Ten Hills Pale Ale is the first of a three-beer series from Goose Island that will celebrate hops. The materials that I received from the brewery give no clue as to what the other two will be.
Ten Hills Pale Ale gets its name from the ten hills of hops originally planted for the brewery two years ago by Elk Mountain Farms in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. The relationship between the brewery and the hop farm has grown since that planting. 200,000 hills are now grown exclusively for Goose Island.
Say what you will about the sale to AB-InBev, the relationship has allowed Goose Island to do things like this; things it likely wouldn’t have been able to do before. As brewmaster Brett Porter put it in the press release for Ten Hills, “More than ever before in our brewing history, we’re innovating at Goose Island,” Porter said. “Whether we’re creating a new hop-focused series of beers or further developing our barrel aging program. It’s an incredibly exciting time at Goose Island.”
Here’s my notes:
Aroma: Hops and malt are in nearly equal balance. Sweet-ish maltiness is almost like a double IPA. Hints of biscuit. Hops still narrowly take the day. Thick, stone fruit and tropical fruit aromas – pineapple, mangoes, apricots – like a roll of Lifesavers or canned-fruit syrup. Tropical enough that I swear I smell coconut, but I don’t think I really do. Underlying notes flowers and spice.
Appearance: Medium copper color and slightly hazy. Good stand of persistent, off-white foam.
Flavor: Stoney bitterness that bites the back of the throat on the way out. Buckets of fruit – blood oranges, pineapple, especially pineapple, mango, peach or apricot. So much fruit. The flowers and spice carry over from the aroma, offering a counterpoint to the fruit. Surprisingly high level of malt again gives it a moderately sweet profile. The sugar melds with caramel and biscuit flavors that start small and then pop mid-palate. Finish is dry with lingering bitterness and fruit.
Mouthfeel: Medium body, but with a sugary thickness. Medium-high carbonation. Sticky.
Overall Impression: At 6.2% ABV it’s definitely on the high-test and full-bodied end of the pale ale spectrum; really more IPA-like, but with a low IBU of 48. It’s almost got the syrupy fruitiness of a double IPA, but without the alcohol or abrasive bitterness. Is this the long-awaited session imperial IPA? The dry finish says that attenuation was high, but the impression is still of a beer with a good deal of residual sugar. This would be good with the pineapple-sambal pulled-pork sliders I paired to at a tasting event last week.