Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Wild Goose Chase

So, there we were, on a fourhour stopover in Chicago O'Hare on the way to San Diego, and what better way to kill time than to pop into the Goose Island Bar in the airport. It took a while to navigate immigration (including explaining to the officer what Geographic Information Systems are), but we still had plenty of time when we arrived at Terminal 3, ready to head to area H1-H2 where the bar was recorded as being on every website I had checked. But... Not there. Ok, lets ask the guys in the massage booth. No, never heard of it. Let's walk up the H concourse and see. No, nothing there. Lets check all the food islands to see if it's hidden beside the fast food joints. No, not there. Let's ask more people! No, never heard of it. Hmmm...

We went to the O'Hara Bar and Grill and asked there, as it was close enough to the H1-H2 area. No, the girl behind the bar clearly thought we were mad, and said there was Goose Island Beer, but not a bar! That even got smirks and raised eyebrows from a regular customer seated at the bar.

So, not to worry, we were staring and thirsty, so opted to seat ourselves, order a half-pound burger and a Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat. After eight hours in a giant cigar tube, seated beside an overweight American teenager who also occupied 25% of my seat while blocking my entertainment system controls with her rolls of flesh, anything cold and wet would probably seem like nectar of the gods! I tried to keep my enthusiasm in check. A typically hazy, yellow-gold wheat beer with a low carbonation, this came served in a frozen glass. The aroma really struck me as being powerfully mandarin-like, and this came across in the flavour too, sitting comfortably on a light malty base. I thought there was quite an amount of bitterness present, in a pithy way, which is not what I expect in a weissbier, but of course this is an American wheat, and it worked well with the dryish finish. Certainly a good thirst quencher.

So, what to do about the mission? I sent out a tweet to see if there was help in the twitterverse, and sure enough I got some helpful suggestions although they all pointed to the area we had already meticulously explored. Chris from thebeergeek suggested Terminal 1 might be the place to look, and as that was where our flight left from, we thought we'd range around there. After drawing blanks from several people in te stores, one chap looked up the directory and told us there were in fact two bars, one in Terminal 2 and one in Terminal 1. He explained that everything had been moved around relatively recently, but that the signage had not been fully updated. Very grateful, we headed underground to concourse C. Even asking there, to be sure we headed in the right direction, got blank responses, so I began to wonder if people look up at all when they working and walking around the airport. Nevertheless, we went in the right direction, and there, nestled in area C10 (for the record) was the Goose Island Bar.

That's it? What the ...? Hmm, there's a bar and shelving around the edges, and all seats were occupied. I was expecting a range of taps of Goose Island beers, but it was the likes of Michelob on tap. Goose Island Beers were only available in bottles from the fridge in front, alongside lemonades and sandwiches. Disappointment extreme after a couple of hours of searching the damn place. Still, it was an opportunity for my colleague Christian S. (one of the three Christians who were heading to San Diego) to try Goose Island IPA pretty much brewery-fresh. There was a marked difference between it and the samples I had handed out at a recent tasting with, as expected, the bitterness levels being much higher, but of course still balanced with that chewy mouthfeel and malty goodness. After all that, we didn't have long to wait till our next connection, so with a weary sigh, we trudged off to our gate.

The spirit was lightened a bit by the pilot, who stood in the aisle and delivered what I can only describe as a comedy routine. With a distinct southern drawl, he told us not to worry, he wasn't as stupid as he sounded. We were definitely in safe hands for the last stretch...

6 comments:

Mike Ring said...

Hooray for the fresh IPA!!! Not to worry, Bar, I still get the dumb look when trying to explain what a surveyor is as well, and it usually only rings a bell when you tell them "I'm the guy in the middle of the road looking through a telescope". That is still easier than trying to sell GIS to a client who doesn't know that he needs it.

Double IPA coming up soon. Let me know the next time you're coming through town so I can save some shipping costs.

Barry (Adeptus) said...

I reckon it might be this time next year, maybe on the way to San Diego again, unless you can find me a client in Chicago! :D

Oh, and I met Russell in San Diego. We didn't have time to chat, and I was sorry I didn't have beers under the booth table to give him :)

Mark said...

You got there in the end!! GI IPA is fantastic, I'd love to try it fresh. the wheat beer sounds good too.

I look forward to hearing more about your trip!

Barry (Adeptus) said...

Definitely good fresh, and the hours of searching were almost worth it :D

A list of some of the beers I had in SD is coming in the morning ;)

Russ said...

As a South Side Chicagoan, I generally fly out of Midway instead of O'Hare so I've never visited the Goose Island "brewpub" there, but boy is that lame! I usually defend GI's alliance with Anheuser-Busch (or, AB-InBev, I guess), and I bet if they weren't associated with AB they wouldn't have a place at O'Hare at all, but it sounds like GI--and by extension, the beer-drinking public--got the shaft this time. Glad you were able to score some IPA nonetheless; it's one of my favorite IPA's and probably my favorite year-round Goose offering.

Barry (Adeptus) said...

Ya know, I had forgotten all about AB having a stake in Goose Island. So, the taps make sense now, but it still feels like a rip using the brand name for nothing more than a glorified sandwich bar.