Gose can be a fantastic beer. There is, however, a distinct challenge in brewing it: salt. Over- or under-spicing of any beer can present problems, but working with salt introduces higher stakes. Aim too high, and you end up with an undrinkable salt bomb. Aim too low, and you can’t register the salt at all. This recipe will get you right in the ballpark, right out of the gate. Style: If you want a jumping-off point for Gose, start with Berliner Weisse. Both are low-abv wheat-heavy beers with minimal hopping and tartness. Gose is a distinct animal, though. It has its own lengthy history, originating in small towns along the Gose River. Some say that the saltiness was a result of slightly brackish well water, others that it was added for flavor, but in any case, it’s a defining feature of the style. Many Gose breweries in and around Leipzig don’t add coriander, though I recommend it. Where the Leipzigers and I part ways with American interpretations of the style is that theirs are far too sour. A large chunk of American Goses are just spiced Berliner Weisse. I think that sharp acidity distracts mightily from the subtler flavors that should be present in Gose. Subtle tartness enhances the flavors; blaring sourness overshadows them. Recipe: The trick in this recipe is in balancing the salt, coriander, and acidity—but more on that in a minute! Equal amounts of Pilsner malt and wheat malt will do for the simple grist. I’ll occasionally bump up the ABV about 0.5 percent by adding more wheat, which I speculate can make it easier to smooth out the specialty-ingredient flavors, but I don’t have proof of it. Hopping is all at the top of the boil: add enough Hallertau to yield 15 IBUS.
Also into the boil will go your salt and your cracked coriander. I find that pink Himalayan salt and mortar-and-pestle cracked coriander do the job very well. I find the coarse-cracked coriander imparts a softer, more easily controlled flavor.
In terms of yeast/fermenting agents, you have two options. First, you can ferment it out with Wyeast 1007 (German Ale) yeast and then adjust acidity with a straight addition of lactic acid, post-fermentation and prepackaging. Second, you can pitch the German Ale yeast and a commercial Lactobacillus pitch at the same time at the start of fermentation, which should give you a touch of funk in the nose and some light acidity, but nowhere near what you’d find in a Berliner Weisse. The advantage of the second method is that it’s unlikely to go too far with its acidity, so you can still adjust it upward with the lactic-acid addition. The advantage of the first method is that it’s cheaper and simpler, and probably more replicable. Your call! For what it’s worth, I do either, depending on how much time I have on my hands and whether I happen to have any Lacto in the fridge. Results don’t seem to vary that much (though I’m sure traditionalists are screaming right now that I’m cheating). Process: Mash as usual, perhaps with some rice hulls to prevent sticking, and run off into the kettle. Bring to a short boil—15 minutes, total. Add your hops at the top of the boil, then the salt and coriander with 10 minutes to go. After the boil, chill and pitch, fermenting at 67°F (19°C) until the completion of fermentation. At that point, taste and adjust with food-grade lactic acid. Package it up and carbonate to 2.75 volumes of Co2—much like the Berliner, this should be a highly carbonated, “spritzy” beer!