OT - Craft beer sadness

Submitted by JeepinBen on March 28th, 2011 at 9:40 AM

For all the fans out there of Chicago Based Goose Island Beers...


Anheuser Busch is buying them. Hopefully they will let Goose Island keep brewing their own stuff and they wont mess with success.  The 312 is my favorite wheat (more beer less citrus than say, a Blue Moon or Oberon) and Matilda is just delicious. 

My last time in Chicago I saw that they have a "Green Line" brew, which is brewed using all local ingredients, sold only in Kegs only in Chicago, and for way cheap. I thought that was a cool thing, and hopefully some of those small business style things keep going. 

Any other Goose Island fans out there? Any other similar beer suggestions for when/if AB screws this up?


EDIT: WSJ Article has a pretty... upbeat take on it http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110328-709258.html talks about how GI was struggling to meet demand, and most of the staff (less the Brewmaster) is staying put



March 28th, 2011 at 10:23 AM ^

312 is decent. but chicago in general is overrated. 

oberon day is a bittersweet day. on one hand, it means oberon is out and ready for consumption. on the other hand, it's a reminder that hopslam is almost gone, found in only select locations at this point. 

03 Blue 07

March 28th, 2011 at 10:33 AM ^

I live in Chicago, and love both Bell's and Goose Island products. This is a bummer, AB-InBev buying Goose Island. I live a couple blocks from the original Goose Island brewpub. I really hope AB-InBev doesn't mess with them, but there's simply no way that's happening; AB will likely open additional facilities to expand the Goose Island brand/market, which will lead to a likely degradation of the quality. Boo. Heck, in Chicago, I think we get Oberon/Bell's stuff that's not brewed at the original brewery (as in, at a second facility that was opened in the last few years), and I swear the Oberon tastes different than I remember from college at U of M. But that may also just be notsalgia, too.


March 28th, 2011 at 10:36 AM ^

Goose Island wouldn't even be one of the top 5 breweries in the state of Michigan, at least in terms of quality. Not really big news for beer snobs unless you live in micro-brewery starved Chicago.


March 28th, 2011 at 4:25 PM ^

I wouldn't put either of those breweries ahead of GI. I'd say Bell's, New Holland, Founders, and Short's are all better breweries than Goose Island. Jolly Pumpkin is one of the best in the world at what they do, but they're not really a "standard" brewery, so I won't include them. I guess I'd place Goose Island somewhere behind those top 4.


March 28th, 2011 at 11:00 AM ^

I'm not sure why you (and several others) somehow took this to be some sort of competition between Michgan and Illinois Beers. Founders is great, yes. Arcadia is very good, yes. I'm not a huge Bells fan at this point.

But while 312 and Honker's are, in my opinion, terrible beers, Goose Island did a number of very, very, cool things - Matilda is a really interesting, cool beer. Bourbon County Stout is possibly the most impressive single beer I've tasted out of the midwest.

What I fear is that AB is going to mass-market the beer's that are already mass-marketed, just to a great extent (Honkers, 312), and drop the more whimsical, bizarre Beers like Matilda, BCS, Sophie, etc.


March 28th, 2011 at 4:36 PM ^

"I'm not sure why you (and several others) somehow took this to be some sort of competition between Michgan and Illinois Beers. Founders is great, yes. Arcadia is very good, yes. I'm not a huge Bells fan at this point."

This is a Michigan-based message board, so people are going to make Michigan-based comparisons.


March 28th, 2011 at 11:21 AM ^

Obviously you can hold whatever opinion you want, but GI is one of the top two breweries in the midwest, and would take the top spot in Michigan going by awards won. Great Lakes is the only other one in the same ballpark.

Yes, Hopslam is a world class beer; yes I like Oberon and some of the other beers are good (I'm looking at you Java/Oatmeal Stout) but to think that Bell's has the same depth of lineup as GI is just dumb. Their Bourbon County series just dominated the 2010 scene, and the lineup at Bell's falls off significantly after Hopslam. Other than top beer for top beer, Bell's can't compete, much less the other Michigan breweries.


March 28th, 2011 at 11:38 AM ^

Well maybe it's their distribution then. I can name off the top of my head the four in Bourbon County series, Nightstalker, Sofie, 312 (though that was in a made up division) and Matilda that have all taken top awards. Hopslam is probably better than any other than the Bourbon County Stout, but I haven't tasted anything of Bell's as a number two that can compare to any of the other Bourbon County's or Matilda.


March 28th, 2011 at 1:02 PM ^

As far as tasting beers goes (leaving out drinkability, I'm not going to down a twelve pack of any of these) I really love Hopslam and Third Coast Old Ale, which I somehow didn't include before. I've had most of their stuff, the Double Cream and Expedition Stouts, Third Coast, Third Coast Old Ale, Hopslam, Two Hearted Ale, Amber, Porter, Oberon, Pale Ale.

I can't think of any more at the moment but that's quite a bit of their lineup, IIRC.


March 28th, 2011 at 12:58 PM ^

I take that back. Third Coast Old Ale can definitely compete, don't know why I left it out. I still don't think Bell's has the same depth GI does, but that's an opinion. I do think that the Bourbon County's from GI are far above the Double Cream (which is good) and the Expedition, and Bell's doesn't really do a themed line to match the Belgian Ales up with; it's kind of dumb, IMO, to compare a BPA and a Porter and decide which is better, kind of like saying a LB is the best recruit in the country and the best RB is number two (not saying what you said was dumb, I was doing the same thing).

You could make a case that Bell's is better than GI; I don't think that's the case but it's a reasonable argument at least. I just don't think it's a fair statement that GI would be the "fifth best" brewery in Michigan.


March 29th, 2011 at 1:17 PM ^

I definitely do think Bell's is great. I'm really only familiar with the national "craft brews" (love me some Magic Hat 9) and the stuff from the midwest, plus New Belgium and a couple others, but I would put the overall lineup (for midwest+ New Belgium and Dogfish Head) as roughly this:

  1. Goose Island
  2. Bell's
  3. Great Lakes
  4. Dogfish Head
  5. New Belgium

Average quality of beer:

  1. Great Lakes
  2. Dogfish Head
  3. Goose Island
  4. Bell's
  5. New Belgium


March 29th, 2011 at 12:09 AM ^

Top as in major distribution or top as in quality?  I live in Chicago and have a fondness for GI, but if you are drinking their standard beers (eg. not Bourbon County/Matilda/Sophie) you can't really claim they outquality places like Founders.  I think Great Lakes is the only major Midwest brewery that has been able to split the difference neatly between wide distribution and quality product, although saying that I still drink Bells down here whenever it is on tap and on the first warm day I can smuggle beer out to the beach.


March 29th, 2011 at 11:29 AM ^

The only GI "session beers" are 312 and Honker's, which shouldn't be considered more than they are- higher quality alternatives to Bud Light or Coors or Blue Moon or something similar.

Everything else they produce is on par with Sofie or Matilda (which pains me to say because Matilda is far better than Sofie, but that's another point).

Edit: Green Line is a "get drunk" beer too. I live outside the city limits and can't get it at home though, so I completely forgot its existance for a minute.


March 28th, 2011 at 4:00 PM ^

The Reinheitsgebot doesn't prevent them from skimping on malt or hops. It does prevent them from replacing malt with non-malted grains.

I personally don't think using non-malted grains is a big deal, as long as you're not skimping on the total amount of grains and on the hops.

The team the t…

March 28th, 2011 at 3:13 PM ^

I will be drinking a Summit IPA. I live up here in Minneapolis and Summit is a GREAT brewery.  The IPA is my favorite....very bitter.  If any of you come here for the Frozen Four, be sure to try it.  There's another growing micro-brewery, Surly, that also makes some amazing beers.

The best beer I've tried in recent years was out in NE Washington, near Idaho, and I tried a Vindicator IPA from Idaho.   Not as hoppy as my Summit, but extremely tasty!


Edit:  My mistake...I wrote "Summit IPA"...while this is also good, it's the Summit Extra Pale Ale (as pictured) I love so much!


March 28th, 2011 at 11:15 AM ^

And it is. Better than GI. But if you want to talk about good craft beer, drink founders (kbs, kaiser curmudgeon, pale ale, really anything really) or dark horse and shorts. Good beer


March 28th, 2011 at 11:30 AM ^

I love Bell's and Goose Island in general, but I'm sorry, German hefeweizens absolutely blow American wheat beers out of the water, and there is no comparison.  We shouldn't feel badly about that -- Germans have been making essentially the same beers for hundreds of years (mainly due to the Reinheitzgebot Purity Law) and have basically perfected what they do.

All that being said, American beers are becoming great because of their creativity and innovation, and Goose Island is as much a part of that as anybody else.  Their IPA is one of my favorite IPA's out there, and their Mild Winter and Summertime are two of my favorite seasonals.  I hope this buyout doesn't change anything about them other than whatever corporate behind-the-scenes bullshit is involved.


March 28th, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

I agree with others on here that find 312 to be good, but nothing special. I'm happy to occasionally see it on tap in bars, as it is sometimes the right taste for the right moment. But stacked up against other available wheat beers, there's nothing that sets it apart.

As for Oberon... it continues to be a favorite, and I'll probably drink my share of it this summer. But once again, there are many wheat fine beers to be had. To drink Oberon exclusively (as I did for 2-3 years awhile back) is depriving me of the other wheat beer goodness available to me!


March 28th, 2011 at 11:45 AM ^

I dont know why everyone isnt mentioning Bud Light Wheat its so...terrible. I hate that stuff. One of my friends asked me if the 312 I was drinking one day tasted like Bud Light Wheat and I almost hit him. I really do like Goose Island. Another good beer is Upland. Its based in Bloomington and since Im at IU its available and there Wheat Beer is awesome. Thats would have to be my favorite wheat beer. It has a lighter flavor and is great for a hot summer day


March 28th, 2011 at 12:21 PM ^

The Pere Jacques, IPA and Matilda are fantastic. Hopefully the investment allows them to produce at the capacity they need to and not much changes with the beer.


March 28th, 2011 at 12:22 PM ^

Interesting fact- the people who started New Holland and Founder's breweries were Fraternity brothers at Hope College.  Another reason why that Christian liberal arts degree is so valuable... :-)

Yinka Double Dare

March 28th, 2011 at 7:45 PM ^

Unfortunately, New Glarus only distributes in Wisconsin and has openly said they have no plans to ever go anywhere else.  They used to distribute some in Chicago back in the day but have long since pulled their beer back behind the cheddar curtain.

Believe me, there would be a lot of happy campers if they decided to start distributing out of state again.


March 28th, 2011 at 2:57 PM ^

Craft beer sadness.  Military intelligence.

Does not compute.

Nah, I feel your pain - Goose Island, IRRC, was just a single outpost in the days when the Clybourn Corridor had a kind of creepy apocalyptic look (before the multiplex went in).  Those were good days.


March 28th, 2011 at 3:57 PM ^

Guys, take it from somebody who works indirectly with AB, they will cover distribution and probably marketing, but they will leave the brewing/recipies to Goose Island themselves.  The fact is, AB is very successful at most things they do, so I wouldn't be too worried with them messing with an already successful brand.

BTW, I was a server at Goose Island back in 1995; they ushered in my kraft-beer love and, accordingly, I have a special place on my pallet for them and yet I remain unworried that AB acquired them. 


March 28th, 2011 at 4:21 PM ^

It really all depends on how Anheuser decides to handle the brewery.  The difference between craft beers and major production ones isn't so much the recipe as it is the quality of the grain and hops and yeast they use.  There is a chance, for example, they could decide the brewery would be more lucrative in the event that they find ways to cut grain costs, thereby lowering the value of the flavor of the malt.  If this is the case, nobody will buy Goose Island anymore.  I doubt they are dumb enough to do that.


March 28th, 2011 at 5:27 PM ^

I love New Glarus beers.  The apple ale was my favorite, but almost never available.

Find out more about Apple Ale.


I have tried to love the Bell's Two Hearted Ale, having camped and fished on the river, enjoying the Hemingway reference and the brook trout label, but, for some reason, the taste does not appeal to me.

The local microbrews in Hawaii are only fair.  I usually drink imports, mostly Spaten Oktoberfest which I can get year round here.  God knows why- hopefully not because it has been sitting around for a year.

Will Vereene

April 3rd, 2011 at 4:44 PM ^

This is bad news considering what AB did to Rolling Rock. Shut down most of their processing plants and brewing it in the big AB factories with the rest of the Buds, ice bud, bud light, ice bud light, bud light ice, etc.

With all the craft-brewery acquisitions, I recommend you read the label before you buy your next favorite craft-brew.