GOOSE ISLAND serves up another round of English bitter with Harvest Ale, the fall seasonal of their Classic lineup. It’s a much improved effort over their standard bitter, Honker’s Ale–a tame homage to its English forebear much as 312 faintly shadows spirited German Hefeweizens. Stepping up their game for Harvest, the ‘extra special’ distinction comes into play, the ABV jumps to a still sensible 5.7%, and the hop profile takes a decisively American twist (straight up Cascade replacing Styrian cultivars). Crystal malts substitute in for Honker’s roasted barley, though it’s still Harvest that boasts the richer copper hues and more substantial bready body.
The aroma is draped in caramel and toffee while the mild floral undertones of Cascade keeps things fresh. On the palate Harvest is quite crisp, more so than expected, with a slightly peppery carbonation and mineral brush towards the finish. The body is a bit under medium and alcohol is minutely noticeable. With simple and effective tweaks to an aged tradition, Harvest embodies the prime directive that launched American craft brewing: learn, love, and then innovate–don’t imitate.
Served: 12 oz bottled July 13, 2013