Special Pale Ale | Goose Island Beer Co.

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
14 Ratings

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

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-05-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 14 |  Reviews: 13
Reviews by silenius:
Photo of silenius
4.35/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this on tap and from a growler I took home. This review is for the growler.

It pours a reddish-pink tinted amber with a nice frothy head that settles to a thick blanket. The lacing is moderate to heavy.

Smell is a wonderful mixture of sweet and floral hoppiness with some of the malt character edging in as well.

Taste is where it is at. The sweet and spicy hop flavor interplays nicely with the malty base. I really enjoyed drinking this beer. It is a hopped up Pale Ale that really could pass for a malty IPA. It finishes with a nice bittering character that lasts and makes you want to take another sip.

Mouthfeel is thick without being syrupy. The good amount of carbonation leads to this.

Very drinkable. I'd like to see it served more regularly.

 777 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of jeonseh
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

My first cask review which I had at GI Clybourn served in a pint glass.

A - a dark golden and deep orange color to this one. It was rather cloudy and this made all of the colors just seem to run together rather nicely. Could definitely tell that this one was not filtered as light bits of sediment were floating about. Had a nice white, one thumb head that sat on top and left some decent lacing.

S - A beautiful mixed of bitter hops and sweet malt came out of this one. Reminded me a bit of the smell of the IIPA. The hops seemed to lean more on the piney aspect as smelling the beer had that sharp, crisp outdoorsy smell to it. There was a nice malt backbone that brought up hints of mangoes, caramel and even a slight hint of orange citurs.

T - The first taste to hit the tongue is that pine hops aspect that really picked up in the nose. The hops come on strong and make themselves known rather well. However, on the whole, did not find this to be a hop bomb as the sweeter malt comes in to counteract the strong hop flavors. When this occurs, my mouth was overtaken with a caramel, syrupy taste that goes down rather well. Didn't get too much of the sweeter fruits. Have to say that this one drank very well and got better the more I tried it. The cask temperature really seemed to make this one shine through.

MF - This is really where this beer let me down. There was a light carbonation to it but no really any body. Felt this one was rather watery as just couldn't find the body in this beer. I don't know I just wish it had a bit more to it.

D - overall a nice nice Pale ale and one that really just needed some more body in my opinion to be one of the better Pale Ales that I've ever had. The hops are there and strong and the malt is as well. Yet, neither one is too big and that allows for the whole beer to remain in balance. Easy to drink and great with the food as well. A nice GI beer that I'd definitely get again.

 1,938 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

(Served in an imperial pint glass)

A- Creamy tan head that stays for a while. The body is a nice hazy amber orange color with no visible carbonation

S- Sweet malty aroma with a nice spicy-citrus hops

T- Nice smooth maltyness with a warm spiciness at the beginning that grows and grows. The hops have kind of a cat pee taste but in a wonderful way if that makes any sense. very complex hopiness that adds lots of depth to this beer.

M- Very smooth mouthfeel with a faint hint of carbonation and no astringency.

D- This beer has Centennial, Columbus and Cascade hops with pale malt and Special B malt. This has a strong hops power but it has lots of depth which makes it very nice to drink. It has the malt to support the hops and a nice alcohol perception even though its not very high in alcohol (6.1 % it said on the menu). Its really nice to see a beer that mixes hops so well. On top of that it was cask conditioned. I will be back for a few more pints of this beer.

 986 characters

Photo of hammer09
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pint glass on 04/25/07.

Clear, amber/red with a thick, rocky head that dissipates rather quickly. Smell is mild to medium evergreen with a distinct floral hop aroma. Taste is excellent with a nice, balanced hop character exhibiting spruce/pine-like hop flavors and a mild malt flavor. Bitter and dry on the palate, with good carbonation, this is a very good APA. Drinkability is excellent; in fact, before leaving the brewpub, I purchased a growler of the Special Pale Ale to take home.

 501 characters

Photo of jpkoch1962
3.51/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Nice middle of the road pale ale that is closer to a British Pale Ale than an American one. Served at 45 deg in a pint glass. Color is a deep copper. The head was nice and rocky, which left a good deal of lacing. Hints of both grainy malts, and floral hops could be detected. Aroma rather subdued.

Both the front end and middle were smooth and slightly sweet. The malts came through nicely, which gave it nice mouthfeel. The finish had a nice bite to it, but it was also clean and refreshing.

This is a nice, solid pale ale. Some hopheads may think that the hopping is subdued. But it is actually a well balanced ale that is very average.

 644 characters

Photo of tar
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had a pint of this at the brewpub and brought home a growler. This review is based on a pint from the growler the next day. Pours a dark amber to red with a thinnish white head. The head diminishes fairly quickly and leaves a bit of lacing behind on the glass. This is a very good looking beer in the glass. Smells very nice and strong of spicy hops, with a bit of a malty/bready character as well. The hops come out nicely in both the initial taste and the bitter finish. A bready/malty taste is also present throughout and lends a very nice sweetness to the beer. A very nice balance between the spicy hops and sweet malt results in a very nice tasting beer. Quite smooth feeling with a medium body. A very drinkable and very enjoyable beer overall.

 753 characters

Photo of GbVDave
4.1/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 16oz pint glass at Goose Island-Clybourn 4/13/07.

A: Dark reddish-copper hue. Very sticky lace.

S: Very nice aromas of hops and sweet caramel malt.

T: Spicy hops, caramel malt, pear, apple, and peach. Lots of sweet and spicy going on here. Subdued sweet malt backbone.

M: Slick and oily. Very spicy and prickly, but not from the carbonation. More than likely from the choice of hops.

D: A very complex APA meant to be sipped upon over the course of a full day! Excellent.

 499 characters

Photo of robbyc1
3.7/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

This was on the beer engine, but I missed it, so normal tap here. The color is dark copper with a grainy off white head, unusual color for a pale ale.

Fresh grassy hops with a good malt nose, not as hoppy as expected with no citrus to speak of.

Good deep bready malt taste, with a puckering hop finish that leaves a wanting dryness in the mouth. An interesting combination for this strong version of an APA, must be the unusual addition of more malt that ups the abv, altough it is not really noticeable. The mouthfeel is a bit grainy, but well carbonated, very refreshing and satisfying. Great drinker, but the lack of hops will put off some folks.

 655 characters

Photo of brandoman63
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy brown/amber, thick white head, nice lacing, retention is good too, leaves a nice ring. Smell is grapefruit, vanilla, some pine, bit of toffee, quite hoppy, very nice. Taste is sweet, brown sugar, then grapefruit, some floral, special B maltiness, bit more floral in the finish, nice balance, some nice fruitiness. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, low carbonation, very smooth. Nice beer, would definately drink again!

 434 characters

Photo of brdc
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Had this one on cask at their location accross the street from Wrigley Field.

It is a dark golden brew with a nice, well retained white head.
Aroma is hoppy, fruity, piney but there is some nice maltiness, sweet bread like to balance it out.
Although the hops dominate this with a fruity bitterness, the malty backbone is quite noticeable, lending it some sweet caramel like tastes, and some breadiness. Very well balanced for the style, and very high drinkability. Well done.

 479 characters

Photo of steveh
4.72/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Cask conditioned, imperial pints served in Goose Island's original brew-pub at 1800 North Clybourn Ave. 6.2% ABV.

This ale arrived at the table with a somewhat generous, pillowy white head which settled to a thin film with nice lacing. Color was clear, deep reddish brown - not Porter or Stout-like, closer to Bass Ale, though probably a shade darker.

Nose was all spicey hops at first with some nice toasted malt asserting itself and estery characteristics adding complexity.

Flavor was a similar combo of tangy hops then malts, but very well balanced. Hit of bitter hops, followed by smooth, rich, sweet malt and citrus estery fruitiness back from warm fermentation - very nice.

Body was medium to heavy, believe it or not, with a smooth, cask conditioned characteristic mouth feel. Residual sugars present too.

A very nice drink that invited gulp after gulp (and pint after pint). Being 6.2% (and well publicized at the bar), one is wary of too many pints, but the beer is smoothly deceiving.

We were able to sample the non-cask version of this beer too and, while being less complex in body and flavor, is still very tasty.

 1,145 characters

Photo of brentk56
4.3/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Arrives at the table with a hazy amber color and a 1" head that sheets the glass as it goes down

Smell: Balanced aroma of caramel malt and citrus fruit hops

Taste: Starts out with a caramel base that is joined, mid-palate, by the citrus hops; after the swallow, the sweet and bitter flavors blend together perfectly into the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: One of the most well balanced APAs I have come accross; well worth seeking out

 497 characters

Photo of styrene
4.03/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Consumed at the Goose Island Clybourn brewpub. Served in an imperial pint glass at 50 degrees fahrenheit.

Appearance: Dark amber body and a magnificently creamy off-white head that left lacing all the way down the glass.

Smell: Boldly hoppy

Taste: A near-perfect american pale ale. The cask conditioning seems to have mellowed out the hops a bit, though they're still rather strong. The warm serving temperature, while usually not to my liking, really serves this beer well. Interesting berry notes stand out slightly from the hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy, with moderate carbonation and a relatively clean finish. Nothing crisp here, just unctuous, easy drinking.

Drinkability: I would love to try this at a lower temperature, but it was quite good as it was. The beer complemented my stilton burger quite well.

 842 characters

Special Pale Ale from Goose Island Beer Co.
Beer rating: 4.16 out of 5 with 14 ratings