In May 2019, Keith Gabbett was named brewmaster for Goose Island Beer Co. Although new to the role, Gabbett is no rookie — he’s been a brewer for 15 years, and with Goose Island for 10.
Throughout his tenure at the Chicago-based brewery owned by Anheuser-Busch, Gabbett has created such brands as Gillian, a saison made with white pepper, strawberry, and honey that’s named after “X-Files’” Gillian Anderson. He’s also the mind behind Next Coast IPA, a bracing yet tropical IPA that defies East/West Coast designation.
VinePair caught up with Gabbett to learn about when he fell in love with beer, how he feels about kettle sours, and why the best beer in his fridge is the one with a “tropi-dank aroma.”
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1. What’s your desert-island beer?
Goose Island Sofie. It’s really refreshing with bright citrus and some vanilla notes. As it ages, it becomes drier and more complex with a white wine-like character. If I’m going to be stuck on a desert island, I might as well pick a beer that will hold up over time.
2. What’s the beer that made you fall in love with beer?
Late ‘90s-era Redhook Double Black Stout back when it was brewed with Starbucks coffee. This beer had a ton of flavor and showed me that beer didn’t just have to contain malt, hops, water, and yeast.
3. FMK (f*ck, marry, kill) three beer types: IPA, pilsner, sour?
F*ck: IPAs. Even though IPAs are everywhere now, it was the style that got a lot of people into craft beer. The number of new hop varieties coming out right now means that you can have a lot of fun with the style.
Marry: pilsner. A well-made, balanced pilsner is a thing of beauty that isn’t going to fade away or become less interesting with time. Pretty good grounds for marrying, don’t you think?
Kill: sours. Nothing against kettle sours, of course, but I prefer the term “wild” beers since this broader term embraces the complexity that yeast, bacteria, barrel aging, etc. can bring to this category.
4. You’re on death row. What’s your last-supper beer?
Bourbon County Stout. You might as well go with a classic if it’s the last beer you get to drink.
5. You can only drink one beer for the rest of your life. What is it?
Augustiner Helles. It has an incredible malt profile, just the right amount of hops for balance, and great yeast character. I can drink this by the liter without getting tired of it.
6. What’s the best and worst beer in your fridge right now?
Best: I’ve got some super-fresh Goose Island Next Coast in my fridge right now. Easy-drinking with a great juicy tropi-dank aroma. Worst: Why would I keep beer I don’t like in my fridge?
7. If you could no longer drink beer, what would be your beverage of choice?
Black Manhattans. I love this cocktail. It does a great job of marrying bourbon with the earthy, citrusy, herbal bitterness of an amaro. Kind of like drinking a shot and an IPA at the same time.