Barrel-aged beers are popular right now: Fans stand outside of some breweries the day before a bottle release for the chance to snag the special, and often limited, liquid. Some collectors may try to buy them online in sales that sell out in seconds. Many breweries require patrons to enter a lottery for a chance to buy releases to make it a little fairer. A majority of these 12- to 25-ounce beers sell for $20 to $100 a bottle, and end up reselling for hundreds or even $1,000 on secondary markets.
But it wasn’t always like this. Back when Chicago’s Goose Island entered one of its first batches of Bourbon County Brand Stout—the beer that kickstarted the barrel-aged stout style—into the Great American Beer Festival in 1995, the competition didn’t even have a category the beer could enter. Since then, it’s grown into a yearly release where everyone is excited to see just what Goose Island does next with its popular series.