A Girl’s Guide to Craft Beer Courtesy Chicago’s Own Goose Island!

Goose Island Aging BarrelsOk, soooo, in case you’re not one of my besties, I want to start this post by stating, I’m not a beer drinker.  In fact, if I would go anywhere and order a beer, my friends would do a double-take and wonder who the alien was currently possessing their former friend’s body.

Which made a recent adventure to Goose Island Brewery in Chicago that much more intriguing.  Who better to take it all in than a novice craft-drinker….actually, I think I would be considered pre-novice.  So off I went, 4” wedges in tote.  Cultivate my mind Goose Island!  It actually was quite the education – a much more interesting science lesson than any I remember in school.  First off, who knew that actually brewing craft beer was such an intricate process?  Watching a standard edible piece of barley go from a plain grain to drinkable beer is really quite fascinating.  And what I found most interesting - did you know one of the keys to developing various flavors of beer is by how “malted” the barley is?  Not only that, but the temperature the beer is brewed at is a contributor to the flavor as well.  Crazy huh? 

But I digress…my favorite part of the experience was learning that craft beer, much like wine, is so flavorful, it goes with an array of foods…not just the hotdogs and hamburgers you (ahem, maybe me) would expect to pair it with.  The flavors are so developed and aromas so provocative, that I almost had to talk myself into believing I was drinking beer.

Goose Island BrewsSo here we go…three amazing flavorful favorites (tested by yours truly!) and what to drink them with:

Pepe Nero

Brewed with black peppercorns this mahogany ale has a sweet aroma of roasted chestnuts and an earthy black pepper finish.  Pairs well with a juicy grill steak or veggies and instead of wine and cheese make it Pepe Nero and Gruyère.


This pink rose colored Belgian style pale ale is fermented with wild yeast and aged raspberries, and offers bright jammy fruit flavors and crisp, refreshing body.  Lolita pairs well with salads, white fish or even pork or chicken.  For a cheese pairing, opt for soft goat milk cheeses like chevre.


Aged in Chardonnay barrels with fresh orange peel (I kid you not, a Goose Island employee hand peels each orange!), this tart,dry Champagne colored ale hints of white pepper, citrus flavors and yields a creamy vanilla finish.  Pairs well with shucked oyster on the half shell, fresh sushi, grilled whitefish or grilled shrimp basted with melted butter.  Its fruity tartness pairs well with the likes of Brie cheeses.

All three of these tastey flavors are from Goose Island’s Vintage Ale collection.  For more on Goose Island beer, visit GooseIsland.com.  And if you’re in Chicago, check out one of their Brewpubs at their Clybourn or Wrigleyville location.