I was rather excited to see this when I sauntered into one of my usual central Birmingham watering holes the other evening. This is a gose; a German salt beer made with barley and wheat malt. Yes, you read that correctly; a salt beer. I’d been wanting to try one ever since I heard of their existence. Gose is speciality from the Leipzig area, orginating from a small town called Goslar, which is where it got its name. It is a top-fermented beer, meaning the yeast sits on the top while creating alcohol, and was originally brewed “spontaneously”, which is where naturally occurring yeast was allowed to settle in the brewing process. The addition of salt (or the use of brine water for brewing) is fairly unique, and often other savoury flavours, such as coriander, are deliberately added.
This particular gose is a collaboration between two brewers – Siren from Berkshire, and Surly from Minneapolis in the US. They came together as part of the Rainbow Project, which puts together seven UK brewers with seven international brewers and challenges them to make something interesting based on the colour they are assigned – in this case blue. They certainly succeeded. It’s flavoured with cloudberries and seaweed, hence the name Blue Sky, Blue Sea.
Like some other German styles – I’m thinking Berliner Wiesse in particular – it is brewed to be very tart, not like milder Dutch wheat beers. The citrus flavour in this particular one is initially very dominant, although the saltiness soon comes through, and is oddly not unpleasant. The more I drank, the more I came to appreciate the more complex and juicy fruity flavours and the taste of cloudberries, although the salt took some getting used too, and I couldn’t honestly detect any seaweed! It is certainly a drink for sipping, if only because it will set you back £4 for half a pint. Definitely unique, and well worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous, this gets three stars both for originality and for being nicer than expected. However, it is still something to sample rather than a session beer.