28 January 2010

The Chicago way

Apologies for getting back on my boring old hobby horse about American wheat beers, but Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale happened to be at the front of my fridge and needed drinking. Another one of those boringly thin and vapid witless witbiers? Well, no, actually. But nearly. At the base of 312 there's certainly a watery and dull bright yellow ale, lightly carbonated and easy to quaff, which is where a lot of brewers would stop. But the Goose Island magic wand has been waved over the fermentor, adding a layer of their trademark hop complexity, here coming out as a lemon sherbet sort of flavour. The aroma and foretaste are wonderfully fresh and zesty, but the finish is too sudden and tails off into nothing all too quickly. Yes, it's doubtless supposed to be a summer quaffer -- a high-class lawnmower beer -- and I feel a bit bad about criticising it for not being bolder than intended. But still: a more interesting yeast and/or some spices and this could be so much better.

Those beautiful sherbety hop flavours are put to much better use in Goose Island Harvest Ale. Here, the arresting zing of mangoes and melons are sat sparkling atop a rich deep layer of roasted malt complexity, spicing up the smooth nutty caramel notes and leaving a finish of sweet almonds. Criticism for the sake of it: the whole taste sensation stops a bit abruptly and it would be nicer if there were more of a mouth-coating weight to the beer. At 5.9% ABV it's not exactly a session beer and I don't think it's wrong to expect a little more bang for my units. Yet, one more mouthful and any misgivings are vanquished.

, it would seem, is the Chicago way.


  1. I quite enjoyed the 312 I had after trundling around Chicago O'Hare for a couple of hours. Although at that point anything would have made me happy!

  2. Well, thanks a lot. I was looking at a six-pack of 312 for about $1.99 (or so it always seems) on my big US beer haul last Friday and I thought "is there any way Beer Nut would like this thin US wheat beer?" And so I said no and walk on down the aisle.

    By the way, have you had Three Floyds Gumballhead yet? A great US wheat beer.

  3. husbinmartin7:16 pm

    or serria nevadas kellerwise

  4. Sierra Nevada Kellerweis was another nearly-but-not-quite in my book.

    Not had the pleasure of Gumballhead yet, Alan. Sounds fun.

    Barry, you appear to have drank it from an ice-encrusted glass. I'm guessing the finer points of flavour complexity weren't on the agenda.

  5. Hey, I had no choice! We already got dissed for asking about a Goose Island bar in the airport... And yeah, you're right, I didn't care at that point :)