Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Conversation: Goose Island's IPA

I visited a local watering hole tonight that is quickly becoming a favorite.  

Legends, 9969 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg, VA

Legends' class is a slight bit much to describe it a "dive," but it's a sports joint through and through.  And the beer selection is not great.  But they are committed to maintaining a local beer on tap, which I appreciate.  

At Legends tonight, the subject of conversation between the bartender and me was a beer they consistently offer on tap, Goose Island's India Pale Ale

5.9% ABV. Image courtesy

I should say first that I really, really like Goose Island's IPA; much more than I ever anticipated.  

Goose Island is mostly owned by mega-brewer, InBev.  And, being a bit of a "beer-snob," I associate corporate ownership with poor product. 

But, truth be told, Goose Island's IPA is delicious.  It begs the question as to whether some craft beer enthusiasts, me included, simply know too much.  

If Budweiser suddenly tasted like Sculpin, would I be too proud to admit I liked it? 

But anyway... 

Tonight, my bartender at Legends indicated that she did not like most IPAs, but did very much enjoy the Goose Island.  And this immediately made sense to me. 

The Goose Island India Pale Ale contains an assortment of hops, two of which include the cascade and centennial varieties.  

But, unlike many IPAs from the United States, the cascade and centennial hops in the Goose Island IPA take a back seat in the overall flavor profile.  

These particular varieties of hops are renown for their "piney" scent and flavor characteristics.  And, it is that powerful characteristic that makes Lagunitas, Stone, and other west coast breweries near and dear to the hearts of many craft beer advocates. 

But let's be honest; an overwhelming floral, piney quality is not for everyone.  And it may even be a turn-off for consumers who, otherwise, typically drink much less bitter brews.  

And here is the niche that the Goose Island IPA embraces perfectly.  

It's bold enough to satisfy the lover of hops-rich beers, but it is not so bitter as to overwhelm those that otherwise drink typical American offerings.  

Something good should be said about that.  Instead of hating Goose Island because of its current owner, perhaps craft beer lovers should embrace it for the purpose it could serve. 

The Goose Island IPA is the near-perfect gateway beer. 

This is the beer that we should share with friends whom we wish to invite into the craft beer community.  

The flavor profile of Goose Island's IPA is simultaneously sensible and bold so as to serve as the perfect transition from average beer to the beautiful world of great beer. 

So... if you already appreciate Lagunitas, Stone, Ballast Point, and Founders, than perhaps the Goose Island IPA is not for you. 

But if you are a fan of those brewers and wish to get a friend to transition toward enjoyment of them, I would suggest the Goose Island IPA as a means of bridging the gap.   


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