Goose Island

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Their reputation is spreading throughout the American Midwest and one visit to Goose Island and it's obvious why. The sprawling non-pretentious brick building in downtown Chicago beckons with only a neon sign. Inside a busy lounge features a large rectangular mahogany bar surrounded by wooden tables along the walls. Incandescent lights provide an amber glow that creates a relaxed setting. The large tap selection is joined by five beerengine handles, two of them still in use. Beneath the 15 foot ceiling a black chalkboard shows the "on-tap" selections against the backdrop of faded red brick walls. Beer posters and early Chicago brewery placards dot the walls. Silent TVs display games of Chicago's pro teams while loud Rock & Roll bathes the room. Nighttime crowds are a healthy mix of men and women, blue collar and Yuppie. The cigar fad continues strong and fresh air is scarce in the main lounge area, not helped by the fact that the bar advertises and sell cigars themselves.

The JVNW system stands at the building's main entrance and its stainless steel vessels are visible from the bar and throughout the lounge. To the rear of the building lie the dining area and large beer hall where Bulls and NCAA private parties take place. The PMD Mild, at 3.8% abv, is a dark amber color with a very dry malty flavor, medium body, chocolaty character, and very dry finish. The cask-conditioned Best Bitter, unfiltered and dry-hopped, is a hazy amber, light-bodied, with a rich hoppy aroma and flavor. The Honker's Ale, 4%, has a smooth hop flavor from start to finish. The light maltiness lasts until the end when the hops take over. The Harvest Ale, 4.8%, is a clear amber with a dry malty flavor matched with assertive hops. The cask-conditioned Stillwater Brown, 4%, is a clear dark amber with a very light body and very dry flavor. The Special Brown, 6.5%, is a clear ruby color with a mellow, deep malty flavor (Munich) and smooth, slightly alcoholic way. The Baderbrau Oktoberfest, 5%, is a clear amber with a malty aroma, medium body, smooth mouthfeel, and nice Munich/Caramel malt blend. The Smooth India Pale Ale, 5.5%, has a clean hoppy aroma, lasting head, very smooth mouthfeel, great body, and sharp bitter flavor that leads to a dry hoppy finish. The Kriek, 5.8%, is a clear dark brown with a dry malty flavor matched to a rich but moderate cherry flavor. The overall impression of this light-bodied brew is one a clean, non-cloying slightly complex fruit beer. Being served in its own custom "Belgian-style" galss is a nice touch. The Hefeweizen, 4.5%, is a hazy gold with a clove aroma, light body, slightly crisp hop flavor, combined with a somewhat sour character.

20 ounce "pint" glasses are the norm but Hefeweizens arrive in 22 ounce glasses accompanied by lemon slices. No guest beers are offered but Baderbrau bottles can be had for $3. Seven single malt Scotches join five small batch bourbons in the liquor selection. Eight house beers are available to go in bottled form. Plastic half-gallon growlers are available for 9$. A nine glass sampler is $9 with pints $3 except for cask-conditioned which are $4. The food menu offers standard pub fare. Starters ($1-$5); Pizzas ($5.50); Salads ($4-$8.50); Pub specialties of Chicken, Wall Eye, Fish & Chips, Sausage Platter, Pastas ($9-$12); Burger ($9); and Bratwurst ($6). Sundays offer a brunch from 11 AM to 3 PM, with brewery tours at 3. An enclosed patio features a dozen iron tables adjacent to the lounge area. All rooms are wheelchair friendly. Hours are Monday through Friday 11:30 AM to Midnight, Saturday 11 AM to Midnight, and Sunday 11 AM to Midnight. If you can endure the second-hand smoke, stake out a claim at the bar underneath the classic beer bottles and steins, relax to the music and work your way through the beer list. Goose Island makes it easy to come in and spend some time.


Goose Island Beer Company
1800 North Clybourn
Chicago, IL
(312)915-0071

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - October, 1998 & Updated December, 1998


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