Return of the Gose

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By Robyn Bursey

If you're a lover of sour beer, you might already be familiar with gose.  But in case you've just been nodding along with the sales person at your local booze-erie, here's the lowdown.

Gose (pronounced goze-uh) is a tart German style of beer that is regularly confused with "geuze" a more complex blend of aged Belgian sours.  Gose is made primarily with barley, wheat, coriander and salt and is brewed with top-fermenting yeast and the addition of lactobacillus, which makes it sour.  It also frequently sees the addition of various fruits, as the salt component does a great job of lifting and accentuating those flavours.  Gose is not traditionally a hop-forward beer and is generally more zesty and fresh than malty and sweet.  That paired with the slight tartness, and the addition of salt, creates a seriously refreshing style of beer.  It's also around 5% ABV and under... post work-out pint anyone?

Gose was born in the tiny German mining town of Goslar.  It's original salt content could be attributed to the aquifers that supplied the breweries then, and the lactobacillus to spontaneous fermentation.  The exact year of it's creation is not officially known, but it's possible that gose was first brewed somewhere between 1181 and 1470.  What is known for sure, is that sometime later the popularity of gose greatly declined in Goslar and simultaneously grew over 100 miles to the southeast in the town of Leipzig.  It's first real date of documentation was in Leipzig in 1738.   By 1900, Leipzig had become known as the gose capital of the world; and still is, in fact.  It had a few moments of hardship over the years due to World War II and the Cold War, disappearing in 1945, 1966, and again in 1988. After the reunification of Germany in 1989, Leipzig once again started producing gose.  It is this far-reaching history that allowed gose to be grandfather into the reinheitsgebot (The German Purity Law) wordings, and therefore still brewed today.

Nowadays gose is brewed in it's homeland of Germany, as well as in craft breweries all over Canada and the United States.  A couple VA Staff faves:  

Ritterguts Gose:  The Original Gose.  Brewed using the original recipe from 1824.  500mL bottles - $9.00 all in

The Bruery Goses are Red: A California-based brewery's take on the style, which includes the addition of grapes making it a stylish match of a funky, crisp and tart gose with the soft sweetness of a rosé wine.  750mL bottles - $20.50 all in