There is a bit of a rare style of beer that has emerged in popularity in recent years called Gose.  It’s a very peculiar brew made with top-fermenting yeast and inoculated with lactic bacteria, the same used in many sour beers.  Besides this, there is a very unusual addition of coriander and salt to the brew.  Salt… In a beer?  This style is a regional specialty of Leipzig, Germany, leading me to believe that people in Leipzig are totally crazy.  Because of these additions, they style didn’t conform to the Reinheitsgebot, the 16th century Bavarian purity laws that governed the brewing of beer.  Besides being already unpopular, that was a first bullet dodged in the style’s history.

The one brewery that made it was nationalized and closed in 1945 amid… harsh times, we’ll say.  One person who worked there took the secret of brewing gose and passed it down, eventually allowing it to fade in and out of popularity until today.  Now, there a few breweries doing this off-kilter beer in Germany, and even a few here in the U.S. trying their hand at it.  Cascade does a few, Cigar City even had one, but perhaps the most interesting would be from the Widmer Brothers Brewery of Portland.
In their classic and easily recognizable label, with a deep carmine pink, is their Marionberry Hibiscus Gose.  With a subtitle touting, “Perfecting the Art of Tart”, I knew I just had to try it.  Hey, I like hibiscus and corriander, marionberries aren’t bad, and a lactobacillus imbued beer has always piqued my interest.  Of course, nothing on the label said anything about salt, but I wouldn’t think the Brothers would cheat me out of that experience.
It pours a very dark, slightly opaque pink, almost the same color as on the label.  The head is there, but not for long, leaving hardly any lacing.  This almost looked like it was going to be one of those candy-like lambics, the type best complimented by a scoop of ice cream floating.  The smell however, was more reassuring than that.  True, there was some sweet berry to it, but the scent was dominated by wheat and floral hibiscus.  There was also a bit of some light yeast.  Nothing on the level of some Belgian styles, but still there.
I readied myself for a hit of tartness, but found myself pretty over-prepared for it.  It was somewhat tart, but was more a wheat beer than anything.  You got some pretty good coriander notes at the end, which I was pretty happy with, but the stars of the show remained the berry and floral parts.  Personally, tasting this left me with the impression that a traditional style gose would be a nice thing to drink.
Something that makes this style interesting is the salt.  There’s something about it that adds a kind of subtle savory characteristic to it.  It is a sort of dryness, and I assume it does the thing salt does and amplifies the flavors.  It is kind of unfortunate that such a strong flavor like marionberry was there to overshadow what could have been some really interesting flavors coming through.  Gose is worth a try for it’s unique taste, and although I enjoyed this one, maybe start with another a more traditional one.