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Ancient German Gose beer style making a comeback

VictoryKirschGoseAs the craft beer movement spreads and becomes more and more popular, brewers are always looking for different styles of beer to introduce to American palates. One style that has begun to appear with more frequency is the German Gose (pronounced go-zuh) style. With its slightly salty and tangy flavor, Gose is a bracing and interesting addition to the portfolio of craft beer styles that begs the question, “Why make a salty beer?”

As a style, Gose originated over 1,000 years ago in the German state of Lower Saxony specifically in the town of Goslar through which the brew’s namesake river — the Gose — flows. About 100 miles west of Leipzig, Goslar rose to prominence in the 11th century, not only as one of the wealthiest and most important copper, lead, zinc, salt, and silver mining towns in the German Empire, but also as a brew center. The naturally saline water of the aquifer in and around Goslar was renowned for its high mineral content and lent that saltiness to the beers brewed in the region.

By 1738, the mines in the Goslar began to deplete causing the population to shift to Leipzig. Along with the population, the breweries followed. Gose production quickly grew in Leipzig until it became the predominate style in the city and region. By 1826, Gose production in Goslar had fallen to such a small amount that the city council decided to abolish production. Gose’s popularity rose so much that by 1900 there were more than 80 licensed Gose houses in Leipzig.

Because of wars and communist occupation, during the 20th century Gose slowly disappeared and became an extinct style. BUt, after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 the style made a comeback due in great part to Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof (Gose Brewery Bavarian Station), which opened its doors in 2000.

Now, Victory Brewing Company has tackled the style producing the distinctly flavored Kirsch Gose. Read the press release below for more information abut this new brew and the Gose style.

Downingtown, PA, April 7, 2015Victory Brewing Company (Victory) announces Kirsch Gose, its first endeavor incorporating natural fruit juices, which add subtle flavors over a unique tart and salty finish. Gose is a German-style brew that takes its name from the salinic river Gose. Promising to excite with the sharpness and sweetness of fresh cherries, Victory puts a modern twist on an old-world, time-honored process to bring a distinct and refreshing session ale to market.

Kirsch Gose was borne out of the passionate artistry of Victory Brewing Company’s brewers and blends a variety of wheat malts, Czech-grown Saaz hops and cherry juice to create a distinctly bracing, light-bodied pleasantly sharp beer with a nod to European tradition while featuring American ingenuity. With an ABV of 4.7% and exciting flavor profile, Kirsch Gose invites fans to ‘Taste Victory.’

Available throughout Victory’s 35 state distribution footprint, Kirsch Gose’s suggested retail price for a 12 oz. four-pack is approximately $9.99, but varies upon location. Use Victory’s Beerfinder to discover a nearby location, or download the free Victory Mobile app for Android or iPhone.

Goses, which are traditionally brewed to be slightly tangy and salty, have a longstanding German history since the 16th century. They are brewed using both malted barley and wheat to provide a bit of sharpness and a smooth mouthfeel. After the brewhouse additions of spices such as coriander, the style is then fermented with wild, top-fermenting yeast to produce a dry, bubbly, puckery product. Interestingly, because brewing goses required more wheat than the standard lager beers then in vogue, they fell out of production as post-World War East Germany (where it was primarily brewed) needing to ration their supply for bread making as opposed to beer making.  The demolition of the Berlin Wall, in combination with the booming North American craft beer movement in the late 80’s, encouraged the gose resurgence in Germany with local Leipzig brewers and provided a canvas of endless creative possibility for North American craft brewers.

“At Victory, we rely on our German training to keep the best brewing traditions alive, while incorporating inspiration from the wide world of flavor possibilities, ” said Victory’s President and Brewmaster, Bill Covaleski. “Kirsch Gose is a slightly different, definitely delicious sensation that we hope our fans enjoy as much as we enjoyed creating it.”

About Victory Brewing Company

Victory Brewing Company is a craft brewery headquartered in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Founded by childhood friends, Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet, Victory officially opened its doors in February of 1996. In addition to the original Downingtown brewery and brewpub, Victory recently opened a second state-of-the-art brewery in Parkesburg, PA to expand production capabilities and serve fans of fully flavored beers in 35 states with innovative beers melding European ingredients and technology with American creativity. To learn more about Victory Brewing Company visit us on the web at www.victorybeer.com.

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2015 in Beer Styles

 

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Know your beer glasses, a new infographic

Glassware is just as important to the craft beer experience as the beer itself. I haven long been an advocate of using the proper glassware to accentuate and showcase beer to its fullest extent. And, if you think about it, serving beer in a glass that helps to capture a beer style’s distinct nuances is no different than serving brandy in a snifter, a Tom Collins in a Collins glass or a champagne in a flute. It just makes sense.

But, the sheer number of beer styles and their accompanying glasses can be intimidating. Enter the fine folks at Hangover Revivol, a company that produces and distributes hangover prevention tablets in Australia. John Powers, the company’s marketing executive, created an infographic entitled ‘The Ultimate Beer Glass Guide’ that explores the various designs, what they do, and which beers belong in them. Look below to see the infographic.

“With this graphic,” Powers explains, “You can learn your snifter from your stein, and your seidel from your shaker!”

To learn more about Hangover Revivol, follow this link: http://www.hangoverrevivol.com.au/

 

hangover-revivol-beer-glass

 

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Posted by on November 20, 2014 in Infographic

 

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The Beer Guy Beer School; Lesson 2 — I can see clearly now! Checking beer appearance

beerschool_Lesson2Note to readers: This is the second in a weekly four-part series about how to get the most out of your craft beer experience. If you missed the first article in this series, click this link to get caught up.

Lesson 2 — I can see clearly now! Checking beer appearance

Our second lesson in the art of enjoying great beer involves your sense of vision. For years the world has thought of beer visually as crystal clear, yellow in color and with robust carbonation streaming up the glass. While that presentation is great for many styles, it is not always how beer should appear. As you will learn, the way a beer looks can be influenced by style, temperature and even the skill of the bartender.

When evaluating the appearance of a beer there are three things you should look for:

  • Color
  • Clarity
  • Head Retention

Let’s take a look at each of these characteristics individually.

Color

Today’s craft and import beers run the gamut of the color spectrum from pale straw to golden, amber, copper, orange, brown, black, and everything in between. Dictated solely by the style of the beer, color is not an indication of whether a beer will taste good it is merely an indication of which malts and adjuncts the brewer used while making the beer. One color is not necessarily better than another when it comes to beer. It’s all a matter of preference.

In the world of competitive beer brewing – yes, there is such a thing – judges use a style guide to determine the general color a given beer style should have. One of the most accepted and respected guide is the Beer Judge Certification Program Style Guidelines. This extensive guide catalogs how over 75 general beer styles should look, smell and taste. It is well worth a look if you really want to know all the details of how a beer should look in your glass.

But, for the casual beer-drinker, we can simplify the color issue.

pale  Pale: Light Lager, Lager, Wheat Ale and Belgian White

light

Light: Pilsners, Marzen/Oktoberfest, Weizen

straw  Straw: Hefewizen, Kolsch, Cream Ale, English Pale Ale, Belgian-style Triple

goldenGolden: American Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Amber Lager, Lambic, Dopplebock

amber

Amber: Scottish Ale, Vienna-style Lager, Dunkelweizen, Irish Ale, Amber/Red Ale, Barleywine

black

Black: Stout, Porter, Milk Stout, Irish Dry Stout, Oatmeal Stout, Black IPA

 

 

Of course, there are plenty of other styles not represented on the above chart. Styles like Brown Ales that are, well, brown and Schwarzbier and dark lagers that lean towards the amber side of brown. But, for the most part, this chart should help give you an idea of how certain styles should fit on the color scale.

In general, if the beer falls within the expected color spectrum of its style, the brewer followed good procedure and used fresh, quality ingredients. Beer that is far outside of the expected color for the style may still be good, but treat it a bit more cautiously in your expectations.

Clarity

Crystal clear or cloudy, that is the question. And the answer is a definitive; it depends. While the quest for beer clarity is a goal to most modern brewers, there are certain styles of beer that are inherently cloudy and that is perfectly okay.

Historically, beer was rarely crystal clear. Indeed, the suspended particles were desireable because they are what made beer the nourishing drink that it was. Sure there were a few styles prized for their clarity like Pilsners and other German lagers, but the vast majority of beer was anything from hazy to outright cloudy. Today, for beers like Wits, Hefeweizens and other unfiltered styles a cloudy appearance is perfectly appropriate.

But, beer styles other than those mentioned above and a few others, today most beer is expected to be clear in order to be properly brewed. There are several factors that contribute to a beer’s clarity including:

  • Suspended proteins
  • Unsettled yeast
  • Other particles

In the world of beer tasting there is a phenomenon known as chill haze. When a beer is not boiled properly during and then cooled fast enough chill haze can set in. When this occurs and the beer is refrigerated, the proteins still in the brew are driven out of the solution causing it to take on a hazy appearance in the glass. While it rarely changes the flavor of the beer, it does make it less appealing to look at.

Another cause of hazy or cloudy beer is the presence of yeast that has not settled to the bottom yet. Certain yeast strains are bred to have a high degree of flocculation or the ability to settle out of beer quickly. Others, like those used in Witbiers and Hefeweizens flocculate much slower and cause the cloudy appearance that is perfectly normal for those styles.

Brewers will often store beer in a cool place or even refrigerate it to increase flocculation in yeast. A perfect example of this is the practice of lagering employed by the Germans who, in the old days, stored beer in caves for several months before serving it. The time spent sitting undisturbed in the lagering caves allowed the yeast to fall to the bottom of the barrel and produced a much clearer brew.

Other particles that remain in beer for a long period of time include things like hop particles, fruit pectins and any other adjuncts that may be added. Beers like double and triple IPAs will often appear hazy due to the higher amount of hop residue that stays in suspension in the beer. Dry-hopping, a practice of adding hops to a beer after the original boil, also contributes to a decrease in beer clarity.

To increase the clarity of beer brewers will often add materials like Irish Moss, isinglass and whirlfloc. They may also employ a filter or whirlpool the remove solids.

For your enjoyment, though, just keep in mind that some beers are meant to be cloudy. As a rule of thumb, wheat beers or beers made with a large amount of wheat in the grain bill are meant to be cloudy. Also, keep in mind that chill haze, while not attractive will likely not affect the flavor of your beer.

Head Retention

For years the excepted standard of two fingers so foam at the top of a well-poured glass of beer was what all good bartenders strived for. Another tell-tae sign of good head is the lacing – known as Belgian or Brussels lace – left on the sides of the glass as you drink the beer. But, if the head did not form it is not always the bartender’s fault. There is a lot of chemistry and artistry that goes into brewing beer that will form and perfect, fluffy head.

During travels in Belgium, I noticed a bartender mis-poured a beer. Before she would serve the beer to her guest, she made sure there was head on the beer by taking two coffee stir sticks and whipping one up. By doing this she not only saved an innocent beer from being wasted, but she also insured her guest got full enjoyment from his beer. The Belgians are fanatics about beer and would not dream of serving a beer without a proper head. But, why?

The foam at the top of your beer serves a number of purposes; most importantly it captures and disburses aromatics that lead to an increased enjoyment of beer. But, it also provides part of the beers feel in your mouth and is an indication of the relative health of the beer.

So, what kills foam? Soap residue in a glass and oils. Glassware used for beer must be impeccably clean, any soap or cleanser left in the glass can kill a foam head and leave a beer with a surface smoother than a lake on a windless day. Oils will do the same thing. For instance, lipstick and lip balms react with the foam a cause it to quickly dissipate. This is why the old trick of touching your nose and then sticking your finger in an overflowing beer or soda works.

But, there are other factors to a rich head including the type and alcohol content of the beer. Just as Witbiers and Hefeweizens are typically cloudy, they are also blessed with glorious, billowy heads because of their high concentration of compounds that enhance foam production. Higher alcohol beers, on the other hand, generally have lower amounts of head.

So, how can you insure the best possible head for your beer? Pour your beer straight down the middle of your glass. Sure, this goes against the steps given on the perfect pour instructions last week, but if head is what you want, this is how to get the most.

Let’s review:

The color of your beer depends on the style you are drinking and can indicate whether the brewer hit the mark for the style he was going for. Clarity can be an indication of improper boil and cool down procedures or, depending on the style can be perfectly acceptable. And, head retention can be affected by the cleanliness of your local pub or tap room or it can be an indication of the alcohol content of the beer.

Next week: Ooh, ooh that smell! What effects the aroma and how it should affect your perception of beer.

uber_logoThe Jax Beer Guy has partnered with the UBER car service in Jacksonville. Because of this partnership, you can receive a $20 credit for your first ride by simply using the promo code “JaxBeerGuy” when you register for UBER on your smartphone.

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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Beer Education

 

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Brewers Association adds historical styles to 2013 guidelines

BA_logoEvery year the Brewers Association (BA) updates and releases its guide to beer styles that sets the bar for brewers across the nation. This year’s version, the 2013 Beer Style Guide was released Monday, March 4 with a few new styles and several modifications to existing styles. The BA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting craft breweries in the United States through educational programs and advocacy.

In this year’s edition, the number of recognized styles has grown from 140 to 142. The two additional styles are Adambier and Grätzer. Both brews are historic brews that have been appearing more and more in American breweries. Adambier is a German beer that was popular around Dortmund, while Grätzer is native to Poland.

Adambier, also called Dortmunder Adambier or Dortmunder Alt, is a potent, smoky beer often weighing in above 10% ABV. Traditionally the beer was strong, dark, and sour with high hopping rates and, in historic batches, a significant amount of wheat. The beer was typically barrel-aged for at least a year and often much longer.  The new style guidelines according to the BA are:

“Light brown to very dark in color. It may or may not use wheat in its formulation. Original styles of this beer may have a low or medium low degree of smokiness. Smoke character may be absent in contemporary versions of this beer. Astringency of highly roasted malt should be absent. Toast and caramel-like malt characters may be evident. Low to medium hop bitterness are perceived. Low hop flavor and aroma are perceived. It is originally a style from Dortmund. Adambier is a strong, dark, hoppy, sour ale extensively aged in wood barrels. Extensive aging and the acidification of this beer can mask malt and hop character to varying degrees. Traditional and non-hybrid varieties of European hops were traditionally used. A Kölsch-like ale fermentation is typical Aging in barrels may contribute some level of Brettanomyces and lactic character. The end result is a medium to full bodied complex beer in hop, malt, Brett and acidic balance.*”

The second new addition, Grätzer, gets its name from the town where it originated, Gratz in what used to be Prussia. The town is now called Grodzisk and is located in the province of Wielkopolski in western Poland. The region has a well-established brewing history as evidenced by the output of the port city of Gdansk. In the 15th century, the city on the Baltic Sea managed to produce well over 6 million gallons of beer at over 300 breweries. The Grätzer style of history is that of a smoked, white wheat beer. Traditionally the wheat malt was smoke with oak or birch wood. The guidelines for the style set out by the Brewers Association state:

“Grätzer is a Polish-Germanic pre-Reinheitsgebot style of golden to copper colored ale. The distinctive character comes from at least 50% oak wood smoked wheat malt with a percentage of barley malt optional. The overall balance is a balanced and sessionably low to medium assertively oak-smoky malt emphasized beer. It has a low to medium low hop bitterness; none or very low European noble hop flavor and aroma. A Kölsch-like ale fermentation and aging process lends a low degree of crisp and ester fruitiness Low to medium low body. Neither diacetyl nor sweet corn-like DMS (dimethylsulfide) should be perceived.*”

It is important to note that the style guidelines set forth by the BA are used as the basis for judging beers at the Great American Beer Festival held every year in Denver, Colo. and at the World Beer Cup. These style may differ slightly from style guides produced by other beer judging organizations, but are by far considered the Gospel by many brewers both hobbyist and professional.

The addition of historical styles as well as popular style indicates that craft brewing is coming into its own. Interest in traditional styles is on the rise allowing for new generations of beer enthusiasts to experience the delights inherent in each. As new historical styles are discovered and rise in popularity, they too will no doubt find their place in future Brewers Association guidelines.

*2013 Brewers Association Beer Style Guidelines used with permission of Brewers Association.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Beer, Beer Styles

 

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Pour Yourself a Koelsch One

A wreath Kolsch Beer - LA Times of Kölsch.

Image via Wikipedia

 It is always fun to delve into the history of a particular style of beer. Particularly if that beer is a bit obscure to begin with. Lately I have become fascinated with several German styles of beer. Coming from a very Bavarian background, I thought it only fitting to dig a little deeper into the traditions of my forbearers and learn more about German beer styles. And so, I begin my little trip down the cobbled stones of ancient brewing with a look at a style that is emerging in the United States as an approachable, drinkable, and decidedly refreshing style: Koelsch.

Now to understand Koelsch you will need to have a basic understanding of the two categories of beers; lagers and ales. Do not confuse these two categories with beer styles. Styles reside within these two categories. The difference between these two broad categories is the type of yeast used during fermentation. Ale yeasts ferment at warmer temperatures and are sometimes called “top fermenting” yeasts. This is because the yeast tends to stay towards the top of the tank during fermentation. Lagers yeasts conversely ferment at cooler temperatures and tend to stay towards the bottom of the fermentation tank. Another major difference between these two categories of beer is that ales tend to have more yeast driven flavors then lagers. Ale yeasts lend complex spicy and fruity flavors to beers that the cooler fermenting lager yeasts do not.

Now that you know the difference between ales and lagers, it is time to learn some history. Sherman, set the dials on the Way-Back machine to the closing years of the 1300’s in Cologne, Germany. A group of Guilds gathered and peacefully over-threw the noble-run government with a more democratic style of governance that allowed more freedom to all and ended a tradition of class segregation in the city that still holds true today. The reason this is so important to the history of the Koelsch style beer is that it proved that the people of Cologne were free-thinkers and strove to be different from other German cities.

At that time the German beer landscape was dominated by what is now called an Altbier or old beer. These beers were ales that used top fermenting yeasts. In the mid-to-late 1500’s though, a wave of lagers began to take over the German brewing world. Altbiers started to be replaced by the new lager styles until only a few ales remained. The city fathers of Cologne recognized that these ales were quickly dying out and, in 1603, issued an ordinance that outlawed the brewing of all but top-fermented beers within the city limits of Cologne. Thus, bottom-fermenting beers were proscribed from Cologne which led to the beginnings of modern-day Koelsch.

From that day in 1603 until the early nineteenth century, Cologne became known for its Keutebier, or white ale similar in style to Belgian wit beer, but without the addition of spices. Keutebier was a beer that used mostly wheat as its main grain. As tastes changed over time though, more and more barley was used until wheat completely disappeared from the beer and the first Koelsch was brewed in 1906 by the Sunner Brewery. But, it wasn’t until 1918 that the name Koelsch was officially used to describe this new style.

At first the style did not gain any momentum. But, after two World Wars, the style began to catch on. In the mid-1940’s, breweries that had been devastated during the Wars began to re-emerge. Lagers were still firmly in control of the beer-drinking world, but Koelsch was making in-roads. In the 1960’s Cologne’s beer production was a mere 50 million liters, or roughly 13 million gallons. In contrast, as the style began to rise in popularity, Cologne’s beer production peaked at over 370 million liters, or almost 98 million gallons. In recent years that number has dropped down a bit, but if the resurgence I have noticed in the style holds, Koelsch could well be on its way back up the charts.

Significantly, as with Champaign, the beer can only truly be called Koelsch if it is brewed in Cologne. In 1985 the Koelsch Convention established that only breweries within the city limits of Cologne could brew Koelsch beers. All others are to be called Koelsch-style beers. In 1997 the European Union gave further protection to the style allowing only 14 breweries the right to label their beers as Koelsch. As with most German beers, this style also adheres to the Reinheitsgebot or German purity law that prohibits the use of any ingredients in beer other than water, barley, hops, and yeast.

A Koelsch beer should be the color of straw and have a rather thin mouth-feel. The official guidleines state that this style should be between 4.4 and 5.2% ABV. The flavor should be slightly sweet with little or no hopiness and practically no fruitiness. All of these characteristic combine to make this an exceedingly refreshing beer when served at about 40 degrees. This is especially true on a hot summer day in Florida when the sun is beating down with the intensity of a blast furnace.

Some Koelsch and Koelsch-style beers to try are: Reissdorf, Gaffel, Harpoon Summer Beer, and Samuel Adams East-West Koelsch. And if you are looking for a locally brewed Koelsch-stylre in Jacksonville, FL, look no further than Intuition Ale Works and their deliciously refreshing Jon Boat Ale.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!

Cheers!

Marc Wisdom

 

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