Gillian | Goose Island Beer Co.

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Brewed by:
Goose Island Beer Co.
Illinois, United States | website

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Gillian - Saison with Strawberry, Honey, and White Pepper

Alias of Scully: ... 1549/61122 

Added by Jason on 08-12-2011

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Reviews: 71 | Ratings: 631
Photo of MCain04
4.43/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Goose Island for this bottle to review! Poured into a GI belgian glass.

Appearance is a cloudy straw yellow body with a fizzy white head which dissipated into minimal rimming and no lacing.

Smell is of lactate, delicate strawberry, surprisingly strong pepper, some other tropical fruit like kiwi and mango, and lemon.

Taste is of soft sweet fruit, primarily strawberry, tart but not too sour, pepper is somewhat subdued throughout but perhaps present on the very back end.

Mouthfeel is effervescent, light to medium body, smooth, mildly sticky and dry, very drinkable.

Overall, for the price this is definitely a once in a while treat, but this was a very, very enjoyed beer. Great fruit flavor and sour notes are just perfect with a good balance of sweet, tart, and pepper. Very drinkable.

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Photo of boilermakerbrew
4.45/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a bright, effervescent looking, hazy orange. Medium sized head forms and sticks around just a little bit. Not very much lacing.

S- Fairly complex with strawberry being first and foremost on the nose. Some pepper and traditional saison spiciness mixes in behind the fruit. Towards the end, some lemongrass and light grainy notes make an appearance.

T- Starts with a bang of strawberry fruitiness and grassy saison flavors. Grains and some lemon peek in there too. The end is mainly a dull, grainy, saison flavor profile with a hint of lingering strawberry as it fades away. Throughout the drink, there are bits and pieces of pepper and just a touch of the underlying sweetness from the honey.

M- Light across the palate and quite highly carbonated, making it crisp and a little stinging on the tongue. The 9.5% ABV isn't really evident in the flavor, but is slightly noticeable in the drying sensation left in the mouth.

Overall, this is a very good beer. I'm not sure it's worth the $30 price tag, as it's not much better than Lolita or Juliet, but it is unique. Glad I got a bottle to try and enjoy. This is a very interesting and delicious beer.

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Photo of brentk56
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Pours a hazy orange blossom honey color capped by about an inch of foam that fades quickly, leaving a smattering of dots and squiggles behind

Smell: A lot of acidity in the aroma, with tart strawberries, grapefruit, white peppercorns and barnyard funk

Taste: Biscuity malt lays the backbone, but the lactic sour flavors take over quickly, bringing strawberry yogurt sweetened with a hint of honey; in the middle, the tartness continues to build, with barnyard funk, grapefruit and the peppercorn elements adding a hot complexity; the finish brings back the strawberry elements, though the puckery tartness lingers in the aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body with moderate to high carbonation; puckery and a bit hot from the peppercorn

Overall: Pricey, but well worth a try - this beer is a stab in a new direction (and how many beers truly provide that these days)

Thanks, redsand22, for the opportunity

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
4.25/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A heavy price tag for this, it's a very nice beer but maybe not worth the $.

The beer pours a nice solid orange color with a decent head, very hazy it's very opaque. No lacing on my glass.

The smell leads off with strawberry big time but then has a very hearty backbone of citrus, pepper: reminds me of the peppercorns you might get in a Thai dish with the young peppercorns still connected to the 'vine.' The taste follows in some ways but to me has a HUGE grapefruit juice presence in the bitterness and acid which I think is a tangent from the pepper, and also some band aid in the flavor, some vanilla oak notes as well. Tangerine, strawberry cream, slight sweetness. Would not have guessed honey if I didn't read it on the label.

The feel is pretty good, it has a depth and decent amount of carbonation that props up the flavors in the beer nicely, but doesn't make it exceptional. Hope that makes sense.

A nice beer, but maybe $10-15 too expensive depending on how much you pay. Maybe a $18-20 beer to me in the big format bottle.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.92/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

765ml bottle into a HF wine glass

A: Pours a slightly hazy light golden color with a finger and a half of fizzy white foam. Poor retention and lacing.

S: Strong peppercorn, citrus, and grapefruit. Some musty funk behind that. Peppercorn certainly stands out in the aroma, though.

T: Strong tart, slightly sour grapefruit is most evident. Peppercorn comes in after that. As in the aroma, the peppercorn is quite strong in the flavor. Some musty funk behind that, but certainly not strong - just enough to remind you this is a Saison. The beer remains well balanced between dry and sweet (for my palate that admittedly tends to prefer dry Saisons). As the beer warms, the peppercorn comes out more and more.

M: Medium thickness with fairly high carbonation.

O: A very nice Saison, but disappointing both for the price and after having Halia (which is certainly better). I do like the peppercorn in here, but with it was toned down quite a bit.

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Photo of Gruber221
4.56/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Gillian is by far my favorite of the four sisters. It is a glass of sour strawberry, earthy funk deliciousness with a hint of pepper smoothed out with honey.

Its frigin awesome!!!

Thanks to Railroad Street Bar and Grill in Limerick PA for hooking me up. If you are in the Area they have a limited amount in bottles available.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.96/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Hazy yellow orange. Not much of a head. No collar.

Smell - Grapefruit. Nice grapefruit. White pepper. Tons of citrus. Combines to yield an herbal character.

Taste - Grapefruit. Less of the pepper. More white wine. Herbal character in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Medium body. Kinda sweet.

Overall - I really dig this. Awesome grapefruit flavor, even though it isn't listed in the description.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.17/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a wine glass from a 750ml bottle.

The brew pours a very nice hazy bright golden yellow color. There is a thin dense white head that forms that is lively but recedes supper quickly.

Aroma is delicious with notes of fresh and ripened strawberries a plenty. There is a nice sugary sweetness in the nose as well. Woody notes as well as some slight peppery and earthy funk notes can be perceived in the nose as well but they merely compliment that nice and not too intense strawberry notes. There is a nice mild and traditional saison tartness to the nose as well.

Flavor follows the nose pretty well. The brew starts off with some nice sweet-tart fresh strawberry notes and some nice grainy and earthy notes. There are some nice fruity tartness notes that are also slightly woody and have some slight funk. As the brew warms the strawberry notes play really well with the yeasty esters and phenols. The woody notes compliment the brew very well and the mild tartness make this brew refreshing delight.

Overall this is sooo well done. The strawberry notes are so well done and understated and don’t detract from the base saison notes.

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Photo of gr0g
3.85/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Despite the strawberries, Gillian the beer isn't really a redhead. Cloudy with an orange-amber color. Meek head formation and retention as only a small, fizzy head is formed. Interesting aroma features hints of fresh strawberries and Brett funk. Some band-aid and musty cellar. Hints at a tart, fruity flavor.

Flavor is, indeed, tart and fruity. For a strong saison, the alcohol is expertly hidden. Tartness comes on upfront, leading to a dry finish. It also helps to mask a sweetness that would otherwise be apparent. Minor funky notes. No strawberry in the flavor, more like tart apple and grape skin. Interesting and tasty, but not as much as, say, Matilda. Suffers from a slight undercarbonation.

At a $27 dollar price point, Gillian underdelivers. It's a complex saison with some funk, and it's certainly tasty, but I was hoping for something epic given the high price.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.28/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

765ml, 2013

A: Slightly hazed pale yellow color. Initially a very thin layer of bright white. Nothing, I mean nothing, after a couple seconds.

S: A strange sweetness. Almost fake strawberry initially (I thought), with that honey sweetness. You get some mild funkiness. But for the most part it's fruit.

T: Nice punch of pepper on the tip of the tongue. You do get that strawberry. It's more natural that it smells. The honey adds some sweetness. The finish is dry but not as dry Halia. This one really grew on me. Really enjoyed finishing it off.

M: Light medium.

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Photo of Lemke10
4.42/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This pours a clear, golden color with a slight head. There is a slight scent of strawberries with yeast and wine. The taste has decent amount of yeast and you can really taste the white pepper. The taste was fairly interesting and texture was great. Not exactly what I was expecting from a sour ale but interesting in its own way.

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Photo of kevanb
3.82/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

765ml bottle poured into a Goose Island "goose" wine glass.

The beer pours a hazy golden color, hues of apricot and straw with many bubbles rising to the top of the glass. There is a loose fizzy head that briefly appears, hardly a quarter finger high that vanishes immediately leaving no lace or film behind. The aroma is pleasant, lots of sweet strawberry and honey, bretty funk that is both fruity and dirty, a bit of straw, pale grain, light chardonnay barrel with some earthy peppercorn at the back end. The flavors are in line, mild strawberry fruit with honey sweetness, some peach flesh, white grape with a bit of lemon zest with oak, bretty funk and a nice layer of peppercorn before an unusual and somewhat unpleasant mineral quality pops up, reminiscent of a minerally white wine. The body is zippy, crisp and lively, takes a bigger swish to coat the mouth, and finishes with a bit of a creamy touch, although perhaps a bit weak.

Verdict: An interesting soured saison from Goose Island. I feel like strawberry is such a tough fruit to translate to beer as the fruit itself is mostly water, and this one just failed to really pop. The peppercorn was a pleasant experience, but the mineral qualities found on the tongue just didn't do it for me, it felt a bit out of place and broke up the balance of the beer. It's got a lot of redeeming qualities, it's just not quite there, perhaps time will help.

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Photo of KickbacksSteve
4.36/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

765 ml bottle poured into a small snifter. Bottled 9/12/13. Apricot in color. Light carbonation. Slight haze. Aroma includes green apple, faint strawberry and tart vinegar. Some white pepper on tasting. Nice and puckering, great mouthfeel. Delicious.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

765ml bottle, with 2013 bottlecap cover. Split with Regen today, 10/6/2013. Poured into a Perfect Pint glass.

Beautiful looking beer. Pours a hazy straw-gold body that looks quite effervescent with a white 1cm head that retains fairly well. Lacing is there in spots. I'm just mostly struck by how nice it looks.

Smells interesting. Some light pepper scents, and some rubber. Definitely get quite a bit of strawberry tartness, if not the strawberry flavour. All comes together in a very interesting way.

Very tasty, if not a bit different. I've had a fair amount of saisons and this definitely fits the profile. Strawberries are present along with a rubbery, funky Brett flavour. Some barrel shows up here too. Very clean, fairly interesting profile.

Medium bodied, a bit heavy handed. The alcohol always reminds you that its there. Its a big flavoured beer, well-carbonated.

This is actually excellent. I was skeptical of this beer coming into this.. its still nowhere near $30, very interesting for a saison but if it was $15, we'd be raving about how good this is. Still, its GI and they definitely are heavy-handed in how they execute their barrel-aged wild ales and saisons. I wish they would be a bit more subtle, like the Belgian masters.

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Photo of nabit
4.55/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Honestly, I couldn't agree more with the review of siege06nd. Basically saved me a lot of typing. Thank you! However, I did pick up on the white pepper and honey really easily. Also, I think this beer will age VERY nicely within the recommended 5 year window. I have also tried Halia and really enjoyed that one as well. After trying 2 of the 4 sisters this year, I am convinced they are all worth purchasing and laying down for few years. Very unique and exquisite.

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Photo of bobhits
3.27/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours a hazy yellow with gold and orange highlights. A very acidic fizzy carbontion, somewhat boring but very to style.

There's a lot of citrus aromas. Strawberry dominates but the citric notes bring out hints of orange, pineapple, and passion fruit.

I'm not a big fan of strawberry, but thankfully the mix of light pepper, strong acidic notes, and a relatively minimalist malt bill keeps this pretty exciting.

Sour yet carbonated well enough to keep it interest. The 9.5% is very hard to notice.

Two major flaws with this beer. The price is high. The bottle is annoyingly large. I hope this is a beer that's WELL distributed otherwise opening this means 10 others aren't going to get it, really who makes a damn 765 ml sour? Put it in an 11.2 oz bottle or something!

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Photo of dar482
3.8/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer comes super hazy yellow orange color.

The aroma has a breadiness with a fruity berry note along with lots of honey sweetness. There's tartness and a bit of funk in there.

The flavor mostly hits of white pepper and pure floral honey. The sweetness is really definitely honey. The light pepper lingers around with a gentle tartness throughout. There's some fruit in there, but it isn't not really that strawberry forward. The funk in there that gives this beer some barnyard notes. The barrels dry this beer out at the end of the palate.

The beer is quite drinkable and really hides its alcohol well. However, still a bit weak on the flavor for me.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.44/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

Lots of fizzy sounding carbonation, and barely a faint white head is made which dissolves instantly. Very fine pencil thin collar is left while always drinking, sitting on top of a tang deep but opaque and even orb glowing yellow. Some nice rising carbonation a little on the sides, and some good rising carbonation in the middle.

Very interesting nose, fruity but no sense of heat or hot brett. Strawberry and cake like cooked dough, fluffy, with a sense of cookie like action sensing of strawberry shortcake and some cream. Quite fruity and moderately sweet with hints of lemon peel as well.

Palate jumps on first sip. The brett makes it presence right away but flashes out in a quick heat on the finish with some pepper. Fruit in the mid palate of strawberry and nice punch like qualities. Large carbonation and prickly but not jarring, doesn't give way to the thick fruit angles which contrast more into peaches and lemon while drinking. Subsequent sips keep this moving and repeating, but the brett flashes draw you back since they disappear so quickly. Sweetness turns more into vanilla than honey once again providing a shortcake like sensation of angel food cake.

Overall this is quite impressive, but not much sense of oak flavor or round feel, and I couldn't sense this comes from a barrel, which is an impressive feat in it's own right. Tastes more like a fruit lambic than a saison. It's a great beer but I am not going crazy in love over it. Tasty indeed though.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.24/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle shared by raveskdr. Thanks Chris.

The beer is hazy and light orange with a small white head. The aroma offers strawberries, oak, funk. Smells nice. The flavor brings strawberries and wine. Light alcohol presence. Moderate carbonation and mild acidity. A delicate honey sweetness with a light burn in the back. Tasty.

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Photo of mfnmbvp
4.32/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

765 ml bottle (1 pint 9.87 fl oz.) with bottled on date September 12, 2013 printed on the back label. Very excited to have landed a bottle of this beer after much deliberation. Expectations are decently high based on my experience with Goose Island Halia. My bottle lists a 9.50% abv, rather than the 9.00% abv listed on BeerAdvocate.

Poured into an over-sized wine glass, per the death of my snifter.

A - Pours a nice golden orange colored body, much like Goose Island Halia, with about two fingers of fizzy white head, audibly sizzling away. No lacing. Looks pretty nice.

S - Smell is of barnyard funk, ripe strawberries, peaches, white wine alcohol presence, faint but noticeable white pepper, and what some would describe as "horseblanket". Smells fruity and tart. A mouthwatering aroma. I can't wait to try it. Soft leathery notes in there also, much like Goose Island Halia again.

T - First sip kicks off with some tartness and funky brett, followed by sweet ripe strawberries, some white sugar presumably from the honey, bitter yeast presence, some soft leather, and sour grapes from the wine barrel. I'm really only getting the faintest bit of the white pepper on the aftertaste.

M - Feel is just a bit sticky with some yeast and pepper lingering on the palate, but is otherwise as smooth and clean as can be.

Overall, a very nice beer, but I'm not entirely sure I would pay another $30 to have this again. In my opinion, this is a far better and more complex beer than it's sister companion, but still not as utterly remarkable as I was hoping for. I guess I just set the bar too high, since this is some highly drinkable brew, especially at 9.50% abv. Highly recommended; I would undoubtedly have this again if it weren't for the price tag and limited availability.

Goose Island Gillian ---4/5.

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Photo of siege06nd
4.59/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

EDITED: what's with all the "Had"'s and no "Review"'s??!?!? Sack up, slacka*ses...

Poured into my Jackie O's tulip...

A. Much like Halia, this pours a very vibrant, honey golden color. It's cloudy, opaque, and typical of the style in appearance. The head is minimal, I get maybe a quarter finger of white bubbles ringing the edges of the beer. Accordingly, lacing is also spotty.

S. Wow. This is nothing short of amazing. A decadent and complex bouquet of wine-soaked fruit (strawberry), sticky sweet juices (honey), and earthy zest (white pepper). The strawberry is obvious, and while I couldn't identify the other two notes without the assistance of the label, they certainly make themselves known. This is a ridiculously refined nose and a spectacular blend of varied ingredients that coalesces into a highly enjoyable whole.

T. Follows the nose exactly...some vinous fruits, strawberry with the stem, sugars from the honey, and then some herbal spice from the white pepper. Dare I say it, there's even a little bit of heat on this...not much, mind you, but enough. This is a marriage of flavor that is instantly intriguing and pleasing. Who says beer can't be like wine? This is satisfying and complex like the best of white wines.

M. If there's a fault, and it's minor, it's the tendency for the pepper to ride a little too high on the finish. Otherwise, there is near perfect balance on display here. It's a brilliant concoction of flavors, one where the adjuncts add to the beer rather than take away from it. It took a very good farmhouse base recipe to stand up to the other flavors. And while the finish is just a touch too much spice, the journey there is excellent.

O. It's a special beer. The "sisters" this year are being widely marketed as sours, and while I wouldn't call that a lie, I would say it might subtly overstate the reality. While there is tartness and some funk here, it is mostly a delicate marriage of fruit, yeast, and barrel aging. A delicious beer to be sure, easily the most interesting of the "sisters", Gillian is a treat that shouldn't be missed. Congratulations, Goose Island, you know your way around a barrel-aged farmhouse.

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Gillian from Goose Island Beer Co.
91 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.