Cornucopia 2015: Craft Beer for Wine Lovers?

Beer and wine lovers; dog and cat lovers. Can they co-exist or appreciate each other? That latter question was tackled at the Cornucopia seminar on “Craft Beer for Wine Lovers“. I must admit that I do appreciate beer, so it was not a hard sell for me, and I think the other people in the seminar also found beers that they liked.

Our wine and beer educators respectively were DJ Kearney & Ken Beattie.  DJ is a well-known wine educator in Vancouver, while Ken is the Executive Director at British Columbia Craft Brewers Guild. We were presented with 4 wine and beer pairings.  The pairings highlighted similarities between both beverages such as barrel aging of some red wines and beers, how terroir is important for wine and also how the local ingredients like hops are subject to terroir too, and how yeast is the magic that makes both wine and beer what they are (both can have wild yeast fermentations).  The wines for the tasting were from around the world, while the craft beers are all from BC.

Our Wine & Beer Pairings

First Pairing

Our first wine is a Chablis, a white wine made from Chardonnay. Citrus, apple and minerality are characterized by this type of wine; the minerality coming from the chalky soils absorbed by the vine roots.  The beer is a Belgian style (wheat beer) beer using unmalted wheat, giving a cloudy oak look.  It has low hoppiness, some citrus,  coriander, and sweetness.  It also typically has some effervescence which can clear your palate.  It uses the same yeast as the La Chouffe in Belgium BTW.

Both wine and beer have light body and citrus, which make complementary companions at the dinner table.

La Chablisiene Chablis “La Pierrele” 2014, France – Light oak, citrus, apricot and honey nose.  Dry, light body, with minerality and medium plus acidity.  Citrus and sour apple flavours.

Driftwood Brewery White Bark Witbier – Sweet spice, pears and apples on the nose.  Light body, small creamy bubble, medium hops intensity, apples, coriander and some floral flavours.

La Chablisienne La Pierrele Chablis and Driftwood Brewery White Bark Witbier

La Chablisienne La Pierrele Chablis and Driftwood Brewery White Bark Witbier

Second Pairing

This second pairing shows a wine with lots of acidity and aroma, and for the beer, lots of bitterness and citrus aroma. Both are intense beverages.  Sauvignon Blanc in general from New World regions, like BC or New Zealand have citrus, grassy, and green flavours, and high levels of acidity, making a wine that is refreshing, zesty, and pairs very well with our seafood.  The beer in this case is an India Pale Ale (IPA).  An IPA was designed to have a higher alcohol and higher hop content, which allowed this style of beer to travel across the ocean when England had India as a land it governed.  This beer in particular is an “Imperial IPA”, which means even higher alcohol and hop content.  The hops for this beer comes from the Nelson region of New Zealand (and our link to our New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc).

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2014, New Zealand – lots of guava and jalapeno pepper aroma in the glass.  Medium body, dry with higher acidity.  Jalapeno and green fruits on the palate. Very tasty.

Parallel 49 Toques of Hazzard – Grapefruit aroma on the nose. Quite bitter with flavour of grapefruit rind.  A hint of sweetness on the finish.  Medium body. 9.2% alcohol.  I enjoyed this beer.

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Parallel 49 The Toques of Hazzard Imperial White IPA

Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc and Parallel 49 The Toques of Hazzard Imperial White IPA

Third Pairing

We move into more fruit flavoured, light bodied, higher acidity, wine and beer.  The beer style, a Berliner Weisse, has high acidity and effervescence, and was known by Napoleon’s troops as the Champagne of the North. The fruit for this particular beer comes from fresh picked strawberries added to the beer.

Blue Mountain Gamay Noir – Medium intensity, red fruit and light oak nose.  Medium plus body, with medium acidity.  Strawberry and plum flavours together with light vanilla and a dash of nutmeg.  Soft tannins.

Strange Fellows Obnoxious Little Persona – Red grapefruit in colour (really!).  Red grapefruit and strawberry on the nose, along with a sauerkraut note.  These aromas continued to flavours on the palate.  It was very sour with high acidity.  The sourness of the beer is not quite the style I enjoy.  I have tried other sour beers, but maybe over time, and by sampling many of these beers, I will have a better appreciation.

Blue Mountain Gamay Noir and Strange Fellows Obnoxious Little Persona Strawberry Berliner Weisse

Blue Mountain Gamay Noir and Strange Fellows Obnoxious Little Persona Strawberry Berliner Weisse (served in a growler)

Fifth Pairing

A pairing of dark, full bodied beverages.  The Syrah grapes for this wine come from Osoyoos in south Okanagan, which gets very hot in the day to ripen the fruit, but at night cools down quite a bit so that the ripening, and sugar production, shuts down, so that you still get nice acidity in the wine, along with the ripe fruit flavours.  The beer style, a Brown Porter is a traditional beer from around the 1700’s.  This one in particular uses brown malt, only 5% of all the malt added, but it adds much colour and flavour. The smokiness from the malt can be compared to the toastiness you get from wine aged in barrel.

Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Syrah 2013 – Dark fruit with some sweet spice on the nose.  Full body, medium acidity with full dark fruit flavours, nutmeg and blueberries, with some vanilla and chocolate toward the finish.  I quite liked the nutmeg spice flavour in this wine. (This is Canada’s first First Nations winery in Canada, in case you didn’t know.)

Powell Street Dive Bomb Porter – Nice chocolate, coffee, and charcoal aromas.  Medium body with higher acidity.  Dry, with chocolate, smoke, coffee and charcoal.  Full body. Quite tasty.

Nk Mip QWAM QWMT SYRAH 2013 and Powell Street Brewery Dive Bomb Porter

Nk Mip QWAM QWMT SYRAH 2013 and Powell Street Brewery Dive Bomb Porter

I hope you enjoyed the discussion and description of these wine and beer pairings, and maybe found one or two that you may want to try.

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Some people prefer red wines. Some only like Cabernet Sauvignon. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I met many great wine makers. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.