by guest blogger and New York writer Seanan Forbes
If bringing home a bottle of Goose Island feels like turning your kitchen into a friendly local bar, then there's good reason. Brewmaster Greg Hall honed his craft at the Siebel Institute, but Goose Island started small. His father founded it in 1988, as a brewpub.
"Brewpubs are great," Hall says, "because you control the process, all the way to the pint." Brewpubs also don't need to register new beers, so brewers are free experiment. Hall cites another asset: getting direct guidance and feedback. Do customers like something? Want something? The brewer can try making it. "A brewpub's a great way to start, as a brewer," he says.
In 1995, Goose Island started its second pub and began packaging. Now, the Chicago beer is in 20 states, and it's expanding . . . in more than one way.
"There's a new drinker - a whole bunch of new drinkers - out there," Social drinkers are out having fun. "When you're out having fun, you're probably drinking beer, too," Hall remarks.
About the new drinkers, he says, "They didn't used to drink craft beer, but they drink craft beers now." Goose Island makes craft and traditional brews. There's also something for "reserve beer drinkers, who are getting out of cocktails or wine, and into beer." They're not giving up wine and cocktails; they're just drinking beer, too. For them, there are Belgian style ales. (Kids don't need to feel left out. Goose Island has sodas, too.)
Drinkers aren't the only ones who are changing. Producers see the world differently. "For a long time," Hall notes, "we thought that there were beer occasions and there were wine occasions, and they were different occasions." Now, he happily sells beer at what were once seen as "wine occasions."
With summer looming, many of us are breaking out the grills. What does Hall recommend drinking with grilled foods?