Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday Night Tasting - Goose Island Brewing Co: Christmas Ale
Goose Island Brewing Co. – Chicago, IL
Christmas Ale 2011 – American Brown Ale
6.2% ABV, 12 oz and on draft
We first tried the Goose Island Christmas Ale when we visited their Wrigleyville brewpub in Chicago last December, but saw the four pack at Luke’s in Rockland over the weekend. It instantly brought us back to one of our favorite cities to date, and despite their recent agreement to be sold/distributed by InBev (which was incredibly sad news), we had to pick it up.
This year’s Christmas Ale has a rich cherry brown/garnet color, with a light off white, fluffy head. The head lingers for a bit, before dissolving into the beer. We used a snifter style glass to taste the beer, and in the right light it actually looks like a Christmas bulb, which helped us get even more into the Christmas spirit!
The beer has a mildly floral nose, with slightly sweet and spicy notes. You can catch a glimpse of cocoa and ginger, and the brew also has a nice malty balance.
Although the 2011 Christmas Ale is a brown ale, it definitely has a sweeter flavor to most browns. It certainly has the malty characteristics you find in the average brown ale, but it finishes sweeter. Sarah feels that it might be a bit to hoppy, but I think it could use a slightly bigger hop profile. It does end with a moderate bitterness factor though. As the beer warms, as in most cases, the malt begins to dominate as well as increases its sweetness.
The mouth feel of the beer is mild. Despite the color and ABV, this beer is not all that heavy. The sweetness lingers, but not in a bad way.
The Goose Island Christmas Ale comes in a four pack, but is also available on draft (may be difficult to find in the general Boston area). With a mild balance and moderate ABV, you can definitely handle one or two pints or bottles in a single sitting.