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Gose – Westbrook Brewing Company (2013)

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BLC Says:
The Gose brewed by Westbrook Brewing Company is an interesting beer indeed. This brew represents a style that was thought “dead” several times throughout it’s curious history and bucks the famous German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot). To think all of this comes in a delightfully styled and portable can out of South Carolina is fairly awesome.

Gose traces it’s origins back to the 16th century. This tart and salty ale was born in the town of Goslar from which it’s name derives. By the 1800’s Gose became so popular in the town of Leipzig that local brewer’s started to craft it themselves and by the end of the 1800’s it was considered a local style of the area. Gose, being a tart beer with at least 50% of it’s grain bill being wheat, finds itself a part of a grouping of sour wheat beers once brewed throughout Northern Germany and the Low Countries. Belgian Witbier, Berliner Weisse, Broyhan, Grätzer and Gueuze are the beers on the other branches of this tasty family tree. Gose, like many of it’s kin, had been a spontaneously fermented beverage once upon a time. As it grew in popularity in the 1880’s the process of brewing Gose was harnessed by brewers using (top fermenting) ale yeast and lactic acid.

With such a large and populous collection in which it lived Gose would seem like a style less likely to fall out of favor than others. This was not the case however and Gose has disappeared several times since World War II. The beer was revived throughout this period but struggled to remain vital before finally coming back strong in, of all times, the 1980’s. During this period Lothar Goldhahn, who was restoring a former Gosenschenke, Ohne Bedenken, thought the reborn pub should of course sell Gose. Wanting to get the style right he surveyed patrons to ascertain the finer tasting notes and flavors of the brew. Goldhahn had a problem however finding a local brewery which wanted to take on the task of producing such an “odd-ball” style. Eventually Gose rose from the ashes at Schultheiss Berliner-Weisse-Brauerei on Schönhauser Allee in East Berlin and aside from a stutter step in 1988 is in better shape than it has been for half a century. With that in mind and the creativity of today’s brewers it is not surprising to find Gose is available in the US market on a fairly regular basis. Craft brewing giant Boston Beer Company has even produced a Gose under their Samuel Adams brand. With all that in mind and the ever growing palate of craft beer afficinados it is no wonder that tiny, quirky Westbrook Brewing Company has decided to brew up a tart, spicy and salty rendition of this German style.

On the label for this beer, above the name Gose, sit the words sour, salty and delicious. Westbrook Brewing Company’s Gose is mostly what it claims on the can from which our serving was poured. ( NOTE NEEDED? This can is nicely designed and leaves you expecting something interesting from it’s contents.) This sour wheat beer features a hazy, opaque golden hue with a bright white head that quickly falls to a thin cap. This seems due to one of the main components of this beer, salt which adversely affects head retention. This ale looks rather rustic in the glass, carbonation rising to greet the taster.

Westbrook’s Gose has a pungent aroma setting you up with what to expect (if the marketing had not already). Notes of the sea, citrus salt and faint spice are met with a slight note of sourness. While this may sound a bit odd to those who have not yet experienced a sour beer (let alone a sour wheat beer with salt) trust us when we say this is an enticing aroma. It is reminiscent of having a citrusy brew on the beach and smells like summer. The flavor follows suit with the aroma offering waves of tart puckering citrus, salt adding moderate levels of carbonation. Some spicy notes (from the coriander) are present but are relegated to the back seat or perhaps even the trunk due to the bombastic nature of the sour and salty main act. The aftertaste echoes the flavors present leaving a twang on the palate which brings your mouth back to the glass. This beer would be easy to consume in large quantities at 4% ABV if you are a fan of the sour/tart/salt combination that leaps from the brew. We say if you are in the mood to try something thirst quenching and different go for a Gose.

What Alicia Thinks:
I would say this tastes like a margarita in a can, or more appropriately a Mike-a-rita, if anyone was into that sort of thing in their youth. I was, and I don’t say any of that to insult this beer as I actually really enjoyed it. The fact that they combined salty and citrus flavors makes it almost impossible to sip it without being reminded of a frosty mixed drink, but this is a unique and interesting beer that shouldn’t be written off. That being said, even though the ABV is low the taste is pretty aggressive so I couldn’t see downing these all day on the beach. I can however see enjoying one or two at a backyard BBQ which makes this a hit canned beer for me

What Kevin Thinks:
I like the idea of what Westbrook Brewing Company was going for with their Gose. They made a bold beer that certainly fulfills most of what they promise in their labeling. This beer is for sure salty, sour and while to some delicious I found it was more on the tasty side. I am a fan of this style of beer but I found that WBC’s rendition of the Gose suffers from going to eleven. The brew is a mix of salty and sour with some good carbonation moving things along during each sip however there is not subtlety to it. I was hoping to get some more from the coriander and wheat in the beer as I was drinking it. This was a beer I enjoyed and I’d reach for a can again even though it has the potential to be something greater. As for Alicia’s point that this beer has something of a margarita like quality about it, I can see where she is coming from. For me this was a 7.5/10 overall.

Style: Gose ABV: 4% IBU: 5 Color: Hazy Gold Year: 2013 Brewery: Westbrook Brewing Company

The Brewery Says:
This is our interpretation of Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”), a traditional German-style sour wheat beer brewed with coriander and salt. Once nearly extinct, this very refreshing style is making a comeback.

First Released: April 2012

Availability: Draft and 22oz bottles (and now obviously available in cans too! – BLC)

Written by A+K

November 11th, 2013 at 4:15 pm

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