Monday, 18 September 2017

How sour is Gose?

My elder son, Andrew, recently moved out. Great news for me and Dolores.

No, it’s not that we don’t have to buy him beer any more or wash his clothes. He brings his washing around and raids Alexei’s beer stash. Much more practical than that. It’s freed up his room.

I’m in the process of turning it into my office. I bought some massive bookshelves from a local bookshop that was closing down and moved some of the ones from the living room up there. Finally my books will all be easily accessible and in one place.

I’m only part way through the process, but I’ve already recovered a couple of book I hadn’t been able to find. It’s a miracle I could ever find any book, given there was no logic to how they were stored. I desperately need to find a couple of books for an article I’m writing.

One of those books is “Gose-Häppchen”, undoubtedly the best book written about Gose. It was so long since I’d seen it that I’d forgotten much of its contents. Including a reproduction of a very important document. And one that should settle an argument about how sour Gose was.

The document in question is an evaluation of the first test batch brewed for Lothar Goldhahn at Schultheiss in Berlin in 1986. This is the beer that was based on descriptions of Gose drinkers and which got their nod as matching the original. That seems pretty conclusive proof that this beer was authentic.

And do you know what’s great? The document lists the acidity: 3.1 pH. To put that into context, vinegar is 2.9 pH. Only the very sourest Lambics have a pH value that low.

It’s just like I’ve been telling everyone: Gose shouldn’t be “slightly tart”, it should be mouth-puckeringly sour.

Here’s the document, in case you don’t believe me:


Benedikt Rausch said...

Another great source is this piece ( where they talk about the age of the bottle when you drink it. The young one is called Birnbrühe and the old one Vinegar. You wanted drink the one in the middle. I think Leipziger Gose had the potential to get cracy sour. Especially not only lactic sourness but actual acetic sour. The way how it comes to the customer supports this theory. Directly from the brewery the Gose is filled into wooden barrels with the bunghole open. Then it is filled into open bottles and left there for up to 3 weeks in the summer and up to five weeks in the winter. Plenty access to oxygen and the fact that a german guy called Willhelm Henneberg found a special Acetobacter in Dölnitzer Gose supports that theory. So you would try to drink the gose when it was refreshing and had a little bit sweetness left to counter the bracing vinegar like acidity, at least that is my theory. The stuff that was reproduced by VLB did not went through the same process as 1920s Leipziger Gose I would imagine. I think they just put no hops in and let the Lactos ride like hell :) Well a more stable product which can be bottled etc. But in my opinion not the same as the really funky stuff served in the 1920s... And then there is still the Gose from Goslar which has not much to do with the Gose from Döllnitz/Leipzig.


Anonymous said...

This is totally unrelated to Gose, but on the Barclay Perkins front, I thought it would be worth noting that today's Google Doodle (at least in the US) celebrates the 308th birthday of Dr. Johnson.

mike said...

My last visit to Leipzig a couple of years ago, the beer described as Gose actually tasted remarkably similar to a Berliner Weisse. A Gose should have distinct salt and coriander notes. Both the Döllnitz and Bayerische Bahnhof versions were remarkably free of both notes. And neither was very sour. Very disappointing.

Eric Branchaud said...

I'd be interested to hear how salty it was. I've had current examples that taste like mildly tart seawater, which is pretty horrible.

Benedikt Rausch said...

Hey Mike and Eric,

I have two pieces of informations for you. First some analysis data from Gose from the Leipzig region with salt values:
The first type of Gose that existed, the one from Goslar was brewed form the water of the river Gose. Here I published an analysis of water of this river:


Anonymous said...

Ron, thank you for this. You are no doubt aware that the gose style has had a resurgence in the United States, but sadly the "official" guidance here is that the sourness should be restrained. "Light sourness, slightly sharp." Most goses here are simply not sour enough, but if challenged the brewers can fall back on the BJCP guidelines. It's maddening.

Ron Pattinson said...

Benedikt Rausch,

that's very interesting, especially the salt content. Where did you find the information in the table? Only one of the analyses is in Enzyklopadie der technischen Chemie Band.

Benedikt Rausch said...

Hey Ron,

the table was a hard one to find. I found it here: on page 619.