Victory Brewing and others revive forgotten German-style sour beer

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By: Eric Strader
ericstrader69@gmail.com

Eric Strader

I have to admit, I was apprehensive about my first experience with a sour, salty style of beer called Gose (pronounced “Gose-uh”).

It was recommended to me by a friend who is a blacksmith in Mississippi. He said it was the most refreshing beer to quench his thirst after working near the hot forge in the sweltering humidity and heat.

Westbrook Gose, a German style salty-sour beer. (Eric Strader/Flavor 574)

So a couple of years ago, on a hot and humid Michiana summer day, I opened a can of Westbrook Gose (4 percent ABV, IBUs 5), compliments of J.R. Unfortunately, since it was a can, I couldn’t use one of my favorite hand-forged bottle openers from him.

It poured very cloudy with the aroma of zingy citrus, not looking very tasty in appearance at all. The flavor began with strong citrus, giving way to an earthy grassiness, a slight funky sour, coriander, with a minimal sour, salty finish.  

All of the flavors were very bold for a 4 percent ABV beer, but none were overpowering. The body was light, but the saltiness was refreshing, leaving your mouth wanting another sip. I found it similar to a Berlinerweiss, but with the added coriander and salt.

Thought probably not a beer for every day, this gose is much tastier than it appears, and a much better choice than an imperial stout on a hot, sticky day.

Just in time for the arrival of warmer weather, Victory Brewing Company announces the release of Kirsch Gose, its first endeavor incorporating natural fruit juices, which add subtle flavors over a unique tart and salty finish. 

This German-style brew takes its name from the salinic river Gose.

Promising to excite with the sharpness and sweetness of fresh cherries, Victory puts a modern twist on an old-world, time-honored process to bring a distinct and refreshing session ale to market.

Victory Kirsch-Gose will soon be available in Michiana. (Photo supplied/Andrew Hoffman, Victory Brewing)

Kirsch Gose was borne out of the passionate artistry of Victory Brewing Company’s brewers and blends a variety of wheat malts, Czech-grown Saaz hops and cherry juice to create a distinctly bracing, light-bodied, pleasantly sharp beer with a nod to European tradition while featuring American ingenuity.

With an ABV of 4.7 percent and exciting flavor profile, Kirsch Gose will surely be a thirst quencher.

Goses, which are traditionally brewed to be slightly tangy and salty, have a longstanding German history since the 16th century. They are brewed using both malted barley and wheat to provide a bit of sharpness and a smooth mouthfeel.

After the brewhouse additions of spices such as coriander, the style is then fermented with wild, top-fermenting yeast to produce a dry, bubbly, puckery product.

Interestingly, because brewing goses required more wheat than the standard lager beers then in vogue, they fell out of production as post-World War East Germany (where it was primarily brewed) needing to ration their supply for bread making as opposed to beer making.

The demolition of the Berlin Wall, in combination with the booming North American craft beer movement in the late ’80s, encouraged the gose resurgence in Germany with local Leipzig brewers and provided a canvas of endless creative possibility for North American craft brewers.

“At Victory, we rely on our German training to keep the best brewing traditions alive, while incorporating inspiration from the wide world of flavor possibilities,” said Victory’s president and brewmaster, Bill Covaleski. “Kirsch Gose is a slightly different, definitely delicious sensation that we hope our fans enjoy as much as we enjoyed creating it.”

The Livery Maillot Rouge will be available in a limited release during Funk Fest 2015. (Eric Strader/Flavor 574)

A few breweries known for brewing sours such as Cascade Brewing in Portland, Ore. and 7venth Son Brewing in Dunedin, Fla., and other better known breweries such as Cigar City Brewing, Anderson Valley Brewing, and Boston Beer Company have all brewed goses, however, I’m guessing that they have been mostly been pub releases and not bottled for distribution.  

There are a few local breweries to be added to this list as well. 18th Street Brewery recently released a gose under its Sour Note label, as well as Local Option in Chicago, and The Livery in Benton Harbor, Mich.  

On April 18, The Livery will host Funk Fest 2015 which will feature I Ain’t Afraid of No Gose (Gose inspired Oak Aged Sour/Wild Ale with Preserved Blood Oranges and Clementines). The total funk tap list will contain six sour beers also featuring:

  • Barrel Aged Maillot Jaune (oak aged sour biere de garde)
  • Maillot Rouge (oak aged sour biere de garde with raspberries)
  • Cherry Friek (oak aged sour/wild ale with tart cherries)
  • Slow Peach (oak aged sour Belgian IPA with peaches)
  • St. Valentines Day Massacre (sour/wild ale aged on blood oranges)

The event will take place at The Livery 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. with a special bottle release of Maillot Rouge, 500 ml bottles beginning when doors open. There are a total of 100 bottles with a two bottle limit per person.

In addition, there will be a ticketed concert by funk band The Main Squeeze.  Bottle sales and special taps will not require a ticket. For full details, go to The Livery events page.

Here is a suggested recipe from Victory Brewing using that Kirsch Gose.

Bleu Cheese Cake with Victory Kirsch Gose Sauce

Victory Kirsch Gose Sauce

Ingredients

  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 dash salt
  • 12-oz. bottle Victory Kirsch Gose
  •  4 cups fresh tart red cherries or frozen unsweetened tart red cherries, pitted

Directions

  1. Over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan
  2. Stir in Gose
  3. Slowly add the cherries and reduce until sauce thickens (should coat the back of a spoon)
  4. Remove from heat
  5. Once cooled, pour the sauce over a slice of the bleu cheese cake and serve with Victory Brewing Company Kirsch Gose

Victory Bleu Cheese Cake

Ingredients 

  • 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 2 cups bleu cheese, crumbled
  • 2¼ cups sour cream
  • ⅓ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees 
  2. Beat cream cheese and bleu cheese in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy (5 minutes)
  3. Mix in 1 cup of sour cream
  4. Add pepper
  5. Incorporate eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition
  6. Pour mixture into buttered 9-inch spring-form pan
  7. Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean
  8. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes
  9. Carefully spread remaining 1¼ cup sour cream over top and return to oven 5 minutes
  10. Cool completely on wire rack
  11. Refrigerate several hours or overnight to set

 

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