One of the first craft brewers with a wider distribution that was available in this market was Chicago’s Goose Island Brewery. Named after the only island in the Chicago River in Illinois (and an artificial one at that), Goose Island has produced a number of quality craft beers that I’ve enjoyed over the years. That list would include: their flagship Honker’s Ale, Summertime Kolsch, IPA, Nut Brown Ale, Christmas Ale, Mild Winter, and Kilgubbin Red Ale. In recent years, they’ve also expanded into more adventurous fare with beers like Matilda, Sofie, and others in their Belgian style series along with their Bourbon County offerings.
In March of 2011, Goose Island was sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev. Being bought out by the most macro of all macro breweries is a big turn off for some craft fans which lead them to dismiss Goose Island as now not being “authentic” enough. Personally, I really don’t care all that much about who makes the beer as long it’s good. So if I liked Goose Island before they were bought by InBev, I’ll still them after the sale. As long as the beer still tastes good.
Our Beer of the Week is Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat Ale:
Inspired by the city of Chicago and densely populated with flavor, 312’s spicy aroma of Cascade hops is followed by a crisp, fruity ale flavor delivered in a smooth, creamy body that's immensely refreshing.
12oz brown bottle retails for $7.99. Label has a very classy art deco look with yellow and black colors and a background silhouette of the Chicago skyline.
ALCOHOL BY VOLUME: 4.2%
COLOR (0-2): Gold and somewhat cloudy. 2
AROMA (0-2): Malty and a little grassy. 2
HEAD (0-2): Bright color, moderate volume. 2
TASTE (0-5): Mostly on the malty side with muted hops at the finish. Bready with less pronounced wheat flavors. There’s a bit of light citrus and just a touch of spice. Mouthfeel is thin and slightly creamy. Very drinkable. 3
AFTERTASTE (0-2): The finish and follow through are hollow. 1
OVERALL (0-6): This isn’t a wheat ale that’s going to blow you away with a lot of fruity or spicy flavors like some hefeweizens do. Those flavors are present, but they’re pretty understated. 312 Urban Wheat is a refreshing, drinkable beer that would go down well on a sultry summer in any urban jungle. Even those who may not usually enjoy wheat beers (sickos) will find something to like in this approachable offering. 3
TOTAL SCORE (0-19): 13