Fearful Symmetries

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14 January, 2016

A Taste of Summer in the Depths of Winter: Briney Melon Gose by Anderson Valley Brewing



This post will complete a trifecta of reviews of goses by Anderson Valley Brewing. It began with their traditional gose, continued with a blood orange version, and now we finish with their Briney Melon Gose, watermelon-infused take on the style. The Anderson Valley website has no page dedicated to the brew that I can find but I read earlier this month that the bier sold well since being introduced last summer and is going to be canned. Cans will be available in March.

Although it was introduced in bottles and on draft back in the summer of 2015, I don't recall ever having seen it available here in Madison. I bought my 22oz bottle in Chicagoland back in November and sampled it earlier this month. Like too many brews I review here (something I hope to correct soon), this was not the freshest bier when I bought it and got around to drinking it. But, being a gose, I was not expecting the passage of time to have degraded the bier very much. Tartness is the main component here so it wasn't like I was going to encounter a dull, drab hoppiness as if this were an antiquated IPA.

Briney Melon pours a brilliant yellow hue, even if this is no apparent from my photograph. The bier was just a touch turbid but you would be hard pressed to notice this if you weren't a dork holding his up to the light and staring at it intently. I got a big, white head that dissipated rather quickly. There was a modicum of bubbles inside going up. Some of those bubbles were on the side of my stange which likely means that I need to do a better job of dishwashing.

As I mentioned in my previous review of a gose, I probably like more of a saline character in a gose than is traditional. From my understanding a gose should have enough salt to accent flavors and not really be tasted. Personally, I like to be able to taste just a hint of the salt – enough to know it's there. With the word "briney" being in the name of this bier, I was not at all surprised to be able to catch salinity in the aroma. Not a lot, mind you, but it was there. Briney Melon is watermelon-flavored but the fruity smell was less watermelon specifically and more melon-y in general. I couldn’t pinpoint a specific fruit, just that it was melon. There was also some mild graininess – like cracker - to be had in the nose.

Anderson Valley were not shy about making this a tart brew. I can just imagine what my face looked like upon taking my first sip and getting a blast of tartness that was moderately lemony tasting. The watermelon flavor was slightly sweet and potent enough to make its way through the lip-puckering sour and establish itself as a prominent taste. And, unsurprisingly, Briney Melon was briney. It had just enough salt to aid and abet the other flavors and also to let you know it's there. A bit of light graininess hung in the background while a hint of carbonation nipped at my tongue.

The bier finished dry with the melon flavor fading to more tartness. I couldn't discern any hops. Alas and alack, there was not much Schaumhaftvermoegen to be had beyond an occasional small streak of foam.

Briney Melon had a lot to love including a heady tartness that is exhilarating yet not tiring. It has the perfect amount of salt, to my taste. It brought out the other flavors of the beer very well and I could taste the salinity, though only just. The problem was the melon flavor. Watermelon seems like a wonderful addition to a gose but the "natural flavors" here made the beer taste like a Jolly Rancher. I was reminded of Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss or Sunset Wheat in how the fruit flavors in these beers don't taste like real fruit.

This is a real shame because I really like this bier otherwise. It's got a nice, light body – it's 4.2% A.B.V. – and is easy drinking and quite refreshing. Yet there's a lot going on here with the fruit, salinity, and tartness.

Junk food pairing: I like to keep the Southern cooking motif going when pairing with Briney Melon. Try some Chicken in a Biskit crackers with mild cheddar Easy Cheese and/or some deep fried mac & cheese bites.

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|| Palmer, 9:28 AM

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