Friday, February 19, 2016

First Tasting: New Zealand White Wine Sour

Wine and beer hybrids seem to be all the rage now. I’ve had some good examples and some examples that are not my favorite. Generally I prefer white wine versions more than red wine versions. I personally feel that red wine overpowers the beer and the result is a fuller bodied carbonated boozy red wine. It may be the type of red wine, which could use some exploring or experimentation, but I feel the fruity and dry nature of certain white wines work well with a sour beer. 

When I blended my sours for my “gueuze” I was going to inevitably have left over beer that I could use to blend other beers.  While I was in New Zealand I rediscovered how fruity their sauvignon blanc are compared to other versions. They have a lot of the aromatic characteristics that we look for in some of the best IPAs or fruited sours. Taking a page from Mad Fermentationist, I decided to blend part of a bottle to taste during bottling. It’s a much easier, controlled and quicker way than using unfermented juice or actual grapes, not to mention cheaper. 

Appearance: Pours a hazy orange with yellow hues and a white head that fades relatively quickly. Head retention is usually poor on a sour beer due to the acidity. 

Aroma: Lots of fruity aroma, some stone fruit, gooseberry, peaches, and acidity. The wine is subtle but present. I’m guessing most of the fruit aroma was provided by the wine, but it blends well with the acidity and natural fruitiness of a sour beer. There is only a hint of funk, but since the beer is not from my barrel, it doesn't really surprise me.

Flavor: Dry champagne like flavor, peaches, lemon like lactic acid and a touch of alcohol. Little to no malt flavor. 

Mouthfeel: High carbonation, bright lactic acidity and a bone dry finish. I would say the mouthfeel is reticent of champagne, with a little more body and acidity. 

Overall: I’m pleased with how this beer turned out. The wine is present, but not over the top and it blends well with the beer. I might try this more in the future with other beers styles. As long as I don’t add too much wine and lose the beer base I think it could work well in the future.

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