To know how far the Texas craft beer scene has come, talk to any beer drinker over thirty years old. Young craft beer recruits won't remember the days of a decade ago that lacked almost all of the national and international beer diversity available today. Commercial schwarzbier was just a dream on Fritz Rahr's palate, and the arrival of Stella Artois was heralded as a major benchmark of European imports.
Today, we have Texas microbreweries making exotic and rare beer styles like gose.
And not just one brewer, but two.
The historical gose (pronounced GOHS-eh) beer style is an interesting story. German in origin and dating back at least a thousand years, gose is a wheat beer from Saxony named after the local Gose River and most closely associated today with the city of Leipzig. Brewed with at least half malted wheat, it is spiced with coriander and dosed with a little lactic bacteria, making it at least stylistically akin to a Belgian witbier or a Berliner weisse. However, that region in Germany has always been a rich mining district for ores like copper, zinc, silver, lead and salt, so the traditional brew-water has a characteristic mineral content that lends a defining salty flavor to the beer.
Unfortunately, Leipzig fell into the GDR (East Germany) after World War II and the anemic Communist Cold War economy all but killed local brewing. The last gose produced commercially in Leipzig was in the 1950s and, like several regional beer styles, it was not until the craft beer movement gained momentum and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that the style was rediscovered and revived by Western consumers.
Two Texas breweries recently released their own versions of gose: Blanco's Real Ale Brewing made an 18th Anniversary Gose for that brewery's celebration and Fort Worth's Martin House Brewing made The Salty Lady, both released earlier this summer. The particular taste characteristics of the style make gose an ideal summer beer, low in alcohol and easily quaffable and satisfying in the relentless Texas heat.
Both these beers pour a light gold and are very lightly spiced with a nice mellow tartness (Martin House more so than Real Ale). Both are under 5% ABV and have a mild mineral flavor in the mouth, not quite as salty as tortilla chips but enough to know it's there. Real Ale adds pureed limes to its 18th Anniversary, which lightens the flavor with a gentle citrus but unfortunately brings to mind a very unflattering comparison. To me, the better of the two is Martin House's Salty Lady with more of a pronounced wheat body and a lemony edge that plays well with the saline nature.
Availability: Both Real Ale and Martin House's versions have been out for a while now, found on tap only at your better beer bars and restaurants. I would love to see both as new summer seasonals.