Gillian | Goose Island Beer Co.

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

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:

Added by Jason on 08-12-2011

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Reviews: 85 | Ratings: 713
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.51/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle pour at the Old Toad for their Goose Island tasting.

Pours a hazy, murky pale yellow, especially since I got part of the dregs. There's a small head, but no lacing.

Smells like strawberry, honey, oak, lemon, white wine, and distinct funk.

This is a really unique wild saison, I dig it. As it warms up, the strawberry, while already prominent at the beginning, becomes even more in your face. There's a nice sunny sweetness from the honey, with a mild sourness that's pleasant and plays in the background behind the strawberry and honey flavors. There's a bit of light funk, and a nice peppery finish. I'm glad the pepper is restrained here- I'm not sure how it would work if there was much more. I get a bit of lemon and lime flavors, too.

This is light bodied, with a light, crisp, and sweet mouthfeel. It's really drinkable- the GI rep called "sessionable" which I'm not entirely sure about, given the ABV. He is right in saying how crushable and easy-going this one is.

This was really unique and awesome, and nicely set up the big crushers later in the tasting.

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Photo of superspak
4.29/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 9/11/2013. Pours lightly hazy bright gold color with a small foamy white head with poor retention, that reduces to nothing fairly quickly. No glass lacing, and a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big strawberry, peach, pineapple, lemon zest, green apple, pear, white wine, honey, oak, white pepper, hay, straw, grass, light musty funk, and yeast earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, strawberries, and wine barrel notes; with great strength. Taste of big strawberry, peach, pineapple, lemon zest, green apple, pear, white wine, white pepper, honey, oak, hay, straw, grass, light musty funk, and yeast earthiness. Fair amount of fruity/acidic tartness and spice on the finish; with lingering notes of strawberry, peach, pineapple, lemon zest, green apple, pear, white wine, white pepper, honey, oak, hay, straw, grass, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Incredible complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast, strawberries, and white wine barrel flavors; with a great sweetness/tartness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, moderately crisp/acidic, and slightly slick mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is an outstanding wine barrel fruited saison. All around awesome complexity and balanced of fruity/spicy yeast, strawberries, and wine barrel flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the big ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of barczar
4.2/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Great balance of tartness and sweetness, with a fruity note running throughout. Wish I had more to say about this beer, but it was one in a long list of beers at a bottle share.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.11/5  rDev -0.2%

From 08/29/14 notes. Found this on the shelf in Manahawkin, NJ for $17.99 that morning. Date on the bottle is 11/Sept/13, 750ml bottle poured into a wine glass.

Pours a hazy bright yellow color with one inch of off white head that leaves quickly, and high carbonation evident. Lots of fresh strawberries, sweet dark fruity malts, white wine, oak, and citrus. Taste is tart with more berries and sour vinegar notes. Light to medium body and moderate to high carbonation , dry finish.

Overall a good beer. Not my favorite of the GI sours but a lot of good strawberries and lots of sourness in the taste. Worth checking out for sure, would have it again.

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Photo of joeseppy
3.85/5  rDev -6.6%

Pours a cloudy gold resembling apricot flesh. Aggressive pour give way to racy carbonation that quickly loses any retention.

First aromas of spice candy, a chinese sweet sour, and mild yeast. Lemon zesty and berry esters.

Taste yields more of the same. Cane sugar sweetness with overripe strawberries. As I'm listening to Richard "Groove" Holmes, funk comes to mind. Squeeze of lemon and peppery spice in the back.

I would say more of a medium bodied brew due to the heavier sugars, IMO. Scant carbonation and quenching.

This was a past Xmas gift to me I finally tapped into. This turns out to be more of a lambic than a saison for me. A little heavy on the sugar and malt. Would not purchase but would always accept as a gift.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.75/5  rDev -9%

Served in a Boulevard tulip snifter.

Big ups to VDubb and his brother for sharing this pricey lady with a penniless vagabond such as myself. This stuff pours a hazy sunset gold topped by a finger of white foam. The nose comprises mildly-tart berries, Belgian yeast, light black pepper, lemon zest, light white wine grapes (Pinot Gris in this case), and a touch of grassy hay. The taste brings in more of the same, with the sweetness of the yeast and berries mixing with some tartness from berries, apple, lemon, and stonefruits, followed by a layer or three of Belgian yeast and spices. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, a pretty tasty fruited saison, nothing earth-shattering, to be honest, and certainly nowhere near worth the price, but it is decidedly enjoyable.

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Photo of JerseyHopHead
4.09/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy, pale yellow with minimal head retention.
Smells strong of sour grapes with yeasty notes present as well.
It comes on subtle with some fruit notes but then quickly grows in strength and complexity as sour grape flavors take over. It has a medium carbonated, medium bodied mouthfeel. It finishes very tart and dry.

I'm still getting into sours but I really enjoyed this beer. It drinks like a wine and it's definitely got a lot flavor. Might not be a starter beer but worth a try.

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Photo of Astathedog
3.1/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Odd beer. Advertises itself as a "Belgian farmhouse," which I take to be a saison. It is not. It is closer to a lambic. Sour taste, artificial strawberry sweet, very little carbonation for a saison. Loses its head immediately after poor. No funk, ABV too high. Color nice, tho. I'll not buy again.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.77/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

this whole series is great, but i think gillian is my least favorite among the ones ive enjoyed so far. it comes across sweet from the strawberry, less authentic fruit than the others, and is rather under carbonated, at least mine was, but this may improve with age. its a funny colored brew, caramel colored almost, a little lighter, with the pink from the berries trying to color it, but getting muted a bit by the slightly darker grains. there isnt much head, and the carbonation thats missing ends up being the real weakness of this beer for me. it taste sweet from the strawberry, like dried strawberries in cereal or granola rather than fresh ones. the saison yeast never really cleans it up, and i dont get half as much of the brett funky and bacterial sourness as i do in the others. it just stays sweet. i also dont get as much white pepper out of it as i would like to, its such an interesting ingredient, easy to overuse, which they dont, but i want to taste it more than i do. i think it gets lost by the belgian saison yeast rather than enhanced by it. the finish is sweet and funky, but its also boozy compared to the others. an elegant idea that could use a little lighter hand i think. maybe age will do this well, but i only ever had this one bottle, so maybe i wont ever know. i think still worth almost what they ask for these, but i liked halia much much better.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.21/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to GRG1313 for sharing this one at his tasting.

Bottled on 9/11/13.

Pours a hazy orange with a foamy bone head that settles to wisps of film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace slowly drip into the remaining beer on the drink down. Smell is sour with malt, grain, strawberry, white wine, wood, and acidic aromas. Taste is much the same with sour grain, strawberry, and white wine flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of acidity on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a very good beer that is tasty and very easy to drink.

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Photo of FLima
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Milky yellow color with practically no head.
Nice aroma, very unique with clear notes of strawberries, funky sour and mild cloves.
Flavor of wild strawberries, salt, white pepper, peaches, lemon, chardonnay and cheese.
Astringent aftertaste.
Light body with good carbonation. Incredible how they hide the whole 9.5% abv.
Great sour, excellent complexity, bold and acid.

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Photo of Vonerichs
3.76/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Hazy golden orange with active carbonation bubbles that struggle to form any head.

It has a fruity aroma, like a banana split. Slight vinous quality.

Acidic and vinous flavor and texture. Crisp. The strawberry and honey contribute a sweet fruity angle. Peppery finish.

Good beer, not great. I felt like it got pulled in too many directions without committing to any one.

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Photo of jbaker67
3.9/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a bright golden color with a frisky tight bubbled white foam. The nose is a complex array of strawberry, yeast, vinous acidity and a bit of rustic grain. The palate is ligth and refreshing with nice complexity. Pepper, strawberry, hay, vinous oak, bright acidity. There is a lot going on with this one but I feel the pepper was too much.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 765 ml bottle into a Goose Island Tulip glass. 2013 Vintage bottled on September 12, 2013.

Appearance: Pours a hazy yellowish golden orange with a lot of rising bubbles. Slight white head that quickly fizzes away. Not much lacing.

Smell: A fairly tart, sweet, and sour aroma with good hints of fruit, yeast, and spice. Belgian yeast with good hints of white pepper, farmhouse funk, and slight clove. Big wine barrel presence with hints of white grapes, oak, wood, Brett funk, and acid. Big scent of sweet strawberries along with some tart green apple, cherry, and berry. Sweet hints of honey and cream. Soft pale malt with hints of wheat, straw and cracker. A very good sweet and sour aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a nicely sweet, sour, and tart taste with big notes of strawberry, yeast, and wine barrel. Belgian yeast with some nice notes of white pepper, farmhouse funk, and a little clove. Big champagne like wine barrel presence with notes of white grape, oak, wood, acid, and some Brett like sour funk. Big fruity taste of sweet strawberries along with some notes of green apple, cherry, and berries. Sweet taste of honey and some notes of cream. Soft pale malt with notes of wheat, straw, and cracker. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a fairly high level of carbonation. Tart and fairly acidic with a drying finish. Alcohol heat is masked fairly well.

Overall: A very good twist on a Saison/Farmhouse Ale. Very nice balance of fruity sweetness and sour notes from the barrel.

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Photo of snaotheus
4/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

765ml bottle poured at fridge temp (41 F) into a pair of chalices. Second chalice has much more sediment than the first. I'm drinking the first.

Dingy yellow, fairly cloudy (second is quite cloudy). Pours with a big initial head that dissipates very quickly (like pouring pop on ice).Leaves very little head, just a ring around the top that is more or less constantly maintained by the large amount of carbonation. Smell is sour grapes, some lemon, something just sweet-tarty about it. Smells good.

Taste is total sweet tarts. Candy like, but in a much stronger realm of tartness with a weaker balance of sweetness. Something about this even brings to mind the chalkiness of sweet tart candies.

Mouthfeel is chalky (where'd I come up with that) -- more dry, very effervescent. Overall, this is a tasty beer.

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Photo of beerhan
3.59/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A-Pours a hazy copper/yellow with a one finger head. Rather lighter than I expected considering the abv and aging.

S-Lots of strawberry after popping the bottle. Smell is rather reminiscent of fruity sparkling white wines. Not as funky as some of the other sisters, jammy fruit aromas dominate and the pepper was undetectable from the aroma.

T-Initial taste is a lot of fruit, strawberry, grapes, subtle melon flavor. Pepper over dominates the palate and nothing else is really detectable afterwords.

M-Very light body, goes down smooth and the alcohol is undetectable--Actually it was rather shocking to discover this was 9.5%. Pretty low carbonation compared to some of the other sisters and overall more sweet than sour. The pepper makes this one a bit tougher to get down unfortunately.

O-This is probably my least favorite of the sisters. The pepper hurt the beer more than anything else. If this was more similar to say dominique, the pepper may have had a better role but it was too dominant and did not allow the fruit notes to really sink in to your tongue. The price tag on this one also hurts it, 26.99 no wonder it is still on shelves everywhere. If you are a Gillian Anderson fan like myself then this might be worth it just for the bottle.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.92/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- pours a very cloudy pale yellow color with a small fizzy white head that has short retention

S- raw, cheesy lactic funk takes over the aroma up front. Beyond that, some fruity esters kick in along with some classic saison aromas of fresh cut hay and peppery spice, sweet strawberry at the end

T- the underlying strawberry is there, but subtle. Peppery notes mix with sweet honey wine, barnyard and cheesy funk, closing with a Belgian yeast linger

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to an almost flat mouthfeel and a slick finish

O- the cheesy funk takes center stage on this one, but not so much that the pepper and strawberry notes don't come through as well. This one is about even with Halia for me

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Photo of corby112
3.75/5  rDev -9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly cloudy, bright golden orange color with a half finger white head that immediately fades leaving no head or lacing. Visible carbonation bubbling up.

Vinous white wine barrel aroma with subtle oak and vanilla subtly integrated into the farmhouse yeast, light fruit and peppery spices. The oak is faint but the wine presence really stands out slightly overpowering the saison characteristics. There is some subtle musty, funky yeast but the wine, peppery spice, strawberry and other ester-y light fruit notes stand out. Slightly buttery Chardonnay presence with some strawberries and cream. The oak and honey are kept in check, and although it has nice wine and light fruit character, I wish it smelled a but more like a saison.

On the fuller end of medium body with tight carbonation and a nice wine and ester-y light fruit presence that's nicely integrated into the saison characteristics of the base beer. The white pepper and dry, funky farmhouse yeast stands out much more than in the nose. Sweet and vinous with grape and light raisin complimented by honey sweetness and estery light fruit. Strawberry and cream along with apricot, tangerine, apple and faint citrus acidity. This is countered by some peppery spice with hints if white pepper, ginger and coriander that goes well with the dry farmhouse yeast. Slightly earthy, grassy and funky with some light fruit and subtle boozy sweetness rounding out the finish. The appearance and aroma of this beer aren't too impressive but I find it to be well balanced, flavorful, complex and easy to drink with a well masked ABV. Overall, this is a solid beer but nowhere near worth the hefty price tag.

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Photo of metter98
4.14/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: The beer is slightly hazy pale yellow in color and has a light amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger bright white head that died down, leaving lacing on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of white whine and sourness are present in the nose along with hints of yeast.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has some added hints of strawberries and oak from the wine barrel aging.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and a little tart on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This is an enjoyable saison that has interesting flavors of wine barrels and sourness.

Note: Bottled on September 11, 2013

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Photo of nataku00
4.37/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottle poured into a tulip glass. Beer pours a hazy golden color with a slight rosy tinge to it. Half a finger of loose off white head dissipates immediately despite a constant stream of tiny bubbles feeding it.

Nose is sweet strawberry fruit and floral honey, earthy soil and grass, red apple, grape skin, and wine soaked oak. Biscuit malt sweetness as it warms a little, with a slight bubble gum yeast ester.

Taking a sip, flavors lead with a grape skin and oak tannin flavor mixed with a sharp lemony lactic acidity, mellowing to sweeter strawberry, floral honey, red apple. Very drying on the tongue, with an astringent wine character lingering with some unripe strawberry flavors.

Light body with prickly but pleasant carbonation that disappears in a flourish as the tongue is dried out more by the beer. Strong wine influence on this beer.

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Photo of mwilbur
3.91/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 765 ml bottle into tulip. Bottled on Aug 30, 2013.
A: Pours a clear yellow with moderate carbonation producing a 1 inch fizzy/bubbly white head. Fairly quickly recedes.
S: Wonderfully fresh and strong aroma of strawberries and white pepper. Hint of honey and citrus.
T: Strawberries and honey up front. Mild citrus and white pepper enters later. With warming, an oaked vinous note emerges.
M: Smooth and crisp. Moderately sweet. Light bodied.
D: For some reason, this beer reminds me of strawberry a good way. Not very complex, but what it does it does well. Hits more like a lambic than a saison to me. Solid brew, not spectacular.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.4/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed out of a brown 765 mL bottle with a bottling date of August 30, 2013 marked on the label. Poured into a Boulevard Smokestack series tulip glass.

Appearance - Pour yields an effervescent white head that brings to mind champagne fizz, with small active bubbles. Builds to about three-fourths of a finger thick before dissipating into a thin line of foam around the edge of the glass, then nothing. Zero lacing whatsoever. On the first pour, the body is a clear yellow-orange shade with some hints of amber and golden highlights from where the light pours through. Subsequent pours reveal some hazy opaqueness, as one might expect from the sediment hiding in the bottom of the bottle. Looks more like a lambic than it does a saison.

Smell - I'm very pleased to find the strawberry notes very detectable up front. Bright acidity of fresh picked strawberries alongside a nice complex wood characteristic from the barrel. Some notes of apple cider vinegar and after it warms a bit, the delicate earthiness of the white pepper begins to shine through. The overall smell has a gentle sweetness to it that balances quite nicely with the more astringent tart characteristics. Very excited to dive in and taste this beer.

Taste - As with the smell, the strawberry is front and center, but this time is joined much more aggressively by the white pepper--reminds me of fresh-ground white pepper. To me that spice is awesome because it isn't overpowering or terribly spicy, but it has a real earthiness, almost clay-like, that provides a lot of character and depth. The taste reveals more sour bite than I would have expected based on the smell, but that is entirely a good thing. As I take subsequent sips, I start to get some notes of oak tannin and perhaps blush wine (but not the crappy, sweetened variety) elements as well. A fantastically complex beer.

Mouthfeel - Light bodied, with a high level of carbonation. As noted in the appearance, almost champagne-like in feel, with a ton of effervescence and prickliness from the bubbles. Finish is mostly dry, with just a kiss of fruity sweetness.

Overall, a wonderful offering from Goose Island. I know the use of strawberries and honey really drives up the price based on how expensive those raw ingredients can be, but I think it was well worth it. The additives used to make this beer unique really shine through--there is no doubt that either are present. Looking forward to picking up a bottle of this each year it comes out.

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Photo of GoneARye
4.45/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pricey bottle - excited to see if this lives up to the hype.

Appearance: A golden straw color - well filtered, extremely pale. No lacing to speak of.

Smell: First and foremost, I get huge whiffs of peppercorn. The saison yeast kicks in next, with a surprisingly present undertone of strawberry, and a little bit of the wine barrels this was aged in.

Taste: I'm enjoying the strong bite of the peppercorns here - they play extremely well off of the already pepper-like notes from the saison yeast. Reminds me a bit of saison poivre styles, but the white pepper definitely brings less heat and more of a fruitiness to the mix. The buttery chardonnay-like notes are mildly present as I let this linger on my tongue, followed up by a tingle from the gentle carbonation. I'm not sure that I pick out strawberry in the taste, as much as the smell, but strawberry is extremely hard to bring across in beer in my opinion, and its definitely there on the nose. Last taste as I swallow is a pleasant interplay between the sweetness of the honey and the slightly sour notes brought out by the saison yeast.

Mouthfeel: A bit thinner than I would have expected, especially given the honey. The carbonation level is just about perfect - on the lighter end but still present enough to tingle as the flavors mix on my palette. the chardonnay-like buttery feel is present, but more subdued than in other beers like Black Raven's Por Les Oiseaux.

Overall: This is an enjoyable experience and I'm glad I bought this bottle. I'm not sure I'd buy this every year given the steep price, but it is well crafted and the high praise its gets is well deserved.

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Photo of spoony
4.17/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

From a 765 ml bottle (dated September 11, 2013) into a tulip. Reviewed from notes dated January 5, 2014.

A-Interestingly, my first pour is nearly clear and golden in color. The second pour from the same bottle is much more cloudy and looks like crystalized honey in color and clarity. I get about a finger of short-lived white head both times and no lacing.

S-My first whiff suggests strawberries, white grape, green apple, and a pretty substantial lactic tartness. Further sniffing discloses some oaky tannin-like dryness, some alcohol warmth, and a bit of honey as the beer nears room temperature. Pretty inviting.

T-The taste is similar to the smell with a subdued but noticeable strawberry flavor; dry, tart white grape, a touch of honey, and tart granny smith apple. There is a nice, vinous acidity that provides a good bit of tartness and a warming, slightly medicinal alcohol. It is mostly dry on the finish despite the honey flavor up front.

M-The feel is lighter to medium in body with a chunky, assertive carbonation.

O-This is a really nice take on strawberry, which is a hard flavor to do right in a beer, IMHO. The honey provides just enough sweetness to balance the dry, acidic fruit flavors. This may not be my favorite sister from GI, but I would happily drink more of this and it goes great with food. It would pair especially with roast chicken.

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Photo of jeonseh
3.74/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

A - Light yellow with an orange haze. Small amount of carbonation sits on top

S - Strawberries, passion fruit, tart lemon, and slight sweet tarts.

T - Strawberries up front, light vinegar and sweet tart. Pepper spice in the back

M - Really thick, much thicker than I'd like. Kinda chewy overall. Finish is dry

O - Another solid sour from GI but I wasn't as impressed with this one as I was with Halia. Good strawberry presence and the pepper is there but light

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Gillian from Goose Island Beer Co.
4.12 out of 5 based on 713 ratings.
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