There are many types of beers on the market, from the freshest and lightest, to the strongest and with bitter flavors that come from hops. There are also beers with fruit flavors and the typical beer with lemon, ideal for summer days. However, does anyone imagine a salty beer?
Surely when you think of the taste of beer, several adjectives come to mind. Actually, each type of beer has its own flavor, for example, IPAs are more bitter, while abbey wheat beers tend to be sweeter and fuller. Maybe, if you like lighter beers, lemon beer or some types of fruit beer come to mind. However, what surely does not occur to you is a salty beer.
Well, that’s exactly what Gose beer is. It is neither more nor less than a traditional style of beer, coming from the German mining town of Goslar, located in the Harz area, where the Gose River flows, from which the beer takes its name. In fact, that particular salty flavor comes from the saline waters of the area’s aquifers . In addition, other spicy ingredients such as coriander are added to this beer, which enlivens that unique flavor.
How is Gose beer?
It is a typical German beer, made of wheat, with spontaneous fermentation, which generates a sour and salty beer , due to the saline waters. Finally, coriander is added to aromatize and balance the flavors.
Unlike normal beers, Gose was not usually produced in breweries, but was instead fermented by the taverns themselves , using bulb-bottomed glass bottles with long, narrow necks. As it fermented, the yeast rose up the neck and solidified on contact with the air, forming a natural stopper that kept the beer protected.
In general, this mining beer tends to have herbal and floral aromas, which are due to the addition of coriander during production. On the other hand, they are usually beers with low alcohol content and low bitterness, since the hops should not be noticeable. In terms of flavour, in addition to being salty, they usually have an acid aftertaste, reminiscent of citrus fruits such as lemon or orange, as well as herbal touches from coriander.
Believe it or not, this style of salty beer has more than 1000 years of tradition . The problem is that, in reality, it is quite unknown to the general public; which does not mean that it is not as good as a Lager or an IPA.
The Legend of Gose Salty Beer
According to legend, this style of beer was first named over 1,000 years ago by Holy Roman Emperor Otto III (983-1002), who during a visit to his sister, the Abbess of Quedlinburg, had the pleasure of tasting this peculiar beer. Apparently the emperor liked its taste and praised it.
On the other hand, the oldest document in which the beer is named is dated March 27, 1332 and was written by the monks of the Ilsenburg monastery.
In this sense, it must be taken into account that the area of Lower Saxony, where the town of Goslar is located, has a long tradition of salt mining. However, over the centuries the salt mines disappeared and, with them, the consumption of this particular beer.
Fortunately, Gose beer had become very popular in nearby cities, especially in Leipzig, where this type of beer was highly appreciated in the early 1800s, thanks to the bottles produced by the Johann Gottlieb Goedecke factory. At this time, it was so popular in the city’s taverns that there was a waiting list for bottle deliveries. In fact, Johann Wolfgang Goethe himself , a poet, novelist and playwright, declared himself an unconditional lover of the Gose.
However, due to the discovery of bottom-fermented beers (Lager) , Gose gradually fell into oblivion, although in 1900 there were still 80 Gose breweries in Leipzig, which disappeared during World War II.
The end of the war was not good for this beer either (if you click here, you will find several products to choose from), since the impositions of the communist regime in East Germany, especially the agrarian reforms, which destined most of the grain to bread making, left the breweries without their main raw material.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the tradition of salty beer, which had practically disappeared, was recovered by several groups of artisans, who resumed its production from the city of Leipzig.
Gose, the salty beer that does not comply with the German Purity Law
The German Purity Law was enacted in 1516 by William IV of Bavaria. In it, the only ingredients that the beer could have were set and they were: water, barley malt, yeast and hops . In this sense, the Gose also contained coriander, so it did not comply with the law.
Fortunately, Lower Saxony is far from Bavaria, the capital of the kingdom, so this law was not applied so harshly. In addition, some types of beer could break the purity law, since they were considered to have great historical relevance and therefore should be protected.