Beer alert: Goose Island Toronto is turning four and hosting tasting events this week

This article is sponsored by Goose Island


Goose Island Toronto is turning four years old, and the craft brewery is welcoming you back to the Brewhouse on the Esplanade with a week’s worth of events to celebrate. They’ve had a lot of time to plan. 

Like all local bars and restaurants, it’s been a strange year for the brewpub and one that has involved a number of pivots. The Toronto outpost of the Chicago-originated brewery rose to the occasion, quickly launching a canning and delivery service. 

“We were mostly just making beer for pints at the bar or growlers if you wanted something to go. We had a run every now and then, but we weren’t set up like a larger brewery that had cans and bottles all the time,” says Goose Island Toronto head breer Marc Mammoliti. “I’m pretty stubborn, I don’t want to stop brewing ever. I said ‘beer’s not going anywhere and neither am I.’ 

“So what do you do at a time like this when you can’t open your doors? You get the beer out there.”

It was such a hit that now there’s no going back. Takeout and delivery is here to stay. 

But there’s nothing quite like having a cold pint of beer on a patio with your friends, and that’s why Goose Island is so excited to have people back. There’s a front and a back patio, and it’s one of the great spots in the city to enjoy a cold one: there are hops growing, heat lamps if it gets cold – even a real-life Banksy on one of the walls. 

“We haven’t been able to have a pint of beer for most of the last year, and that’s just the best feeling,” gushes Mammoliti. “Being able to drink a can of fresh beer at home is definitely enjoyable, but being able to sit and have a great drink and better conversation, that’s a big part of why a lot of people love beer in the first place. It brings us together. It’s a feeling of acceptance, of sharing with others.”

That’s the feeling Mammoliti looks to evoke from the beer he makes at Goose Island – not pretentious or elitist, with no judgement if you can’t identify the hops used (hint: if you’re sitting on the back patio, they might be growing right in front of you). Instead, he aims to be welcoming to every type of beer drinker. 

In that spirit of being welcoming, Goose Island Toronto is giving multiple chances to celebrate their fourth birthday. On Thursday, July 29, there’s a three-course dinner with special beer pairings – and if you can’t make it in person, there’s also an at-home experience version. 

On Friday, July 30, it’s the Thank Goose It’s Friday 4th anniversary event. On that day, you can order a flight of four black beers. It’s a take on their usual Black Friday event. That post-Thanksgiving event is when Goose Island Chicago releases their (in Mammoliti’s words) “holy grail of barrel aged beers,” the Bourbon County Imperial Stout – a hefty 14 per cent dark beer with a serious cult following. Summer wouldn’t usually be the time to release it, but they missed the Black Friday event this past year and we’re all making up for lost time. 

This year, Goose Island Toronto will have its own barrel-aged beer – an English-style barleywine called Heavy Lifting. Mammoliti walks us through the brewing process in which one malt is boiled for hours until its caramelized, creating a big, strong, almost syrupy flavour. From there, the beer goes into the bourbon barrels and aged, bringing in the oaky bourbon flavour and smoothing out the flavour. “It’s a really nice sipper,” says Mammoliti. 

That’s one of many new Goose Island anniversary exclusives from this year of experimenting. Easy Target is a refreshing easy-drinking blonde ale, an old favourite coming back for more. Brainwave is a double IPA that is “a true expression of hops that makes you say ‘wow,’ says Mammoliti. Sour beers are all the rage right now across the city, and Goose Island finally has its own – Sunbather, a tropical punch sour “which is a little story of what summer used to mean to me as a child when I would drink tropical punch by the waterfront,” says Mammoliti. Juice Island Hazy IPA – a “tropical wonderland of flavours” with notes of mango, guava, pineapple and orange – is the first Toronto beer to get a Canada-wide release. 

Then there’s Super Soft Birthday Party, a beer originally brewed for Goose Island Toronto’s first anniversary. This year, they’re doing a new take on it that really feels like a birthday cake. It’s a hazy, juicy IPA with a little bit of lactose milk sugar to bring in the softness, creating something that’s almost like a cupcake or vanilla milkshake. “It’s a fun beer for people to enjoy and for me to make,” says Mammoliti. “It shows everything you can get out of hops.”

“I’ve always held the belief that beer is for the people,” he says. “That’s how I think when I make a new recipe or even brew an old one: I’m making this for everyone, not just me. I want to make a beer that someone would want to have another of. When I see someone order another, I know I’ve met the goal that every brewer has.”

Head to gooseislandtoronto.ca for the full list of events and to order takeout or delivery beer or visit The Goose Island Toronto Brewhouse Located at 70 The Esplanade. 

Instagram: @gooseislandca

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