We stopped in on the Goose Island brewery during the Chicago leg of our book tour. And while we're not too keen on recommending Chicago in January, seeing the ever expanding Goose Island barrel rooms was well worth bracing the cold.For this tasting we brought the barrel room home (or rather, to the office) with a few bottles from Goose Island's Vintage Series. Aging beer in barrels can be used for a few effects. Bourbon barrels can impart a strong (you guessed it) bourbon flavor into a beer. Same can go for calvados or rum barrels. Wine barrels, as used in these beers, can add complex wine-like notes paired with evolving tart or fruity qualities. Blending beers aged for different lengths becomes an integral skill that breweries like Goose Island have down to a science.
Sofie is a wonderful companion to seared scallops and other creatures from the sea. It's pale in color, extraordinarily effervescent, and slightly tart from the addition of wild yeast. Brewed with orange peel and aged in wine barrels, the scent is slightly fruity with a hint of yeast. It has a mild lemon character with a dry, bitter finish.
Slightly woody with a soft caramel maltiness, this Belgian ale is the color of a beachy sunset and boasts a soft pillowy head. With a lingering and slightly spicy yeastiness, Matilda has a nicely balanced bitterness that makes it go well with braised pork (perhaps with some cherries).
Pere Jacques is an ideal beer for post-supper sipping. This dubbel has a deep, rosy mahogany hue and smells a bit sweet, fruity, and alcoholic. Slightly sweet and cherry-like with a good hop balance and a drier than expected finish, it's our go-to cheese plate companion.
6.0% ABVBrewed with black peppercorns, Pepe Nero has a slightly reddish cola-like hue and a very faint smoky aroma. Smooth with an apparent malt sweetness and light carbonation, it finishes with a mild pepper smokiness that builds with each sip. It's a wonderful beer with beef or virtually anything with grill marks.