And Now for Something Completely Different… Beer


I know, I know… This is a wine blog. It should be about wine. But wait… It is about wine, kinda. Bear with me… Before the explanatory bit, let’s just gaze lovingly.

A glass of beer along side its bottle

Isn’t that lovely?

Before I talk about how this could possibly be wine related, let’s talk a little bit about the folks who made the beer pictured above, Dogfish Head Brewing.

While they have your standard beers, some IPAs (1,2,3), a brown ale, a pale ale, a light beer, where I feel Dogfish really stands out is some of their more specialty beers.

Take, for example, Raison d’Etre.

A deep, mahogany ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins, and Belgian-style yeast. As complex as a fine, red wine.

Note the comparison to wine, even as you look at the standard beers, they provide a wine comparison. The Raison, for instance, compares to an Amarone. The light… well, ok, they don’t actually compare the light beer to a wine. There are some things that just don’t make sense.

Now, lets take a look at the Midas Touch Golden Elixir:

This recipe is the actual oldest-known fermented beverage in the world! Our recipe showcases the known ingredients of barley, white Muscat grapes, honey & saffron found in the drinking vessels in King Midas’ tomb!

It was actually this beer that brought me to Dogfish. That a company would look at the recipe built from remains from King Midas’ tomb (1,2) and regularly produce it for sale, well, that was just something that stuck in my mind. Of course, part of me might think that the mix of beer, wine and honey mead wasn’t actually a single drink, but might have actually been… well… beer, wine and honey mead all poured into a single goblet, but.. well, heck, it was tasty when I tried it.

But I guess now I should really get to the wine part of the post. Strolling through the Beer and Wine section of my favorite grocery, I happened to notice two new Dogfish bottles, one of which was called Red and White. Intrigued, I picked it up to read the label.

Malt beverage brewed with coriander & orange peel with Pinot Noir juice concentrate added with 11% aged in Pinot Noir barrels and 89% aged on oak barrel staves. (emphasis mine)

Yes, strictly speaking Pinot Noir juice is not Pinot Noir wine. Nor does aging a beer in a wine barrel make it a wine. But still, that’s about 100% closer to wine than your average beer is going to get.

The beer itself is brewed as a Belgian Wit beer (which, if you are not a beer drinker, is generally a very good ‘gateway drug’ for beer), hence the ‘Red and White’ naming. The malt beverage nomenclature on the label comes from US laws being different on a state by state basis. A beer is a malt beverage and, in some states, there is no legal need to actually distinctualize (new word, just made it up, I’m like Shakespeare), but some states have legal definitions separating out beer from malt liquor, the latter being of a higher alcohol content.

In all the posts I’ve made here, I think that was possibly the most boring paragraph I’ve written. Unless, of course, you include the two links I made, which deftly up the joy factor.

Now for the big question. How does it taste?

Quite good, actually. Wit beers generally have a very light, fruity taste to them, which this definitely has, but this beer also has a very dry, ‘red wine’ taste to it. I’ve said it before, red wines just have a taste that sort of runs through all red wines. It isn’t wholly a taste, it isn’t wholly a mouth feel, it’s some odd combination of the two. You just know ‘Oh yeah, this is a red.’

But even more than the taste, the glass has a beautiful color to it, a golden-ish red and, if you pour properly (down the side of the glass, tilting so that you pour onto the quarter filled glass of beer to get a slight head), you’ll witness a cascade that I haven’t seen outside of a nitrogen charged ale (such as Guinness). It was truly beautiful and went on… and on… and on. Now, if you don’t pour it properly, you’ll find a head that simply does not go away. I was amazed. I was emptying the bottle into an empty glass, and, assuming that the beer was mostly fizzed out, I proceeded to pour without thinking. The two inches of foam with a millimeter of beer below it showed me wrong. And the foam didn’t go away. Just sat.

If you see it, and you have the least bit interest in beer, I recommend trying it out, even for the sheer differentness of it. Man can’t live on wine alone.

(If you are interested in other interesting beers from Dogfish, might I suggest checking out Fort [made with over a ton of raspberries], Black and Blue [blackberries and blueberries], or Chateau Jiahu [made from a 9000 year old Chinese recipe]?)

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Reader Comments

There’s a saying in wine country: “It takes a lot of beer to make a great wine.” And, better than wine, no one expects you to share your bottle of beer.

Which almost makes you wonder why so many wine drinkers poo-poo beer.