While I may not have been sure if Snarling Badger
is still a blended beer, there's no doubt that Off Color's Troublesome
is. But instead of a Berliner Weisse, Troublesome aims for Gose territory.
As I noted when I sampled their Berliner Weisse
, Off Color treads a path less worn. Rather than being yet another moth taken by the IPA flame, the men behind the beer, John Laffler and Dave Bleitner, sought inspiration from obscure German styles when brewing the cornerstones of Off Color.
The Gose is a light sour wheat ale notable for being seasoned with salt and coriander. The people of Leipzig were apparently good joiner-inners because the Gose originated in the town of Goslar, about 115 miles from Leipzig in the early 18th century and, as the 19th century came to a close, Gose was the official brew of Leipzig. The style is most closely associated with its adopted home today. In my mind, anyway.
As I said above Troublesome is a blended beer and not brewed strictly in accordance with tradition. An unadorned wheat beer comingles with a sour brew fermented by lactobacillus alone. This is the second time this week I've encountered a sour brew that was untouched by brewer's yeast. Salt and coriander are added later.
Troublesome pours hazy and is light yellow in color. I didn't get much of a head but there were bubbles galore going up as well as clinging to the side of the glass. I've always heard that, if there's carbonation on the side of the glass, then the glass is dirty. Now I feel badly. Are there any circumstances under which those bubbles would adhere to the side of glass even when it is clean? We're talking 50+ year-old glassware here so perhaps imperfections in the glass would qualify? I hope so because otherwise I've just admitted to the world that I am a poor dishwasher.
The aroma was at once enticing and disappointing. To begin with the latter, I only caught a rather faint whiff of the lemony tartness that the lactobacillus produces. That tangy bouquet is such an exhilarating way to begin a beer and I lamented its paucity here. On the other hand, the coriander was quite distinct which has not been my experience with most of the Goses that I've encountered. There were also notes of grain and a sweet scent that reminded me of simple syrup.
If the aroma had induced fears of a sour beer lacking tartness then they were allayed when I took my first sip of Troublesome. It was moderately sour. I didn't get a blast of lemon/citrus sour but the beer still had a goodly tartness to it. Wheat/bread was also present as was the coriander. Most of the Gose beers I've had are American and the coriander usually eludes my tongue. I wonder why this should be considering that these same brewers have little or no compunction about putting their customers' tongue through alpha acid hell. The coriander in Troublesome is not overpowering or prominent but it is distinct. Just enough to stand out a bit yet subtle enough to blend in with the other flavors.
As someone at Next Door Brewing can attest
, my ability to discern salt in beer is woefully inadequate. I could taste no salinity in Troublesome, which is not a problem, but I did have a problem discerning what the salt was doing to the flavor. The grainy/bready flavors didn't come across to my tongue as having been enhanced by salt; they tasted as they have appeared in other beers ohne Salz. I think that the flavor of the coriander was heightened by it, though, as it tasted less delicate than it does if you just taste it right from the jar.
There was also a goodly amount of carbonation which was readily tasted and added dryness and balance to the grainy flavors. Troublesome finished dry with a lingering tartness and just a hint of the hops which were herbal and peppery. Sadly my glass was not left with much Schaumhaftvermoegen.
Troublesome has a nice, light body and is rather smooth on the tongue which I presume is because of the presence of oats. The tartness and high carbonation make for a very refreshing beer. At 4.3% A.B.V. one can get good and refreshed without necessarily getting good and sloshed. Off Color did a great job of producing a sour beer that has more than sourness going for it. It is going a step too far to say that the flavors here are balanced because the tartness is most prominent. But it's kept in check to a degree by the carbonation. Plus the grainy flavors don't get lost and neither does the coriander. Everything just works well together.
Junk food pairing: Gose pairs well with lighter fare so try seafood flavored junk food such as Shrimp Funyuns or Lay's Rock Baked Scallop with Butter and Garlic potato chips.
Labels: Beer, Chicago, Gose, Off Color Brewing