Hardly a Big Beer: Juliet Then And Now

Eno Sarris, December 11, 2013

Goose Island officially became a big beer two years ago when InBev purchased the Chicago brewer. They went to 50-state distribution two years ago. This year, they added two sisters to the barrel-aged sour family when they debuted Halia and Gillian. By subjective counts, those sour beers seem more widely available.

Are the Goose Island Sisters going Big? Will we see them in gas stations next?

Our database isn't complete enough, and doesn't go far enough back to answer this definitively. Juliet, the most popular of the sisters, did come out last November, though, and we have January and February data on the 2012 vintage. And we have November and December data on this year's version of Juliet. Check out the posts per day in those respective months for those respective vintages:

Vintage / Month Posts / Day
2012 January 3.29
2012 February 5.93
2013 November 4.67
2013 December 3.50

2012's Juliet got more check-ins per day four months after its release than 2013's Juliet got in its debut month.

The sisters are not without some critical acclaim. The Phoenix New Times gave Lolita a good review, the Chicagoist was positive but noted the high cost, the Examiner reviewer was a fan. Most, though, mention that the beer does well with ageing, a phenomenon this writer noticed with the Bourbon County Brand Stout this past weekend, when the 2010 version blew the 2013 out of the water in his estimation.

Perhaps that mucks up the numbers. Plenty of 2013 Juliet bottles were bought and stashed, not drunk immediately. At $20 to $30 a bottle, it's a special occasion beer. There's the issue of the check-ins on vintages: perhaps some of the newer buyers checked into the generic Juliet instead of the specific vintage. In fact, the generic Juliet has jumped from about two check-ins per day to ten over this time, so that might be where the new check-ins are going.

But the evidence doesn't conclusively suggest that Goose Island is goosing the production of their rare Sour Sisters. They've added beers, yes. They've added states to the distribution list. But we'll see if they've really added zeroes to the production numbers.

Thanks to Wiki Commons user Niklas Hellerstedt for the picture.