Goose Island: Sofie – The Beer Who Masqueraded as a Champagne

Belgian Style Ale 2012, 6.5 % – A Review by T.J. Blinn

IMG_2193This review is of a special collection beer with Goose Island, a Chicago craft brewery that recently garnered the attention of macro-brewer Anheuser-Busch. We’ll not fault them for being good at what they do.

The bottle reads Belgian Style Ale but the addition of wild yeast means that it’s actually a Farmhouse ale. Aged in wine barrels with orange peel, this light-colored, delicate-looking beer has some tarty bite to her. The look is very light, almost pilsner-like with a light cloudiness but not opaque, with a lemon rind and light golden color. There is a thin dish-soap-like foamy head with soft lacing on the tulip glass that I poured it in.

Sofie offers up a strong citrusy note on the tongue, with a lemon citrus bite, blending in with the bitterness. There is tartness from the orange peel not to be confused with an orange juice flavor. The carbonization is lively and crisp. Unlike many Saisons, there is little of that “funk” usually found when brewing with wild yeast. This may not please fans of Farmhouse Ales but, is demonstrates the variety to be found in the style. Also, orange peel is an ingredient increasingly used in craft beers to bring out that tart-y, citrusy flavor variation; this is an excellent example.

The name Sofie suggests to me a sassy tease who has a delicate and “nice” exterior with real bite when you familiarize yourself with her. There is a strong, lasting aftertaste with a dry finish much like a sparkling wine. My suggestion, bring Sofie to a bring-your-own-wine restaurant or for New Year’s party celebration as an alternative to Champagne. She may not be from France but, she’s still classy.