Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beer of the Week: Gose

I've wanted to do a "beer of the week" feature for a while now and was planning on waiting until 2010. My impatience wins, however, so I'm starting now. I hope to post these every Sunday or Monday, though that may change. My intent is to write about styles, substyles, notable beers, and other style-related topics, though that may change too; we'll see how it goes.

First up? Gose.

A couple of months ago, I was flipping through Randy Mosher’s Radical Brewing and ran across a style of German beer I’d never heard of before:  Gose (GO-zuh). In it, Mosher explains that this style of beer is made with salt (yes, salt!) and coriander. It is also slightly sour, similar to a Berliner Weisse, and low to moderate in alcohol at around 4% ABV. The sourness initially came from wild, spontaneous fermentation (similar to the sour Belgian beers), but now is managed much more accurately and reliably with the addition of lactic acid bacteria.

My curiosity piqued. Another sour German beer? (see Berliner Weisse) Slightly salty? Citrusy? Count me in! I looked for it everywhere I went, but never found any until I went to Lukas Liquor in Martin City. I was looking for some German beer and there they were – two little bottles tucked away on the bottom shelf. I grabbed both of them, along with a few other beers, and headed home.

Gose is an old style of beer, originating from Gosen (hence the name) as early as the 900s, and popularized in Leipzig. Thanks to the predominant wheat crops in the area, about 50% of the grain bill is malted wheat. Gose production fell to zero during and after WWII due to bombing of some of the breweries and economic difficulty (see: East Germany). Thanks to brewers in Leipzig, German reunification, and the relaxation of brewing limitations in Germany, though, Gose is experiencing a revival. 

The beer itself is interesting and not as strange-tasting as you might think after reading the ingredients. It pours a hazy pinkish-orange color and maintains its turbid appearance long after pouring. The aroma is one of citrus, largely grapefruit, and the initial taste is citrusy as well. The salt only enhances the subtleties of the beer and isn't noticeable, and the finish of the beer is similar to a wit in acidity and light spicy coriander. The tartness of the beer complements the citrus overtones well and makes it quite a refreshing drink.

If you like Belgian Wit, Geuze, Berliner Weisse, tart lambics, or oranges in your American Wheat – I bet you’d like Gose. I bought the beer you see above, produced by Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof. You can find it at Lukas Liquor in Martin City for about $3 per 11.3oz bottle. 

Want to brew one? Mosher has a recipe in his book, or you can try your hand at the recipe on homebrewtalk. There's quite a bit of information in that thread to guide the adventurous homebrewer.


  1. Any idea if there are any yeasts available from either white labs or wyeast to brew this? Also are there any credible all grain recipes on the net?

    Oh, by the way I was also just awarded the 2009 Nobel Homebrew Prize:

  2. I was updating this post with that very information as you made your comment, Andy. I don't know how reliable the HBT recipe is, but it appears to be a good one. The Mosher recipe should also be decent, but I saw on another board that it didn't appear to have enough salt and that the recipe on HBT was preferred.

  3. Good read! Excellent article and nice idea on the beer of the week. You can find all sorts of treasures in Lukas, I tend to spend a lunch hour there at least once every couple of weeks.


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