Madame Rose is a bitch. You wouldn’t know it from meeting her; she’s actually very friendly and personable. But to those who have to work with her: Madame Rose is a bitch. I met Madame Rose last week, while attending a Goose Island beer pairing dinner at Todd English. The darkly lit restaurant featured several of Goose Island’s barrel aged beers, and a very unique and diverse food menu.
Chilled Seafood Trio served with 312 Urban Pale Ale
As I walked in, I was handed 312 Urban Pale Ale, named after an area code in Goose Island’s home city of Chicago. The beer was bright and citrusy, both in aroma and in flavor. This is extremely drinkable, with a light body, and a crisp, piney finish.
The first round of food consisted of various small seafood dishes. The oysters were fantastic, with a fresh, salty, ocean taste. The scallop gazpacho had a a delicious charred scallop, but bit of an overpowering cucumber taste; save for the little bit of jalapeño in the dish that provided some very welcomed spice and heat. The lobster spring rolls were incredible (I lost count of how many I ate)! The lobster featured a delicious grilled character to it, while the vegetables provided a nice crunchy texture.
Olive Tapenade & Goat Cheese Flatbread served with Sofie
The second dish was essentially a miniature pizza. It even came in a miniature pizza box. The spicy arugula and the salty prosciutto mixed very well with the dirty olive flavor. The flatbread was paired with Sofie, a wine barrel aged farmhouse style saison fermented with brettanomyces. This funky, spicy, dry beer paired perfectly with all the intense flavors in the flatbread. In fact, I wish I had this beer while eating the oysters. This complex beer would’ve paired greatly with the ocean character in the oysters.
Braised Beef Steamed Buns served with Bourbon County Brand Stout
Next, we stepped aside from the Mediterranean-style dishes and had some Asian inspired beef sandwiches. The braised beef was incredibly tender, and the sweet juiciness provided balance to the chewy steamed buns. More exciting about this dish though was the beer pairing.
Bourbon County Brand Stout is one of Goose Island’s most well known beers, and for good reason. The beer, along with its multiple variants, carries an intense bourbon character. Loads of vanilla, coconut, and wood are blended into the sweet, syrupy imperial stout base. Admittedly though, this beer is very heavy and sweet, and is best enjoyed in small amounts.
Blackberry & Mint Parfait served with Juliet
Dessert was my highlight of the evening. Firstly, you can’t go wrong with a warm brownie covered in vanilla ice cream and blackberries. Secondly, and most importantly, I love sour beers.
Juliet is a wine barrel aged sour beer fermented with blackberries. This beer is brightly acidic and tart, with layers of complex fruit and wood flavors revealing themselves throughout the aroma, flavor, and aftertaste. I would gladly drink this beer again, any day. It was then that I was told that we had a special unplanned guest that evening: Madame Rose.
“Madame Rose is kind of a bitch,” is what I was told before our introduction. “She works on her own timeline, and is only ready when she wants to be ready.” After two years in seclusion, Madame Rose recently announced that she was ready, and to our surprise, arrived in Las Vegas the day of this dinner.
Given what I heard, I was very surprised to find that Madame Rose is extremely approachable. This is a sour brown ale aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with cherries added. Whereas Juliet was sharply sour, Madame Rose is a balancing act between tartness, malt sweetness, and a delicate fruity aroma that lingers in the finish. This beer is the perfect choice for an introduction to sour ales. While it isn’t as sour as most other American sour beers, it still has a complex character that is great fresh, and likely to age wonderfully.
Goose Island began a massive expansion of their barrel program a couple years ago, and Las Vegas is now reaping the benefits. Various variations of Bourbon County Brand Barleywine and Stout have been available in town this year, both on draft and in bottles. The various barrel aged sour beers have also been readily available all across town as well. Hopefully some of you made it out to some of the other Migration Week events and tap takeovers and got the chance try all the rare beers that were available. I look forward to seeing what else Goose Island is able produce in the future!