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One Hour Kettle Sour – Gose

One Hour Kettle Sour

Gose  –  Recipe

Intimidating to novice and veteran homebrewer’s alike – sour beers don’t necessarily have to be daunting, or even require separate equipment. Two outstanding exploratory sour beer styles are Berliner Weisse and Gose, which were developed many ages ago in Germany.  Both are extremely drinkable sour ales, ranging from approximately 3%-5% ABV. Let’s focus for now on the slightly-salty and thirst-quenching Gose (pronounced Go-zeh).  The overall impression from the 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines for Gose: “A highly-carbonated, tart and fruity wheat ale with a restrained coriander and salt character and low bitterness. Very refreshing, with bright flavors and high attenuation.”  For this homebrew kettle sour recipe, let’s keep it simple and quick – like a couple 10-minute boils with 100% dry malt extract (DME) kind-of-quick.

Why extract-only?  You can undoubtedly make an equally great tasting all-grain version of this Gose recipe, but I’ve found that the benefits are not discernable enough to justify the additional hours of effort.  The straightforward approach of this extract-only method allows you to focus your time and energy on the truly essential steps of brewing a kettle-sour.  Still unconvinced?  That’s understandable – but first consider the results below.

“Boom Gose the Dynamite”

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The above Gose recipe has placed 1st multiple times in local homebrew competitions, but like any good story of triumph there must be an equal element of failure—at least in my case.  When I attempted my first kettle-soured Gose late last year, I added approximately 5 IBU’s of hops to the fairly simple all-grain recipe – and after 1 week, with a large film of black mold atop the wort, and no perceivable sourness I needed a plan B.  With help from Milk the Funk online community and the folks at FH Steinbart’s, I decided to give it a second attempt, despite my frustrations of moldy disappointment.

The moldy disappointment – this would be the catalyst for my second triumphant attempt.

So, what did I learn?  1) Lactobacillus from the grocery store GoodBelly brand probiotics (the bacteria responsible for the kettle-souring in this recipe) doesn’t tolerate hops – as in not at all – zero IBU’s.  2) You can make an award-winning Gose with 100% DME as your base.  The following recipe process walkthrough will help ensure success on your first attempt of this exceptional beer style. The overall plan for this kettle-soured recipe will take place over a two-day timeframe (all inside of your brew kettle), so if you’re planning to brew this beer please forecast accordingly on your calendar!  Think of it like two mini brew session’s – each one only taking around 30 minutes to complete, and well worth the minimal time investment.

Keep it simple on your first kettle-sour with two main ingredients.

Process – Day 1

To begin, measure out all of your ingredients upfront before the start of the boil.  This kettle-sour recipe follows a straightforward process, but it’s also very rapid, so preparation is key to a smooth brewday.  Crack open the coriander seeds by placing them in a plastic sandwich bag and crush the seeds with a rolling pin.  Weigh out the coriander along with your salt & DME.

Measure out Coriander & Salt flameout additions.

Fill up your kettle with approximately 5.25 gallons of tap water, and begin heating up the water up to about 180 F before adding the DME to the kettle.  Turn off the heat source, add the entire 4.5 pounds of dry malt extract, and stir in well to ensure no clumps of malt extract remain.  After this, turn the heat back on in preparation for the initial 10-minute boil.

Turn off the kettle flame before adding the DME and mix thoroughly.

If using an immersion chiller, go ahead and add it to your kettle after mixing in your DME.  This is also a good time to take a gravity reading of the pre-boil wort. Keep in mind that this gravity (unlike a typical 60-minute boil) is not going to increase very substantially due to the extremely short boil duration.  It should read around 9 brix on a refractometer (as pictured above), or 1.036 with a hydrometer.  Once the boil begins, start a timer for 10 minutes.  Get ready, you’re almost halfway done!  After the abbreviated boil, turn off the heat source and add the 0-minute additions of Coriander, Salt, and Lactic Acid.

For those concerned that such a short overall boil will have negative effects/off flavors in the finished product—I’ve also made a similar kettle-soured Berliner Weisse (all-grain recipe) that I followed the same process and only boiled for 10-minutes during each stage, and it placed Honorable Mention Best-of-Show in competition.  Again, I know this still makes some folks uneasy, but the proof is in the results.

Wort-chiller in at beginning and bring to boil, hold for 10 minutes before chilling to kettle souring temperature.

The Lactic Acid addition at flameout helps pre-acidify the wort to around 4.5 pH, which will aid in preventing spoilage from other unwanted bacteria, and is said to improve head retention in the finished beer.  The remainder of our Lactic Acid sourness will come from the use of Lactobacillus Bacteria.  Chill the wort to 90-95 F and bring inside for the next steps.

1 tbsp. of Lactic Acid is added post-boil for pre-acidification of the wort.

Next, you’ll need to sanitize and add the contents of two GoodBelly PlusShot packages to your Gose wort.  These can typically be purchased in grocery stores like Whole Foods, New Seasons, or Natural Grocers, etc.  Lactobacillus Plantarum 299V (L. Plantarum) is the Lactic Acid Bacteria responsible for the souring ability of the GoodBelly products. Unlike most other commercially available Lactobacillus cultures, L. Plantarum creates lactic acid incredibly fast, thrives at room temperature, and doesn’t require any sort of starter before pitching directly into your wort.  Unlike brewer’s yeast, this acid producing bacteria won’t convert sugar into alcohol.  The Mango Plus shots come in 4-packs and cost roughly $4, so you’re going to have two extra remaining for another quick sour beer, or merely consumed for digestion health – a win win situation.

GoodBelly shots are very happy to help you make a great first Gose

After adding the probiotics to the warm wort, cover the top of the kettle with cellophane wrap and place the lid on.  There’s really no need to do anything else for now – it may feel somewhat strange to do so little up to this point, and that’s perfectly fine.  Don’t put away all of your brewing equipment just yet, you’re going to complete another mini-brew session the following day.

Cover the kettle with cellophane wrap and place the lid on during the souring process.

Find and old blanket and cover the kettle to retain the majority of the heat.  No need to maintain a perfectly constant 90 F with the L. Plantarum bacteria.  It will certainly sour the wort a bit quicker the closer it is to 90 F, but it also works extremely well at room temperature conditions.  Your wort should typically drop to a range of 3.3 – 3.5 pH (a great level for this style) within 24 to 36 hours. 

Wrap up the kettle in a blanket (aiming for 70-90F) and leave inside for 24 to 36 hours before boiling a second time.

Process – Day 2

If you have a pH meter I’d recommend taking a sample around the 24-hour mark.  Otherwise, simply sample a small amount of the soured wort with a sanitized cup (assuming there is no visible mold or other strange looking films or vile odors—it should however smell tart).  If it’s to your liking, move on to the next step.  Otherwise, let it sour another 8-12 hours repeating this same tasting & sampling process every 4 hours (note – the pH drops fairly rapidly after 24 hours, but should stabilize at around 3.2 if you accidentally forget about it).

pH reading at 24 hours in – aiming for a pH of 3.3 to 3.5, but a meter isn’t necessary to brew a great Gose.

After achieving your desired level of acidity, you’re now ready to boil the wort for the second time.  This secondary boil serves to kill-off any bacteria (including the probiotics) before you pitch your brewer’s yeast.  Proceed at this point like you would for your standard extract or all-grain brewing process.  If you feel obligated to add any hops to your recipe, this would be a suitable time do so (but not necessary for this recipe & style).  After the secondary 10-minute boil, chill the wort to 68 F and pitch the Imperial A20 – Citrus yeast into your sanitized fermenter.

Don’t be alarmed – Lactobacillus doesn’t enjoy being boiled and will make a cool-whip like foamy hot break!

Fermentation & Packaging

After 7-10 days of primary fermentation around 68-70 F, your Gose should be stable at a final gravity of approximately 1.006 to 1.010. Rack the beer into a sanitized keg or bottling bucket and aim for a carbonation level a bit higher level than most ales – around 3.0 levels of CO2.  The higher carbonation will enhance the effervescent and refreshing quality of your finished Gose.

After the second boil wort is chilled – proceed like any other batch of homebrew.

The finished beer will likely remain cloudy for a few weeks, which is completely acceptable for the style.  For those still nervous about cross-contamination, rest assured, your brewing gear is just fine and not infected with Lactobacillus.  Clean and sanitize your brewing equipment as you would following any other batch, nothing out of the ordinary.

You’ve made it – now enjoy your Gose, and go mow the lawn (taster glass optional)!

Cheers!  You just gave up about one-hour of your precious time, but you gained an incredibly delicious session sour beer that my Mother-in-Law affectionately calls “Margarita Beer”.  This recipe has quickly become a summer staple at my house, and a very refreshing lawnmower beer.  Your non-beer friends will most likely enjoy this salty & sour brew as well, even if they typically don’t care for ‘craft’ beer.  Congratulations—you’ve successfully made an outstanding homebrewed sour beer (possibly your first) in about one hour.  Not very intimidating anymore, right?