Let’s face it: we all succumb to trends, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Look at the recent rise of sour beers, which has been led by brewers actualizing the wildest and most interesting of ideas to set themselves apart from other breweries. With this philosophy in mind, Off Color Brewing in Chicago has concocted Troublesome, a wheat beer based on the archaic Gose-style, giving all of us stateside a history lesson that we’d probably never find in a classroom.
Although branding a beer with a name like “Troublesome” might come across as odd, it is probably a reference to Gose beer’s turbulent history. Back in the 16th century, the German town of Goslar brewed controversy when developing Gose as it violated Reinheitsgebot, Germany’s beer purity law. The law permits only water, hops, and barley in beer recipes, but Gose additionally calls for salt and coriander. While the unorthodox beer skated by due to its classification as a regional specialty, Gose has faded in and out of popularity throughout its existence, only truly resurfacing as relatively stable in Germany during the mid-20th century, and finally making its way stateside this past decade.
Due to almost no experimentation with the traditional recipe by Off Color Brewing, Troublesome comes across as a wheat beer deserving of the Gose label. When pouring the beer, a straw-colored body fills the glass with minimal carbonation, resolving with a minimal white head. The nose reveals characteristics typical to Gose-style, including lemony zest as well as savory coriander and wheat aromas.
Staying true to the original Gose recipes, Troublesome weighs in at 4.3% ABV, slightly below the standard 5% ABV ceiling. Unlike popular German beers like Pilsners, the bitterness is almost nonexistent in Troublesome. Rather, a dominant citrus-sour tang, prevalent in Gose’s closely related German kin of the Berliner Weisse and Lambic, dominates alongside big salty flavors. Although this combo might come off in text as unpleasant, the flavor is practically addictive, making it almost impossible to resist the next gulp, and another, and another. Sweeter wheat flavors commonly associated with Witbiers help balance out the tarter notes, letting the coriander slide in at the end to close the show with a clean and refreshing finish.
Whether you’re a beer or history geek, a sucker for the adorable mouse in a wolf costume bottle art, or just a combination of the aforementioned, it’s hard to deny the benefits of the sour beer trend with a Troublesome bottle in your hand.
Brewery: Off Color Brewing
City: Chicago, Ill.
Availability: Year-round, 12 oz. bottles