Westbrook Gose: From Goslar to South Cackalacky.

Next up, Westbrook Gose:IMG_3122

Gose (pronounced “Go-zuh”) is a wheat beer of German origin that is brewed with coriander, salt, and lactic acid bacteria. What? Spices and bacteria in German beer!? I know. I know. Leave your jackboots in the closet, Klaus von Reinheitsgebot. Gose enjoys an exception to Germany’s beer purity laws. And if there’s anything we should welcome with German purity rules, it’s exceptions…especially in light of their newfound comfort with nationalism…

german fans

When is the next invasion of Poland planned?!

Gose originated in the town of Goslar, where the water was known for having high salinity, and the sour character was probably the result of spontaneous fermentation. As production moved to other places, such as Liepzig, salt was added in the brewing process to lend the appurtenant salinity and lactic acid bacteria to achieve the sour (although sourness can be added by a sour mash process). Interestingly, gose almost went the way of the Wooly Mammoth and the Dodo, but it always made a comeback. Currently, it is actually making a resurgence of sorts in the US, with a number of breweries brewing this curious beer.

I’ve heard that if there is a benchmark gose, it’s Leipziger Gose. It’s lightly sour, with light lemon, wheat, and salinity. It’s pretty low-key, but refreshing. Now, what about Westbrook’s crack at the style…straight from Goslar to Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.

It pours a hazy gold with a bubbly white head that dissipates so quickly and completely that you’ll forget it was ever there. It smells like a wheaty, lemony, and citrusy affair, and like there’s some lactic sourness up in the game. Then you taste it and it’s all BOOM, just like General Stonewall Jackson liked his lemonade.

Why yes sah. Sour as a dickens and served by a slave.

“Why yes sah. Sour as a dickens and served by a manservant.”

Whoa, whoa. OK, so maybe only halfway like General Stonewall Jackson liked his lemonade: Lemony and sour as a dickens. And this is way more sour than any other Gose I’ve ever had. It’s good though. It has a slight salinity to it, maybe a little coriander in the background. But the lemon, wheat, and lactic sour are where it’s at. It’s very refreshing on a hot, summer day. My one complaint would be that the carbonation flags a bit early…but I ain’t mad. It’s 4%, dammit. Just slug it and pour another one.

The Haybag: I may be from South Carolina and from German stock, but this beer ain’t my bag.

Westbrook Brewing Cap’n Skoons Ballistic Stout

(NOTE: This was posted last week, but for some reason WordPress unpublished it.)

Next up, Cap’n Skoons Ballistic Stout from the Charleston-area’s Westbrook Brewing Co.:

skoonsI couldn’t find anything about this Captain Skoon fella, but from the label he looks pretty piratey. If he was a pirate, though, he wasn’t very successful. He’s not even on the Forbes Top-Earning Pirates list. Although, there are some other familiar pirates on the list connected to the Charleston-area: Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, Charles Vane, and maybe the most ridiculous pirate ever, Stede Bonnet.

Granted, Stede Bonnet is a pretty awesome pirate name, but his credentials end there. Stede had zero sailing experience (typically a pre-requisite to commanding a vessel on the high seas). See, Stede was a comfortable landowner, and he grew so tired of his wife’s nagging that one day he just up and decided to become a pirate captain. To his credit, though, this is no half-assed, go-out-and-buy-a-Harley mid-life crisis. This is like Bob from accounting quitting and starting a blood-thirsty motorcycle gang.

To compensate for his lack of experience, I’m sure he selected a totally badass flag, the hoisting of which would make even the most hardened sailor weep with fear. Wrong:

pirate flag

And it doesn’t end there. Stede, clearly not familiar with the importance of incentive-based compensation packages in the pirate industry, chose to put his crew on salary.

The Shwashbucklers Local 456 collective bargaining agreement clearly states we can't be asked to board a hostile vessel after 4:45pm.

“Sorry, the Swashbucklers Local 456’s collective bargaining agreement clearly states we can’t be asked to board a hostile vessel after 4:45pm.”

Well, Stede only lasted one year up in the pirate game. He was captured and hung after trying to escape the authorities in the Cape Fear River…not surprisingly, his boat ran aground.

This beast is actually a Baltic-style stout, which was brewed for Westbrook’s second anniversary. It pours like motor oil, and it has about the darkest head I have ever seen….all like frothed dark chocolate milk with a tinge of red. It smells huge: Roast, coffee, and cream, and plums. Did I mention coffee? The first taste is like biting into a dark-ass roasted coffee bean, but not one of those fair trade ones. It’s more like one that harbors the bitterness and anger of an underpaid, third world laborer. Some 99.99% cacao chocolate jumps in, along with some cream, singed molasses, a little smoke and licorice, and a hint of fruitiness (like the plums from the nose). This thing is a monster, but the good level of carbonation and the bitterness from the roast and hops keep it from getting anywhere near cloying.

It’s worth noting that Westbrook used German lager yeast. I don’t know if this contributed to the fruitiness, or what. A better blog would have figured that out for you.

The Haybag: Before I checked Wikipedia I thought you made that flag in Pixelmator. This beer is excellent. Please stop talking like a pirate.