Brewing a Gose with Artisanal Oregon Salt

Posted on: May 24th 2013


We have been making beer for 25 years but remain students of beer. That might be one of the more fulfilling parts of this job – the never ending learning, head scratching, ah-ha moments. It‘s the fact that creativity if a part of the job description. One would think that being in the business for so long we would have exhausted all styles and variations of styles out there, but just like millions of musicians can still create unique combinations of sounds with the notes available to them, so can our brewers invent their own styles, combine past and present, and resurrect recipes and make them their own. Such is the case with the Deschutes Gose.

Gose is a traditional German beer that belongs to the Berlinerweisse / Witbier family, and similarly takes a fair amount of wheat in the grist bill. It is lightly soured by Lactobacillus and uniquely spiced with coriander and salt. Sounds like a margarita beer, right? Why the heck did it take us so long to brew one?

These days, there is no doubt in our minds that you are ready for a beer like this, nothing is too weird or out there for this population of beer fans. Sour? Coriander? Salt? Bring it!

And so begins the worthy challenge of being a pub brewer – how to respectfully design a traditional style of beer while making it our own. The first light bulb turned on when thinking of the salt. Like hell we were gonna use some boring old salt, but what kind exactly? One with a unique minerality for sure – a delicately gourmet Fleur de sel perhaps? We did some salt tastings and they went like this: the Himalayan pink salt: Salty! The Fleur Gris: Salty! The bright red Hawaiian salt: Salty! How could one select the perfect salt for this project and know what nuances it could impart to this widely unknown beer? How could we make this Oregon? How could we make this Deschutes?

Enter Ben Jacobsen: globe-trotter, alchemist, salt maker.

Was the illusive Gose a secret to him – NOPE. Salt is what this man DOES.


He introduced himself to one of our brewers at a festival telling him that he’d love to talk to us if we were ever interested in making a Gose. This is proof that us brewers really do get work done at beer festivals. It’s not just a chug fest, people. He is Oregon’s only producer of local artisanal salt and that fit the bill perfectly. His story is simple. He fell in love with great salt while living in Scandinavia. Shortly after he moved back to the Pacific Northwest, he set out to make a salt to equal and better finishing salts in Europe and Scandinavia. Jacobsen began scientifically testing locations and batches back in Oregon and Jacobsen Salt Co. was born 2 and ½ years later after countless batches of trial and error.

At Deschutes, we enjoy celebrating the successes of people who take risks. And so after meeting Ben and sampling his salt, it is gorgeous by the way, we celebrated by saying “let’s DO THIS.” Some giddiness ensued – Ben, thrilled to see his salt used in a beer, and the brewers excited to be working with an artisanal salt maker. A little beer in the mind of the brewer slowly but surely becoming a reality…this is a wonderful thing.

Please join us for a free tasting of Deschutes Gose on Saturday, June 1st at our Bend Public House from 5:30-7:30pm where you can sample the beer, meet the salt maker and the brewer. We tend to get excited when things come together so perfectly.

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