Thursday, March 20, 2014

Goose Island The Illinois Imperial IPA review

Goose Island The Illinois Imperial IPAForget for the moment that Goose Island Beer Company is now owned by a huge national beer company. Goose Island has been around since 1988 and has been making award winning beer for a long time. The subject of this beer review is made by the original Chicago area brewery that is well known for it's big beers. This beer review is focused on their big Double IPA called "Goose Island The Illinois Imperial India Pale Ale", or The Illinois IIPA for short.

The Illinois is no watery beer, far from it. It weighed in at a hefty 9% ABV and a respectable 95 IBUs. This particular beer came in a 12oz bottle and was brewed and bottled in Chicago, Illinois. There's even a bottling date of February 14, 2014 so I know that this beer was just over 1 month. That's still within my freshness limit for big hoppy beers. The bottle label claims this beer will stay good for 180 days, but I would suggest trying to drink one of these within 6 to 8 weeks for best freshness.

One of my previous reviews of Goose Island's regular IPA had mixed reviews, only because I drank one that was a year old. However, this sample bottle is much fresher and has a lot more ABV's than the original. So how would this brew measure up to the other double IPA's (DIPA) out there? Fermentedly Challenged is up for a full review.

Appearance: The Illinois pours out with a dark golden, nearly amber color with a big 2-3 finger tall light tan head. The foam left a noticeable sticky lacing and when swirls kept up the nice lacing effect. The beer itself looked well filtered. No sediment could be seen and the beer had excellent clarity. The beer had a modest amount of carbonation.

Aroma: Wow, just what I would expect from a big double IPA. The Illinois smacked my nostrils with a big resiny, sticky, piney aroma with the side note of semi-sweet malt. There were Chinook, Cascade, Citra and Meridian hops in there and man did that produce a wonderful smell. There was a noticeable earthiness to the scent and it gave me the feeling that this beer was going to be big, bitter and hefty. The hop nose can't be ignored in this beer. I could pick up a hint of alcohol heat in the aroma as well. It told me to get ready and sip slowly.

Goose Island Illinois close-upTaste: I started drinking this beer about 15 minutes after I opened it and it was still in the 40-50 degree temperature range. The very first sip felt medium bodied, with a bit of carbonated bubbles and ending smooth. I tasted a big malt base first, followed immediately by a big hit of resiny hops. The hop taste lingered for a while after the sip went down. This IPA reminded me of citrus (grapefruit) and pine, semi-sweet caramel malt. This DIPA drank fairly easy for a big IPA. Many imperial IPAs don't go down as easily as this one did. This reminded me of a Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA - which happened to be the 1st IPA I actually enjoyed.

Overall: I was a big fan of this beer right from the start. From the dark golden color and head, the huge fresh hop aroma, to the solid hoppy yet balance overall flavor. This beer was well made. Not many DIPA's get high marks from me, but The Illinois definitely scored well with me. If offered to me again I would gladly drink it with no hesitation. I don't care who gets credit for owning this company, Goose Island makes some fantastic beers. I fell in love before with Goose Islands Bourbon County brand of beers, now I have to add their Imperial India Pale Ale to the list of top picks from that brewery. if you love well made hoppy IPAs, then I encourage you to try this one. It's well made. There's a limited national distribution for this right now and once this batch is gone then it's gone. So drink up! Be sure to pair this beer with some spicy food or some sharp cheese. Double IPA's beg to be paired with food. For me, I'd pair it with cheddar cheese, Mexican or Asian food.

Disclosure: I was offered two 12oz bottles as complimentary samples from Goose Island Beer Company. The bottles were mailed out from Missouri, most likely from a corporate office. I promised to give this beer an honest review in exchange for the free samples. I was not paid for this review.

Related articles:
- Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Barleywine review. (2013)
- Goose Island India Pale Ale review. (2013)
- Goose Island Lolita 2011 review.

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