30 November 2009

White geese

The beers of Goose Island are usually fairly recognisable, with their distinct logo and the name of the brewery in big letters. I'm not sure whether the white label Belgian-style ales are simply reflective of creativity, or if they're trying to pass these off as something other than your friendly neighbourhood goose.

The tripel (er, or not: see comments) in the set is called Matilda and pours a pale amber colour with very little by way of head, after the initial surprise of pouring this sort of beer from a screwtop bottle. That it's made with a Belgian yeast strain is immediately abundantly clear from the spicy aroma coming straight off the top. Expecting complexity, I was surprised at what happened next. The taste isn't much like a tripel at all. It's a touch thin and the dominant flavour is tannic. More than anything else it reminds me of sweet, slightly lemony, tea. It's quite a simple beer when it comes down to it, and I liked it for that.

The matching dubbel in the range is called Pere Jacques. It's appropriately dark, though like Matilda there's worryingly little sediment in it. They haven't bothered with the soft carbonation and thick foam of a Belgian dubbel, opting instead for decapitation and prickly fizz. Caramel and sherry dominate the aroma, and flavourwise we're talking nutmeg, molasses, plums -- all the usual stuff you would expect in a real Belgian dark ale, just without the weighty treacle body. Which, frankly, is a shame.

I paid over the odds for this pair (so did Reuben, for at least one). They're good, but they're not better than the Abt 12s, Tripel Karmeliets and Westmalles of this world, despite carrying a much heftier price tag.


  1. I don't think Matilda is a tripel, though I've seen it called that before. From the blurb on the bottle I thought it was clearly Goose Island's Orval clone (though a bit stronger) and I thought the did a good job of it.

  2. That makes sense. It's a much cleaner, clearer beer than Orval, though.

  3. I'm sure I'd have noticed if there were.