Craft Beer Scene Around Rockford: Goose Island’s Ten Hills Ale satisfies the hop urge

By Michael Sears
President, Forest City Brewers

This week, I would like to highlight one of Goose Island’s seasonal beers, Ten Hills Pale Ale, which I picked up at the Schnuck’s on East State Street.

Schnuck’s is working on building their craft beer portfolio in their Rockford-area stores and is utilizing the services of Matt Yastrab to head up this venture. Matt has been a longtime friend and fellow beer geek, so I believe their venture is in capable hands. It will be interesting to see what Matt and the Schnuck’s Liquor Department managers have in mind for the Rockford-area beer geeks.

Goose Island of Chicago has been another longtime favorite brewery of mine. They were purchased a few years ago by mega brewer In-Bev, makers of Budweiser. Although In-Bev purchased the brewery, Goose Island has retained rights to the brew pubs. Goose Island Wrigleyville is a must stop for me before a Cubs game, and sometimes afterwards!

According to the Goose Island website, Ten Hills is at Elk Mountain Farms in Idaho, known for growing hops of exceptional quality and character. The hops from the “first 10 hills” were grown for Goose Island at Elk Mountain. Ten Hills Pale Ale is available from December through March. It has replaced the Mild Winter in the Goose Island seasonal line-up.

A Pale Ale is best served in a tumbler, Nonic or Becker-type pint glass around 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer temperature allows for the flavors to really come out.

This ale pours dark copper color with a 1-inch white head that dissipates to a spotty surface foam. The aroma has slight malt sweetness, most likely from caramel malts, with an earthy hop that hints of citrus.

The first sip starts with a tart citrus hop flavor that changes to a grainy/biscuit flavor and finishes with the tart hop and a little bit of harshness, possibly from a combination of hops and carbonation.

The mouth feel is on the dry side, and seems to be a bit thin for my preference. There was really no lacing to speak of, which is probably a result of the thinness of the body.

My overall impression is that this is a decent American pale ale, although it is on the upper end regarding hoppiness. An easy drinker with not too much complexity, but a decent flavor profile. A beer you can have a few of in a session, and good enough to slake your thirst and satisfy that hop urge.

As a side note, the Forest City Brewers held our annual after-Christmas party in late January at Brewsky’s in which we purchased a keg of 10 Hills for our get-together. The keg seemed to be of better quality than from the bottle, which is usually the case.

I suggest if you happen to see this on tap at your favorite pub, give it a try.


Michael Sears is president of the Forest City Brewers. The Forest City Brewers is a homebrewing club dedicated to the art of finely crafted beer. The club meets the first Wednesday of each month at Thunder Bay Grille on East State Sreet. For more about Forest City Brewers, go to If you have comments or recommendations, please contact Mike at

From the Feb. 12-18, 2014, issue

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