Summer of Sours: The Gose

wpid-20150709_153023.jpgWestbrook Brewing of Charleston, SC, is known for making several excellent beers.  Their Mexican Cake Imperial Stout is highly sought after throughout much of the country, their Citrus Ninja Exchange is a healthily respected IPA, and their barrel aged “Old Time” Belgian Dark Ale series and Bearded Farmer line up of Saisons are well thought of.  Even their One Claw, a more year round beer, is considered very tasty and highly crushable.  So a couple years ago, when a friend of mine announced his plan of beer acquisition for an upcoming visit to Westbrook included bringing back as much of one beer – one beer – as possible, his strategy seemed to be, at the least, a little short sighted.  Then, I found out which beer, and I had to question his state of mind.  My friend’s master plan was to bring back as much of their Gose as possible.  Their Gose.  An unassuming looking, slightly cloudy, sour wheat beer with roots in old world Germany.  At the time, it seemed a little like sitting down at the best steakhouse in town and intending to order the house salad.  Later that same summer, after having the good luck to finally get a taste of this deceptively simple beer, I thought of my friend’s one beer plan.  After one sip, it made perfect sense.

The latest old world style to enjoy a resurrection by this country’s craft breweries, the Gose (pronounced Gose-‘uh’) is a member of a family of sour wheat beers from Germany.  Think of it as a cousin of the Berliner Weisse.  Once spontaneously fermented and most likely highly sour, today’s examples are soured through various methods but it’s likely they are not nearly as tart as the old world versions.  The traditional addition of salt and coriander has survived though, and the cloudy, part wheat, part barley ale typically sports a pale yellowish, slightly orangy color that shines like the sun through the haze on a ninety degree day at the beach.  It’s what somehow makes the Gose look like a perfect warm weather beer, just as my friend knew those couple years ago.  But it’s their light, slightly lemony, citrus wheat beer taste, balanced out by the salt, make them surprisingly thirst quenching and a perfect match for any warm day.  For the record, you may also detect a light mineral like or white breadiness to them as well.  Also in their corner is their relatively low abv (usually in the 4 to 4.5% range), which makes them easy to put down when the sun is beating down on you from above.

wpid-20140825_175133.jpgAs far as examples go, not much makes it past Westbrook’s Gose.  If you can get it, it is an excellent example of an American, craft brewed version.  Other examples include California’s Anderson Valley Brewing “The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose”, released in the last year or so.  Chicago’s Off Color Brewing makes a fine example with their “Troublesome” Gose as well.  Here locally, Parkway Brewing Company very recently released their “Gose Both Ways”.

Of course, American breweries weren’t going to stop at attempts to simply recreate their own versions of the Gose.  Additional ingredients designed to compliment the sour, salty nature of the Gose were bound to come.  Anderson Valley followed up their more standard version of the ale with their Blood Orange Gose, Boulevard Brewing released their tasty Hibiscus Gose (sea salt and hibiscus flowers) and earlier this year, Victory Brewing released their insanely easy to drink and delicious Kirsch Gose, using additions of cherries and cherry juice in the beer.

A few days ago, I returned from a trip to the beach.  Five days of sand, sun, and high eighty degree temps made for a perfect summer getaway.  On the first day there, with chair firmly planted in the sand, I opened the cooler to pull a Westbrook Gose out of the ice.  Needless to say, I thought of my friend’s plan – and how well I was following it this time around.




~ by thebeerroad on July 24, 2015.

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