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Brew Day At Goose Island Clybourn: It's Ready

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jul 22, 2010 7:20PM

2010_07_sai_shan_tea_finished.jpg In less than five hours those of you planning on attending the reader meetup this evening will finally be able to taste what I've been writing about for weeks. Yesterday I finally had an opportunity to sample the final, carbonated, dry-hopped Sai-Shan-Tea. To say that it's exceeded my expectations is an understatement.

What surprised me most about the beer (and what I, Jared Rouben and Rod Markus hope you'll discover, as well) is just how much the Emperor's Lemon Meritage tea influences the beer from nose to finish. The final dry-hopping done with the tea enhanced the nose and mouthfeel, giving Sai-Shan-tea the shandy-like smoothness I envisioned when we knew this was the tea we were going to use. Rouben has been stoked about the beer from the moment it went into the fermentation vessel. Markus is more of a mellow sort, a go-with-the-flow guy; he's also been animated about the beer.

By contrast, I'm more guarded and realistic in my expectations. From the moment the three of us decided to brew together, I've been the one who asked "What if?", even as everyone who tasted the beer during its journey to the tap this evening offered positive reviews and congratulations on its creation. Now I know is that the three of us brewed something special. Markus, who's accustomed to collaborations, calls Sai-Shan-Tea "one of the most profound creations (he's) ever been a part of" while Rouben is gearing up showcase this beer at the Great American Beer Fest in September. I haven't really allowed myself to feel proud of being a part of this. Until last night.

Brewing this beer has been a learning experience, certainly a rewarding one. Russ Chibe of Homebrewers Pride of the South Side, who collaborated on Metropolitan's I-Beam Alt with Doug Hurst, wrote in an e-mail to me last night that it's a wonderful experience working with a professional brewer and to receive feedback from true beer geeks. He's absolutely right and I'm at the point where I can finally allow myself to be stoked for this beer.

I hope that you will be, as well.