Goose Island Beer “Gillian” x The Carbon Bar Tasting


Toronto Goose Island Beer fans will be in for a treat as Gillian, the once-elusive “Sour Sister” beer from the Goose Island Vintages line will be hitting Toronto’s market on Wednesday February 8th. For the first time ever, Gillian will be available for retail in Canada! Toronto’s Summerhill LCBO location will be selling a limited quantity of Gillian for one day. This extraordinary opportunity is based on a first-come, first-serve basis so come early!

When: February 8th, doors open at 9:30 a.m. (line ups are permitted)

Where: Toronto Summerhill LCBO, 10 Scrivener Square, Toronto, ON

What: Goose Island’s Gillian ($34.95) along with paired treats from CXBO chocolates

Restaurant Availability

Beginning in February for a limited time, you can try a bottle of Gillian at the following Toronto restaurants: The Carbon Bar, Drake One Fifty, Piano Pianoand Victor. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy Gillian alongside some deliciously paired food!


Last week, we had the privilege to attend an exclusive tasting at The Carbon Bar. Curated by one of Toronto’s top chef in collaboration with Goose Island Brewing Co.. Chef Hidde Zomer had exquisitely designed a menu to showcase how one could pair a 2016 Goose Island Gillian flawlessly with certain foods and ingredients.

Before we dug into eating, we learned about the origins of Gillian, how it was precisely made, as well as the particular elements that made Gillian unique and rare in its taste in comparison to a traditional beer that we were used to drinking.

Here is an inside scoop on what we had learned and sensory experienced with our taste buds with Gillian.

First off, we learned that Gillian was inspired by an amuse bouche often prepared by the wives of one of Goose Island’s brewers. The ingredients in each barrel of this rare Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale include; white spicy pepper, 25 pounds of honey, and 40-50 pounds of fresh unwashed strawberries. Each added at different stages to this Saison (a highly carbonated, fruity, spicy pale ale about 5% - 8% ABV). It is then fermented with Belgian and Champagne yeast.

An interesting fact about Gillian is that she can be aged from 8 months up to a year, and is not only fermented once but three times!!!


At a quick glance, the beer appeared to be hazy, rosy golden in colour with an almost opaque clarity. As soon as we took a sniff up our noses, it's aroma noticeably had a hint of peppery spice with a wistful scent of elegant strawberry flavour. Taste wise, our taste buds were completely caught off guard. At first we expected the strawberries to overpower the other ingredients with it's sweet fruity impression but we were deceived. What contradicted our initial expectation were that the taste of the strawberries actually presented itself as being bright in flavour with hint of undercurrent sweetness and its tart funkiness. But that was not all. It was then perfectly harmonized by a surprisingly spicy acidic peppercorn finish.

Due to Gillian’s unique taste and flavour in its finish, internationally trained Chef Zomer created the following food pairings to demonstrate how certain ingredients could be used to assist in complimenting and balancing out the sourness, and carbonated taste in this particular Belgian style farmhouse ale. Ranked as one of Toronto’s hottest chefs with a decade of experience working in Europe’s finest restaurants, we were thrilled to try out The Carbon Bar’s Executive Chef Zomer’s creations.

Chef Hidde Zomer’s designed food pairing menu with 2016 Goose Island Gillian picks include:


*CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE  (Country Bread, Preserved Wild Blueberries)


*DUCK TACO (Achiote Tortilla, Curtido, Smooth Guacamole, Coriander, Pineapple Salsa, Pickled Red Onion, Lime)


*TAMWORTH PORCHETTA (Rapini, Fingerling Potatoes, Cipollini Onion, Smoked Apple Mustard, Naturel Jus, Fennel Arugula Blood Orange Salad)



What was interesting, was to have discovered how these foods reacted differently to the elements of this beer. We really couldn’t believe how versatile this beer could be complimented with different pairings of food. We thought Gillian worked exceptionally well with fatty foods, such as the Chicken Liver Mousse that we got to try out. As well, it worked with crispy textured foods such as the exterior savoury skin of the Tamworth Porchetta (an Italian seasoned and slow-roasted pork).

If you are one of the lucky handful of people from the crowd to get your hands on a rare bottle of a 2016 Goose Island Gillian, this would be the perfect opportunity for you to impress your loved ones with your cooking and pairing of this unique beer that is guaranteed to be special just in the nick of time for Valentine’s Day.

But if you are unsuccessful in getting your hands on one, don’t be too disappointed as Gillian is available in four Toronto restaurants for a limited time. With different styles and approaches in cooking, they have been challenged to create their version of dishes to pair with 2016 Goose Island Gillian. Restaurants including; Drake One Fifty, Piano Piano, Victor, and of course The Carbon Bar.


Contributor Nerine of @torontofoodvibes

Follow @torontofoodvibes to discover new hidden food gems in Toronto.