I'm certainly not indicating that I am above drinking those beer, no way. I will happily accept a gifted beer in the form of a green bottle and skunky odor any hour of the day. I enjoy them from time to time, but not as I would five or six years ago -- and I generally find myself buying less and less from Europe.
The reason being is that in many ways, American brewers have surpassed Western European brewers at their own craft. Specifically, Americans just make better Pale Ales (Indian, and otherwise) and better Imperial Stouts, the cornerstone of British brewing for the better part of 300 years. That is older than the United States has even been a nation.
Now, our local and national small-brewers are making a run at those uppity Belgians, renowned the world over as the masters of craft brewing. Austin itself is in the midst of a Belgian beer revolution, but as a whole, almost every major microbrewer is doing some sort of homage to the Flemish, the Wallons, the Brusselois, and so on. One of those big dogs is Goose Island from Chicago.
Goose Island's Vintage Series is a collection of singularly-monikered and handsome beers that are high-end tributes to Belgium brewing. Matilda, in particular, is a Belgian Pale Ale that is yeast-forward in the style of European Pale Ales, which are light on the hops to diminish the citrus and elevate the buttery spiciness of 2-Row and Caramel malts.
We poured it into wine glasses on this occasion -- as a New Years Eve toast because in all of our drunken-intellect, we forgot to get champagne. No worries because Matilda charmingly fills a wine void. Colloquially speaking, Matilda is just simply lovely beer. We found it especially exceptional paired with a nice dessert -- and this from a ravenous beer-drinker who, in ironic fashion, doesn't prefer drinking beer with his meals.
Acquired: Tha D