The Heat is On
Heat coming off a row of giant brewing vessels pervades the lofted second floor of the Goose Island Brewery on Fulton Street in Chicago. The brewery runs around the clock, with workers split into day and night shifts.
Tanks and Tuns
At left, Goose Island's 50-barrel lauter tun, which separates the liquid wort from the mash. At right, 200-barrel fermentation tanks; the inverted cone shape allows the spent yeast to settle at the bottom while the freshly made beer is pumped off from above.
Make it Strain
This special device allows Goose Island to breed and propagate the yeast strains used in its beers. If taken care of, yeast can be re-used in multiple production runs, but over time even happy yeast will lose effectiveness and need to be retired and replaced.
Claudia Jendron and fellow brewer John Laffler, who is one of the key overseers of the barrel-aged beer program.
Seen in Passing
Slender kegs of En Passant, the blood-orange-infused ale co-crafted by brewer Claudia Jendron.
Fruit by the Foot
A container of frozen strawberries, which along with white peppercorn is a major flavor-enhancing ingredient of Gillian, a saison-style beer. Freezing helps break down the fruit's cell walls, allowing more flavor extraction during fermentation.
Bins all containing strawberries for making Gillian.
A clipboard documents a batch of Matilda as it proceeds through the production process. Brewers record every detail, helping to ensure a consistent product.
A pair of pipes extend from the base of a fermentation tank dedicated to producing Matilda, which has become one of the most popular beers in Goose Island's Vintage Ales line.
The Oak Room
A cavernous warehouse space near the Fulton Street brewery is the new home to Goose Island's 3,000-plus bourbon and wine casks that make up its barrel-aged beer program.
A Taste of Heaven
The Heaven Hill Distilleries, in Kentucky, supply Goose Island with the used bourbon barrels the brewery uses to age its highly sought-after Bourbon County Stout.
Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout, here boxed up in the brewery's refrigerated warehouse, has such a loyal following among beer lovers that the periodic limited releases usually sell out in a matter of hours. The recent expansion in capacity of the brewery's barrel-aged beer program is a big step toward meeting the feverish demand.
Tapping the Latest
An intimate tasting room sits on a catwalk overlooking the brewery's main suite of fermentation tanks. Every workday, employees are invited to a 2 p.m. tasting, which functions both as important work and a break from it. Regular group tastings, especially now that some products are made off-site, are hugely important to Goose Island's quality control efforts. Samples from every batch of Goose Island beer made elsewhere are sent to Chicago for tasting and approval.
On a Mission
The latest release in the Fulton & Wood series is Black Mission, a deeply colored Belgian abbey style ale dreamt up by a trio of Goose brewers. The name refers to the puréed California black mission figs added during the secondary fermentation to round out its sweet, fruity character.
A glass of Green Line pale ale, a beer made exclusively for Goose Island's hometown. Green Line is only available locally and in kegs to cut down on the brewery's carbon footprint.
Goose's New Bud
The sale of Goose Island to Anheuser-Busch InBev rankled some craft-beer enthusiasts, who wondered how the corporation's influence would affect the brewery. More than a year later, it would appear that Goose Island's drive to experiment and innovate all remain intact.