Sunday, April 3, 2011

Exploring Your City: Goose Island Brewery Tour

Last week the beverage world was rocked when it was reported that this company had purchased Chicagoland's beloved brewery Goose Island.

I am not afraid to call myself a Wino, but over the years I have developed a deep appreciation for well crafted brews, and as someone who likes to support local economies I have become a fan of Goose Island.  Particularly their Belgian style beers like the Matildia and Sofie. When I learned of the acquisition I felt it best to pay homage to the local gem and take myself on a brewery tour. I brought my pal Brandon along for the journey.

It was a lot of fun, if I do say so myself. For a mere ten dollars you got to see where the magic happens, sample six different beer styles and you got to take home a souvenir glass. What a lovely was to spend a cloudy Sunday.

Todd, our guide and a Master Brewer himself, was easy going and very informative.  I have been on several brewery tours over the years so I am familiar with how the system works, but every brewery puts their on spin on things and its a great excuse to drink in the middle of the day without judgement! If there is a brewery tour, sign me up!

A particular fact I liked about Goose Island was they send all of their grain to local pig farms, the pigs eat it and then they buy back the pigs to later appear on their menu. Love a company that keeps it local and reduces waste. I hope that doesn't change when the big guys roll in.

And of course, the best part of any brewery tour is the tasting. In this tour our guide really encouraged us to shout out various flavor notes and aromas that we picked up in each unique brew.

The six beers we tasted were:

1) Golden Goose (Pilsner): Didn't care for this one. Tasted like a slightly less better Bud Light.
2) Sahti (Saison Style): A beer made with juniper berries instead of hops. Very unique flavor. I very much enjoyed.  I imagine it would go well with a nice grilled Salmon.
3) Green Line (Pale Ale): Again, didn't love this one. Felt similarly to the Golden Goose.
4) Blonde Rascal (forgot to make note of the style): Brewed with lavender which gave it an herbaceous and floral nose. I liked it, although I don't think I could consume an entire pint.
5) Sneed (Porter): Yummy! A darker beer but very smooth. Nice chocolate, coffee and tobacco notes.
6) Lake Effect (Imperial Ale): Another crowd pleaser. Medium in body, caramel in color, great all year drinking beer.

A wonderful thing about Beer is it can be made anywhere, and be great. Unlike wine which really depends on the climate and region (Sorry Indiana wines...). So there are tons of great local breweries all across the country, and many of them offer tours. This is not a fact, rather a theory I have, but I feel confident enough to make that statement. Tours like this are a great activity to do with a group of friends and a wonderful way to learn about the craft of beer making. I highly recommend it!

You were allowed to take a beer on the tour, and that coupled with the tasting I was feel rather happy after the tour concluded. As witnessed by the photo below.

P.S- According to Todd, Goose Island is going to continue operating the same way and the buy out shouldn't affect the quality of their beers. I hope this is the case!

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