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Beer Review #137 Leipziger Gose

Ever since my trip to Belgium I have really enjoyed sour beers. I’m not sure what changed in me as I generally hate sour things. Back in October of 2009 I posted about different beer styles and how they didn’t agree with my taste buds. When  I go back and look at some of the styles on that list, I wonder what I was thinking. I’m really digging pilsner beer at the current time along with Lambics and pretty much everything else I mentioned. Part of the reason why I made this site was to document my trip through craft beer. I have really been able to see how much I have changed in a short time.

Leipziger Gose is a beer that one of my buddies bought for me awhile ago. I let it sit for awhile since you really can’t over age a Gose. I finally got around to opening it up and boy was I impressed. This beer pours a blond color and has a nice fluffy white head. The nose is pretty sour with some sweetness attached. When I say sour, think of sticking your face into a bag of Sour Patch Kids sour. The label says, “brewed with normal ingredient but also coriander and salt.” Interesting since I didn’t know they were allowed to do that with the Reinheitsgebot is still in effect to my knowledge.

On the first taste I was shocked at how much was happening in this beer. There are the clear sour notes, but behind them are some herbal and plumb flavors that are very nice. This beer comes in at only 4.6% but it is a wonderful testament that you don’t need high alcohol to get a complex beer.

This beer is also exceptionally balanced and delicate. Other than the wonderful beer itself, the name of the brewery that makes it is awesome; Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof. Say that five times fast, or try to pronoun it correctly once. Bahnhof is train station and German and the brewery is actually located inside of an old train station. Cool.

When I was in Germany I didn’t get the chance to visit Leipzig but I would love to go back and make a visit to this brewery if I ever found myself in Germany again. I HIGHLY suggest this one, even to people who don’t like sour beers. It is non-aggressive which makes it a great intro beer to the style.

On a side note does anyone have any idea what the red netting pictured above is actually for? I assume it is to keep the bottles from crashing into one another, but I honestly have no idea. (more…)

What is beer made of?

This questions is actually a bit tougher to answer than what you might think. Traditionally beer was made out of countless things. Some might find that to be a surprise as most people declare that “traditional” beer can only be made with grain or malt, hops, water, and yeast. This belief really only dates back to the 1490s and officially to 1516 when Bavaria’s reigning Duke Wilhelm IV declared that the Reinheitsgebot take place over all of Bavaria. Reinheitsgebot literally means “purity law” and it was the first ever food safety law. This law actually helped Germany and the connecting areas of Bavaria become renowned for their superior quality in beer.

Beer dates back to as early as 6,000 BC and the first real proof we have dates back to 3,500 BC in Egypt. Dogfish Head currently makes a beer called Midas Touch, which I will let their website explain,

This recipe is the actual oldest-known fermented beverage in the world! It is an ancient Turkish recipe using the original ingredients from the 2700 year old drinking vessels discovered in the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between wine & mead; this smooth, sweet, yet dry ale will please the Chardonnay of beer drinker alike.

The beer is made with honey and saffron among other things. Essentially beer really only needs a few things to work. You have to have some type of sugar, which is usually derived from malt a.k.a barely grain. Water is necessary to get the whole ball rolling becasue the process of making beer involves soaking the grain in hot water (140-160 degrees Fahrenheit) for a set amount of time. While the grain is soaking in the hot water enzymes in the grain are activating and turning the starches stored in the grain into sugar. On a side note beer is about 90% water on average. Sugar is essential becasue the next ingredient needs it to live.

The sugar is eaten by yeasts that have been specially cultured for the beer making process. The yeast eat the sugar and turn it into three things; carbon dioxide, heat, and alcohol. If you wanted to, you could really stop here as you technically have beer at this point. The problem is that the yeast take the time to turn the sugar into alcohol and other microorganisms also like beer. Once the yeast have enough time to turn sugar to alcohol, those microorganisms cannot survive in an environment with alcohol. To give the yeast enough time to do thins, hops has been the ingredient of choice to help preserve the beer. It also helps it have a longer shelf live and helps balance the taste of the malt in the beer. The malt is sweet and the hops are bitter, together you have something that tastes wonderful.

So the German’s Reinheitsgebot does have all of its bases covered for making beer. However there are a lot of other things that can go into a beer to add to it. Think of the Reinheitsgebot in terms of pancakes. It allows you to put pancake mix, water, milk, and syrup into your pancakes. Sure you can have wonderful tasting pancakes with those ingredients but what happens if you want some whipped cream or chocolate or strawberries. I think you get where I am going here.

In the United States the Reinheitsgebot has really never been something that has been followed. During the Colonial times spruce branches were a common ingredient in beer. The were mostly used as a substitute for hops but added a distinct flavor of their own. Today breweries are producing beers with all kinds of extra ingredients in them. Fruit beers, spiced beer, etc are all mass produced and provide something new and different. Our friend from the pancake ingredient list, syrup, is also used in many different beers. So the question of what is beer made of doesn’t really have a true answer. I suppose that all/most beers have the following things in common; malt, hops, yeast, and water. After that it is really anyone’s guess.