Gose is not a style that’s all too common here in Japan yet, although I assume it’s only a matter of time before they start to pop up here and there. Fortunately for those of you who prefer your beer more exotic, Tamamura Honten released a gose-like saison earlier this year called the Salty Hop, so we’ll take a look at it alongside a relatively well-known American example of the style, the wonderfully-named Anderson Valley The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose.
Tamamura Honten Salty Hop
Package: 330mL bottle
Misc: IBU – 25
Pour – Very pale yellow gold, not much carbonation
Aroma – Citrus aroma is quite strong, also grassy spice
Flavor – Spicy and salty at the beginning, followed by a dry grassy finish, also some bitterness on finish
For those not too familiar with the gose style, a quick rundown – it is a wheat ale that is said to have originated over 1000 years ago in Saxony, Germany. As a style it was basically long-forgotten until, like with many other beer styles, American craft brewers picked up on it and revived it. Traditionally lactic acid, salt and coriander are the main ingredients that lend it its spicy/salty/sour characteristics, but of course nowadays brewers will experiment with other ingredients as well.
Tamamura Honten, for their take on the gose, use shoubu in place of coriander (we covered shoubu earlier in our review of the Shoubu Miyama Blonde), and also have the requisite salt. However, it doesn’t appear that they used any lactic acid, and while it has a bit of tartness the saltiness is much more prominent. For what it’s worth, they themselves refer to it as a saison with gose-like characteristics.
So does the Salty Hop work? It’s an interesting beer, to say the least – like everything else they do, they’ve hopped it up quite a bit, so the aroma has a nice citrus hop quality to it, and there is also a slight hop bitter finish. The shoubu gives it the spice, and also a bit of grassiness in both the aroma and finish. The salt is fairly prominent throughout, but as mentioned above it doesn’t quite have too much of a sour aspect to it.
All in all, I’d say their description of it as a gose-like saison is relatively accurate – it’s a wheat ale with salt, but doesn’t go all the way to gose territory. Regardless, it’s an interesting brew, and I wonder if it means that Tamamura Honten will begin to experiment with sour beers now that they’ve have some success with hoppy beers followed by saison-style beers. That would certainly be very exciting, and it would be very interesting to see how they approach brewing sours given their tendency to hop their beers like crazy. Here’s hoping they move in that direction.
Anderson Valley Brewing Company The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose
Package: 12 fl oz can
Pour – Very gold in color, initially moderate carbonation but settles down very quickly
Aroma – A lemony wheat aroma, sour fruit
Flavor – Sour initially, and then a big whoosh of acidic grapefruit citrus, followed by a tart and slightly salty finish, wheat also on the finish as it warms up
Anderson Valley Brewing Company (based in Mendocino County, CA), are one of the older craft brewers in the US, having been established in 1987. While the original focus was primarily on American-style beers like amber ales, pale ales, and IPAs, they recently started a series called Highway 128 where they started to experiment a bit more with different styles. While the first beer was a session pale ale, the second is this gose, and the third is actually another gose called the Blood Orange Gose.
The Kimmie, The Yink, & The Holy Gose checks all the boxes for a gose in terms of brewing – it’s got the wheat, lactobacillus, the sea salt, and the coriander. While this beer is only 4.2% ABV, the flavors are quite bold and complex – sour, salty, and lots of fruit. The tartness leaves a very nice fizzy aftereffect on the tongue, and the salty aftertaste is also quite pleasant.
You may also have noticed that it has quite a name – apparently there is a dialect local to Boonville called Boontling, and the name of the beer is mostly in Boontling. What does it mean? If you don’t feel like learning Boontling you can read the answer here.
In terms of purchasing, I bought this one at Tokyo Liquor Land, but I’ve also seen this at Liquors Hasegawa. They don’t get too much distribution in Japan, and while I saw this beer on tap the other day at WIZ that was the first time I’d seen any of their kegs available here.
It’s a bit difficult to compare the two beers today, as the Tamamura Honten effort misses out on the sour/tart aspects that really make a gose a gose. I think the Salty Hop is a good beer worth trying, but the Anderson Valley gose is definitely more interesting for its tartness. As more gose beers are released in Japan (Hitachino Nest recently brewed the Anbai Ale, but it hasn’t been available in bottles yet) we’ll definitely be covering those.