4th of July Weekend in Chicago – Part 2: Goose Island’s Clybourn Brew Pub
On Saturday afternoon of our trip to Chicago over the 4th of July weekend this past month, my wife and I took the train with her brother and his wife from their place over to Lincoln Park and Goose Island’s original brew pub on Clybourn Ave. This is one of the places I knew I really wanted to check out during our Chicago trip. My recent affinity for Goose Island developed after being subject to their PR-tinged Beer School session back in early May at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul. The session focused on their recently expanded series of Belgian-inspired brews. I’ve been digging Belgian beers a lot in the past year, so their efforts in this segment prove to be a good fit.
Of the five beers from their “vintage ale” collection, I was able to sample four when Goose Island hosed Beer School. The one beer that wasn’t quite ready to serve yet at that time was their Fleur. I made sure to buy a pint of Fleur with lunch before we toured the brewery. It came across very clean with definitive yet subdued Belgian character. I didn’t really get much aroma or flavor off of the hibiscus and kombucha tea that is apparently added during the production process of Fleur. Definitely one of the least interesting beers of the “vintage ale” collection (I think Pepe Nero is still my fav).
The tour! $10 per person got us a tour of the brew pub’s attached (and small) production facility led by one of their new brewers as well as a flight of five of their beers (most were just standards). I, however, was able to enjoy 10 samples because my wife is pregnant. Yup, due February 14th, Valentine’s Day! I’m thinking about doing some sort of red Belgian honey ale to be released on the kid’s date of birth. Still in the formulation stage.
But I digress… I got to ask a few questions during the tour about their barrel-aging practices and about how crucial cleanliness is when trying to keep a brewery free of rogue brettanomyces bacteria. I was interested to learn that all the beer brewed at the Clybourn location is made solely for consumption at that brew pub. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see a brew session in progress, as the pub only brews during the week. There was plenty of fermenting and barrel-aging going on, as you’ll see in the pics below.
I also discussed with their brewer to what extent the recent buyout by Anheuser Busch / InBev has affected Goose Island’s production process. The guy definitely had his story straight, as he recited the same message the brewery’s PR guys stated back in May: InBev is really focusing hard on maintaining Goose Island’s unique products while increasing their distribution. Basically this means that nothing is changing about the beer, just that you’ll soon be able to find it in more places throughout the country. I’m happy with that!
Hey, those airlocks look familiar!