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Goose Island Class of ’88 Belgian Style Ale

Where in Town: U Street Wine & Beer, 1351 U St. NW

Price: $21.99/765 mL

What’s Good for the Goose…

When Chicago’s Goose Island brewpub opened in 1988, there were fewer than 300 craft breweries in the United States. Today there are nearly 3,000. And just as the industry has exploded, so has Goose Island, which now boasts multiple production sites and nationwide distribution thanks to its 2011 acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev, owners of Budweiser. Craft-beer enthusiasts feared that corporate interference might diminish the quality of Goose Island’s beers. As it turned out, shifting production of the company’s most popular brews to out-of-state AB-InBev facilities has enabled its Chicago locations to focus more on experimental beers, such as its prized barrel-aged Bourbon County series, as well as its latest creation: 312 Urban Pale Ale, released on March 12 at 3:12 p.m.

…Is Good for the Gander

Last year, at the invitation of Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, Goose Island collaborated on a series of beers with the so-called “Class of ’88,” five craft breweries celebrating silver anniversaries: Deschutes, Goose Island, North Coast, Rogue, and Great Lakes. The third and final beer in the series is a strong golden ale infused with Michigan Riesling grape juice and Oregon Pinot Noir grape must that’s aged for nine months in 10-year-old Muscat oak barrels. It pours a beautiful copper color and has aromas of apples, grapes, and earthy yeast. Sweet malt flavors give way to a sharp, funky tang that is ultimately balanced by the clean, subtle character of whole-flower Mt. Hood hops. At 11.2 percent alcohol, the beer’s warm finish is followed by a satisfying but dry aftertaste. This is one big bottle I didn’t mind splurging on. Here’s to 25 more years and another tenfold more craft breweries!

Photo by Tammy Tuck