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Monday, August 18, 2014

Goose Island Brewing Co's The Ogden

  • Style: Tripel (AKA Honk Honk Honk)
  • ABV: 9.0%  (and 35 IBUs, which struck me as a bit high for a Tripel, no?)
  • Ease to locate: Limited release from May, but is still available in many grocery stores (I bought mine at Mariano's) & liquor stores.  Easy peasey.
  • Color: Golden with warm amber/orange tones. Visible carbonation.  Pretty & rich looking
  • Head: One finger of white foam that produced pretty Belgian lacing up the sides
  • Aroma: Incredible. Lemon, tropical fruit, fruity esters, bready yeast, a hint of booze & a bit of spice. So much more than I expected on the nose.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium body but coated the tongue lightly.  Good carbonation.  Not as rich as the appearance might indicate, but still perfectly acceptable for a Tripel
  • Finish: Medium. Begins with the fruity notes, sliding to the peppery/boozie aspect and finishes citrus bitter. 
  • Food friendly?: Yes.  Tripel often pair very well with food, especially grilled food like sausages or burgers.  You could also use the fruity, yet substantial, nature of this beer to serve alongside some Low Country BBQ (and if you do, feel free to invite me.  I'll bring the beer)

Apple user's link: I love Chicago history. Where else does a river run backwards?

My dad taught us many things about Chicago history. A simple trip to Lincoln Park Zoo would be enough to get him to play tour guide.  I may have been the only 4 year old who knew how to find houses built before we reversed the Chicago River.   Again, didn't really help me much at kindergarten parties.

I've always been fascinated by Chicago history.  I probably inherited this love of our city's past from my dad.  I also inherited his flat feet and bitingly sarcastic nature, so why not?  Chicago is an absolutely amazing place to be from.  Even tiny, almost blips on our local historical radar can yield surprising tidbits.  Learn them and fascinate your friends at parties. Or at least this is what I tell myself at parties (Note to self: stop speaking at parties). For example, I knew that William Butler Ogden was the first mayor of Chicago.  A quick Google search provided the dates of his reign, the whole whopping year of 1837-1838.  Seeing as how none of the subsequent mayors lasted more that the single 12 month term, I'm taking this as less than a reflection on his ability and more of a commentary on how crappy a job it must have been.  But did you know that just after he left office, Ogden bought into Chicago's very first brewery?  And not just as a figure head either.  Ogden insisted on importing hops only from New York's Finger Lakes region (an area in upper state known for their superior soil, temperature & lack of New York State of mind.). I like how he rolled. He also basically Kickstarted Chicago's first railroad, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad (later known as the Union Pacific once it reached past, you know, Galena.).   He somehow convinced the merchants and farmer's wives who owned property along the proposed rail lines to buy shares in the not yet created rail road.  Can you imagine what he could have accomplished with Pipeworks if he had run their Kickstarter?  That tap room would be freaking amazing, people (and probably more than just a dream by now.)  But Odgen's most important accomplishment, by far, would have had to be a small purchase of land just on the north bend of the Chicago River.  No big whoop at the time.  He like canals and named that small pass after himself (Of course he did.). Today we know this area as Goose Island.
My Goose Island Ogden poured a rich looking ale; dark, golden yellow with amber and orange tones.  It was almost shiny in nature, relatively clear with visible carbonation.  This Tripel reminded me of expensive gold foil, the kind your mom might make you save at Christmas to be used later (don't fall for it.  They never use it again.  Somewhere there is an entire drawer in my house filled with used colored Christmas foil.)  A not quite off white, one finger head of tight foam sported some amazing retention.  Delicate Belgian lace clung to the sides of my glass for just about the entire drink.  I'll admit it.  This was a much prettier beer than I had expected when I first purchased the four pack.  The nose was surprisingly ( to me) incredible too.  Heavy but well balanced scents of lemon, tropical fruit, and the expected esters wafted out of my glass, layered with a hint of spice and a jolt of subtle alcohol.  This was the sort of beer that is just a delight to smell.  It's also the sort of beer that I prefer to enjoy in the privacy of my own backyard or in the company of fellow beer geeks who won't question why that odd little woman is continuously sticking her entire nose in her snifter with a contented look on her face.  You know who you are.  Sadly, the taste fell off from the amazing nose.  The citrus took a backseat to the fruity esters and tropical fruit notes, but even these elements were less intense than in the aroma.  I could taste notes of apricot, mango, with lesser degrees of lemon, grapefruit and those lovely, yummy Belgian yeasty esters that I do so love in my Abby Ales.  They just were less delightful than they were while I was inhaling the aroma.  An interesting pepper spice flavor emerged towards the middle of the sip and really gave the beers some needed depth of character.  The alcohol note warmed the sip towards the end.  I enjoyed that it leaned towards the intimate hug sort of warmth rather than a smack upside the head sort of heat that you sometime find in lower priced Tripels.  A firmly medium mouthfeel coated the tongue lightly, but was kept in check by a decent amount of carbonation.  I can't fully make up my mind on the medium length finish.  Do I like it because of the clear transition from fruit to spice/alcohol to bitter tail?  Or do I resent that the citrus bitterness from the nose that crept back (sort of unwelcome) on the final note of the tail?  Decisions, decisions.

By now, you know that I love drinking Abby Ales with food.  If you don't, well it's not my fault you get distracted easily (look! A bottle of Bourbon County Prop!  Which is the beer geek equivalent to the declaration "Squirrel!").  I plan on enjoying my Goose Island The Ogden with the traditional Chicago summertime meal of Grilled Sausages (link is for tips to do it juicy & right).   You could also branch out of the city and serve this Tripel with some non decidedly Chicago Low Country Pulled Pork.  We Chicagoans owe a great debt to our first mayor.  Yes, he did important work along with his fellow founding Chitown fathers that ultimately resulted in creating our beloved city by the lake.  But I think that we can also all agree here that his most important contribution was that small river front land purchase (regardless if his motivation was basically " I really want to name a canal after myself because I'm rich and reality TV hasn't been invented yet.") We, the imbibers of BCBS, The Ogden and yes, even the occasional 312 can, salute you.