This trip to Chicago focused on a few key points:
- Seeing friends, with whom to eat and drink
That was really it. We didn’t visit the Bean. I didn’t demand a walk along the shore of Lake Michigan, and I didn’t want to see any improv comedy troupes. I wanted to eat and drink my way through the city. And, luckily, my friends came through. Big time.
For half my trip, I stayed with my buddy that I’ve known approximately forever: Caitlin. The most seasoned of my Chi-town buddies, she’s been living in the Windy City for over a year now, and hadn’t visited Goose Island’s Clybourn Brewpub yet. That obviously had to be remedied.
On Saturday, Caitlin, her husband, and I bundled up and head over for a “tour” and a guided tasting. I toss the “tour” in quotations because, much like the Brooklyn Brewery “tour”, it was mostly an opportunity to stand inside of a room in which pieces of the brewing process go down but, since it’s a small area, there’s not an actual tour, more of a lecture from someone knowledgeable. In our case, it was Brad Dessy, former member of the DePaul Men’s a Cappella and generally handsome bearded brew dude.
After a mini crash course in how beer’s made (because, as he admitted, people who don’t brew don’t care, and those who do brew already know how it’s made), Brad touched on what made this Chicago Island beer so great.
- They use water STRAIGHT from Lake Michigan, 5 gallons of water for every one gallon of beer.
- Goose Island is Chicago’s oldest functioning brewery
- Goose Island’s head brewers intended to bring British styles of beer to Chicago, modeling off of post-Prohibition-style beers.
- They produce enough beer to make one new beer a week, debuting on Thursdays (in case you’re in town.)
- Goose Island’s brew pubs were not included in the acquisition of Goose Island by AB In Bev, so they continue to hold tight to the “craft beer” status. Sweet.
- Goose Island is very proud of their work with cask ale. We didn’t try any of this, so I can’t speak to the quality, but Brad seemed stoked about it, and if you can’t trust a male a cappella singer who brews beer, who CAN you trust?
- In the summer, they work with local farmers from the Farmers’ Market to create all sorts of crazy collaboration beers, mixing peaches, honey, spices, truffles, hot peppers, and peas into beer. Noted, I’ll have to head back some summer!!
I’d already enjoyed a Star Cluster IPA before/during the “tour”, and noticed the brew pub was still dolled up for the holidays as we walked up to the tasting. No surprise, we went from Light to Dark in our beers.
(In case you’re wondering, that’s a Hop Zilla original shirt, made by my buddy Robin for me for this year’s GABF. Be jealous.)
The beers we tried included:
- Shine On (a saison/farmhouse style ale)
- Loud and Thirsty (a dortmunder lager that I hated)
- Caber Toss Wee Heavy (we all wore kilts when we tasted this scotch ale)
- Voyager IPA (a delicious IPA that I was quite fond of tasting)
- Honest Stout (Tasty, but nothing to write home about)
- Liquid Inspiration Stout (mmm roasted malty and great)
The “guided tasting” got a little wacky by the end, as I noticed that many people stopped paying attention (maybe they were already drunk? I saw a few ladies throwing back Bloody Marys and mimosas pre-“tour”). Also, it was clear that the room was a little big for Brad to handle all at once, but his efforts were admirable.
Perhaps he should’ve sang to us?
ANYWHO, for $10, we enjoyed a little new knowledge about Goose Island, 6 beer tastings, and a lovely pint glass to take home.
And who doesn’t enjoy a little afternoon buzz?
We bundled back up to venture out into the cold once again. And, even though it’s been about four days since this tour…. I still think my bones are thawing.
What crazy ingredient would you put into your Farmer’s Market series beer??
Has anyone brewed with broccoli?