Session 116: As Gose Goes So Goes It All

sessionlogosmThis month’s edition of The Session sees host Derrick Peterman ofRamblings of a Beer Runner asking everyone to write about the “German” sour beer style Gose:

I choose the Gose style in particular since it can be approached in so many different ways. Want to talk about the history of the Gose? How about how American breweries are taking this style and running wild with it with different spice and fruit additions? How else has the Gose manifested itself outside its German homeland? Is the Gose here to stay or will it go the way of the Black IPA, once the hot style but slowly becoming a largely irrelevant curiosity? (OK, that might not be your opinion of the Black IPA, but you get the idea.) Of course, we’re all on the look-out for a good Gose, so if there are any you particularly like, we’d love to hear about them.

You will see that I put German in quotation marks. Gose isn’t really a German style any more than Black IPA has anything to do with India. One of the most telling things about gose was set out in a recent tweet by Ron Pattinson:

Changing times. I used to wish more Goses were brewed.

Ron pretty much reintroduced at least the English-speaking world to gose with his 2007 post “Gose” but what he described as gose in that post is not really what is called gose today. Does it matter? I live in a town, a region without regular access to Gose. When I think of comparables, I have always ensured I have backup gueuze in the stash but I have never hoarded gose. Not because gose is not interesting. It’s just that most gose is not gose. It’s a Gatorade alcopop. In just 2010, I could describe gose as “now lost” in my review of a book by Stan – though it was beginning to make craft brewery appearances in a truer form months later. In 2011, it was noted by Pete and Stan that the Oxford Companion to Beer missed, among many things, any reference to gose, though Garrett explained. Then the word “gose” – if not the beer – took off. It was already worth ridicule in 2012. By 2014, I was being offered low alcohol, salty Sunny D in one of the best beer bars in Toronto. Infantiled fruity gak. By 2015, it is the sign of the end times.

I have had lovely light, tangy, sea pinched gose. When it is done with respect, it is singular. Sadly, as with too much with craft beer, the low path is too often taken. The easy option selected. In the hands of a thoughtful brewer with a sense of tradition there is a memorable play of wheat, salt and herb that satisfies. It is fulfilling in a way that never attracts the idea of moreish. If I could I would put a small clay jug of cool real gose on the Thanksgiving* table this weekend to drink along with the turkey and cranberry. If I dared trust the word on the label. Which I don’t. So I likely won’t. If I could find it.

*Of which the New York Times is suddenly obsessed.

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