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Beers With A Wine Influence

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The explosion of craft breweries in recent years has led to innovative new brewing techniques and exciting new flavors. Some breweries have begun to borrow flavors and techniques from wine-making, either by fermenting their beer with grape juice or grape must, or by aging the finished beer in barrels previously used to ferment or age wine.
Beers Fermented with Grape Juice or Grape Must
When grape juice is added to the brewing process, it ferments (or partially ferments) into wine alongside the beer. The resulting beer has some of the fruitiness, flavors, and acidity of actual wine. Grape must is the skins and seeds left over from the wine-making process, and it contributes wine-like flavors, but not acidity, if added during the brewing process. The wine-like flavors from grape must are merely those leftover from the wine, rather than those being created during fermentation.
Breweries that add grape juice and/or must to some of their beers include Jester King from Texas, Dogfish Head from Delaware, and Ska Brewing from Colorado. Jester King produces Cerveza de Tempranillo, Bire de Merlot, and Bire de Blanc du Bois, which are all barrel-aged sours (lambics) re-fermented with grapes. Dogfish Head makes a beer called Sixty-One by taking its original 60-Minute IPA and adding Syrah grape must, creating fruity, black cherry flavors on top of the citrus and hop notes in the IPA. The Syrah must also contributes tannin, which makes a powerful beer.

Syrah grape must gives Sixty-One a deep, reddish color.
Noble Rot, also brewed by Dogfish Head, incorporates Viognier grapes into a saison, a light and refreshing ale. These Viognier grapes have been infected by a fungus called botrytis. This may sound unappealing to non-wine drinkers, but botrytis actually plays a role in some of the most revered dessert wines in the world. The resulting beer is not sweet, but rather a curious blend of a light ale with peach and floral aromas that are typical of wine made from Viognier grapes, as well as the honey notes typical of botrytis-affected wines.

Noble Rot is a light, delicious, refreshing blend of ale and white grapes.
Ska Brewing ferments its Hibernal Vinifera Stout with Malbec grapes, and the beer is also aged in oak.
Beers Fermented or Aged in Used Wine Barrels
Aging a beer in a used wine barrel creates many of the same aromas and flavors as regular oak aging. However, the wine residue inside the barrel adds fruity complexity. This method creates a more subtle impression of wine in the beer than the addition of juice or must.
Nebraska Brewing makes Melange a Trois by aging its Belgian blonde ale in Chardonnay barrels, which contribute aromas and flavors of apple and lemon, as well as a smooth, rich oakiness. Real Ale in Texas makes a series of beers called Mysterium Verum, several of which incorporate wine elements. Empire is made by aging their Lost Gold IPA in American oak red wine barrels, which add flavors of tart red fruits, an oaky impression, and some tannin.

Empire tastes like a rich, heavy IPA mixed with a little red wine.
Real Ale also makes Highlander, which is a base of Scotch ale (their Real Heavy) aged in red wine barrels. Chrysopolis, brewed by Birrificio Del Ducato in Italy, is a sour (lambic) aged in oak wine barrels. In this case, the oak adds richness and smoothness, along with lemon flavors from the wine it used to hold.

Chrysopolis has a deep lemon color and lemon flavors.
8th Wonder Brewery in Houston, Texas achieves the wine-barrel effect by adding Chardonnay-soaked oak chips to a saison to create House of Chards. With aromas of vanilla, spice, lemon, and pear, it tastes like a richly flavored pale ale mixed with an oaky Chardonnay. Jester King also makes a beer using wine barrels. Their Cerveza Sin Frontera is a farmhouse ale re-fermented in Sherry barrels. In my experience, old wine barrels are mainly used for aging the beer; actually fermenting the beer in a wine barrel is unusual.
These beers range from 5% alcohol by volume to more than 11%. Many are seasonal or released in limited quantities, which can make them difficult to find. Although the use of old wine barrels and discarded grape must sounds like a cost-effective way to recycle used-up ingredients, these beers are usually quite expensive.
The use of wine ingredients and techniques in brewing beer may seem like a new idea, but it has an historical basis. Archaeologists have discovered and analyzed remnants of the earliest alcoholic beverages in ancient amphorae (ceramic jars once commonly used to store liquids), and these drinks are usually combinations of whatever fermentable ingredients were available " fruit, grains, and honey. So, while the precise methods mentioned in this article may be new, the combination of barley and grapes is actually very old. Dogfish Head specializes in recreating some of these ancient beverages.
A brewery may decide to branch out into beers influenced by wine-making techniques in order to explore the history of fermented beverages, to capitalize on the growing popularity of wine, or to attract new beer drinkers with new flavors. Whatever the reason, these combinations of beer and wine are a good idea. They provide new, complex, and interesting flavors to experience, and they remind us that old ideas can lead to future innovations. But most importantly, they taste really good.
 

Comments

Has anyone tried fermenting Concord grapes in their beer? I know Concord grapes are not used in wine making, but I have Concord vines, so...
 
A few months back, I found a local winery that sells 1" oak blocks from their vintaged barrels. I picked up a bag (they come in 1# bags, as well as different wine flavors) of chardonnay blocks. I've made 2 beers with the blocks and they add, IMO, the right amount of winey-ness. Good article to support this style of aging. I hope to try more beers like this in the future.
 
I like the ancient ale aspect of these beers Sam & the gang put out. Made me want to explore them myself & brew some extinct ales with flavors & aromas lost on the modern world.
 
A while back I did a "Red Kolsh" w/ wine friends in mind:
No wine. Kolsh recipe but added < 4 oz each of Cara Red, Chocolate Wheat and Roasted Barley (in 6.5 Gal) for the 'red.' Bittered w/ Motueka and finished w/ Nelson Sauvin and finally slight oak.
The wine lovers who "didn't really care for beer" seemed to really fall for it. I credit the Kolsch yeast and Nelson Sauvin.
 
I see the phrase "used in the brewing process" throughout the article, but I'm curious about which point in the process they are using must. I'd imagine it is during fermentation, but I wounder if it is being added for primary fermentation, or if it is being added in a secondary?
 
I brew with guys who have added both Reisling and Muscat to secondary. The resulting beers were amazing. I'm getting Pinot Gris grapes this weekend to add to a Trippel. I find Belgian styles lend themselves well to white wine grape additions.
 
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