Can Anheuser-Busch Make a Decent ESB? (Goose Island Harvest Ale 2011)
This is sort of the moment of truth, isn’t it? Harvest Ale will be the first seasonal release from Goose Island made since their sort-of acquisition by A-B Inbev. I don’t have a clear memory of what this beer tasted like in previous years, but if it’s a solid ESB we have room to hope that Goose Island’s other seasonalsbourboncountystout!will still be decent.
Pours very clear orange/red body with almost no haziness at all. Typically with an ESB you have a bit of haze, but nothing here. It gives me about a finger and a half of white head that dissipates pretty quickly. Aroma is very English, with lots of biscuity toasty malt and a very dry character. Love to see what this one’s like on cask — I’ll have to see if it’s available next time I stop by the Clybourn location in Chicago.
I digress. Flavor is very much like the aroma, somewhat sweet with lots of fruity esters. Very malty and toasty, drying on the finish with a hint of spice quality. Aftertaste is clean but biscuity. Nothing too complex –certainly not my favorite ESB!– but it’s definitely solid. Tastes like a very authentic example of the style.
I’ve got to say, this bodes well for the future of Goose Island. We’ll see how it goes, but for now color me cautiously optimistic.
Beyond the Pour grade: B+