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.
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