Beer styles come and go, but few have survived for as long as the Gose. Brewed almost continuously for close to 1000 years. You’ve probably seen it brewed as the base for an outlandish pastry sour, or on the shelf at your local beer fillery. The style is surprisingly common and can be often found marketed simply as a wheat sour. So what exactly is it? And how do you even pronounce Gose?
The Gose — pronounced “go suh” — emerged at some point during the Medieval period in what is now the German town of Goslar (pictured above). For hundreds of years it was served as the drink of choice across much of Lower Saxony. The brew became so popular that bars were created specifically for serving it, known as Gosenschenkes. The style reached its peak in the 19th century with over 80 Gosenschenke in the neighbouring city of Leipzig and immense waiting lists for new stock. Unfortunately, changing palates and the effect of two World Wars eventually led to the last Gose brewery closing down in 1945. A limited number of pubs kept the style on life support in the eastern part of Germany, behind the Berlin Wall, until the 1980s, when thankfully the style was revived and began its journey back into production and then the world.
Part of what made the style originally so unique was the brewing method. Unlike most other beers, Gose did not finish fermentation at the brewery. Instead, they continued to undergo lactic fermentation at the bar or Gosenschenke they were to be served at in specially designed open bottles. The yeast would form an unconventional seal in the long neck of the bottle, which was prone to releasing its contents if not handled carefully.
Gose is exempt from the German beer purity laws, thanks to their regional specialty designation. The unique taste comes from the inclusion of salt and coriander, and over half the grain bill being wheat. Generally, you can expect a degree of tartness, varying levels of salt, and a pleasant herbal finish. ABV is typically quite low, around 4-6%.
Curious? Well, it must be time to try some. I would suggest starting with a can of North End’s ‘Become the Ocean’ Gose. Brewed to be as faithful to the past as time will allow, this easy-drinking brew will ease you into the style, with a gentle mix of dried fruits, a touch of tart, and a pinch of salt.
Next, try a can of Urbanuat’s refined and herbaceous Manuka and Kawakawa Gose. A sprinkle of salt combines with inviting flavours of fresh flowers, vibrant fruit, and a refined level of sourness.
I’d also recommend trying Kererū’s Sea Buckthorn Gose. Your palate will find itself coated in surprisingly complex salty, sweet, and sour layers.
Beyond those, I’d recommend Boneface’s Gose, Garage Project’s White Mischief, Bayland’s Slackline sour range.