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Posts Tagged ‘hybrid’

Moscato Liqueur

Moscato is so very popular it can no longer stay contained within the wine context. Here it is — in a liqueur. The product is Courvoisier Gold – Cognac & Moscato. It is classified as a liqueur, made in France, and imported by Jim Beam.

This seems like an important approval because it was not so very long ago that TTB/ATF frowned upon varietal terms — when used on spirits labels — and even when the spirit was made almost entirely from the named grape. For example, it was very common in the 1990s for ATF to say that varietal terms should not be shown, or should not be prominent, on grappa labels, because varietal characteristics are subtle and are not likely to survive past distillation.

It looks like it took Beam many months to get this approval. The application went in on March 5, 2012 and did not get approved until more than three months later. It must be a pretty special grape if it’s the subject of not only a bunch of rap songs, but also a few memes:  problem, freshman, classy, cat.

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Distilled Beer

Q: What do you call spirits distilled from beer?
A: Not “Spirits Distilled from Beer.”

Every now and then we see a “Bierschnapps” or a “spirit distilled from beer.” But even though beer is the main ingredient, most of the U.S. approvals seem to avoid any reference to “beer” or “bier.” It seems that TTB is not in favor of spirits labels that refer to beer.

In the above example, Woodstone Microspirit seems to be, pretty much, just spirits distilled from beer. Even though the producer probably wanted to describe it as “bierschnapps” on the label, the main description is “Spirits Distilled from Grain and Hops.” The producer, back in 2008, set forth his frustrations here:

Beer Schnapps as a label has not been approved by the TTB for 4 months 3 tries and counting, the formula from the local microbrewery was accepted on the 2nd time through.  Its been over 2 years so far and it is fighting me every step of the way. … We are now re-submitting the product with a fanciful name and not calling the product beer schnapps at all.

TTB seems to have allowed a reference to ale but not beer.

Classick is another example of a bierschnapps. I have not been able to find the label approval, but the San Francisco Chronicle discussed the product in 2002:

Bierschnaps, the liquor in question, is relatively unknown outside of its place of origin, Bavaria, Germany. It is made from beer that has been distilled into a clear, 80 proof spirit similar to premium vodka. … Even the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms hadn’t heard of the spirit, so the government officials insisted that Classick and Mirenda provide samples of German bierschnaps to prove its legitimacy. … Four hundred regulations later, in November 1999, Essential Spirits sent to the shelves its first bottle of Classick Original American Bierschnaps, which is distilled from the company’s own micro-brewed California pale ale. In April 2000 came a partnership with a major craft brewer, introducing Sierra Nevada Pale Ale bierschnaps.

TTB has liberalized in many areas and yet various and sundry pockets of great strictness remain.

 

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Dogs + Fishes, Beer + Wine

Shanken News Daily recently alerted us to Dogfish Noble Rot. It is:

a wine/beer hybrid that combines traditional barley, hops, water and yeast with winegrapes. Named for the grape fungus botrytis, which is associated with Sauternes and Tokaji dessert wines, Noble Rot uses Viognier and Pinot Gris grapes sourced from Washington’s Alexandria Nicole Cellars. The 9%-abv offering will be available in about 27 states this week, priced at $13 a 750-ml.

The statement of composition on this product looks a bit redundant, with two references to grape must — but upon closer review it nicely underscores the distinction about adding the grape must before and after fermentation. I wonder if the must added before fermentation could or should be considered wine. Dogfish explains:

The first addition is unfermented juice, known as must, from viognier grapes that have been infected with a benevolent fungus called botrytis. This noble rot reduces the water content in the grapes while magnifying their sweetness and complexity. The second is pinot gris must intensified by a process called dropping fruit, where large clusters of grapes are clipped to amplify the quality of those left behind. “This is the absolute closest to equal meshing of the wine world and the beer world thats ever been done commercially,” says Dogfish’s Sam Calagione.

The Washington Post apparently saw this beer a long time ago and added many crucial details:

Thousands of years ago, notes Sam Calagione, our distant ancestors didn’t draw a semantic line in the sand between beer and wine. Whatever fermentables they had, whether grain or fruit, went into a common pot to produce their unique tipples.

What is noteworthy is that the grapes and the grain each contribute about half of the fermentable sugars.

Given that beer and wine are taxed and regulated differently, did Calagione get any flack from alcohol regulatory authorities? “The only challenge was that the TTB [Tax and Trade Bureau] wanted a better description of at what point we added the grapes,” noted Calagione. For the record, the botrytis-infected must (the unfermented grape juice) is added after the boil, and the pinot gris juice post-fermentation, primarily for extra aroma.

Calagione estimated that he made about 4,400 cases of Noble Rot and expected it to linger on shelves until May. He anticipated prices of $12-13 for a 750-mililiter bottle. That will scarcely recoup his costs, he added. “I paid $62,000 alone to transport a tanker truck of temperature-controlled grape must from coast to coast,” he noted.

Aside from the joy of experimentation, Calagione confesses that he had another reason for producing this beer: “We always wanted to see if a beer with the word ‘rot’ in the name would actually sell.”

We’ve seen plenty of beers and whiskies aged in wine barrels, and beers that look like wine and we will be on the prowl for actual beers with actual wine added. It sounds better than wine with beer added.

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Just One Letter

Sometimes, just one letter can make a big difference. As with TEQUIZA versus TEQUILA. One is beer and the other is quite different.

TTB/ATF first allowed this brand name in 1997, for a malt beverage with natural flavors. A 1999 approval is shown above on the left, and the most recent approval is on the right above. Just a few months after the the 2008 approval, Anheuser-Busch apparently killed Tequiza in favor of Bud Light Lime. At this point, it’s gone almost without a trace, like Champale, Zima and other fading memories.

A lot of the branding stayed the same over the course of twelve years and 29 label approvals. But the legal description got trimmed considerably, during that time, to remove all references to the “NATURAL FLAVOR OF MEXICAN TEQUILA.” This part apparently went too far for the Tequila industry, or TTB, to accept, even if the brand name and agave references did not.

By way of another example, from the movies, Little Fockers probably would not be PG-13 if spelled with a u.

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Happy Ten Ten

We have not seen wine products with added beer or hops. But here, just in time for epic Ten Ten Ten festivities, is beer with added wine or something very closely akin to it.

Vertical Epic is made by Stone Brewing of Escondido, California. It is classified as Ale Brewed with Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc Grapes and Chamomile. We find it interesting that TTB could have, but apparently chose not to, say something like, please remove the grape names as they tend to misleadingly suggest that this is wine. The back label has some good information, such as pointing out that this is the ninth in a series, beginning with a 2/2/2002 beer and so on, “Each one released one year, one month and one day from the previous year’s edition.” The back label also has a helpful link to “a detailed home-brewing recipe.”

Stone’s blog, with lots of videos, further explains:

Initiated in 2002—when the notion that Stone might still be around in 2012 was more hope than certainty— the Stone Vertical Epic Ale series has given Stone brewers an avenue for creative expression while helping spread the good word about the benefits of cellaring beer.

Stone Head Brewer Mitch Steele, who studied enology at UC Davis and spent 8 years toiling as a vintner in his early days, made the trek up to South Coast to watch the grapes that would become 10.10.10 go from vine to juice.

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