Harvest Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

very good
1,095 Ratings
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Harvest AleHarvest Ale

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

Style: Extra Special / Strong Bitter (ESB)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
Dark auburn color, citrus hop aroma, caramel flavor, medium body

Added by BeerAdvocate on 09-03-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

For Trade:
User Reviews
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Reviews: 403 | Ratings: 1,095
Photo of Sammy
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Lacey medium yellow to amber creamy mouthfeel ESB. Good for style, nice understated citrus bitterness. Mild English bitter aroma,nicely malted. Very drinkable. Carbonation was suitable, though a bit prickly.A litle sugar, a little toasted malt, a little wheat.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.7/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Bottled 8/2/13.

Pours a clear copper with a foamy khaki head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, tea, citrus, and floral aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus zest and slight floral flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer that is tasty and very easy to drink.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This poured out as a clear looking deep orange color, the head was an average size and white in color. The retention was pretty good on this beer as well as the lacing in the beginning, not much nearing the end of the beer. The smell of the beer is nicely balanced between malts and hops. Some caramel notes in there too. The taste of the beer has a moderate roasted sweetness up front that finishes bitter. The mouthfeel of the beer was a little over carbonated I think, the beer was still very drinkable though. Overall I think the bitterness was a little too high but all in all it's still a solid brew.

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Photo of metter98
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is clear amber in color and has a thin layer of off white bubbles covering the surface that leaves lacy patterns after it dies down. No carbonation is visible in the form of rising bubbles.
S: There is a light to moderate aroma of grassy hops in the nose along with some notes of toasted malts.
T: The overall taste is dominated by toasted malts and has a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and is very smooth. There is a light to moderate amount of carbonation.
D: The beer is very easy to drink and quite sessionable.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A pleasant surprise to find this on tap at Pazzo's Pizza Pub in Lexington KY. The beer came to the table with a high carbonation rate, slight head retention, and light on lacing. The color takes on deep amber to brown hues with bright clarity. Aromas are faint, but take on deep amber malt / toasted malt character with nuttiness and earthy (English) hop scents. The flavors are also mellow and bring out the same toasted malts found in the nose, along with stronger hop rates, fruityness, and a lightly pungent peat-ey note. The textures are firm, but not heavy or viscous, cleaned up by the hop bittering and dryness. Finishes with a hop flavor, bitterness and a mild toastiness. A good break from all of the sweeter Oktoberfests that I have been drinking lately.

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Photo of brentk56
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy amber color with a rocky beige head that splashes some lace

Smell: Suprisingly sweet malty aroma with a bit of earthy hops

Taste: Opens quite malty, with the same sweetness detected in the aroma coming through; earthy hop flavors take over by mid-palate; after the swallow, though the hops maintain their intensity, the sweeter malt clearly has a strong impact overall

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: I am afraid the malt profile is a bit too sweet for my tastes

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Photo of zeff80
3.92/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Best consumed by date: 3/09/2008

A - Poured out an orange/light brown color with an off-white, bubbly, two-finger head.

S - It smelled of grassy hops and a roasted malt aroma.

T - It tasted somewhat bitter with a subtle sweet/fruity flavor. A nice roasted malt taste was present, too.

M - It was crisp and very sharp. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a pretty good representation of the style. It is not the best ESB, but it is certainly drinkable/sessionable.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a tulip glass. Color is a moderate amber with a bit of a caramel hue to it. A bit of lacing, but not too much. The nose brings forward a good amount of light hops with some grassy and floral characteristics as well as some light citrus.

The taste brings some nice notes of caramel and bready malt underneath the hops, which are there as they were in the nose. Good balance between the two. Nice feel with a bit of sweetness as well as a bit of bitterness for balance. Drinks well and this was always a Fall favorite of mine.

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Photo of mothman
4.08/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into Rare Vos Glass

Pours a large finger and a half of dark beige head that is very fluffy. Decent retention, leaving some nice lace walls eventually. Color is a clear golden bronze.

Aroma: A ton of fresh floral and pine hops with a big citrus flavor (grapefruit dominates the nose). Has a lot of bready and caramel malts as well. I like it so far.

Taste: Mmm, now that is a nice beer. I was expecting something along the lines of an IPA from the nose, but it doesn't match up here. Taste is a lot more smooth and mellow than an IPA. It has some of the same characteristics, however. The malts seem to be English flavored, very bready, but there are also some caramel notes as well. The hops aren't as fresh here or as bitter as I was expecting, but still a very nice beer.

Mouthfeel: It has some bite, but is mainly smooth and clean. Medium bodied with a decent amount of carbonation. Ends with an English malt flavored, relatively clean, aftertaste.

Overall, I really like this offering from GI. It wasn't what I was expecting, but it was still good and quite drinkable. For what it is, I'd easily have more.

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Photo of superspak
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled on 8/2/2013. Bit of a gusher upon opening. Pours lightly cloudy orange copper color with a 2 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of caramel, grapefruit, orange zest, pear, toast, biscuit, floral, light pine, and floral earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance of hop and malt notes; with decent strength. Taste of caramel, grapefruit, orange zest, lemon zest, floral, toast, biscuit, light pine, and floral earthiness. Fair amount of earthy floral/pine bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, citrus, floral, toast, biscuit, and light pine on the finish for a good bit. Very nice balance of malt and hop flavors; with a very nice malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth and crisp mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very good ESB style. Good balance of malt and hop flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering.

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Photo of oberon
3.88/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled on 09/09/10.Poured into a Willie glass a bright copper color with a fluffy one finger white head that left shotty lace as it settled slowly.Definently malt driven in the nose,caramel toffee,and slightly roasted nuts mainly stick out,slight herbal hop that lingers.Flavors are malt driven and have a bit of malt complexity,caramel toffee,light fruit,and toasted nut,the hops are light with a lingering herbal finish.Not like most harvest ales in the fact its mainly malt,the complexity to the malt is nice.

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Photo of jlindros
4.03/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice rich frothy almost 2 finger head that fades slowly with a nice lacing, with a brilliantly clear autumn maple leaf amber orange color.

The nose comes right with some fresh hops. A nice herbal and fresh aromatic hop with a touch of musty resin and citrus. Then is some toasty malts, lighter in the background, with a light malty base.

Taste is a little different, with more of the malts shining through this time. It brings some toasty malts, a strong malty taste, a little bready and very toasty. It adds an interesting husk like taste too. There is some light sweetness to bring the malty base into the foreground. Behind that, but not far behind, is a nice hoppy taste, with some spicy, herbal, light lemon grass, and a little bit of citrus. It's somewhat bitter, but not overpowering, somewhat subtle in a way. It also adds a slight fresh musty hop resin taste.

The mouth is medium to lighter bodied with good carbonation.

It finishes with a little more bitterness than the initial taste, bringing more of the hop oils and resin, more spicy hops, a little bit more of the lemongrass and citrus but not much. A very light sticky sweetness lingering, it dried a bit as well. All the flavors linger for a little while, and the dryness creeps up to get pretty dry, accentuating the bitterness.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.76/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass. Big thanks to Monkeyknife for a bottle of this in a recent locals trade.

Pours a clear amber with a couple fingers of poofy off-white head. Retains with a big, creamy, dollop of foam that just COATS the side of the glass with a sticky latticework of lace. I'm actually surprised by how handsome this looks in the glass. The aroma is fresh smelling herbal hops (that's giving off a bit of a dank edge), along with notes of spice, citrus, and bready bisquits underneath.

The taste is earthy, herbal, and spicy hops with a silky underbelly of bread and toffee providing support. Finishes with some light tang and even lighter bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a wonderfully smooth and creamy carbonation and feel. Very nice.

Solid stuff here. I was really digging the more earthy edge this had plus the body just felt fantastic in the mouth, really helping bring the flavors up. A really nice fall seasonal from Goose Island.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 10/8/2012 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI, served in a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark amber color, with a large foamy off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains caramelized malts, a good amount of hops and some fruit.

T: The taste starts out with mild flavors of caramel and citrus. Then a strong hops bitterness comes in along with a hearty malt character creating a good balance. It tastes like a toned version of their IPA. The after-taste is slightly hoppy.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, mild kick, good representation of style, this is a very solid beer to pound down for a long time.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Arthur's Tavern in Hoboken, NJ

A: Pours a clear deep amber in color with moderate amounts of visible carbonation. The beer has a finger tall light beige head that reduces to a medium sized patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Moderate to significant amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Light to moderate aromas of hops - some grassy with lighter amounts of pine and citrus/grapefruit. There is also a light aroma of toasted malts.

T: Upfront there is a moderate amount of toasted malts with some lighter notes of pine and citrus/grapefruit hops. Light amounts of bitterness are observed but they do not linger.

M: Light to medium bodied with moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth.

O: Very easy to drink and sessionable - there are some very enjoyable notes of hops along with the toasted malts. A nice fall seasonal beer.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.6/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Elephant & Castle, Chicago, IL

Poured a hazy amber-brown with a nice off-white head that retained rather well. Toasted, bready malts in the nose mostly. Taste was nice and malty as would be expected. Caramel, some toasted bread, wood, earthiness, and a mildly hoppy finish. Light-medium mouthfeel, and very drinkable, like any good Oktoberfesty beer.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours a bright, clear amber body with a full, foamy off-white head.

Smell: Crisp hop aroma of citrus fruits, fresh tea leaves, and a pinch of spice backed by a fair amount of caramel malt.

Taste: Subtle caramel malt flavor with a reasonably mild sweetness. Hint of dried breadcrusts. Grapefruit hop flavor with a well-rounded bitterness. A shot of unsweetened Lipton tea. Finishes with a mild, lingering bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Medium carbonation.

Drinkability: Though placed well on the lighter end of harvest-type ales, it was still quite enjoyable.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Glossy kumquat with corn shock gold edges. The three finger cap is a shade darker than sandstone and looks like melted ice cream as it begins to deflate. Before long, the glass is festooned with a beautiful patchwork of delicate lace... that is impressively abundant in the end. If any beer looks like a harvest ale, this one does.

Ideally, an ESB should be toasted malty, with either an American or an English hoppiness. I'm happy to report that this Goose Island seasonal fills the bill. In case you were wondering, it's American hoppy (Cascade), although it could be even more so as far as I'm concerned.

Harvest Ale is good, balanced beer. I have to resist the urge to urge the brewery to go bigger. More Cascade would put it into another league, but I guess they know what they're doing and what niche they need to fill in their lineup. Still, I'm pleasantly surprised after being somewhat disappointed by the past few Honker's Ales that I've had.

The flavor profile is dominated by toasted bread (two slices white to one slice brown bread). In addition, there's a dollop of caramel, a hint of cocoa and an almost rye-like spiciness. The grapefruity aspect of the Cascade hops is muted, but still contributes in a meaningful way. If the brewery was going after the 'falling leaves on a crisp autumn day, session beer division', they hit the nail on the head.

I'm on the fence about the body/mouthfeel. There's nothing wrong with it (medium, decently smooth, appropriately bubbled), but when I look at the word 'good' beside the 4.0, it doesn't quite qualify.

Harvest Ale is another solid, drinkable offering from Goose Island. I'm sure it'll never happen, but I'd like to see them switch labels and call this one Honker's Ale. At least then it would be available year-round. Better still, they should just add more hops to both beers and be done with it.

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Photo of billab914
3.85/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle into my Terrapin glass. It poured dark amber in color with a thin white head barely covering the top of the beer.

The aroma has some toasted, slightly grainy and sweet malts coming through. I also get some zesty citrus to it as well. Nice mix of hoppy and malty, and a pretty appealing aroma overall.

The taste starts out with more of the malty, sweeter, caramel flavors to it. Midway I start to get more of the toasty malts mixing in with some zesty citrus. A little resiny bitterness helps balance it out in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied with carbonation being moderate. Overall it was a pretty decent beer. It was easy drinking and flavorful and a pretty nice beer overall.

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Photo of russpowell
3.89/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked this up at Goebels in Wichita...

Pours an effervescent amber/caramel with 2 fingers of tan head, fall away quickly....A bit of head retention & lacing

S: Piney hops, slight breadyness, some grapefruit

T: Caramel, herbal hops & pears up front, plus some pineyness on the edges. Herbal hops, biscuitty malt & grapefruit are all there as this warms. Finishes with much grapefruit, a bit dry & a touch of grainyness; almost pulled a 4.5

MF: Medium bodied, low carbonation, good balance

Drinks easy, not really buying this as an ESB, but damn tasty

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Photo of smcolw
3.77/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Modest head that settles to a single ring of bubbles. Initially leaves some minute bubble lace.

Fresh smell of a hop plug of pine bitterness.

A dry, spritzy beer. Thin bodied. The story here is the bitter swallow and finish. Relatively brief aftertaste.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.83/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Light amber in color with a smooth, even, head of white on top that faded off after a couple of moments. Light lacing was left by the side. Aroma is bready, hints of caramel and grassy notes and warming brought out tons of grains. Light, crisp and clean taste, light grassy hops and a smooth even caramel malt base made up the bulk of the profile. Light body, nice carbonation and a smooth even and clean finish.

Overall a pretty good ESB

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Photo of Slatetank
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I picked this up at Giant Beer Garden & Eatery, enjoyed chilled from a 12oz in a tulip.
The color is copper with translucent clarity and the bead is fine with spattered lace. The smell is hoppy with a light herbal and fruity scent with subtle yeast ester. The feel is very good with a nice level of bittterness balanced with the malt caramel sweetness and gentle dry moderately carbonated with a light body in general

The taste is great, lots of herbal, piney hop flavors meld well with the mild caramel from the malt with a nice mild caramel accent lending a balanced quality with the slight grapefruit essencefrom the hops, mild spice and mellow fruitiness from the yeast. I really enjoy this style and even though this may be more intense the usual for the style it is still highly drinkable and enjoyable beyond my expectations.

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Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Thorpe for this one.

A: The beer pours an amber/orange color with a finger of off-white head.

S: There's a bit of citrus aroma to this one. Some floral hops are also present. A nice sweetness of bread and toffee malts. Seems to be a fair amount of lemon peel in there.

T: Sweet bread and toffee to begin with. Some brown sugar in there as well. A little bit of bitterness with flavors of citrus peel, floral hops, and a light pine flavor.

M: Medium in body with a medium level of carbonation.

O: Not a bad ESB. The flavor was better than the aroma, however.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.55/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Served in a Chicago Bears shaker pint glass.

Honestly, with a name like "Harvest Ale" I wasn't expecting an ESB. Oh well, good times either way. It pours a clear sunrise amber topped by nearly a finger of slightly off-white foam. The nose comprises butter, flowers, light citrus, and caramel. The taste follows closely, though adding a decent amount of orange-rind bitterness. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a fairly smooth feel. Overall, a decent brew, nothing too special but tasty enough for an occasional quaff.

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Harvest Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
3.82 out of 5 based on 1,095 ratings.
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