Chicago’s Craft Beer: Goose Island

Chicago's Craft Beer: Goose IslandThe older I get, the more I can appreciate a good beer. Just this year I have started making my own beer in hopes of perfecting the art. We made an IPA for our first batch, and it turned out great. Sheryl got me a beer making class for my birthday and it might possibly be the single best gift I have ever gotten for my birthday. It was a blast. We went to the shop (on a Sunday none the less) and shopped through all sorts of stuff I had no idea about. Our class would later explain some. We bought all our gear, bottles, and more. The first batch is almost gone!

On a recent trip to Chicago, we headed to the original Goose Island Brewery. We didn’t intend on eating, just wanted to get a drink to be able to say we had been there. We walk in, and the place was tiny! But we managed to try a few of their brews and as I was leaving I snagged a copy of their beer list. They are broken down in categories of refreshing, session, malty, hoppy, Belgian style, and new world.

(Please note that the style descriptions as well as the food pairing recommendations are from the chef at Goose Island Brewery.)


Lighter, quenching and approachable. Flavors range from fruity to grassy. Pairs well with bloomy rind or fresh goat cheese and lighter flavored foods.

  • 312 Urban Wheat – 4.2% ABV
  • Summertime Kolsch Bier – 5.0% ABV
  • Willow St. Wit – 5.5% ABV
  • Grahampagne – 5.5% ABV (Part of the Chef Collaboration Series)
  • Sommer Pils – 4.9% ABV


Excellent for extended periods of drinking. Balanced flavors make these beers easy to pair. Aged cheddar is a perfect match, as are fish and chips.

  • Honker’s Ale – 4.2% ABV
  • Green Line Pale Ale – 5.0% ABV
  • Hefe-Hawks Win – 5.5% ABV
  • Golden Jet – 5.3% ABV (Part of the Chef Collaboration Series)


Flavors from roasty to rich chocolate. Malt richness constrains spicy food and compliments earthy semisoft cheeses.

  • Hex Nut Brown Ale – 5.5% ABV (2010 World Beer Cup Gold Medal Winner)
  • Otameal Stout – 5.1% ABV
  • Willie’s Wheat – 5.0% ABV
  • Liquid Inspiration Stout – 7.4% ABV


Hop aroma and flavor ranging from citrus to pine. Assertive flavors contrast nicely with rich food and pair perfectly with bleu cheese.

  • India Pale Ale – 5.9% ABV (2010 World Beer Cup Gold Medal Winner)
  • Black Imperial IPA – 8.0% ABV
  • Midway IPA – 6.3% ABV

Belgian Style

Various styles in the Belgian tradition, with a distinctive fruity yeast character. Famous with mussels, ideal with bloomy or washed cheeses.

  • Matilda – 7.0% ABV
  • Pere Jacques – 9.0% ABV
  • Demolition – 7.2% ABV
  • Sofie – 6.5% ABV
  • Chicago Saison – 7.5% ABV (Part of the Chef Collaboration Series)

New World

Non-traditional, full flavors from barrel aging, alternative fermentations, or use of unorthodox ingredients. Enjoyed after a meal or with dessert.

  • Bourbon Country Brand Stout – 13.5% ABV
  • Sai-Shan-Tea – 7.5% ABV
  • Bordeaux Barrel Aged Wheatmiser – 8.7% ABV

As you can see they make quite a few beers at Goose Island. I have had the pleasure of sitting down at more than one location in the Chicagoland area, and I must say this one takes the cake. It is small, filled with locals, and reminds me of the show Cheers. Plus, the beer is great, the bartenders know their stuff, and you can even try samples of anything you like to get an idea of your palette for that day.

If you are ever in Chicago, seriously consider stopping by and trying one of these beers. I am a BIG fan of the Matilda and the Pere Jacques as well as the 312 Urban Wheat. No matter what you choose, it will be a great beer. They know what they are doing up there at Goose Island! Bottoms up!

Do you visit Chicago often? What is your favorite Goose Island brew?

*ABV stands for alcohol by volume.