WHY GOOSE ISLAND EXISTS
To lead in the craft of brewing by creating award-winning beers that define classic and innovative styles to capture the hearts, imaginations, and palates of beer drinkers.
WHAT GUIDES OUR DECISION MAKING
We are guided by our respect for the history and culture of beer as well as our passion for, and innovation in, brewing. We wish to enrich the cultural landscape of Chicago and support the inspirational organizations within our communities. Furthermore, Goose Island champions sustainability in our breweries (and beyond) as well as actively celebrates and engages our employees.
WHERE WE WANT TO BE
In years to come, Goose Island will solidify our leadership in the craft brewing industry. This goal will be achieved through sharing our expertise in the brewing process, involving ourselves with professional brewing and trade organizations and growing the craft beer community through consumer engagement and education.
A GOOSE GOES TO EUROPE
Our famous beer began with a trip across Europe, when Goose Island founder (and unabashed beer lover) John Hall took a tour across the continent. Pint by pint, he savored the styles and selections of brews in every region, and thought to himself, “America deserves some damn fine beer like this, too.”
Craft brewing wasn’t widely known at the time, but upon return from his European sojourn, John set out to change all that. He settled down in his hometown of Chicago—a city perfect for craft beer, with rapidly evolving tastes and the largest system of fresh water on the planet. And then he got to brewing.
First he made some stellar beer. Then he invited his consumers in to watch his process at the brewery, bringing them behind the scenes every step of the way. The result was a new fascination with craft brewing, and beer that not only catered to people’s tastes, but challenged them as well.
That was back in 1988, and we haven’t slowed down since. By 1995, John’s beer had become so popular that he decided to open a larger brewery, along with a bottling plant to keep up with demand. 1999 brought even more growth, along with an additional brewpub, and today, what was once one man’s pint-filled dream has become the Goose Island empire you know and love.
Here’s where we tell you that in 2011, Goose Island Beer Company was acquired by Anheuser-Busch. Since then, we’ve continued to brew beer that we’re proud of and now we get to share these beers with our friends both nationwide and internationally. We think that's pretty neat. If you're ever in Chicago, we'd love for you to stop by the brewery and have a beer with us.
OUR INNER WORKINGS
Our brewery was built in 1995 and has more than doubled in size since originally built. We bring you our tasty pints using 32 fermenters, over 15 different yeasts, state-of-the-art filters, centrifuges and a 50 barrel JV Northwest 5 vessel system that brews 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It turns out that making awesome brews is quite the science. Luckily our brewery facilities have all the equipment necessary to deliver results.
Our packaging line alone bottles 500 cases an hour, with our keg line at a rate of 50 kegs every 60 minutes. Once the beer is complete, we store it at a crisp 38 degrees until shipping. In other words, we don’t mess around when it comes to filling the Goose Island demand. We even have separate rooms to house small batch innovation programs and yeast propagation units, and our barrel-aged beers have their own dedicated stockroom AND 143,000 square foot barrel warehouse. It’s only the very best equipment for our beer—and we invite you to learn more.
AGED BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE
In 1992, Goose Island gave the beer industry a new reason to belly up to the bar: bourbon-aged beer. We pioneered the process, and it begins with first-use bourbon barrels. Our brewers only choose those that have had held sweet, sweet whiskey in their bellies for an average of 8 years, then they age our beer inside for 8-12 months. This process takes place in a non-climate controlled space, allowing exposure to the extreme heat and cold of Chicago’s ecosystem, which contracts and expands the wood, pulling the barrel’s whiskey character into our brew. Each barrel is used only once, ensuring the best quality taste in every pint.
That first barrel-aging process yielded our ever-tasty Bourbon County Stout back in 2004. Three years later, we decided it was time to expand our barrel-aging program again. But this time our brewers brought wine barrels into the picture.
They started with beer that had undergone primary fermentation in stainless steel casks, then transferred it to wine barrels, soaked with flavor. Next came fresh fruit and wild yeasts, and the beginning of a secondary fermentation inside the barrel. Aging went on for 9-18 months, creating beer with unprecedented depth of character, increased acidity and a light essence of fruit without too much sweetness. The variety of wine barrels we use now yield some of our most unique brews, including Sofie, Juliet, Lolita, Madame Rose, Gillian and Halia.
Tucked away in a secluded valley in Northern Idaho is Elk Mountain Farms – the place where Goose Island hops are grown and harvested. Head Farmer Ed Atkins shares the same passion and commitment to great beer as our brewers, and together they’ve worked to grow the farm from a 70-acre operation to a 1700-acre hop heaven. Here, over 50 different types of hops, including Goose Island favorites like Saaz, Amarillo and Cascade are cultivated along with numerous experimental varieties that could one day push the boundaries of beer for drinkers and brewers alike. Elk Mountain is more than just soil and plant life; it’s a laboratory, a studio, a blank canvas on which to paint the future of Goose Island beer. Watch the video above to get a taste of this magical place or click here for a chance to experience it.
After traveling extensively in his career in the packaging industry, John Hall was always amazed at how few beer choices Americans had. "When I traveled in Europe, everywhere I went there would always be a local beer… but not in the U.S."
Then, in 1986, fate struck John Hall in the form of a thunderstorm in Dallas, Texas. His flight delayed by the inclement weather, Hall flipped through an in-flight magazine to pass the time.
There he found his future in the form of an article on boutique beers. "I must be the only person in history who made a major career decision on the basis of a Delta Sky article," Hall chuckles.
Fascinated by what he’d read, Hall began to toy with the idea of starting a brewery. "I just loved the idea," John remembers. "I mean, what could be better than making a product that I was passionate about, and nearly every American adult liked?" After two years of thinking, researching, and planning, Hall scrapped his 20-year career with Container Corporation and opened the original Goose Island Brewpub at 1800 North Clybourn Avenue, introducing the city of Chicago to distinctive craft beer.
Goose Island Beer Co. is now one of the largest craft breweries in the Midwest. The company distributes its beers to all 50 states and the United Kingdom. "I'm working with people I love, and I love what I do," says Hall. "I'm a lucky man."
John resides in Chicago with his wife, Patricia.
Todd Ahsmann fell in love with craft beer culture in 1988 as a bartender at Goose Island’s Chicago brewpub. From there he launched a 20 year career in music marketing, but beer was always his first passion; he never stopped offering Goose Island his help on the side (in exchange for beer, of course).
Todd’s marketing career took off; he served as an executive for several of the biggest labels, working with artists from Pitbull to the Ramones, Beyonce to Blur. As a bonus, he also worked mostly on the road, which allowed him to visit new breweries across the country.
Soon, he was back in the beer business, serving as Goose Island’s Consumer Experience Director. There he was responsible for the brewery’s long-term marketing strategy, leading to a national and finally, international footprint for Goose Island.
After a two year stint running a brewery in New York, Todd is back in sweet home Chicago, this time as the President & General Manager of Goose Island Beer Co. He’s more excited than ever to help us think big about beer.
Goose Island's Brewmaster, Jared Jankoski is responsible for creative and technical development of Goose Island's award-winning portfolio of beers.
Goose Island's Head Brewer since June of 2012, Jankoski was promoted to Brewmaster in March of 2015. Goose Island's fourth Brewmaster, Jankoski is poised to continue the company's growth as it sets the stage for the future. "Being brewmaster is about a commitment to quality from raw material to packaged beer, scrutinizing every process in between to always try to improve," says Jankoski. "We are our own toughest critics in an effort to put out the best beer we can."
"Our priority remains evolving our foundation to facilitate innovation technically, create new beers that intrigue and are enjoyable, and make this a great place to work by putting people first and having fun. We do make beer after all."
Prior to Goose Island, the Wisconsin native worked at New Glarus Brewing from 2005-2012. During that time, constant expansion and upgrading gave a valuable foundation in process flow, efficiency and quality.
Jankoski realized his passion for the sciences early on, which was cemented during a high school chemistry class and he credits the teacher for bringing out everyone’s best strengths. After doing well in the AP class, Jankoski decided chemistry would make a great focus for college and started home brewing. It was always his dream to brew for life, but at the time didn’t know if it was a viable career. Jankoski pursued his interest in chemistry and graduated with a BS from University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in 1999. Prior to becoming a brewer professionally, he completed the American Brewer’s Guild diploma course in brewing.
With a strong belief in quality and establishing a solid foundation, Jankoski's experience at Goose Island has allowed him to focus on building a strong team and improve the foundation for making great beer to better accommodate the diverse family of brews produced in Chicago.
"I love working at Goose Island because it’s a very team oriented, inclusive place to work. Giving many different people the chance to contribute is one of the things has gone into the creation of some of our best beers and adds fulfillment and meaning to people’s work here. It just makes our work more fun."
Brewery Research & Development Manager
Mike's passion for great beer started in his early 20s and soon led to many years of homebrewing and traveling the U.S. and Europe in pursuit of it. After careers in sound engineering and information technology, he was urged by his wife Katie to quit beating around the bush and make the switch to brewing professionally. Mike started at Goose Island in 2011 as a brewer and cellarman, and in 2013 was promoted to Research & Development Manager. In this role, he oversees all new beer development and helps facilitate the collective creative output of the numerous talented brewers that Goose Island has on its team.
Keith discovered craft beer in college (one of his first was Redhook Double Black Stout) and was a home brewer long before before brewing professionally. The decision to become a brewer professionally came when he decided to go to Siebel Institute rather than putting a down payment on a house. Luckily, for Keith, he had a very understanding and encouraging girlfriend (now wife) who had just finished going to culinary school. Upon graduation from Siebel, Keith went on to brew for Destihl from from 2007-2008 and joined Goose Island in 2009. Favorite beer styles: all of them, but his go to beer is an IPA or a good craft Pils. He also really like bourbon and cocktails. Oh yeah, and food is awesome too.
Lead Cellarman at Goose Island Beer Co. in Chicago, IL, Patrick, a 6th generation brewer, is responsible for the fermentation and finishing of Goose Island beer. Patrick began as a brewer at Goose Island in 2009 following his graduation from University of Missouri with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He spent his college summers brewing at Springfield Brewing Co. in Springfield, MO and Bridgeport Brewing Co. in Portland, OR, and homebrewed on his apartment rooftop during the year. In 2011, Patrick was one of 75 Americans awarded a government sponsored fellowship, which brought him to Germany for a year to learn German brewing techniques. While living in Munich, Patrick brewed at the Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr brewpubs, and lived and worked in the Spaten-Franziskaner brewery, gaining a deeper understanding of traditional brewing methods and furthering his love of German style hefeweizens.
Lead Brewer - Barrel Program
Chicago area native, Bill is in charge of the indoor urban forest that is Goose Island's barrel program. He maintains the brewery’s spirit and funk, by handling all beers that mature in wooden vessels.
An avid home brewer in college, Bill also studied Ancient Greek and Latin languages, literature and history at Loyola University Chicago. His philosophy towards brewing beers is "old school."
Professionally, he started out working as a winemaker, and also delved into mead-making (honey wine). Following his apprenticeship and pursuits in winemaking and oak maturation, he went through brewing school at the Siebel Institute of Technology in 2012. After his brewing education, he became a brewer for Flossmoor Station Brewing Co. - learning traditional English style brewing techniques, acquainting himself with barrel aging beers, and testing out interpretations of historic brewing recipes.
Bill has been with Goose Island since 2013, having held positions in cellar and Brewhouse, before taking over as Barrel-Lead.