Oregon summer series: beer #4

27 Aug

it all started with such promise…

My entire experience with beer and salt can be summed up in one word: Tecate.  Now, that’s not a bad word necessarily.  I like me some Tecate.  I like that I can drink 9 of them on a hot day and not feel like I am going to pass out or nurse a wicked hangover the next day.  But beyond that salted rim on the can, I was not fully aware that salt was a main ingredient in a style of beer.  It was only this summer that I first heard of the style known as Gose.

A Gose typically has 50% malted wheat in the recipe, and also utilizes ingredients like coriander and salt.  The beer was historically fermented with wild yeast and it acquired its characteristic sourness through inoculation with lactic acid bacteria after the boil.  Brewed since the 18th Century in Germany, the style hit a roadblock after World War II and production ceased.  Small producers popped back up after the war, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that the style was brought back into full time production.  Today there are multiple breweries in Germany making Gose and the beer has started to pop up on the occasional tap list in the U.S.  The style is typically lemony or tart (sour), with herbal notes (coriander?) and a distinctive salt flavor.  In other words, you should know you are drinking a Gose by the combo of sour and salty.  For a bit more detail on the style, check out this article.

The first, and only, Gose I had the pleasure of drinking was at Apex several months ago.  I can’t remember the name of the beer or the brewery, but I remember how much I enjoyed it.  Salt gets me every time.  Salt is about enhancing and showcasing the flavor of food or drink and that is what I felt was happening with that Gose.  I was experiencing a beer in a totally different way, and I was determined to experience it some more.  I went ahead and picked up a Widmer Marionberry Hibiscus Gose at the Beer Bunker, because that was the only Gose I had come across in the last couple of weeks.  I wasn’t necessarily enamored with the idea of marionberry, but I figured that the hibiscus could be a really great ingredient for a summery, salty beer like this.  I wish I could say that it all turned out for the best, but I did not enjoy this beer like I had hoped I would.

The beer is a really interesting pinkish/purple color…but not full on pink/purple.  It still retains that bit of caramel/golden color you would expect from a wheat beer.  The smell was just like a traditional  wheat beer with only an undercurrent of the hibiscus.  I thought that particular smell would come through more, as hibiscus has an extremely floral aroma.  Other beers I have tried with hibiscus in them have been much more floral and vegetal.   There is also a clear tartness and sourness in the smell, which I expected.  The flavor is where the beer let me down.  All wheat and sour, with almost no showing by the marionberries or the hibiscus.  There is coriander floating around in the flavor, but the salt finish that I expected never materialized. It was only after I let the beer fully warm to room temperature that some of the flavors started to come out of hiding.  I don’t need the label on the bottle to be blue, but somewhat chilled is nice for a summer beer.  It just wasn’t the same thirst quencher after it warmed.  The body was fine, nice and appealing for someone looking to quench a thirst (while it was cold) and not chew on their drink.  Overall, this beer was a swing and a miss for me.  I am sure it appeals to someone, but I am not that someone.  This should not be taken as a slam on Widmer…I have recently enjoyed their Oatmeal Porter and many of the beers from their Rotator IPA Series.  Again, maybe not my cup o’ tea, but possibly something a sour beer lover could find a soft spot for.  Me?  I think I’ll stick to the Tecate for now…at least until I can find a Gose worthy of my time.

Next up: Ching Ching from Bend Brewing Company

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2 Responses to “Oregon summer series: beer #4”

  1. Chad August 29, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

    I had the pleasure to have the Widmer offering at Pican in Oakland and I quite liked it. The sour was understated from the tap and it was actually, earthy. Brian you would love Pican by the way.

    • Brian August 29, 2012 at 9:23 PM #

      It is entirely possible that the version from the keg was different. I recently had a Berlinerweisse from Full Sail side-by-side in both bottle and from the tap. The keg version was less sour than the bottle. I liked the bottle better in that case. Glad you were able to sample it down there.

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