Thursday, May 8, 2014

Westbrook Brewing Company - Gozu

One of the best things about having so many breweries in the market today is that it's forced brewers to really think outside of the box. Few beer drinkers today are going to saunter up to the bar at your new brewery and go straight for a beer called "Standard Blonde Ale." They're going to walk in, check out what's different on your beer list and try that. And if your offerings look bland (especially here in San Diego), they're probably going to walk 30 feet down the street to the next brewery. To combat this, there's been an influx of what I like to call "WTF is THAT style?" beers. Many styles that were near extinction have been dredged up and brought back to life, often with a modern twist. This can definitely be said for the Gose style.

A gose is a German style of beer that's pretty similar to a Berliner Weisse. There is, however, one very major addition- salt. A gose is a tart wheat ale brewed with coriander and (strange as it may sound) salt. When done right, this style can be insanely refreshing and it's low ABV makes it a perfect hot weather beer that you can crush like nobody's business.

The most prominent American example of a Gose is made by a brewery in South Carolina called Westbrook Brewing Company. If that name sounds familiar, it's likely because you've seen it on Evil Twin's bottles. They rent out a ton of their brewing space (80% by Evil Twin's founder, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø's, estimate) for Evil Twin's use. But what Westbrook does with their own space has been quietly gaining steam, led by their Gose. While I'm still on the hunt for their standard Gose, I was able to come across a version of it brewed with an East Asian fruit called Yuzu. Let's check it out. 

Gozu pours a hazed and dull-looking apricot color with a half-finger white head that disappears pretty quickly. I wouldn't exactly call the appearance overwhelming, but luckily the smell more than made up for it. Gozu is definitely one of the craziest smelling beers I've ever come across. Right away, you get blasted in the face by a huge amount of citrus and salt. There's a ton of sweet lemons, salt, limestone, margarita mix, lime syrup and umami. Some of those things might sound a little strange. They're not. Everything in here works together really well. This beer smells incredible. 

The initial taste you get with this beer is like licking a Meyer lemon that's been dipped in salt. Cocktail sauce, light crackery malt, citrus peel, tangerine and some sour pink grapefruit all show up in the middle. The finish gives you the barest touch of wheat and finishes with a lingering lemony saltiness. I've had a decent amount of beers in the Gose style, but none of them pulled it off quite like this. It would be very, very dangerous for my bank account if this was distributed here. It's so good. Easily one of the best beers I've tasted all year. Amazing work, Westbrook.

Final Grade: A+

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 132

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