Members' bottle share: Goose Island Brewpub, London
222 Shoreditch High St, Hackney, London E1 6PJ
Tuesday 11 February 2020
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This month’s bottle share takes place in the very cool Goose Island Brewpub in Shoreditch, London. The ingredients are all here: 12 Beer52 members, myself, and Mabel, a manager at the brewpub, and a fountain of knowledge on Chicago’s Goose Island and its beers.
Mabel talks us all through the first beer, which is an absolute delight: Gillian, an 8.9% saison farmhouse ale, is a fantastic beer to start the evening with. It’s blended with strawberries, honey and white pepper, plus champagne yeast and Brettanomyces, and has been partially aged in Chardonnay barrels. It’s part of the Goose Island ‘Sour Sister’ range, and legend has it that the beer is named after Gillian Anderson of The X-Files fame, who used to work at the Goose Island brewpub back in the day.
The group is rather impressed by this very special beer. Mabel explains she often recommends it to wine and cider drinkers, and it’s no surprise; the smell is much sweeter than the taste, which is balanced by the sourness, the spiciness from the white pepper on the aftertaste, and the dryness and effervescence from the champagne yeast. Ruairi comments that he’s not usually a sour beer drinker, but he finds this one very accessible and palatable, as did Daniela, and everyone enjoys the pleasant fusion of tastes. Opinion is divided on how much you could drink of this beer though; myself, Ryan and Tom feel a small measure was enough, but some of the others make a beeline for the leftovers.
The second beer of the evening is Boxcar’s Home Over There, a hazy IPA which I purchased from the wonderful Kill the Cat bottle shop and bar on Brick Lane. Ryan, Tom and Nick say it’s the kind of beer they love to drink all night, so it’s safe to say that this one is a crowd-pleaser. It’s juicy, refreshing, and very full-bodied thanks to the addition of oats. Ruairi says it’s “light and really smooth,” and, as Mike comments, it would be “perfect for the summer”.
The third beer of the evening – also purchased from Kill the Cat – is from The Kernel, one of the most revered breweries in London. I chose the Biere de Saison Goldings, which is barrel-aged and comes in at a very reasonable 5% ABV. The dry-hopping with Goldings, one of the quintessential British hops, gives the beer a lovely bitter-sweet aroma, and the mixed fermentation brewing style gives it a pleasant tang and gentle funkiness.
Alex comments that it’s “lovely, sharp and a little bit sexy” which is quite possibly the best description of a beer I’ve ever heard. There are a couple of naysayers in the group who think it’s good, but that it isn’t for them because it’s very sour. Chat then descends into comparisons between this saison and Gillian, the Goose Island saison, and the qualities of each that everyone liked, which is the kind of nerdy in-depth chat that I am *here for*.
Biere de Saison Goldings from Kernel is "lovely, sharp and a little bit sexy"
Next up is another special beer from Goose Island, with a great story behind it, which Mabel very expertly talks us through. Obadiah Poundage, a 6.5% porter, was brewed with Wimbledon Brewery alongside Brewmaster Derek Prentice (who has decades of brewing knowledge after a career working with the greats such as Truman’s, Fuller’s and Young’s breweries), and beer historian and all-round legend Ron Pattinson. Ron dug up a load of 18th and 19th century recipes for porters, and the result was this delightful recreation of a typical 19th century drink. It’s named after Obadiah Poundage, the pen-name for a brewer in London in the 18th century, whose writing about beer and brewing is now invaluable. The beer is a blend of aged porter – with Brettanomyces yeast for a sour funky twist (have you spotted the accidental beer theme yet?) plus hops for the classic reason of preserving the beer – and a batch of fresh new porter.
It’s a hit all round, and Ryan and a few others commented that it’s a little bit smoky in the aftertaste, which is spot on – the dark malts are definitely very present. Some, like Ruairi and Lewis, liked it because it was lighter, more drinkable and more refreshing than a standard porter, too. Alex loved this beer, mostly because of the history, as she is a historian. She said that “it’s quite amazing to know you’re drinking a bit of history,” which is how I felt as well - I loved that between us Mabel and I were able to bring such interesting beers to the group. Mike agreed, and added: “I liked it, but hearing the story made it so much cooler”. This beer was definitely a conversation-starter, since everyone descended into talking about the beer, and about the history of beer and brewing in general, the fact that certain beers and their stories can teach us so much about social history, about the place it has in women’s history, etc.
We rounded off the evening with a lovely vanilla and coconut porter called Tuba from Villages Brewery in the Deptford area of South London, which I picked up at Clapton Craft, a great independent bottle shop. It was a perfect beer to end the evening on, as it was rich and comforting, smooth, and not too sweet - the vanilla and coconut flavours were present but subtle. It was Daniela’s favourite beer of the evening, but then everyone had a different favourite - tastes among the group were varied, but it seemed that everyone enjoyed all the beers, which is always good. Tom and Nick even tried to arrange the bottles in order of preference but found it difficult since “they were all so distinct,” which is certainly what I aim for with these events. It was a great evening full of fun, intelligent chat, and one of the most memorable bottle shares I have hosted for Ferment magazine!
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