Old Salt with Yuzu
Well… our Old Salt returns, and, judging from the ingredients in this summer’s gose, he’s been making a tour of eastern Asia, returning with beautiful and exotic citrus fruits.
Nope, it’s not a lemon. It’s not an orange. It’s not a Beetlejuice-shrunken grapefruit and it’s not a strangely discolored lime.
“Dear God, what is that thing?!?” cries the person we just made up for this blog.
That, dear reader, is a yuzu.
No, not a wut. A yu-zu.
And it pairs perfectly with a salty, fruity, and immensely refreshing gose.
The yuzu grows wild in central China and Tibet and was introduced to Japan and Korea some 1500 years ago.
Content Marketing Coordinator Scott Armato was introduced to it last year.
“I’m not gonna lie, I’m a big fan of The Great British Baking Show,” he says. “In one of the recent seasons, there was a contestant who put yuzu in everything. I’d heard of yuzu before, but I wasn’t really sure what it was — the only thing I really knew about it was that it was gaining in popularity. I’ve never tasted it, but, once I started looking into its flavor profile, it sounded like it would be perfect in a gose.”
When Innovation Director Brian Hink charged the various departments with contributing ideas for a handful of new beer concepts last year, a yuzu gose was at the top of marketing’s list. And, while everyone was excited about the concept, the fruit was still a bit of an unknown.
“I’m not too familiar with yuzu,” says Lab Manager Lauren Appleman. “I may have had it in a drink before, but I don’t remember.”
She recalls a lunch with Marketing Director Alicia Grasso and Distribution Manager Justin Vitti at the Craft Brewers Conference this past year, sampling guacamole that substituted yuzu juice for lime juice.
“I remember it being a very different flavor than a guac that is usually made with lime juice,” she recalls. “It made the guac a little brighter and fruitier in flavor.”
Generally, this is how one may experience yuzu out in the wild — substituted in a recipe for a more common, domestic citrus fruit. As they are only grown in Asia, fresh yuzu fruits are nearly impossible to find.
“I found a nice supplier in Colorado that had yuzu purée,” he says, “and, after they sent me some samples, I knew we’d be good to go with playing around with it.”
So… what does this alluring, glamorous, bizarre, fascinating, peculiar, different, strange, and unfamiliar citrus fruit taste like?
“It’s like a funkier, exotic version of a lemon,” Brian explains. “It’s tart and bright, like a lemon, but the aroma caught me off guard at first. After playing around with it on some small-scale trials I got a nice appreciation for it.”
Typically brewed with sea salt — our version uses the über-delicious and beautifully-local Cape May sea salt from Windy Acres in Court House –, goses are the perfect beer for these unbelievably hot and humid days of summer.
“They’re super refreshing,” Brian says. “Really vibrant and the salinity makes you want to go back for another sip right away. They’re the perfect summer beer, especially if there’s a fruit added to it.”
With a hint of sour, goses are particularly suited to citrus fruits, and, with its relatively indeterminate flavor, yuzu is the perfect complement to a gose’s sourness.
“Adding it to a gose definitely made a lot of sense,” Brian says, “but I could definitely see it working well in other beers: a Saison would be a nice backdrop for it, even a hoppier lager would play nice with it, but ultimately I’m glad it found a home in a gose.”
“The more mass-produced ones just use lactic acid,” Brian explains, “but we still do it the traditional and natural way of creating the lactic acid with Lactobacillus, which I think brings a nicer and fuller sour note to the beer.”
The exotic yuzu brings out the kettle-soured aspect of the beer.
“I think the yuzu is great in this because you get that punch of acidity, but there is also a bit of sweetness in it that leans toward the flavors of grapefruit and sweet oranges,” Lauren says. “I would love to drink this while eating something like fish tacos or sushi.”
And Brian thinks it’s perfect as summer rolls around.
“It’s super refreshing,” he says, “and I really wish this was out last weekend when it was pushing 100° every day!”
Old Salt with Yuzu is out for distribution now, and available in 16-ounce cans only and growler fills in our Tasting Room. Check it out!