So, what qualifies a beer to be a “sour beer?”
If you’ve ever sipped one of those green-bottled Belgian fruit beers, enjoyed a Berliner Weisse, or tried out an American Wild Ale – you already know a bit about sour beers. They are clean, tart, tangy, and not your average beer.
Though nowadays brewers produce beer in a sterile environment, where wild yeast or bacteria should not contaminate – all beers were sours at one time. By that I mean that clean, cultured yeast was not available, and since starters from one batch were just used for the next, wild yeast and bacteria were carried along to the next batch – giving the beer that twang that modern brewers must now intentionally recreate when making a sour beer.
Anybody who likes yogurt, kombucha tea or sourdough will know that tart kick I’m talking about. Some modern brewers intentionally create that sour flavor using Lactobacillus (yup, the stuff in yogurt), Brettanomyces, and Pediococcus. However, those who choose to homebrew with wild yeast have to anticipate a brewing process that will be extremely unpredictable, could take months or even years, and may contaminate their homebrewing equipment. This is of course why your Mr. Beer recipe will contain lactic acid instead, to forgo contamination risks and extremely long brewing time without skimping on flavor.
(pronounced Gos-uh) is a delicious deviation from the sour beer norm that has been popping up with more frequency this summer, and as our Brewmaster Josh says, it’s a great “training wheels beer” for those who haven’t tried sour beers much before. Gose’s relatively low ABV (4.0-5.0%), mild tartness, and bright, crisp flavor make it an excellent summer sipping beer.
And so the story Gose
This old German beer style originated in Goslar, and was named after the Gose River, but is better known for becoming popular in the Saxon capital of Leipzig. It was first brewed in Goslar in the early 16th century, and was originally spontaneously fermented, meaning it fermented itself with no need for additional yeast.
Goslar’s Gose was so out of the ordinary that brewers in Leipzig began brewing the style, and when the city council of Goslar decided to put a halt to the brewing of Gose in 1826 due to poor sales, it was Leipzig that kept this brew going. By 1900 brewers had moved to using top-fermenting yeast and lactic acid bacteria to achieve the sour twang, and Gose had become the most popular beer in Leipzig.
The Gose Beer Style
What makes Gose truly unique is that it is brewed with slightly salty water. It’s been said that the original source of Gose’s saltiness was the water supplied to brew houses from mineral-rich aquifers in Goslar. Another remarkable attribute of Gose is that 50-60% of its grain bill is comprised of malted wheat. All of that malted wheat creates Gose’s cloudy yellow color, crisp flavor, and twang. The addition of coriander in this beer style then provides its tasty herbal characteristic.
Gose is quite the rebel. Because it contains coriander and salt, it does not comply with the Reinheitsgebot (a.k.a German Beer Purity Law), but is allowed an exemption because it is a regional specialty. Vielen Dank, Leipziger, because if brewers in Leipzig hadn’t fallen for the stuff and taken the torch, this tasty stuff would’ve gone the way of the dinosaurs.
What you should be looking for in a Gose
- Mild sourness
- An herbal note (traditionally from the coriander)
- A tasty salinity (we’re not talking full on ocean water)
- Low hop bitterness
Dark Pale to Light Amber
Typical Alcohol Range:
Enjoy at Temperature:
Clean, bright, acidic dishes, for example Japanese and Korean Food; nothing salt-forward