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Gose is a tart and salty beer style from Leipzig, Germany. A top-fermented ale flavoured with salt and coriander was first brewed in the town of Goslar during the early 16th century. Originally, Gose was spontaneously fermented, which attributes it’s sour flavour from lactobacillus. Now, under more controlled settings, brewers have brought back this style for our enjoyment.
I was completely new to this style of beer. I’ve had my fair share of sour beers, saisons and lambics but the addition of salt was unknown. I’ve toyed with the idea of adding sea salt to a homebrew but never thought it would quite work. However, I’ve seen people season lagers with salt. I have also rimmed cerveza glasses with salt in the summer and it always tasted refreshing. The pieces started to come together.
The Gose style is not widely available but we do have two bottled examples here in Quebec. Les Trois Mousquetaires Hors Série Gose and L’Alchimiste Gose Bier. Since I’m new to Gose, I decided to compare the two and try to distinguish the style by comparison.
Les Trois Mousquetaires Gose is a sour ale at 3.8% Alc./Vol. in a beautiful 375 mL bottle. Using Quebec Pilsner malts, wheat and oat. Hopped with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh. Best served at 4°C in a Weizen glass. The bottle also displays 9 IBU and 8 SRM.
The unusual style is brewed with the sour mash technique with a slightly salted water and aromatised with coriander seeds.
L’Alchimiste Gose is also classified as a sour ale at 4,7% Alc./Vol. in a 341 mL bottle. No other information is displayed on the bottle but it was a beer brewed at the end of June for the Festival Oktoberfest des Québécois. Both cost $2.49 at my local beer store.
LTM Gose pours with a slightly off white, two finger head. Which dissipates fairly quickly but decidedly slower than L’Alchemiste. A cloudy, slightly darker straw when compared but turns more opaque as you wrangle in some of the yeast at the bottom of the bottle. It left a nice lacing but after time it all but disappears, making this almost look like a fruit juice.
L’Alchimiste Gose pours with a 1 finger head that dissipates even quicker. It’s a paler yellow colour and a lot more opaque. Typical of a good wheat beer colour. Lacing also thin but tends to stick around longer.
LTM Gose has a this tart citrus nose. Lemon and orange peel. It’s very fresh smelling and the sour perks the nose.
The aroma is similar with L’Alchimiste Gose but with slightly muted citrus notes. The lemon is still there but slightly sweeter and more of the wheat and coriander comes through.
The LTM Gose is sour from start to finish but it won’t make your lips pucker up. The finish is a salty citrus tart lemon, just like a lemonade. A salty lemonade. In the middle the acidic carbonation tingles on your tongue and the salt begins to become more apparent. Make sure you swirl the bottle to get some salty, yeasty goodness into your glass.
In contrast L’Alchimiste Gose is mild. Still tart on your tongue but it has a sweet lemon finish and after taste, almost artificial. Not very sour or salty but more sweet and juicy. The wheat and coriander is more apparent in the middle and with a lower carbonation the smooth wheat becomes the highlight of this ale.
Overall: The LTM Gose outshines here. The style is in your face but never overpowering and incredibly refreshing. It’s sour, salty and acidic tart flavours are full of character and thirst quenching. Not to say that L’Alchimiste’s brew is bad. It contrasts the sharp characters of LTM with a smoother fruity flavour. I would consider L’Alchemiste Gose a great wheat beer because the Gose characteristics are slightly muted. Sure, if you hold this in your mouth you get some acidic bite and can find a hint of salt but if you are looking for these flavours from a Gose, you will be disappointed.
Both are simply great beers and worth trying. However, Les Trois Mousquetaires Gose aggressively hits the style and this is the beer I will buy again for repeated summer drinking.