4 Things You Might Not Know About Gose
Here Gose Nothin’
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS PUNS.
I’ve never been very interested in sour beers. I could make a long list of all my favorite styles and breweries and specific beers I enjoy, but it would be easier to just say what I don’t like: sours. There have been plenty of beers in my life, but they’ve never been sour.
Gose (pronounced like “rose” with an “uh” at the end), or Leipziger Gose as it’s formally called, is one such sour beer style that I’ve never had any desire to try. Then I read an article by self-described beer snob Joe Keohane: “Craft Beer is Dead — Gose Killed It,” and it changed everything
Go read his article; I’ll wait.
Now, I’m not even going to touch on his main point, except to say that I disagree. Is craft beer really dead? Are we out of new ideas? Is the hobby imploding? I don’t think so. (It makes a catchy article title, though.) No, the reason I bring up Keohane’s article is because, without it, I might never have been introduced to the Wonderful World of Gose.
I bathed in salt water, I perfumed my life with coriander, I sucked down golden nectar with puckered lips. For the past few weeks, I consumed nothing but that salty, herby, sour beverage that is gose. What have I learned? Joe Keohane doesn’t know shit.
Maybe you’re sitting/standing there, scratching your head, staring at your laptop/phone/tablet screen, thinking, “what the heck is a gose anyway?” I’ll let Beeradvocate tell you:
An old German beer style from Leipzig, Gose is an unfiltered wheat beer made with 50–60% malted wheat, which creates a cloudy yellow color and provides a refreshing crispness and twang. A Gose will have a low hop bitterness and a complementary dryness and spice from the use of ground coriander seeds and a sharpness from the addition of salt. Like Berliner Weisse beers, a Gose will sometimes be laced with various flavored and colored syrups. This is to balance out the addition of lactic acid that is added to the boil.
The following facts might not convince you to try a gose — that’s for the recounting of our tasting in next week’s article — but you will learn lots of neat stuff. That’s a thing that people like to do, right?
1. Gose was Originally from Goslar, Not Leipzig
Gose was originally brewed in Goslar, Germany, and takes its name from a river that runs near the town. In the late Middle Ages, mining in the area was on the decline due to wars, kings, dukes, and probably the Pope. The town wasn’t far behind. With Goslar failing, primary production of gose moved to Leipzig. It was there that gose — now Leipziger Gose — found its home.
2. Salty, Naturally
Unless you’re a fan of beer-aritas, I doubt you’ve ever added salt to your beer. Originally, neither did the brewers of gose. Back in the olden days, gose likely got its salty flavor from mineral-rich aquifers in and around Goslar that supplied water to the old breweries. Modern gose breweries rarely have access to such naturally saline water, so a healthy dose of salt is added to the boil. It’s good for what ails (ales) you.
3. The Reinheitsgebot Does Not Apply
The Reinheitsgebot — German Beer Purity Law — traditionally stipulates that the only ingredients allowed to be used in the brewing of beer are water, barley, and hops (they didn’t know about yeast yet when they first wrote it, ya nerds). Because of the use of coriander, salt, malted wheat, and lactobacillus, gose doesn’t comply with the Reinheitsgebot. It’s exempt, however, because it’s a regional specialty that predates the 1560 Bavarian beer law — the most influential predecessor of the modern Reinheitsgebot.
4. World War II Almost Killed Gose
Instead of enjoying this sour beer, we might instead be saying “so it gose” (there’s that pun I warned you about). Air raids wreaked havoc on many breweries in Germany, including those brewing gose in Leipzig. Even after the war, due to the communist regime of East Germany thinking bread was a better use of grains than beer (dummies), gose production continued to be stifled. It took the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany to pave the way for gose’s triumphant return. Thanks, David Hasselhoff.
There you have it. Next week, we’ll taste seven different goses and give you our ratings and impressions, as well as tell you where to buy them if you happen to live in Akron, Ohio. In the meantime, check out this excellent article by the German Beer Institute. When you’re done, go out and impress your friends with all your new knowledge.
Water Malt Hops Yeast is an exploration of beer, from the Reinheitsgebot to the truly strange. Each month, we’ll kick the keg of a different style of beer, delving into its origins, modern incarnations, and everything in between. Buying, tasting, brewing, pairing. You know — beer stuff.
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