Goose Island So-Lo

Goose-Island-So-Lo-Main 3_5

Goose Island So-Lo

IPA / Goose Island Low / 3%

So-Lo is a full bodied IPA with big aroma, citrus and herbal aroma notes, and a nice balanced bitterness. If the can didn’t mention it, you’d never think it was a low cal beer but now that the cat’s out of the bag… surprise.

Healthy options have permeated almost every single industry of things that we put in both our homes and our bodies. Healthy toothpaste. Healthy meat alternatives. And more and more, healthy alcoholic drinks. The realms of NA and low-ABV beer are going through something of a boom right now, and the big breweries are clamoring to get out acceptable options that still taste great but don’t come along with all of the negative health effects.

Goose Island has become so big that I’m not even sure if it still qualifies as a “craft” brewery. Based out of Chicago, they have had tremendous success with flagship beers such as 312 Urban Wheat and their Next Coast IPA. Not to be left out of the move toward low-ABV options, they have now released an IPA called So-Lo. And they seem to be putting a lot of marketing force behind this 98-calorie offering that comes in at just 3.0 percent alcohol.

Establishing something with a full flavor profile like an IPA while maintaining those low levels of alcohol and calories can be a tricky thing to achieve. I have encountered mixed results from various brewing operations. But I am very drawn to the idea of a flavorful, easy-drinking ale that won’t fill my stomach or have harsh effects on me the following morning. Seems like the perfect type of brew to enjoy on a sunny day at the beach or sitting on a patio. Through this Goose Island So-Lo review, I will attempt to show you if this beer lives up to its motto, “Big on hops. Low on calories. Beautifully balanced.”

Is Goose Island So-Lo Good?

Goose Island has given So-Lo a distinct aesthetic, with a nearly all-white can adorned with simple font and their trademark silhouette of a goose’s head. There isn’t much remarkable about the packaging or presentation of So-Lo, though they have made a point to present nutritional information in prominent positions on both the case and the can.

I will say that I have encountered plenty of advertising for this low-cal IPA and have seen it displayed in basically ever liquor section I’ve been in for the past few months. This doesn’t necessarily say a lot about the quality of the beer, but it does suggest that the company believes in it moving forward.

Poured into a pint glass, So-Lo appears golden yellow and develops a large offwhite head that has generous carbonation, a good amount of retention, and fairly decent lacing. There is a faint opaque haze to it, and the color evokes feelings of refreshment.

The predominant aroma upon taking a big whiff is grassy hops. There is a strong sweetness to it, but seemingly residing in the hops rather than an overpowering malt. There are some floral and herbal notes, which are usually a pretty good sign to me. I can tell on scent alone that this won’t be bland, which is always a worry when key ingredients get toned down. It makes me look forward to the tasting so I can truly answer the question, “Is Goose Island So-Lo Good?”

Goose Island So-Lo Review

I do my best to temper preconceptions before sampling a new brew, but it’s admittedly difficult to do sometimes. I’ve tried numerous beers that look like this, smell like this, and are marketed like this, so it’s impossible not to have some expectations going in. But sometimes they don’t hold up.

On the first sip, I am already getting more than anticipated of certain flavors and less (or none at all) of others. These beers typically have a fairly present citrus undertone. If I squint really hard, I can find a touch of grapefruit in here but not much at all. The grassy hop profile is still the dominant force but perhaps a shade less so than it is on the nose. That sweetness comes through, but it’s still not as much in the malt as is typical and more tied to the hops.

The mouthfeel is average on the tongue with a good amount of that carbonation coming through. The floral and herbal hop notes come on strong, but there is a crisp finish, and they don’t linger around too long, which tends to be a common phenomenon.

Most of these larger breweries that have poured a lot of money into a low-cal option have their stuff figured out, but there is still always a worry present in me that the end product might end up watered down. This beer justifies that fear a little bit but not entirely. It’s a bit watery on the texture more so than the flavor.

Overall, the flavors are pleasant if not terribly complex. I think there could be a better balance, but getting this much hop character in something so low in calories and ABV is nice. Moving through this Goose Island So-Lo review, I haven’t felt too strongly one way or another, which I suppose is a minor compliment for this beer that is trying to sneak by as an acceptable craft beer that doesn’t pack an alcoholic punch. We’ll see what that means for its final rating.

Goose Island So-Lo Rating

I feel that I should note that the day after consuming a couple of So-Lo cans, I actually woke up with what felt like a minor hangover. Of course, that could be a product of some other personal imbalance, perhaps dehydration, but it took me by surprise nonetheless. Just a reminder that low-calorie beer still contains alcohol and won’t completely eliminate the health hazards that come along with that.

I wouldn’t say I was delighted or disappointed with anything in particular with this brew. As someone who is pretty health-conscious, I like the fact that there are options such as this that maintain a full flavor profile. That said, I’ve found other beers in the same lane that are better balanced and have more interesting notes to them. I don’t think this offering will offend the senses, but you can do better. This seems like a formula just asking for 3 out of 5 stars, so that’s where I have arrived for my Goose Island So-Lo rating.


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