Sierra Nevada Beer Camp gose beer made by Reno homebrewer will go on tap at the Sierra Tap House Friday
Coriander, lemon peels, apricots and salt characterize the gose (GO-suh, not to be confused with Gozer but usually pronounced goes) style wheat beer made by local homebrewer Tyler Brower and 11 other campers at the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp in January. This Friday, Tyler will drink Steady as She Gose, along with other attendees, for the first time at the Sierra Tap House release event at 6 p.m.
“There are several ways you can brew a gose because it has lactic acid in it,” explained Tyler, a sales manager for EBARA Cryodynamics and avid homebrewer.
Technically it’s a sour beer but Sierra Nevada’s brewers are very paranoid about infection in their brewery so they used acidulated malt to change the PH level instead of adding any sour yeast strains. They also will not barrel age any of the beer camp beers because of how long it takes.
Last year Tyler won judge’s choice at the Sierra Tap House Homebrew Contest and they sent him to the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. Beer Camp is a hands-on beer education where participants get VIP access to the brewery in Chico. The campers receive a tour, training with brewers and work with brewers to develop a name, concept and recipe for a new beer, which is produced and distributed to a limited number of bars. Michael Connolly, owner of Sierra Tap House, will not run the homebrew contest this year.
“I had a ton of help with my brewing from the (Sons of Fermentation) group and couldn’t have won the competition without them,” Tyler said.
For three days, Tyler and fellow campers explored the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company campus, yeast labs and tried experimental hops not available to small-scale breweries or homebrewers. They visited an unmarked, off-site barrel-aging warehouse and sampled various secret beers then visited the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, Calif. that makes Ovila Abbey Ales. While at the brewery they also watched chemists analyze samples from Sierra Nevada’s new facility in North Carolina and make recommendations to dial in perfect consistency. And of course, they made beer, mashed in as professionals and saw the finished product all the way through every step.
“It was pretty amazing!” Tyler said. “Just being there around the brewery itself was pretty awesome. I have family in Chico and have been there multiple times and taken the tour. But this is very much behind the scenes.”
The beer camp recipe formulation started and mostly finished via email before the campers arrived. They all choose the gose style because it’s simple but kind of unusual. The campers wanted to add fruit to it, so Tyler suggested apricots.
“Every time I visit my grandparents they have tons of apricots and they are all over Chico,” he said.
They all even discussed the specific salt to add and briefly considered Pink Himalayan salt blocks until a Sierra Nevada chef said the boil would make it smell like sulfur. Instead, they used regular non-iodized salt.
“We didn’t want our beer to taste like egg farts,” Tyler said.
Sierra Nevada brewers prepared all the ingredients before the campers arrived but they could only find half the needed volume of apricots. They did have lemon peels left over from a previous beer, however. After trying the brew with lemon peel and finding it was too lemony, the campers recommended splitting the lemon addition in half and filled the rest with apricots.
“We kicked that around for a while and finally said screw it, whatever, we’ll do it,” Tyler said.
After his experience at beer camp, Tyler said he applied for an engineering job opening at Sierra Nevada but never heard from them. So instead of taking up work at a professional brewery, he adjusted some of his homebrew techniques to incorporate the professional methods he learned.
“I was the only homebrewer,” he said. “The rest were pro brewers who have Sierra Nevada accounts who get invited. So to not be in the industry and have an opportunity to go to beer camp was a pretty cool thing.”
Steady As She Gose release
Where: Sierra Tap House
When: Friday, June 13 at 6 p.m.
Who to look for: Tyler Brower
Other names for the beer that didn’t make it: Gose In Your Mouth, Chi-gose
Online: Untappd Reviews
Fun fact: Gose is not currently recognized by the BJCP Style Guidelines and is expected to be part of major additions coming in 2014.