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…
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.
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.