Homebrewing a Raw, Hibiscus Gose
This month we wanted to give you a beer style that was multifaceted, complex, and fun to brew. For this reason, we called on one of our favorite brewers and Brew Ninjas, Morgan McGaha (@monasty666). Morgan has been brewing the Gose style for about as long as we’ve known him, never afraid to meld different ingredients or try non-modern process to create complex, easy to drink sour and tart style beers. Lightning Hammer Hibiscus Gose is one of many amazing beers he’s brought in to share on work days, combining just the right amount of lactic acid with tropical, hibiscus flavors and aromas of a multitude of fruits, wild yeast and bacteria. He’s never afraid to play with spontaneous fermentations, farmhouse ales, or use ancient brewing traditions to recreate classic berliner weisse, gose or really classic wheat beers.
Below he will take you through his process of creating and brewing this killer recipe, from brewing water and pH to each individual ingredient, with recommendations for both newer brewers and advanced brewers, so no matter how long you’ve been brewing, or how you brew, you can make this killer beer! Without further ado….
By Morgan McGaha
Lightning Hammer Hibiscus Raw Gose
Summer is in full swing, and what better way to enjoy it than with a tart, citrusy, fruity gose! This months recipe is a modern spin on a classic (and very old) style. So before we jump into the gritty details, let’s check out the history of gose, and touch upon some of the other ingredients present in this month’s beer kit.
Gose: An Ancient Style
The beer we know today as gose has very deep roots, going back some 1000 years. The style originates from the town of Goslar, Germany, with the name being taken from the river that runs through it. It is a tart, slightly salty, citrusy, refreshing beer. One of the biggest characteristics of gose is the salt. The history of how and why salt was added is rather hard to pinpoint, though there are two main theories. The salt in the water surrounding Goslar is commonly believed to be the main culprit due to its high salt content, though it is believed that some brewers added salt to beer due to the belief that it aided in fermentation. Gose is traditionally brewed with wheat malt and barley, kind of similar to a german Hefeweizen, but without the hefe yeast. Coriander is also another hallmark of this style, which is a carry-over from the days of using gruit (an herb/spice mixture). While coriander wasn’t the only herb or spice to be used in gose in its long history, it was the most popular due to its belief in its ability to soothe the stomach.
Kveik and Raw Ale: From Farmhouse to 21st Century Brewhouse
Imagine trying to brew a beer without all of our modern, high-tech gear that we take for granted. No fancy stainless steel brew kettles, no kick ass temperature control units, no yeast labs to provide us with pure pitches of our favorite yeast; nothing but the most rudimentary equipment. Think wooden vessels, home grown and home malted grain, locally foraged herbs and spices, and yeast that have been passed down either through family or friends since time immemorial. This was the way brewing was done in the Scandinavian countries (and countless other areas) for centuries. It was brewing in its most raw, basic form.
These scandinavian brewers were farmers by trade, and used what ingredients they had on hand. Their brewing process was very similar to our modern approach consisting of a mash, lauter, but no boil. Boiling wort was resource intensive, and wasn’t regularly done (some also believed it was bad for the beer). Since metal kettles were extremely expensive for a poor farmer (remember we are talking about pre-industrial revolution times) most of them didn’t have boil kettles, and didn’t boil their wort.
Kveik is a western Norwegian word for yeast, and unlike our modern, single strain brewing yeasts, are a mixture of various different yeasts. Together these different strains created unique cultures that the brewers would pass down from generation to generation. Through geographic isolation, these cultures became genetically distinct from their mainland cousins.
The origins of kveik are murky at best, shrouded in the sands of time. Through genetic analyses we know that kveik separated from the continental European beer yeast group and possibly bred with a wild saccharomyces strain. Centuries ago, someone must have brought it over to northern Europe, where it adapted to its brewing conditions and became its own unique set of yeast. These yeast adapted to being pitched in far hotter wort, generally around 90°-100° F! In addition to this they were usually pitched in their dried form, and massively under-pitched. Due to the high pitching temperature, kveik ferments beer quicker than normal brewing yeast. It was normal to brew a beer, then drink it 48-72 hours later.
Raw ale has been around for as long as beer has been brewed. While it is hard to define, a raw ale is simply a beer that isn’t boiled, or boiled for a really brief period. When the beer isnt boiled, a hotbreak doesnt occur, which leaves more proteins in the wort. This in turn gave beer more nutritional value, and why it was drunk over water for so long. Raw ales also tend to have a grainy, doughy flavor associated with them. They tend to be relatively hazy beers, though just like anything, they will slowly clear out if stored cold for a long period of time. With that in mind, raw ales are intended to be drunk fresh, not stored away to age.
The Recipe: Why and How
You may be reading through the recipe and thinking to yourself, “What the ?@$% is a kveik? Raw Ale? Hibiscus? What a mess!”, but I can guarantee that these ingredients meld together to make a beautifully fruity, sour, refreshing beer. Not boiling the beer will give it a fluffier mouthfeel, which helps to soften the acidity of the beer, especially since it will end up on the drier side, around 1.006-1.008. Lactobacillus generally like warm temperatures around 90f+, which is the perfect temperature for kveik. At this temperature the lacto plantarum will sour in 2-3 days, which is almost how long the kveik will ferment. The fruity esters from the kveik compliment the citrusy hops, citrus peels, and tartness from the acidity. It all comes together for a delicious, crushable, refreshing summer beer.
Water Profile and Packaging
For this recipe, I like to do a higher chloride to sulfate ratio, around 2:1 or 3:1. The higher chloride helps bring a nice pillowy mouthfeel to the beer, even though it will end up fairly dry. I shoot for 150:75 or 150:50 chloride to sulfate. Those of you who are brewing NEIPA’s won’t be a stranger to this kind of water profile, as its super common in that style. If you don’t want to deal with treating your water you can use tap water, as long as it isn’t super hard. Of course, we can’t forget about the salt. I like to add the salt at packaging, but you can add it to the boil if you don’t want to wait (or forget as I have done a few times). If you add it at packaging, you will either have to mix it in with your priming sugar, or boil up a small amount of water to dissolve it in, then add it to the beer. DON’T ADD SALT TO ALREADY CARBONATED BEER! You will not have a good time. This beer benefits from a higher level of carbonation, around 3 vol. will do.
You may be wondering if you need to buy separate equipment because this is a sour beer. This short answer is no, and the long answer is it depends. If you have a good sanitation regime you should be fine. A good rule of thumb is to do an 18 min caustic cycle (use something like PBW) with 160° F+ water, then an 18 min sanitation cycle (starsan, iodophor). If you are super paranoid, just replace all your rubber/porous equipment. Just remember heat, contact time, and concentration are key to having a good sanitation SOP.
Now, on to the brew day.
-Begin by collecting 2.8 gallons of water to mash in with. Preheat your mash tun if you need to.
-Mash in at 150° F and don’t forget to add the rice hulls!!! I like to add half the rice hulls before I add the total amount of grain, then add the rest after all the grain has been dumped in. Sometimes the rice hulls like to float up near the top, so make sure to stir them into the mash very well.
-Mash for 60 mins. For advanced brewers, shoot for a mash ph of 5.2-5.4 using your acid of choice.
-45 minutes into the mash, begin your mash recirculation to set the grain bed.
-Sparge with 4 gallons of 168f water
-Gather 5.5 gallons of wort in your kettle
Boil (or Lack Thereof)
-Next, slowly bring the wort up to 180° F. Keep your thermometer handy.
-Once it reaches 180° F, set it at this temperature for 15 mins. If you use a pump, now is the time to recirculate your wort to hot-kill (heat pasteurize) your pump and hoses.
-After pasteurizing for 15 mins, add in the hibiscus, coriander, lemon, lime, and orange peels. Let these steep for about 15 mins at 180° F. You can add in the salt at this time too, if you so choose.
-Cool down the wort to 90° F if using kveik (click HERE for more info on using kveik yeast). If not, cool down to the appropriate pitching temp of the yeast you are using.
-For advanced brewers, make sure the wort is under 4.5ph. The citrus peels and hibiscus should do the job and lower it below 4.5ph, but check and adjust just in case.
-Transfer to your fermenter of choice (don’t forget to leave some headroom, the kveik can make a big krausen)
Fermentation and Packaging
-Pitch 2 cups of goodbelly probiotic (or your chosen lacto strain) and the kveik into 90° F wort. Make sure to not pitch these over 100 ° F, as the lacto will be less effective. Keep the beer between 90° - 100° F. You can wrap a towel around the beer, or use a heating pad. I like to use ipower seed starter heat mats. These come with a temperature probe and a temperature controller which you can set to the appropriate temperature. They aren’t cheap, but they sure are worth every penny.
-For advanced brewers, add the dry hops when the wort ph has reached your desired level of ph. The lacto plantarum in the goodbelly usually stops around 3.3ish ph. If you like it less sour, add the hops sooner.
-Once the beer hits terminal gravity, keg or bottle the beer. Don’t forget to add the 0.4 oz of salt at packaging if you didn’t add it in already! If you are adding priming sugar, toss the salt in while you make it. Aim for 3-3.2 vol.
-Don’t reuse the yeast cake, as the yeast won’t be healthy due to the acidity.
Now, go brew up this tasty, tart little beverage! Brew On!
Thank you all for reading! Don't be shy to leave any questions or commentary in the comments below!! Having had this beer a few times, we can't recommend it enough! If you are just breaking into brewing sour styles, or want to expand your horizons with a brew that's a little more technical, but not so much so that's it's unattainable, then this is perfect! Courtesy of Morgan, we now have both an All-Grain and an Extract Beer Kit for this recipe, so go nuts!
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Garshol, Lars M. “Where Kveik Comes From.” Where Kveik Comes From, 12 Sept. 2018, www.garshol.priv.no/blog/391.html.Allen, Fal. GOSE BREWING A CLASSIC GERMAN BEER. Brewers Publications, 2018.