In celebration of the first ever Gose style ale to feature in one of our beer boxes, here is an introduction to the style for Gose first timers or existing fans of this unique brew.
First up, it’s pronounced “gose-uh”. Your bar guy/gal will know what you mean if you say “gose” as in “nose” but you’ll sound like the craft beer fiend you really are if you pronounce it properly.
The style originated way back in ye olde 16th Century Germany in a town called Goslar through which the river Gose flowed. It became so popular in nearby Leipzig, however, that by the 18th century it was considered local to that city which by that stage was crammed packed full of Gosenschänken (gose taverns). Long story short, the style fell out of favour. World war, the rise and rise of German lager, and the Reinheitsgebot law (we will get to that) will sometimes do that to a beer. In 1945 the last existing brewery producing gose closed its doors. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the style was revived in the hands of Lothar Goldhahn who managed to find a brewery in Berlin that would brew gose ale. Enter the US craft beer revolution and gose was well and truly back on track.
Unlike any other beer style, gose is brewed with slightly salty water, probably beginning with the naturally saline waters of the aquifers that supplied the Goslar breweries and were very rich in minerals. It is a top fermented ale (distinct from the bottom fermented German lagers) and is brewed with a grain of at least 50% wheat. Lactobacillus bacteria (I know, sounds delicious right?) is added after the boil and produces the distinctive sour taste. Coriander is its other defining ingredient and, along with the wheat and salt, is what gets it into trouble with the above-mentioned Reinheitsgebot law. The Reinheitsgetbot law is a set of regulations governing the purity of German beer. One of those regulations states that the only ingredients permitted are water, hops and barley. The text of the original 1516 Bavarian law states in no uncertain terms:
Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that in future in all cities, market-towns and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance, shall be punished by the Court authorities' confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail.
There have been various amendments to this law over the centuries and gose was eventually given exemption from the Reinheitsgebot because it was considered a regional specialty in its own right. So don’t worry, no one is coming to confiscate anyone’s barrels.
While hops are used in gose, you’ll find it difficult to smell or taste them in the way that you might have got accustomed to with other beer styles. In place of that hop aroma and bitterness, you’ll smell whiffs of coriander and taste a sometimes mouth-puckering sourness (but in an awesome way) or spicy tartness. Look out for banana notes, apple, more of that coriander, a briney presence due to the salted water, and prepare for a crisp, dry finish. Some people like to add a shot of syrup or fortified wine of some kind to their gose to balance out that tartness but we prefer its unique tart dryness straight up. Refreshing and usually with a low to mid ABV, a good gose can be a perfect summer session ale. Gear Patrol has a great selection of gose styles for you to consider but get started with the Anderson Valley Blood Orange Gose as featured in our October Beer Box. You’ll be a convert to the style in no time.