Wild Goose IPA

Posted on 05.14.08 9:19PM under Free Beer, IPA, Tasting

I promised to drink one of the beers that the fine folks at Flying Dog sent me. And I did it. It was hard work, drinking a beer, but I am a true warrior, and I pulled it off with amazing ease. After descending into my basement and pulling open the heavy beer-laden door of my beer-filled fridge, I leaned down with the weight of a thousand ounces of beer weighing on me to grab that one simple bottle of Wild Goose IPA.

This beer poured crystal clear and an orangey-reddish-brown color, much like you’d expect from an IPA. I learned at the CBC from one of the malt guys that Crystal malts give a more red hue while the chocolate/roasted family of malts give more of a brown hue. I would call the Wild Goose a crystal malt colored beer. But then again, who would use chocolate malts in an IPA? Unless it was a black IPA…

The head on the beer was teeny tiny, diminutive, petite. But that didn’t stop it from having a nice carbonated feel in the mouth, thankfully.

The initial aroma was subtle, at its most intense. There was little smell at all for a moment. Then it hit me. The dreaded smell. The D-word. Diacetyl was present in this beer. Suddenly I panicked. I remembered that this had won in an English IPA category. The English love diacetyl. Or so I’ve heard. Or something. BJCP doesn’t call out diacetyl in an English IPA, but this bad boy won the gold, and presumably the diacetyl didn’t go unnoticed in the judging. Unless I have no idea what I’m talking about. But I’m pretty sure I do.

This subtle aroma with a hint of diacetyl was not a good omen, I feared. I was thinking that I was setting myself up for a struggle to the bottom of this glass. Of course, at the end of a long work day, there’s probably no glass of beer that would be truly a struggle… But fortunately, the rest of this beer made a big comeback that really overwhelmed the inital “meh” I was inclined to judge with.

The flavor was intensely bitter, in a nice rich deep way. It was dosed with a heavy hand of hops – in a good way! Besides a full bitterness with just the right amount of edge, there was aslo a nice floral hop flavor, like you might expect from an English beer. Clearly they kept true to the English hops for flavor. This isn’t some sort of a Cascade IPA, it is more like an EKG or other mild floral hop flavor. I also enjoyed a long hop finish. There’s a nice caramel-like malt flavor that stands up relatively well to the hopping. The diacetyl poked through here and there, but it actually played a nice complimentary role to the hops and malts present. I could still live without it, but it wasn’t killing me, either.

Overall this is a pretty good IPA. It isn’t skyrocketing to the top of my list of “Best IPAs Ever” but it is worth a try if you’ve never had it. The only thing I’d change is add some hops to the aroma. I think that’s the memory of San Diego style IPA from the CBC talking. But still, add some aroma hops. I would also get rid of the diacetyl and perhaps use some unfermentable sugar to add that round sweetness to the flavor, but I think I might be overly sensitive to the big D.

One final note on this beer. I think that the label is boring, at best. I guess there’s something to be said for simplicity, but this is just not really an enticing label. Sure, it’s well presented, and I’m sure it’s theoretically sound from a graphics standpoint (actually I’m not sure – I’m just assuming it is – I have no graphic design training whatsoever, in case you couldn’t tell from my own label designs). Something about this label is boring with a capital “B” to me. This is especially evident when you see this beer next to a bunch of Flying Dog beers, with their characteristically energetic labels. Seems like it’s probably the same label that they’ve been using since their inception in 1989. I could see how they could be hesitant to change the label after so many years. But I think the time has come. Mabye a contest to make a new Wild Goose IPA label?

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  1. Posted by Ed on 05.15.08 9:16 PM

    The ideal opportunity for anyone out there to validate or recant what you are saying about beer in cans is to come to Springfest at the beach where they will have the opportiunity to taste good beer in cans along side all the traditional bottled brews and make their own determination. Over 150 beers – all the beer reps and some of the brewers and owners will be there. Tickets are still available at the advance sale price of $25 per person at Gordons Yellow Front on Colman St., New London. Seasonals and traditional styles available as well. 6 -9 p.m. at Ocean Beach Park Friday.May 16