You might have noticed, and if you haven’t, you soon will: Goose Island is taking over Belgium. Last week, the Chicago based brewer organised a series of events in Brussels to introduce bars and restaurants, the press, and the general public to their beers.
A couple of Goose Island beers (Goose IPA and the 312 beers) were already available at Albert Heijn (a Dutch supermarket chain sadly not in Brussels yet), but apart from that, beers from this American brewer were hard to find. It probably didn’t help that Goose Island was bought by InBev in 2011, thereby losing the interest of (a part of) the craft beer community. However, they claim this acquisition has had no influence on the brewing process or ingredients. Let’s taste then!
Never having had a Goose Island beer before 2011, I can’t deny or confirm wether the taste or quality of their beer has changed or not. Tasting the current offer, I think their low ABV range (anything under 6%) is decent, but will have a hard time competing with Belgian beers. This will be especially hard, when they will be sold at a premium price.
It would be really nice however, to see their stronger beers — like imperial stout Bourbon County Brand Stout and double IPA The Illinois — in places that generally don’t stock any (foreign) craft beers.
Another positive aspect of this Goose ‘migration’, is the stress they put on food pairing: it seems they’re really targeting restaurants, and advising them on which of their beers to serve with which dishes.
So, even though Goose Island isn’t ‘craft’ anymore by some definitions, it will be a really nice addition to the beer menu of bars and restaurants that weren’t very craft beer minded so far. Hopefully, it will serve as a ‘gateway’ beer, for both business owners and customers.