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Weekly Beer Review: Goose Island Green Line

Green Line – Pale Ale
Goose Island Beer Co.
$1.99/Bottle (12 oz)
Grade: B

The Beginning:
It’s been unseasonably warm out- so much so that I actually went for a trail run (for those of you playing along at home, just because the air is pleasant does NOT mean the ground isn’t frigid slippery mud). It’s almost enough to make me want summer beers again- and a pale ale is a great summer beer. Besides, I need to start drinking something from Goose Island other than 312. It’s good, and all, but I can’t resist antagonizing my Windy City friends by pronouncing it “Three-Twelve,” and I think they are starting to hate me.

The Brewer’s Pitch:
This beer is (presumably) named after the Green Line, Chicago’s train line between Harlem/Lake and Cottage Grove or Ashland/63rd. I don’t know what any of that means, because I was raised in the country and big-city things confuse and frighten me. I DO know what Goose Island’s description of the beer means- it’s honey gold and sessionable, with citrus brightness and a flaky lightly toasted malt backbone to brace up the crisp bitterness. “Sessionable” is the craft beer version of “Drinkable” in cheaper beer commercials, and means “low enough alcohol content to drink a whole bunch.”

The Beer:
Green Line is clear honey-gold with steadily rising carbonation feeding a coarse dingy-white head. The nose is earthy hops with a sticky character like the sappy smell of a broken pine branch. The beer is surprisingly thick-bodied for a pale ale- it’s tingly and light in flavor, but smooth and a bit sticky in how it coats the palate. The malt is buried in the background but gives the beer some body, a faint bready note with very light toastiness. The hops are the star of the show- a blend of pine and sweet citrus, tangy and clear. The bitterness is light and tingles on the palate rather than settling on the tongue, although in the aftertaste there’s a soft flush of a stronger, earthier bitter juniper taste.

The Breakdown:
This is a pretty good pale ale, especially since I’m not the style’s biggest fan. Generally if I like a pale it’s an Imperial IPA, with enough body to stand up to the hops. This is very different, but also very tasty. The hops are used with care, and these strains give a bitterness that keeps the palate clean without blowing it out on bitterness. The aftertaste is a bit stale but overall this is definitely a good one, the sweetness balances nicely. If you’re a pale ale drinker this would make a good session beer, and if you’re new to the hops-focused brews it could make a gentle introduction.

The Bottom Line:
While researching the Chicago Green Line, I did discover that as of the time I write this review it is “running on schedule.” So put your mind to rest on that subject.

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