The great part about drinking craft beer is having the opportunity to taste ancient styles that are revived by craft brewers. Gose is sour wheat beer originally brewed in the town of Goslar, Lower Saxony Germany. With a distinct saltiness that is attributed to the mineral-rich aquifers that supplied the water for the brewhouses in the region. Craft brewers in Canada have been recreating these recipes using sea salt and sour mashing techniques to bring this old style back into the glasses of beer drinkers.
The family run Beau’s Brewery is bringing back this style with their recent Opa’s Gose from their Wild Oats series. Brewed with all organic wheat and barely malts, organic hops, organic coriander and sea salt this is a salty, tart and citrusy beer. At 5.0% alc./vol. in a Beau’s 600mL bottle, you can buy this beer at the Brewery in Vankleek Hill or through their online BYOB Home delivery service (if you live in Ontario). A single bottle will cost you $7.85.
Opa’s Gose is a tart beer with mild citrusy notes and a unique salty character. The saltiness of the style is diffused and complemented by a coriander spice addition.
INGREDIENTS: Local Spring Water, Organic Wheat & Barley Malts, Organic Hops, Sea Salt, Organic Coriander, and Hefeweizen Ale Yeast
MALTS: Wheat, Pilsner, Munich, Acidulated (All Organic)
HOPS: Hersbrucker, Perle (All Organic)
YEAST: Hefeweizen Ale Yeast
IDEAL SERVING TEMPERATURE: 4-6° C
FOOD PARINGS: Summer Sausage, Lemon Sorbet, Sweet Chili Thai Shrimp, Eggs Florentine
Appearance: Comes in a great looking Beau’s etched bottle with a satchel containing a package of sea salt and the story of Beau’s Opa’s Gose. Before adding salt this pours with a sparse two finger head which dissipates quickly. A golden straw colour, opaque and slightly white. Adding salt adds a sparkle to the beer and it comes alive with carbonation spilling off the granules of salt. The head becomes thicker and smoother while the lacing sticks and shines on the side of the glass.
Aroma: Almost classic wheat beer here. A lot of wheat grains and spicy coriander notes. A slight apple tart smell and just a little bit of lemon peel. The yeast profile is noticeable with ester banana notes. I also sense a bit of apricots.
Taste: The first thing I noticed is that overall this is more sweet than salty or sour. Upon first hitting the tongue are sweet banana notes and a very slight saltiness. Texture is incredibly smooth with slight carbonation, a typical characteristic of a good wheat beer. This beer really coats the mouth and allows itself to linger nicely with nice rounded wheat, coriander and ester notes. Some citrus at the end but not really apparent. No sourness at all. Dry aftertaste with slight hop bitterness to round out with an earthy finish. Adding salt gives the beer more of the desperately needed saline flavour. A word of caution, a little goes a long way. They include more salt than you would need. With the salt the beer becomes much smoother while the carbonation comes alive a bit. Adding salt does distract from some of the more subtle citrus flavours however.
Overall: This is a very pleasant beer and with the added salt pack you can dial in your saltiness as desired which is a nice addition. However, I was disappointed by the missing acidic sour flavour that I believe a good Gose should have. I would consider this more of a salty witbier. Also, out of the bottle without the self addition of salt, this beer doesn’t hit the right notes of a Gose and the addition of salt in the glass after the fact tends to overpower the other flavours instead of blending and playing off of them.
I would still recommend that you go ahead and try this beer if you can. It’s a decent example of an old style that is difficult to find. Gose is an incredibly refreshing summer beer with more taste and character than your average cold lager. If you cannot get your hands on this Ontario beer, I still prefer Quebec’s Les Trois Mousquetaires Gose, which you still may be able to find in select beer stores.
And while you’re visiting Beau’s website, don’t forget to check out their Oktoberfest 2013 festival happening October 4th and 5th. Beau’s serves up great beers and you won’t be disapointed.
Disclosure: I was offered a free bottle for this tasting
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.