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New Goose Island Clybourn Brewmaster Brings Chef's Sensibility to Brewing

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Feb 9, 2010 7:40PM

New Goose Island brewmaster Jared Rouben (Chuck Sudo)

Since Goose Island renewed the lease on their Clybourn brewpub at the last minute in 2008, they've been actively moving forward to improve both the quality of both its beers and its food. John Manion's short stint at the brewpub laid the foundation to the new menu advancements of current chef Andrew Horza. Hroza is a certified cicerone and well-qualified to know the intricacies between pairing beer with food.

Goose Island recently promoted longtime Clybourn brewmaster Wil Turner to senior brewer. Taking over as the brewmaster for the brewpub is Jared Rouben, who brings a chef's palate to his craft. Rouben is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and worked in the kitchens of Thomas Keller's Per Se in Manhattan and Todd Humphries's California restaurant, The Martini House. Somewhere during his time at Martini House, Rouben caught the beer bug and came to Chicago to attend Siebel Institute of technology for brewing school. "In addition to going to Siebel, I found that most of the beer fans here are passionate and vocal about why they love the stuff," he said.

Sunday afternoon, Rouben led me through a sampling of six different blends of a coffee stout he brewed called "Rind Grind." The basic recipe used a pound of beans from organic coffee company Crop to Cup. "Jacob (Elster, Crop to Cup's Midwest CEO) and I are old friends from culinary school and, when he heard that I was working at Goose Island, said that we had to do something together."

Two versions of Rind Grind — one brewed with six different orange rind styles and Szechuan peppercorns, the other using shaved Tahitian vanilla — showed an attention to detail and a vision for how Rouben wanted the beer to taste, while using these ingredients in sufficient quantities as to not overpower the malts or hops in the beer. His culinary background was beneficial in the recent collaboration beer he brewed with Rob and Allie Levitt of mado. The Levitts will be teaming up with Rouben for another collaborative ale using cocoa nibs provided by Allie Levitt

Rouben has also worked on a shaved ice wort with L2O's Laurent Gras. Next week, Paul Virant and his staff from Vie will be at Goose Island Clybourn next week to collaborate with Rouben on a spiced ale they're calling "Goose con Vie." "I like to brew in small batches and experiment with the flavors. Eventually we'll be bringing in some firkins, throw some beer in those and see how the flavor profile changes as it sits," Rouben said. he's also working on obtaining his Cicerone certification so that he and Hroza can mesh the beers and brewpub food better.