Readers of this blog know that I like Goose Island’s beers. Matilda is one of their Limited Release beers that seems to come out annually. I was lucky enough to find a 2006 vintage at Lukas Liquors in Overland Park. According to Matilda’s label, the beer will continue to improve with age for up to five years. My sample was bottled on 3/2/06.
Matilda is a Belgian style beer, but the website doesn’t list what style it is supposed to be. I suppose it would fit into the golden ale category, but Belgian brewers really don’t intend their beers to be pigeonholed into style guidelines.
Matilda pours a cloudy dark orange color with big chunks of yeast in it and a smallish head that quickly dissipated. It weighs in at about 32 IBUs and 7% ABV. The front label of Matilda’s bottle reads that a “rare yeast that’s very difficult to come by” is used in brewing this beer and it suggests pairing it with a plate of fresh mussels, which of course, I didn’t have in Kansas City.
I could detect a little of that “Belgian yeast” character that is so indicative of Belgian beers. It has been described by others as “funky” or “farmhouse funk” or even “horseblanket” but I don’t like any of those terms, myself. I think once you’ve had a few Belgian beers you know exactly what I’m talking about when I say “it smells Belgian!” I also get some notes similar to a witbier on this… slight fruitiness, a little spiciness, but this is not a spiced beer in terms of that style.
There is a lot of carbonation in the mouthfeel and I taste some flavors that remind me of coriander, but again, I don’t believe this beer has any added to it. The alcohol is detectable up front, but it works well with this beer and isn’t “hot” at all. Actually, if I concentrate on the alcohol while I sip, I’d say the “middle” of the sip as the flavor develops is pretty hot in alcohol, but it still seems to work for this beer. The aftertaste is a little sour, but, again, in a good way.
If I had to sum Matilda up in one statement I’d say it reminds me a lot of a double witbier without the coriander or orange peel in it. The mouthfeel and flavors are similar, but without the overwhelming spice presence. I think this is a very accessible beer and it’s really quite simple in aroma and flavor. To some that may be disappointing, but I like to have a beer now and then that doesn’t make me work too hard to enjoy it. I think this beer would work great with seafood, as the label suggests. When it comes to Goose Island’s limited releases I’m still going to go for Bourbon County every time over this given the choice, but Matilda is still an enjoyable and well-crafted beer.