Beer Review 0512: Goose Island Pere Jacques Dubbel

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Goose Island (Chicago, Illinois) recently began distribution here in North Carolina, and likely your neck of the woods, too. But here’s the rub: Goose Island is owned by ABInbev, the multinational brewing giant that produces Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois. With all those billions of dollars, ABInbev now produces many of Goose Island’s lower alcohol content beers themselves, and uses their massive distribution arm to get those bottles in as many markets as possible.

After seven months of sending NC their “classic” series of beers, Goose Island have finally began distributing their “vintage” line in the state, which are all offerings made at the Chicago brewery, not in an ABInbev-owned facility. Four beers in the vintage lineup have made their way to my neck of the woods, and I’ll be looking at one each Monday for the next four weeks.

Celebrating 25 years in 2013, John Hall was the Goose visionary, and he was inspired by the beers he had tasted in travels across the country. He started the brewery with the notion that drinkers wanted to see their beer being made, so Goose Island began life as a brewpub. In 1995, a dedicated facility was built with a bottling plant to keep up with demand. The sale to ABInbev happened in 2011, with 58% of the company being immediately sold, with the remaining 42% still slated to be purchased.

The 2013 vintage of Pere Jacques, a Belgian-style Dubbel, comes in at 8.7% ABV (alcohol by volume) and 26 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). This beer is brewed with a variety of malts including 2-Row, wheat, caramel, rye flakes, Special B, and candy sugar. Goose Island says this beer is suitable for aging up to five years.

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The pour served up a small, creamy, eggshell colored head that was fast diminishing. The beer was deep amber-red in color, with lighter orange and bronze highlights around the edges of the glass when held to light. Body was clear, empty of particles and sediment, and lacing was very sparse, practically non-existent.

On the nose, this brew is both appealing and distracting at the same time — up front, lots of sweet and lightly toasted malts that deliver plenty of dark fruits like raisin and prune. There’s some deeper notes of molasses and burnt sugar, along with herbal hops. It’s a typical dubbel in this regard, but not so typical in the fact that when allowed to warm, a distinct aroma of nail polish remover begins to show up. It’s never overwhelming but that memorable scent does resonate.

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Flavor-wise, Pere Jacques is bready and sweet with lots of dark fruits; again, continued raisin and prune, raisin bread, and grape. The sugary sweetness is reminiscent of molasses; this beer turns really grape-like on the finish, which is doughy bread and grape jam, lightly toasted with some sugar on top. While quite sweet, it’s never cloying, and the alcohol is well hidden. I found Pere Jacques to be medium-bodied, with a between thin and medium mouthfeel that is both creamy and foamy when swirled.

What we have here is a perfectly good beer that’s safe in nearly every aspect. Nothing wrong with that — solid, just not very inspiring. This style tends to be like that, which might would lead me to recommend something truly Belgian if you want a fine example.

Goose Island Pere Jacques Dubbel, 86 points. Price: $3.49 US for one 12 oz. bottle.

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