Let me start by describing to you the beauty that is Gose beer. Imagine a bright and effervescent, top fermenting German sour beer made with pilsner and wheat malt. It is fermented with the addition of lactic acid bacteria called lactobacillus. Upon first pour it produces a flourishing fluff, and for a fleeting moment high hopes for robust and lasting head retention. Without warning it dips down, lightly pulling away from the rim of the glass. It settles in for that first sip. It’s the colour of straw with a light hazy malt body. As you take a whiff beautiful floral tones of coriander and lemon begin to unfurl on the nose. It is dry and subtly tart with fruity and herbaceous flavours of fresh green coriander and lemon, finishing with just a hint of lingering salt. It is truly refreshing and clean, complete with scrubbing bubbles to cleanse the palate with low bitterness and sessionable stylings clocking in at 4.5% ABV. I am transported back to Germany, the sun, that day in the beer garden with the soft breeze and the dancing leaves of the trees.

And then it’s gone, never to be seen again. This unique and invaluable beer style was largely perfected in Leipzig, Germany and died a slow painful death sitting dormant for over twenty years. Can you imagine being so talented and hiding your light under a bushel for that long? Despite its ebbs and flows in popularity, today, thanks to the fine folks of Bayerischer Bahnhof, Gose beer is alive and well and brewing on the daily.

Prostly spent a blissful day drinking Gose and touring the Bayerischer Bahnhof Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei with Master Brewer Matthias Richter. Let’s set the scene with a bit of background on this historical brewery. It starts at the train station. All aboard!

The History of the Bayerischer Bahnhof

The Bayerischer Banhof Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei is a brewery set in a historic and revitalized train station in downtown Leipzig. The first section of the train track was built to bridge the gap between the city of Leipzig and Bavaria. After seven years of negotiations and over a year of construction, the station was completed in 1842, designed by famed architect Christian August Eduard Pötzsch. It was a first for its time and became the template for many train stations to follow. Funded by the financial support and private capital stock by people hoping to make bank off the train game, investors dubbed it ‘temple of exuberance.”

By 1844 the station was up and running amidst mounting criticism of its cost. Throughout, Potzsch fought to maintain his architectural vision for the station and was uncompromising in his design. As costs began to mount and complications began to arise, it eventually led to bankruptcy for the private investors in 1847. Thankfully, the state of Saxony stepped in to provide assistance.

By 1875 the station was a mecca for travel and saw a million passengers a year from nobility to working folk pass through, taking advantage of the new connection to the South. The golden years of travel ensued, but by 1912 Leipzig’s main train station was opened at the other end of the city, and became the main departure point for long distance travellers.

Fast forward now to 1944 and the station finds itself in the pathway of the destruction of World War II. As bombs from Allied troops pepper the sky, the station was struck and badly damaged by the barrage of air strikes. The passenger area, main hall, and administration building bore the brunt of the force and were damaged irreparably, yet daily business remained afloat. After the war the station fell into decay, and with dwindling financial resources, what remained became headed toward demolition, yet the plans to tear-down ultimately fell by the wayside.

In 1990 after the German reunification a historical restoration initiative was created to support the rebuild. In May of 1999 Deutsche Bahn and brewery owner Thomas Schneider partnered to rebuild and restore the station to become the new home of the Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof. The surrounding community in Leipzig watched from the sidelines, entrenched with interest as each new piece was carefully restored with great attention to detail. The project was monitored throughout its construction by a historical preservation committee focused on maintaining the station’s historical integrity and relevance throughout the restoration process. In July 2000 the brewery welcomed its first guests in a ceremonial celebration of the official opening. Today the Bayerischer Bahnhof is home to the brewery, restaurant, beer garden, and events space.

Exploring Bayerischer Bahnhof Brewery with Master Brewer Matthias Richter

Let’s get back to beer. Back to that sunny day in the beer garden.

Sitting across from Master Brewer Matthias Richter on a wooden picnic bench sipping on Gose, of course, we meet this very humble and talented man largely responsible for producing great beer that sustains the community of Leipzig and the ever growing beer markets beyond.

The number one question I always love to ask brewers and beer enthusiasts is “what is your gateway beer?”. This question is open to interpretation. The storytelling that ensues often ranges from first beer experiences and tales of that first sip of a warm ‘Bud’ at the beach, all the way to the cork pop of a ‘Cantillon’ bottle where you can’t help but be forever changed by the discovery of flavours and transformative experiences that beer has to offer. In this case, Matthias had his first sip of Gose at the very brewery he now operates. During his training, he learned from senior brewmasters and took hold of mentorship opportunities.

In talking with Matthias, it’s clear his interests stretch beyond the Gose style. He currently brews a nice variety of seasonal beers from Maibock to smoked beers, Porters, and experimental brews, as well as a range of styles for export exclusively to the U.S. market. Their beer is also a player in the burgeoning beer markets in Northern Italy, Finland, Denmark and Norway and even as far reaching as Brazil and Japan. Not to worry though, the community of Leipzig and visitors are well cared for as the brewery sees a yearly production of 2,500 hectolitres this past year alone, 90% of which is consumed on the premises by locals and visitors to the brewery.

At the end of our time spent with Matthias we were lucky enough to make off with a bottle of the ‘Goseator’ – a Double-Bock ale brewed with spice and matured in tequila oak barrels coming in at 10.5% ABV. This is a special version of the their Bock style, which is produced for the 140 year old Bock Festival held every year at the brewery. We are told if you should visit around this time of year expect a hoopla of dancing and music with the occasional musician falling asleep at the horn – a reminder that it’s good to pace yourself with these high ABV’s. We have high hopes to sit on this bottle for a bit and pop it with someone special as a part of our Half Pints series, so stay posted.

Watch as Master Brewer Matthias Richter takes us through Leipzig’s beloved Gose brewery. In the first clip we are introduced to the modern steam operated copper kettle brew system set in the historic brewhouse – it is one of the oldest in the world at over 300 years. Matthias tells us a little bit about the brewing process and the ingredients they use as well as some unconventional approaches and experimental attempts to produce new and interesting beer styles:

Here he introduces us to their lactic acid fermentor:

Now we find ourselves amongst the fermentors talking about temperatures, capacity, growth and beer output:

Understanding the importance and history of the Gose bottle:

We leave Leipzig filled with the wanderlust to return one day, and know that our experience at The Bayerischer Bahnhof Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei brewery is one we will never forget. Before we leave, Matthias teaches us the only way to cheers properly over a glass of Gose: GOSEANNA!

xo Ayns

Videos by Aynsley Leonard
Photos by Lauren Barth

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