Brewery: Freigeist Bierkultur (Stolberg, Germany)
Style: Sour – Gose
5% ABV / 12 IBU
Although the Leipzig gose is generally considered to be a summer style, meant to refresh field laborers on the hottest of days, here’s a gose that won’t seem out of place as a fall/winter seasonal. This is mainly due to the addition of spruce tips and its mild juniper flavor. Deck the halls with boughs of holly and wreck the halls with Geisterzug (“Ghost Train”), a beer that tastes a little bit like a Christmas wreath and will instantly fortify you against Krampus.
Mind you, Geisterzug doesn’t really taste like a traditional gose, although it claims to be on its label and is brewed according to a 600-year-old recipe. The spruce tip/needle technique is actually very authentic to the original gose, where the spruce branches were originally used for “lautering,” which is the process of separating spent grain from the wort. This is not a common practice in the industrial age, but the sprucing gives Geisterzug a little but of a pine-y character to go along with the lemon-y zip from the coriander (another traditional ingredient).
Back to why this gose isn’t particularly sour, and instead, incredibly malt-forward: It’s likely due to Freigeist’s over-hopping of the beer, retarding the effect of the lactobacillus culture. The hopping, which is to prevent the beer from spoiling, also seems to be preventing it from souring. The flavor of Geisterzug is really wonderful and complex, and almost tastes more like a Vienna lager or a kõlsch. It’s light and drinkable and free of bitterness (from the hops or the coriander). Seek out if you’re a fan of malty beers; avoid if occluded color and sediment are a non-starter, or you expect raw power from a sour.
For more info on Freigeist Bierkultur, please head here.