And so it Gose in Leipzig

Gose has somehow become one of the most fashionable beers in the resurgence of German-style beer in the American Craft Beer market. Though this is largely a trend towards lagers, Gose like Weissbier is top-fermented so firmly in the ale family despite its refreshing nature. It’s also odd for a German beer in that it doesn’t constrain to the Reinheitsgebot of 1516 as it contains coriander, a spicy no-no to Bavarians. Since Gose is a regional specialty and dates back to the Middle Ages, they can thankfully still call it beer. Gose was originated and takes its name from the ancient town of Goslar with records showing its brewing dating back to the early 13th century. Its signature saltiness was possibly the result of the mineral rich local water source, the Gose River but added salt even appears in early recipes. It was originally spontaneously fermented but brewers soon utilized top fermenting yeast with lactic acid to achieve similar and more predictable results. Its surprising popularity as an export spread and found a particularly welcoming home in Leipzig.  Brewing of Gose in Goslar waned over time and ceased entirely in 1840. Conversely, it was the most popular beer in Leipzig in the late 1800s into the early 1900s.

some old Gose signs in Leipzig pubs

Sadly by the beginning of WWII, the only remaining Gose brewery was Ritterguts in Döllnitz, near Halle. Nationalization closed its doors after the war and after some starts and stops in the world of Gose production, it pretty much disappeared in 1966. It wasn’t until 1980s and the restoration of the classic Gosenchenke “Ohne Bedenken” in Leipzig that the seeds for its reemergence were sown. With no local brewery willing to take a chance on supplying what had become a beer oddity, Berliner Weisse brewery Schultheiss in East Berlin was enlisted but this was short-lived as despite the incredible pub restoration, Gose failed to catch on. Lucky for us, the adherents never gave up and by the late 1990s, it became a bit of a cult phenomenon. First, the Bayrischer Bahnhof, another restoration project, decided to brew Gose in the brand spanking new brewery which also featured Bavarian dishes for the Saxons. Ohne Bedenken was again serving Ritterguts to augment the scene.

my first foray into the Leipzig Gose scene in 2003

When I first went to investigate Gose in 2003, I perhaps unsurprisingly chose Leipzig. At the time, there was no Gose in Goslar. Brauhaus Goslar was still a year away from its opening. Though the Gose scene in Leipzig had taken a lengthy hiatus, there was a brewery and classic old pub to check out. I remember really enjoying the refreshing taste of Gose and Leipzig revealed itself an interesting architectural marvel as well.

a gem of a city to explore

Despite my initial infatuation,  I didn’t return until 2011 and then mostly to introduce the beer to my father-in-law who was quite intrigued on hearing me wax enthusiastically about it. I’d forgotten just how charming Ohne Bedenken was and the food and Gose impressed my wife’s father too.

 charming Ohne Bedenken

We even managed a quick stop at the Bayrisher Bahnhof and though a bit too modern brewpub for my tastes, there was no denying its popularity with the locals and their role in re-introducing the important beer style back into the Leipzig scene.

 the influential Bayrischer Bahnhof

With my ever increasing focus on Franconian beer, Gose took a back seat. Actually, it took a trip back home to the US to prompt a return. In 2018, we were visiting some of the brewpubs with friends in Miami and one had a couple of Gose on tap. They were oddly very low in alcohol, hovering in the 3% range and oddly pricey at around $9 a pint. They were flavored with some tropical fruit so perhaps influenced by the mixing of fruit syrups with Gose and Berliner Weisse in their respective German towns. This might also explain the lower alcohol as Gose is generally around the strength of a Weissbier, in the vicinity of 5%. I found them all quite watery and not particularly tasty. I told our friends, who seemed enamored with the style, that the real McCoy was much better. It took until 2021 to finally make our way back to Leipzig though to be fair, COVID didn’t help matters. That said, it took our niece and nephew’s desire to go to the world-renowned Leipzig Zoo to make it happen!

Leipzig Zoo & my Ohne Bedenken reward

Of course, the Zoo with kids took longer than anticipated but even with everyone exhausted, not going to Ohne Bedenken was out of the question. Walking through the empty interior was enticing but once in the lush Biergarten there was no question as to where we’d sit.

the lush & charming Biergarten

Though the Ritterguts Gose was only available in bottles, I was pleasantly surprised to find not only that Ohne Bedenken now brews their own Gose but they also have the Gose from Bayrischer Bahnhof on tap as well. This was handy as it was quite apparent there was no way I’d get my cranky cohorts to go to two breweries after such a long day. They unfortunately didn’t have the branded Bahnhof glassware but I guess that would have been asking for a bit much. They did, however, serve it in what must be an older Ohne Bedenken glass as the new ones feature the designation that they won best Gose at the World Beer Championships.

fun & convenient way to compare two great Gose

Everyone was super happy with the food and ambience. I was ecstatic to get to have two great Gose head-to-head. I quite liked them both. The Bayrischer Bahnhof one had the spicy, salt & pepper element I’d remembered while the Edelgose was more refreshing, fruitier and perhaps a touch drier. I got to walk around the self-service area of the Biergarten with its cool old beer dispensary. The food is also self-serve and there is a more limited menu of snacks. I’m looking forward to returning, hopefully a lot more quickly than a decade this time. It’s not always so easy;  Goslar is on the radar now that the birthplace of Gose has its own Gose again!

Though the focus is Franconian beer on Beerwanderers,  great beer is where you find it and Gose is well worth exploring, especially if in the area.

 

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