Every time I drink a beer like Goose Island’s “Lolita”, I like to reflect upon the changes in the beer industry over the last 30 years. What would the response have been to a Belgian Style Wild Ale aged in wine barrels with raspberries at your average American bar in 1987? Laughter? Bewilderment? Anger? Skepticism followed by another swig of American Lager swill? Would your average bar patron in 1987 have even tried a sip after bringing it up to their face and experiencing the sour aroma? I’m not sure any of those questions have an affirmative answer, but in 2017, at your above-average beer bar, I think it would get very positive reviews.
When trying this brew for myself last night, I was initially surprised at the medium amber color with a slight tinge of rouge. Usually, when a brewery attempts to ferment a beer on a red fruit, it’s obvious pinkish-red tint really gives it away. I’m guessing some of that may have faded in the barrel aging process, but it was nonetheless a surprise. The aroma was very tangy with notes of wood chips and very little fruit, it seemed.
But then the taste! In the first 8 or so sips, this beer is very pink fruit and woody barrel forward with a shocking amount of effervescence considering the utter lack of head at the pour. It reminded me of drinking a Cava or another bubbly white wine of the sort! The pink fruit flavor tastes very true, and not syrupy or artificial, with a hint of grapefruit. The further into the bottle you get, the more you start to experience the wildness of the Wild Ale. The tart and strong earthy flavors are very pleasant but withdraw this beer from the “session” style of beers. One 750 ml bottle of this will really let you experience the beer, but I’m not sure I’d reach for a second in the same sitting since your pallet really gets a workout.
So, as I finished my glass of Goose Island’s Lolita and thought back on a different era of American beer, I think we should all wonder at the innovation happening in the industry and be glad we aren’t stuck with a boring beer at sub-par bar. The styles and flavor profiles being used by modern brewers make enjoying a beer possible for nearly all consumers. And boy, what a time to be alive!