Well, I’m writing my very first post from the Land of Freedom. Our trip across the Atlantic Ocean went off without a hitch, and now my family and I are hanging out in the Chicagoland area before heading off to Ohio. One of the first things I did once arriving in the States was find the closest specialty beer store. I was able to pick up a few miscellaneous brews to kick off my American beer experience! So, this Mash Tun will look at two American craft beers – one from right here in the Windy City and another from the Bluegrass State.
Goose Island IPA
I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I have never had an India Pale Ale. It’s awful, I know. Unfortunately, it’s a style that’s not very prevalent in Germany, so there hasn’t been much opportunity for me to get my hands on one. Needless to say then, I was looking forward to finally experiencing this beloved brewing tradition. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would like the hoppy profile of the IPA. German brewing is not known for their heavy use of bittering hops. Well, I had the chance to try my hand at the IPA my first full day back in America.
Although Goose Island wasn’t on my list of must-drink beers during my trip to the US, the brewery has been on my radar for a while. During my initial beer shopping excursion, I had a slot left in my “build your own 6-pack”, so I picked up their take on the India Pale Ale. This brew pours a slightly hazy orange color with light, quickly dissipating head. The nose is citrus including orange and a little lemon plus sweet malts and nice dose of grass and floral hops. With orange and sweetness being balanced by grassy and floral hops flavor dominating, the taste resembles closely the aroma. I was really pleased with the nice strong hop flavor which was not overly bitter. The brew had an amazing mouthfeel with light crispness, lively carbonation, and smooth aftertaste. With one IPA now under my belt, I can definitely say that I’m looking forward to many more to come.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale
I’m noticing that it is a huge trend in craft beer right now to brew using casks from liquor distilleries. By far the most popular is bourbon barrels, but I also seen beer from brandy and other whiskey casks. Personally though, I have never experienced beer from this unique brewing art. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have even had bourbon before. It just so happened that the friends we were staying with in Chicago were big fans of a particular barrel aged beer – the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from the Lexington Brewing Company. According to my friend, it’s actually illegal to export the beer out of Kentucky making it a particularly distinctive acquisition. I’m skeptical of the accuracy of my friend’s information, but I was nonetheless excited to give it a try.
I like cool bottles. For some reason, beer coming from a cool bottle just seems more drinkable. This brew comes in a classic, almost antique style bottle with a black silhoette of a horses head on the label. Out of this bottle pours a rich copper beer with medium off-white head. Of course, you get the strong whiskey scent right off the bat along with a nice malty sweetness. The taste is heavy on the bourbon with some vanilla and a slight fruity sweetness as well. The really nice thing about this beer, in my opinion, was how it felt on the palate. The brew is very smooth – almost silky – as well as well-balanced with a medium body making it very drinkable. It wasn’t the mind-blowing experience that some people might make it out to be, but the bourbon barrel-aged beer is a definite must-try.