Distilled: Goose Island Wild Ales are available, get ’em soon

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From the October 31, 2013 edition

Heads up, discerning beer drinkers. Goose Island recently released their renowned “Sisters” series of Belgian-style wild ales, and you’re going to want these suckers. The four experimental sour beers are part of Goose Island’s wine barrel-aging program, which began in 2007 and has been admired among aficionados ever since.

This year the Chicago-based brewery, now owned by Anheuser-Busch/InBev, has expanded its limited releases — by far Goose Island’s best products — surely due to its more common beers now being brewed by its corporate owners. Goose Island’s brewers now being able to focus more on limited release brews is quite welcomed.

The four wild ales currently available are two previously released options (Juliet and Lolita) and two brand new products (Halia and Gillian). Each of the ales is aged in wine barrels with fruit and wild yeast (and honey and white pepper in the case of Gillian).

Juliet is aged with blackberries and Lolita with raspberries, making them the sweeter, but still quite sour, of the four. Both are similar to Belgian Framboise, but not overly saccharine like the ubiquitous fruit lambics often disparaging the style.

Halia and Gillian are farmhouse-style ales aged with fruit, and offer more complex flavors. All four are worth trying, but if you had to pick only two, Halia and Gillian are it.

The Gillian is a quite tangy brew, but the addition of strawberries, honey and white pepper present some wonderful additional flavors. The light-orange-almost-yellow-colored effervescent ale will please any sour ale fan, as well as saison drinkers.

The Halia is a similar (but distinct from Gillian) farmhouse ale aged with peaches. There’s also a pleasant amount of complexity coming through with the fruit. It’s too hard to pick a favorite between Gillian and Halia.

The four beers are available at Weiland’s Market ($18-$26 for individual bottles, $85 for all four), but probably not for long. World of Beer in the Brewery District will have Lolita on tap Thursday for its two-year anniversary party.

Photo by Tim Johnson