Part of Goose Island Brewing’s Migration Week, Flight School was an opportunity to taste the brewery’s barrel-aged sour beer offerings
Goose Island Brewing out of Chicago, Illinois brought some of their famous barrel-aged sour beers to Vancouver and invited some of us to come give them a try.
Many people in the craft beer scene know Goose Island as the pioneers of barrel-aged beers in North America. Their Bourbon County Barrel-aged Stout is sought after by craft enthusiasts across North America and beyond.
With four different sour beers to try, as well as their Bourbon County Stout, Endless IPA, Honkers Ale, and Goose Island IPA, Migration Week was indeed a wonderful opportunity to try some of the most sought after beers coming out of the USA.
The barrel program at Goose Island has expanded from humble beginnings to now have over 10,000 barrels. The brewery doesn’t just age their stout, they also produce a number of their sour beers in barrels as well. It was these beers they brought for us to taste during Flight School.
In flight school, we were treated to a sour beer tasting. There was a story to go with each beer, not just for the recipe but also the name. Lolita is named for the classic novel by Vladimir Nabokov, for example. Getting a lesson in some of the science behind creating these barrel aged sour beers was also intriguing and gave us a feel for the painstaking effort that goes into crafting the beers the Goose Island folks brought with them for us to enjoy.
After our more intimate Flight School session, the tables were cleared away and we were invited to mingle and have some food along with some of the newly-arrived patrons that joined in the later festivities.
When you’re given an opportunity to try some of the most sought after and rare beers on the market it behooves you to do just that. Needless to say that nearly everyone tried the Bourbon County Stout – a whopping 14.5% ABV and jam-packed with as much flavour as you think a stout can manage while still being immensely drinkable.
The sour beers provided by Goose Island were Halia, Lolita, Juliette, and Madamme Rose; each with their unique appearance, aromas, and flavour characteristics. Where Halia was heavy on aromas and flavours of stone fruit, Lolita was very raspberry. Juliette had a vinous quality accompanied by crushed berry flavours. Madamme Rose was incredibly complex with similarities to the rest but with a much more malty character, likely due to the brown ale that formed its base. Each was unique. Each was delicious.
Naturally this event was an attempt by the folks at Goose Island to target beer drinkers in Vancouver and Victoria with some of their rarer and sought-after offerings. For most of us, these aren’t every-day beers and indeed at the price per bottle it’s certain to be a once-in-awhile treat.
Regardless, the effort did not miss the mark and was greatly appreciated by everyone there. I for one feel privileged to attend and hope this means seeing more of Goose Island’s barrel aged offerings in our local bottle shops, even if they are sold at a premium price. The quality alone is worth the purchase, to say nothing of the taste and the attention to detail that goes into the production of such fantastic beers.