Last year, when some friends and I embarked on our San Francisco beer trip to celebrate my 30th birthday, our first California brewery was Bear Republic in Healdsburg, CA. Beyond the extreme size of their taster tray, my strongest memory was of a beer they’d aged in Chardonnay barrels. The bartender spoke disparagingly of it, calling it out for an apparent infection (band-aid flavors, yuck), which I also picked up on. But it got my mind working. There was something to this beer and wine union.

Doing a little research at home, I learned this pairing wasn’t really a novel idea; the ancients had been combining the fermentables in barley with grapes’ natural sugars (and honey) since the beginning of civilization. Dogfish Head’s “Midas Touch” is famously based on an ancient Babylonian concoction that combines barley, grapes and honey with a special combination of spices, including saffron.

I made my own homebrewed homage to the Bear Republic example a few months later, calling it “Broken Shard,” a self-titled “ChardonnIPA.”

Cascade’s take on the wine/beer combo veers off in an entirely different direction, adding souring lactic fermentation to the mix, likely some kind of lactobacillus bacyeria that produces lactic acid during the aging process. It’s tasty, tart and relatively dry. I suspect this would be a good gateway beer for wine drinkers.

And speaking of wine drinkers … my choice of this beer for this day was highly intentional. I cracked this two-year-old bottle to celebrate the launch of 33 Wines, the newest in what I hope will be a long series of tasting journals, all of which began, appropriately, with beer.

Beer Review for The Vine from Cascade Brewing

Flavor Wheel for The Vine Beer Review

Beer Name: The Vine
Brewer: Cascade Brewing
Price: N/A
Sampled: March 27, 2010
Rating: 4/5
Notes: Strong sweet tart flavor here, with pretty apparent yeast nose and flavor. Not sure I’d call out grape juice unless I knew about it. Very fine mouth.
ABV: 9.2% abv
Serving Type: Bottle.

8 Comments on “86: The Vine (2008)”

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  1. bazin! says:

    Great idea on adding a notebook for wines. I enjoy using the beer journals. Can I recommend putting together a Scotch/Whiskey/Bourbon book next?

  2. Dave says:

    Bazin! You read my mind – whiskey is on the list, but I’m probably going to do the cheese or coffee one first.

  3. Erik Arneson says:

    I’d love a cheese journal!

    Speaking of wine/beer combinations, have you tried Dogfish Head’s Red & White? I never got around to tasting it, but it sure looked interesting.

    – Erik

  4. Dave says:

    I have tried it, but it’s been awhile. I remember it being pretty disappointing, to be honest. And it’s not cheap, either.

  5. Erik Arneson says:

    Nothing from Dogfish Head is that affordable, but it’s too bad that the Red & White isn’t very good. Well, at least we’ll have their Midas Touch. That stuff is also not cheap, but it sure is damn tasty.

    – Erik

  6. Daniel says:

    As a professional barista I’m always tasting espresso or cupping coffee and writing notes down in a moleskine or other notebook. A bit of structure/a quick way to evaluate a coffee would rock. Also, killer site! I’m going to have to pick up a few of these notebooks now.

  7. Dave says:

    Daniel, a coffee version is in the works!

  8. Daniel says:

    Oh good! I’m looking forward to picking some up when they’re out and spreading the word.

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