Rivalries. The world’s full of them.
Star Wars vs. Star Trek, Cats vs. Dogs, Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Catholics vs. Protestants, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona, Good vs. Evil.
And, most importantly:
You pick a side. You denigrate the ‘others’. You note how ‘they’ can’t grasp the range of flavours available to you. You defend your stance. To the death the biggest hangover!
There’s no crossing over allowed. A harmonious alcohol utopia where beer and wine drinkers demonstrate mutual respect for each other? Psh.
However. A recent discovery has led me to believe that the two camps aren’t quite as separate as I thought.
On a trip to Purvis Beer I was confronted by the Prickly Moses Chardonnay IPA. A collaboration between Prickly Moses head brewer Luke Scott and McWilliams Wines and Cider Senior Winemaker Scott McWilliams. It’s an IPA blended with a Chardonnay. (And brewed with pure Otway rainwater – for those who are prefer their water to be delivered with an air of hipness).
Upon further investigation I was soon on the trail of a number of high profile brewers who have made the transition into beer/wine hybrids.
Belgium’s own lambic experts Cantillon have even ventured down the path, creating their Gueuze Vigneronne Brasseire, a lambic blended with Muscat grapes.
Perhaps the most fascinating (and one for the beer bucket list) is the Dogfish Head Noble Rot – a beer made with botrytis-infected Viognier grapes. Botrytis (a fungus) is known as the Noble Rot due to its ability to reduce water content in a grape whilst magnifying sweetness and complexity. It’s apparently a desired product (when allowed to grow to the right ‘levels’). I can’t even really imagine what it would taste like.
If only there was a ‘proper’ name for the blends – Bine? Wier? Beerne?
From a scientific viewpoint, adding wine yeast is a different beast to your ‘normal’ ale and lager yeasts. They take longer to consume the sugars in the beer into alcohol, and can be killers of beer through the production of toxins. However, they do add unique flavours to beer that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
The Chardonnay IPA is made with mosaic hops, and this – allegedly – helps to lengthen the palate. It’s a fruity drop, dominated by pineapple and tropical flavours. There’s a hoppy nose to it, and some acidity from the added wine. It’s highly fizzy, and finishes with a lingering dry, and slightly bitter finish. It weighs in at 6%, but tastes much lighter than this – it’s one you could drink quite a few of and not realise how drunk you might be!
I must say that I certainly prefer an IPA on its own – but that may be a result of my lack of wine-drinking experience. Nonetheless, the existence of these beers has opened up new beer drinking avenues – something of which I am always glad!