Got Beer? Watch Where the Gose Goes

I’ll admit, I was pretty skeptical about goses.

Not to be confused with a geuze, a gose is wheat beer that originated in Goslar Germany and has sat in obscurity for hundreds of years. Pronounced like ‘Goz-uh, (empty your heads and don’t think of anything),’ this is actually a very old beer. Recently this obscure style was unearthed, and it seems to be the new trend in craft beer.

My opinion of craft beer trends is well known to be cynical on the best of days, and make no mistake, a gose is one of those beer styles that I should rightfully hate. I don’t like sours, so that trend gave my palate a thorough tongue lashing. I’m not a fan of white ales, so with a gose being so close in heritage, one would imagine I’d veer away based just on that.

But with a gose, there’s something unusual going on.

Tart, sour flavors are not my cup of tea, and something about the coriander in white ales tends to rub my system the wrong way, so when all is said and done about these styles, I should rightfully abhor the gose.

Maybe it’s the saltiness that cuts all those flavors down a bit, forcing a new player into the mix. In the same way salted caramel mellows the sweetness and hops can temper maltiness, I find the salty angle of the gose a very nice balancing aspect.

That being said, there are plenty of goses out there that are little more than sours in disguise, and shame on the brewers who produce them. But most brewers are playing around with a brand new style that actually has a genuine, interesting, unique flavor. Since the trends have largely revolved around extreme flavors, and this is a re-emerging style, it’s going to take some time for this particular brew variety to reach perfection.

So there will be goses that taste like sours, and goses that taste like salty fruit, and goses that taste like white ales drunk by the beach. Much like how IPAs had to find their footing here in America, I suspect the gose is capable of some pretty impressive things.

For one thing, a well-done gose could save us from the tyranny of shandies come summertime. No more citrus-dominated wheat beers or half-juice abominations. If done right, a gose could easily step up to the plate and quench one’s thirst on a hot summer day. It’s already at least 50% wheat malt by definition, so it wouldn’t take that much imagination for a brewer to make and market it for a summertime release.

Again, a lot of goses right now kind of, well … suck. But again, this is a re-emerging style. It’s going to take some time to get it right. Some brewers have produced some truly stellar examples of the style, while others flounder with tart, sweet or overly salty creations that just miss the mark a bit.

The key to a good beer is balance, so once goses find their footing and reach internal harmony, I expect we’ll see a lot fewer shandies out there, and I will certainly drink to that.

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