Restaurant News & Reviews

Craft-beer trend alert: Charlotte breweries are helping to goose up interest in gose

The Unknown Brewing Co. is re-releasing Bright Ass Tank Top, a gose brewed with key limes and aged in rum barrels.
The Unknown Brewing Co. is re-releasing Bright Ass Tank Top, a gose brewed with key limes and aged in rum barrels.

When is peak gose season? For Chad Henderson, it’s right now.

“It’s summer,” says Henderson, the head brewer and a co-owner at NoDa Brewing Co. “Which, fortunately for us, is like half the year now.”

While he said it with a laugh, he’s not kidding. With temperatures climbing, the sour and salty wheat beer is one of the most ideal styles to sip this summer — and so perhaps it’s no surprise that NoDa Brewing Co. and several other area breweries are releasing their takes on the style.

Gose (pronounced GOES-uh) has its roots in Germany, and specifically the town of Goslar (which was named after the Gose river). Whether brewers deliberately added salt or that it was simply found in the water naturally is up for debate, but that salt — and a distinct tartness — are hallmarks of the style. Though popular today, the style nearly fell into extinction. The “Oxford Companion to Beer” was published in 2011, and though it contains nearly 1,000 pages of information on beer, you won’t find an entry for gose.

Since that book was published, though, the style has experienced a renaissance. Breweries like South Carolina’s Westbrook Brewing Co. and California’s Anderson Valley Brewing Co. led the charge, with iterations that were largely more sour and salty than those of centuries past.

With its distinctive sour and salty profile, the gose might rank among the most exotic styles to hail from Germany, where the Bavarian Purity Law states beer should be brewed with only malt, hops, water and yeast. But here in Charlotte, modern-day goses go even further by drawing inspiration from cocktails, strawberry lemonade — even pickle pizza.

“They’re straightforward, and they’re blank palates and easy to manipulate by adding other ingredients,” Henderson says.

Henderson brews a series of goses at NoDa Brewing Co., all of which begin life with the same base beer. Before fermentation, Henderson pitches a bacteria known as lactobacillus, which after a couple days lends the beer its tartness. All of NoDa’s “kettle sours,” as they’re known, are brewed at their “O.G.” facility.

The next gose on deck from NoDa Brewing Co. is Margarita Gose, which will be released at the brewery on July 5.

“It already has salt in it, so it kind of fits that concept,” Henderson says. “I just used lime juice and tangerine to do a pseudo-Triple sec concept.”

Henderson isn’t the only brewer in town that’s using gose as a way to mimic the flavors of a cocktail. Salud Cerveceria co-founder Jason Glunt was inspired by the paloma, which is a blend of tequila and grapefruit soda, often served with a wedge of lime and a ring of salt atop the glass. He fondly recalls drinking them at Three Amigos, a restaurant owned by his brother-in-law.

Glunt and head brewer Dustin Di Lorenzo brewed a gose with lime and grapefruit, but they added another twist. They replaced regular salt with Tajín, a blend of salt, lime and chili powder. The beer, called Paloma, is still on tap at Salud Cerveceria and at Three Amigos and Sabor Latin Street Grill in NoDa as well.

“It’s a nice, super-refreshing beer,” Glunt says. “You get a little bit of spice, but Tajín is more the chili flavor, not a crazy amount of heat. You get a little bit, but there’s not that much. The grapefruit is really the big flavor.”

The Unknown Brewing Co. just re-released its popular Bright Ass Tank Top, a gose brewed with key limes and aged in rum barrels to mimic the flavors of a Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. It is available at the brewery and in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.

These cocktail ingredients are natural choices for the gose style, but sometimes inspiration can come from unlikely sources — like pickle pizza. After Thirsty Nomad Brewing put that culinary creation on Instagram, it was challenged by a fan to make a pickle beer. Brewer and co-founder Brad Ledbetter was skeptical, but accepted the challenge.

The resulting beer, Pickle Rick Pickle Gose, is brewed with dill, black peppercorn and coriander. Because he didn’t think it would be popular, he brewed just a single keg’s worth — which sold out in four hours. Thirsty Nomad has brewed a larger batch this time and will re-release the beer this Saturday. And, if you need another reason to visit, the brewery will also have a baby goat petting zoo that day.

There are also a host of fruited goses currently in the market or set to release in the coming week or two. Sycamore Brewing currently has cans of Citrus Gose, Strawberry Lemonade Gose and Luau Lemonade Gose. Concord’s Red Hill Brewing Co. will release Pinky and the Brine, a watermelon gose, on draft at the brewery this Friday.

And down in Rock Hill, Legal Remedy recently re-released cans of its popular Guilty Party Blackberry Gose, while Slow Play Brewing is set to release the lemon-and-lime-infused Gutshot Gose on July 5.

Event of the Week

Triple C Brewing will re-release cans of its popular Citra Acid Test, a sour session IPA, at the brewery on Friday. The 4.7-percent ABV beer is kettle soured and brewed with Citra hops. Four-packs of 16-ounce cans will sell for $10 each. The brewery is also hosting a Dead & Company pre-party that day (the group headlines at PNC Music Pavilion Friday night), with Josh Daniel’s Grateful Band playing from 2-5 p.m. and Libretto’s on hand selling pizza. 1-10 p.m. 2900 Griffith St.