New beverage packaging flies the flag for Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1, Freelance Writer

February 23, 2016

3 Min Read
New beverage packaging flies the flag for Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout
Unusual "flag" label helps limited-edition stout bottle stand out.

For beer drinkers who like stout, Black Friday holds special meaning: It’s the day when Goose Island Beer Co. releases its annual limited-edition Bourbon County Brand Stout. For the 2015 release, the brewery launched a new packaging design that features custom bottles and a unique, flag-like label at the neck of the bottle.

The front of the new bottle is embossed with the Goose Island logo and the stout’s brand name, making conventional labeling unnecessary. The embossed 16.9-oz. brown glass bottle replaces 12- and 22-oz. bottles previously used for Bourbon County Brand Stout. Owens-Illinois (O-I) supplies the new bottles.

Legal disclaimers and other required information is printed on the flag label and on a die-cut back label that’s tapered to match the shape of the new bottle. Goose Island worked with Constantia Flexibles to develop the flag and back labels for the redesigned package. Both are pressure-sensitive.

The flag label, which wraps around the bottle’s neck, features a 5/8-inch, pop-out tab printed with the brewery’s logo. This label is made from a proprietary substrate that enables two-sided printing and ensures that the flag maintains its perpendicular orientation to the bottle. No special case-packing steps are required to protect the flags.

A rotary labeler manufactured by Krones is used to apply the flag labels to the bottles. The labeler “was not necessarily a custom design, but Goose Island communicated the requirements at the front end of the project so that the labeler was built to accommodate this unique package,” says Brian Fischer, vp-sales in Constantia Flexibles’ Labels Div. He adds that the flag label “processed seamlessly” on Goose Island’s packaging line.

The brewery is a pioneer in barrel-aged stout brewing. Since 1992, it has been repurposing used bourbon barrels from brand owners like Jim Beam. Two years ago, Goose Island obtained a number of 35-year-old bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill Brands; the Bourbon County Stout Rare made in those barrels was one of the stouts released on Nov. 27, 2015, together with other specially formulated stout variants.

We asked Mark Kamarauskas, Goose Island’s director of operations, a few questions about the packaging redesign. Here is what he had to say.

How was the new package design received by the market?

Kamarauskas: It was an overwhelming success.

Did you work with a packaging design firm on this concept? If so, what firm? 

Kamarauskas: VSA, out of Chicago, was our agency on the package design.

How many of the 2015 limited-edition packages were produced?

Kamarauskas: Bourbon County Stout Rare was one batch and was produced in very limited quantities solely based on our ability to get the 35-year-old Heaven Hill barrels. We do not release exact quantities, sorry.

Is the cap a conventional crown closure?

Kamarauskas: It is a standard pry-off closure common in the craft-beer category.

Does Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout come in multipacks and as single bottles?

Kamarauskas: Only single bottles.

Is it sold only through the brewery, or at retail and on-premise, also?

Kamarauskas: Both, but in limited quantities, as a special release. And most if not all were in consumers’ hands on Black Friday.


The tapered back label conforms to the shape of the bottle.

About the Author(s)

Kate Bertrand Connolly 1

Freelance Writer

Kate Bertrand Connolly has been covering innovations, trends, and technologies in packaging, branding, and business since 1981.

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