GOSE SHOULD NOT be shy. Spiced with coriander and salt, this traditional (read: archaic) German wheat beer is a piquant cousin to Berliner Weisse and Belgian Witbier, and a recent surge has landed it somewhere between the two styles in popularity. Currently, California’s Westbrook brews one of the world’s most highly-rated Goses, though its sample size is admittedly still small. It is indeed a delightfully refreshing effort that isn’t shy about its off-kilter flavor: the can’s label arcs ‘Sour, Salty, Delicious’ above its name as if it were a failsafe marketing mantra. For those in the know, it is.
The beer’s color is somewhere between straw and pale honey, with persistent carbonation and a frothy head of natural egg white. IBUs come in at 5—virtually nonexistent and low even for this style—which, combined with the 4% ABV, ensures that Gose is a breezy lunch pairing as well as a nimble palate cleanser after a succulent dinner. (Or beer, for that matter; this tasting followed Sierra Nevada’s Barrel-Aged Bigfoot and was no worse off for it.) On the nose it is a little briny from the salt, but that prickle is underscored nicely by notes of coriander, a bit of grassiness, and lemon.
The carbonation is just on point, recognizing that the beer’s natural dryness and astringency of its spices are lively enough to lead the way. The mouthfeel thus retains a little extra presence instead of dissipating away completely, encouraging another sip without demanding it. On the palate it has some decisive tartness from its lactic acid, but this is rather elegantly couched in the fruit flavors (green apple skins) and hint of creaminess that blends into a crisp finish of wheat grains and a pinch of salt. Yeast is less prominent a flavor than expected. As far as Gose goes, this is one of the smoother takes on the style for its relatively forgiving body, moderate spice character, and dearth of funk. It is still not shy, though, and its balance of refreshment and substance is excellently struck. Is it the best Gose made today? Perhaps not. But it could surely be a first-call ambassador for the explosive growth of American sours.
Served: 12 oz can