One of the finest brewery secrets in the American West, Luminous Brewhouse is a purveyor of malty gold that has carved out a niche as a bespoke brewer of unique beers. Head Brewer Josh LaVigne’s strong brewery science background has afforded him an opportunity to experiment with artisan hops, specialty malts, and a litany of curious recipes that, more often than not, result in a dazzling trip to a foamy, effervescent paradise. The Luminous taproom, located in a converted retail space on Broadway, is often rocking with live music and is frequently charged by special event energy. Specialty brew releases are always cause for celebration; when the recipe is based on hops with what may be a century of local history attached, local folks take notice.
Kathryn Law’s (front of house manager) focus on farm-to-table craft, combined with LaVigne’s willingness to experiment, has given rise to Soft Focus, a wet-hopped pale ale brewed with hops from the nearby Quarterman Farm. The Quarterman name is familiar to local folks; the family’s farm, settled on the banks of beautiful Goose Creek, has played host to music festivals and special events built to benefit Rooted in Wyoming’s Youth Gardening Projects, among other community-focused initiatives. On a visit to the farm, Law and LaVigne learned that “someone, maybe German expatriates arriving in Sheridan a century ago,” planted hops along the tree lined drive – growing wild for decades, these hops have a smooth, earthy character. A low alpha acid percentage – this is what gives hops their bitter character – gave LaVigne the idea to brew a sessionable, low-ABV (alcohol by volume) IPA (India Pale Ale). He combined the Quarterman hops with Simcoe hops, a variety known for its bold citrus characteristics and flexible profile, to craft an easy-drinking IPA marked by bold pine and passionfruit notes, medium body, and an exceptionally smooth finish, thanks in part to the 5.8% ABV and 32 IBU (international bitterness unites; typically, the lower the IBU, the less bitter a beer tastes). “We wanted to brew a beer with local hops and as many local ingredients as we could,” says LaVigne. “And we wanted as many of our customers as possible to enjoy it.”
Soft Focus is a refreshing about-face for a brewing industry obsessed with specialty beers that too often serve as a barrier to the casual beer fan; double-IPAs, imperial stouts, etc. marked by overloaded hop profiles, excessive alcohol content, and unnecessary ingredients that turn off all but the most ardent beer connoisseur. Law is quick to point out that Luminous is “Sheridan’s living room,” and that Josh’s team loves brewing beer for a wide audience.
Soft Focus has been popular since it debuted in October. So popular, in fact, that it quickly sold out this winter. “This is just one extension of the craft ethos,” explains Law. “We want to engage the community, buy and use local ingredients wherever possible, and make beer that Sheridan wants to come back for.” Law and LaVigne have certainly done that – one of the taproom’s most-lauded brews may or may not appear on the draft list in the future (much depends on the hop harvest, after all), but there’s plenty in the pipeline for the Luminous team. The new Spring Beer series is on tap as of March 15; the lineup includes old seasonal favorites, a curious new creation, and the launch of a new Crowler program. More information below.
Shawn Parker | Executive Director | Sheridan Travel & Tourism
From Luminous Brewhouse:
“THE TIME HAS COME! The coveted Apricot Belgian Blonde is making a strong comeback with its official name: APRIdisiac. You begged us to bring it back and here it is AGAIN: Pineapple 3 Dog White IPA. Last but not least, may we introduce to you, a new brew in the lineup, drum roll… Off-Key Ale – our unique twist on the flavor profile of Key-Lime Pie with subtle notes of graham cracker to bring to attention the crust flavor of pie. Every one of these beers were fermented on Belgian yeast and incorporate real fruit in the brewing process. Additionally, we will soon launch custom Crowler Cans (only 150 of each) for these brews – when purchased together as the “Trio Pack” and lined up, they build one large graphic!