So on I trekked to Goose Island’s 312 Block Party. Taking place around Goose Island’s main brewery, the Block Party features music acts next to a multitude of tents pouring Goose Island beer, plus a few new things this year.
Immediately upon entering is a tent serving 312, a token booth ($3 per token for a 12 oz. beer; 6 oz for the “rare” offerings), and two food trucks. Also in this area was the entrance to the (now empty) barrel warehouse, with another Goose Island booth, a few classic arcade games, and ping pong tables set up. Past this was the main stage and the rest of the fest. Down the main street were the Goose Island bus, their mini-golf set (present at all GI events now it seems), and some chairs to sit. Walking past even more Goose Island beer booths was what I mainly came for – the “rare” beer booth, which was mainly pouring Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS).
Last year that was the extent of the fest. This year the Block Party extended beyond the booth to include another stage (for local bands), two more food trucks, and more Goose Island beer booths. This extension was really nice, as it kept the back area around the BCBS open so you could move around freely. Additionally, the Haute Sausage truck was back there with no wait (as opposed to the food trucks up front near the main stage).
I found a token booth, bought my tokens and headed to get a pour of Proprietor’s. Goose Island has learned much since the fiasco that was the 25h anniversary Block Party in May 2013. Since then, all bourbon county/barreled beers have timed tapping throughout the day, with the staff pre-pouring everything so the lines moved quickly and effortlessly. I had arrived a bit late, so the long line was for the next tapping (2014 Coffee) and I simply walked up and got a pour of Proprietor’s.
A few times I ventured out of that area, but I spent most of the block party back there talking to friends. The front, with everything listed above, was always crowded, between the band’s spectators, the new arrivals and those getting food from the food trucks.
Having spent the day at Zwanze Day, I needed something to eat at this point. I got my pour of 2014 Bourbon County Coffee and headed over to the Haute Sausage truck. I was the only one there and quickly got an amazing Bacon Guacamole sausage that hit the spot.
Throughout the day I managed to try all the Bourbon County variants they tapped and my impressions were:
Proprietor’s – had no coconut; quite honestly tasted like regular BCBS
2104 BCBS Coffee – Much like the early 2013 Coffee, big coffee on the nose and tongue, but not as coffee-forward as last year’s (which I had in late October 2013).
2013 BCBS Coffee – Some of the coffee is gone, but it still damn amazing.
2014 BCBS – A tad hot, but should hopefully mellow out nicely before release.
Bramble Rye BCBS – The once overbearing fruit has now mellowed out to complement the base BCBS well. One of my favorites of the day.
Violet Hour BCBS – The variant everyone wanted to try, it ran out quickly due to a limited supply. Had a slight dry finish, but I thought the version I had at Stout Fest 2013 was superior. A let down.
Buffalo Trace BCBS – I prefer this one to the Templeton Rye version; it complements the base beer better, very similar to the Heaven Hill barrels.
Backyard BCBS – Still a lot of fruit in this, should mellow out nicely over time.
Cherry Rye BCBS – Still some big cherry flavor there, but slowly mellowing out (like Bramble).
Favorites were the Bramble Rye, 2014 Coffee, Buffalo Trace, and the 2013 Coffee.
I had heard good things about Twin Peaks (the band, not the TV show), so I went to check them out when they went on. They were honestly quite good; a garage-rock band with some similarities to The Hives, The Strokes, or a more polished Replacements. Along with the copious amounts of quality beer and the Haute Sausage truck, Twin Peaks was a highlight of the day for me.
The day had to end, of course, with “early 90s alt-rock/grunge” me getting to see The Breeders. With Kim Deal now out of the never-ending Pixies reunion tours, she has reformed the “classic” Breeders line-up from their hit album Last Splash. I’ve never been a big Breeders fan, but it was a treat to hear “Cannonball” live. With that off my bucket list, I headed home.
So another Goose Island 312 Block Party is in the books. The extra space in the back, with the accompanying stage and food trucks, made it equally enjoyable to be near the back of the fest as it did the front. Beer lines were long, but moved quickly and efficiently, allowing more time to enjoy the other aspects of the party. My only suggestion would be to move the main stage out of the intersection to ease the congestion there. Otherwise, Goose Island has shown they learned their lesson from the 25th anniversary Block Party, and every event since then has been an enjoyable one.
Photos of the entrance and The Breeders courtesy of Goose Island.