I’m Brett Porter. I’m responsible for brewing the flavor of our award-winning beers. I’ve been the Goose Island Head Brewer since May 2010, and was promoted to Brewmaster in April 2011.

PROOF: http://ow.ly/i/4SusF

My team and I are behind some of the country’s new favorite beers including: Gillian, Halia, Lolita, Juliet, Bourbon County Brand Stout, Bourbon County Brand Barleywine, Ten Hills Pale Ale and The Illinois. Today, “3-1-2 Day,” we’re celebrating the debut of our latest beer (312 Urban Pale Ale), so let’s talk.

www.Facebook.com/GooseIslandBeer www.Twitter.com/GooseIsland

UPDATE: I loved the questions, wish I could talk all night but I gotta go celebrate #312day. Check out our new video: http://vimeo.com/88094139 Love ya, Brett.

Comments: 254 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

mark_beeraro59 karma

Have you ever brewed a brett porter, Brett Porter?

GooseIslandBeer42 karma

My colleague brewers, brewed a Brett Porter - it was terrible, no amount of aging improved it.

juicyja7 karma

I rebrett not asking this question first.

maravot13 karma

what a terrible pun. please get stout.

Notorious_Junk8 karma

I guess we'll see him lager.

GooseIslandBeer28 karma

The puns in these replies are running Rampart (so says my colleague brewer, Patrick Reisch).

qungfu35 karma


AB employee in St. Louis here - How has Goose Island changed since being bought by Anheuser-Busch?

GooseIslandBeer34 karma

It's been great for us. We continue to operate as we want to - emphasizing innovation and creativity. Our fans can be confident that Goose Island brewers, like me, are still the ones leading the production of all Goose Island beers.

We have unprecedented access to more hops and malt than we ever did before. I feel like a kid in a candy store!

kosmox20 karma

What advice would you give to someone with no experience in the industry that is looking to get started?

GooseIslandBeer17 karma

They need to get into a brewery. Experience is much more compelling to a potential employer than schooling. Schooling helps though. Its better to get practical experience before schooling, so you know what's important to learn in school. It's much more difficult to get into the industry now than when I started in 1988. If you are determined, you will succeed.

totoropanda20 karma

Hi Brett,

Big fan, love your bourbon county stuff.

  1. What is your favorite variant?
  2. What is your favorite beer that is not Goose Island?
  3. Will we see a vanilla bourbon county again?

Thanks! Dan

GooseIslandBeer25 karma

  1. My favorite variant is backyard rye with the mulberries that we hand picked.
  2. My favorite non-Goose beer is Duchesse de Bourgogne.
  3. Ask your magic 8 ball, and send your answer!

The-Beer-Baron6 karma

Ask your magic 8 ball, and send your answer!

Nice dodge. Seriously, though, why won't you guys do another Vanilla BCBS? That was by-far my favorite variant, if not my favorite beer of all time.

GooseIslandBeer14 karma

We discussed it at length, we haven't decided.

316nuts19 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA! First and most importantly, what's in your glass?

I've had the pleasure of meeting you twice. Once was at the Great Taste of the Midwest where you walked through the Goose line personally pouring Sofie Paradisi and shaking hands with everyone. The second time was at the BCBS Black Friday release last year. You took a very generous amount of time talking to many of the people that had showed up early to brave the cold. I'm sure others have similar stories and it speaks volumes to how much you care about your customers.

A few more questions...

  1. What's in this barrel?!?! More Rare? Different Rare???

  2. You mentioned that your barrel warehouse in Chicago is entirely without climate control. How does this affect the beer and how does it set your barrel program apart from other breweries?

  3. I understand that you have a number of mystery barrels floating around that you have no idea at all what is in them. Do you have any semi-official plan to identify and use them at any point in the future?

  4. What beer style is showing the most growth or changing the most for Goose Island? Are IPAs sales still growing?

  5. Do you think there is craft beer bubble?

  6. Any comments on Hunahpu day?

  7. Speaking of Huna.. would you pretty please hop on the whole 'Mexican/Mayan' stout bandwagon? I really really love stouts with pepper and cinnamon. Pleeeeeaaasseee

Thanks again and cheers!

GooseIslandBeer18 karma

You have some great questions! Here are some responses, we will try to get back to answer all of them later. 1. You have obviously been in our barrel warehouse! We said we would never make a beer called 'Rare' again, and we won't. This is a working title for this beer, the barrels are much older than the Pappy barrels we used to make rare. Got any ideas for names? "Rarer" is not a good bar call. 5. I used to think there was one. There definitely was one in Oregon in the late 90s. I'm not sure now, at last count 17 breweries in Bend, OR a town of 90k people.

thedoorkeep15 karma

A lot of Chicago Breweries are starting to get more attention like Half Acre, Solemn Oath and even Revolution being featured in the movie Drinking Buddies. Are there any illinois breweries you wish more people knew of?

GooseIslandBeer16 karma

I'm partial to the very small start ups like Une Annee that's in our neighborhood.

JoyJoy1214 karma

If you were hot dog and you were starving, would you eat yourself? If so, what beer would you wash yourself down with?

GooseIslandBeer9 karma

Yes I would, without a doubt. I'd wash myself down with Goose Island IPA.

BradChmielewski5 karma

And where is the best place to get a Chicago dog at?

GooseIslandBeer14 karma

The best place to get a dog is Franks and Dawgs on Clybourn Ave. by Goose Island's original pub.

BradChmielewski12 karma

Are we going to see other beers making it into cans?

GooseIslandBeer13 karma

Yes, 312 Urban Pale Ale will be available in 12oz and 16oz cans. We will also put our award winning Goose IPA in a can.

Oh and Ken says Hi!

DutchCraftBeer12 karma

Hi Brett-

Again, many thanks for taking the time to do this AMA.

How do you feel the brewer's world has changed throughout the years, with the strong surge of craft brewing in the last decade?

Also, shameless plug for /r/beer. To the community here: Visit us if this AMA peaked your interest in (craft) beer!

GooseIslandBeer6 karma

Brewers are making fewer stupid mistakes, I could go on forever about stupid things that I have done in my past career. The standards expected by the consumer are higher now. Brewers traditionally share information with other brewers - it's an unwritten code. Brewers are brothers and sisters.

wrectem12 karma

Have you ever though about brewing a Gose? I can't imagine you'd want to miss out on an opportunity to name a beer "Gose Island".

GooseIslandBeer12 karma

It's not really on the top of my grist.

Chloemags11 karma

Thoughts on talking about "our" beer on 3-1-2 Day when the beer itself isn't brewed anywhere near the 312 area code?

GooseIslandBeer19 karma

We made a decision early on that for better or for worse, all the beers with our name on them were our beers. We don't try to hide the fact that we now brew 312 in NY and CO. It is our brewing process, it is our recipe, we use the same ingredients and every batch is vetted by our Chicago taste panel.

This beer was inspired and developed in Chicago, we are pleased to make this beer available across the country. Make no mistake this beer was born in Chicago, and Chicagoans should be proud of it!

jay277011 karma

Two of my favorite books about beer are Beyond The Pale by Ken Grossman (sierra nevada) and Brewing Up a Business by Sam Calagione (dogfish head). Are there any plans for a book about Goose Island's history and future? Thanks!

GooseIslandBeer11 karma

I have no plans to write a book about Goose Island but have a recommendation for a novel about beer, Waterland by Graham Swift. It's full of murder, sex, and brewing a beer that drives the entire village mad.

kyleisdesign10 karma

I was/am a big fan of Fleur. What was the reason for it being retired? Any plans to bring it back?

GooseIslandBeer9 karma

Great question. I am also a fan of Fleur. Production constraints at our brewery keep us from making this beer right now. It is always in the back of my mind to brew it again.

StillAnAss9 karma

What is the most important thing for a new brewery to do in the first six months of operation?

GooseIslandBeer13 karma

Pick two or three beers and concentrate on perfecting them. Don't try to be everything to everyone. There are successful craft breweries in the UK that only brew one beer. Also don't over complicate your recipes. Make sure you keep your yeast healthy.

A_huge_waffle9 karma

What is your favorite beer?

GooseIslandBeer12 karma

So, like a lot of people, the one in my two hands! Right now it is 312 Urban Pale Ale. Another favorite is from the first brewery where I worked in England - Bunces Brewery in Netheravon - a beer called Old Smokey; it is a strong dark, English bitter.

juicyja9 karma

Hi Brett,

If you could have GI sponsor one Chicago event and you got to choose the beer to be served, which event would you choose and which beer would you serve?

GooseIslandBeer15 karma

My dream has come true, Goose Island is a proud sponsor of the thinking persons music festival - Pitchfork. I loved helping make a beer with Killer Mike and El-P for the festival. The beer I would serve would be a collaboration beer with one of the artists appearing this year.

asaphelpschicago6 karma

Hi Brett! Thanks for doing this AMA. I wanted to know if there were any BCBS variations you guys came up with that just didn't work out. If so, what were they. Also, thank you for making BCBS - I'm actually making some BCBS pancakes Saturday morning for a St. Patrick's Day party.

GooseIslandBeer9 karma

Are you in Chicago? Can I come over for pancakes on Saturday?

Last year we tried nine different versions of bourbon county rye variants. Most were rejected, one of the worst ones was my idea, wild Oregon huckleberries. It sounded like a good idea, but the flavor of the seed dominated the flavor of the beer. We also tried a chili beer that had an oil slick on the top of it and burned your mouth for at least two hours.

Dmkaz6 karma


It was great to get a chance to meet you and talk to you in line at Binny's during last year's BCBS Release.

I had a few random questions for you:

  • Any thoughts about this year's Huna Day at CCB? Curious from yours and GI's perspective on what happened and CCB's reaction.

  • BCBS Varients - What have you guys tried in the past that really didn't work out even though you were really rooting for?

  • Rare B2/v2/whatever - We all know of the rumored HH 45yr barrels that supposedly is holding to be the second edition of Rare. Can you comment on if it's just a test run or if you plan to release it on the same scale as you did Rare?

  • How do you feel that you were largely in part of creating one of the most quintessential bourbon barrel-aged stouts?

I tip my hat to your Brett. Being able to mass produce such a quality beer isn't an easy feat and am extremely happy to see it hit distro all over the country. I look forward to the day to where I can go to my local liquor store and pick up a 4 pack of BCBS on the shelf.


GooseIslandBeer7 karma

We haven't been able to mass produce BCBS and we never want to. Thanks for the kind words!

kylenow6 karma

  1. What's your favorite GI brew that isn't sold in stores?

  2. I've got a bottle of Gillian from Sept 2013. What do you think: Should I age it a while or enjoy that sucker now?

GooseIslandBeer8 karma

  1. Baudoinia - a BCBS variant.
  2. Flip a coin, it will be good now and aged.

pmcochr6 karma

Hi, Brett! I live about 60 miles south of Chicago and 312 is my first foray into craft beer. So, a big THANKS to you folks at Goose Island. With that said, what were the steps involved in becoming a Brewmaster?

GooseIslandBeer14 karma

Have you seen how fat I am?

BradChmielewski6 karma

Are there any brewers or breweries that you'd love to do a collaboration with? Or wish you "had" been able too?

GooseIslandBeer11 karma

I'd love to do a collaboration with Leffe in Belgium.

Ken says Hi yet again.

aflath6 karma

Seems like there is a Brewery popping up on every street corner...so I am sure some of them will have some "bad quality" products. What attributes in a beer do you look for/taste for to determine if a beer is poor quality.

Also, what do you think of beers that do not have an expiration date or born on date on the bottle. Do companies do that so they can have their product on the shelves longer by not having an expiration date?

GooseIslandBeer9 karma

I'm going to answer the first part of your question, the second one would take too long since there are too many factors.

I look for off flavors like diacetyl and DMS. I also look for catty hop aromas and beers that are generally out of balance.

Jokermanboy5 karma

huge fan brett, what is your favorite barrel aged stout from another brewery?

GooseIslandBeer11 karma

I like Abyss.

JoeDurp5 karma

What do you think is going to be the next big fad for craft beer?

GooseIslandBeer8 karma

Sour is the new hoppy but it is not a fad, it is here to stay.

white_lightning5 karma

Hey Brett,

As a biologist with experience in microbiology and chemistry, I've been wanting to get into the science side of brewing (yeast and bacteria strains, quality control, etc). What kind of skills are applicable at a smaller craft brewery and how should I present that to some of my local breweries to try and gain some experience?

GooseIslandBeer5 karma

Bring some of your white lightning to the brewery. Seriously, many small breweries need help setting up labs. That's your in!

newbornSIRE5 karma

How many and what kind of cool flavor concepts have been denied?

GooseIslandBeer5 karma

We never reject recipe concepts out of hand. We try them first, then we evaluate them and decide.

We recently rejected gooseberries, a great idea for many reasons but it didn't taste right in the beer.

thedoorkeep5 karma

What are your thoughts on the show Brew Dogs?

GooseIslandBeer15 karma

I haven't watched more than snippets of it, the reason the guys are impossibly handsome and thin and have very exotic accents. I'm jealous. I've been to their hometown of Aberdeen, Scotland in July and it was 48 degrees and rain was coming down sideways. So I don't blame them for getting out of there and doing a TV show.

OrbitalSquirrel4 karma

As a Chicago IT professional who loves beer, I'd like to know how critical to the brewing process IT is. I have a general idea of the beer brewing process, and can think of several ways that IT and automation could be used to improve consistency and ensure optimal results. I know I'm reinventing the wheel, but as I've never seen the guts of a brewing operation, I really haven't a clue what solutions y'all use.

Thanks for your fantastic beer!

Edited for clarity.

GooseIslandBeer6 karma

Breweries both large and small are becoming more automated. Automation helps the brewer concentrate on what is important to make good beer instead of running around like an idiot opening and shutting valves.

arnmsctt4 karma

What's the most difficult situation or obstacle that you've had to overcome in your professional brewing life? How did you get through it? Thanks for the AMA.

GooseIslandBeer8 karma

I had to pull a naked woman off a ladder who was about to climb into an open fermentor of beer.

I spilled a five gallon bucket of yeast on my first brewing boss.

Turning my favorite hobby into my full-time profession.

howufiga4 karma

Hi Brett. It seems like its IPA everything these days. I was into German and Belgium beer before the craft beer scene blew up. My question is why don't more microbreweries do a hefeweizen like my favorite which is the Weihenstephan hefeweizen? i think its a great summer beer.

GooseIslandBeer6 karma

I agree, Bavarian style wheat beers are a personal favorite of mine, too. I'm not sure that the market is ready to support a national launch of an American version of a Bavarian wheat beer. I tried this at a previous brewery and we had trouble selling it.

itoddicus4 karma

I have to admit, I had sworn off ever drinking any Goose Island stuff since being purchased by AB. The Bourbon County series made me change my mind.

First, do you think I'm a jerk for swearing off drinking Goose Island due to the AB purchase?

Second, is the reason AB kept the Bourbon County Brand going to convince beer geeks like me to drink Goose Island stuff?

GooseIslandBeer11 karma

I'm glad you are drinking our beers again. I understand your caution, I think the beers speak for themselves. I am biased but I think they are as good or better than they have ever been. We kept Bourbon County going because we love making and drinking Bourbon County. AB doesn't tell us what to brew.

uberlad3 karma


GooseIslandBeer7 karma

Brewing like many professions is enormously humbling. Try to stay humble and remember that you are brewing for others, not yourself.

wallyvision203 karma

What's the most innovative beer you've had?

GooseIslandBeer9 karma

Kisetsu, a Goose Island Fulton & Wood beer, that was a combination of a Belgian Saison and a Sake.

thedoorkeep3 karma

I love absolutely the fulton and wood series, what is Goose's process for choosing what brews to do?

GooseIslandBeer4 karma

Groups of employees (not just brewers, everyone in the company is welcomed onto a team) come up with what they think are their three best recipe ideas and make a case for each one of them. We usually end up letting the teams choose the recipe they prefer with spectacular results. We don't edit the ideas we just advise and help source ingredients.

caaptainmontereyjack3 karma

Why are the new sours so expensive? I hear great things but can't drop that kinda cash!

GooseIslandBeer4 karma

Their brewing and preparation are very labor intensive. The brewing ingredients and barrels are very expensive. And we have to hold them in controlled temperatures for long periods of time to make them taste right.

Where do you live? Check out our Facebook page for our next Migration Week where we will be sampling some of these beers.

lilspidermonkey2 karma

Solemn Oath really seems to dig Goose Island. Any plans for a collaboration in the future? Also, will I be seeing you at Salvage One tonight?

GooseIslandBeer3 karma

Yes, you will be seeing me at Salvage One tonight! We particularly enjoy the verbiage on Solemn Oath's bottles, who doesn't like unicorns and butterflies? But we definitely enjoy what's on the inside of those bottles.

Fred is that you?

Brosuff2 karma

I was apprehensive when I heard about the Anheuser-Busch acquisition, but the only thing I've noticed is I'm now getting macro-distribution of Goose Island with the same micro-feel, if that makes sense.

My question is what beers are in the pipeline that you're most excited to brew? Really a fan of the classic IPA and excited to try the new Pale Ale.

GooseIslandBeer3 karma

I love the taste of 312 Urban Pale Ale and I think you'll like it. We have brewed an Imperial IPA called The Illinois. And we are about to release a dry hopped Belgian Tripel called The Ogden. You can also look forward to a session IPA called Endless and a higher gravity red IPA called Rambler.

choboy4562 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! I was wondering what your favorite style of beer is? Myself, I'm partial to IPAs.

GooseIslandBeer3 karma

I'm a sucker for nitrogenated American Imperial Stouts. I also like beers that have hop oil added to them.

wolfpack24212 karma

Brett! I hope you're still here, I'll be quite sad if I missed you. I've been thoroughly obsessed with Bourbon County for about a year, and ever since moving to the West Loop in October, finding Goose Island at stores and bars has been another full time job.

Few quick questions:

  1. How much of brewing is science v. art? That is, how much measuring, timing, and quantitative analysis do you perform versus how much of it is just a "feel" thing?

  2. Do you have any tips on acquiring more Bourbon County bottles? Any locations that have higher supplies? Especially now, I can't seem to find them anywhere, and would love to age a few for a couple years.

  3. How much of your job is brewing classic brews vs. trying and testing new brews?

  4. What are your thoughts on the recent increase in demand of craft brews generally?

  5. What's your favorite brew?

GooseIslandBeer3 karma

  1. It is both science and art. Each inform the other. It is also experience and feel that make good recipes.
  2. I spend a lot of time on both.

pooks31902 karma

How similar are Green Line and the new Urban Pale Ale in taste? Green Line is one of my favorite IPA's and would love to take it home. Im hoping Urban Pale Ale will be a great substitute

GooseIslandBeer4 karma

It is completely different hops and malts in the two beers. They are brewed to have some similar attributes, if you like Green Line you will like 312 Urban Pale Ale.

Ewwiikk2 karma

I have a love-hate relationship with most IPA's. Any advice you can give me to make my palate less bitch-like?

GooseIslandBeer5 karma

Great IPA is a balance between hop aroma, bitterness, and malt character. The secret is to go find that beer. That should un-bitch you.

waitwutok2 karma

Thank you for your wheat beer. It is a revelation.

GooseIslandBeer4 karma

Thank you, it is 312 Day. It's great to hear compliments like that. I like our wheat beer better than other wheat beers because you can taste something besides yeast in the beer, for example doughiness, a slight lemon aroma, and a delicate yeastiness.

JoyJoy122 karma

Would you and the other brewers ever do a swim suit calendar with various beers?

GooseIslandBeer2 karma

Yes. There are 20 of us which means I wouldn't have to be part of the calendar.

mizary11 karma

If InBev sold GI to China would you quit?

GooseIslandBeer5 karma

My best friend in brewing and my finest mentor is Pabst's Brewmaster in China.

JoyJoy121 karma

Let's play kill, marry, f. IPA, Pale Ales, Pilsner. Go!

GooseIslandBeer3 karma

I'm married to them all.