Goose Island is among a number of breweries in the country that have established a profitable base with their year-round offerings, allowing them the luxury of playing in the sandbox, so to speak. The result? They produce some really fine specialty beers.
These may not sell as much, but I'll take a Night Stalker Imperial Stout any day over the brewery's 312 or Honker's Ale.
Night Stalker has a great balance between malty, sweet and roast. It has a chewy mouthfeel without venturing into syrup territory. The chocolate, caramel and black malts combine to provide a sharp, fruity, dark red wine background character to the beer. The chocolate malt has more of a rich cocoa flavor, with coffee notes more in the background.
It's smooth, carbonated just right and the high 11.7 percent alcohol content does not show up in the flavor. The hops are just the right amount to temper the sweetness and do not add any odd flavors to take away from the malty goodness.
It looks as good as it tastes, with the black liquid stout contrasting with a thick, dark brown head that made me think of a molasses or chocolate chip cookie. I would love to have a keg of this just sitting in my house all year round to sip at my leisure.
Goose Island beers are available in all 50 states, and its specific Beer Finder is at www.gooseisland.com/pages/beer_finder/332.php.
However, a statement on the page caught my eye. It states, "Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio do not permit the display of retailer information. Wisconsin does not permit the display of bar and restaurant information."
What possible reason can there be for this? Are politicians being lobbied by bar owners or retailers? Are they deluded into thinking people will drink less if they can't find a bar or retailer in a Beer Finder link? Do they know that the same information can be found in any number of other media, even an old-fashioned phone book?
Craft brewing is one of the few growing industries in the U.S. The breweries in these states are providing jobs and taxes at a time when there are problems with both. Not allowing them to provide information on where to buy their products is a no-win situation all the way around.