'It's an odd style," Long Trail Brewing Company brewmaster Dave Hartmann says of the gose, a classic German beer brewed with salt and coriander.
Hartmann got his first prolonged exposure to gose (pronounced "go-suh") during a trip to Germany in 2008. He's wanted Long Trail to make one ever since, with an eye on the market and drinkers' evolving tastes.
"If you're a brewery of a decent size and you're too far ahead of the curve, people are wondering what you're thinking," says Hartmann. "A few of the smaller guys have been doing these for a couple years. I think the style is starting to gain some acceptance."
Hartmann describes the gose as having similar characteristics to a wheat beer (some Belgian wheat beers list coriander as an ingredient). Unlike wheat beers, goses are salty and tart, the latter trait due to a fermentation with lactobacillus. On the surface, the combination doesn't seem to make sense.
"It's a really interesting thing that I don't think you see in any other beer style, but it really works," says Hartmann.
Long Trail recently announced the release of a beer called Cranberry Gose into its year-round lineup. To put a New England twist on the brew, the Bridgewater Corner, Vt., brewery sources cranberries from Wareham's Blue Water Farms, adding freshly pressed juice into each batch.
On brew days, Hartmann says, "the juice guy's usually here sleeping at 6 in the morning in the cab of his truck when we arrive."
From there it gets tricky. Cranberry Gose is brewed through a process called kettle souring; Hartmann's crew starts the brewing process, then lets the wort sit in the tanks overnight, souring the liquid with the natural microflora that come with the barley and wheat malt. The next day the batches are boiled with salt, hops, and coriander. Cranberry juice ("by itself it's pretty acrid," says Hartmann) is added before the beer hits the fermenter.
The resulting beer is showstoppingly pink, with vigorous bubbles shooting to the top of the glass, as in a sparkling rosé. Part sour and part briny, the beer doesn't reveal itself all at once, though the coriander is immediately recognizable. As for the cranberries, think Ocean Spray without the sugar. It comes together, like Hartmann said it would, to form a sophisticated, much-less-sweet take on an alcopop.
Long Trail recommends you drink the Cranberry Gose fresh, though without a ton of hop character, the shelf life is a little longer (120 days) than most beers. At any rate, you'll want to drink it while the weather's nice, preferably on a porch, with a view of tiny pink bubbles fizzing away in your glass.