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What is a Gose?

By Joe Katchever a.k.a. BrewMaster
– the younger years, pre-awesome beard.

A thousand year old beer.

It might seem kind of weird that Lower Saxony is actually located North and West of Saxony-Anhalt and even further Northwest of Saxony. Looks weird on a map but it makes sense because Lower Saxony makes up much of Germany’s Northern Lowlands, downhill from the Harz and Teutoburg Mountains. The Elbe River makes up the Northern border of Lower Saxony as it flows North/Northwest from the hilly and mountainous Hamburg, picking up watershed along the way to its mouth on the North Sea.

The Saxons are a Pagan germanic tribe that dates back to prehistoric times. In the 5th Century, 400 years before the Vikings invaded the British Isles, the Medieval Saxons joined up with their Northern neighbors the Angles and Jutes and sailed across the North Sea to plunder the English and ultimately protect their land from the Picts and Gaels, the Medieval ancestors to the Scotts and the Irish. The Saxons intertwined with their brothers-in-arms to form the Anglo-Saxon people and populated England with Anglo-Saxons over the next 600 years. The Englishman, or lowlander became known as a Saxon, to distinguish him from a Welshman, Irishman, or Highlander.

Lower Saxony was once the Kingdom of Hanover and part of the German Confederation, an economic union run by Austrian Empire, yet remained personally united with England for 123 years. In 1837 they decided that they their Salic Laws forbade them from being ruled by a female, namely, Queen Victoria,who was taking over the British Throne that year.

Twenty years later, Hanover backed the losing side in the Austro-Prussian War and was subsequently conquered by Prussia in 1866. Oopsie. Austria lost all official influence over member states of the former German Confederation. So, the Kingdom of Hanover became the Province of Hanover and was a province of Prussia for the next eight decades.

After the fallout of World War II, the Allied Forces occupied and had military control of the area and in 1946, The State of Lower Saxony and its capital, Hanover were established, followed by the Federal Republic of Germany and the dissolution of Prussia.

Goslar is a district in Lower Saxony that is nestled in the hillier side of the State, right next to the mountainous Harz district of Saxony-Anhalt. Over a thousand years ago, where the waters of the Abzucht and the Gose meet, Gose beer was born. The steady, maritime climate of the North Sea Coast brings much precipitation and agriculture to the lowlands, and gives way to the snowy mountains to the East, where ore mining is the major source of revenue. The mountains there, where the headwaters of the Gose River form, are rich with salt,. Hardly a river, the Gose River is only about five miles long but it became infamous as the water source for one of the World’s weirdest beers.

Gose Today

Gose, the beer, (GO-suh) starts with briney water so, when I started brewing Gose’s a few years ago, I had to add salt to my water to emulate the water of the River Gose. Undoubtedly there were more minerals present in the water than salt so I chose unrefined, unprocessed and ancient sea salt with sixty other trace minerals and no additives. Gose’s are brewed with malted wheat and barley about half and half, giving them a light color and turbidity and making complex sugars and carbs available for a bottle refermentation. This ancient beer style predates microbiology and was fermented with wild, airborne microbes, so I brewed mine the same way, with wild, spontaneous fermentation. Salty, light, sour, effervescent with a bready nose, this historical ale was often flavored with coriander, the seed of the cilantro. The tartness lends itself to other fruits and spices.

Usually, I first design a recipe, then brew the beer and it ends up with a name conjured by the imbibing ritual. The first Gose I brewed was brewed to match a name. Pearl Street Brewery’s 17th anniversary was coming up and, as those who party with us know, we release five brand-new beers every year at our anniversary party, which we call, “The Winter Ball.” Somebody suggest a beer be named “17Up” to celebrate the big 17. I thought the name was cool, so I decided to brew a beer that was tangy and lemon-limey so, I brewed it with lemon and lime zest and my first commercial Gose was born over a thousand years after the originals were brewed from the Gose River brine. 17Up was truly a delicious, thirst-quenching beer, if I don’t say so myself. Fresh citrus nose, prominent tanginess and a slightly salty backbone. The mid-February release was good but this was destined to be a Summer beer. I re-brewed it and bottled in the summer of 2017 and to be honest, it took awhile for people to catch on. Local popularity was good but sales around our distribution footprint really didn’t take off until later in the year.

I decided that I would brew more Goses and create different versions seasonally. I have friends in Juneau, Alaska that always brings me fresh, Spring spruce tips to brew experimental beers with. I brewed a Wintery version with spruce and the essential oil of the bergamot orange, the Italian orange famous for flavoring Earl Grey teas. That winter, Sour Winter Gose was the highest-ranked Gose of the year, earning a Gold Medal from the World Beer Championships. This was followed by Pop Gose, a bright, Spring-time beer with hibiscus flowers, lavender flowers and cucumber extract. The Autumn version is the newest one: Gosecopia. In this version I wanted to explore tropical fruit and used guava and mango along with some cranberries from a local Wisconsin farmer friend.

All of these Goses received high praise and went on to win medals except Gosecopia, but then I haven’t entered that one in any competitions yet ;).

Watch Pearl Street Brewery on the the new Discover Wisconsin.

What is Pale Ale?

By Joe Katchever a.k.a. BrewMaster

The beer that started a revolution.

I brewed Pale Ale back in the 90’s when I was working in breweries out in Colorado. Pale Ale was one of the most popular brews and the hands-down favorite of the employees.

When I moved to La Crosse to start Pearl Street Brewery in 1999, Pearl Street Pale was one of the first beers I brewed. I still brew it today with the same recipe, although now I buy my hops and malt from local, Wisconsin farmers.

Pale Ale is a special beer to American brewers because it was the genesis of the American Craft Beer Revolution. I remember trying a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale back in high school and thinking “Wow!” It was stronger, darker and more bitter than anything I’d tried.

The History 

American Pale Ale is a variation of an old English beer style named because it was paler in color than beer brewed previously. Sometime around the mid 1700’s, brewers found that using a type of coal instead of a wood fire as a heat source when kilning malt resulted in steadier, more even heating and more consistent malt production. An additional benefit was a lighter, cleaner and less smoky malt. When they brewed with this malt the result was beer that was lighter in color and had a cleaner malt profile.

In the early 1700’s, these pale beers began to gain popularity in England. They were referred to as “bitters” because they were more bitter than normal. It is unclear to me whether the bitterness was actually increased, or if it was the lack of competing flavors that made them seem more bitter. Take away the smokiness and the malt-derived astringency and it is easier to taste underlying flavors. Different brewing practices and hop levels have resulted in a range of tastes and strengths within the pale ale family over the next century.

Meanwhile in America, a series of political events including several major wars, prohibition and the Great Depression, led to beer becoming heavily industrialized. Throughout most of the 20th century, American beer was a bland and lifeless staple; void of any significant character, nutritional value or artistry.

Rebirth 

Circa 1980, Pale Ale was reborn on America’s Western shores. Pale Ale became the beer that started the American Craft Beer Revolution, becoming the most popular craft beer style in North America.

American Pale Ale, or APA differed from its English cousins in that was lighter and hoppier. The new APAs were brewed with North American 2-row barley varieties and American hops, most notably, Cascades. Cascade hops were one of America’s signature hops; named after the Cascade mountain range where they are grown. APA’s are usually brewed with yeast that ferments cleaner, with less estery notes than English Pale Ales, giving a lighter, cleaner-tasting flavor profile.

Since then, the American beer revolution has resulted in America developing and being recognized around the world for dozens of uniquely American beer styles, including seven different variants on the beloved pale ale.

Big Time!

It is an American thing to do just about everything bigger, better or more extreme than is done in other parts of the world. We’ve got bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger stores, super-size fries, extreme sports and the list goes on. American beer is no exception. America took the two things that make a Pale Ale what it is: light color and increased hoppiness and pushed the limits, brewing an even lighter and hoppier beer. Americans have taken beer, in general, to the extreme. By my count, American brewers have officially introduced 27 new beer styles or bigger, stronger, bolder versions of traditional styles since the birth of the iconic American Pale Ale, and that’s more new styles than the rest of the world combined. Ironically, American-stye beers are now being emulated all over the world from Europe, to Mexico, to South America. Even the Belgians, considered by many to brew the most unique and ancient ales in the world have begun to brew American beer styles. What started out as a single beer style has grown into what is becoming a world-wide beer revolution.

 

Viva la Cerveza!

Watch Pearl Street Brewery on the the new Discover Wisconsin.