This fall, two beers—the Halia and Gillian—joined the family of Goose Island’s famed vintage beers, and Halia might be the most accomplished beer in this lineage.
Mind you, this beer’s siblings aren’t slouches. They all play with fruit, from the pleasantly sour notes derived from Sofie’s flirtation with orange peels to Lolita’s love of fresh raspberries and Juliet’s affection for blackberries. But Halia’s intense affair with peaches (12,000 pounds of the fruit, all sourced from Michigan) joins forces with Amarillo hops and a blend of malts that includes pilsner and terrified wheat. Then everything is lovingly aged in white wine barrels. The end result is a complex experience—an apt description for any successful, long-lasting relationships.
As you’d expect, it pours bright and beautiful, a slightly opaque orange, with a quarter-inch of head that fades slowly in a tulip glass, lacing the sides like sea foam. The aroma is equally effervescent—pear, dried apricot, peach, a hint of almond, and steady undercurrent of barn house funk. Yet despite that insane number of fruit used in making the beer, the flavors are surprisingly layered. Expect pineapple, honey, apricot, and—of course—peaches, all riding on a current of wheaty goodness. But the presence of Brett keeps Halia from becoming cloyingly sweet, and the oak from the barrels imparts a density that you’d typically associate with a high-end wine. The finish is crisp and tart, with echoes of a dry white wine mixed with another round of peach.
The success of Halia may be anchored to the brewery’s reason for its creation. The Goose Island website says that the beer, whose name is Hawaiian for “remembrance of a loved one,” was made in honor of a brewer’s friend who loved peaches.
Like its sisters, the ale packs a strong punch, with a 7.5% ABV that belies the often less-potent character typically associated with farmhouse ales. As with their other vintage beers, the ale has been bottle-conditioned, meaning its flavors will continue to develop for up to five years. That may be longer than most of your own amorous relationships. But don’t hold that against Goose Island.
City: Chicago, IL
Style: Belgian Farmhouse Ale
Availability: Limited in 762ML bottles