Since Goose Island staked its claim on Black Friday in 2010, the day after Thanksgiving has become huge for beer releases.
black friday beer shopping
Credit: Courtesy of Goose Island Beer Company

Looking through the beer release announcements this week, a familiar theme keeps popping up. Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery will release Black Friday Imperial Stout on, fittingly, Black Friday. Seattle’s Fremont Brewing will release its bourbon barrel-aged winter ale, B-Bomb, on the same day. Athens, Georgia’s Creature Comforts will release three limited-edition beers on, yup, November 24. Akron, Ohio’s Hoppin’ Frog will release its Barrel-Aged Gavel Slammer 17.4% Monumental Dark Ale on… you get the picture.

And those are just some of the biggest examples that have popped up over the past few days. Plenty of other breweries both big and small will also be releasing special beers on the day after Thanksgiving in a tradition that has exploded onto the beer scene over the past seven years or so.

So, where did this traditional start? Counterintuitively, you can actually trace these November 24 beer releases back to April 29, 2005. That was the first “Dark Lord Day” – the dedicated day that Munster, Indiana’s Three Floyds Brewing chose for the release of its massive Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, Dark Lord. Considered the first annual single beer release event in 2010, Goose Island co-opted a similar idea for the release of its own stout, Bourbon Country Brand Stout, and chose Black Friday as its annual release.

Since then, hordes of other breweries have jumped on the trend. And why not? If you’re going to go through a major headache waiting in line in the November cold to buy something, why not have it be an awesome beer?

Writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Kathy Flanigan outlined just how crazy the phenomenon has become in her own hometown. “Five years ago, Lakefront was the only Milwaukee brewery to have a Black Friday event,” she explained. “This year, ten craft brewers and brewpubs have announced a special-release beer for the day after Thanksgiving, with one more doing a release on Thanksgiving Eve and another on the Saturday after Black Friday.” And keep in mind, that’s just in the Milwaukee area. If you don’t feel like doing any Black Friday shopping, it’s definitely worth taking a look to see what the breweries in your area are up to once the Thanksgiving feast is over.