When the Light Gose Out (Stillwater Artisnal Brewers & Siren Craft Ales)
Style: Brett Black Gose w/Hibiscus
From: Finchampstead, England
Brewery’s Note: “In collaboration with Stillwater Artisinal Ales, we wanted to approach a classic german brew sour beer with salt and add our own artistic flair. This beer is a black beer with no roasty notes extra sourness and fruity notes from hibiscus and pulled together with a Brett fermentation.”
The beer pours like medium roast coffee. It’s a deep, dark, chocolate brown that forms a full, mocha frappe head of pearly, tight packed bubbles. The head sits about a half a fingers-width above the glass, and is constantly restored by a torrent that tingles the underside of the head. When splashed against the glass, the beer leaves tight knit sheets that quickly walk back down to the normal levels. The beer is completely opaque in body, letting no light through and reminding me of when the light goes out… On the nose, the beer smells of gose. Lemon citrus mixes with light coriander and earthy salinity. Below the other scents, there is richness akin to cake batter and perhaps just a touch of roast coffee. On the tongue, the beer tastes mildly tart, but not full on acidic. This melds with mild sweetness moving from fruity into a rich malt that slowly descends into slight bitter roast, and gentle dark malt character, which weirdly works with the beer. There is a bit of citrus at the start, which moves into earthy salinity and herbal coriander before slowly melding into a finish and aftertaste of smooth, chocolatey malts that linger pleasantly over the palate. It starts with a flavor akin to Lost Nation Gose (or most other goses, but that seems closest) moving along with slight coriander, chalky lemon citrus, and saline, but then draws in subtle coffee, brownie batter, slight bakers chocolate, and touches of milk chocolate. It’s important to note that the true chocolatey flavors really only wholly appear in the aftertaste, but they linger fully, oddly, and richly, making your mouth feel like you just sipped a rich stout. This is a full on dichotomy of beer in some sense. It’s light, tart, citrus and herb forward like a classic gose, and then takes a subtle turn that leaves it like a really nice, chocolatey stout. This is like drinking the start of a gose and a finish of a stout. It’s bizarre, and those things don’t sound like they would go together, but it works… It’s really nice to sip. Interestingly, however, without being told this was a brett, I don’t think I ever would have picked that out. When I think about it, I do sense that sort-of citrus mushroom character that one often finds with bretts, but I’m not sure I would have picked that out on my own. In the mouth, the beer feels decidedly medium bodied, despite its light nature. It still hits the palate light and spritzy – like a gose should – carrying a middling carbonation that nicely spats the tongue. The beer feels chewy, yet light, with gentle stickiness beside a slight crisp snap from the acidity and carb… the dichotomy continues in the mouthfeel. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left wet with acid-canceling spittle welling on the tongue, yet there is the linger of roast and gentle dryness to the roof of the mouth. There is also a slightly thick phlegminess in the tongues center that reminds me more of stout drinking than gose. Overall, this is a true split. It’s a bizarre little drink that shouldn’t work, and ends up being quite fun to drink and really interesting. I will say that as I drink more it grows a little heavier on the palate, so I don’t know if I could really session this like the ABV seems to suggest, but as a study into beer style and fusion, this beer kicks ass. If you really want to think about what you’re drinking, give this a try! It will not disappoint.