Let’s talk about first impressions. The first thing that came to mind as I held a can of Goose Island Beer Company’s 312 Dry-Hopped in my hand was something in the vein of, “This can of beer looks metal as hell.” If it was a record cover, it would almost certainly hold an LP inside containing blisteringly-played guitars and relentless drumming. The design is minimal: A dark map of Chicago, with the beer’s name and logo standing out over it in a classic shade of gold.
Here’s the thing about first impressions: sometimes, they’re spot-on. Sometimes, they’re all about misdirection.
Upon pouring the beer into a pint glass, I let it settle. It had a light color, let off an almost floral aroma along with a close cousin to chamomile. To take that motif even further, a quick sniff revealed an easygoing smell, one that brought to mind some archetypal field in early summer, a place to lay and watch clouds. The word “idyllic” comes to mind.
There are points when drinking this that it hardly feels like drinking beer at all—a kind of refreshment, to be sure, but one that can be dangerous if left unchecked.”
As the name indicates, this is a dry-hopped version of 312 Urban Wheat. In this case, Saaz hops being the added ingredient. The result is an easygoing beer, like unto the pilsners generally associated with these hops.
Its taste never feels overwhelming, but instead lingers quietly. While drinking it, the texture itself is also smooth. In other words, it’s easy going down. This a straightforward beer, which in this case is meant as a compliment. The Saaz hops have a kind of mellowing effect, smoothing things out, and mediating the beer’s different elements.
There’s a prominent citrus taste here, though it never comes across as pungent. Instead, it’s more restrained. This feels like a warm-weather kind of beer—which can also sneak up on you. At 4.2% ABV, there are points when drinking this that it hardly feels like drinking beer at all—a kind of refreshment, to be sure, but one that can be dangerous if left unchecked.
The experience of drinking this is like sliding an LP from its jacket, expecting something doomy and instead delighting in the sounds of some opulent orchestral folk music. It’s a subtle thing to drink, something that focuses in on one task and does it steadily and effectively.