This month we sit down with the good folks at Goose Island Brewery, partners in one of our latest collaborations, spices designed to create food to pair with beer.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, can you first tell us a bit more about the three beers that inspired the blends and about Goose Island for people who may not be familiar?
The three beers, IPA, Sofie, and Bourbon Country Stout pretty much cover the wide range of styles brewed at Goose Island.
IPA is an old world meets new world style IPA blending citrus-y American hops with some earthy European varieties. It’s a solid IPA, less aggressive than most, which makes it much more food-friendly.
Sofie is a Belgian-style farmhouse ale and is one of our barrel-aged beers. This Saison has been partially aged in white wine barrels with hand-zested orange peel and wild yeast. There’s a lot of tart citrus from the peels, white pepper notes from the yeast, and even a touch of vanilla from the oak. When I think of those three elements, citrus, pepper and even vanilla, they are common flavors used to round out and accentuate dishes when cooking. This is why Sofie works so well with many different foods.
Bourbon Country Stout is probably the beer we are known best for. It’s a cult classic big Imperial Stout – over 14% ABV – and is blended from beer that spent almost a year aging in Bourbon barrels at our Barrel House in Chicago. The cold Chicago winters and warm summers really put those barrels through some extreme expansion and contraction which pulls lots of rich characteristics out of the wood… charred oak (of course), but also vanilla, chocolate, and smoke. Because of these flavor notes, most people think of it as a dessert beer, and while it is an amazing digestif, but it also goes great with beef and dry-rubbed BBQ.
Beer pairing is not a new thing, but incorporating tailor made spice blends is. How do you guys feel that the spices enhance the pairing possibilities?
With most beer pairings, there is a lot of consideration in the composition of the two parts. So it’s a finished beer and a finished plate. Usually, both are quite complex and a good pairing is the dance between these two finite points. But with spices, I think we’ve opened up the conversation and created more of a bridge than a finished dish. It’s about letting people explore the possibilities and create new pairings in a way that is totally approachable. I’ve experienced the Sofie spice blend, for example, working as well on poached pears as it does sprinkled over popcorn. That’s what I think is so cool about the project
Can you let us know a little more about your pub concept?
Sure. In 2017, we wanted to bring the spirit of the Goose Island Tap Room and Brew Pub in Chicago to the world and so we opened a series of tap rooms and brewhouses throughout the world. They are all quite different – from a full brewhouse in Saõ Paolo to a Chicago hotdog-inspired tap room in Balham, England. They are all a bit different from one another and all distinctly Goose.
Very cool, and you’re also carrying the three blends on your ecommerce site so people who can’t make it to a pub can experiment at home right?
Yes they’re for sale here!
Each comes with a recipe card with inspiration plus a full recipe so people can get started right away.
Here’s the one for Sofie:
Striped Bass with Fennel
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large fennel bulbs – trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Sofie spice blend
One 3-pound striped bass filet, with skin, pin bones removed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on the bottom of a glass baking dish.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the fennel, tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the Sofie spice blend. Season with salt and pepper and place in the baking dish.
- Rub the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over both sides of the fish and season with salt, pepper and the remaining tablespoon of Sofie. Place the fish on top of the vegetables, skin side up. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.
- Divide the fish among plates. Top with the vegetable mixture, drizzle with some of the cooking liquid and serve.
Anything exciting on the horizon?
Absolutely, but you’ll just have to wait and find out!
Haha ok. Looking forward to it!
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More about Goose Island:
Our famous beer began with a trip across Europe, when Goose Island founder (and unabashed beer lover) John Hall took a tour across the continent. Pint by pint, he savored the styles and selections of brews in every region, and thought to himself, “America deserves some damn fine beer like this, too.”
Craft brewing wasn’t widely known at the time, but upon return from his European sojourn, John set out to change all that. He settled down in his hometown of Chicago—a city perfect for craft beer, with rapidly evolving tastes and the largest system of fresh water on the planet. And then he got to brewing.
First he made some stellar beer. Then he invited his consumers in to watch his process at the brewery, bringing them behind the scenes every step of the way. The result was a new fascination with craft brewing, and beer that not only catered to people’s tastes, but challenged them as well.
That was back in 1988, and we haven’t slowed down since. By 1995, John’s beer had become so popular that he decided to open a larger brewery, along with a bottling plant to keep up with demand. 1999 brought even more growth, along with an additional brewpub, and today, what was once one man’s pint-filled dream has become the Goose Island empire you know and love.
Here’s where we tell you that in 2011, Goose Island Beer Company was acquired by Anheuser-Busch. Since then, we’ve continued to brew beer that we’re proud of and now we get to share these beers with our friends both nationwide and internationally. We think that’s pretty neat. If you’re ever in Chicago, we’d love for you to stop by the brewery and have a beer with us.