You might get the impression that we, the beer gurus of ACB, understand all there is to know about beer–yet we’re still learning, just like you. It’s this thirst for knowledge that drives us to dig deeper into the stories behind the beer we drink, thus protecting you from the embarrassment of not knowing what exactly it is you’ve decided to pour in your mouth.
So welcome to the latest in our ongoing series (drum roll please…) “What the Hell Is A Gose?”
The curious history of the Gose style began in Goslar, Germany in the 16th century. The name comes from the small river (aka “a creek”) of the same name, which is pronounced Goes-uh (much like the name of the freaky nude god in Ghostbusters). This top-fermented ale is brewed with at least 50% malted wheat, possessing flavors of lemon tartness, herbs (often coriander or cilantro), and salt… that’s right, salt. Gose stands apart from its German brethren due to the fact that it doesn’t comply with Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law), though an exception has been made on the basis of it being a regional specialty. It’s also a historic oddity in that the odd, tall-necked bottle it originally came in was not corked or capped but sealed with a yeast film or plug called flor.
In 1945, the last brewery to make the beer, Rittergutsbrauerei Döllnitz, closed up shop. Four years later, it was revived by a former brewer, believed to be the only person who knew how to properly concoct the recipe. He then passed the secret recipe on to his step-son who continued, along with one other brewer, to make Gose until he died in 1966, causing the style to disappear, presumably forever. It was revived for a third time in 1980 by Lothar Goldhahn, who wished to revive a former Gosenschenk (Gose tavern), only to disappear again, this time for 3 years in the late 80s. It has been continuously brewed by at least 3 brewers in Germany ever since.
Similar styles include Belgian Witbier, Berliner Weisse, Broyhan, Grätzer, and Gueuze.
Gose Style Beers We Like and You Might Like Too:
The Bruery, Salt of the Earth (Placentia, CA) – Ever-willing to go above and beyond, The Bruery uses truffle salt, coriander, and lactic bacteria for this sour–a combo certain to draw in foodies. Part of their Provisions Series, it’s a tough one to find. 5% ABV
Cascade Brewing, Gose (Portland, OR) – The current Gose they’re offering, a 2012 vintage, features a slightly sour flavor complemented with coriander and Sel Marin de Noirmoutier sea salt from France. Only available at their locations. 7.5% ABV
Westbrook Brewing, Gose (Mount Pleasant, SC) – The celebrated brewers of the South contribute to the style with a classic version, available by can or bottle, featuring tart lemon sourness, wheat, coriander, and of course, salt. 4% ABV
Beyond the evident rarity of the style being a draw, what really sets this beer apart for us is how the style has always bucked the basic trends of other basic German lagers. You have the sour/salt balance, a lack of hops, and the variability of spicing, making most every version–of which there are roughly a hundred in the US–its own take on an already one-of-a-kind style. Some may find it unusual and not to their taste, yet a Gose’s rare nature and lazarus-like history make it a style you should seek out, if only to change things up as we head into the warm summer months.