Goosing Around in Chicago: Craft Week

Hi Everyone,

I’m late to the game in this GMT Blog, but better late than never. My name is Christian Siblall, and I’m a Queen’s University Commerce graduate from Barrie, Ontario. As you’ve read thus far, we’ve completed Supply, Logistics, Sales, Marketing, and Solutions. Despite being late to my first blog post, I get to speak to something that I have a keen interest for: Craft Beer.

Most recently we completed our Craft training in Chicago, Illinois. From night life to sports, food and entertainment, and phenomenal craft beer, Chicago has a lot to offer. And what better way to experience craft beer than with Chicago’s very own Goose Island Brewery.

We spent the majority of our time in the Goose Island Barrel House – a large training/events facility where Goose also houses thousands of bourbon barrels to age the North American renowned Bourbon Country Stout along with other barrel aged products.

Following a beer pairing dinner at the Goose Island Brewhouse, pizza making lunch in the Barrel House with professional chefs, and a day spent visiting local accounts, we made our way north to the Virtue Craft Ciderie in Fennville, Michigan. This was a very new experience for us all. While we were used to large equipment and complex brewing systems, cider is quite the opposite. Cider is made much more like wine, where the apples are pressed into juice, and simply put into barrels to age and ferment for a given number of months. The Virtue property also has a few farm animals for a few reasons. First, they keep a unique breed of pig called the Gloucestershire Old Spot, or Orchard Pig, that is special to original cider making traditions in France. They also keep sheep in order to help maintain fertile land and cut costs on lawn mowing and maintenance (seriously). And of course, the trip would not have been complete if we had not sampled a few ciders throughout the day.

What I love most about craft brands is the degree to which they embrace their home market. Goose is no exception. This brand is ingrained in Chicago and grows as the city does. The city is reflected in the ingenuity and diversity of the Goose portfolio. From the flagship IPA, to the 312 Urban Wheat (that’s pronounced Three-One-Two i.e. Chicago’s area code), to the Sour Sister ales, Bourbon County Stout, the SPF fruit ale, and so many more, Goose Island simply has a passion for great beer and the great people who enjoy it. Goose brewers are encouraged to experiment and do what they do best: make tasty beers.

We ended our time in Chicago with a Q&A with a 2014 US GMT who had started his career with Goose, and is now with Virtue. He offered very candid advice about the GMT program and building our careers early on. Considering this was possibly the last time all 40 of us would be together, he appropriately emphasized the importance of keeping in touch with one another. The GMT truly is a family with many ‘generations’, and we should leverage this both professionally and personally. Whether to ask for advice, help with a work problem, or just to say hello, the bond between GMT’s transcends classes and is something special.

In early February we traveled to our respective cities to begin our 4-month Yellow Belt projects. The Yellow Belt is a deeper dive into data analytics, and standardizing processes. We are all very excited to get our hands dirty in a project of our own. However, it’s the last stop in the GMT program. Bittersweet, but without a doubt an incredible first 6 months out of school. Check back in with us later this spring!