It’s been said that it takes a lot of beer to make wine. The opposite, too, is probably true. Let’s face it, when you’re a vintner in the thick of harvest or a brewer in the midst of another batch, just about the last thing you want to drink is something tied to work.
Hence, the countless beer-stocked fridges in cellars across America and brewers reaching for the wine key as opposed to the draft handle. With their advanced palates and industry expertise, they ought to know a thing or two about what to enjoy.
Here are some drink-makers’ favorite drinks.
Bobby Richards is the associate winemaker at Seven Hills Winery in Walla Walla. It was the first wine operation to open in the downtown district of this charming, wine-adoring eastern Washington town. While Richards loves local beers Quirk and Burwood, his standby is a true icon. “Sierra Nevada is great because we can easily grab it at the grocery store and it is a benchmark pale ale,” he says.
Makes sense given that during the heat of harvest, shifts go well into the wee hours and about the only thing left open — especially in a town of roughly 40,000 — is the bodega down the street.
If Ben Smith isn’t drinking beer, he’s almost always drinking wine. The head brewer at standout Minneapolis brewery Surly likes rosé so much that he made a beer inspired by the wine.
He says his tastes are seasonal and right now he’s enjoying a wine made from the easternmost Canary Island, called Lanzarote. There, vines dig deep beyond the volcanic topsoil for nutrients while on the surface, a rock fence is established to fend off the incessant winds. “Conditions are extreme, to say the least, but this leads to great minerality and flavor, especially in the Rosado,” Smith says.
Charles Bieler is the winemaker at his eponymous label and frequent collaborator, with wine projects like Bandit, Charles and Charles, Gotham Project, and many more. Like a lot of busy vintners, he reaches for milder ales and lagers, such as Modelo Especial.
“I struggle with the big hops of IPA, as it tires me out,” he says. “I like beer to be light and refreshing.”
Josh Phelps launched and makes wine for Grounded Wine Co. As a California producer, he’s in tune with what’s going on in his neighborhood, especially from a beer standpoint.
“I’m really enjoying the hazy IPAs from Armstice Brewing Company,” Phelps says. “It’s a brother-and-sister team doing some really cool stuff out of Richmond, California. Definitely worth checking out.”
Gavin Fine, too, has his preferred refreshment, but in the form of an Old World-style wine. The co-founder of Jackson Hole’s Roadhouse Brewing opts for a summery classic made from Grenache in the Central Coast of California.
“I love the way a beverage can transport you to a totally different time and place,” he says. “Beer aside, there are very few beverages that are able to do this as consistently as a crisp rose.”
The wine takes Fine straight to a busy French café table, where he imagines himself indulging in wine and moules-frites.
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