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Many craft beer enthusiasts I have spoken with seem to be on one side of the fence or the other in regarding craft beer; to experiment, or to enhance and define a style. There seems to be a large following for both. Should beer stick to its roots (grain, hop or otherwise), or should it be the pioneering beverage, constantly setting out and exploring the vast unknown in the universe of flavor? Most craft beer dominating the market today seems to blend both ideas. Enter Goodwood Brewing Co. of Louisville, KY. This brewery takes classic styles, defines them, and adds enough experimentation to set them apart from the competition. They were kind enough to send GSN two brews for our staff to review, so without further ado, here are our thoughts.

Hemp Gose

The gose style of beer originated in Goslar Germany, and is a salty, refreshing sour ale that has been around since the 16th century. With the additions of salt, and usually coriander, this brew did not comply with the Reinheitsgebot, but being a regionally unique beer, it was allowed exemption from the strict purity law.

The first look at this gose as you pour it gives you a lovely hazy goldenrod color with little to no head or lacing. The aroma is very mild with a hint of the tartness that will follow in flavor. The first sips will give someone who is unaccustomed to sours a pause as there is a lemon-like tartness which is tempered by the salt additions. Like most sours, this is meant to be consumed in sips, but the light body and balanced flavors can certainly allow for a quaff or two. The lemon sour is interesting to note in what helps define a classic gose. It’s not a generic sourness, or a vinegar quality, it certainly stands out as the yellow face of the summertime citrus. It’s almost like drinking a pleasant lemonade balanced with a small addition of salt instead of sugar. Not at all a sweet beer, it’s easy to take your time with this drink as the sourness makes it feel like you are drinking more than you are. With the lower end ABV of 5.12%, you can certainly make a summertime day go sip by sip without calling it quits early. The gose is fantastically balanced with not too much salt or tartness. Plenty of goses on the market seem to have trouble making this unique style work with the balance required for a great beer, but Goodwood sets a bar for what a classic gose should resemble. It’s well carbonated, balanced, just the right amount of tart, and absolutely refreshing. What sets this gose apart from all others is the fact that it is “aged on hemp”. Hemp as a general rule adds a certain nutty character to a brew and works well with IPAs and brown ales. Unfortunately, although this flavor could work wonders with a gose, the flavor here is extremely muted, almost imperceptible. There is a very slight herbal quality which can be attributed to hemp rather than hop however. There is a very slight hint of nuttiness in the aroma, but not enough to notice unless you are looking for it. All in all this represents what a classic gose should be, and would be a great introduction to the style for anyone looking to step back a few hundred years in Germany.

GSN Rating: 4/5 (Balanced, tart, refreshing, not enough hemp)

Spruce Tip IPA

Immediately as you pour this hazy light brown/straw-colored ale you can smell the incredible aroma emanating from your glass. It’s a strong hoppy bouquet that has an obvious undertone of the spruce tips it is aged on. As you pour the beer it has a moderate head with mild lacing. As you first taste the beer, the flavor is fairly intense as the malt backing is light enough to let the bitter nuances of the hops and spruce do their own thing. As one of the GSN staff said “you don’t feel like you’re drinking a meal here.” It has a light to medium body that works well for what this beer is trying to do. It has a sharp, hoppy bitterness that is enhanced greatly with the spruce which leads to a dry finish. Anyone who likes their beers bitter should absolutely give this one a go. It’s dry, herbal, and is reminiscent of a gin and tonic and what the quinine adds to the cocktail. The mouthfeel is relatively thick and creamy and easily coats your palate with the strong and subtle flavors at play. It’s certainly piney, but not as dank as some other brews. This can be summed up as a strong and sharp brew that contrasts greatly with the other readily available IPAs. As we approach hot and lazy days the 5.5% abv makes for a fairly sessionable brew that carries the flavor of a strong Double IPA, but not the weight or booziness that can be commonly found in your typical DIPA. It’s incredibly like a heavily hopped pale ale that carries itself well.

GSN Rating 4.5.5 (Dry, very bitter, excellent aroma, spruce tips work wonders)

Review by Kieran Jerome Matthew

If you’ve ever spilled your drink, and face it, who hasn’t at least once in their life; these innovative drinkware inventions may be just the thing for your next party. Mighty Mug started out as a company that came up with a creative solution for on-the-go drinkers who take their coffee, tea and water with them.  The initial product sold well enough and the idea was simple. Design a container that won’t easily be knocked over if it is accidentally hit.

The ingenious mechanism is hidden in the base of each glass. It is a kind of multi-point suction cup that adheres the a smooth surface if the glass is knocked on the side, but lifts straight up with no resistance.  The company sent us samples of their highball glass, pint glass and wine glass.  I should mention that none of these are actually made of glass, but rather a crystal clear plastic.

Of course drinking from plastic takes some of the enjoyment out of drinking, but if you can overlook that aspect, the idea works pretty well.

If you know anything about physics, you’ll know that the center of gravity for any object is where it is most vulnerable to being off-balance.  The taller an object and the smaller the base, the more likely it is to be knocked over. Therefore, the wine glass in our testing was the one that was knocked over more easily than the pint glass, and the whiskey glass never was tipped over.  It helps to have liquids in the glasses to give them extra weight, so as the drink disappears, so the likelihood of it getting knocked over goes up incrementally.

Overall, it’s a clever idea and one that works pretty well overall.  So, GSN gives the concept an A+, and the execution a solid B+.

For more information go to: The Mighty Mug

Luna Amara is bitter apéritif liqueur created following the “Italian Bitter of Turin” style. A liqueur with a multi-faceted bitter-sweetness of orange, prickly pear, gentian lutea and chicory mingled with rhubarb and vanilla.

Luna Amaro Bitter (46 proof)
Visual: Medium ruby.
Nose: High and bright top notes with a curious nose unlike anything I’ve had. Almost like fading roses in a florist shop.
Taste: Medium range bitterness akin to an artichoke styled amaro. Very little sweetness, but a nice black tea-like character that is bracing.
Finish: Very long with the bitter notes staying with you for several minutes.
Overall: A hearty amaro that does its job well.  One glass and you’re ready for a meal!
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

History tells us that Roman gladiators flavored their food with Finocchietto believing it to be a source of strength. Don Ciccio & Figli produce ”Finocchietto” with an infusion of hand-picked wild fennel, fennel seed, anise seed and dill blended with sugar and purified water.

As current owner F. Amodeo says, ”Don Ciccio” is my grandfather’s name. He used to be a ’carrozziere’, who owned a small body shop, a flourishing trade in those days, but his true passion was making artisanal liqueurs such as Limoncello. So, with the help of Giovanni Porpora, my other grandfather, a true ’falegname’ wood worker, they built a small distillery on the hills of Furore located in the coastal region in the south of Italy near Positano and Capri. The distillery was built facing one of the most beautiful views on the Amalfi Coast surrounded by 12 acres of lemon trees. This is how our story began, back in 1883. After almost 100 years, the distillery shut down in 1980, because of a massive earthquake. The distillery and the lemon trees were completely destroyed by the catastrophic event. So here I am today, born in a lemon garden, wanting to continue the family business. Don Ciccio & Figli plans to expand the family tradition and to people understand and appreciate the hard work, the love for our art and the passion for artisanal liqueurs that my grandfathers began so many years ago.

Finocchietto Fennel Liqueur (50 proof)
Visual: Very light yellow.
Nose: A licorice scent bomb with the intriguing addition of dill. At first it seems akin to absinthe, but there’s more here than meets the nose.
Taste: The low proof and sweetness make this an easy sipper for a hot day.  The flavor is nothing like what you might expect, as the anise and fennel are quite soft and subdued.  In some ways, I’m reminded of a white sangria.
Finish: Short and mostly sweet.
Overall: Very unique and unusual.  A great alternative to dry vermouth or lillet in vodka based cocktails, or perhaps in a Plymouth style gin libation.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

After 84 years, Don Ciccio & Figli are honored to introduce ‘Amaro delle Sirene’ to their company’s collection of handcrafted Italian-inspired liqueurs made in Washington D.C. It was last produced in 1931 in Atrani, Italy on the Amalfi Coast by the Monpigar company, one of the leading factories in the early 1900’s producing an amaro in this style. It is barrel aged for 30-45 days in 225 litre French oak barrels, previously used by the Marisa Cuomo Winery, also on the Amalfi Coast. The amaro’s base contains a blend of Aglianico and Piedirosso grapes.

Amaro delle Sirene (58 proof)
Visual: Dark reddish-brown.
Nose: Chamomile, licorice and dried green herbs with a tinge of vine fruit.
Taste: Amazingly well-balanced with a chewy, molasses character that quickly transforms into a herb-bomb. Fragrant in the mouth and with an interesting cooling sensation due to eucalyptus being thrown into the mix.
Finish: Medium-long with a dark raw molasses flavor carrying a keen amount of bright, high spice notes.
Overall: Tasty, unique and very easy to drink.  The company also makes a limited Special Edition of this amaro which is aged in double casks for 5 years.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

Legend says that the walnut husks needed for Nocino need to be picked on the day of San Giovanni. Don Ciccio follows the same tradition by starting their hand-harvesting process on June 24th. Their Nocino macerates for 8 months and is then aged in steel vats for 3 months.

Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino (58 proof)
Visual: Dark nutty brown.
Nose: Baking spice, ginger cake, and cinnamon.
Taste: Light in body, sweet and spicy with a warm, rich walnut overtone. The spice blend is intensely forward and lingers for a long time, while the nuttiness fades fairly quickly. But, at the very end, a definite walnut flavor comes out leaving no doubt that this is a Nocino.
Finish: Medium long with a lot of warming ginger and cinnamon spice.
Overall: Try this as a shot instead of the typical German digestif.  Very nice also in tiki-style drinks as an alternative to allspice or pimento drams.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

 

Ferro-China was an aperitivo/amaro created around 1881. History tells us that Cinchona barks were cooked on iron plates before being macerated. Giovanni Porpora, one of the founding members of a small distillery in Italy, formulated his Ferro-Kina recipe in 1967. Today, Don Ciccio & Figli are still producing this Ferro-Kina following their traditional methods by macerating their proprietary botanical blend in terracotta amphoras.

Amaro Tonico Ferro-Kina (20% abv)
Visual: Very dark red-brown.
Nose: Quite herbal and dark with a prolonged deep tonality.
Taste: Lightly fruity and slightly sweet with a fine mid-range of herb and root.  After a few moments, a bitter tinge creeps in, but is quite mild and easy-going.
Finish: Long with the drier, bitter notes holding on for quite some time.
Overall: I’m reminded of artichoke based amaros, but this has a lighter and somewhat more fruity quality. Quite unique and a welcome addition to the bartenders arsenal.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Don Ciccio e Figgli

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