Experimenting in this blurred region of beer and wine is fascinating to me. I want to push this to the legal limit and create something that is as much wine as it is beer. It also opens a new world of wine techniques that I can incorporate into beer. On the wine side there are a near endless combination of grape varieties, using whole grapes, crushed grapes, or juice. One could add the grapes right to the wort and have them primary together. Or add juice to already fermented beer. Ferment them separately and then blend. Oak aging. Pump over and Punch down. Délestage. MLF. On lees/off lees. Carbonic maceration. And on and on and on...
What do we call something like this? It's not right to call it a fruited sour ale. My working title for this has been "Cervino" (an amalgamation of cervisia and vino). Maybe Méthode de Vin? Domaine Flou? This is a style name, not an individual beer. There is so much that can be done in this blurred region, so this is my call out to other breweries (and homebrewers), let's start exploring!
I know some breweries have already played close to this territory, so I'll define what I'm looking for. This new style I'm proposing, while legally beer, is 51% beer and 49% grape/wine. The purpose of this style is to create something that, from an experiential basis, can not be defined as simply "a beer" or "a wine". And, much like the "pét-nat" style, this can look/taste/feel very different from example to example, but they all share a common core.
My first venture into style is a blend of sour ale base that spontaneously fermented and aged for 6 months. I then went to Wollersheim winery and picked up some Chardonnay juice.
|Arriving to Funk Factory with Chardonnay juice to blend. (Instagram)|
The aged sour ale and Chardonnay juice were blended in equal parts allowing the yeast from the beer to ferment the juice. This has aged for another 2 months and will be bottled in the next month.
What I like about this beer is the connection to the seasons. The beer was brewed in the winter when spontaneous fermentation is possible. The wine juice was added at grape harvest. It is something that I can, and will, repeat each year and it becomes part of that season. It is also a great "base" to start at. From here I can look at incorporating different wine techniques and judge their impact.