Thursday, June 7, 2012

Philly Beer Week Day 4: Goose Island

After our pretty crazy Sunday, it was refreshing to only have one event on Monday. This time we planned to head to City Tap House to check out some beers from Goose Island brewery. Goose Island entered Philly rather recently and, at least in beer nerd circles, is well know for a ridiculously great stout named Bourbon County Brand stout, a bourbon barrel stout that clocks in at 14.5%. I knew they were serving it at this event which is partly why I chose to go to that one instead of others.

When I arrived at 5 for the 6pm event, the place was actually still pretty empty. What a nice change of pace from the Monk's event. I got a seat at the bar ordered a glass of the Yards Bourbon Porter to pass the time until the Goose Island stuff was available.
This was a nice mild way to start my day. Roast nose with some light vanilla and a hint of bourbon. Body followed with the porter part standing out the most with its roastiness and then just a tiny bit of bourbon. Pretty good porter base meant that the light bourbon flavor actually went really well instead of overwhelming it.

The funny thing about when I arrived is that they had every Goose Island beer already tapped but weren't going to start serving the more special stuff until the actual event time. While that made total sense, what a tease it was seeing all those taps but being unable to drink any of it. My life is so difficult, I know.

But finally, 6pm rolled around and I got myself a glass of the Bourbon County Brand Stout. The name is actually kind of funny as years ago it was called just Bourbon County Stout, but it turns out you can't use a specific location if the beer isn't actually from there. Hence, adding the Brand part. Silly regulations.
I was really excited to finally get to try it fresh. Poured with very low carbonation and was super thick. Huge, huge bourbon nose. There's no heat so it's not like smelling a glass of actual bourbon but it's close. At first the sweetness is what I noticed the most with a lot of almost port qualities appearing. Big raisin and plum components with a ton of the bourbon and vanilla flavor as well. At 14.5% it definitely has some noticeable alcohol but it's not strongly alcoholic tasting. Definitely an intimidating stout yet so damn good and drinks so easily. I've had it with a couple years on it here where it was a bit smoother with less port qualities but it was excellent fresh too. Honestly, it was so good I ordered a second glass and if you know me that's really rare. How could I not though with how awesome it was?

After that I got to talk to the Goose Island program coordinator, Andrew Osterman. Talked to me about the barreling program, how they were excited to be in Philly, and a few other things. Really nice guy. After telling me they still had some Vanilla Bourbon County around, I tried to convince him to send some to Philly but I don't think it worked. Next time!

After the Bourbon County, I ordered a glass of Marisol, a Belgian golden ale brewed with wheat, tangerine zest, green coriander, and ugli fruit. Definitely odd but I figured why not since I probably won't see again for a while.
Came in a neat looking glass with the Goose Island logo. Almost an herbal nose, possibly from the coriander. First sip was quite good, really surprising as I didn't know what to expect. A delicious fruitiness started it off with an almost chilly flavor backing it. I know "chilly" isn't really a flavor, but that's how it felt to me. As I drank more, the fruit was the major component but without being too sweet. Enjoyed this one.

The last I ordered was their Juliet, a rye beer aged in pinot barrels with blackberries and brett.
Now this one was awesome straight from the start. Jo really liked this one too. Great vanilla and tart berry nose. Very tart on first sip with a little sharpness following then the berry and vanilla appeared bringing it to another level. The tartness calmed down a bit as I got used to it, making Juliet a pretty excellent wild ale. We may see bottles of this later in the year which would be pretty cool. I'd expect them to be a little expensive though.

The Bourbon County was the star of the show for me but the Juliet was really great too. With a ton of room, City Tap House makes a great place for events. Heck, they had a private party going on in the middle of all this and it barely put a dent in things. By the middle of the event, it seemed quite crowded by the bar but I was at a table by then so don't know if ordering became difficult ever. I do know that the Bourbon County lasted for hours which is amazing for something as good as that. All in all, this was a great event that I really enjoyed and it definitely made me want to check out City Tap House again during the year.

Tonight I'll be at Monk's for the tail end of the De Dolle event and then Deschutes for a bit. Looking forward to it!

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