery produces seven different Bourbon County Stout across the country, with some of the smaller batches selected only in cities like New York and Philadelphia. Chicago will always be the most important place, but after the pandemic, long queues and large crowds will leave. Instead, Goose Island will have lottery systems, pre-emptive rights and time of entry.


Because of its size and marketing capacity, Goose Island still gets the lion’s share of the attention, but the smaller breweries across the country are on their feet and are now doing their best to catch the thunder of the big breweries or catch the daylight of the customer.

Brunch and Candle on the Bone Black Friday Beer Polite photos Brunch and Candle on the Bone

This year Branch & Bone Brewery will launch Imperial Milk in Dayton, Ohio, on Black Friday, matured in rye casks and packed with vanilla for a year.

Overall, this will be an important week for us as we will have several new beers in 16 unpublished cans this week, said Brett Smith, company owner and brewer. Usually we had a big party and arrived in the morning to find a snake around the building. But as with all our publications in the Covid period, this will mainly happen on our website, and we will see our patrons infiltrating during the day to carry out their action.

These are crazy times, but we are lucky to have a fan base that is incredibly supportive.

Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery continues the tradition of the barrel and produces four different beers. This year there will be naughty and barley wines, all called Black Friday, including an imperial mare who spent almost six years in barrels of bourbon and cognac. They will only be available in the shops after a party at the brewery.

In the same way, the Pennsylvania drug brewery will continue to produce a single imperial brew matured in bourbon casks. It is strongly spiced with chocolate, vanilla and cane sugar.

Bottle of beer origin Photo courtesy of Treg

John Trogner, co-founder and brewer of Tröegs, noted that the Hershey brewery is close to many outlets where crowds traditionally gather to make a deal at the door. The Hershey brewery is therefore located in the city centre.

What we didn’t want was Black Friday to be even more stressful, so we cooked enough so it wasn’t super limited, he said. You don’t have to queue in the morning for that. You can go do your thing and then come to Troegs to get your trophy. For us, the approaching descent of the Bourbon Barrel-Aged was rather the reason for these people to party after their adventures. You can go in and come back with a big beer. It’s like the icing of a cake all day long.

Most breweries stick to the Stout and a rather warm, heavy and intoxicating style, but there are also other publications.

Nick Armatage, owner and brewer of Peculiar Ales, Colorado, says his brewery will produce pistachio pudding, fashionable peach cake, a light lager and, hopefully, a strong nut cake. Steely, he admits, he’s everywhere.

Breweries note that the waiting time, which normally takes place in the days leading up to Black Friday, will be reduced this year, but with the safety restrictions and common sense of the customers, there is still a lot of fun to be had.

It creates a sense of normality and brings us together, which hasn’t happened in recent months, says George Burton, sales manager of Black Flag Brewery in Maryland, who wants to launch a barrel-aged wine bowl. It goes without saying that it will be a great pleasure for a long year. I don’t really know if it’s a short-term publicity stunt or a long-term marketing strategy, but I do know that I’m damn happy as long as someone enjoys a bit of the beer we brew with friends in our community.

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