Chicago-based Goose Island Brewery will now pasteurize its Bourbon County stouts.
Goose Island, which is owned by Anheuser Busch, announced in a Thursday blog post its plans to use flash pasteurization, a process in which the beer is heated and then quickly cooled to slow microbe growth.
The change comes after unwanted bacteria spoiled some of last year’s Bourbon County stouts.
Ray Daniels, founder of the Cicerone Certification Program for beer servers, said quality is a big deal at $20 a pint.
“There’s been some experiences in the last year that led to some issues for the company, and for people who brought the product,” Daniels said. “This is a step that will eliminate the quality issue, and I think has very little downside from a flavor point of view.”
In the post, Goose Island brewmaster Jared Jankoski pointed out many other well-respected breweries use pasteurization.
He added that “many teams of trained” taste testers had not been able to tell the difference between the pasteurized and unpasteurized beers.
There is a segment of beer lovers who believe pasteurization hurts the flavor.
When asked if the change would hurt Goose Island’s beer credibility, Daniels let out a loud, long sigh.
“To the purists, yes,” Daniels said. “In this day and age people … drink with their heads, so just knowing the beer is pasteurized will cause some purists, ultra-geeks, to decry the change, and they’ll swear up and down they can taste the difference, and probably won’t buy it as much.
“But that just means there will be more Bourbon County stout for the rank-and-file beer drinker.”
Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him @pksmid.