Monday, June 13, 2011

Goose Island - Matilda (2011)

Another day in June means another brew from my current state of Illinois.  Today's is again from Goose Island in Chicago, IL and is one of their "vintage" collection.  I have not heard much about this brew so I am going in to this one with a "tabula rosa."  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 12/12
A heavenly aroma! A lightly toasted biscuit and caramel malt arrives and is followed by an absolutely lovely spiced banana ester!  Present are brown sugar, vanilla, and a bit of clove.  Some of the 7% ABV warmth is detectable, but does not interfere with this fantastic bouquet.  The brewer indicated it is a "Belgian Style Pale Ale," but it smells like a wondrous hefe with a more interesting yeast.  You could smell this for hours.

Appearance 2/3
It pours the color of honey and has a small head with a seashell-white color.  The head appears dense, almost milky from the top, and does leave lacing on the pint glass.

Picture is my own.
Flavor 19/20
The beer starts crisp with pale malt (2-row?) and does not waste much time arriving at what the aroma has shown.  Caramel is abundant and the unique banana-y yeast strongly shows itself.  As it is held in the mouth, the caramel grows fainter, the banana turns to alcohol warmth and then diminishes, and the whole backbone profile becomes much more earthy and brings a pepper spice.  This is an intriguing twist and was not shown at all in the aroma.  An occasional slurp can revive the banana and warmth, but the pepper and earth flavors are here to stay.  They continue into the finish where they also fleetingly encounter a fresh, grassy hop flavor.  This brings a wonderful balance to all the prior sweetness and is a wonderful compliment to the later earth and spice.  The bitter is mild at best, but does also contribute to the change of this beer's tone.  The aftertaste leaves the earthy bitter on the sides of your tongue, and finishes with zero slickness in the mouth.  What a departure from how this beer started!  The finish's flavor is not clean, but its texture certainly is.

I cannot express enough how important it is to let this beer's flavors develop in your mouth.  I initially had this beer scored lower, but its complexity takes its time to show itself.  Please give it that time and you will not be disappointed.  The technical merit and stylistic accuracy of this beer cannot be overstated.

Mouthfeel 4/5
Medium-heavy body with moderate carbonation that falls throughout the pint.  Toward the end, this low carbonation lends itself to a creamy feeling that this beer has lacked throughout the pint.  The only weak spot in this beer seems to be said lack of creamy texture.  Though creaminess usually shows later when in the mouth and in this beer that would be when the earthy/spicy flavors are also establishing themselves.  One would like to see the creaminess during the banana/caramel phase, but it could be unusual or distracting when showcasing the latter flavors.  Perhaps the only way to remedy without effecting flavors would be to have a lower carbonation overall.

Overall Impression 9/10
It is not the most jaw-dropping flavor in the world, but the technical merit and the stylistic accuracy of this beer cannot be questioned.  Maze-like in complexity, this beer demands you take the time to drink and appreciate it.

Total 46/50
It was very hard to find a weak spot in this beer.  The aroma makes you forget that you get to drink it.  I could have smelled it for much longer.  It also made me want to forget about drinking it and just rub it all over my face.  I am glad I did not.  This beer, if drank quickly or heaven forbid from a bottle, does not get to show its true potential.  There are times to drink beer from a bottle, but this is not one of them.  By holding this beer in the mouth, which in turn forces the pint to warm as one drinks it more slowly, releases a boggling juxtaposition of flavors.  It makes me feel guilty that I did not have a tulip glass to drink it out of... perhaps I missed something else!

As I later read the BJCP Style Description, it was almost like reading a checklist for this beer.  Big, floppy, magnificent kudos to the Goose Island brewmasters for this one.  You nailed the style to the wall and made a damn tasty beer while doing it.  This batch was bottled on 01/27/2011 (I love bottle dates) well before the InBev purchase of Goose Island. InBev, if you do not change a single thing about this beer, you will have done very well.  "If it aint broke..."  I will DEFINITELY be cellaring one of these for as close to the 5 year limit that the bottle recommends.


No comments:

Post a Comment