Let’s first kick this off by learning how to pronounce Gose correctly. I hear many folks pronouncing this as “goes”, which is incorrect. Gose is pronounced similar to the name “Rosa” with an emphasis on the ‘O’ – use your best O-face here. The ‘E’ at the end makes an “uh” sound, so its similar sounding to ‘Goes-uh’ or “Go-zuh”. It truly irks me when craft brewers try to be creative with this word but still use it all wrong. They’re just really setting the stone for others to continue to pronounce this word wrong. But thats ok! This is why we are here reading this article.
Gose was first brewed in Goslar, Germany close to one thousand years ago, where the waters of the Abzucht and Gose meet. It was brewed using the saline waters of the Gose River. In the sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, gose became so popular that it swiftly migrated about 180 kilometers west of Goslar to the city of Leipzig, where the style was emulated and loved. Soon it gained status as a regional specialty, which made it exempt from Reinheitsgebot, the German purity law which said that beer could only include water, barley, yeast, and hops. This style of beer was widely popular up until the first World War where the popularity of Gose steadily started to decline. And by the end of the Second World War the last remaining Gose brewery was closed. This was the first in a series of extinction/revivals in the style’s history. It would be reborn on a much smaller scale in 1949, but die out again in 1966 only to be resurrected once again around 2013.
These beers were spontaneously fermented, delivered still fermenting to the local taverns, where once the fermentation had settled somewhat, the beer was transferred into the traditional long-necked bottles but not capped. The secondary fermentation pushed yeast into the long neck and a natural yeast cork was created. Gose is typically unfiltered with a medium yellow to a deeper gold in color. Solid carbonation, with a head that should be long lasting, made up of small tightly packed bubbles, and can rise to an impressive size. Malt will have a yeasty dough quality, possibly reminiscent of sourdough bread. The fruity aroma of pome fruit (apples, pears, quince) can be light to medium bringing a sense of low tartness. Coriander can lend a slight lemon-like character. The salt should be barely noticeable if at all and should bring an impression of clean freshness, like air stirring off the ocean. The mouthfeel will be light to low-medium pushed by good carbonation. It will be crisp, clean, with an overall refreshing quality.
Sourness should be noticeable, but not overly sharp. Pome fruit character follows aroma with a light to moderate presence. There is also the possibility of low notes of lemon, grapefruit, and lighter stone fruits. Malt flavors will appear light to moderate and be bread-y or doughy. Salt should not be overwhelming in the flavor. Hops should remain mostly hidden, with no signs of flavor, and only low bitterness. Here the acidity does the bulk of balancing the malts. The acidity may be easier to note on the finish and may enliven the welcoming, thirst quenching qualities of this beer.
I would like to reiterate that even though these beers are always brewed with salt, and usually coriander as well, these flavors are rarely noticed, and are only added to bring out and enhance the other flavors in the beer. I’ve found many Gose’s that I believe were not even brewed with any coriander at all. Many Gose’s these days are also brewed with fruit to balance out any tartness, and the salt will only bring these fruit flavors out even more making it super refreshing.