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Beer Garden: Goose Island IPA is a big, honking hit

9:23 AM, Jan. 2, 2013
Goose Island IPA.
Goose Island IPA. / Tim Dohms/PNJ correspondent

The new year is bringing us lots of new friends. It makes sense; craft beer is the fastest-growing beverage market in the U.S., and as demand increases, more and more businesses will spring up to fulfill those requests.

Hmm ... perhaps this is the way to fix the economy. Instead of a chicken in every pot — Roosevelt, I believe, said it? — we can have a killer brewery in every town. Job creation! More beer! Everyone’s happy!

The following few weeks will be a series of tutorials on established breweries with deserved reputations that precede them. We will start today with Goose Island. This Chicago-based brewery began as a brew pub in 1988, a time when nothing but fizzy, watery lager was acceptable. Locals quickly fell in love with Goose Island’s traditional European-inspired concoctions, and owner John Hall decided to open up a facility capable of supplying the region in 1995. Four years later, he opened up a second brew pub, this time a baseball’s throw from historic Wrigley Field.

Goose Island became one of those regional breweries that us beer dorks would find on our travels and rave about. Our less-journeyed compatriots, feeling left out, would contact said brewer(s) and plead for their presence. Months, years go by with nothing more ephemeral than the words of others as posted on beeradvocate.com or a review in Draft Magazine. Occasionally, they would have a friend or a relative mail them a coveted bottle or two, making their madness all the more acute; drink it to know first-hand how good it is, but then it will be gone forever.

Hall’s main brewery is now making enough to hit all 50 states. With our section of the Panhandle still under a “test-phase” designation, only draft is being sent our direction. That’s all right, as their very British-style IPA is, uh, seriously no pun intended here, flying off my tap wall. It’s got that neat scotch-and-water color with an overabundance of creamy white head that leaves lots of lacing. Hops will grab your attention on the no se — flowery, citrusy, slightly piney oils noticeable with that distinctive musty-dusty British note. The balanced combination of traditional Styrian and Fuggles hops with West Coast Cascade and Centennial marries the best of the classic and new. A single alcohol percentage above being a total session ale, it almost begs for being gulped down fast. A quick hop jolt across the palate makes way for a harmony of mellow citrus and caramel malt without the dazzling over-hopping bitterness many IPAs try for these days.

A more than fine introduction to an anticipated brewery; I can’t wait to see what shows up next.

Hopjacks Filling Station, 3101 E. Cervantes St., www.hopjacksfillingstation.com. Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen and Taproom, 10 Palafox Place and 204 E. Nine Mile Road. 497-6073, or visit hopjacks.com.

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