Fearful Symmetries

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24 April, 2013

Goosetown: The Gose That Isn't



I was excited to hear that Schell was going to be brewing a Gose called Goosetown as a summer seasonal. The Gose is a top-fermenting sour wheat bier flavored with coriander and salt. It was first brewed nearly 300 years ago in the northern German town of Goslar. The bier became quite popular in Leipzig and it became a center of Gose brewing. The style went into decline after World War I and the next great conflict put an end to Gose production. Its revival went in fits and spurts until the 1990s when it was again pulled back from the edge of extinction. There are a handful of German brewers who brew Gose so it's not exactly a popular style but since even I can get my hands on a Gose brewed in Germany, it seems to be doing OK. For a more detailed history of Gose check out Ron Pattinson's blog entry on the subject from which I cribbed this information.

My experience with the style is limited. In addition to the above Leipziger Gose, I've had a couple versions at the Great Taste (I believe one was from Gordon Biersch) which were unimpressive, Sam Adams' Verloren, which I hope to review soon, and Widmer Brothers' Marionberry Hibiscus Gose which I had on tap last summer at Dexter's. That stuff was very good, in my humble opinion. Sadly, its presence here in Madison went virtually unnoticed. So how did the folks at Schell do?

My photo this time is slightly better. Goosetown pours a brilliant straw color and is very clear. I got a nice foamy head but it disappeared fairly quickly. There were bubbles galore in my glass but little in the way of Schaumhaftvermoegen. My stuffy nose caught the coriander in the aroma and a hint of malt sweetness.

I have to admit my surprise when I took a sip and tasted a fine cracker-like grain flavor which was crisp and smooth. The stuff was lagered?! It didn't take long for a mild but very pleasing wave of coriander to appear along with a similar sortie of salt. On top of all this was a vague lemony zing. The mouthfeel is light and pleasant. Some herbal/spicy hops were apparent in the finish which, along with the carbonation, made it moderately dry. As the bier got warmer, the salt noticeably carried into the finish.

Very odd. Very odd indeed. They lagered it. That's the first deviation from tradition. The second was that Goosetown wasn't very tart. I don't know what units are used to measure tartness but Goosetown probably has a few micro bits of it. Historically speaking, the Gose is supposed to be a mouth-puckeringly tart bier from lactic acid but Goosetown is not. Leipziger Gose is not particularly tart yet it exceeds Goosetown in this department by orders of magnitude. I wasn't expecting to look like Homer Simpson after he ate the 77X42 at the Springfield Candy Convention, but I was rather hoping for a bier that at least tasted like there was some lactic acid within a few miles of the brewery when it was made. Instead, Goosetown tastes like a good pale lager or K├Âlsch that has had coriander and salt added to it.

Schell describes Goosetown as being their "interpretation of a traditional, German-style Gose" and they are arguably pushing the definition of the word "interpretation" to its limit. It's not so much an interpretation, in my book, as it is a hybrid which borrows liberally from the Gose but left out one of the best parts.

So Goosetown bears only a vague resemblance to the Gose but I really like this stuff and will be drinking more of it if summer ever arrives. It is very refreshing, not too big at 5.2% ABV, and it simply tastes good. The coriander and salt are subdued but have enough presence to make for a unique and very pleasing flavor.

Junk food pairing: Pair Goosetown with SuperPretzel SoftStix.

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|| Palmer, 1:36 PM

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