Off the Wall: Gillian

gillianName: Gillian
Brewery: Goose Island
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Chicago, Illinois
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
Alcohol Content (ABV): 9.50%
First Brewed: –
Price: $25.99

Ricky’s Thoughts

This beer better be great! For $25.99, this beer better be not only rare, which it is, but it better be delicious. This is the first of the four sisters from Goose Island, and only three of the four came to the Valley. I had my buddy grab all four from Tap & Bottle in Tucson. Actually, I had these in the fridge before they even showed up to the Valley. However, we have been sitting on them and trying to decide if we wanted to do a vertical or review them separately.
Since there are four beers, we didn’t know what order to review them in. Sheryl suggested we review them based on their BeerAdvocate rating. This one has a rating of 92, and is the lowest on the list. Like I said, three of these came to the Valley. I am not sure what bottle didn’t make it, but I would imagine it is the bottle we will review last. Maybe I should ask Jazz. He is still working over at Total Wine & More here in Scottsdale.
This beer is aged in wine barrel and uses strawberries, honey and white pepper. It seems like a weird combination, but I am excited to drink it. As a matter of fact, our next four “off the wall” reviews will be the four sisters. How does that sound? Here we go. Cheers!
 The beer has a nice color to it, and almost looks like a wheat beer. It also had a really fluffy head that was gone in the blink of an eye. As I sit here looking at my full class, tiny bubbles are rushing to the top. I like this style, and am curious about the white pepper they used. I hope it isn’t overwhelming.
Nose: At first, I am getting a TON of sweetness from the strawberries, but then am hit with a nice subtle spiciness from the pepper. I am not sure I have ever seen/tasted white pepper. But I imagine it tastes like black pepper. No?
I have to be honest… This smells like a sour. It is a Belgian style farmhouse ale, and the best sours out there are from Belgium. Maybe I just have Belgian beers on the brain. Speaking of Belgian beers, I heard someone on Facebook yesterday say he didn’t like Belgian yeast. Glad I was sitting down.
Let’s see what she tastes like. Hey… That works here. Get it? This is one of the four sisters. Ha!
Flavor: Wow that is good. Holy crap, that is sour, too. This beer is insanely complex, and the pepper isn’t overwhelming at all. I am really at a loss for words here. There are so many different flavors running around on my palate and in my head. The first flavor that hits you is fresh strawberries, then it is quickly muted by the sweet and sour flavors that hit the back of your tongue. Then, as you swallow, a hint of pepper hits your palate leaving a nice, linger and somewhat drying finish. Goose Island, bravo. This beer is incredible!!!
Mouthfeel: At first, flavor explodes on your palate and you are hit with an intense strawberry flavor. If you have ever been standing outside and taken a bite of a fresh juicy strawberry, it has a similar experience to that. Then, as you sit there the flavor dwindles and you are left with the subtle spiciness from the white pepper. I am not getting much honey flavor, but I am sure the sweetness is compliments of the honey. Also, unless I knew this beer was barrel aged, I would never know this beer was aged at all. I am pretty sure all four sisters are barrel aged.
Aftertaste: The aftertaste is my least favorite part of this beer. The white pepper is really present in the finish, but don’t expect it to taste like a black pepper finish. It is just a nice spicy flavor that I am sure would pair well with food. I would LOVE to see a bar do a four sisters beer dinner. Perhaps four courses with a course to pair with each beer. Thoughts on that?
Goose Island hit a home run with this. I can’t wait to taste the next sister! (Man, that sounds wrong… But I mean it. Halia is up next. Cheers!)
Gillian – The bottle says: “DEVELOPS IN THE BOTTLE FOR UP TO 5 YEARS
CONTAINS LIVE YEASE. A SEDIMENT MAY COME FROM GOOSEISLAND.COM
Rating: 4/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

This is the first sister! Goose Island released four big bottles of special release beers not too long ago, and we managed to get our hands on all four of them, but this one is the first one we are reviewing. They are all girls’ names… Halia, Gillian, Juliet, and Lolita. So people call them the “four sisters”. Well, Ricky does anyway. Goose Island already has Sofie and Matilda in their normal specialty lineup. I wonder if there is a story about why they are called the “sisters” or why Goose Island uses women’s names for their beers. Are they real people that exist? Is there a story behind it? I’ll look it up and maybe we can talk about it on the next podcast. It seems like a good podcast topic.

I’m hoping this beer will be really good. I would expect nothing less from a Goose Island specialty brew. Goose Island is probably one of my favorite breweries. Surprisingly, I don’t have a shirt from there. I need to get one if I’m ever in Chicago again. It’s not likely we’ll get back there too often living here, since it’s so far away and we went there quite a lot when we lived in Indiana.

For once, Ricky has tried the beer before me. I’ve been typing too much background apparently. Anyway, let’s finally get to the beer! It’s a golden color, slightly thick, and looks just a tad bit carbonated, with a few tiny bubbles escaping to the top. It smells kind of fruity and sour. Time for a taste!

Well, the sourness is definitely there. I can see why Ricky likes it, as he loves sours. It’s not overly sour, so I do like it too. But it does cause a bit of a pucker on the first sip. The carbonation is there too. But it’s good. I’m not going to gush about it the way Ricky is, but it’s definitely a pretty good beer. Unfortunately, I probably won’t be buying it again since it was almost a $30 bottle of beer!

Rating: 4/5

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