Nick Carr on February 3, 2016 3 Comments History of Gose Beer First, let’s get the proper pronunciation out of the way. The name of the beer style Gose is German and is pronounced much the same way as the name Rosa, with emphasis on the “o”; and the “e” making an “Uh” sound; like so “Goes-uh.” Gose is a bit of an oddity in the beer world; both for its history of continually being right on the brink of extinction and for its slightly saline quality. It is a top-fermenting brew made up of wheat and barley with the scale often skewed slightly toward the wheat. A small amount of oats is some time also used. It is brewed with salt water or with additions of salt. Coriander is also added. It is sour, salty, and sweet. Its origin is tied to Goslar, a town in Eastern Germany. Whether the beer was named for the town or the Gose River flowing through the town is unclear, but the town was named for the river, so it’s safe to say the beer’s name tracks back to the river also. This is appropriate in many ways because, as in the case of several other beer styles, it was the water that truly made Gose distinct. Goslar itself was founded in the 10th century after silver deposits were discovered close by. Other minerals were also discovered in the area and soon extractions of copper, zinc, lead, and salt joined the silver leaving the ground. With such rich salt deposits around the town it is inevitable that the groundwater would take up some salt. So, when brewer’s set up shop they found a naturally saline water supply. The first appearance of this beer style under the name Gose seems to have been somewhere in the late 15th century, but it didn’t garnered too much notice until the early 18th century. Many articles point to Gose being at least 1000 years old. Sources validating this claim are scarce. It is possible but, at the very least, we can make some small assumption that, if around, it was known under a different name. If Gose was born in Goslar, it grew and survived in Leipzig, a town roughly 110 miles away. By 1738 the style was so popular Leipzig brewers had begun making their own batches. These beers were spontaneously fermented, delivered still fermenting to the local taverns, where once the fermentation had settled somewhat, the beer was transferred into the traditional long-necked bottles but not capped. The secondary fermentation pushed yeast into the long neck and a natural yeast cork was created. World War I found the popularity of Gose steadily declining, and by the end of the Second World War the last remaining Gose brewery was closed. This was the first in a series of extinction/revivals in the style’s history. It would be reborn on a much smaller scale in 1949, but die out again in 1966. According to beer historian Ron Pattinson’s detailed history of the style, Gose had a second brief resurrection under the passionate tutelage of Lothar Goldhahn who got the idea of reviving the style after coming into ownership of one of Leipzig’s old Gose taverns. He nursed the style along, made it his baby, until it found firmer footing in the late 1990’s. Today, Gose is enjoying a popularity unrivaled, since before the World War I. There are at least three German Breweries hard at work brewing this historical style. It has also found fertile ground in the American craft brewing scene with a growing number of breweries nursing both authentic and contemporary examples to life. Style Profile & Characteristics The guidelines for the Gose beer style are set by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Committee. The below style characteristics represent a summary of what a Gose should represent, and what you should expect from drinking one. Quick Characteristics Color Range: 3 – 4 SRM Original Gravity: 1.036 – 1.056 OG Final Gravity: 1.006 – 1.010 FG IBU Range: 5 – 12 ABV Range: 4.2 – 4.8% Appearance: Medium yellow to deep gold; Unfiltered; Good Carbonation; Head should last long, rise high and last long. Aroma: Clean freshness; Malty & yeasty dough aromas; Notes of fruits may range from light to medium and contribute to sourness; Coriander brings lemon-like aromas. Flavor: Noticeable sourness; Notes of pome fruit should be light to moderate; Low notes of lemon and grapefruit are possible; Maltiness should remain light to moderate; Salt should be noticeable; Hops remain hidden with little bitterness. Mouthfeel: Light to low-medium body; Good carbonation; Crisp, clean and overall refreshing. Food Pairings: Grilled fish, Lobster, Crab Cakes, Omelets, Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese, Blueberries The BJCP classifies the Gose beer style under category number 27, “Historical Beer.” Other styles found in this category include: Kentucky Common (27B), Lichtenhainer (27C), London Brown Ale (27D), Piwo Grodziskie (27E), Pre-Prohibition Lager (27F), Pre-Prohibition Porter (27G), Roggenbier (27H), and Sahti (27I). Appearance Medium yellow to a deeper gold in color Gose is unfiltered. Good carbonation. The head should be long lasting, made up of small tightly packed bubbles, and can rise to an impressive size. Aroma Malt will have a yeasty dough quality, possibly reminiscent of sourdough bread. The fruity aroma of pome fruit (apples, pears, quince) can be light to medium bringing a sense of low sourness. Coriander can lend a slight lemon-like character. The salt should be barely noticeable if at all and should bring an impression of clean freshness, like air stirring off the ocean. Mouthfeel Body will be light to low-medium pushed by good carbonation. It will be crisp, clean, with an overall refreshing quality. Taste Sourness should be noticeable, but not overly sharp. Pome fruit character follows aroma with a light to moderate presence. There is also the possibility of low notes of lemon, grapefruit, and lighter stone fruits. Malt flavors will appear light to moderate and be bready or doughy. Salt should be noticeable but not overwhelming. Hops should remain mostly hidden, with no signs of flavor, and only low bitterness. Here the acidity does the bulk of balancing the malts. The acidity may be easier to note on the finish and may enliven the welcoming, thirst quenching qualities of this beer. *Reference: The 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines EXAMPLES OF THE STYLE Old Pro from Union Craft Brewing Company (Baltimore, MD) Great American Beer Festival Winner, Silver, 2014. Available: Summer Seasonal. Blood Orange Gose from Anderson Valley Brewing Company (Boonville, CA) Available: April – October. Kirsch Gose from Victory Brewing Company (Downingtown, PA) Available: Spring Seasonal. Hibiscus Gose from Boulevard Brewing Company (Kansas City, MO) Available: May to June. Otra Vez from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (Chico, CA) Available: Year Round. Brombeere Blackberry Gose from Odell Brewing Company (Fort Collins, CO) Available: Summer Seasonal. Verloren from Boston Beer Company (Jamaica Plains, MA) Available: Rotating. Tips for Brewing a Gose Recipe If you’re interested in brewing your own Gose at home, here are a few things you should know going into it. Grain Bill: The grain bill for a Gose is simple; Pilsner malt and wheat at a ratio of around 40:60. The Pilsner malt gives the beer some of its characteristic crispness while the wheat lends to both the beers cloudiness and some of the fruity qualities. Sometimes a small dose of oats, up to about 8%, is added. Acidulated malt might be added if we are going to take that route to “sour” the beer (more on this below). For extract brewer’s find a high quality wheat and, preferably German, Pilsner extract. Use these in the same ratio’s as above; 60% wheat, 40% Pilsner. You are shooting for a starting gravity of 1.036 to 1.056. Bringing On The Sour: The original Goses would have been spontaneously fermented, which means the wort was left exposed to the environment becoming inoculated with some mix of wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria. Today, Commercial breweries pitch lactobacillus with their chosen yeast. As a homebrewer you have four different options when it comes to souring your beer. Two are easy, and two are harder. We’ll look at them in order of simplicity. 1. Add Lactic Acid: This is the easiest way to introduce a sour element to your beer. Many homebrew shops sell a food grade lactic acid solution that will work just fine. Add it after fermentation is complete before you bottle or keg your beer. Use a light hand here. Start with maybe a milliliter and work up from there until you have it soured to your liking. I have not tried this myself, but many brewers say that the profile created by adding lactic acid is one dimensional and a little boring. 2. Using Acidulated Malt: Acidulated malt is a pale malt that has been treated with lactic acid. You can add this to your mash at rates from 10 to 15% of your malt bill. 3. Pitch Lactobacillus: You can also do as the big commercial craft brewer’s do and pitch a pure culture of lactobacillus with your regular yeast. As with every other aspect of brewing and any new technique, using Lactobacillus takes some practice. It is a bacteria so special attention should be paid to sanitation. You don’t want these little guys infecting other things. I’d recommend researching it a bit before you take the plunge. 4. Sour Mash: There are two ways to sour your mash. In the first method you would do a regular mash, but instead of sparging the mash is cooled to around 105°F. When it is cooled, a handful of milled grain is dropped in the mash. The temperature is held here for 1 to 2 days, allowing the bacteria, residing in the grain, to grow and sour the mash. At the allotted time the mash is reheated to sparging temperature, sparged, and boiled just as any other brew would be. The boil will kill the bacteria before the wort goes into the fermenter. This method can create a more complex and sourer profile, but it is less predictable. There is always the possibility of unwanted microbes still alive in the grain bed. These can cause the development of unwanted aromas and flavors. The second method of “wort infection” is similar to the sour mash, but the grain is added to the cooled boil. In this case you would perform a regular mash and boil, but then cool the boil down to around 105°F, toss in your grain and hold the temperature for a couple days. Then return the beer to a boil and continue on to fermentation normally. This method has the advantage of killing off any microbes in the grain bed before adding the fresh grain. In both methods you want to create an environment over the mash with as little oxygen as possible. One easy way to do this is to transfer to a container with as little head space as possible between the wort or mash and the lip of the container. Then cover the opening with saran wrap, removing any air bubbles. The Mash: A single infusion mash at between 148-150°F will give you the crispness Gose’s are known for. Because of the amounts of wheat you’ll be using it may be a good idea to add half a pound of rice hulls per 5 gallons to the mash. This will help you avoid a stuck sparge. If you are planning to use acidulated malt it is best to do the mash a little different. The enzymes responsible for starch conversion require a certain pH in the mash to work well. Acidulated malt lowers this pH, so it is a good idea to mash for 60 minutes without the acidulated malt in play. This ensures the enzymes work at their optimum, extracting all the sugar they can. After the 60 minutes add the acidulated malt and let the mash sit for another 45 to 60 minutes before you start to sparge. When extract brewing you can still take advantage of acidulated malt by doing a mini-mash. Combine the acidulated malt with any specialty malt you plan to use add 1 to 2 liters of 165°F water per pound of grain. Stir the grain around. To hold the temperature between 150°F and 158°F either combine the water and grain in a small insulated cooler or you can pre-heat your oven to a low temperature, say 150°F and slide your pot in there for 45 minutes to an hour. Once the time is up rinse the grains over your brew kettle with 170°F water. Hops: Hop additions are going to be minimal, usually a single addition early in the boil. Nobel hops like Tettnanger, Hallertauer, or Spalt would be authentic and work well. You want just enough hop bittering to help shadow the sweet, but it’s the sour elements that will do most of the balancing. Adjuncts: Authentic Gose was made with coriander and salt additions. Amounts are to your preference and may take some experimenting. A good starting quantity is half an ounce to an ounce of each. The coriander you use should be fresh and ground right before it is added. The salt you add can also subtly change the beer’s flavor and these days there are plenty of different kinds of salt to choose from. Add these as you would a dose of flavoring hops, 15 minutes before flame out. These are the authentic additions, but all you have to do is peruse the commercial examples to realize there’s plenty of experimentation to play with here. Beyond sticking to lighter, subtle flavors the doors are wide open. Gose has been brewed with several different herbs, different fruits and vegetables, and even infusions of flowers; all with success. Yeast: Your chosen yeast should have low to medium flocculation, attenuation in the 70s, and a clean profile. Dry yeast choices would include Safbrew WB-06 and Safale US-05; and liquid yeast like White Labs WLP029 (German Ale/Kolsch), Wyeast 2595 (Kolsch) or Wyeast 1007 (German Ale). To keep the yeast profile clean in the finished beer you’ll want to ferment at a temperature between 65°F and 68°F. Gose has come back from the brink of extinction and seen a steady rise in popularity in the last few years. It’s low ABV and crisp, thirst quenching qualities makes it more than a little appealing on a hot summer day. But it also offers a novelty in its slight saltiness. Pickup a couple commercial examples to try (there going to be easier and easier to find) then brew your own up. It may turn out to be a new favorite. Cheers!