Saturday, August 31, 2013

Goose Island Lolita 2011 review

Goose Island Lolita 2011Labor Day weekend is a good time to try new beers, and in this case I got to try a two year old bottle of Goose Island Lolita (2011) - billed as a wine-barrel aged Belgian-style Pale Ale fermented with wild yeast and aged on raspberries. I was given this bottle directly from the brewery as a free promotional sample and I was thankful to be able to review it on the blog.

Goose Island Lolita (2011) came in a tall 22oz capped bottle with a bright white label. The bottling date and year were clearly visible on the bottle. This brew was packaged back in November 2011 so it had nearly 2 years of age by the time I sampled it. This beer weighed in at a hefty 9% ABV and 32 IBU. Goose Island brewed this with 2-row and caramel malts plus added some sugar for extra yeast food. They hopped this with Super Styrian, Styrian Goldings, and Saaz hops.

Not sure how long this brew had been in a wine barrel with raspberries, but seeing how this was essentially a wild fermentation, I was expecting some tartness, sourness and funk. Goose Island suggests pairing this beer with salads or white fish, or also perhaps some pork or chicken dishes. Soft cheeses are also recommended. Goose Island also states that this beer can age well up to 5 years in the bottle. Seeing how I can't wait another 3 years, 2 years will have to do.

Appearance: Goose Island Lolita poured out a reddish orange color with a tiny white fizzy head. The head did not last long at all, perhaps 10 seconds at most. Swirling the beer did not bring up any head and there wasn't any lacing to speak of. The beer itself was very clear without any traces of sediment in it or the bottle. The beer still seemed to have adequate carbonation, but the lack of head raised my eyebrows a bit.

Aroma: Just as soon as the bottle opened I could smell the wild fermentation and raspberries. The aroma also was big with the scent of an aged wine as well - a tad musty. I knew I was in for a soured session with this beer. The funk and barrel notes seemed to dominate the raspberry. A very curious smelling beer, that's for sure.

Lolita close-upTaste: The first sip seemed to attack my mouth with a sour tartness and nearly dried out the inside walls and back of the tongue. The brew had a distinctive wine barrel flavor highlight. The dryness hit me up front and lingered long after the sip was down. There was just a hint of raspberry in the flavor, but the wild yeast and barrel characteristics took over right away. This beer had a medium mouthfeel and had plenty of carbonation in the mouthfeel.

I was expecting perhaps a bit more sweetness and Belgian-style from this beer. It was nearly harshly tart and I nearly coughed from the vapors while swirling it around in my mouth. My mouth felt so dry after several sips that I just had to pair this beer with something moist. I tried some sweet raisins initially and that really helps cut the dryness of this beer tremendously.

Granted, I'm a big sour beer lover, but this beer gave me an experience I hadn't seen before in a wild ale. Just the acidity of this beer and dryness really forced me to drink this beer very slowly. I kept wondering how this beer would change throughout the sampling. While I got used to the power of this beer, I still was left feeling that this beer could have had a bit less tartness to it.

Overall: I can't help but wonder how a 2013 bottle would compare to the 2011. According to one popular beer ranking site, the 2011 batch so far is the best batch of the 4 years they've made this beer. Hmm, if this was the best year then perhaps the 2012 and 2013 brews needed more age to mellow.

I ended up finishing all but a few ounces of this bottle and then I didn't want any more. This beer is good in smaller sample sizes, perhaps up to 6oz to 8oz is fine. I would highly suggest that this beer be paired with food, because all by itself this beer will dry out your mouth and leave you wanting something to counter that. The overall taste was fine, but I somehow would not put this up as one of my favorite wild ales. Perhaps it reminded me too much of a dry wine. I think this beer would be better with more raspberries and a little less time in the barrel.

Disclosure: This bottle was sent to me direction from Goose Island Brewing Company in Chicago as a promotional sample. I was not paid for this review.

Related articles:
- Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout review. (2012)
- Goose Island India Pale Ale review. (2013)
- Goose Island Christmas Ale review. (2009)

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