When I ask a few fellow Bohemians assembled for a tasting of sour beers if they've heard of gose (pronounced "goze-uh"), the only response I get is: do I mean Gozer, the villain of 1984's Ghostbusters?
Gose is a ghost of a beer. Originally a very regional brew made in a small town in Lower Saxony, gose goes back centuries, the somewhat salty water that was available to local brewers setting the style apart from other sours. And like nearly every hitherto obscure beer style since IPA, it has recently roared back to become a craft-brew sensation.
No, gose is almost certainly not the next IPA, but it's worth considering as a low-alcohol alternative (the goses listed here range from 4.2 to 4.5 percent) for those who prefer tart to bitter on a summer afternoon.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company: The Kimmie, the Yink & the Holy Gose When a customer suggested that the brewery try making a gose, they had to look it up, says brewmaster Fal Allen. Settling on a kettle-soured style using lactobacillus, AVBC trialed this straight-up gose-style beer in 2012 and has since gone gose-crazy, releasing this and several spiced and fruited versions in bottle and six-pack cans. Holy Gose is among our favorites: clean, tart like lemon and tangy like sour cream, it reminds some of a shandy—a lager mixed with lemonade.
AVBC: G&T Gose Meant to evoke a gin and tonic cocktail, this is brewed with juniper, cucumber, cinchona bark, lemon grass, coriander and lime. My only complaint is that these ingredients don't jump out of the glass more—they're integrated into the salty, tangy lime-soaked palate.
AVBC: Briney Melon Gose More tasters noted "sour apple" than found the watermelon in this earthy brew, which tastes like rindy, salted watermelon, with grainy, tangy notes like plain granola in plain yogurt.
AVBC: Blood Orange Gose This earthy, only slightly orange-tinted and orange-scented brew is clean and tangy like kefir, but the blood orange sweetens the finish just so.
Fogbelt Brewing: Zephyr Apricot Gose Possibly our second-favorite gose of the tasting, the Zephyr dials down salty and sour just a bit, while upping the fruit aroma—you can almost feel the velvety skin of ripe apricots on the nose. Creamy carbonation seals the deal. In July, look for Fogbelt's passion-orange-guava version.
Lagunitas Brewing Company: Dark Swan Sour Ale This is no gose, but if it's more hops and a bitter finish you'd like from a sour ale, this lurid magenta but not particularly sour ale is a fun diversion from pale ale. Sangria, someone says—and wouldn't you know it, this is brewed with Petite Sirah juice! 8.5 percent ABV.