Monthly Archives: September 2014

Gose Gone Wild: Anderson Valley, Bayrischer Bahnhof, Choc, and Westbrook

Before reading along, head to your nearest bottle shop and pick up whatever bottles or cans of Gose you can find. If you haven’t had this citrusy-sour wheat beer spiced with salt and coriander yet, you’ll thank me. And then pour yourself a tall, slender glass of this refreshing beer and read Part I on the history of Gose and its rejuvenation, and Part II on the contemporary understanding of this beer closely associated with the city of Leipzig. What follows is a selection of tasting notes.  IMG_1580The Tasting Sessions

I tasted the following beers this past spring and summer under different circumstances each time. The 750mL bottles of 2012 and 2013 Choc Signature Series Gose (Oklahoma), along with the 330mL bottle of Bayrischer Bahnhof Gose (Leipzig) were tasted blind and in the company of an ever-reliable drinking compadre. I sampled the 12oz cans of Westbrook’s Gose (South Carolina) and Anderson Valley’s curiously named “The Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose Ale” (California) in a non-blind session.

And this just in: I managed to get my hands on a 500mL bottle of Original Ritterguts Gose and a 12-oz bottle of Boulevard’s Hibiscus Gose during a recent trip to Kansas City. Check out the end of this article for an indication of how these beers stacked up against the ones I tasted earlier in the season.

Anderson Valley and Westbrook

Into the glass, luminescently … Beer Foam (www-beer-universe-com)

Both the Westbrook and Anderson Valley beers were crowned with frothy ivory caps of foam, but the Westbrook was hazier, with a with a more burnished and deeper golden colour that contrasted with the Anderson Valley’s near crystalline clarity and less intense yellow-gold.

On the first approach, the beers exuded fairly similar aromas that took on quite different tones after opening up for a few minutes. The Westbrook was the more cheerful of the two beers. Candied orange peel laced itself together with lemon curd, while mild coriander and a suggestively floral note gave way slowly to hay, a suggestion of marzipan, and a briny minerality.Westbrook Logo (webpage) (Of note was a vaguely off-putting cooked asparagus aroma that was detectable only when going from Anderson Valley back to Westbrook.) On the palate, Westbrook’s wheat-citrus tang reminded me of lemon juice spiked with Orangina and the merest presence of salt. Light-bodied and highly carbonated, the beer finishes with the citrus out in full regalia. A touch of tangy nuttiness and a mild citrus-pith bitterness keeps the lingering sweetness in check.Westbrook Gose (westbrookbrewing-com)Alongside the Westbrook, the Anderson Valley was both more brooding and more complex. The panoply of aromas ranged from a flinty whiff of brimstone to a woody, sherry-like nuttiness pushing up against the threshold of oxidation. In excess concentrations, these aromas would constitute decided flaws. But in combination with an almost earthy doughiness laced with tart green apple, the dominant aroma profile combined the characteristics of an aged Chenin Blanc with those of the saline and herbal-vegetal Manzanilla sherries of Sanlúcar.Anderson Valley Gose (https-avbc-com) As a matter of fact, Manzanilla wouldn’t be an inappropriate descriptor at all, resolving the isolated “faults” into a more complex whole: slightly herbal-vegetal––some fennel bulb and some pear––with a distinct nutty, mineral-saline, and oxidized grape component. Next to the Westbrook, the Anderson Valley carries a few more grains of salt as ballast, and projects a shade more body. Just a tad less carbonated but still light-bodied and effervescent than its opposite number, the Anderson Valley is more tart (yet less lemony), bringing more malt presence to the tasting.

Both of these beers make great summer sippers, but when you spend a bit of time with them, you begin to notice a few of the discordant notes that give the respective beers their character. The Anderson Valley grew on me, replete as it was with a nuttiness hinting at oxidization and the salinity of a light sherry. And despite the canned veggie notes that occasionally broke the surface of Westbrook’s aroma profile, the beer was an admirable foil for the heat of the day on which I drank it. Tough call. A virtual tie, with the Anderson Valley pulling ahead with its complexity, and the Westbrook making up ground as a straightforwardly refreshing summer drink. Advantage: Anderson Valley.

But there’s better Gose to be had, and not all of it involves airfare to Leipzig.

Choc and Bayrischer Bahnhof

As it turns out, some of these beers do develop with age, if treated well.

Unfortunatelty, the Bayrischer Bahnhof Gose was not one of those beers that had been treated well, arriving in our glasses much the worse for wear.Gose Glass (www-bayrischer-bahnhof-de) But under a heavy off-note of cardboard-like oxidation, the burnished deep-golden beer featured a mélange of pleasant floral-herbal chamomile, coriander seed, jasmine and honeysuckle floating on top of a solid bed of malt. Raw almond combined well with the effervescent carbonation and tingly saline character to keep the beer dry. What was striking about this beer in relation to all of the others was the robustness of its malt profile: citrusy wheat cut by grainy-sweet Pilsener malt and the rich bready and cherry-plum “malt-fruit” character of toasted malts.

The two vintages of Choc from Krebs, Oklahoma, on the other hand, were wonderful renditions of the style, the only drawback being the steep price of each 750mL bottle. The 2013 vintage was apricot-hued and hazy gold, with lemon grass, coriander, and an almond nuttiness accenting stone fruit, a steely, slate-like minerality, and a fleeting trace of “horse barn-like” Brettanomyces yeast.Choc - Logo II (beerpulse-com) Palate-cleansing and refreshing, the light-bodied ale offered up zesty lime, lemon-pepper piquancy, a peach-like richness, and the merest sensation of salt.

As compelling as Choc’s 2013 Gose was, the 2012 vintage was all the more intriguing. Murky golden orange, the beer was beginning to exhibit some of the “diesel-papaya” character of an older German Riesling. The citrus character in the bouquet had mellowed to orange blossom and peach marmalade complemented by a faint exhale of herbal-spicy noble hops, a baguette-like yeastiness, and a sweet honey-grain note suggestive of Pilsener malt. But nothing in the aromas hinted at what was to come: the 2012 had bulked up its body somewhat, yet was more lively, zippy, and sour-tangy than the 2013, exhibiting a grapefruit juice-like sourness and a hint of salinity, along with a champagne yeast-like breadiness, pepper, and orange zest. A fine example of the style, and an excellent case for experimenting with moderate durations of cellaring.Choc - Beer Glass (www-petes-org)If the Westbrook and the Anderson Valley were too close to call, the 2012 Choc comes out on top.

But none of these renditions bested my memory of the Gose I drank back in Leipzig in 2009 on that breezy spring day on the terrace of that repurposed 1842 terminus of the train line from Bavaria. And we all know how infallible memory is … .

In place of a hearty Prost, I lift my stein and say Goseanna to you all!


Now for the Original Ritterguts Gose and the Boulevard Hibiscus Gose.

Sipping on a hibiscus iced-tea, the Boulevard arrived at the table bearing a bouquet of fruity aromas (rhubarb, tart cherry and cranberry) folded together with a mild slate-like minerality, briny coriander, tarragon, and a delicate undercurrent of flowers.IMG_1473 Crisp and refreshing on the palate, Boulevard’s Hibiscus Gose was slightly lighter in body than the Ritterguts Gose, delivering appetizing sea salt, geranium flower, papaya, and citrusy cream of wheat through the finish.

Every bit as appetizing and quaffable as the Ritterguts Gose, the Boulevard, with its floral tart-cherry signature, might just edge out the Westbrook and the Anderson Valley in a blind tasting.

And the Original Ritterguts Gose? No contest. This three-tankard beer is Gose nirvana. I’ll have an in-depth profile of this beer ready for 9 November. Why 9 November? Check back then.Rittergute Gose Labels


*Goseanna, incidentally, is the toast that Leipzigers use in place of the more common Prost or zum Wohl.

Related Tempest Articles

Gose: A Beer Worth Its Salt (on the history and revitalization of this style)

Tempest Gose to Leipzig



A Dash of Salt: F.D. Hofer


Westbrook logo and label:

The Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose:

Glass of Gose:

Choc logo and Signature Series glassware:

Boulevard: F.D. Hofer

Original Ritterguts Gose:

© 2014 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

The Industry Series: Tasting Tips from Cornell Flavour Chemist, Gavin Sacks

Close your eyes for a moment and think about what the ideal job might entail. If it involves tasting wine or beer while working, read on.

Meet Gavin Sacks, Associate Professor in Food Science in Cornell University’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), a person who spends plenty of time with a glass in one hand and a pen in the other.IMG_0950 Sacks teaches courses that comprise part of Cornell’s interdisciplinary major in enology and viticulture, including Wine and Grapes: Analysis and Composition, and Wine and Grape Flavor Chemistry. With the teaching day done, Sacks gets down to the business of analyzing the flavour and aroma components of grapes and wine.

In this inaugural piece detailing careers within the beverage industry, Sacks––a flavour chemist who works closely with the New York State wine industry––tells us about how his work and research can enhance our appreciation of beer and wine. For those of us in search of tips about how to develop our palates, Sacks also spells out intriguing practical suggestions. And lest the beer-committed homebrewers among us despair at all the wine flowing early in this interview, stay with us for the ride. A greater awareness of the aromas that surround us can enable us to identity what went wrong––and what went right––with our beloved concoctions.

* * *

I first met Gavin several years ago at a wine-tasting he had organized at the home of a mutual friend, and have had occasion since then to sit down to a meal, a few bottles of wine, and, from time to time, beer.Gavin Sacks - Faculty Page What struck me very early on was his focus on the flaws he perceived. But not only that: it was the words he used to describe the flaws. Hitherto, wine appreciation for me had usually involved grasping after an elusive vocabulary to describe what was pleasant about the wine. Occasionally, it was about trying to pin what was objectionable with words such as “oxidized” and “corked.” Sure, pungent cat odours intruded upon polite conversation about the gooseberry and boxwood character of many a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but this is as far as things went. Describing wine with biochemical terms like esters, fusels, and phenols? It took some getting used to. If memory serves me correctly, the first time I heard the word “Brettanomyces” was when Gavin uttered it apropos of a particularly funky wine from the northern reaches of the Côtes-du-Rhône. A problematic beast, this bug called Brettanomyces

* * *

A Tempest in a Tankard: What kind of research do you do? What are some of the most exciting aspects of your personal research, and what are some of the promising new directions opening up for your field in general?

Gavin Sacks: My research program focuses primarily on wine and grape flavor chemistry, and particularly on cultivars that are popular in New York State and other cool climates. Some very recent research projects by the lab include the following:NYS WineRegions (www-grapesandgrainsnyc-com) determining factors that limit extraction of tannins during winemaking, especially in cool climates; determining the cause of sulfurous off-aroma appearance during bottle storage; and developing easy and inexpensive tools for measurement of sulfites and volatile acidity in the winery.

We have also performed research in collaboration with viticulturalists to understand how growing practices affect flavor chemistry. For example, it’s well-known that precursors of the compound responsible for the “kerosene and petrol-like” note of Riesling will increase if the grapes are highly exposed to sunlight. We have determined that the critical window for this exposure is just before veraison (color-change). This may be useful to a producer interested in avoiding or increasing the petrol character of their wine.

As far as future directions, one of the hottest topics right now in wine chemistry is understanding the interaction of wine and trace levels of oxygen during storage. Enologists have a good grip on what happens if wines are exposed to large quantities of oxygen (namely, oxidation and wine spoilage), but the effects seen with exposing wines to more typical levels encountered in barrel, tank, or bottle are harder to predict.IMG_6216 Why do some wines improve in qualities such as color and mouthfeel following oxygen exposure, while others immediately brown, even though their chemical composition appears nearly identical? There are now storage tanks and some closures (not to mention micro-ox units) that allow in specific amounts of oxygen. That sounds great, but that’s only useful if a winemaker knows what to expect.

TT: Tell us a bit about your career trajectory. Did you have any inkling when you first started your undergraduate studies that you’d be working with the wine industry?

GS: When I completed my Ph.D. in chemistry, I had no expectations of working on wine for a career. I had a love of both teaching and research, and had planned to apply for traditional faculty positions in chemistry departments. I liked wine, but from a wine appreciation perspective. On a lark, I did a brief stint in a vineyard before starting a post-doc, which opened my eyes to the subject of wine and grape science. A few years later, when I saw that Cornell was advertising for a wine chemist, I thought “why not?”.

TT: How close are your ties with the wine industry of the Finger Lakes and the rest of New York State? Do wineries approach you/Cornell, or do you let it be known that you/Cornell can help them out?

GS: All of the Cornell enology faculty have close ties to Finger Lakes wineries as well as wineries in other New York State regions (Lake Erie, Long Island, etc.). My colleagues with extension appointments will work much more closely with commercial wineries on a day-to-day basis. This consultation work includes operating a wine and grape analysis lab with discounted rates for New York State winemakers, and organizing frequent workshops and short courses.

Although I do not have an extension appointment, I still work with wineries in the region, especially as part of collaborative research projects. For example, in a recent project, we were interested in understanding the persistence of a particular pesticide (elemental sulfur) on grapes that could lead to off-aromas during fermentation. We developed an easy technique to measure the pesticide, and distributed measurement kits to wineries. We then compiled results and presented them at winemaker conferences. Regional winemakers also host field trips by Cornell classes, provide guest lectures, and employ our students following graduation. IMG_1142TT: How much actual smelling and tasting do you do over the course of a given day or week?

GS: That will vary. In some of my spring classes, we may taste four to six wines per lecture, and if I’m also guest lecturing for other classes, and need to evaluate candidate wines ahead of time to confirm their appropriateness, that may mean a few dozen wines per week. I may also participate in a tasting session with other faculty and students, or else a local winemaker may drop by with some odd samples, all of which can mean another two to twenty wines in a day.

However, there are some weeks where the only wine I taste is what I drink with dinner. In sum, I think I taste fewer wines than many sommeliers or other wine professionals. But I probably taste a lot more weird and faulty stuff.

TT: How much of your research involves precision instruments, and how much of it relies on our notoriously capricious senses of smell and taste?

GS: It will depend on the project, and where we are in the project. A lot of wine research, my own and that of others, focuses on off-flavors. This isn’t because we like bad wine, but the reality is that most funding is available for fixing or avoiding problems. When was the last time you went to doctor because you were feeling great?

Many off-flavors are due to the presence of one or two chemical compounds in gross excess. Often, the initial work enologists do is to identify or confirm the identity of the offensive compounds, and then set up an instrumental method for their analysis. Subsequently, we use the instruments to see what factors affect the compound(s). Instruments offer better reproducibility, and don’t mind working through the evening, so they do the bulk of analysis. But at the end of the day, whether it’s a desirable or undesirable flavor, it’s important for us to use sensory panels to establish the initial target, and to confirm results once sample analysis is complete.

TT: Here’s a related question. How well do instruments quantify “smell” and “taste”? I’m assuming that they pick up on aspects of an aroma profile that we humans might miss at first.

GS: There are some things that can be predicted rather well by instrumental analysis. Sourness, for example, can be very well modeled in dry wines simply by determining the acid concentration via titration. The intensity of off-flavors can also often be modeled rather well, since these usually can be related to the presence of one compound in excess. There may be some variation in individual sensitivities to these off-flavors, but we can talk about averages for a population of wine consumers.

However, many aspects of flavor are hard to model from instrumental data. For example, “red fruit” and “black fruit” aromas arise from the presence and absence of lots of compounds, and predicting the intensity of these aromas is not easy. The same thing goes for a number of other wine terms, such as body. An added complication is that sensory panelists, even if they are wine professionals, often have a hard time using some sensory terms in a reproducible fashion. “Minerality,” for example, is notoriously difficult to get panelists to agree upon. Beer Flavor Wheel (www-beerflavorwheel-com)TT: What kinds of overlap is there between the flavour and aroma compounds of beer and wine (and other spirits)? Can you give some examples of the chemical compounds, along with how we might describe their flavour and aroma?

GS: To my knowledge, there are no flavor compounds unique to wine. Anything that can be found in wine can also be found in beer (or spirits, or coffee), and vice versa. Wine and beer differ in chemical composition quantitatively, not qualitatively. If you spend enough time and money, any wine compound could be detected, if only in extremely trace concentrations. Some examples of compounds common to both beer and wine:

  • Diacetyl: “buttery” aroma, desirable in some wine styles like barrel aged Chardonnay, but often undesirable in crisp lager beers
  • 4-mercapto-4-methyl-pentanone: “cat pee / grapefruit” aroma, important to the varietal character of both Sauvignon blanc wines and some hoppy IPAs
  • 4-ethylguaiacol and 4-ethylphenol: “clove/phenolic/barnyard” aroma, produced by Brettanomyces yeast, essential to the character of many Belgian farmhouse ales, but often considered a fault when they dominate wine

Also, flavor chemists use the word “flavor” as a general term to describe smell, taste, and mouthfeel.

TT: What kind of advice would you give to craft beer enthusiasts or budding wine connoisseurs who want to get the most out of their tasting sessions?

GS: Never, ever taste a single wine or beer at a time. Humans are lousy at doing sensory evaluation on a single product in a vacuum; we’re much better at doing comparative studies.

The other recommendation I’d give is to remember that there are no unique flavor compounds or flavors to be found in wine or beer. So, try to smell and taste lots of things, not just wine or beer. Go to a perfume shop or a candle store or an auto parts store and sniff everything. Buy a bunch of obscure fruits from the local Asian market and taste them. You will have a lot more “aha” moments as a result.

TT: Do you have any suggestions on putting together home flavour and aroma kits so that people can expand their sensory horizons?

GS: As I mentioned above, smell and taste everything around you, within reason. Kits are okay for faults training, but a lot of real aromas aren’t very stable, and the kits do a so-so job in reproducing them (and they get worse during storage). If you smell something interesting, track it down, and figure out what the cause is.

TT: In one of our conversations, you mentioned a grant proposal that you’re working on for a hop analysis lab at Cornell University. Can you tell us more about what you and your colleagues envision for this lab, and why you think it’s important for both the hop industry and brewing industry?

GS: The proposal would be for a lab at Cornell to perform malt, hop, and beer analysis for the growing industry. We have a similar lab for wine and grape analyses.IMG_0466 Currently, there are a lack of regional alternatives for these analyses for small and mid-size operations. For example, there is an interest in using New York State hops, but brewers want to know the concentration of alpha-acids, which will eventually lead to bitterness. Having a nearby lab to make these measurements with a fast turnaround time will help both regional growers and producers in the craft beer industry.

TT: What do you see to be some of the biggest challenges facing the Finger Lakes/New York State wine industry and the exploding craft beer industry? These industries are quite different, but perhaps there are some common challenges, or challenges unique to each industry.

GS: On the growing side, the humid conditions of our state take a toll in the form of fungal diseases for grapes, hops, and malting barley. In the wineries or breweries, smaller operations have the challenge that the winemaker/brewer may have wear a lot of hats: janitor, microbiologist, analytical chemist, accountant, sales and marketing guru, tasting room staff, human resources manager, and the like––all in the same day.

TT: What kinds of things are these industries getting right, in your opinion?

GS: I love the spirit of collaboration and openness among New York State winemakers and vineyard managers. They are almost invariably willing to help each other out with advice and accumulated knowledge, not to mention the occasional loan of equipment. For the most part, they recognize that their competition is with the rest of the wine world, not with each other, and that they need to work together to raise the profile of New York State wines. I don’t know the craft beer industry as well, but I expect that they have a similar attitude.

TT: It’s the end of the day and you want a drink. If it’s wine, what kind? If it’s beer, do you prefer the flavours and aromas of malt, or are you a “hophead”?

GS: Right now, since it’s late summer, I like refreshing and not too heavy. So, lower alcohol, crisp, balanced. So, for beer that means Kölsch and well-made Pilsner-type lagers; for wine, that may mean Riesling or dry rosé. Lots of malt and hops and oak and dense fruit and high alcohol have their place . . . just not right now.

TT: Are you able to sit down and just enjoy a glass of wine or beer without thinking of the chemical compounds, or without critiquing the flaws?

GS: That can be an occasional problem, especially if we’ve been focusing on faults in class. What I’ve learned to do is if I am really trying to enjoy wine or beer, I will buy a product type that I know nothing about. That way, I don’t the run the risk of getting too critical!


Related Tempest Articles in the Industry Series

How To Become a Beer Liaison: An Interview with Genesee’s Sean Coughlin

Beeronomics: An Interview with Trey Malone

Further Reading/Viewing

Gavin Sacks featured on NPR/PRI’s Science Friday (January 2014)

Beer Judging Certification Program (BJCP)

BJCP Beer Fault List

Cicerone Certification Program


Cornell clock tower: F.D. Hofer

Gavin Sacks: Cornell Department of Food Science (CALS)

New York State Wine Regions:

Gewürztraminer in Mendocino: F.D. Hofer

Vineyard near Keuka Lake, NY: F.D. Hofer

Beer Flavour and Aroma Wheel:

Hops at Climbing Bines, Senaca Lake, NY: F.D. Hofer


©2014 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

Madison County Hop Fest 2014

Got plans for the coming weekend?

Maybe you’re in need of a quick getaway from any of the countless metropolitan areas within three hours of the I-90 corridor that runs between Syracuse and Albany. IMG_0463Perhaps you’re a student at one of the many colleges and universities in central and upstate New York and are already yearning for a break from the shock of the new semester. Or maybe you’re a craft beer enthusiast who hasn’t yet had a chance to taste the excellent beer flowing forth from New York State these days. Whatever the case may be, if you’re interested in the heritage of hop production in New York State and in drinking the fruit of the bine, head out to Madison County’s Hop Fest in Oneida, NY, this weekend (September 12-13, 2014) and celebrate the bounty of the year’s hop harvest.

While you’re partaking of the Paired Beer Dinner on September 12, or sampling the elixirs brewed by local and regional breweries using not West Coast but New York State hops on September 13, raise a glass to the history of hop bags, burlap, kiln cloth, brimstone, and hop kilns in central New York.

* * *

Madison, Otsego, and Oneida Counties once serviced over eighty percent of North America’s hop needs. That was before the combined impact of crop disease and Prohibition dealt a near-fatal blow to the industry. Hop farming had all but disappeared from the New York landscape by the 1950s,Madison County Hist Society - Logo but a few intrepid farmers and craft beer brewers have since breathed new life into the hops of New York State.

Organized by the good people at the Madison County Historical Society, the Hop Fest is now in its nineteenth year. Given the rich history of hop cultivation in New York, though, it should come as no surprise if we hear the echoes of harvest festivals of times past at the Madison County Hop Fest.

* * *

Carl M. recalls that the annual “big day” inaugurated in 1878 at Oneida’s Sylvan Beach was “an institution.” So renowned was the Hop Growers’ Picnic that tourists arrived on special excursions from as far away as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York City on the Ontario & Western Railway. At its zenith, the Hop Growers’ Picnic attracted several thousand people: “the greatest crowds in the horse-and-buggy, toot, and toot-toot ages of transportation [that] ever attended picnics, carnivals, or call ’em what you will.” Some of the best bands and drum corps of the day kept the visitors dancing, and Cottman’s Carousel, reputedly one of the best merry-go-rounds in central New York, ran from early morning till the daylight hours dwindled.

Of course, our nineteenth-century prototypes of the contemporary craft beer festival denizen arriving from far-flung places were not the only people in attendance. In the days before mechanized farming, hop production was nothing if not labour-intensive. Recounts Carl M.: “Hired men who worked the summer-long at tasks more or less pleasurable and arduous, with seldom a ‘day off’ from steady work, often engaged upon a summer’s work––usually from April to the last of October––with the ‘understanding’ that for ‘The Hop Growers’ they wantd [sic] a ‘vacation’ for the whole day––with no loss of wages.”

The hop yard owners, too, brought their entire family to the picnic site resplendent with tables bedecked with cookies, jams, and jellies. “Mothers provided the dainties not usually on the family table, including fried chicken as only [m]others of the era knew how to fry ’em.”

* * *

The latter-day versions of this annual tradition might not feature a merry-go-round, and mothers likely won’t be called upon to provide the dainties, but the contemporary Madison County Hop Fest will be well-provisioned with delicious local beer and food. So point your wagons and buggies in the direction of Oneida, NY, and do what people have been doing there intermittently since the 1800s:Madison County Hist Society - Bldg (www-mchs1900-org) celebrating the hop harvest and participating in cultural history in the making.

With the exception of Friday’s Paired Dinner, all events will take place on the grounds of the Madison County Historical Society.

Address: 435 Main St., Oneida, NY, 13421


Paired Dinner at Kenwood and Vine. 6:00pm. Tickets: $55. Reservation deadline has passed, but worth checking to see if they still have tickets.


Taste of Hops: A Food and Beer Pairing. 12:00-2:00pm. Tickets: $20 in advance/$25 at the door. Participating eateries from the region include: Hamilton Inn; Colgate Inn; Cakes and Other Goodies; Kenwood and Vine; The Ridge; No.10 Tavern; Madison Bistro; and Ye Olde Landmark Tavern.

Beer Sampling. 2:30-5:30pm. $25 advance/$30 door. Around twenty-five breweries will be on hand to pour beer. Local/NYS breweries include: Good Nature; Empire; Cortland Brewing Company; Erie Canal Brewing Company; Henneberg; Ommegang; Sackets Harbor; Southern Tier; Middle Ages; Binghamton Brewing; Saranac; and Brooklyn Brewery.

Presentations/Exhibitors. 11:30am-5:30pm. Free Entry. Speakers include Steve Miller (Cornell Cooperative Extension, Madison County), Dan Cazentre (Syracuse Post Standard), and Al Bullard (collector, consultant, and 2005 Madison County “Hop King”). Representatives from the North East Hop Alliance, Foothill Hops, and Clark Hollow Hops will also be on hand.IMG_0204


Carl M., “The ‘Hop Growers’’,” Business and Industry File––Hops––Growing and Curing Hops, Madison County Historical Society, undated.


Hop cone: F.D. Hofer

MCHS logo and building:

Hop kiln near Hamilton, NY: F.D. Hofer


For more information, see the Madison County Hop Fest website.

To learn more about the important work done by local historical associations like the Madison County Historical Society, see the MCHS website. You might also consider donating to them while you’re at Hop Fest so they can continue to staff their institution and stock their archive.


© 2014 Franz D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.


Tempest Gose to Leipzig

GOSE (pronounced GOH-zuh): An ancient and venerable draught from Goslar via Leipzig. A crisply sour ale that, if the ballads and poems of yore are to be believed, makes men strong and women beautiful. More recently, the sensation of the summer in North America. Versatile with food (see below). A beer worth its salt. Gose Bottle n Glass (www-gosenschenke-de)

* * *

We arrived from Berlin in Leipzig’s cavernous turn-of-the-twentieth-century train station on one of those spring mornings that had banished any lingering traces of winter. It was still early enough that not a single spot to get a croissant and coffee was open yet. Undaunted, we wended our way through narrow streets to the Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche), a focal point of the 1989 protests that led to the ouster of notorious East German dictator, Erich Honecker.

From the church square we headed to the nearby Kaffeehaus Riquet, a fin-de-siècle patisserie combining the splendours of Vienna and Paris, to plan the rest of our weekend. On the agenda: the local food dish, Leipziger Allerlei (admittedly not one of my favourite German specialties); a bottle of the local caraway seed schnapps, Allasch (worth seeking out if you’re in Leipzig); and, of course, Gose.IMG_4811 Why else, pray tell, would we have come to Leipzig in the first place, except, perhaps, to hear organists and choirs perform pieces composed by some guy named Bach?

The Style:

That first Gose we had with dinner on the terrace of the Bayrischer Bahnhof was reminiscent of a Witbier, but sour-tart and like a crisp sea breeze.

Gose’s saline quality makes it rare among beer styles. Even so, it’s a quality that requires a delicate hand: the salt should only remind you of its presence rather than dominate the flavour profile. As Michael Jackson once put it, the salt should contribute a refreshing tang just as it does in Lassi.

A moderately hazy beer, Gose can range in colour from pale straw-yellow to orange-yellow. Gose develops an elegant and dense cap of off-white foam when poured into its traditional narrow cylindrical drinking vessel. Bright coriander reminiscent of a Belgian Witbier contributes to the aroma profile, along with a citrusy-sour character evocative of sourdough bread.Gose Glass (www-bayrischer-bahnhof-de) A complex array of green apple, stone fruit, champagne yeast, and, of course, that mineral-like and tingly hint of the sea rounds out the scents and flavours characteristic of this effervescent beer. The finish is refreshing, dry, herbal, and tart, but not mouth-puckeringly so, with acidity balancing the malt in place of any discernible hop character.

Leipzigers usually take their Gose straight, but like their Berliner Weisse-drinking compatriots to the north, they are not averse to cutting the tartness and acidity of their beer with a shot of raspberry syrup (Himbeer) or the green essence of woodruff (Waldmeister).Allasch (bayrisher bahnhof) On occasion, a shot of the local caraway liqueur, Allasch, makes it into the glass. Mix this into your Gose and you have a beer drink called a Regenschirm (umbrella).

Somewhat counterintuitively for such a vibrant and refreshing beer, Gose is also a candidate for aging. Michael Jackson mentions a turn-of-the-(twentieth)-century book that, in addition to listing original gravities for Gose between 1036 and 1056, makes reference to young and old versions of the beer. Garrett Oliver provides another indication of Gose’s aging potential, noting apropos of the similarly sour Berliner Weisse that “after months or even years of aging, [Berliner Weisse] emerges with a floral lemony fruitiness and fine, knifelike acidity” (Oliver, 99). Two vintages of Oklahoma’s Choc Gose in my recent Gose tasting session (see the next article in the series) lend further weight to the case for aging this beer in order to develop some of its secondary yeast characteristics.

Gose with Food

As far as food pairings go, Gose’s refreshing acidity, spice, and mild salinity extend the range of possibilities in the direction of dishes that also go well with Berliner Weisse, Gueuze, and Witbier. Try Gose with grilled halibut, or with any fish served in a citrus beurre blanc. Gose’s inherent tartness cuts the richness of a Hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce at the same time that its dash of salt complements the eggs and butter in these sauces. Gose would also make an excellent accompaniment to moules frites; better yet, add the beer to the braising pot in place of wine. With its coriander notes, Gose pairs seamlessly with ceviche.

IMG_4822And it goes without saying that Gose has enough acidity to pare down even the heaviest of German meat and potato dishes. But not all German food is as heavy as Eisbein. Back in Leipzig, we had the perfect marriage of northern German cuisine and local beer at the Bayrischer Bahnhof: pickled herring (Matjesfilets) with onions in a cream sauce––a sublime food-and-beer pairing if ever there were one.

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Gose is low in alcohol (typically around 4% ABV), and is eminently thirst-quenching. If you haven’t yet tasted any of this sour wheat beer with its coriander spiciness and traces of mineral salinity, get ye to a bottle shop before the shadows start to lengthen on summer. IMG_4833Related Tempest articles:

Gose: A Beer Worth Its Salt (on the history and revitalization of the style)

Milling Against the Grain: Grimm Bros. Goes All-Germanic

Recommended Reading:

Michael Jackson, “Salty Trail of Germany’s Link with Wild Beer” (2000: originally published in What’s Brewing [October 1, 1996]).

The German Beer Institute, “Gose” (2004).

BJCP, “2014 BJCP Style Guidelines Draft” (2014).

Garrett Oliver, The Brewmaster’s Table (New York: HarperCollins, 2003).


Gose bottle and glass:

Stained window, Thomaskirche: F.D. Hofer

Glass of Gose:

Leipziger Allasch: www.bayrischer-bahnhof.ed

Matjesfilet: F.D. Hofer

Visual pun on Berlin’s Ampelmann at a Leipzig café: F.D. Hofer

© 2014 Franz D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.