Beer Review 0352: Goose Island India Pale Ale

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Yes, this is the first beer from Goose Island to be featured on this website. Goose Island just began distribution here in North Carolina, as well as many other states — thanks to Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Owned by the world’s largest brewer, Goose Island opened in Chicago, Illinois, in 1988; it expanded in 1995, and sold 58% of its assets to ABInbev in 2011, with the other 42% also slated to eventually be sold. (Or has it already?) Hmm…

Alright, so here’s the deal: we try not to tell you what to drink and what not to drink on this website. We’re simply giving you tasting notes and scoring beers based on opinion. But the marketing practices of Anheuser-Busch InBev are…deplorable. It is with great sadness that I review this beer (and there are two more upcoming) without having tasted it before the buyout. And even though I’ve never had a Goose Island beer, I can’t help but feel a great sadness that they sold out to the big boys. You see, although Goose Island was based in Chicago, and still is, to some extent — a good portion of their brews are now made in Baldwinsville, New York, thanks to ABInbev. It says so right on the bottle. Hmm…

Goose Island’s India Pale Ale is one of those New York beers. Coming in at 5.9% ABV (alcohol by volume) and brewed with Pilgrim, Styrian Golding, Cascade, and Centennial hops, the brew registers 55 IBUs (International Bitterness Units) and is supposed to feature a long hop finish. It is part of Goose Island’s “Classic Ales” series.

You know, I don’t want to go into this review with a bad attitude. But one last comment: if Goose Island are proud of selling to ABInbev, how come there’s not a single word about it on their website? I sure hope the taste of the beer hasn’t been compromised, since we know nearly all of ABInbev beers are brewed with adjunct ingredients.

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The pour gave way to a large, bright white, creamy head that was impressive in its retention. The beer itself was golden colored, a couple shades darker than your typical Lager, and had an exceptionally clear (almost sparkling) body that was sans particles and sediment. This beer laced my glass like champ, leaving a spiral of sticky rings.

On the nose, there’s grapefruit and caramel, our old IPA friends, and touches of fruity yet spicy hops. Balance is the key here, and this one is very much so; equal parts hops and beady, rye-like malt. But there isn’t anything that really stands out and the whole thing is just subdued — when I’m drinking an IPA, I’m all for balance but I tend to want the hops to stick their neck out a little.

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The taste is fairly bland up front with some mild grapefruit and a touch of pine, which brings on the somewhat sweet bready and caramel malt middle. The finish is where all of the flavor hangs out, bringing on grapefruit, lemon, orange peel, and a very mild bitterness. There’s some dish soap the longer you think about it, and the ultimate final notes are very cereal grain-like.

Goose Island’s IPA is unoffensive and extremely easy drinking. I polished off this bottle in a flash, and found it to be refreshing but not challenging. This drinks more like a standard Pale Ale than anything hop-forward. I’m thinking ABInbev haven’t poisoned this yet — it’s actually good, and I could see myself drinking this on a hot summer day or turning on a non-craft drinking buddy to a novice IPA. Hopefully the big wigs will leave this brew alone.

Color me pleasantly surprised, and not dreading the other faux-Chicago offerings.

Goose Island India Pale Ale, 86 points. Price: $1.79 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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