Last winter I enjoyed Goose Island Beer Company’s Mild Winter and/or Snow Goose. The beer I had last year is not the only winter seasonal they make, Goose Island, for Chicago, Illinois, has also been making a Christmas Ale for a number of years. Just like Anchor Steam, they change the recipe each year “so that you have something to look forward to each year.” The bottle mentions that this beer is an American Brown Ale and “develops in the bottle up to five years.” I only bought two, and they were both drank within days of each other so that five year plan isn’t going to have a chance in my house.
This years Christmas offering pours a nice caramel color and a light tan head rests on top of the liquid. The nose isn’t very complex with some caramel and slight biscuit odors. I didn’t find any hops, which I was expecting for an American Brown Ale.
On the first taste the caramel that has been prevalent throughout the other criteria is present as well. There is some slight toffee mixed in the malt flavor as well. There is a flavor that kicks in about half way through the beer, but I’m coming up with a loss of words for how to describe it properly. I assume it was the hops coming in, but they were mixed with a richer flavor, almost chocolate. The hops really didn’t kick in anything major to the flavor of the beer, but the light touch kept it from becoming overly sweet.
I didn’t find this one overly aggressive in any respect. The malt is there and the hops come in to lightly brush back the sweetness. Goose Island Christmas Ale 2011 comes in at 6.2% ABV. I might go back and grab a few bottles to age and see how it ages, but as it stands, it doesn’t do much for me. Maybe next year’s will be more suited to my palette.