Before there were session IPAs, before the term “session” came to denote low-alcohol brews you could drink several of at a sitting without becoming intoxicated, before then, some of the most popular beer styles were inherently un-boozy.
One of them, the German Gose, is incongruous with what our expectations of beer have come to be. A Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”) is a style native to Goslar in the 16th century. The beer later caught on 100 miles away in Leipzig, where it became a local favorite, surviving until the town ended up in the German Democratic Republic after World War II.
Not to be confused with another sour style of beer, the Belgian Gueuze, a Gose’s signature ingredients are salt and coriander. Fermented with both traditional yeast and lactic bacteria, Goses are both salty and tart. Seemingly contrary to the wave of easy-drinking, one-note session beers hitting the market in the States, this obscure German style is making a comeback.
Armed with that background and with a tip from an employee at a local bottle shop, I picked up a six-pack of Anderson Valley’s The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose, part of the brewery’s Highway 128 Session Series. The first beer in that series was a hoppy pale ale. This one is a marked departure and a “challenge to make,” director of brewing operations Andy Hooper says in a Q&A posted on the Boonville, Calif., brewery’s website. Lactobacillus, the bacteria that makes the beer tart, is a potential contaminant to other beers. Hooper solves this problem by adding lactobacillus right into the kettle. Once the bacteria has done its job, the wort is boiled and sterilized. While Goses are traditionally brewed using salted water, Anderson Valley adds the salt to this beer post-fermentation.
The resulting brew is a wheat beer of 4.2 percent alcohol by volume. Cracking the can, I get the aromas of wheat, honey, and cherry.
Sour apple and peach get the mouth party started; lively carbonation tingles in the back of your throat before bubbling away. You’re left with a lemony, salty, refreshingly-dry finish. As the beer warms the finish becomes spicier. The proper way to serve this style is in a tall, cylindrical glass not unlike the one in which you serve a German Berliner Weisse. But being outdoors is a pretty good excuse to skip the glassware.
Mystic Brewery Cafe
Big news out of Chelsea, where Mystic Brewery opened what it’s calling an “Artisanal Beer Cafe” this week. Until now, Mystic founder Bryan Greenhagen and staff were limited to pouring samples like Saison Renaud and Day of Doom.
“This is really what I wanted to do to best present our beer at the brewery,” says Greenhagen. “I’m very excited about it.”
Full-pour service began on Wednesday. Later this year, the brewery will offer a simple pairing menu including local and imported cheeses, charcuterie, and breads. Greenhagen sees the evolution of the brewery as an extension of the steps Chelsea is making as a destination for artists and other local producers.
Mystic specializes in Belgian-style farmhouse ales, and Greenhagen himself is something of a nut about fermentation. Last fall, the brewery took home a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival with “Vinland Two,” a beer brewed with a native New England saccharomyces yeast strain cultured from Norridgewock, Maine, blueberries. In 2013 Mystic produced 600 barrels of beer averaging six weeks of conditioning and aging before release.
Samuel Adams Brewlywed
In what is becoming an annual tradition, lovebirds lined up at the Samuel Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain Wednesday for the release of Brewlywed Ale.
Only 200 cases of Brewlywed Ale, a Belgian-style “bride ale” that celebrates the tradition of brewing for weddings, were produced. Hundreds of patrons waited on line for the opportunity to purchase up to two cases of the brew for their own ceremonies. Two couples got married on site. Katie Gustainis Vela and Timothy Gustainis Vela of Cambridge were among five couples who renewed their vows.
“After seven years together, three years of marriage, and two years as homebrewers, it only makes sense to bring it full circle here at the brewery,” Katie said.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.