If you’ve been around the brewery at all over the last couple weeks, you’ve had a chance to try our latest creation, the Bahnhof Gose (pronounced “bon-hoof go-suh”)
Gose is a really interesting style of beer, originating in Germany and not conforming to the well-known Reinheitsgebot, which is Germany’s beer purity law. The purity law states that beer should only contain malt, hops, water, and yeast. However, Gose is allowed under this law because it is a regional specialty, even though it traditionally contains lactobacillus (which is a bacteria, not a yeast) as well as coriander and salt. The lactobacillus is used in fermentation along with the yeast and makes this technically a sour beer from the production of lactic acid, although it’s very different from some of the more mouth-puckering sours that we traditionally think of. Along the lines of a Berlinner Weisse, it’s more of a tartness than a full-blown sour.
Gose is really only available in a couple places in Germany, and is regional to the Leipzig area. If you’re interested in a little more history on Gose, there’s some interesting details in the German Beer Institute article on the subject.
I got an opportunity to travel to Leipzig about 2 years ago, and while I was there, I decided to track down a “Gosenschenke”, which is a bar that serves Gose. I ended up at Ohne Bedenken where I had a wonderful meal of pork knuckle and several pints of Gose, followed by a move to the bar from my table and even more pints of Gose. I met a couple fine gentlemen the night I was there who helped me on my quest to intimately understand the style, and had a wonderful time. I was even able to dig up a photo from that evening with the two fine gents that I met at the bar. The one on the left is Johannes, who is the restaurant manager at the Gosenchenke, and although I don’t remember the gentleman on the right’s name, he said he lived next door to the pub and assured me that he would be there if I ever came back.
The Gose that I remember was slightly tart, but not overwhelmingly sour with some subtle fruit notes, like green apple and orange, and had a really nice dry finish, but didn’t actually taste overly salty like you would think of seawater or something of the sort. The salt and coriander basically dried out the finish of the beer, and just made you want to get another glass of it more than anything (which is a pretty desirable attribute if you’re a brewer!).
I packed up a couple growlers to go, and stumbled outside to find a cab that evening, with a distinct impression of wanting to someday brew a Gose at my establishment. At the time, I was about a month away from signing a lease on the space that Wanderlust currently occupies, so the thought of brewing a Gose faded into the back of my mind in favor of things like “building a bar” and “getting building permits approved”. Even though it will be two years since that evening in Leipzig come January, I have kept the constant reminder of that experience sitting on a shelf at my house. The distinct shape of the Gose bottle staring at me, with the wrinkled and slightly crooked label on it that the bartender hastily applied after filling this beautiful bottle from the tap.
So here we are, almost 2 years later, bringing that idea to fruition. Justin and I put our heads together about a month ago and came up with the idea and the recipe for a Gose. We used a technique called a sour mash to give the beer it’s tartness, and added alderwood-smoked sea salt after the fermentation was finished to dry out the finish and give it a slightly salty aftertaste. We decided to forgo the coriander and opted to try and get some clove-like spice from the german hefeweizen yeast that we had in house instead.
I will admit that it’s been almost 2 years since I tasted a proper Gose, but I think we actually did a pretty good job of representing the original, but putting our own stamp on it as well. The beer pours with a really nice fluffy white head from the large amount of wheat in it, which then dissipates quickly from the acidity of the beer. There is a slight overtone of lemon and green apples in the aroma and the flavor with some additional spiciness added from the German hefeweizen yeast. It’s cloudy and unfiltered, as a good German wheat beer should be, and the saltiness is not overpowering but does a good job of drying out the finish.
It’s quickly becoming my go-to beer at the brewery, and if a measure of it’s success is whether you want another after you’re done drinking the first glass, then this beer has been a huge success.
The smoke from the smoked sea salt didn’t really come through, as it ended up being a small amount of salt to achieve the flavor profile we wanted, but it was a fun experiment nonetheless. If you want a taste of the salt itself, we keep a little behind the bar for tasting purposes, and you can keep an eye on the specials list at Pizzicletta as well, they serve it on their rotating specialty pies on occasion (which is where we got the idea to use it).
We’ve got enough of the Gose left to try and keep it around for the month of December, and we’re filling small growlers of it at the brewery for everyone to take home and drink as well. If there is enough demand for it, we may put together a second batch, so let us know what you think. We’ve got it out to a couple accounts as well, like Fire Creek Coffee and Hops on Birch, and if you would like to try it with some food, Pizzicletta will have it in the next week or so.
Finally, for those who aren’t versed in German, you may be wondering what “Bahnhof” means. It translates to “train station”, and is a nod to one of the other Gose breweries in Leipzig (Bayerischer Bahnhof) and the notoriety of the trains coming through Flagstaff.