California’s largest craft brewery is set to launch a new year-round brand called Otra Vez. But instead of focusing on the pungent hop aromas that Sierra Nevada Brewing is best known for, the beer will be flavored with prickly pears and grapefruit. The light and tart brew, a nod to the traditional German gose style, has been in development for more than four years and will be released nationwide this month.
The gose style (pronounced “gose-uh”) is a wheat beer that balances a sour twang from lactic acid-producing bacteria, a distinct salinity and a subtle floral spice from added coriander. Sierra Nevada’s interpretation took more than 100 iterations before deciding on the final formula, and it took a “beautiful accident” for the brewers to get it just right.
“Gose was an almost forgotten style from Eastern Germany,” Sierra Nevada’s billionaire founder Ken Grossman told a group assembled for a launch event at the Surly Goat in West Hollywood. “It’s been revamped by American brewers, and it’s a very unique style because it’s made with a souring process using a natural bacteria like what you’d find in yogurt. This provides a natural acidity; a really nice tartness that helps balance. It has a really clean and dry finish with a bit of salt.”
“Otra Vez means 'another time,'” said Brian Grossman, Ken Grossman’s son and general manager of Sierra Nevada’s North Carolina brewery. “This is a throwback to the California roots that we have. All the additional ingredients are California sourced — the prickly pear cactus, the grapefruit, it even uses California coriander. Otra Vez isn’t about the hops — it’s about the palate of American craft beer drinkers changing.”
And the marketplace is thirsty for gose-style beers. While IPA remains the most popular, and the fastest growing, style of craft beer, gose is one of the trendiest styles in the beer world. Light in body, low in alcohol, and most importantly, tart, gose has captured the tastebuds of craft beer drinkers looking for both “sessionable” and “sour” brews. Ken Grossman credits Anderson Valley Brewing Co. in Mendocino County for popularizing the style with its canned The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose brand (and its blood orange variant). Adding citrus to craft beer is another growing trend in the industry, with Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin the most visible example, and the grapefruit component of Otra Vez is a defining flavor of the new brew.
Fruity and tart, Otra Vez is quaffable in quantity. The prickly pear adds a distinctive melon-like aroma, and the clean lemony tartness is well matched with a salt addition that’s more subdued than many goses on the market. The ale has less than 5% alcohol, so as Brian Grossman puts it: “You can have two or three beers and not be blottoed.”