Why So Sour: Bandit’s Wizard of Gose

Until the 80s, Gose was a style of beer that was pretty much a thing of mythology. From its humble beginnings, early in the 1600s, in the small town of Goslar (hence the name), it’s a style of beer that relied on spontaneous fermentation to achieve its sourness. As the beer became more popular in the 1800s, brewers realised that they could get the same results using lactic acid bacteria and yeast. This discovery allowed brewers to experiment with the style while being able to have more control over the fermentation process. Still, Gose remained a staple style of the region and didn’t have the reach or popularity of other styles.

After World War II, the beer disappeared for decades, only to make a return in the 1980s. After that, it went unnoticed for a while as brewers considered it to be too much of an experimental style. The modern craft beer movement finally brought Gose out of obscurity. As a lot of homebrewers became leaders in the craft industry the trend carried over. Our appetite for novelty and “funky” beers have made this style popular with both brewers and beer lovers alike. Sours provided an interesting avenue of experimentation. The blend of spice, salt, sourness and sweetness is a pretty wide canvas to play with. Many Goses are flavoured with various fruits and spices that can open up interesting new avenues for beer drinkers. The sourness has also helped tap into a niche group of drinkers and can act, in some ways, as a malt-based lemonade type drink.

Our brewers decided early on that a Gose had to be in our beer line. What started off as simple experimentation with kettle souring has now become one of our most beloved beer: The Wizard of Gose. “I wanted to do some work with lactic acid bacteria and decided a milder sour, such as a Gose, would be more appealing than a traditionally more sour beer such as Berliner Weisse,” brewer Ben Morris tells me. ” I chose apricot to get a bit more of a complicated aroma and flavour. I always found apricots had a pleasant level of tartness with enough acidity in the background to make them enjoyable even in oppressive heat. Blending that tartness with sea salt and coriander fills out the flavour and taste and seemed like the perfect combination,” he adds. 

Our Gose would be slightly more sour than a traditional German Gose, but it sits middle of the road compared to others. “I tend to keep a bit more body in our version to help push the beer more towards tart than straight sour, and use a strain of lactic acid that is known to produce some light berry flavours to fill out the flavour a bit,” says Ben.

Goses tend to be soured in the kettle using lactic acid bacteria. We usually need about 18 hours to sour a batch before boiling and fermenting as usual. Near the end of fermentation, we add apricots and let the yeast work on the fruit sugars before adding some sea salt.

The Wizard of Gose is best enjoyed cold, fresh, and on the patio. Ben finishes up our chat with: “I think nothing will help more on a hot summer day than a cold pint of apricot-ade.”

The Wizard of Gose is now available on tap and in our bottle shop.