So much history and memories and things that come to mind when it’s finally time (now’s the time) to sit down and try to convey the levels and complexity of interest involved within my thoughts surrounding actually going to Lost Nation brewery, a place that I feel completely comfortable, a place that I’ve watched grow into something that I actually feel personally proud for even though I have no stake in the success that they’ve garnered.
In these “adventures” (which I’m still not sure if it’s just about the guys trying to get me out of the shop or not) I’m going to try and emulate what it’s like to go visit a place, to give a little insider scoop on the area surrounding a brewery, what they offer, what you can expect and the like. But this one should start with a little bit of history. Well, history isn’t really the right word since that evokes time lines; this is more like memory, thinly cast in a veiled piece of my personal brain scape.
I think I met Allen first. That is to say, between Allen and Jaime I think I met Allen first.
I had travelled the exhaustive roads of New Hampshire (my home at the time) to come visit my sibling (there’s only one so there’s no need for pluralizing), who was living in Vermont at that time (still does, the sibling). He and I took a trip to the mountain town of Stowe to see a friend of his who was brewing at a mountain top brewery up there. Being a brewer myself, my sibling thought it would be a good idea for me to meet other brewers and do the secret handshake we all learn but don’t get a lot of use out of it.
Allen’s the guy we went to visit.
The brewery he was working in was, at the time, small and upcoming, pumping out lagers for the folks that would be coming to visit the ski chalets and whatnot. I remember the fact that his mash tun was literally a converted vessel commonly found in both the dairy and sugaring industry. He was also working as the beer securer at an English Style bar on the mountain road and his knowledge was refreshing to me professionally. I, admittedly, didn’t get out much from the blanket of my own brewery in New Hampshire (other brewers had a nickname for me, The Mushroom – “you know, you’re in the dark!”) and talking with Allen expanded my knowledge about different beer styles from day one.
Flash forward a couple of years later and I was talking to both Allen and Jaime at Three Penny over a meal. They informed me of a new venture in the works and they were going to call it Lost Nation Brewery.
These memories also include us, as a crew from the Penny, going up there to make a large batch of a recipe that Jaime and I came up with for our Montbeerlier celebration (we used to do this: we’d commission a brewery to make a batch of beer with us and we’d buy a large portion of the beer and pour it at Montbeerlier, a tradition that will probably go into effect again next year as it’s a great experience and, well, good to get out, you know). Between us, Lost Galaxy was born, mostly because of the newly acquired hops that they got and wanted to use so we went with it.
When I think about what the brewery looks like today, I think of the day we went up to make the Lost Galaxy. Mostly because when I go up there now it looks so much smaller. That is, they used to have a LOT of room to move around. Now, almost every piece of real estate is filled with tanks or cans waiting to be filled or a canner or a new foeder. It’s grown dramatically but they’ve not changed as people.
Talking with Allen and Jaime is like speaking to the oracle. They’re both so clear minded with their opinions, both succinctly vigilant with their opinions yet everything that they say seems like a five year old is explaining how the toy helicopter works; like, yeah, of course that’s the way to do it or think about it, why have I been so closed minded on the subject? Maybe it’s the rural area with which they commute and live or maybe it’s just the way they’re wired, but it’s a way to approach all things and come out on the other side unscathed.
Which is probably why it’s so hard to write about their brewery without turning this into an already overly kind of sappy word slinging contest.
But what I can say is: their Pilsner is one of my favorite beers of all time, I left with a case of it because I had them put it aside for me because I buy out a store whenever I find it on the shelves and I knew they’d be out of it so I asked a favor because I wanted it and they did it. I think what they’ve done for the Pilsner in Vermont can not be underestimated.
If memory serves me better than it has for the first part of this article, they released the Pilsner into the market first, shortly followed by a beer that not many people have ever heard of, could pronounce or have ever even tried it before. Soon, everyone knew what a Gose is, how to pronounce it, what it’s all about and what to expect and then whole country caught on. I’m not saying that Lost Nation started the Gose boom/resurrection in this country but, well, if they didn’t then the timing is very suspect.
A Gose (I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to show you how to pronounce this right?) is unique historical beer that’s (as you’ll see) extremely tart and lactic, with added salt and coriander to round it out a little. A little history (in the right sense of the word this time) is that it’s a true generational beer, meaning that there was, at a time in history, one person who knew how to make it. They taught someone and then, when they were dying, they taught another person. When that person died, the style basically died with them. Now, that’s not completely the case but it’s damned near close. I think you get the point.
What should be said is that a Gose is, for all intents, a product of a terrain. Goslar, the original town (all the way back to the 1000s) and Leipzig/Halle in Germany were the epicenter of the style, all originating from that water source, that pin point. The word of the day here is synonymous.
And, during the resurrection of this style different places took their own terrain and adapted it to fit. This is where I politely transition to discussing beer that is pertinent to my visit to Lost Nation.
In the next two weeks or so we’ll have three different versions of the style for you to try: Ritterguts (the original – since 1824), To-Ol’s Gose North (with quince and sea buckthorn) and Lost Nation’s Gose.
The Ritterguts will be the most authentic, classically motivated of the trio; extremely tart with a lactic bite, this is the way the style started.
The To-Ol Gose North employs the work of their terrain in order to replace or enhance the usual employment of coriander and salt. They add quince (sweet) and sea buckthorn (very very tart and very very good at giving you a shiny coat) to the base of their fifty percent malted barley beer to give it a piece of Denmark (where they’re calling from).
And finally, we’ll be pouring Lost Nation’s Gose, which, if I can make an argument, uses it’s “terrain” in the most American way possible; making it drinkable.
Some Goses are over the top with their saltiness and lactic character as you’ll find with the Ritterguts. And, while having multiple isn’t out of the question, it really requires a certain love affair of the style in order to appreciate it. However, Lost Nation’s can be crushed. I’ve had multiple occasions where I’ve taken a four pack to an outing and, over time (I pace myself very well), it’s gone. Also, at 4.5% ABV it’s perfect for such an event.
Two more things before I let you leave: one, yeah the beer’s great at Lost Nation and the people are pretty rad but, well, if you go and don’t eat you’re a fool. Erik’s menu and offerings are worth the price of admission in and of itself. On the day most recently that I visited I had a smoked turkey sandwich (I don’t even like turkey) on a pretzel bun with sun dried tomato pesto and manchengo cheese, a pickle, braised kale and corn on the side. I don’t remember eating any of that. I inhaled it. Every time I’m there I remind myself that I have to take lunch breaks up there more often.
And last thing, I promise: a Gose is a perfect after working out beer. Serious. After a super hot day, sweating your butt off doing things in the hot hot sun, what do you think your body needs? Salt. It needs salt. That’s basically what Gatorade is, by the way. Once you get to a point where your body has expelled all of the salt in it and crated rings around your clothing, replace that stuff with Gose, it’s much better for you and less artificially flavored.
Until next adventure,