Tag Archives: Sour Beer

Homebrew #4: Sour & Salty (Gose)

18 Aug

For my forth batch, I wanted to try something more adventurous. I’ve always liked sour beers, but many of them take 6 to 12 months to ferment… but I heard from a friend about another way to make a sour beer using a starter, and I’d recently had a Leipziger Gose I enjoyed, so I decided to try something in the general Gose vein:

13 - 1

Per Wikipedia:“Gose is a beer style of Leipzig, Germany, brewed with at least 50% of the grain bill being malted wheat. Dominant flavours in Gose include a lemon tartness, a herbal characteristic, and a strong saltiness (the result of either local water sources or added salt). Because of the use of coriander and salt, Gose does not comply with the Reinheitsgebot. It is allowed an exemption on the grounds of being a regional specialty.”

I made the sour starter by leaving about 2 Tbsp of cracked two-row malted barley and 1 Tbsp of agave syrup in a cup and a half of water out on the windowsill, letting the bacteria that naturally live on the grain husk start to ferment the sugar. After a few days, there was a white scum on the top, it smelled sour, and the pH had dropped well below 4.0, which was a good sign: at this pH, bacteria like lactobacillus and pediococcus can live and produce lactic acid (the sourness present in yogurt and one way to sour a beer), but it’s too acidic for bad-tasting or more dangerous bacteria (e.g. botulism) to survive.


I then prepared the main wort:

Base grains:

  • 3/4 lbs 2-row barley
  • 1 lb malted wheat
  • 0.5 lbs flaked wheat
  • 0.5 lbs rolled outs
  • 3 lbs wheat DME
  • 2.25 lbs pilsner DME

I mashed the cracked grains for 45 minutes in 1.5 gallons of 150F water, then added 2 more gallons and the dry malts. Rather than boiling the wort and adding hops at this point as I would with a normal batch, I let it cool to about 100F, poured in the windowsill-soured starter I’d made the previous day, covered the pot and wrapped it in insulating towels, and let it sit for a day. This let the bacteria in the sour starter take over the wort, multiplying and souring the entire batch.

The next afternoon, I resumed brewing– I brought the now sweet-and-sour wort to a rolling boil, which also has the effect of killing any lactobacillus and other wild flora growing in it– this means the initial souring is as sour as the beer will get and I won’t get the more complex flavor of many sour beers, but I also don’t have to worry about other contamination multiplying after I bottle and ruining the beer over time. I boiled it for an hour as usual, adding hops and other flavoring typical of the Gose style:

  • 0.5oz Santiam hops @ 60min
  • 0.8oz salt @ 60min (about 0.5oz sea salt + 0.3oz lemon flake salt)
  • 0.45oz coriander seeds @ 5min


After cooling with a borrowed wort chiller, I tested the OG and it was 1.057 (corrected for temperature)– exactly what I’d been shooting for. Into a second bucket it went (since my first bucket was busy fermenting a Rye Session):


I pitched in the yeast started I’d also prepared the night before (Boiled 2 pts water + ½ cup pilsner DME for 10min. Cooled the light wort covered in a cold water sink (maybe 15min) until cool, around 85F. Put in a sanitized quart jar, pitched room-temperature White Labs 029 Kolsch yeast, covered w/ sanitized foil, shook for about a minute to heavily aerate, then set on counter to sit overnight) and off we went.


It fermented vigorously over the next few days, and other than a few tastes and gravity samples I let it go for three weeks, until the yeast dropped out, the SF stabilized at 1.015 (about 5.5% ABV), and it cleared up, eventually looking like this. Mysterious.


Before bottling, I took a taste (uncarbonated): it had a lightly sour smell, a pale, malty body with a hard to pin down “funky yogurt-like” taste, not really lip-smacking tart or citric acid acidic. We’ll see if it ends up undrinkable or interesting.

For extra amusement, I decided to label it Gözer, as a shout-out to both everyone’s favorite Ghostbusters villain and the Gose style:

goofy labels

Portland Food & Beer Recap #3

22 Apr

Another year, another weekend trip to Portland to see friends, eat, and drink beer. Getting up early and going to sleep late– less to take advantage of the nightlife and more to fit in four meals a day. Some memories:

Heart Coffee: Easily the best coffee of the trip. A very light roast, lemony, smooth. Highly recommended.

Apizza Scholls: 

Oh, wow.

apizza scholls

I’d been here many years ago and remembered it being good, but the first hot slice of Margherita this time was one of the best slices of pizza I’ve had anywhere (including New Haven, Brooklyn, and Naples). Perfect. They nailed it. Thin crust without being crispy, elastic without being chewy, tender without letting grease soak through, tart distinctively tomato sauce without being too acidic, small pockets of excellent cheese and basil, and just the right temperature…. even 15 minutes later it wasn’t as amazing. The New York White Pie (fresh mozzarella, pecorino, ricotta, garlic) was also very good and moist, but not in the same league.


Horse Brass Pub (again):

I had to come back, it was as British-dark-wood cozy as I remembered, and the cask conditioned Hogsback Stout tasted as good. The beer equivalent of light roast coffee, with toasty grapefruity flavors.

hogsback stour

Cascade Brewing Barrel Room:

Barrel-aged sour beers. Really good ones. 2 oz tasters let me gradually work my way through all 10 of them. And not at all crowded (well, at 3pm on a Friday…) A great way to spend all afternoon, and up there with Hair of the Dog in my favorite brewpubs in Portland.

 Cascade Sour Beer

Cascade Menu

The Noyaux was fantastic– I have to track it down. Blondes and tripels aged on oak for years, then another year on raspberries and apricot pits. Tart to the point of saliva-stimulating at first, then getting more and more funky (in a barnyard-straw way) as it warmed up. It smells like it would be sweet, but it’s not at all. A+.

The Vlad was also very good, a quad blonde aged in bourbon barrels, not one-note, and it kept developing as it warmed up. I don’t know if it would be interesting enough to drink a full pint, but I really enjoyed this small glass.

The Manhattan NW was the most interesting though not my favorite: a quad aged in bourbon barrels with sour cherries. Very woodsy in taste, but it smelled too much like grenadine syrup.

I thought the Chocolate Burbonic sounded interesting (porters, bourbon barrels, cinnamon, dates, chocolate? what’s not to like?) but I thought it was disgusting, evoking “subtle notes of bile”. Humbug.

Oh, and the apricot, cherry, and blueberry sour beers were all good, tart, and about what I expected from past bottles.


Yeah, yeah, a posed-food-getting-cold low-depth-of-field juxtaposition photo, I have to take one of these in between all the blurry quick cell phone shots.


A burger covered with porkstrami / pork belly, on a half-size loaf of bread because they were out of rolls. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious– but the “lardo sauce” was over the top and the whole thing was just too *pow* in my face creamy. Great at midnight after a beer at Apex, and I’d try something else from their menu, but I have no need to have that burger more than once in my life.



A cheerful, friendly Italian bistro, which by total chance I was standing in front of when I  got a message I should check it out. The $12 steak and salad lunch plate was a great deal, and the salad was remarkably good: interesting greens, parsley, dill, other slightly bitter greens– it tasted fresh out of someone’s backyard garden. The steak was fine though nothing special — if I’m there again I hear I should try their pasta.


A fun place to eat brunch, though not mind-blowing or deserving of a Zagat 27 and a “Best Brunch Spots in Portland” award.

Excellent dill-infused aquavit bloody mary:

bloody mary

Baked scrambled eggs in a square skillet and a mashed potato pancake were cute twists on the typical brunch dishes… but neither tasted better than any generic eggs and potatoes:


Evoe, the counter in Pastaworks:

This was one of my favorite places to eat the last time I was in Portland. It was quite good this time but just short of excellent.

The oven-roasted rapini with meyer lemon and anchovies was fascinating: who knew that rapini would roast so well? The leaves were crispy but the stalks stayed moist, chewy, and really flavorful, unlike many roasted greens (I’m looking at you, kale):


A cauliflower soup with bottarga and a raw shaved squash salad with mint and balsamic were both interesting but very one note.

See See Motorcycle Coffee Company:

I went for the ambiance, the espresso was quite good.

motor coffee


A huge beer selection (taps and bottles), the kind of place I’d think would be right up my alley– maybe if I went with a group of friends. I stopped by after a film festival on my own and it didn’t quite click for me. The not-so-cozy space and the bright high-tech beer lists were a little off, and the one beer I tried was nothing but a hop punch in the face.

 Apex Beer

Little T Baker:

Nice space, very good pretzel roll…

Little T Baker

Good though I’m not inspired to rave about them: Common Grounds Coffee (though I do appreciate their fox logo and $1 coffee), the Pie Spot (a fine marionberry tart), the crepe food truck near Ladd’s Addition, the Korean taco truck next to Prost, Lucky Lab (mediocre pizza and beer), Amnesia (friendly outdoor seating and strangers, fine beer).

Beer Cupboard

4 Mar

I’ve taken a dangerous plunge– dedicating a cupboard to stocking some of my favorite not-available-at-corner-stores (though mostly available at City Beer Store or Healthy Spirits) beers, for special (or at least moderately-special) occasions:

Sours: Cascade Kriek, Strubbe Flemish Red, Monk’s Cafe Flemish Sour, Russian River Supplication & Consecration, Upright Billy The Mountain

Belgians: Rochefort 8 & 10, Westvleteren 10 & 12, Orval, Liefmans Goudenband

Belgian-Style US: Allagash Black & Tripel & Tripel Reserve, Russian River Damnation

Barrel-aged: J.W. Lees Whiskey-barrel-aged, Fifty-Fifty Eclipse Barrel-Aged Stout, Goose Island Bourbon County Stout