We all have those friends who demure, “I don’t drink beer. I only drink wine.” Luckily, the never-the-twain-shall-meet notion of beer versus wine is a vestige of a bygone era. If you find yourself in the company of those preferring an exclusively viticultural experience, give them a taste of these great beers and see if they change their mind.
Everything That Sparkles—Hop Valley, Double D Blonde Ale
5% ABV, 12oz can, 20 IBU, Oregon
This golden-hued beauty is a jovial pour fit for a celebration. With a crisp effervescence and a low, approachable hop character, this is a great beer to toast the bubbly-devout in your life. Double D’s filtered clarity and beckoning brilliance make it a year-round favorite and a low-maintenance answer to the stuffy pretension of sparkling wines. The brewery describes this beer as “easy going” and we’d be hard-pressed to disagree. Pop the top on this blonde ale and start the soiree.
Pinot Envy—Uinta, Anniversary Barleywine Ale
10.4% ABV, 12oz. glass bottle, 72 IBU, Utah
With a caramel color and character, this is one seriously balanced barleywine. No, we didn’t choose this brew based on the style having “wine” in the name, but rather, because this is one smooth operator. Much like the famed and beloved pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley, this beer is both sultry and reserved. A 10.4% ABV barleywine could easily assault the palate with a hot, ethanol-like afterburn. Luckily, the fine folks at Uinta present this surprisingly easy-drinking incarnation. Just as the notion of the special nature of certain grapes remains paramount to Willamette Valley pinots, this marvel lets the malt speak for itself. Moments after opening, toffee and dark fruit notes transfix the imbiber. Your pinot-swilling friends won’t know what hit ’em.
Re-imagining The Ritual–Coalition Brewing Company, Sour Puss, Sour Belgian Wit
3.8% ABV, 22oz. glass bottle, 5 IBU, Oregon
Sour Puss has a lot going for it. This lactobacillus-soured wit packs the perfect pucker. A collaborative effort between Coalition Brewing Co., Wyeast Laboratories and Briess Malt and Ingredients Company, this limited-edition rarity’s presentation is meant to be savored. Its ultra-low ABV, restrained nuance and low carbonation make it ideal converting the wine-only drinker, but its gold wax-dipped bottle begs to be opened and enjoyed in good company. Just as the ritual of tableside wine service has enamored diners and revelers for years, this special bottle of special beer is meant for a special occasion. At your next dinner party, open this for your guests and allow beer to take its rightful spot at the table.
8.2% ABV, 22oz. glass bottle, unlisted IBU, Colorado
20th Anniversary may just be the missing link between beer and wine. Though brewing with traditional wine ingredients is something that many breweries have begun to experiment with, this unique Belgian-style ale is the best of both worlds. The viognier grape juice adds dimension to an already complex Belgian-inspired character. With tangerine, peach and pear notes, 20th Anniversary shows you can be fruit-forward without being treacly. If the lush quality of a well-made white wine piques your interest, this beer captures all the same soft, restrained magic.