For years, beers from Goose Island’s Fulton and Wood series have been an extremely limited draft-only offering. Each beer in the series gives Goose Island employees from throughout the company the chance to work with our brewers to concept new and exciting beers from scratch.
Enjoying one of these beers was a privilege shared by a lucky few at either the Chicago Taproom or establishments in the surrounding area. The barrel aged porter, A Real Nice Surprise, was one such beer that only a lucky few got to enjoy.
That is, until now. Northern Brewer and Goose Island collaborated to bring you a non barrel aged version of A Real Nice Surprise that you can brew at home. Working closely with R&D brewers from Goose Island, we scaled this recipe perfect for home brewers while retaining the decadent, deep chocolate hue.
Ready to taste it for yourself? Here’s everything you need to know to get started. Cheers!
One Exclusive Porter, Two Ways to Brew
The BREW: Goose Island Porter
This unforgettable Porter actually has its roots in a Goose Island brewing throwdown. Every year, Goose Island employees from throughout the company get the chance to dream up and brew up experimental beers alongside Goose brewers. Out of several entries, only four winning recipe are selected to be brewed and offered in limited release as part of the brewery’s Fulton & Wood series.
As part of their research, the Fulton & Wood team went to Miller’s pub during Christmas time to try their famed Tom & Gerry Cocktail. When they sat in their booth sipping on the infamous and high-octane Tom & Gerry, the team knew the flavors of eggnog, rum and bourbon needed to find a home in a holiday beer. A Real Nice Surprise started its life as a rich porter brewed with chocolate malts that was then aged in a combination of rum, bourbon, and brandy barrels for two months resulting in a smooth, creamy beer that was an instant favorite.
The brewing team continued to perfect the profile, adding warm and spicy notes, along with a toasted, creamy character. The result is a Porter that has become a favorite among Goose Island employees.
Our brewmasters partnered with Goose Island Research and Development brewer Tim Faith to craft a homebrewing recipe that perfectly captures the complex flavors and character of the Goose Island original.
The result of that collaboration is an unbelievably memorable brew that evokes the creamy essence of the eggnog cocktail that inspired it, along with notes of milk chocolate, nutmeg and a big, toasty malt backbone. It also conveys the complex flavors of barrel aging that have become a Goose Island trademark…without the barrel aging.
Brew plenty, because this is one beer that tends to acquire a following, and you’ll want to savor it as long as you can.
The Good Stuff: Brewing & Tasting Notes
FERMENTATION TEMP: 65F - 69F
ORIGINAL GRAVITY: 1.079
TASTING HIGHLIGHTS: Milk Chocolate • Approachable Roast • Smooth Body • Complex Creaminess • Malted Milk Balls
PAIRING HIGHLIGHTS: Brie • Sirloin Steak • Spicy Chicago Dog • Swiss Cheese
Brewmaster's Tasting Notes:
Dark chocolate porter with creamy tan-colored head. There is an aroma of milk chocolate and approachable roast. The flavor is amplified by a noticeable mouth coating smoothness and a lingering wood-like aftertaste. Chocolate, roasted malt, oats and a lactose backbone further encourage a uniquely inspired porter that sips oh-so-smoothly. Think Malted Milk Balls with a crisp, delicious finish.
Brewmaster's Pairing Ideas:
Perfect with creamy baked brie or a nicely-seared sirloin. But it’s got the character to stand up to a spicy Chicago dog, too. Its crisp finish makes it ideal for foodies who want their brew to complement the meal instead of weighing it down. And its warm notes make it the perfect match for anything chocolate. Also, smoked brisket, Stilton cheese, beef stew and vanilla ice cream.
Meet the Brewmaster
Tim Faith is Goose Island’s Research and development brewer – meaning he gets to experiment and trial some of Goose Island’s craziest ideas. His passion for brewing started in college when he started homebrewing with friends. Tim’s involvement with this beer began a few years back when he was on the Fulton & Wood team that came with the recipe. The inspiration for Goose Island’s sweet Porter is the Tom & Gerry, a holiday cocktail often mixed with rum/bourbon, sugar, warm milk and nutmeg. “This beer was made to impress many of these flavors without actually utilizing them.”
“Similarly, the recipe takes the most desirable characteristics from the many stouts I’ve made in my past and combines them for the ultimate experience. Lactose and oats for mouthfeel and flavor, and a massive dark malt backbone.”
Beer Lovers: Brew Your Heart Out
The Brew. Share. Enjoy.® Brewery Edition Kit is unlike anything we have ever created before.
For the first time ever, homebrewers will have exclusive access to the most sought-after flagship and limited-release beers in the world, complete with first-hand insight from the world-class pro brewmasters who created them. Here's a peek at how we worked with Goose Island's Brewmaster Tim Faith to make that vision come true.
Brew Day at Goose Island
Amazing, right? With the Brew. Share. Enjoy.® Brewery Edition Kits, your brew day won't be anywhere near this complex. But, after exhaustive testing and tasting, we can tell you the results are spot on. Our kit is the next best thing to an all-access brew day at Goose Island itself, because we've worked hand-in-hand with Brewmaster Tim Faith to get it just right.
The Porter recipe and brewing process has been perfectly scaled for homebrewing, so you’ll be able to tap into nearly 30 years of Goose Island brewing innovation behind each kit.