Or, Goose: stepping into Germany.
Some time ago, my friend Mike sent me a six-pack of Goose Island IPA, one of my favourite beers it must be said, and in relation to which I have been accused of coining the call to "Let Loose the Goose!" in the Bull and Castle, Dublin, when I was introduced to the joys of GIIPA about three or four years ago. The six-pack Mike sent has been languishing in my cellar for about six months, waiting for an opportune moment. That moment came in two parts, last Thursday and this evening, combined with the unveiling of my very own Klosteiner Pale Ale, custom made for Markus who delighted in the citric stylings of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale on a recent trip to Palm Springs.
I was curious as to how my German colleagues would take to the Goose, but also anxious about my own Chinook and Centennial-heavy Pale Ale; and with some C-hop virgins in the audience, it was going to be a tough crowd.
First, the Klosteiner. As a home brewer I'm quite happy with this. It hits the right level of citric hoppy aromas and has a crisp hop bite while having a reasonable malty body. Love that colour though! For some of my colleagues it was a culture shock, however, in general, the reception was positive. My colleague Rupert (from Franken) first commented that it was very different from the beers he was accustomed to, however after a few mouthfuls he thought it was something one could get used to and seemed to enjoy the play of the foreign hop flavours. The ultimate test was of course Markus, Mr. Klosteiner himself, and this evening it seems to have passed the test. Perhaps not with flying colours, as I don't think I have hit quite the same level as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but he did say it had the right level of Klostein. Rafael, out IT guru, seemed a little unsure first time, but today he explained that he hadn't tasted a beer that gave that amount of finish before. He said it was like a good red wine in the sense that it gave "two tastes", referring to a long finish, which I can only take as a compliment. He suggested it'd go great with fish, so that's something to try at the next BBQ. My old reliable, Ingo, appreciated it as ever.
Goose Island IPA is one of my favourite beers, and although some of that may be nostalgia -- I think it was the first really memorable American super hoppy beer I'd ever had, indeed it converted me to the joys of the hop -- I do think it stands on it's own with a wonderful combination of chewy, and I mean chewy, maltiness with a big slice of citric goodness pervading the taste. I can hardly describe the joy I get from the aroma of a fresh Goose Island IPA.
I think Rupert put it best when comparing it to my effort of a Pale ALe. He said, it tastes darker. And indeed, I love describing beers in shades and moods, but I try to avoid it as I think people might think I'm weird. But that chewiness presented in the rich mouthfeel of GIIPA does indeed make it feel dark and luxuriant. I often feel there's a chocolatiness to it. The bottles were 324 days past their bottling date, and the label proclaimed that it would be brewery-fresh for 110 days, so as expected, the wonderful aroma was more muted than I remembered. However, that rich caramel, toffee base remained and the orange-pith bitterness was not to be beaten my time.
Some people preferred the rich flavour of GIIPA, while some preferred the crispness of my fresh pale ale, but that's just fine. I was glad that, overall, my colleagues also enjoyed the beers I liked, and as a home brewer, that's all I can ask for.
Thursday evening's tasting session melded into an after-work BBQ that, for some of us, ended at 1:30am. I had bought the beers for the evening, and although I had intended on buying a 15 litre cask of Alt, there was none in stock so we had to make do with 5 litre mini-kegs of Frankenheim Alt and Hasserroeder Pils, a mixed crate of Pinkus Muller beers, a half-crate of Duckstein and some leftover bottles of Becks. All in all a great evening interspersed with several courses of wurst and schweinefleisch. Although I did run the risk of becoming a total beer bore as the remaining group gathered round a secret stash of my home brew that my former boss had accumulated and let loose towards the end of the night.