It was an invitation to a Goose Island event. I've long been a fan of their beers, right back to when I used to get bottles of Goose Island IPA from Safeways. To this day it remains a benchmark beer for me. I was also mightily impressed when I once found Bourbon County Stout on draught, so the fact some of that was on offer added to my interest. As did the fact I'd already booked the day off. Admittedly I was supposed to be in the Lake District by that point but sometimes a bit of flexibility is called for.
The event was at the old Trumans brewery in London's East End, tying in with the 'Craft Beer Rising' festival. It's a big place so I was relieved when I spotted a handy banner saying 'pop up bar'. This must be it I thought, but it wasn't. It was for Pilsner Urquell (SAB Miller). The bar next door was for Guinness (Diageo), and the next one I found was for Sharps (Molson Coors). Truly craft beer is a multi-national, I mean global, phenomenon.
I was on my second circuit of the place when my slavation came in an unexpected form: from The Tandleman himself. Is there anyone else you'd rather spot when lost and looking for a beer?* Sure enough, he'd soon got hold of the Goose Island (ABInBev) PR woman and we were being lead to the ligging.
I started on the 312 Wheat Beer, though as was pointed out to me it's not made with a phenolic flavour producing yeast so is more a golden ale. It was pleasant enough, but no IPA so I was on to that next.
It had been a while since I'd had a bottle as I don't buy much bottled beer nowadays. I was a little concerned as apparently it's changed since Goose Island's takeover and this is generally considered a bad thing. I believe it's now brewed in one of ABInBev's larger breweries and they had to make adjustments to brew it on the bigger kit. Of course if Goose Island were still independent and had contracted out the brewing this would be fine. In my unscientific tasting I thought it wasn't quite what it used to be, there seemed less hop zing. That didn't stop me drinking too much of the stuff mind.
Food was laid on and we were meant to be doing that food and beer pairing thing but in my usual haste to shovel food into my gob I forgot all about it, so if you want to know what beers go with what foods you'll have to ask someone who cares.There were short talks from various Goose Island bods, but I can't really remember what they said. I seem to be having a bit of a beer nerd failure here.
I do remember the place had a barrel theme going on though. ABInBev are now distributing Goose Island beers in Britain directly and Bourbon County Stout will be coming our way.
Towards the end of the night we got ushered into a darkened room for an audience with the Goose Island Innovation Brewer. I think this was part of the cult of personality thing that craft breweries like to build around their brewers. Still, he seemed a nice chap, and we got given more beer and some posh chocolates, as well as some goodies to take away.
The Bourbon Country Stout is great stuff, though the general feeling was the normal version is better than the rarer aged in old barrels version as that had too much of a whiskey taste.
Disclaimer: I didn't pay to go to this event and the vast quantities of free beer and food, along with the goodies I got to take away (t-shirts, hat, posh box of booze) will in no way have influenced my views. No, no, no, not one bit ;-)
|Mine! All mine!|
* The Tandleman has gained legendary status amongst beer bloggers. I'm not entirely certain why but I'm not going to let that stop me joining in.