....GOLDEN GOOSE ?....                                             

 A critical look at some of the beers from the respected craft brewer now available in the UK.

Along with a small clutch of other American craft brewers such as Samuel Adams, Anchor Steam,  and Brooklyn,  Goose Island have managed to maintain a consistent presence in the UK now for some years . This is in no small part due to the work of a dedicated importer who has worked effectively with the brewery to keep the products presence alive, kindled to the fact that the quality of the beers has won them an admiring and devoted following.

The two bottled beers which  led the way were Goose Island Honkers Ale and  India Pale Ale.  Honkers has always been seen as a well made easy drinking brew, dependable, but perhaps lacking in character,  whilst the IPA has deservedly been seen as the jewel in the crown.  The beers floral hop overtones and well balanced refreshing hoppy style, in the American IPA tradition,  has won it many plaudits with drinkers and critics alike.

But what of the other rarely seen beers in the Goose Island portfolio ?  How do they measure up, and are there any which will usurp the IPA's dominance ?  At a recent tasting I was able to try five other brews from their range, and have rated the beers on a scale of one to ten.

GOOSE ISLAND 312 URBAN WHEAT BEER.    A hint here possibly lies in the beers title, and those looking for a wheat beer in the distinctive Belgian/Germanic tradition may need to look elsewhere.  The brewery have obviously gone for a brew with  ' everyman ' appeal,  and sadly in the process have diluted much of the character you might come to expect.  There is a light wheat grain flavour with a touch of spritz married to a firm body with subtle lime and lemon notes. Sadly nothing more challenging comes through,  and as a consequence,  is slightly dull.  The beer has obviously been designed for session appeal on draught,  and by its lack of character no doubt fulfils this role,  but it does not transfer successfully to bottle form....3/10 Rating.

GOOSE ISLAND MILD WINTER ALE.    This is a pleasing interpretation of the American mild ale style,  with a smooth well weighted palate with a touch of subtle hops following through to the finish.  Nicely made, it has a strength at 5.6% alc  that gives it some character in the process....6/10 Rating.

GOOSE ISLAND HARVEST ALE.    The appealing aroma of  ' freshly mown grass '  hop notes with marmalade citrus fruits leads on to a palate that is  lightweight and refreshing.  This beer in particular benefits from the Goose Island's  policy of non-pasteurisation and works well,  although the beer does lack in dimension to truly stand out....6/10 Rating. 

GOOSE ISLAND NUT BROWN ALE.   An aroma of deep sweet caramel malt notes leads on to a smooth firm bodied palate with touches of toffee,  caramel and subtle grain flavours.  All in all the beer delivers what it says,   but a touch more of the ' nutty ' character would have been a welcome addition to give it more distinction,  Good nevertheless, with a dry edge to the finish which prevents cloying....7/10 Rating.

GOOSE ISLAND OATMEAL STOUT.   A good deep grained aroma of dark malts with  'mocha ' overtones  with a palate that is nicely balanced  by being smooth,  creamy, yet full and rounded in flavour. The dark malts and oatmeal combine well to make this a flavoursome brew that has a lingering long finish.  A very good interpretation of the style....8/10 Rating. 

In conclusion the  range is a welcome addition to the UK market,  with the exception of the 312 Urban Wheat beer.   All  are well made,  if perhaps lacking in intensity,  which would lift them out of the mainstream.  It is for that very reason that the IPA has won such a following here because the beer has that ' intensity ' of character,  and is much admired for it!.... May it's reign continue to be a long and happy one...  

For details of stockists contact  James Clay  on www.beersolutions.co.uk


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