Just how much the American beer palate has changed can easily be encapsulated with the emergence of Goses. In only about a generation, we’ve gone from “taste great, less filing” to admiration for a once practically extinct, salty German beer style with a name no one knows how to pronounce. (For the record, it’s “go-suh.”) But that analogy is apt in other ways: Just as Miller Lite was a reaction to America’s then-obsession with heavy-drinking lager, the recent love affair with Gose – with its lower ABV and lack of hop character – could be seen as a reaction to the prevalence of potent IPAs.
But let’s slow down a second. What exactly is a Gose? According to the German Beer Institute, the style is 1000 years old. Its name comes from the river Gose and the town of Goslar where it was originally brewed. Though salt is now added to the beer to give the style its distinct salinity, that salty character probably originally stems from the natural saltiness in Goslar’s mineral-rich aquifers. Around 1738, however, Gose-making began migrating to the city of Leipzig where by the turn of the 20th century, the salty style had become extremely popular. Unfortunately, World Wars and the division of Germany caused Gose to reach a near extinct status until the fall of the Berlin Wall met the modern craft beer movement and brought Gose back from the dead.