Max’s recently had its grand re-opening and featured a beer I had the good luck to try last September at the German Beer Fest â€” and it’s a weird one. I took a fellow Baltibrewer with me late on the grand opening evening and shoved a mug of it into his hand and asked him to tell me what the weird ingredients were.
“It’s definitely a wheat beer.”
“There’s Coriander in thereâ€¦”
“Uh huh. Andâ€¦?”
“Not sure about that last flavorâ€¦”
“Kinda’ makes your mouth water a bit, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, that’s weird. It’s really refreshing! What the heck is that?”
A thousand-year-old style nearly lost after World War II, Gose is a beer brewed with wheat, coriander, and salt. It might seem kind of weird to think of salt as being a good additive for beer â€”salt does retard the growth of yeast after all â€” but the chemistry involved with salt in beer makes a lot of sense. Mineral salts are flavor enhancers.
Think about Burtonized water; it’s basically adding salt to the water to achieve a number of effects, but most especially it brings the flavor of hops to the forefront of the beer. The naturally saline aquifers around the town of Goslar â€” where Gose originated â€” led to a salty beer that enhanced the spicy coriander notes, lactic tartness, and wheat derived flavors that make Gose so perfect for summertime drinking.
Gose originated in the town of Goslar, but was popularized in the Saxon capital of Leipzig. The beer does not conform to the Reinheitsgebot, being that it uses wheat rather than barley as a main cereal grain, and includes additions of coriander. At the height of its popularity, there were 80 Gose houses in Leipzig, long after Goslar had stopped brewing it altogether. After World War II, the style almost became extinct when the breweries in Leipzig were nationalized and closed under the GDR.
The style has seen a bit of a resurgence of late as the craft beer movement turns its watchful eye at the odder brewing traditions from history.
Gose is served in a cylindrical mug, and while some suggest it should be sweetened with syrups like a Berlinnerweisse, I like it straight up, dry, tart, and refreshing.