As a proprietor of consistently unpopular opinions (just ask my seven-year-old daughter), I’ll offer another: I’m barrelled out.
The space left by the fade of our hoplust created a void for barrel-aged beers to fill. Frankly, I’ve tired of it. Breweries are barrel-aging IPAs and fruity Lagers, and using Aquavit and Portuguese brandy vessels. We wake up on Black Friday, when lunatics shoot one another for $49 off-brand televisions, so we can buy Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout, a beer that divides beer drinkers as much as it unites us.
For me, we jumped the shark when Michelob introduced a Winter Warmer aged in bourbon barrels.
Call me unsophisticated or basic, but I prefer my flavoring to happen within the mashtun and fermenting tanks. And while Anderson Valley Brewing Co. does barrel age, some of its best beers are from its gose series. It’s core gose, The Kimmie, The Yink and The Holy Gose, is the best Gose you can buy not named Westbrook, though the Blood Orange version is high on my list. Personally, I don’t care for the Briney Melon Gose, but it is what it is.
It’s the G&T Gose that has intrigued me from afar since its limited release in 2016. The dawn of this year brought it’s widespread distribution.
Instead of aging this beer on gin barrels, Anderson Valley’s brewers incorporate botanicals most that mimic gin’s flavors: juniper, lemon peel, and lemongrass. Grains of paradise provide the malt bill here
You will find hints of lemon and lime throughout with the juniper and telltale gin flavors at the end.”
I’m a newly-minted gin fan. Prior to last summer, I had rejected gin as rotgut that had turned so many promising evenings of my college years and twenties into involuntary sessions of kneeling before a toilet. Come to think of it vodka had that effect on me too.
Digressing. I was at my neighbor’s house one evening and he was out of beer. Far too lazy to make the 100-foot walk home, I faced the choice between nothing, and a Hendrick’s with tonic with lime. Maybe my tastes have changed. Maybe I no longer binge drink hard liquor. Maybe it was that my neighbor’s gin didn’t cost $9.99 and come in a plastic handle. Whatever it was, my reintroduction to gin was successful and led to a journey of juniperian discovery.
Anderson Valley’s G&T Gose does not quite taste like its namesake, but it’s close. It smells full of lemon with a bright gold hue and a constant stream of bubbles from the base of the glass. The initial taste is all gose. Salty, sour notes cross the tongue and make a vigorous first impression. Take a second sip to investigate the flavor profile further, and you will find hints of lemon and lime throughout with the juniper and telltale gin flavors at the end. The gin flavors are immature and could stand to smooth out further to harmonize, but the addition of salt covers most of that up. The finish is dry and crisp, and the body and feel are light to moderate.
Sure, it’s a little gimmicky to dump a bunch of juniper, lemongrass, and grains into a beer recipe and attach the gin name to it. But it’s experimental and doesn’t require months of aging in barrels to make. And, in the end, that’s okay.