Want to try some wine-forward beer? We're hosting a Beer for Wine Drinkers tasting at Lois Wine Bar on Saturday, November 17th. Get your tickets here.
We all have that one friend who insists they only like wine. Although sips of watery macrobrews and overpowering IPAs may have turned them off to beer in the past, there are plenty of beer styles that boast flavor profiles fit for an oenophile. If you’re looking to introduce a wine drinker to the wonderful world of craft beer, try these tips for pinpointing the perfect style.
Stick With Sours
Sours are great gateway beers for wine drinkers because of their familiar flavor notes. Wine lovers may appreciate the acidity and dryness that accompanies certain sour styles (think goses or lambics). Or try a sour that’s been brewed with fruit for a taste that’s mellower and subtly sweet.
Bring on the Funk
“Funky” beers offer a range of tasting notes that wine drinkers will enjoy for their complexity. Beers brewed with Brettanomyces, a collection of wild yeast strains, tend to develop flavors in intricate layers that vary from “spicy” to “old horse blanket” (in a good way, of course).
Sample Something Effervescent
Those who drink sparkling wine like Cava or Champagne may prefer strongly carbonated beers. In particular, beers that have been bottle conditioned will offer a more “sparkling” mouthfeel. As live yeasts consume the sugars left in the bottle by brewers, they release CO2–carbonating the beer and helping it evolve in flavor over time.
Try Beer That’s Barrel-Aged
With many breweries adopting barrel programs, wine drinkers have plenty of options when it comes to aged beer. Barrel-aging does the same thing to beer as it does to wine: barrels slowly oxidize their contents as time passes, mellowing out harsh flavors like bitterness and imparting qualities of the wood into the product. Some breweries even specifically use wine barrels to age their products, allowing the beer to soak in some of the leftover wine essence.
The Referend Bier Blendery — Pennington, NJ
The Referend’s beer often takes on vinous qualities owing to the spontaneous fermentation and long time spent in barrels. Le Mur, which received a treatment on blackberries, took on a strong vinous quality that founder James Priest couldn’t pin down. In his eyes, the beer tasted more like a red wine blend than a sour beer. After adding some young golden ale to the first Le Mur base, and letting the blend rest for about 7 months, Priest bottled this complex and decidedly delicious beer/wine hybrid.
Eternal Return: Cabernet Sauvignon (2016 Harvest)
Threes Brewing — Brooklyn, NY
Threes has been experimenting with the Eternal Return series, which seeks inspiration from wine, and the latest addition sees a Brett beer aged with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for several months. The strong tannic and grape skin notes will remind drinkers of a slightly carbonated natural wine.
The J.R.E.A.M. Series
Burley Oak Brewing Co. — Berlin, MD
The team at Burley Oak have established themselves as the masters of fruited sours. The J.R.E.A.M. series features beverages that taste more like liquified desserts than beers (e.g. Carrot Cake, Double Blueberry Cobbler, you get the idea). Most of these beers aren’t exactly “wine-inspired” but they demonstrate the wild range possible in beers and could be a fun entry-point for those who have sworn off beer.
Marble of Doom
KCBC — Brooklyn, NY
KCBC’s Marble of Doom is another fruited sour but instead of the intenseness found in the J.R.E.A.M. series, you’ll find a lighter tartness with more subtle notes of blackberry and pomegranate. Sub it in for your favorite red and pair alongside a nice Brie cheese.
Sundström Cider — Hudson, NY
I’m cheating a little with this pick, but I think cider is a great stepping stone from wine to beer. And Cider/Cider is a great option for those transitioning away from overly sweet cider. Cider/Cider is an off-shoot of Leif Sundström’s main Sundström ciders and features a more approachable flavor and is available at a lower price point.
Liked this article? Sign up for our newsletter to get the best craft beer writing on the web delivered straight to your inbox.