Let’s talk a bit about what exactly a Gose is since I think the style still has a bit of mystery surrounding it, and has only just made it into the BJCP guidelines last year.
A gose, pronounced like it rhymes with “rose”, with an “uh” at the end, is a sour and salty wheat ale brewed with coriander and, back in its heyday, salted water. The beer’s 1,000 year-old history takes it back to the German city of Leipzig, the capital city of Saxony in what became the former East Germany. The name Gose comes from the river Gose, which flows through the town of Goslar, part of Lower Saxony and a former brewing center. It’s assumed that the original source of a Gose’s saltiness came from the naturally saline water from the mineral-rich aquifers around Goslar that fed the Goslar brewhouses.
To make it brief – Goslar declined, brewing moved to Leipzig where it flourished, World War II, Berlin Wall, bread-making > beer-making, wall came down, Gose came back.
Originally, gose got it’s sour quality from spontaneous fermentation from bacteria like Lactobacillus, or with the later addition of lactic acid. Today’s American brewers use a multitude of souring methods, from wild yeasts, to sour mashes, and sometimes with the addition of lemon juice or other types of citrus.
Moving along, I only just visited Everett’s Night Shift Brewing for the first time this past fall with a big group of drunk girls (~*BACHELORETTE PARTY*~). It reminded me a lot of the Brooklyn Brewery experience, which I love. Unassuming industrial building, exposed beams, large family style tables, with a huge variety of sample beers pouring and available bottles; just one big party.
This is the beer that stood out the most to me that day – Harborside, a 5.1% gose-style ale brewed with Island Creek oysters and coriander. The brewery teamed up with Duxbury’s renowned Island Creek Oysters, adding hundreds of fresh oysters to the boiling wort, to create this tart, salty, citrusy celebration of the ocean side.
A huge head billows up upon pouring, but then immediately settles down to a wisp of nothing. In the glass, Harborside shines a bright and golden-yellow with noticeable carbonation and a bit of haze.
The nose is reminiscent of those candied fruit rinds that my friends make fun of me for enjoying, calling it old person candy. A tart citrus aroma weaves itself amongst, well, I don’t know how else to say it, but a meaty, wharf-like smell; full of umami and not unpleasant in the slightest. It smells complex and delicious. This beer has such a tart, lemon citrus flavor; it’s like sucking on some Warheads that have been soaking in Limoncello. It’s crisp and cutting, but rounded out with a sweet/savory oyster finish. It has an almost buttery quality, like an oaked Chardonnay, with a high minerality and a light funk. These flavors are very jarring on their own, but in this beer, everything ties together really nice.
The carbonation is bright and spritzy and even with the tartness, it’s overall very thirst-quenching – such a fun beer!