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By Jacqueline Beard, Quality / Sensory Manager
I’m not ashamed to admit it: Field 41 Pale Ale and a crisp, dry rose sit side by side in my cooler during the summer months. I enjoy a spicy Malbec with steak, a tart Sangiovese with pasta, and bubbly prosecco with oysters.
Here in the Yakima Valley, 40% of the state’s wine grapes grow alongside hops and tree fruit, cultivated by our friends and neighbors. Our fates are intertwined with our wine and cider beverage buddies, who in a non-pandemic year help us bring thirsty travelers to our rural locale. To top it off, three of Bale Breaker’s production staff involved in innovating new beers started their careers in wine before pivoting to craft beer: Production and Quality Manager Brian Logan, Pilot Brewer Brodie Woodward-Pratt, and myself.
So it’s no wonder that our team decided in 2019 to develop a new beer style fermented with wine grape juice exclusively made during crush. Brian called up a couple of friends at Owen Roe and Elephant Mountain Vineyard, and Brewmaster Kevin Smith designed two Belgian-inspired saison recipes that he thought would pair well with grape flavors. During the chaos of fresh hop season, we fermented the beer-wine hybrid, put it into wine barrels, added some Brettanomyces wild yeast, and waited, a little unsure about how the whole thing would turn out.
Now, during the 2020 crush, we’re excited to share the first successful vintage of this project with you: Vielle Blanc Vinoveza Ale and Vielle Rouge Vinoveza Ale. Inspired by the intense flavors of our local fruit, these beers embody the best aspects of both wine and beer, showcasing the fruity aromatics of wine grapes with the crispness, carbonation, and subtle malt and yeast characters of beer.
Like a fine wine, these vinoveza beers are great on their own but really shine when thoughtfully paired with food around the table with close friends and family. Here are some of my favorite pairings for the fall with our first vintage of vinovezas:
This pairing brings out the honey-like qualities of the cheese while balancing the higher acidity of the beer. Great as an appetizer or add some sweetened vanilla yogurt for dessert.
Perfect for Thanksgiving dinner, pairing the red vinoveza with turkey accentuates the beer’s ripe fruit character. The beer’s acidity helps to refresh the palate after each sip, washing away the rich turkey and making each bite pop.
White wine is a classic pairing with pad thai as is a crisp session IPA. Like each of those pairings, the acidity from the vinoveza washes away the rich sweetness of pad thai noodles, making the flavors of the pad thai pop after each sip. Don’t forget the lime!
Grilling season isn’t quite over, so take advantage of those cool fall nights with this pairing. The savory beef accentuates the cherry-like fruit character of the beer, while the sweetness of the sesame sauce and acidity of the beer balance well on the palate.
This pairing brings out the minerality of the fish and highlights whatever is used as a garnish. Try sesame, mint, or ginger garnish for extra flavor.
Looking to finish your Thanksgiving dinner with flair? This pairing accentuates the pumpkin pie spice and is perfectly balanced between sweetness and acidity.
Wondering how these beers would pair with some of your favorite foods not on this list? Here are some things to consider, inspired by the Brewer’s Association’s Three-Step, Can’t Fail Guide to Matching Beer and Food.
Strongly flavored beers demand strongly flavored food so that neither part of the pairing overwhelms the other. Both vinovezas are delicate compared to a hoppy hazy IPA or a rich, malty stout and should be paired with delicate to moderate intensity foods. Vielle Blanc vinoveza has a more delicate aroma than Vielle Rouge vinoveza, has a stronger flavor and can stand up to more intensely flavored foods.
Pairing foods that share common aroma or flavor elements with the beer is a recipe for success. Both of the 2019 vintage vinovezas have strong fruity aromas: Vielle Blanc showcases apricot, pear, and floral notes, and Vielle Rouge smells like cherry, raspberry, dates, and fig. They also both have a moderate acidity which might pair well with tomato, lemon, or vinegar sauces.
Both vinovezas are crisp and dry, with moderate acidity, low bitterness, and low carbonation. Sweetness in the food will balance acidity, making moderate sweetness a great choice with Vielle Blanc. The higher alcohol in Vielle Rouge will bring additional sweetness, allowing it to balance out the rich and savory elements of meat dishes and allowing it to pair well with foods with some hot pepper spice.
Posted October 07, 2020