The bottle and the cool wood packaging in which it was sent
Goose Island is not a brewery I am very familiar with. I reviewed their Bourbon County Stout last year, and it was a great, nuanced beer with neverending depth of flavor. Recently, they sent me a press release about Matilda being available in the West, and they followed it up with a bottle of Matilda herself, to be reviewed on this blog.
About the brewery
When the first Goose Island Brewpub opened its doors in 1988, domestic, mass-produced beer was deeply ingrained in Midwestern culture. The craft beer industry was still in its infancy, with only a handful of brewpubs in existence in the Midwest. In his travels across Europe, beer-lover John Hall had enjoyed a distinctive local brew in each region he visited. Hall was convinced that Midwesterners could produce beers as good or better than those he’d tasted in his travels. Living on the shore of the largest system of fresh water on the planet Earth, in a city with rapidly evolving tastes – John decided that his hometown, Chicago, would be the ideal place to do just that. (Source: GooseIsland.com)
The beer, according to the press release:
Since 2005, Matilda has garnered accolades from food and beer critics around the world, medaling in both the prestigious World Beer Cup and Great American Beer Festival. With an alcohol by volume of 7% and a shelf life of 5 years, the finished product is true to Belgium’s tradition of brewing with spicy yeasts. Harkening rich aromas such as coriander and allspice, Matilda is brewed with a rare yeast strain that also lends a slightly fruity flavor.
This poured semi-thickly into the glass. An orangey amber color, this beer was quite hazy from the yeast that remains in the bottle. The tiny head it poured to dissipated very quickly. I was writing notes on the color of the beer itself when I looked back and the head was already gone. (I pour the first half of a beer with the glass at 45 degrees, then pour the rest at 90 degrees to try to generate a decent head without overflowing the glass.)
This beer has a great yeasty and fruity nose. It almost has some of the characteristics of a hefeweizen in the nose as well. The fruitiness behind the yeasty, bready notes may be mango or some other less common fruit.
Upfront crispness, sweetness and bready flavors give way to a fantastic spicy (peppery, if you ask me) flavor on the back of the palate and lingering through the finish. The finish also lets loose some slightly bitter hoppiness mingling with nice yeast. I would say this is a slightly full-bodied beer, with a slightly cloying mouthfeel, though the first drink seems crisp and clean.
Matilda is a lady, and what an interesting, sophisticated lady she is. She’s sweet when you first meet her, but her spiciness and personality really shine the more you get to know her. They say women are like fine wine…they just get better with age. Matilda is a cellaring beer, suitable for cellaring for five years, but even now, freshly bottled, she is showing signs of her future elegance.
Yes, the spicy notes are terrific and this really feels like a peppery white wine, though it only contains about half the alcohol.
Price: This was a sample sent by the brewery/PR folks.
ABV: 7% ABV according to the press release