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This Waltzing "Matilda" Could Cure Tom Traubert Of His Blues

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 28, 2005 4:30PM

With apologies to Eric Zorn if it weren’t for Phil Rosenthal’s media columns and “The Boondocks” Chicagoist’s Bridgeport correspondent would have no concrete reasoning for actually reading the Tribune. However, when someone (um, Scott Smith) clues us to an article like this from Tuesday’s edition of the World’s Greatest Newspaper (an aside to Neil Steinberg: that’s the Tribune’s slogan) and asks us if we can work a local angle into this we’re happy to oblige, being one of the new kids around here, humping to please.

Unlike Whole Foods, we have no definitive opinion one way or another on wine versus beer. We like to challenge our palate and imbibe depending on what we feel like drinking at the time. Now, should the occasion involve an open bar, even better. Our motto is “If it’s free, it’s for me.” There are some restrictions to the rule. Appletinis are verboten and common sense prevented us from ordering long island iced teas or blue motherfuckers at weddings even when we were at an age when doing so could’ve been chalked up as a youthful indiscretion. Otherwise it’s a hard-and-fast rule. We also feel that if the average American beer drinker drifted away from the Bud/Miller/Coors unholy trinity and plunged into craft beers that Tribune article might be even more meaningless. But we digress.

Our rule came in handy for this after-work tasting we attended last night at the Goose Island brewery on West Fulton. Ostensibly the two-hour affair was to celebrate American Beer Month. Goose Island beers were paired with fresh seafood dishes from the Plitt Seafood Company. However, brewmaster Greg Hall and his staff had a surprise for the attendees.

Last night Goose Island previewed their long-awaited “Matilda” ale, the newest addition to their reserve line which also includes “Demolition”, “Pere Jacques”, and “Bourbon County Stout”. After the jump we’ll give you some review of the beer as a primer for what to expect should you find yourself in either brewpub in the upcoming weeks, or at a liquor store and see the beer on a shelf, and decide to take the plunge.

“Matilda” is brewed in the style of Orval trappiste ale. Orval is one of the six classic Belgian trappiste ales; the others are Rochefort, Achel, Westmalle, Westvleteren, and Chimay. Like “Demolition”, Goose Island’s Belgian-style golden ale, “Matilda” is brewed with Styrian and Saaz hops with a darker malt concentration than “Demolition” and actual Orval yeast added for the fermentation. this gives the beer a rich caramel color with a light yellow head that dissipates quickly when poured into a broad-mouthed glass. “Matilda” has a light citrus aroma, not surprising since it’s brewed with the same hops as “Demolition”. But the Orval yeast adds a smoother characteristic to the beer: it isn’t as sharp on the palate as “Demolition”. “Matilda” also finishes clean but leaves just enough of the hop flavor in the back of your mouth to remind you that you enjoyed a very good beer. It's like a fond memory.

Weighing in at a hearty 7 percent alcohol, “Matilda” is the kind of beer that’ll make you feel like you’re four sheets to the wind in Copenhagen if you overindulge- or really, really witty for referencing Tom Waits songs in your review of the beer. If you take your time drinking it, however, you feel like a better version of yourself. If you just have one, you’ll forget about wine, at least while you’re drinking it.