3 Beers to Drink on New Year’s Eve Instead of Champagne

Posted on December 29th, 2009

With New Year’s eve just around the corner many people are stocking up on champagne and sparkling cider to help ring in the new year. While these beverages can be a great way to celebrate, we think that beer can do just as well, if not better then bubbly. Here are three styles of beers that make wonderful substitutes for champagne on New Year’s Eve.

Biere de champagne– This is an obvious choice for a champagne replacement considering champagne is right in the name. That’s not the only similarity this beer style has with champagne though. As we explained when we profiled this style, biere de champagne goes through the Méthode Champenoise, an traditional process of refermentation which gives champagne many of it’s unique qualities. Flavor wise these beers are very dry, lightly sweet and extremely bubbly, much like actual champagne. Because of the complicated Méthode Champenoise and aging process this beer is usually quite expensive but if you can afford it, Deus is the version to try.

Tripel– This Belgian style originally brewed by Trappist monks is also a great for any celebration. The flavor is light but very malty, with a golden color and clear appearance. With an alcohol percentage frequently over 9% this beer is sure to get any party started, New Year’s or otherwise. Because it’s brewed with Belgian candy sugar, this style tends to be fairly sweet, with none of the dryness associated with biere de champagne. Chimay White is by far the most famous example of this style. Victory’s Golden Monkey is a great American craft beer version.

Wheat Wine– This style is relatively young, but has been gaining popularity among American craft brewers over the last decade. It is a high alcohol wheat beer that really packs a punch. Sometimes known as ‘double wheat’ or ‘imperial wheat,’ this is one brew that’ll keep you warm on a new year’s night. The flavor of this style is quite unique, blending the delicate fruit and cloves of traditional wheat beers like hefeweizens with the warm flavors of alcohol. All in all it’s a wonderful new style that everyone should try when they get the chance. Smuttynose makes a great wheat wine. Pilgrim’s Dole from New Holland is also worth a try if you can find it.

What do you plan on drinking New Year’s Eve? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting your beer next time you enjoy it and adding the #mybeer hashtag

Style Profile: Wheat Wine

Posted on September 8th, 2009

wheatwine

Wheat wine is a relevantly young style of beer, having emerged from  bolder American craft brewers over the last decade or so. For awhile there has been a trend among these brewers to experiment with older, less alcoholic styles by creating high alcohol versions; these bold versions are often dubbed “imperial,” a reference to the extremely potent Russian imperial stout. Some of these experiments work better than others. Over time wheat ale proved to be a style which did extremely well at higher alcohol percentages, and the one-off batches made by various brewers across the country took shape as a more cohesive style.

Photo Credit: Mark Pansing

Photo Credit: Mark Pansing

As a result of its young age and development it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that wheat whine is not a very precise category. Generally speaking, wheat wines feature a smooth, velvety mouth feel and a sweet, but light taste. Its strong alcohol percentage, (which can range anywhere from 7-14%) also gives the beer a warming affect.

Unlike other high alcohol or imperial beers, such as the barley wine, from which it borrows the ‘wine’ part of its name, wheat wine remains a nicely balanced beer thanks to the subtle flowery and citrusy flavors the wheat gives it. This makes it perfect for consumption any time of year. Color and appearance tend to fairly widely, ranging anywhere from a clear amber to a cloudy gold.

Ever had a wheat wine? Although it’s still fairly rare there are plenty of great brewers with examples of the style. New Hamshire’s Smuttynose Brewing makes a great one, and be sure to check out Gamma Ray from Terrapin Brewing in Georgia and  New Holland’s Pilgrim’s Dole from Michigan for wonderful wheat wine. Next time you do let us know what you think about it or any other wheat wine by tweeting your beer and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.