Since Goose Island is a fairly new beer in Las Vegas, I figured I would do a review of the beers in the sampler pack I bought at the grocery store.
This is what many would call a session beer, and according to the Goose Island website, was inspired by visits to English pubs.
Even though these are called bitters, they are really just more bitter than the milds they used to compete with. These are similar to extra special bitters, but differ in several ways. Usually they are lower in alcohol (the Goose Island Honkers Ale is only 4.3% ABV), and usually a touch maltier than the average ESB. They can be more bitter, but most have more balance.
The beer is made with Super Styrian and Styrian Golding hops (which derive from British fuggle hops, despite the name goldings). This leads to less of a typical British earthy hop aroma and flavor.
They also use a little wheat and roasted barley along with 2 row malt and caramel. This is not really traditional, but explains the huge head retention from this beer and the color that is a little darker than I would expect for these beers.
Aroma: Hints of caramel and a very slight earthiness
Appearance: Light amber and perfectly clear from flitering. Long lasting creamy off-white head.
Flavor: This beer starts with a caramel maltiness that slowly turns to a decididly earthy hop flavor. The finish becomes more balanced and eventually some of the bitterness comes through in the back of the throat. The bitterness lingers for several minutes.
Mouthfeel: This is a dry beer, but has a creaminess from the huge foamy head. It is a medium mouthfeel and has some carbonic bite.
Overall: This is a good example of a British bitter and is definitely something you could drink as a session beer. This is not a bitter beer by any stretch, but like any good English bitter, it does tend to fall more to the hop flavor side with a lingering bitterness. I would drink this again, no problem.
I give it a 40/50