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Monday, October 28, 2013

Goose Island's Matilda

  • Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale
  • ABV: 7.00%
  • Season: Year round
  • Ease to locate: Where ever fine craft beers are sold.  Honestly.  Goose Island is in the process of expanding distribution across the country for their specialty beers.
  • Color: Golden yellow with amber tones.  Ever so slightly cloudy.
  • Head: 1 & 1/2 finger white head with patches of globby lace
  • Aroma: Bready yeast, caramel malts, floral hops and banana esters dominate.  A good amount of citrus, as well as a bit of spice
  • Mouthfeel: Light with an expected amount of carbonation
  • Finish: Medium.  Nothing remarkable about it.
  • Food friendly: Here is where this beer really shines. It's an incredibly easy to pair beer.  Try roasted chicken, vegetarian dishes, creamy pasta or oily fish.  Serve it with creamy cheese, such as brie, or with a goat cheese like Chevre.




Apple user's link: Bing Crosby & Danny Kay in the family way
                                                                                                          This scene from White Christmas breaks me up every single time I see it. 

This week Goose Island released their latest bottles of vintage ales, often known as the Sister Series because they all share female names and cat fight over borrowed eyeshadow and stolen boyfriends.  Halia is a farmhouse ale with peach notes (I was able to try this one over the summer and it was really lovely.  Very effervescent and refreshing on a humid August day.)     Gillian is a farmhouse ale brewed with strawberries (it was released awhile back under the name Scully and if you don't get the reference   I don't want to know about it.   Lalalala, I can't hear you.  But the truth is out there.)  Lolita, yet another farmhouse ale, aged in wine barrels with raspberries (and one of the odder colors for a beer.  Maybe not the best choice to ween your PBR buddy into craft with.)  And lastly, Juliet, the final of the farmer's daughters, aged with blackberries. These beers are priced this year between $20 and $30 a bomber.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Go back and reread it if you doubt your senses.  Now, on one hand, I can justify buying a bottle of Gillian for a special occasion instead of a bottle of equally priced wine.  For a special occasion.  But between you, me and the lamppost?  It's much more likely that I'll pop over to my local craft/well stocked grocery store and pick up a bottle of one of the quieter sisters, such as Sofie (click here to read my May 2013 post on her) or the almost forgotten middle child known as Matilda. 
These photos are from my niece's christening.  Yes, I was in charge of the drinks.  No, I was not in charge of the drinkwear. 

Side note:  the photos in this post were taken at my niece's christening, but my review notes were made while drinking my Matilda at a later session.  Taking my time to really get to know the beer.    From a proper glass.  Without the 2 year old nephew trying to sneak a sip.

My Matilda poured an ever so slightly cloudy, golden yellow liquid with soft amber tones. A white, one and a half finger head of tight, springy foam foamed.  The head never fully disappeared, but settled into a shallow film that lingered on he surface of the ale.  Globby patches of thick lace clung to he sides of the glass, reminding me just how much I appreciate a Belgian style beer.  I smelled the typical bready yeast scent immediately, quickly followed by some sweetness from the malt.  A soft aroma of banana esters mixed in with the doughy sweetness and floral hops, making for one lovely pale ale.   Layered into the nose was a distinct hit of citrus notes, mostly grapefruit and a bit of lemon peel.  There was a minimal presence of pepper under all other other notes, just enough to give the scent a bit depth.   The taste reflected he nose very well.  In addition to the bready yeast, caramel malts, esters, flora hops, citrus and spice notes, the welcome presence of soft fruit flavors emerged on the tongue.  I could taste pineapple, apricot and pear.  As the beer warmed, I found notes of hay and grass come to the surface as well.  It was a perfectly light pale ale that surprised me with it's complexity the more I drank of it.  The mouthfeel was light to medium with a decent amount of carbonation helping to dry out the layers of flavors.  The finish was medium.  There was nothing particularly exciting about it, but also nothing that distracted me from my enjoyment of the drink.  Quite honestly, I think that it was the unremarkable finish that contributed to making a perfect food sort of ale.

Pale ales are often very easy to pair with a variety of foods.  So are most Belgian beers.  Put the two together and you have the makings of a fine, use the good silverware and invite the neighbors, sort of meal.  Matilda, looking very company ready in her fancier than the average beer bottle, is a wonderful substitute for wine with dinner.  A Rustic Roasted Chicken with Savory Sweet Potatoes and Glazed Carrots will impress even the most just judgmental of guests (try it the next time your mom comes for dinner.  She'll probably be so astounded that she may even make your brother do the dishes.). Or pair it with an oily fish like Salmon with a Brown Sugar Glaze for a at home date night.  I'm not making any promises as to what might come of of such a meal with the one you love.  But let's just say that Goose Island's two sisters didn't become six sisters without a little help.