3.4AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 14/20
The word “mild” tends to scare me away when it comes to beer. Most of my favorites are quite intense in more ways than one, so I was a bit skeptical when it came to Goose Island Mild Winter. It purports to be a fairly complex beer and yet mild at the same time – is this even possible? Well, having actually drank it, I can say it is possible to have it both ways.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
The brewer’s website describes the color of Mild Winter as “toffee” – which is something I’d associate with taste rather than appearance, but in this instance it’s quite accurate. This beer is a dark amber/rusty red color which is crystal-clear and moderately carbonated. It produces a big, beige, foamy head which is slow to dissolve but doesn’t leave much lacing on the glass.
The aroma is also toffee-like with a confectionary scent being the most predominant. It’s also generically “malty,” but mostly it’s mild.
Toffee and chocolate and flavors I tend to associate with autumn rather than winter seasonals, but somehow the Goose Island Brewery has managed to make those flavors adapt quite well to winter. Not unlike an Oktoberfest, Mild Winter’s most noticeable flavor is indeed toffee, but chocolate seems to be playing the role of sidekick rather than caramel.
This beer is made with six different malts and two hops and this is evident in the palate. Toffee, chocolate and a general “roasty” flavor are all noticeable. However, what’s also noticeable is just how well this beer lives up to its name: in that is mild. As I drank I noticed the palate went from fairly intense and sweet to mild, subdued, and (as much as I hate to say it) watery.
Goose Island recommends serving the beer at 40 degrees, but I noticed the flavors really opened up after I let the beer sit for a little while. Not that it suddenly exploded with flavor, but enough to make a noticeable difference. It was satisfying, to be sure, but some beer drinkers aren’t satisfied with simply being satisfied.
Winter beers tend to be very spicy and can often intimidate amateur palates. Not so with Goose Island Mild Winter which is in the running for one of the smoothest and easiest-to-drink beers I’ve ever encountered. This could be due to the blatantly mild and fairly watery body, but most likely this is intentional. Pedestrian drinkers will be able to slug down this brew as easy as any “lite” beer and the medium body lends itself to pairing with a wide variety of foods (probably not anything spicy, though).
The fact it weighs in at 5.6% ABV seems a little inflated to me since this drinks and feels like something much milder.
I have to say I genuinely enjoyed Goose Island Mild Winter, but I couldn’t help but want more from this beer. Perhaps that’s unfair for me to expect considering it’s an intentionally mild beer, but at least I can appreciate it’s craftsmanship and relative complexity. It’s a good beer for those looking for a winter brew that drinks like summer brew.