As soon as Mike Sharpham referred to nectarines as hairless peaches, I knew we were in for a fun, light hearted interview about their new beer. You see last year they had some issues with the Nectarine Gose – a labeling issue not a beer issue – so I was curious about what was unique to this year’s approach, including the decision to change up the fruit. Mike was more than happy to lay out the story for me and we chatted all about their new Gose which is available at the tasting room store and select liquor stores for purchase. I’ve included my tasting notes at the very bottom of the article so you can get my impression of the beer as well.
Granville Island’s Gose with Peach is brewed to a strength of 5% alcohol by volume in the original Granville Island Small Batch Brewery. It is a beer that pairs well with warm summer days, a light summer salad with goat cheese, and should be served chilled between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius per the bottle description. Check out this video from their Facebook page to learn even more about it.
Mike and I chatted about the beer, food and beer pairings, hairless peaches, labeling laws all while enjoying a sample of the new 2017 recipe brewed up by Kevin Emms. This has been reviewed in advance by Granville Island for accuracy and here’s what he had to say about it.
Q – So, before we talk about this year’s version of the Gose, can you tell me the story of last year’s release again?
A – Well, last year we brewed a batch of nectarine Gose that you unfortunately didn’t hear very much about from us. You see one of the most common ways to sour beer is to use lactobacillus bacteria to develop lactic acid and many brewers, including us last year, like to add yogurt into the brew kettle to achieve this. Where it became an issue for us is that yogurt of course contains milk, and milk is a priority allergen in Canada which means that it must be specifically disclosed on labels of consumable goods. Therefore, after seeking council from the CFIA we decided to pull it from the shelves and re-label it. We also provided our notes and findings to the wider craft community through the BC Craft Brewers guild, so hopefully other brewers won’t have to go through the same process. Now, the likelihood of someone with that allergy being affected by the beer was extremely small, but this was still an issue that we needed to resolve and it put a damper on the release.
Q – Knowing what happened last year, what’s different this year?
A – Kevin used a dairy free bacteria strain this year to provide the tartness, so we didn’t have to worry about declaring any allergens on the label.
Q – Nectarines last year, peaches this year, what gives?
A – Well, I mean a nectarine is just a hairless peach really… To clarify, I mean they are more or less genetically identical, with the only real difference being their skin texture. So it really came down to the fact that we brewed a bit more this year and earlier than last year, so there wasn’t access to fresh local harvests, and peaches are easier to find in large volumes outside of harvest season.
Q – Given that Gose is a rather unique style of beer, one that often tastes like salty sweat, have you had any unusual reactions to this one?
A – We found that because the style is so unique, people who don’t know what a Gose is always end up asking about it, so that way they at least have an idea what to expect on their first sip. Funny enough, since our Lions Summer Ale is a bit tart compared to say a typical lighter malty summer beer, we’ve had some funny reactions from that one on the initial sip because people weren’t expecting that flavour. However, they seem to dig it once they get used to it. I mean anytime you expect something to taste one way and it’s a bit different, it always throws you off at first right?.
Q – Where would you take this beer to enjoy in BC?
A – Oh, maybe a sunset BBQ or a nice patio lunch in the heat.
Q – What sorts of summer foods would you pair with this year’s Gose or what would you cook with it?
A – You definitely want to pair it with some lighter flavoured foods so it’s not over powered. It would work well with grilled fish, shrimp or scallops (paired or cooked with). It would help cut into the heat of a Thai sweet chili sauce or complement some grilled peaches.
Q – When it comes to beer and food pairings in general, what got you hooked on the concept?
A – I can remember it like it was yesterday! We are talking like 10 years ago, just when I started working in the industry in Victoria. It was at Brassiere L’ecole where they had a great Belgian beer selection and I was craving their French Onion Soup. When I ordered it at the bar, the bartender kindly suggested I pair it with Duchesse De Bourgogne Flanders Red, a pairing I never would have thought of. Seriously, my mind was totally blown once I tried them together. The beer cut right into the fatty cheese in the soup, the dry fruity malts were enhanced by the salty broth and the effervescent tartness cleansed my palate perfectly between spoonfuls so I could enjoy every sip equally. It was so rich and brothy, you must give it a try sometime!
Q – It’s been a little while now since Vern left Granville Island Brewing what would you say has changed ? Have there been any major differences with Kevin at the helm?
A – Well, unrelated to Vern leaving, but a thing that has changed since he left is we changed the label to make Granville Island Brewing more visible for our customers compared to the previous ones. We’re proud of our brewing and we want our label to represent that. Back to the question at hand, you see both Vern and Kevin are well trained classic brewers that are great at making well rounded, enjoyable beers of great quality. Vern left an amazing legacy here and is a talented brewer and Kevin, talented as well, has continued that legacy nicely. He certainly brews his own beers for our tasting room one offs, and he puts his own influence into our seasonal recipes to keep them current and interesting and knows when to keep it traditional and when to be more experimentative.
Q – What’s next in the horizon for the small batch program.
A – We are looking at potentially making more year round small batch beers to accompany the West Coast Pale and we are expanding our cellar series. We have a Japanese Biere de Garde which just launched and a new BC Bitter which is made from all BC ingredients, putting our own local impression on the staunch British style of beer.
Well there you have it, Mike helped provide a little insight in beer labeling, the new release, a new beer and food pairing suggestion and well you probably heard the term hairless peaches more often than you cared too, but sometimes that’s just the way these things a gose!
The Beer Review:
Aroma and Appearance: It pours a slightly cloudy yellow colour with nuances of orange and straw, two fingers of foam, and minimal carbonation. The aroma is sea water, broth, peaches, dried apricots and oats.
Flavour: It is fairly tart up front, with notes of peach yogurt (despite no actual yogurt) to round out the beginning of the beer. Mid palate, it shines with lemon juice and salty dried peaches before transitioning into a peaches and cream porridge finish and aftertaste.
Overall Impression: Not overly acidic, the peaches add a nice flavour to a well balanced Gose.
Rating: As this was provided to me as a free sample, I won’t provide it with a numbered rating. However I did like it and we still don’t have enough Gose’s around so this was a nice addition to the market.
Food Pairing: Beyond what Mike mentioned, this would make for a fun beer float, it would pair well with white Stilton cheese or even sweet and sour sauce friendly foods.