Think pink. The Boulevard Brewing Company’s Hibiscus Gose, a sour brew with a distinctly pinkish hue, will start appearing on shelves
“I wanted to make a pink beer because it’s not very common,” brewer Alex Rodriguez says. “And I wanted to make a sour beer, which is an acquired taste. But once you acquire it, it’s really desirable.”
The Hibiscus Gose (ABV 4.2 %), which will be sold in six-packs, is the second release under Boulevard’s Backroads Beers — the first was Entwined Ale made with Muscat grape juice and Nelson hops. The Gose (pronounced “gose-uh”) came into life as one of the brewery’s Christmas beers in 2012 — an annual tradition where the brewers make experimental beers as a way to celebrate the holiday season with fellow employees.
“Gose is an old German wheat beer which is sour. The water in the region where it came from was salty and that’s the salty nature of the style,” Rodriguez says. “I grew up with uncles putting salt on the tops of their cans of beer. The salt is what really drew me in.”
The malt beverage starts as wort (sugar water) that is acidified (its pH is lowered through the addition of a lactobacillus strain over the course of a few days).
“Traditionally in the old days they would just let the beer sit out with the windows open and acidify with whatever was in the air. Obviously we can’t do that today,” Rodriguez says.
The soured wort is then boiled with sea salt and coriander being added.
“With beer, you’re dealing with sugars and the bitter components of hops, but you don’t ever have that savory component come into play. It’s a different dimension,” Rodriguez says.
After the wort is boiled, hibiscus flowers in cheesecloth bags that Rodriguez likens to “giant tea bags,” are steeped in the proto-brew.
“The hibiscus does add flavor, almost a mild cherry. It’s almost like a nice tart cranberry juice. It’s visual, but there’s a flavor component,” Rodriguez says.
As for pairings, Rodriguez suggests a mild cheese like a nutty cheddar. And this is a beer you can hold on to a while.
“It fits quite nicely with the change of seasons. The hibiscus will fade, but the acidity of the beer really helps it hold up surprisingly well,” Rodriguez says.