What is gose beer?

What is Gose Beer? A Comprehensive Guide to This Unique Brew

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Have you ever stumbled upon a beer that tasted had a salty surprise? Well, if you haven’t yet, it’s high time you met Gose beer. Pronounced “GOH-zuh”, this ancient German brew, with its unique blend of flavours, has been turning heads and tantalising taste buds for donkeys years. So, what is Gose beer? What makes it stand out in the vast sea of beer varieties? Grab a glass and join us as we explore this brew’s history, distinctive flavour profile, and some of the best brands you’ve got to try.

The History of Gose Beer

Gose beer, with its captivating history spanning over a millennium, has a story that’s as unique as its taste. Its origins can be traced back to the quaint town of Goslar in Lower Saxony, Germany, where it derived its name from the Gose River that meanders through the region. This brew, believed to have been concocted in the early 13th century, holds the distinction of being one of Germany’s oldest beer styles.

Early Beginnings in Goslar

In its early days, Gose was a regional speciality, primarily consumed in and around Goslar, a town known for its mining industry. The beer was brewed with local ingredients, including the slightly saline water from the Gose River, contributing to its distinctive salty flavour. Traditionally, Gose was spontaneously fermented, relying on wild yeasts and bacteria in the environment rather than cultivated yeast strains.

What is Gose beer?Market Square in Goslar, Lower Saxony, Germany
Market Square in Goslar, Lower Saxony, Germany

By the 18th century, Gose had become incredibly popular in Leipzig, a city about 100 miles from Goslar. Many breweries in Leipzig began producing Gose, quickly becoming a staple in local taverns and beer gardens.

Decline, Near Extinction & Revival

Despite its early popularity, Gose faced significant challenges in the 20th century. The style began to decline after World War II, partly due to Germany’s economic and political upheavals. However, Gose, like a phoenix, rose from the ashes (how poetic). By the 1960s, Gose production had nearly ceased, and the beer was on the brink of extinction. But, it was not the end for Gose.

However, Gose’s story doesn’t end there. In a testament to its enduring appeal, Gose experienced a remarkable resurgence in the 1980s. This revival was spearheaded by passionate brewers and beer enthusiasts who were determined to resurrect traditional brewing methods and recipes. A pivotal figure in this resurgence was Lothar Goldhahn, a Leipzig pub owner who reintroduced Gose to the world in 1986. His efforts sparked a renewed interest in the style, leading to a wave of Gose production by other brewers.

Modern Resurgence

Today, Gose is enjoying a modern resurgence, both in Germany and around the world. Craft breweries in the United States and other countries have embraced the style, experimenting with new ingredients and variations while staying true to its traditional roots. This renewed interest has brought Gose into the spotlight, making it a favourite among beer connoisseurs and casual drinkers. The excitement around Gose is palpable, and it’s time you join in!

What is Gose Beer and What Makes it Unique?

Gose beer stands out in the crowded world of craft brews for its distinctive taste and traditional brewing techniques. It’s a beer style like no other, offering a unique combination of flavours and ingredients that set it apart from the rest. The intriguing mix of tartness, saltiness, and subtle spiciness is sure to pique your interest.

Flavour Profile

One of the most intriguing aspects of Gose beer is its complex flavour profile. Unlike many other beers, Gose combines a delightful mix of tartness, saltiness, and subtle spiciness. Let’s break down its key flavour components:

Tartness: The primary flavour characteristic of Gose is its refreshing tartness. This comes from the lactic acid produced during fermentation, giving the beer a sour yet pleasant tang. It’s similar to what you might find in a Berliner Weisse or a sour ale.

Saltiness: Gose’s unique salty flavour can be surprising to first-timers. This saltiness is traditionally achieved by adding salt directly to the brew or using naturally saline water. The salt enhances the beer’s refreshing qualities and balances the sourness.

Spiciness: Another distinctive element of Gose is the subtle spiciness, usually from coriander seeds. This adds a layer of complexity and a slightly citrusy, herbal note that complements the tart and salty flavours.

Fruity and Floral Notes: Gose can exhibit light fruity or floral notes depending on the brewing process and any additional ingredients. These can come from the yeast or from the addition of fruit during fermentation, adding even more depth to the beer’s profile.

Key Ingredients

The unique taste of Gose beer results from its carefully selected ingredients, each playing a crucial role in crafting this irregular brew.

Malted Barley and Wheat: Gose typically includes a significant portion of wheat malt, contributing to its cloudy appearance and smooth mouthfeel. The wheat also adds a slight sweetness, balancing the beer’s tart and salty characteristics.

Lactobacillus Bacteria: This is the powerhouse behind Gose’s signature tartness. Lactobacillus is a type of bacteria that produces lactic acid during fermentation, giving the beer its sour punch. Unlike many other beer styles, Gose intentionally incorporates this bacteria to achieve its desired taste.

Salt: The addition of salt is what truly sets Gose apart. As I mentioned, historically, Gose used water from the Gose River, which was naturally salty. Modern brewers often add salt directly to replicate this distinctive feature. The salt not only adds flavour but also acts as a natural preservative.

Coriander Seeds: Coriander seeds are added during brewing to introduce a light, spicy note. This spice complements the sourness and saltiness, creating a well-rounded flavour profile.

Water: The quality and composition of water used in brewing Gose are crucial. Traditionally, the saline water from the Gose River played a significant role, but today’s brewers adjust the water’s mineral content to achieve the desired saltiness.

Yeast: The choice of yeast can affect the final flavour of Gose. While some brewers use traditional ale yeast, others might use wild yeast strains to introduce additional complexity and slight funkiness.

Together, these ingredients create a pleasant balance that defines Gose beer. This unique combination of tart, salty, and spicy flavours makes Gose a standout choice for beer lovers looking to try something different.

Popular Gose Beer Brands to Try

If you’re interested in trying this salty delight, I have a list of the best go-to beers!

  1. Gose 4% (Westbrook Brewing Co.): An interpretation of the traditional German-style sour wheat beer brewed with coriander and grey sea salt. Sour, salty and delicious.
  2. The Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose Ale 4.2% (Anderson Valley Brewing Company): With a bright, golden colour and tight, creamy head, this beer’s earthy wood undertones develop into a light mineral aroma with a hint of lemon zest and tropical fruit.
  3. Blood Orange Gose 4.2% (Anderson Valley Brewing Company): A tart, refreshing wheat ale that is kettle-soured with lactobacillus and brewed with sea salt and coriander. However, unlike traditional versions of the style, this features additions of blood oranges during fermentation.
  4. SeaQuench Ale 4.9% (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery): A session sour mash-up of a crisp Kolsch, a salty Gose, and a tart Berliner Weiss brewed sequentially with black limes, sour lime juice and sea salt.
  5. Kirsch Gose 4.7% (Victory Brewing Company): A sharp burst of cherries, sea salt and spice bring refreshingly bold, tart and juicy flavours to this effervescent and sublime sour cherry bier.
  6. Gose Gone Wild 4.3% (Stillwater Artisanal): This German-style Wheat Ale is part of the Remix Project. It starts as Westbrook Brewing’s Gose, to which Stillwater adds large amounts of Citra and Amarillo hops before fermenting the beer with various strains of Brettanomyces yeast.
  7. Troublesome 4.3% (Off Colour Brewing): A blend of acid beer and wheat beer mixed with coriander and salt at the tail end of fermentation to create a mild, lemony tartness and a fuller sensation of mouthfeel.
  8. Leipziger Gose 4.6% (Bayerischer Bahnhof Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei): This original Leipzig beer speciality lends the name for their brewery. It has a refreshing, slightly sour taste and is ideal for quenching your thirst.

These popular Gose beer brands showcase the versatility and appeal of this unique beer style. Whether you prefer a traditional Gose or one with a modern twist, there’s one for every palate.


Gose beer, originating in the 13th century in Goslar, Germany, is one of the country’s oldest beer styles. Known for its unique salty, tart, and subtly spicy flavour, it uses ingredients like malted barley and wheat, Lactobacillus bacteria, salt, and coriander seeds. After rising in popularity in Leipzig, Gose nearly went extinct post-WWII but was revived in the 1980s by enthusiasts like Lothar Goldhahn. Today, it enjoys a global resurgence, with craft breweries experimenting with traditional and modern variations. Popular Gose brands include Westbrook Brewing Co., Anderson Valley Brewing Company, and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. So, grab a bottle, sit back, and enjoy the refreshing, tangy goodness of Gose beer. 


What’s the difference between a Gose and a sour beer?

A Gose is a beer specifically brewed with salt and coriander, while a sour is a type of beer brewed with various ingredients that give it a sour flavour. So, while a Gose can be sour, not all sours are Goses.

Is Gose beer a lager or an ale?

Gose beer is an ale, not a lager. It is top-fermented, which is characteristic of ales, using ale yeast at warmer temperatures. This process, along with its ingredients like malted wheat, coriander, salt, and Lactobacillus bacteria, gives Gose its distinct tart, salty, and subtly spicy flavour.

Is Gose a fruit beer?

Gose is not inherently a fruit beer; it is a traditional German-style ale known for its tart, salty, and subtly spicy flavour. However, modern variations sometimes include fruit additions, like blood orange or cherry, enhancing its flavour profile while maintaining its core characteristics.

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