And so it Gose
They say everything is cyclical. For instance, my brewmaster husband sports a beard and long flowing locks, and he is considered “hip” and “with it,” as he would have been considered hip in the 1970s with the same style. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but it’s growing on him. High-waisted jeans are now all the rage again, as they were in the 80s; we always lovingly referred to them as “Mom Jeans” and even though I am now a mom of four kids, I cannot bring myself to don this altitudinal denim. But clothing is not the only trend that is cyclical—beer styles also come and go(se). I guess you could say, what gose-round comes around. Okay, before I do any more gose puns, I would like to enlighten you on what a gose is, how you should pronounce this beer so that you can sound cool in front of your people, and why you should care about this style. So here gose. Sorry, I clearly cannot help myself.
Long ago, the town of Goslar, Germany found itself on the map after silver deposits were found there, followed closely by the discovery of other minerals like copper (yay, copper!), zinc, lead…and salt. These rich salt deposits found their way into the ground water, and when the local brewmaster used water from the Gose River, added some coriander, and allowed his brew to spontaneously top-ferment, the salty sour gose was born. (By the way, it is pronounced “goes-ah” and it rhymes with “Rosa” or “posa” which you can now use thusly to your friends—“You don’t know how to pronounce this beer? And you call yourself a lover of craft beer? You’re nothing but a posa!” You're welcome.) This style was perhaps brewed as early as 1000 AD, but it really took off in 1738 as it found a larger market in the nearby city of Leipzig. Soon there were over 80 gosenschenkes (gose taverns) and Leipzig became known as the place to gose for this beer. But no matter how popular it became in Leipzig, it remained a regional specialty.
At the onset of that unfortunate skirmish known as World War II, all production of goses, as with other German beers, ceased. After the war, when other breweries opened back up, lagers and pilsners and other bottom-fermented beers that could be stored and transported much more easily started taking the place of top-fermenting wheat beers, including goses. By 1966, the style gose bye-bye. However, the recipe in its basic form survived (half malt and half wheat, sea salt and coriander, souring agent), and in 1986 one of the old gosenschankes was discovered, reopened, and restored. Another reopened in 1999, and just recently, the style has found its way to the good old US of A, where we, of course, took the salty sour gose to the extreme...because ‘Merica. Things are a little different these days--we don't allow our sours to open ferment and pick up whatever bacteria is floating around. We control the lactobacillus to sour the beer, but then have to boil off the beer one more time in our kettle to make sure not all of our beers turn sour. Making a sour is a little more nerve-wracking in the brewhouse, but I think you'll find that it's worth the risk.
So far at Copper State, we have made a Mango Gose (Mangose, if you will) and a Key Lime Gose, which we are calling Sublimeinal Messages. Since the style is one of Brewmaster Jon’s favorites, you can expect we will be playing around with different flavor combinations and keep the style gose-ing in Green Bay. So swing on by to raise a glass with us; we can talk about the past, the present and the future, as time gose by...