What is Gose?
Gose is a top-fermented, soured via lactic fermentation and slightly salty special beer. Its name is derived from its place of origin, the old imperial city Goslar in the Harz Mountains home to the Gose River. In the Middle Ages the “Goslarisch Bier” (Goslar beer), abbreviated Gose, first spread through the area of the Harz Mountains, then further via Lower Saxony to Saxony and finally settled down in the region around the towns Dessau and Halle. Since 1738, thanks to the recommendation of prince Leopold I the “Old Dessauer”, Gose particularly has found its new hometown in Leipzig. So Leipzig was called the “town of Gose” soon! Around 1900 Gose was the most consumed beer in the trade fair city of Leipzig. Due to the expropriation or rather the closure of the old-established Gose breweries after World War II the production of Gose almost ceased. But since the revival of the old traditions of the Ritterguts Gose in 1999 there has been an upward trend: at least Ritterguts Gose is served in over hundred pubs in Leipzig, Halle and their surroundings nowadays.
Gose is an ancient, separate type of beer. It bears a certain resemblance to Berliner Weiße or rather Lichtenhainer beer as well as to Belgian Geuze. In former times Gose resulted from a spontaneous fermentation as the ost kinds of beer, but nowadays the top-fermentation is favored. Gose does not correspond to the German purity law. But that is alright because Gose is much older than it. Even today it is allowed to brew it in the traditional way flavored with coriander and salt. That is what makes its originality.
Gose used to be offered, particularly in Leipzig, in specialty glass bottles with a large bulb at the bottom and a long neck at the top, alike a Franconian bocksbeutel, but without a cap. During the fermentation the yeast from the beer traveled the neck of this bottle forming a sort of a yeast cork that kept the beer inside until it was removed. But there was also distributed a “Stöpselgose”, an ordinary glass bottle with a swing stopper.
By the way, when we drink with Gose, we say “Goseanna!”