Ed. note: Since Steve Dolinsky is currently in Paris, veteran blogger Andrew Gill attended this event in his place.
Last night I attended Goose Island's launch event for their new beer, Green Line Pale Ale. That name signifies the Chicago-based mega-microbrewery's resolution to be more eco-friendly than it does the CTA line that runs closest to their facilities. For one thing, the event was at Uncommon Ground on Devon- much closer to the red line, but the home of Chicago's only certified organic rooftop garden. It seems the beer will push sustainability in three major ways.
- The beer's lifecycle. Green Line will only be available on draft in Chicago. No bottles anywhere. (Right on cue NY Times trendpiece on growlers!) It also is a way to track the brewery's efforts to reduce it's carbon footprint in light of an analysis by the Chicago Manufacturing Center. This includes investing in a more efficient grain mill, purchasing renewable energy credits and recycling more and more of the brewery's solid waste. They've set up a website to report on their continuing efforts.
- Encouraging local bars to push sustainability. Goose Island CFO Tony Bowker shared a story about how the brewery previously switched to corn-based plastic cups, hoping they'd compost more easily. Unfortunately Chicago has no composting facility up to the task and Bowker considered the effort a flop. This, he says, underlines why it's important to consider the whole chain of distribution. Goose Island will be encouraging the bars that sell Green Line to think about new ways to be sustainable. If the beer's name and pledge to purchase one square foot of rain forest for each pint sold wasn't enough to remind bartenders to think green, the tap handle made of trees killed by the emerald ash borer should remind them.
- Supporting other green ventures in Chicago. Anyone who's wandered through a street festival knows Chicagoans will flock to any event with free beer. Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat is already synonymous with outdoor music in Chicago, now Green Line wants to wet whistles at events for "green community partners." Full disclosure: Goose Island supplies drinks for many Chicago Public Radio events.
So, what does the beer actually taste like? I thought it was kind of like an India Pale Ale with training wheels. Brewmaster Greg Hall said his inspiration for Green Line was mixing 312 with Goose Island IPA at the Pitchfork Music Fest. I think that's exactly what it tastes like- a session beer with just enough bitterness to be interesting. With the craft beer marketplace lately skewing heavily toward hop-heavy IPAs, Green Line is a nice pale ale for the non-beer geek. When you consider that Goose Island could have just made a Powerpoint presentation to tout their environmental efforts, it tastes even better.