It’s common for beer to age in bourbon barrels. Goodwood Brewing decided to put bourbon in beer barrels.
The 90-proof bourbon started with owner and president Ted Mitzlaff and COO and brewmaster Joel Halbleib tasting from a number of barrels to get the flavor profile they sought for the experiment. The small-batch bourbons were aged three to four months in the stout barrels and then blended and bottled. They will be released soon as part of a Goodwood Spirits product line.
The finished product is a smooth bourbon with caramel and vanilla notes that progress nicely into a finish that brings about malt sweetness and cocoa from the beer. There’s an unexpected hint of spice in the bourbon.
It is indeed unique.
And it comes with a bit of controversy.
Goodwood has said the bourbon barrels are a few of the survivors of last summer’s warehouse collapse at Barton 1792 Distillery. Quite a few barrels remained intact and filled with bourbon. However, Sazerac, Barton’s parent company, told bourbon expert Fred Minnick that none of those barrels has been released. “‘Sazerac: ‘not even a broker sold them. No warehouse 30 barrels from the collapse have been sold,’” Minnick tweeted. “Goodwood is one of my favorite breweries, and hope there are not brokers out there misrepresenting. Sazerac will not let this marketing capital go to just anybody.”
Mitzlaff told LEO: “I don’t know why they would deny it. I’m not worried about it.”
Regardless, Goodwood says the stout-barrel-aged Goodwood bourbon is Barton, sourced from barrel brokers.
Interestingly, before the Goodwood stout barrels used for bourbon were ever stout barrels, they were bourbon barrels, so there may just be some added depth from whatever bourbon came first. Halbleib said that, most likely, the stout barrels originally came from Buffalo Trace or Heaven Hill. But the stout certainly is noticeable in the finished product.
“I think the stout really shines through in the finish,” Halbleib said, speaking at a special tasting and launch event last week. “The malt character has kicked up quite a bit. I don’t think there’s another bourbon like it on the market.”
The move takes the brand into a different business space, one that is popular in Kentucky and globally. The first bottles will be released in Louisville and Lexington, but the brewery will look to take its spirits into the 14 states where the beer is distributed.
And since the brewery’s signature tag is “touched by wood,” with many beers having been aged in bourbon barrels, moving into bourbon is a natural extension.
“We’re Goodwood,” Mitzlaff said, “so we’re going to do beer and spirits.”
Halbleib said the remaining barrels of bourbon are now finishing in Walnut Brown and Honey Ale barrels and will be bottled and released later this year.
Have your Tailspin tickets?
If you didn’t score tickets to this year’s Tailspin Ale Fest on Feb. 16, you can win tickets at various events around town.
Tonight, Feb. 6, at Drake’s at the Paddock Shops, win a pair of tickets as well as try Sun King Osiris to get a sneak peek of the festival (6-8 p.m.). On Feb. 7, Against the Grain Brewery takes over the taps at Drake’s in St. Matthews, so enjoy a flight and enter for a pair of tickets (6-8 p.m.); also that night, Hopcat hosts a spelling bee for grown-ups, so show off your middle school chops to win two tickets (7-9 p.m.).
On Feb. 8, Cox’s in Jeffersontown hosts an Against the Grain tapping and a giveaway of two tickets (5-7 p.m.), and on Feb. 9, get over to Evergreen Liquors in Middletown for a sneak preview of the official Tailspin Ale beer, brewed by a LAGERS brew-off winner at Apocalypse Brew Works (3-5 p.m.).
Evergreen also hosts the penultimate event Feb. 13 with a ticket giveaway and Rhinegeist Brewery tasting (5-7 p.m.), and your absolute last chance to win tickets takes place Tailspin eve at Hopcat, where eight tickets (four pairs) will be given away, starting at 6 p.m. In addition, $1 of each pint of Rhinegeist beer sold will be donated to the Forecastle Foundation.
Good luck. Hey, at the very least, there will be beer at every stop.
What’s in the fermenter?
Nick Landers, head brewer at Gordon Biersch, checked in to let me know he had the brewery’s first Brut IPA in the fermenter. The good news is that it will be tapped tonight (Feb. 6). Brut IPA is a relatively new style to the area, but it’s becoming more common. Essentially, it’s an extremely dry IPA brewed with enzymes used to make champagne. The beer was brewed with LAGERS member Evan Brill, and Landers said the beer will also be tapped at Tailspin Ale Fest. •