This January, craft beer powerhouse Sierra Nevada will introduce a new beer to their year-round lineup, the Otra Vez, which is their take on the a gose. No surprise, given that gose have been trending over the last few years, and with good reason; the gose style is like a recipe playground for brewers. The top-fermented beer dates back to the 16th century, from Goslar, Germany. Brewed with a lot of malted wheat, the beer is intensely tart, typically levelled off with coriander and salt, the latter added either from brewing with water that has lots of saline or added during the brewing process. And while those base ingredients deliver some intense flavors, it’s also an open invite to experiment.
And that’s just what Sierra Nevada has done. To create their version, they turned to the native flora of California, their home state; During a year long process that brewery founder Ken Grossman describes “a bear to get just right,” they used prickly pear cactus and grapefruit from the Central Valley. This unlikely pairing makes for a surprising play on the style. The expected tartness is there, but partnered with an element of fruit flavors that are both tangy and sweet, and wholly original.
The beer comes on strong with the first sip—lemon tartness, bright fruit—but the pinch of coriander and salt at the end really rounds out the flavors, leaving you anxious for another sip. And that second taste really puts the sweetness to the foreground, now that your palate has learned to anticipate the gose tartness. In many ways, the Otra Vez embodies what’s so exciting about craft beer: the first taste surprises, and the subsequent sips let you explore all the elements that brought on that initial surprise.
In my experience these kinds of sour, tart beers often resonate with non-beer drinkers, who can’t wrap their heads around the concept of a beer that isn’t a hop bomb or a milky stout. And they like them. But others may cringe at these flavors. Perhaps it’s apt that this beer is dubbed Otra Vez, which literally translates into “another time,” but can also colloquially mean, “let’s do that again.” And with only a 4.5% ABV, I endorse the latter.
Brewery: Sierra Nevada
City: Chico, CA; Mills River, NC
Availability: Year round, starting January