Fearful Symmetries

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14 December, 2015

Ridin' On a Ghost Train: Geisterzug by Freigeist Bierkultur

I have another bier from Freigiest Bierkultur here - Geisterzug, a spruced traditional gose. "Geisterzug" means "ghost train" and I'm not altogether sure what the name means. My guess is that since "geist" means "ghost" in addition to "spirit", it's a reference to the brewery. And the train part refers to Bayerischer Bahnhof, one of the last remaining gose breweries in Leipzig which is located in a former train station. This just can't be right so, if anyone out there knows the truth of the matter, please do divulge.

The building on the label is the Völkerschlachtdenkmal or Monument to the Battle of the Nations which commemorates Napoleon’s deafeat in 1813 at the Battle of Leipzig. Presumably this is the building that the city is famous for and the one everyone knows. A bit like the Capitol here in Madison, I would imagine.

And seeing that building the (German) drinker will presumably realize that the style is associated with Leipzig which indeed the gose is. Freigeist claims that Geisterzug is "Based on a recipe dating back at least six hundred years" and I have no reason to doubt this. Bayerischer Bahnhof brewed some spruce gose some of which made it to Madison this year. I had a glass at Hop Cat although someone at Freiburg Gastropub said that they too would be getting a barrel. That version was very tasty. The bier itself was heavier than an unadulterated gose with a deeper yellow color that was almost gold. Its bigger body played host to a big spruce kick. Unexpected but delicious.

I could tell that Freigeist's take was not going to be as bold. It poured a yellow hue that was turbid. This dull yellow bier may not win any beauty contests but was redeemed aesthetically with a big, firm, white head that was in no hurry to go away. I spied a few bubbles going up the glass but that was it.

The aroma was Himmely with a spalsh of lactic lemon scent that melded perfectly with the resiny spruce. Underneath these more piquant smells was a bit of cracker graininess. This was an appropriate prelude to the taste. My tongue caught the citrus/lemon tartness first. It was not a big blast of sour but instead provided a nicely tempered zestiness. Considering the bier's color and light body, I was surprised at the relatively prominent bready flavor here that was tinged with just a hint of sweetness. The spruce was, like the tartness, moderate, but it certainly helped to maintain a balance amongst the various tastes.

Malt flavors come to the fore towards the finish but quickly fade and yield to a new trinity of sour, spruce, and a newcomer – herbal hoppiness. There isn't much bitterness, mind you. These elements are well-balanced although that resiny spruce taste lingers long after the other flavors have gone. My glass had some nice Schaumhaftvermoegen with some thick webbing to be had.

Fantastisch! Geisterzug was very easy drinking yet the grains weren't hidden in the background. I think this was due in large part to the salt. There was enough of a malt backbone to play the foil to the tartness and spruce which were not overwhelming and complemented one another very well. Coriander was minimal, however, and seemed to get lost in the spruce. The trinity of grain, spruce, and sour were in perfect balance here. These flavors were given enough room to breathe yet never dominated one another. This moderation and harmony of flavors meant that I had no problem quaffing the half litre bottle by myself.

Junk food pairing: Try some Cheez-It Duoz Smoked Cheddar & Monterey Jack crackers with Geisterzug. Alternatively, the bier will pair well with sausages so hot dog flavored potato chips are a good match as well.

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|| Palmer, 6:24 AM


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