It wasn’t too long ago that I had to Google the word “Gose” to figure out what the hell was going on with the strange beer that had turned up in my pint glass. The beer was confusing—kind of sour, and really tart, not my typical beer style, but I couldn’t help but go back for another sip. And another. And another. This was only a couple of years ago, when just a few American breweries bothered to make the ancient German style of beer called Gose, which combines really powerful tart notes with subtle hints of saltiness. The Gose was predominantly a lost art—largely forgotten by modern breweries. That is no longer the case. Call 2014 the Year of the Gose, because we’re seeing a strong resurgence in this esoteric style of beer.
Your standard Gose is a wheat beer with a low ABV, kind of refreshing but also kind of not refreshing. There’s a pucker factor, but also an oddly welcome spice from the use of coriander, and a kick of salt. The style isn’t for everyone, and I certainly couldn’t imagine knocking back a six pack in one sitting. Your palate would be wrecked. But there’s something intoxicating about the Gose that gets under your skin. Every once in a while, you just need a hit.
Here are six American versions of Gose you gotta check out.
North Carolina Gose West
The Brewers Guild produced the beer at Mystery Brewing, in Hillsborough this fall, but then sent kegs of it to taprooms across the state. It showed up at the Great American Beer Festival, too. They built the beer with as much local ingredients as possible (sea salt from the coast, barley and wheat from Asheville), and it will only be available through October in select locations. Road trip.
Boulevard calls this an “introductory sour beer.” I get that. It’s such a complex beverage—salty, lemony, with even a bit of sweetness—there’s a lot for new sour drinkers to grasp onto. Boulevard steeps dried hibiscus flowers at the end of the brewing process, which adds a bright pink tone to the beer. So it’s pretty too.
Westbrook Brewing Co.
This is the beer that sent me on my first journey to Gose town. Only 4% ABV, hitting all the style notes of sour/salty/spicy—it comes off as unabashedly zesty. Last summer, this was my go-to beer when I wanted to challenge myself and cleanse my palate. My mouth is watering just thinking about this beer.
Cucumber and Lime Tritonia
I haven’t had the chance to try this beer—it’s basically brand new, and I believe, available only on draft. Any who, Athens, Ga. based Creature Comforts took the traditional Gose and added cucumber and lime. I can only imagine that these additions help create a whirlwind of zing. I hope I’m up for the challenge.
Off Color Brewing
This could be the most appropriately named Gose in the bunch. This is a troublesome beer—actually two beers blended into one—a wheat beer spiced with coriander and a second Lactobacillus beer. Tart, is the name of the game, here, even after Off Color adds salt to the mix. See the full review here.
Goosetown follows most of the Gose rules, but has a bit more of a malt backbone than some of the other Gose you’ll find. You get a bit of bread with your lemony tartness—a bit of balance to this traditionally unbalanced brew. This is a warm weather seasonal, but you can probably still find a bottle or two in the stores if you’re in Schell’s backyard.