Thursday, May 16, 2013

Goose Island India Pale Ale review

Goose Island India Pale AleYes, this is actually a beer review of a beer owned by AB InBev, well sorta. Back in 2011, Goose Island Beer Company of Chicago, Illinois had 58% of their company bought out by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Since that time, several Goose Island beers have been brewed at various AB-InBev plants across the USA. Fort Collins Colorado is one of them and also another in Baldwinsville, New York. I spied a single bottle of Goose Island India Pale Ale at my local beer store in Northern Colorado and was surprised to learn that this bottle wasn't brewed in Fort Collins, but actually from New York.

I looked it up, and the Fort Collins AB plant does indeed brew the Goose Island India Pale Ale and so does the Baldwinsville, NY plant. So then why would a New York bottle be located on a store shelf in Colorado? Hmm curious indeed. I noticed that this bottle had a "Bottled On Date" of November 18, 2012 and it says to enjoy within 180 days. This beer is being reviewed on the 178th day of that 180 day freshness period. So naturally, I wanted to see if this beer held its freshness for the last 6 months.

Goose Island India Pale Ale weighs in at 5.9% ABV and 55 IBU. Would a bottle that traveled all the way from New York and sitting in a beer cooler still be good? OK, call me a sucker for IPA's, but I had to find out. I'll solve the New York mystery later. For reporting purposes however, I have to call this a New York beer since it was bottled there. I grew up in Michigan and I've seen Goose Island beer around there for years, but has corporate life changed this beer? Well, one thing about this beer - it won a gold medal at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival in the English Style IPA category, so it must still be doing fairly well.

Appearance: Goose Island India Pale Ale (IPA) poured a medium copper gold color with a near white billowy head. The beer itself was modestly carbonated and poured with near perfect clarity into the glass. No sediment was visible. The foam created a nice white lacing that seemed to stick around well on the glass.

Aroma: Goose Island's IPA still had a some citrus (almost like lemons) and an earth and pine aroma, somewhat grass-like even after nearly 6 full months in the bottle. I've smelled bigger bouquets of hops in IPAs before, so perhaps age had dulled the hop nose a bit. Also in the background I could pick up some bready malts with a hint of sweetness. Had I been blindfolded, I might have had difficulty picking this out as an IPA, but perhaps a regular Pale Ale. Still, it was pleasant enough to warrant wanting to try it.

Taste: This IPA didn't have a sharp bitter beginning, rather a bitter sweet start followed by a slightly bigger bitter ending. This seemed like a chewy, resiny brew, yet I could tell that the hops had diminished in bitterness. It was still a clean tasting beer with no lingering after taste. I could pick up a hint of caramelized malts in this brew as well. The beer was easy enough to drink and I had no problem finishing the entire 12oz bottle in less than 15 minutes.

Overall: It's always a good idea to check for an expiration date or bottled on date when you select a hoppy beer. Hops aren't meant to be cellared very long, if at all. IPA's are best tasted fresh. While I could see some quality in this beer, I think I would have liked it better if it had been just a month or less old. I can't help but wonder why a bottle from New York was shipped all the way out to Colorado when the Bud plant here in Fort Collins makes the very same beer. Hmmm, is a puzzlement. Perhaps the Fort Collins plant is mis-labeling their beer with label stock from New York.

As for recommending this beer, yes, it was still decent, just not as fresh. I'll have to try a fresher bottle next time. I need to speak with my liquor store owner about the source of this beer. No wonder it was in the singles section - the 6 month old 6-pack wasn't selling fast enough apparently. I think in the future, I'll stick to drinking Goose Island's Bourbon County Stouts instead - I absolutely love those.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store. I got this beer as a single in a build-your-own 6-pack section.

Related articles:
- Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout review. (2012)
- Goose Island Christmas Ale 2009 review.
- Goose Island 2008 Bourbon County Brand Stout review. (2009 review)
- Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA review.

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