Tag Archives: Gose

Augurs of Spring: Wheat Beers Belgian, German, and American (Sat. 6-Pack, Vol.4)

Warmer days and cool nights. April showers on the horizon. The occasional spring frost following upon a stretch of summer-like days.

Time to lay those warming Russian Stouts and barley wines down to rest for another season.

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The quintessential beer for your rites of spring, be they seeding the garden or cleaning the cobwebs out of the grill, is one that’ll quench your thirst on a sunny afternoon yet stand up to an evening chill. You won’t go wrong with a hoppy and refreshing American brown ale, and nor would a porter be out of place on a cooler day. For this Saturday’s six-pack, though, I’m going to suggest a selection of beers that stays within one (admittedly broad) family, a family of beers that hits all the registers of spring in its arc between winter and summer: wheat beers.

Van Gogh - Wheat-Fields-at-Auvers-Under-Clouded-Sky_July_1890 (WikiCommons)

Weizenbock: Vitus, Weihenstephan (Germany)

Weihenstephan has been making beer in Freising near Munich since 1040, so they’ve had a few years more than most brewers to perfect their recipes. And this Weizenbock (wheat bock) recipe comes as close to perfection as you’ll get among a stable of beers that also includes Weihenstephan’s sublime Hefeweissbier. Weihenstephan-Freising (weihenstephaner-de)

Vitus is the epitome of unctuous, and makes for an ideal transition between seasons. Aromas of honeyed light brown sugar, wheat, clove, allspice, and white pepper cascade out from underneath the epic pearl-white mountain of foam, with the slightest trace of butterscotch and a suggestion of saline minerality lurking in the depths.Weihen-Vitus (weihenstephaner-de) Swiss milk caramel shines through on the palate along with spiced honey, all exquisitely balanced by ripe banana, clove, and cinnamon en route to a velvet finish of marzipan and pear-banana-allspice.

At a honeyed, aromatic, and richly textured 7.7%, Vitus hides its potency well. But fear not if you overindulge your inner entertainer after drinking a few of these, for Vitus just so happens to be the patron saint of dancers, actors, and comedians.

Three Tankards.

Witbier/Bière Blanche: Blanche de Namur, Brasserie du Bocq (Belgium)

Wheat has deep roots in Wallonia and Flanders. Records of wheat grown for beer brewing date back to the time of Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire. Established in 1858, the Brasserie du Bocq in the heart of the Condroz is a family operation that adheres to the traditional process of secondary fermentation in the bottleBrasserie du Bocq bldg (www-bocq-be). The name of their witbier, Blanche de Namur, also evokes local tradition. In August 1335, Blanche de Namur was married off by her father, the Count of Namur, to Magnus IV Eriksson. When she embarked on her trip to Scandinavia to become a queen, it would be the last time she saw the banks of the Meuse. Brasserie du Bocq dedicates their beer to Blanche de Namur’s “beauty, sweetness and delicacy.”

Sweet and delicate this ochre-complexioned beer is. Dreamy aromas of lemony coriander, mild grapefruit zest, and spicy-floral hops set the stage for a rich, mouth-filling showcase of creamy wheat and citrus-spice that finishes up with a flinty dryness.Blanche de Namur (www-bocq-be) Many a North American craft beer drinker tends to conflate richness of flavour and a high percentage of alcohol. At 4.5% ABV, this is just the beer to puncture such myths.

One Tankard.

Hefeweizen: Bräuweisse, Ayinger Privatbrauerei (Germany)

To me, nothing says spring or summer more than a Hefeweizen, but the signature clove and banana aromatics along with the periodic hint of vanilla and honeyed light brown sugar are at home in just about any season. Ayinger’s Bräuweisse is a hazy honey-golden Hefeweizen crowned by a towering, meringue-like foam cap, and is one of the most compelling examples of this southern German style of beer that is nothing if not unique.

Pushing one-hundred-and-thirty years young, Ayinger isn’t quite as storied as Weihenstephaner, but the brewery is no less respected in Germany and beyond for its array of lagers and wheat beers.Ayinger Brauweisse (ayinger-bier-de) 2 The Bräuweisse exudes a panoply of aromas ranging from creamed ripe banana and apple to lemon curd and light milky caramel. The spicing is subtle, more like a blend of baking spices that encompasses clove, cinnamon, and allspice. Creamy and mouthfilling yet still effervescent, the palate presents a harmonious mix of graham cracker, vanilla-banana, and a touch of tingly pepper and hop spiciness. For best results, drink in a beer garden, preferably in sight of the Alps.

Three Tankards.

American Wheat: American Wheat Beer, Choc (U.S.A.)

Brown beers may well get no luvin’ on the sites that gauge the barometric pressure of the North American craft beer scene. For American wheat beers, though, the fate is even worse: silence. One of the longer-standing indigenous American beer styles, American wheat beer doesn’t even merit a mention in Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont’s recent World Atlas of Beer. For my part, I have to admit that if I were to list my favourite beer styles, American wheat beer would not make it too high up the ladder. That’s no reason to pass on this typically effervescent and easy-drinking beer style in the springtime, though. The style is fairly ubiquitous across North America, and you can find the occasional intriguing example like 3 Floyds’ Gumballhead, but for this Saturday’s sixer, I’m going to go with a solid example from Oklahoma’s quiet powerhouse, Choc Beer Company.

Choc traces its roots back to a time when Pete Prichard (né Pietro Piegari) served up beer to the English, Irish, Welsh, and Italian immigrants who flocked to the area in search of jobs in the nearby coal mines. Prichard operated through Prohibition out of Pete’s Place, his family-style Italian eatery that fast became an institution in southeastern Oklahoma. Today, Choc brews a slate of solid and affordable beers alongside a small roster of respectable specialty releases.

Formerly known as 1919 Choc Beer, the hazy straw-gold American Wheat Beer weaves together malt and hops into a delicate canvas of lemon grass and coconut aromatics reminiscent of Thai cuisine.Choc - American Wheat (label) Malt anchors the beer unobtrusively, with notes of fresh bread, nougat, and toasted toffee. But that’s not all: the hops contribute a pineapple-tangerine quality that melds well with the nougat, along with a subtle spiciness and a breath of spring flowers in bloom. Clean and crisp, the beer finishes with the slightest bitterness that leads into a lingering aftertaste of dried apricot and cinnamon-dusted white raisins. The aromatics and flavours of Choc’s American Wheat Beer are many but subtle, and come together like the individual brush strokes of an Impressionist painting. Indeed, this is both the strength and weakness of this beer that eschews bold gestures in favour of nuance. No show-stopper, Choc’s American Wheat Beer is, nonetheless, a pleasant drink that rewards patience. Drink cool but not cold.

Gose: Original Ritterguts Gose, Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf (Germany)

Even if it took a few decades for the North America craft beer cognoscenti to bestow its seal of approval on this tart and refreshing beer most closely associated with the city of Leipzig, Gose is now one of the hottest summertime beer commodities. Summer aside, Gose is, like Hefeweizen, a versatile beer eminently suited to spring’s capricious weather.

IMG_4828

The past few years have witnessed many an intriguing Gose crop up in beer stores across North America, but none of these excellent beers quite matches the peerless Original Ritterguts Gose. Despite how the name may look and sound to English speakers unacquainted with German, Ritterguts Gose traces a rather noble history back to the Rittergut (manor) of Döllnitz, where Gose production started in 1824. As part of the general Gose revival underway in 1990s Leipzig, Tilo Jänichen developed a Gose that was based on this original Döllnitzer manor recipe, but could barely keep up with demand.Rittergute Gose Labels Production shifted to ever-larger breweries, and in 2007 Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf took on the brewing of Original Ritterguts Gose.

Brauhaus Hartmannsdorf’s iteration of this classic recipe is a deep, burnished golden beer with a luminescent haze. Out of the hazy mist float complex aromas of fresh raw almond, wheat cereal richness, a quinine-like sourness, and a coriander-clove spiciness buffeted by a gentle sea breeze carrying green plum scents not unlike Japanese ume-boshi. Mouth-filling, silky, and with just enough lassi-like saltiness and moderate acidity to whet the appetite, our Döllnitzer classic builds to a mineral-crisp and dry finish of almonds, stone fruit, and spiced apple that made me think, briefly, of chutney. Compared to other examples of the style, the honeyed nougat-like malt depth lends this beer a certain gravitas, and the very low level of hops (with a herbal note suggestive of dill) meshes well with the savoury coriander and brine notes.

A standard bearer. Three Tankards.

Berliner Weisse: Berliner Style Lager (Sour Wheat Lager), Jack’s Abby (U.S.A.)

If the weighty Weizenbock is perfectly suited to those days when you can still hear winter’s echo, the Berliner Weisse is its antipode: crisp, sour, and refreshing. Where Weizenbock makes a fine accompaniment to an evening après-ski, Berliner Weisse is more at home when the late-spring mercury is pointing toward summertime.Jacks Abby Berliner (jacksabbybrewing-com) Like the historic Gose, this northern German beer style is another that has enjoyed a renaissance of late among North American craft beer enthusiasts smitten with sour beers.

In a nod to the traditional practice of using a neutral ale yeast, Jack’s Abby of Framingham, MA, ferments its Berliner Weisse with a lager yeast after souring the mash. The results are an impressive rendition of what Napoleon once called “the Champagne of the north,” and what the ever-pragmatic Berliners dubbed simply “the workers’ sparkling wine.” Jack’s Abby combines aspects of both champagne and white wine with its bread dough-like yeasty character and its zesty green apple-lemon acidity. Aromatic tart-sour notes tend toward Asian pear and crisp peach that lend this light-bodied thirst quencher a steely mineral crispness. Meanwhile, a sherry-like nuttiness and a touch of clean, honeyed wheat holds the balance long enough for cinnamon-spiced apple to make an appearance in the dry finish. The one flaw that keeps this beer merely excellent? An all-too-ephemeral effervescence.

Take your Berliner Weisse straight up, or with a shot of syrup. Traditional choices are green or red: woodruff or raspberry.

One Tankard.Bild 11

What are some of your favourite wheat beers? What are your springtime go-to beers? Let us know in the comments.

Sources and Further Reading

For all things wheat in Germany, see the German Beer Institute’s entry on Weissbier, and on Berliner Weisse.

Michael Jackson’s The New World Guide to Beer (Philadelphia: Running Press, 1988) contextualizes the Weizenbier style within the broader sweep of German brewing, while his Great Beer Guide (New York: DK Publishing, 2000) focuses on particular brands.

On Blanche de Namur: http://www.bocq.be/english/ownbrands/blanche_namur.php

On the pros and cons of various souring methods, see Michael Tonsmeire’s informative American Sours: Innovative Techniques for Mixed Fermentations (Boulder, CO: Brewers Publications, 2014).

A brief write-up on the Shelton Bros. website, along with an entry on the Ortsteil der Gemeinde Schopau im Saalekreis, help disentangle the production history of Original Ritterguts Gose and its relationship to Döllnitz.

Tim Webb and Stephen Beaumont’s The World Atlas of Beer: The Essential Guide to the Beers of the World (New York: Sterling Epicure, 2012) offers up a visually-pleasing panorama of regions, styles, and labels.

Related Tempest Articles

Gose: A Beer Worth Its Salt

A Coal Town and a Cold One: My Hefeweizen Craft Beer Conversion

Let Us Now Praise Famous Lagers: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.3)

A Taste of Oklahoma in Six Glasses

Brown Beers Get No Luvin’: Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.2)

Your Saturday Six-Pack (Vol.1)

Images

Vincent van Gogh, “Wheatfield at Auvers under Clouded Sky” (1890), Oil on Canvas, Carnegie Museum of Art Pittsburgh. Wiki Commons/Public Domain.

Freising and Vitus. http://weihenstephaner.de

Brasserie du Bocq and Blanche de Namur: www.bocq.be

Ayinger Bräuweisse: http://www.ayinger.de/?pid=262

Choc American Wheat: https://www.petes.org/

Leipzig: F.D. Hofer

Salts: F.D. Hofer

Original Ritterguts Gose: www.sheltonbrothers.com

Jack’s Abby Berliner Style Lager: http://jacksabbybrewing.com/beers/

Berliner Weisse in traditional glass with woodruff syrup: German Beer Institute.

© 2015 F.D. Hofer and A Tempest in a Tankard. All Rights Reserved.

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!

Post-Script

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

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*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

 

Images

A Dash of Salt: F.D. Hofer

Luminescence: www.beerpulse.com

Westbrook logo and label: www.westbrookbrewing.com

The Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose: https://avbc.com

Glass of Gose: www.bayrischer-bahnhof.de

Choc logo and Signature Series glassware: www.petes.org

Boulevard: F.D. Hofer

Original Ritterguts Gose: www.sheltonbrothers.com

© 2014 F.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)

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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.

* * *

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).

Images

Gose bottle and glass: www.gosenschenke.de

Stained window, Thomaskirche: F.D. Hofer

Glass of Gose: www.bayrischer-bahnhof.de

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.

Gose: A Beer Worth Its Salt

If you live in the northern hemisphere or in climes where summer and winter are abstract concepts, it’s still warm enough to pick up one of this season’s hottest beer commodities. In the amount of time it usually takes to down a Maß of Märzen in Munich, our style of the summer has streaked across the sky like a shooting star to claim a place on the calendar of North American seasonal beer releases.IMG_1382 Many a craft beer geek who might but a year or so ago have mistaken Gose for a Belgian beer blended from young and old lambics now waxes poetic about its bracingly refreshing tartness.

But it hasn’t always been that way for our salty stalwart, even if the ever-intrepid homebrewer has been onto the style long enough for the BJCP to take notice. Gose now sits alongside other rejuvenated or rediscovered historical styles like Berliner Weisse and Grätzer. (Fearless prediction: The refreshing smoked wheat beer known alternately as Grätzer or Piwo Grodziskie will be next summer’s thirst quencher of choice. You heard it here.)

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Nearly two decades have passed since famed beer hunter, Michael Jackson, attempted to introduce the English-speaking world to this sour wheat beer that had only just reemerged from obscurity in the city with which it is most closely associated.IMG_4813 That city is Leipzig, where one Johann Sebastian Bach served as Cantor of the Church of St. Thomas until his death. Bach’s legacy has never waned in Leipzig. Not so for the fortunes of our summer seasonal, which declined with the rise of lager in the late nineteenth century, and suffered a further blow when many of Germany’s cities were reduced to rubble in the middle of the twentieth. The postwar division of Germany didn’t help matters much either.

Origins:

Even if Gose is closely associated with Leipzig today, it is named for a town and region in the Harz Mountains that pioneered the style nearly a millennium ago. In fact, the beer did not arrive in Leipzig from Goslar until the early eighteenth century.

Gose takes its name from the river that flows through Goslar. In the Middle Ages, Goslar was known as much for its brewing prowess as it was for the rich deposits of silver ore and other mineral resources buried deep in the nearby mountains.Old_Town_of_Goslar (Y Shishido - Wiki Commons) Brewers drew their water from this river that flowed through the center of town, giving rise to the latter-day speculation that the mineral-rich acquifiers in the vicinity of Goslar contributed a signature saline quality to the finished beer.

Once a prosperous Hanseatic town, Goslar’s economic influence began to wane with the loss of the Rammelsberg mines to the Duchy of Brandenburg, precipitating the migration of Gose to Leipzig.

By the time the first recorded license to brew this refreshing thirst-quencher was issued in 1738, Leipzig was a vibrant legal and publishing center. With its renowned university, the city proved to be fertile ground for the spread of the beer’s popularity. So beloved was Gose that some eighty-odd Gose cafés and taverns dotted Leipzig at the turn of the twentieth century. One such Gosenschänke was the fabled Ohne Bedenken, which opened its doors in 1899. Ohne Bedenken (hausgeschichte_biedermeier) www-gosenschenke-deThe destruction wrought upon Leipzig during the air war of WWII destroyed much of the city’s brewing capacity. During the postwar years of German division, the flow of Leipzig’s once widely-consumed beer slowed to a trickle. It wasn’t until some three years before the Berlin Wall came down that the style began to enjoy a very modest renaissance.

Revival:

At the center of this revival was the Ohne Bedenken. Since its postwar closure in 1958, the site had served as a library, an X-ray clinic, and even as the meeting point for the National Front of the German Democratic Republic:Ohne Bedenken Bldg (www-gosenschenke-de)––all this before Lothar Goldhahn was granted official permission to restore the Ohne Bedenken to its former function as a public house. When Michael Jackson acquainted himself with Gose a few years after the fall of the Wall, he did so at the Ohne Bedenken.

And what of the name of this institution? Apparently a patron asked one of the original servers at the tavern whether this swill was even drinkable, to which the server replied: “Ohne Bedenken.” Without doubt and without even the slightest reservation.

When I arrived in Leipzig in 2009, the Bayrischer Bahnhof had long-since joined the Ohne Bedenken as one of the premier spots to drink Leipzig’s rejuvenated beer style. After my first taste at the Bayrischer Bahnhof, I must say that I concur wholeheartedly about the eminent drinkability of this crisp and refreshing style, ohne Bedenken.IMG_4820Odds and Ends:

Bottles: Back in the day, our Leipziger beer arrived at student cafés and taverns in a cask before being transferred into bottles that resembled the flatly bulbous flasks of Franconian wine.Gose-Flasche (Wiki Commons - Foto H-P Haack) The slender eight-inch neck would then clog with enough foam and residue from the still vigourously-fermenting yeast to stopper the bottle and carbonate the beer.

Toasts: In place of the traditional German toast (Prost! or Zum Wohl!), the Leipzigers have another: Goseanna!

Worth Many a Goseanna:

Leipzig played a central role in the toppling of the communist dictatorship that ruled the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) between 1949 and 1990. During the communist era in East Germany, the church was the only institution that remained beyond the control of the communist authorities. Its status made the church the focal point of the intertwining peace movement and ecological movement. The Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche) in Leipzig began holding prayers for peace in 1982, demanding both a peaceful resolution to the Cold War and––more ominously for the regime––respect for human rights.

On Monday, September 4, 1989, some 1200 anti-regime protesters gathered on the square in front of St. Nicholas after a prayer meeting. At first, the Stasi tried violence to suppress what quickly became weekly “Monday demonstrations,” but to no avail. The defiant crowds soon forced the resignation of the long-ruling hardliner, Erich Honecker, and set in motion a chain of events that would culminate in the toppling of the Berlin Wall.

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Related Tempest articles:

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

Tempest Gose to Leipzig

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

Sources and Recommended Reading:

Michael Jackson, “Going for Gose” (2000).

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).

UNESCO, “Mines of Rammelsberg, Historic Town of Goslar, and Upper Harz Water Management System.”

On Leipzig and 1989, see the informative website, German History in Documents and Images.

The Ohne Bedenken and Bayrischer Bahnhof websites are also informative resources for the history and revival of Gose.

Images

Still Life with Geuze: F.D. Hofer

Bach in Leipzig: F.D. Hofer

Old Town of Goslar: Y. Shishido (Wiki Commons)

Cajeri’s Gosenstube “Ohne Bedenken”: Ohne Bedenken website (www.gosenschenke.de)

Ohne Bedenken, Leipzig: Ohne Bedenken website (www.gosenschenke.de)

F.D. Hofer (par lui-même)

Antique Gose Bottle, Moulded Glass: © Foto H.-P. Haack (Wiki Commons)

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