IT’S RARE that an IPA could seem like an also-ran in any Midwestern brewery’s lineup, but then again Goose Island Beer Co. is anything but typical. Up against 312‘s marketing muscle, popular twists on continental favorites (Honker’s Ale or Summertime), and the boutique allure of Bourbon County Brand Stout or Matilda, it’s easy for a regular old IPA to get lost in mix. Yet this would be a shame, since it is among Goose Island’s better offerings as well as of the better IPAs on the common market.
From the tap it pours a golden amber, perhaps a touch hazier than usual but still quite bright, with a tightly packed and persistent head that leaves generous lacing in the glass. Initial aromas are fresh and refined: grapefruity American hops and a dash of pine (Centennial/Cascade), but also mild stone fruit and a pleasant pale grain undertone redolent of its English origins. On the palate that durable head contributes a creamy texture and hint of vanilla that balance the 55 IBU very well. Pale malts bears up the body firmly yet unobtrusively and segue into sweeter territory (a touch of peach, perhaps) before the crisp conclusion. Its 5.9% ABV is mildly apparent here, though tamed by some fruity esters. Its body is a touch bigger than expected but still on the lighter side, with lively carbonation that bubbles brilliantly on the palate without thinning the finish. A swell of resin in the aftertaste substitutes fairly well for a mineralic signature (more common to English IPAs) and leaves no unwanted residue. Goose Island’s IPA may seem unassuming when compared to hop-packed American peers, but it bestrides the Atlantic with clarity and precision.
Served: On tap (Durty Nellie’s, Palatine)