While most Americans, let alone most of the world, have likely never heard of Gose, in Leipzig, it is a staple. In fact, as far as I know, the only Gose brewed in the United States is part of a special series released by Sam Adams earlier in 2012, called Verloren. However, just because it has not taken off in the states does not mean that the beer does not bring a world of flavors and a unique taste that is hard to find elsewhere. Many may find the Verloren to be rather salty, but if you have never had a Gose-style beer, you should try find a bottle or two. While the Gose style may require almost an acquired taste, it is something that everyone should try at least once.
Gose falls into a category of beers synonymous with sourness; Berliner-Weisse and Gueuze are two, just to name a few. Unlike many other sour beers, Gose is brewed from at least 50% wheat malt and is often quite low in alcohol content. The limited hop bill tends to leave Goses with very little distinct aromas but the sourness brings a unique sensation to your tastebuds. It is also fairly common for the brewery to add coriander and/or salt to the beer. This is actually a problem in germany since the Reinheitsgebot does not allow a beer to be called a beer if it contains anything other than malt, water, yeast, hops, and wheat. However, due to the long standing tradition of Gose in Germany, especially in the Leipzig vicinity, an exemption to the law is often made. In fact, most of the breweries making Gose at this time are within the Leipzig area and include: Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof and Familienbrauerei Ernst Bauer.
While Gose brings is own unique characteristics to the glass, it does share some things in common with other sour beers. The sourness is often damped by adding syrups to the beer, much like the Berliner-Weisse, and served with a straw. One of the most typical syrups is raspberry. However, if you are not fond of very sweet beers, this may be too much for your palette and sticking with the plain Gose (or Gose pur) may then be your best bet.
Now, the big question: Why is Gose sour? Well, it has to do with a combination of two things. Most beers that we are used to consuming are bottom-fermented. However, Gose is a top-fermenting brew and thus requires a different yeast strain that brings different and unique flavors to the beer. In fact, the original Goses were fermented naturally by yeast depositing from the air, onto the beer. On the other hand, the sourness of the beer is amplified by adding lactic acid bacteria to the beer after the boil. In fact, this should come as no surprise since it is lactic acid that ultimately makes sour milk sour. This does not mean however, that sour beer (like Gose) is going to taste like sour milk.
So, if you are found of the more widely available sour beers, like Berliner-Weisse and Gueuze, try to get your hands on a bottle or two of Gose. With limited production, even within Germany, this may be a hard beer to find. There are certainly some bottles floating around on the internet, or you could use this is a good excuse to catch the next flight to Germany and pick up a Gose on draft!