…Goodwood Brewing Company Louisville Lager and Brandy Barrel Honey Ale
Goodwood Brewing Company, the moniker of recently rebranded Bluegrass Brewing Company, has quickly become a familiar sight on grocery market shelves and tap handles alike here in the Louisville area. Their lineup strikes an excellent balance of artisanal quality and commercial appeal, and all their beers pay homage to Louisville’s rich bourbon heritage by incorporating aging processes involving various woods included used bourbon barrels.
As the name implies, this wood aged character is central to the brand’s identity. They don’t stop at oak bourbon barrels- Goodwood employs everything from used wine barrels to poplar to ash to impart complex flavors that compliment each brew style. Another element that sets them apart is their use of famed Kentucky limestone water as a starting point for their beers. The story goes that the calcium-rich waters filtered through the limestone that sits beneath the soil of the Bluegrass region is peculiarly well-suited to the making of bourbon, and, Goodwood reasoned, to the brewing of beer.
I’m inclined to agree that this combination of wood and water works as well for beer as for whiskey. Goodwood’s Louisville Lager is an American pale lager aged on white ash, a wood most famously employed locally in the manufacture of Louisville Slugger baseball bats. Also of note is its use of solely Kentucky-grown grains- a first according to the brewery. Louisville Lager pours a pale sunny yellow with a frothy white head and plenty of carbonation. Aromas of cereal grains and faint lemon meet alongside an earthy wood note. The taste is nice and clean, hinting at the wood aging process without being overly complex. Cut hay and a slight citrus zing wrap up this rather dry 4.20% abv lager. This is definitely an inoffensive and easy drinker, but it has a lot more going on than the majority of leading American lagers.
The other of Goodwood’s brews sampled for our review is their Brandy Barrel Honey Ale. With the addition of local honey during brewing and an extended aging stint spent in used brandy barrels, this is an interesting strong ale-style beer. It pours a rich russet color with little in the way of a head. This is a sweet beer. Aromas of malt and fruit pie mingle with black currant. At 8.70% abv, it has a nice boozy warmth and a dessert-like character with notes of mead and dates. Alongside the brandy comes a mildly acidic vinegar sourness that may, depending on your taste, add to or detract from this beer, but at all events the result is certainly complex. This is a good one to linger over.
Having taken great pains to source ingredients locally and incorporate local flavors, Goodwood Brewing Company does a great job of creatively retooling some standard styles and crafting some more exotic departures while staying grounded in their hometown roots. Definitely worth paying a visit to their 636 E Main St. taproom for further exploration. B+/A