Continuing to leverage my time at home during the coronavirus pandemic, I am studying for the second level of the Cicerone Certification Program for beer professionals. To keep myself honest in my studies, I am reviewing DMV beers brewed in the classic styles and comparing them to the official style guidelines.
This week I’m drinking Union Brewing’s summer seasonal, the Old Pro Gose. In 2015, the BJCP considered gose, a German wheat beer, a “historical” style as it had fallen out of fashion, but since then the salty little sour has made a comeback in the States with significant help from Baltimore’s Union. Let’s take a look at the specs:
Gose Guidelines from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP):
A highly carbonated, tart and fruity wheat ale with restrained coriander and salt. Very refreshing, with bright flavors and high attenuation, which means a drier finish as yeast consumes sugar, converting it into alcohol and carbon dioxide..
Appearance is moderate to full haze… effervescent, medium yellow.
Aroma is light sourness, slightly sharp with moderate pome fruit and coriander. Uncooked sourdough.
Flavor is moderately sour, bread dough, some pome or stone fruit character. Acidity more noticeable in the dry finish to enhance the refreshing quality.
Mouthfeel is medium-light to medium-full body. High to very high carbonation..
Vital Statistics: IBUs 5-12, SRM 3-4, ABV 4.2-4.8%
Old Pro is medium yellow but not particularly hazy in the glass. Pours a decent foamy head, but it dissipates pretty quickly with a ton of bubbles continually rising rapidly through the chalice, like champagne. Nose is light cracker, coriander, lemon, Granny Smith apple (despite being objectively the worst apple, it works here) and more lemon. On the palate I get tart lemon, noticeable coriander (am I the only one who didn’t know that coriander is from the same plant as cilantro? What a world!), a pleasantly over-sour peach, with a salty ocean breeze sending you off. An effervescent nature enhances the body, but the refreshing flavor and tingly salt send you back for more. Old Pro finishes dry, only intensifying its siren song for another sip.
Although Goses have traditionally been spontaneously fermented to achieve its sour flavor, Old Pro is soured through inoculation with the Lactobacillus bacteria, like most modern versions. This can create a rather sharp lactic acid flavor that hinders drinkability. While Old Pro’s sourness will wake you up, it clearly prioritizes flavor and quaffability over tearing the enamel from your molars. On that note, Union has mentioned continually tweaking the recipe ⏤ funny enough, I drink a ton of this every summer and remember it being a little more sour. My hunch is that it has become a little more balanced through the various iterations.
Even though the sourness builds up if you drink this a little quicker, this is a true summer crusher and wildly easy to drink, especially paired with food. Old Pro is excellent with anything dressed with caesar, melding with the lemon in the dressing to make my chicken sandwich taste more caesar-y. It also makes a great salt bomb with chips and guacamole. Old Pro just tastes like summer feels. With an ABV of 4.2%, no noticeable bitterness, and present yet restrained fruity sourness balanced with salt, Union’s offering perfectly hits as a modern gose. With the traditional style mostly having died out, Union is leading the way in re-defining what a gose should taste like. I’ll have 3 more.
You too, buddy. Next week, Denizens Lowest Lord ESB!