Magical Mystery Pour 23: Magic Rock Salty Kiss + Special Guest Star

Magic Rock Salty Kiss, Westbrook Gose, and some actual salt.

The penultimate beer of a set chosen for us by Rebecca Pate (@rpate) of Brewing East is an old favourite: Magic Rock’s take on the salty, sour native beer style of Saxony.

We’ve drunk this beer many, many times, and have writ­ten about it often, includ­ing in our short and short-lived colum­nette in the Guardian Guide back in 2015. Nonethe­less, we were very hap­py to give it fresh con­sid­er­a­tion, espe­cial­ly as we had a twist in mind.

Peo­ple have been telling us to try West­brook Gose (South Car­oli­na, USA) for ages but despite its being the­o­ret­i­cal­ly wide­ly avail­able in the UK we’ve only ever seen it accom­pa­nied by the words OUT OF STOCK. But this time luck was on our side and we man­aged to nab a sin­gle can at £4.90 for 330ml from Hon­est Brew.

Which leads us to a first point of com­par­i­son: Salty Kiss cost £1.99 per 330ml can from the same source, which means West­brook Gose has to be more than twice as good – stratos­pher­i­cal­ly bril­liant, in fact – to jus­ti­fy its ask­ing price.

We drank both side by side. They looked remark­ably sim­i­lar in the glass – hazy gold, soft peaks – but the West­brook gave off a more obvi­ous sour smell, like a lemon in the com­post bin.

The head on a glass of Salty Kiss.

Salty Kiss is made with goose­ber­ries but does not taste of them, is not green, and will not strike you as all that weird if you’ve ever had a Fen­ti­man’s lemon­ade. If any fruit comes to mind, it’s straw­ber­ries, but maybe that’s because of the design of the can, like a grown-up ver­sion of that exper­i­ment from Home Eco­nom­ics lessons at school where banana-flavoured milk dyed pink so eas­i­ly fools the palate. Gose’s eye­brow-rais­ing head­line ingre­di­ent is salt but we don’t real­ly taste it, per­haps because it is in bal­ance with begin­ner-lev­el sour­ness. Nor do we par­tic­u­lar­ly latch on to any corian­der, which pre­sum­ably means its been used with the light touch 21st Cen­tu­ry craft brew­ers (def 2) are so often chid­ed for lack­ing. Our impres­sion this time, as always, is that this is a classy, well-con­struct­ed beer that close­ly resem­bles the beers cur­rent­ly sold as Gose in Leipzig and around, only with a bit more punch, which is why it’s on the A Team.

Our first impres­sions of West­brook Gose were of a much greater sour­ness. If Salty Kiss is Vic­to­ri­an pop, then this is some kind of sports drink designed to be chugged from a plas­tic bot­tle under the Fri­day Night Lights. The sour­ness is of a par­tic­u­lar type: a sweaty, cheese­cake funk; milk left too long in the sun. The oblig­a­tory fruit com­par­i­son: peach­es. It clings to the tongue like peach tin syrup, too. There’s a line beyond which this kind of thing ceas­es to taste much like beer and, from our per­spec­tive, this beer is on the wrong side. Which is not to say we did­n’t enjoy it – there is some­thing mor­eish about it, and it’s not insane­ly sour or any­thing. If you always Go Large when the option is pre­sent­ed then, of the two, this might be the Gose for you.

Going back to Salty Kiss after the West­brook Gose was a rev­e­la­tion. It was almost a dif­fer­ent beer – lighter, fresh­er, hop­pi­er, its pale ale DNA sud­den­ly ram­pant. Dif­fer­ent and, yes, bet­ter. Amaz­ing­ly great. We’re still in love.

2 thoughts on “Magical Mystery Pour 23: Magic Rock Salty Kiss + Special Guest Star”

  1. West­brook Gose isn’t a light touch, but it is good – I feel that £4.90 is a bit much for it, and I believe to be more than I paid in a bot­tle shop. The Key Lime Pie Gose is a bit nov­el­ty, and has a hint of Rose’s Lime Cor­dial about it, but is not bad if you’re into that sort of fruity nov­el­ty.

    Amer­i­can gose wise, this one by Reuben’s brew is a crack­er: – and comes in a bit cheap­er than the West­brook.

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