Goose Island Vintage Ales (Sisters +)

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by gillagorilla, Nov 4, 2013.

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  1. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    I've been so confused by these. Over the months I've run into all of them, but always passed because I wasn't interested in the style listed on the bottle. Also, why aren't Matilda, Sofie and Madame Rose (hasn't been made in a while, but still; also, it's not even listed on their website, you can only get to it through the hyperlink on their Beer Calendar page) included as Sisters? So, they all age in the bottle for up to 5 years (including Pepe Nero and Pere Jacques)? Their listed style doesn't make them seem like they are wilds and they make no indication of wild yeasts used on the labels (like brett, etc.). I understand this is due to the elegance and simplicity of their labels. So, could someone give me a better breakdown of these beers and perhaps a simple ranking? All I really know is that they are all highly rated, outside of the two guys (relatively). I know they are still in the wild around here (yet to see the new sisters in MD though), so I'm wondering who I should focus one.

    So far, I've only had Sofie Paradisi (excellent, but again not comparable yet for me) and Matilda Lambicus (good but nothing to compare it too). I've also had Big John and Night Stalker, but those were no-brainers for me: Stouts from GI, yes please!!!
  2. Davl22

    Davl22 Disciple (364) Sep 27, 2011 New Hampshire
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Check out Goose's website, it gives detailed descriptions of every one. Madame Rose is an oud bruin with cherries, all are very good.
  3. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, I guess I just wasn't satisfied with their descriptions. Looks like I will focus on Madame Rose first, followed by Juliet and Lolita, then Halia and Gillian, followed by Sophie and Matilda with the guys.

    Would Fleur still be good now? Also, we can turn this into a ranking thread.

    Or just let it die a quiet death.
  4. Dupage25

    Dupage25 Aspirant (279) Jul 4, 2013 Antarctica

    Fleur was last bottled in April of 2011. The last time I had a bottle was over the summer and it was still good, but it seemed like it may have been going downhill. By this time next year, I would not be surprised if the beer is completely unrecognizable.

    I will give as much detail as I can for the Goose beers, not just Madam Rose.

    Initially, the "3 sisters" referred only to Madam Rose, Juliet, and Lolita, and it specifically meant "Goose Island sours." Though there is no mention of this in any Goose Island publication anywhere, all three of these are aged in wine barrels with wild yeast and (here's the important part) intentionally soured with bacteria. They are sour beers, in other words; Goose will sometimes mention that they are aged with wild yeast, but they never talk about the fact that they are exposed to sour bacteria. Up until Halia and Gillian, these were Goose's only sours in bottles. Juliet was first released in 2009, then in late 2010 Goose released Juliet, Madam Rose and Lolita all at once, which gave rise to the "Three Sisters" nickname. They are typically released once every 12-18 months or so, and since that 2010 release they have not all come out at the same time.

    The first release of Juliet was 60% fresh, 40% aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with blackberries; all subsequent releases have been 100% aged in Cabernet barrels with blackberries. Madam Rose is a Flemish sour (akin to a Flemish Red or Flemish Oud Bruin) aged in wine barrels of unknown type with cherries. I don't think Goose has this on their website anymore, but they used to say it was fermented with a "Roselare" culture---in other words, a Flemish sour bacterial-yeast culture. Lolita is aged in wine barrels of unknown type with raspberries.

    Halia is a "sour peach saison," meaning it is a saison aged in wine barrels with peaches and souring bacteria. It was previously released on draft as Mae; this is it's first bottling. Gillian I haven't had, but everything I've read and been told leads me to believe it is a blend of saison and sour saison aged in wine barrels with strawberries, honey and white pepper. The label doesn't mention this, but Goose has confirmed it is only partially aged in barrels. Gillian was formerly released on draft as Scully (Scully on the X-Files was played by Gillian Anderson, FYI).

    Matilda has been brewed for years, maybe even a decade by now, though it has had two different labels and a recipe tweak or two. Essentially, it is Goose's take on Orval. It is a pale Belgian ale which is dry-hopped and then bottled with brettanomyces. It is not sour, in other words, but funky (remember, brett has little effect on sourness, which mostly comes from bacteria). It used to be released/available in a single two-week period in September, but since 2009 has been year-round. Sofie was debuted in 2009 and made year-round in 2010. It is 80% saison, 20% saison aged in wine barrels with oranges and brettanomyces; it is also bottled with brett. Not a sour, in other words, but funky. Pere Jacques has had at least two distinct recipes, both of them in the dubbel/quad/Belgian dark ale/Belgian strong dark ale mold. The older recipe was when it was a seasonal (February, I think) release, and was 9% alcohol. In 2009, Goose Island changed the recipe and made it year round. It is not sour and contains no wild yeast. Pepe Nero was first bottled in 2011, though it had previously been released on draft. It is a "black saison" brewed with peppercorns. No wild yeast, no souring organisms.

    Fleur was sort of emblematic of Goose's loose attitude towards describing their beers, as you alluded to. When it first came out, they described it as a beer brewed with hibiscus leaves, and was 7% alcohol. Subsequently, they claimed it was brewed with both hibiscus and kombucha, and was 7% alcohol. Then they claimed it was brewed with hibiscus, blended with kombucha, bottled with wild yeast, and oh, by the way, we screwed up, it's actually 5.4% alcohol and always was that way. Whatever, communications issues aside, it definitely has always had wild yeast added at bottling.

    I hope that clears up your questions.
  5. gatornation

    gatornation Poo-Bah (3,257) Apr 18, 2007 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    this was a great post and read
  6. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    @Dupage25 You totally went above and beyond anything that I was hoping for. That was a brilliant explanation and exactly what I was looking for. I really hope a lot more people get to see that description. Now, if that was all on their website, then it would be a no-brainer for me to get them.

    Totally gonna shoot for the original 3 Sisters first and work my way down. Now, I gotta go through all my old photos and see if there is a still a Fleur around here because I love kombucha and hibiscus.

    I really want to try Matilda and have yet to have Orval, because I wanted to open it up on the bottling date but forgot about it so am waiting a whole 'nother year.
    skinsfan and BottleCaps80 like this.
  7. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Zealot (595) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    Hey....let's all give Dupage25 cheers like he deserves for that awesome post!
    a74gent, TATURBO, sacrelicio and 5 others like this.
  8. cestlavie

    cestlavie Disciple (392) Oct 27, 2011 New York

    Just a comment on Fleur AND Lolita... both use the Matilda as a base beer (similar to how Big John, Nightstalker and BCBS/Variants use Cook County Stout as their base). Other than that, pretty spot on... not sure about the Fleur being only 5+%... that's new to me, but hey you learn something new every day. Was always under the assumption it was 7% because of the Matilda base...
    1up and gillagorilla like this.
  9. cestlavie

    cestlavie Disciple (392) Oct 27, 2011 New York

    FYI- Dominique was an unintentionally sour'd F up on a batch of Matilda, that was then put into BCBS used bbls and released as an extremely rare draft-only 1 off. Ask the folks here in NY- one of the most amazing screwups in brewing history. Shit was AMAZING.
  10. TjackAttack

    TjackAttack Initiate (0) May 9, 2013 Texas

    Here's a nice little video giving the background of the so-called "Four Sisters"

    Edit: Mainly about the two newest sisters, Halia and Gillian
  11. MarcWP

    MarcWP Initiate (0) Dec 2, 2012 Arizona
    Beer Trader

    Gillian is a brother from another mother
  12. atomic

    atomic Disciple (328) Sep 22, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Fleur is one of my favorite GI brews. Unfortunately some of it didn't age well. The bottles I had thankful were all delicious until just a few weeks ago when I had my last one [sad] but I tried some from a keg earlier this year and it tasted like spoiled fruit.
    BedetheVenerable and KevSal like this.
  13. MarcatGSB

    MarcatGSB Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2011 Michigan

    We hung onto a sixth barrel and tapped it in early September...thought it tasted great. Bottles are still aging pretty well, as I have a few stashed away. We drank a 1/6th barrel in May, and at that point I thought it had fallen off. Felt like it was pretty mute, and unexciting. We did taste it right after super fresh Sofie Paradisi, so maybe that wasn't a fair comparison. Still a great beer, IMO, and wish they would brew more.

    Dominique was a wonderful beer. Honestly, one of my most memorable beers in the last 4 years.
    cestlavie likes this.
  14. mfnmbvp

    mfnmbvp Poo-Bah (2,397) Nov 28, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I would scoop up a Gillian and a Halia first, if I were you. Y'know, before it's too late. :wink:
  15. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, I will have my eyes peeled for them. I just don't expect to see them in MD that soon. We get everything about a month late unless the brewery is on the East Coast. Also, luckily here in MD most stuff sticks around for quite a bit. It also helps that I only buy 1 of bombers/750s.
  16. crashdavisinoh

    crashdavisinoh Initiate (0) May 24, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    anyone know the $$$ for these?
  17. Dupage25

    Dupage25 Aspirant (279) Jul 4, 2013 Antarctica

    Not sure in Ohio, but in Illinois it's more or less:

    Gillian: $30 per 765ml
    Halia: $26 per 765ml
    Juliet: $22-$26 per 765ml
    Lolita: $20-$25 per 765ml

    Matilda/Sofie/Pere Jacques/Pepe Nero: $9.99 per 765ml, $11.99 per 4-pack

    Madame Rose have never been released in the new bottle format (765ml), so not sure yet.
  18. crashdavisinoh

    crashdavisinoh Initiate (0) May 24, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

  19. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Ouch. I didn't realize they were so expensive. I'm gonna get the small size Juliet and Lolita's (we still got a bunch).
  20. zefarrett

    zefarrett Initiate (0) Oct 19, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Im hoping to find some Juliet around the baltimore area. Had my first sour over the weekend and it was delicious!
  21. cestlavie

    cestlavie Disciple (392) Oct 27, 2011 New York

    Welcome, brother! I usually like when people say they can't stand sours though, just means more for me!
    Christopper likes this.
  22. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    May I ask what was your first sour was? What turned you to the Sour Side?
  23. zefarrett

    zefarrett Initiate (0) Oct 19, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Ive wanted to try sours for awhile but they are on the more expensive side. I finally asked an employee about them and he said this was a good starting one. . I thought it was pretty tasty. Not overly dry and tart or vinegarish and was more subtle and a great way to slowly break into the sour genre. I had another after it of a different one and it had the vinegar taste and was much more in your face. Id like to try more!!
  24. adamant1912

    adamant1912 Disciple (371) Jan 10, 2010 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Just found a random fleur in Hillsdale, MI so they're still around. Not sure how it is going to hold up but I'm going to drink it soon and I'll report back if I remember.
  25. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, that is one of the standard introductory sours. I would definitely recommend anything by Rodenbach: Classic, Grand Cru, Vintage and Charactere Rouge.
  26. MrRockstar

    MrRockstar Initiate (157) Sep 9, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Not sure where in Ohio you are but I picked them all up in Columbus last week and they were each about $2 cheaper than the Illinois prices listed above
  27. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    So, I just called GI and alerted them to a minor issue on their website; the fact that Madame Rose isn't listed anywhere on their Beer page but is still up through a hyperlink on their Beer Calendar page. So, it turns out they don't have it up their because they want to fully retire her and have no plans on making her again.

    However, I asked about why they have all those other beers up on Blasts From The Past and apparently that is because they plan to brew them again. Obviously, some of their are more reasonable and easily brewed than others, but that was a bit of good news with the bad news. Well, hopefully this is new news.
  28. SourMalt

    SourMalt Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2013 New York

    Just wanted to comment on the price issue. I think there are some definite price-gouging/supply-and-demand issues going on. I just picked up all four of the sisters for $9 each. Another store had them for $10 and another for $12. These were all in Queens... In Manhattan and Brooklyn, however, I see that they are going for $20 or $22. What's up with this? Usually beers are more expensive in NYC, by the way. Any thoughts on this? P.S. I've never tried any of them and am excited to do so.
  29. jb123

    jb123 Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    uhhhh. ill take three of each and send u the money holy crap.
  30. RWNay

    RWNay Disciple (346) Oct 7, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    If you hit up the right stores, the prices are much cheaper.

    Gillan - $24.99
    Halia - $21.99
    Juliet - $18.99
    Lolita - $18.99

    At least that is what I paid for mine around the Chicago burbs....
  31. azorie

    azorie Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    SOUND like its time to ask them who make it via email. I cannot even understand your question that well...
  32. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Initiate (0) Feb 15, 2005 Minnesota

    Just to clarify, brett does NOT sour a beer at all? I swear I've had 100% brett beers that have been sour. Otherwise, great post!
  33. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,469) Aug 29, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I don't know about the $9 per bottle pricing. There were some comments to that effect (from NY) on another thread about the Sisters, but if it was a supply/demand/price inflation issue, I imagine we'd see more than just one market with the "actual" prices.

    Every other market I've seen or heard from regarding these beers reflects the ~$20 and up price range. Here in Kansas City, they were as follows:

    Lolita $19
    Halia $22
    Gillian $27
    Juliet (didn't see this one on shelves because it was sold out everywhere I went)

    It seem like maybe NY had some sort of distributor mix-up perhaps? Or has anyone else seen these beers for $10 or less?
  34. RobinLee

    RobinLee Zealot (587) Feb 15, 2012 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Wisconsin here.

    Lolita: $17
    Haven't seen Halia or Gillian, but I suspect they'd be $20+ based on the trends in this thread.
    Sofie/Matilda/Pepe Nero/Pere Jacques: $11/4pk. Got a 2012 Sofie 22oz for $8, so there's that.
  35. GatorLCA

    GatorLCA Aspirant (290) Dec 29, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Careful how you step down or transfer to other brews by drinking Halia at a tasting. After drinking some stronger IPAs then trying to use this as a palette cleanser, it tasted like Pickles. It was very interesting and damn good, however, eat some smoked cheese along with Halia. Once you do that, it's what it should taste like, peaches, or drink this out of the gate.
  36. SourMalt

    SourMalt Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2013 New York

    I think you're right in that it isn't price gouging. $20-30 is likely the msrp. I think sometimes NYC gets a large supply of certain things and these Queens stores are using it as a way to get you in the door to buy other things. Maybe? (This worked by the way. I also bought a vintage Vapeur de Cochon 1996, but this seemed reasonably priced as well at $14. I have no idea what it's going to taste like. Have had it fresh on draft and really liked it. Never had a beer that old.)
  37. 4DAloveofSTOUT

    4DAloveofSTOUT Poo-Bah (2,276) Nov 28, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I think GI is getting outta control with the mark up for thier beers. I really want to try Gillian and Halia, but $30 a bottle for a beer...I pass on both of them the other day and opted for Pipeworks beers instead...
    TATURBO likes this.
  38. Jonada

    Jonada Champion (840) May 23, 2012 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Anyone know why the higher price for Gillian? Or the relatively large price differences among the 4 of these? Seems strange that the most expensive beer is the only one that isn't entirely barrel aged.
  39. 4DAloveofSTOUT

    4DAloveofSTOUT Poo-Bah (2,276) Nov 28, 2008 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    GI rep told me that its because of Gillian being a very small batch. I find this hard to believe because I have seen it all over the place like the 3 sisters were last year. And in some places 3 sisters are still on the shelf.
    beerhan likes this.
  40. gillagorilla

    gillagorilla Meyvn (1,250) Feb 27, 2013 Maryland
    Beer Trader

    These are the prices at the local price gouger (only place I've seen it at so far, but I haven't been many places):

    Juliet $30
    Lolita $22
    Halia $28
    Gillian $35
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