A Sour Craft Beer That “Gose” With Summer
In the hotter months, I gravitate towards crisp, lighter styles of craft beer. Whether it’s a Dortmunder (more people probably know it as a German Helles Exportbier) for the dog days, or a Kolsch at the beach, I enjoy craft beer even in hot weather. And now that sours are more popular than ever, I’d like to highlight one of my favorite styles, the Gose (pronounced goes-uh). Goses popping up everywhere, including here in Indiana. It is a very approachable beer, and definitely a good choice for a hot summer night!
Along with the Berliner Weisse, the Gose is Germany’s major contribution to sour beer (the Gose is sometimes confused with the Belgian sour style known as Gueuze, but they are quite different). Sour beers can basically be put into two categories: those that are soured in the kettle (kettle sours) and those that are soured during or after primary fermentation (traditional/mixed fermentation sours). Some sours are aged considerably, including Lambics and Flemish Reds that might take years to develop, and their flavor profile is affected by multiple factors.
The Gose, while originally a mixed fermentation sour beer, is now often made via kettle souring, a much quicker process. In kettle soured examples, lactobacillus bacteria are added to the wort before boiling. The bacteria metabolize some of the fermentable sugars and release lactic acid, lower the wort pH and adding a fairly one note sour profile. Kettle sours tend to be lighter in body, and fresh in taste that can include a range of tartness depending on how long the bacteria are allowed to ferment before being killed in the boil. American representations of European sour beers tend to be more tart than their counterparts from the continent.
The Gose is a top fermented wheat beer that has historically had a lemon herbal sour taste balanced with a salty finish that originally came from the local water that was being used (the Gose River area near Goslar, Germany), but is now an additive in the style. It has a low ABV, usually around 4%. Coriander is traditionally used in the style to provide some flavor and a bright lemony/sour orange aroma.
However, the addition of coriander meant that Goses did not comply with the Reinheitsgebot Beer purity law. This could have meant death for the style, but so many Germans in the region were fans of this beer that is was given a special exemption from the purity law – power to the people! Modern Goses often have other additives to add flavor and complexity in an effort to overcome the relative simplicity of the kettle sour beer as compared to traditional sours. The lactic acid can’t be counted on to add depth of flavor, whereas traditional souring techniques add many more compounds to the beer and will change over time.
While the Gose was also closely associated with the city of Leipzig in the 18th century, by World War II, there was only one German brewery producing Gose. The style was nearly forgotten save family recipes closely handed down and by the 1980s, no original brewers were left.
Interest in the style never died out completely, and now the Döllnitzer/Ritterguts Brewery exports a wonderful German representation of the style, which just happens to be available in Indiana. But yet, Gose can only be found in a few bars in Germany, and only a handful of German brewers today work with the style. Fortunately, American craft brewers and their counterparts elsewhere have embraced this beer, and many excellent Goses can be found at your local liquor store year round. Let’s first discuss a few national labels, then get to some Goses made by Indiana craft brewers.
While I’ve loved sour beers since I first tried them in Belgium in the 1990s, I discovered the Gose style only a few years ago. Destihl Brewing out of Illinois makes the Here Gose Nothing that was my introduction to the style, and it was great. The fresh sour flavor was new to me and I was most impressed with the fullness of the sour qualities that were so much more robust than aged sours. I soon tried Sierra Nevada Otra Vez, which is made with cactus and grapefruit. My wife and I both loved it immediately, and it became a staple in our beer fridge.
I enjoy Avery Brewing from Colorado, and they make a lot of excellent sours, many of them barrel aged. Recently I tried El Gose, and I found it to be absolutely refreshing. It has become my lawn mowing beer, and along with the first two Goses mentioned, and the ones in the picture below, available in Indiana. As you can see, many breweries have embraced the style, and are adding a variety of flavors in their Gose. Cherry is a tart flavor, and Victory balances it well in their Kirsch Gose.
There are dozens of other breweries in the US making great Gose, and the style is having a banner year. California’s Anderson Valley makes a handful of them. Last Christmas, I was a beer called The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose. When I opened it, my wife and I both felt it might’ve been the best sour either of us have ever tried! And then last March at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap in Chicago, our server brought us a can of Anderson Valley’s G&T Gose which had gin and tonic spices that paired nicely in the beer. At the time I was ready to crown AV as sour experts, and feel they are properly expanding their Gose line. I found two more recently in Pennsylvania and can’t wait for Anderson Valley to be available in Indiana (I’ve heard rumors – owner Trey White is a Hoosier).
As I researched Gose, I kept coming across the same breweries, so before I get to those made locally, I want to mention a few others. August Schell Brewing from New Ulm, Minnesota has 150 years of brewing experience, and is currently producing some amazing sours including their Goosetown Gose. I like Off Color Brewing from Chicago, but I haven’t yet tried their Troublesome Gose. Lastly, Westbrook Brewing from South Carolina helped prompt Anderson Valley to do their Gose line, and many sources put Westbrook’s Gose as one of the best being produced.
Paralleling the increase in Goses nationally, Indiana has seen a plethora of Gose style beers hit the market recently; Tin Man Brewing even made one with tomatoes! (one of eleven tomato Goses registered on UnTappd). While a lot of taprooms in our state have a Gose, at least two excellent Hoosier made Goses should be at your local liquor store.
Central State has been making some great sours, but their Garden is a lemon peel Gose that comes in a beautiful yellow pint can. It is a refreshing sour, and a go-to beer for me as well. There are other Gose in Central States lineup including the Ottermelon Gose aged on watermelons – it pays to know your memes.
Triton Brewing’s Barn Phantom Gose is one of their flagship beers that uses Himalayan pink salt – which points out the subtle nature of the salt in Goses, it show be smooth and flavorful, but not metallic like iodine. The Barn Phantom is a good example of the style, and should you get to Triton’s taproom in Lawrence, try their Gose variants, including ones with blueberry, mango, and ugli fruit!
Three Floyds produced Cherron for a short time, a Gose with cherries. It was good, but unfortunately was retired in 2016. The brewery is always tweaking their beers, so I hope 3 Floyds makes another Gose while the style is hot this year. Upland had the Two of Tarts last year that was a tropical Gose with mango and passion fruit. As Upland continues to focus on very good sours, we may more Goses from them.
College Park’s Rock Bottom on Indianapolis’ north side has been active at the beer festivals this spring and summer, and I have been fortunate enough to try their College Gose several times. They did a good job with this beer, and I look forward to trying it again soon, as I do the Squirrel Shoes from The Guardian in Muncie. This margarita gose with lime is very light, and I hope they make more batches as the get the brew house at MadJax up and running.
I saw that 18th St. makes a Blackberry Gose in their Sour Note project. I also found a Persimmon Gose from Deviate Brewing was made last year, and Sun King made a small batch of their Transcontinental Gose in collaboration with the Kodiak Island and Wicked Weed, from Alaska and South Carolina respectively. I could go on, but I feel I have shown the Gose to be a very popular style. The odds are good that at least one of your favorite Hoosier brewers has made a Gose, or will make one in the near future.
I love good beer, and while I get to write about a lot of styles, it was a pleasure to write about Gose in this article. I’ll be in Wisconsin this summer, and I hope New Glarus will have added a Gose to their arsenal of stellar beers by that time. Should you go to Chicago, Off-Color is a definite stop for Gose. I’m excited that a style that was nearly forgotten is so popular right now. The Gose is a very approachable style of beer; it’s a good place to start your journey into sours or to return to rediscover the lighter side of sours.