On Saturday at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival, I’ll be leading a discussion and tasting with a panel of Southern brewers, titled Tart, Fruity, Refreshing: Beers to Quench Your Thirst and Challenge Your Palate.
In my mind, that could include anything from a classic Belgian saison to an American raspberry sour. But one style that is suddenly enjoying an unlikely surge in popularity — and can fulfill every aspect of the tart, fruity and refreshing formula — is gose.
Pronounced “gose-uh, like rose-uh,” this ancient, low-alcohol German beer is traditionally brewed with more than 50 percent malted wheat, fermented with both yeast and lactobacillus, and flavored with hops, coriander and salt.
If you’re thinking all that adds up to a something a little crazy, you’re right.
Gose is both sour and salty. But it’s also surprisingly thirst-quenching and food-friendly, matching up with Asian food, especially spicy Korean, Thai and Vietnamese dishes, in interesting ways.
What’s more, many American breweries are adding fruit flavors to gose, including blood orange, grapefruit and watermelon, to create another layer of complexity.
Right now, gose is fairly easy to find among summer seasonals at package stores and beer bars. Here are six to look for:
Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose. This Northern California brewery experimented with a couple of fruit-flavored seasonal versions, including blood orange, before landing on this thirst-quenching combo of sea salt and sweet watermelon that ends with a clean, dry finish.
Creature Comforts Cucumber and Lime Tritonia. A limited release, draft-only gose from the innovative Athens brewery is flavored with coriander and sea salt, plus cucumber and lime, giving it the refreshing essence of a gin and tonic, but without the wallop.
Second Self Maverick & Gose. Available May-September, this take on Old World tradition from the newish Atlanta brewery includes additions of coriander and salt, but it’s dry-hopped with Wakatu hops to add a fruity balance to the briny, tart mix.
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez. You know gose is going strong when one of the top U.S. craft breweries comes up with an exotic version to add to its year-round roster. It combines the tart flavors of prickly pear cactus and grapefruit with coriander and several varieties of experimental hops.
Terrapin Watermelon Gose. The Athens brewery, known for its bold flavor experiments, weighs in with a new seasonal gose brewed with white wheat and pilsner malt and Vanguard hops, then adds sea salt, coriander and watermelon concentrate to create its version of tart summer refreshment.
Westbrook Gose. The popular South Carolina brewery was a pioneer in introducing gose to Southern craft beer drinkers. All the traditional German flavors of sour, salt and spice are in play here, but in a much more aggressive and funky American way.