Beer Profile: Goose Island Sofie

Profile by Tom Becham

I’d been anxious to try a Goose Island beer. Any Goose Island beer. Until recently, they’d been almost completely unavailable in Southern California. The recent acquisition of Goose Island by AB-InBev may have something to do with their offerings now showing up on local shelves.

In any case, a bottle of Sofie recently caught my eye. The label states the beer is 80% Belgian Style Ale, 20% Belgian Style Ale aged in wine barrels with citrus peel, and that the beer is bottle-conditioned. Okay, so I knew before opening to expect a little funkiness from wild yeast or other bugs, and perhaps some oak flavors imparted from the barrel, along with the citrus. Kind of an odd mix one doesn’t find too often.

Upon pouring, I realized the beer looked something midway between a Belgian blond and pale. Yellow, with gold highlights that disappear when backlit. Hazy from the unfiltered character. Nice, bubbly but short-lived head.

The Goose Island website states this is a saison, but I didn’t get that from appearance or aroma, and only slightly by flavor.

The aroma of this beer has much less yeasty funkiness going on than one would expect, though it was still present and noticeable. There was also a pineapple jam quality to the aroma, combining the citrus and other fruity esters from the yeast.

The taste is what is truly distinctive about Sofie. Goose Island again claims this beer to have a champagne-like quality. Perhaps it does with aging, but this relatively new bottle didn’t approach that kind of flavor, really. Instead what I got was a fruity but slight maltiness up front. At mid-palate, the oak tannins and vanilla kicked in, with a counterpoint provided by the wild yeast. The finish was a slight citrus bite combined with a slight sweetness. In all, the overall impression was that of a Belgian blonde ale mixed with an Orange Muscat dessert wine. Not quite what Goose Island claims – or, no doubt, intended – but still very nice and worth your money if you know what to expect.

Anheuser’s New 0%-Alcohol Beer

Written by John W. Miller for the Wall Street Journal

Aren't you SO "excited?"- PGA
The 2011 Anheuser Busch-InBev shareholders meeting on Tuesday was never going to generate news. “We’ll have a press conference but you won’t learn anything,” a spokeswoman said.

First-quarter results are due to be presented on May 4, so the company didn’t want to jump the gun, although the so-called “quiet period” before earnings is a cultural choice, not the law.

What the company did want to talk about was its new alcohol-free drink, the Hoegaarden 0.0. The Real Time Brussels team agreed to taste-test a six-pack, as it did for the Jupiler Force.
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Beer Profiles: Hop Dam and Fresh Frog Raw

Profiled by Ken Carman for Professor Goodales

These two profiles will be a bit different. I brought Hop Dam to American Homebrewers regional here inb Nashville to get some comments from BJCP judges and competition organizers. So my comments will be brief so I can include them with mine in the short format I prefer to use for my profiles here at PGA. The other will be more like the usual profiles I do. Plus: thought it would be fun to compare them.

First: Hop Dam, Hoppin Frog’s Triple IPA; Akron, OH…
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Beer Profile: Saranac Irish Red Ale

Profiled by Ken Carman

Upon popping a top I usually sniff straight from the

Picture courtesy
bottle. It can focus the aroma as the scent floats up the narrow neck. Smelled pretty clean, though there may be just a tad diacetyl. Not unexpected in the style. Just a little vague hop aroma. None I could sense in the taste.

Just a bit more of an Amber than Red, but close enough. Clarity good with garnet highlights. Head good, but fades fast… then lingers on the edges. Small glass may have caused some of that.

Mouthfeel: caramel/crystal malt very dominate. Slight sharp carbonation sense there, but not heavily carbonated: a background sense to the mouthfeel. Slightly more malt complex than many Irish Reds I’ve had.

There really is almost no hop sense to the taste. The aroma may be a bit malt sweet, but close to not quite as malt sweet to the taste as the style calls for. But tis pleasant and I would say still in style. Just borderline dry for the style. The strong malt backbone. for the style, seems quite at home in my mouth and equally happy passing on to its next destination as I swallow. Just a tad “chewy” and a bit like pure liquid, dextrin-ous, roasted barley. Just a bit bread like, like the more dense whole grain bread you get at a health food store.

An excellent entry for Saranac/Matt Brewing. I believe it’s just a seasonal. Would make a great regular offering. And they haven’t entered it anywhere I would suggest they do. It probably will win at least an award. Maybe two. Maybe more.

Here are the stats from the Saranac site…

Beer Style: Irish Red Ale
Malt Selections: 2 Row, Crystal
Hop Selections: Vanguard
Color: Deep Garnet
Mouthfeel / Body: Medium Body, Balanced Sweetness
Food Companions: Light Fare
Alcohol By Volume: 4.5%
Original Gravity: 11.0

Gluten-Free Doesn’t Mean Craft Beer-Free

Written by John Holl for

Shortly after being diagnosed with celiac disease, a few regular customers of the Old Hat Brewery & Grill approached Brewer and Owner Tommy Fuller to ask for a favor. Having celiac meant they could no longer consume gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. As such, the beers they once enjoyed at Fuller’s Lawton, MI, brewery were now off limits. The favor they were asking was for Fuller to brew up a gluten-free beer.
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The Beer Nut: Brew with a Mission

Written by Norman Miller for GateHouse News Service

There’s nothing better than relaxing with a beer after a long day of work, except maybe drinking a beer that helps those in need.

That’s the idea behind 50 Back, The Brew of the Brave, where 50 percent of profits will go to various veteran support organizations.

“Veterans and their families sacrifice so much for the rest of us,” said Kimberly Rogers, co-founder of 50 Back Brewing Company. “If we can create a great-tasting beer that can help make even a small difference in their lives, we will have succeeded.”

The idea began about two years ago with Rogers and co-founder Paige Haley, both of Pepperell, Mass. They both had family members and friends who either had served or were currently in the military.

Both Rogers and Haley said they decided they wanted to do something to help the veterans.

“The idea (of helping) really resonated with other people as well,” Rogers said.

“Everyone knows someone, even if it’s not a family member, who is in the military,” said Haley. “We decided to make a great beer, and give back to our soldiers and veterans.”

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Who’s UP for a Beer with Viagra?

Posted by Steve Greenlee at

Say this for the Scottish beer maker BrewDog: These guys know how to attract attention.

Last summer BrewDog released a 55-percent-alcohol-by-volume Belgian ale called The End of History. But the extreme alcohol content wasn’t the absurd part. The absurd part was that the bottles were sold inside dead squirrels. For $765 a pop. BrewDog also sells a 41 percent ABV India pale called Sink the Bismarck. I saw a bottle on the shelf at Julio’s Liquors in Westborough last week, priced around $150. (Apparently the beer is nothing special; the users of BeerAdvocate collectively rate it only a B.)

How to top these beers?
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Beer Profile: Helluva Bock

Profiled by Ken Carman

Atlanta Brewing Company
Atlanta, GA

Nothing on the bottle tells us what style bock this is. There are a few clues, but clues so confusing even Sherlock would say, “Huh?” “Helluva” seems to indicate Helles, but alcohol content and nature: a bit “hot,” seems more “Eis” in nature. Aroma is lager yeast. Smells like sulfur to me, a little DMS which could be acceptable. Some malt nose, but background. Color: light copper would indicate Traditional Bock, but to my buds this ain’t no “Traditional.”

7.5%. Point one higher than standard. That’s not that much of a problem, in my opinion, but as I have stated the slightly higher hot alc nature is a bit problematic, especially since the whole damn quaff seems out of balance.

Atlanta Beer Master has it listed as a “Maibock.” (Helles) But: not deep gold or amber, strong head fades very fast and way the hell out of style for that kind of Bock, as the rest of this profile, and previous comments, indicate.

Carbonation and slightly hot alcohol in the mouthfeel. The malts are there, and I get the feeling if it wasn’t for the alcohol problem; as slight as it is, and the lager yeast, which I admit may be more me than defect, the malt sense would be quite pleasurable.
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