Tart. Velvety. Earthy. Fruity. There's nothing like the complex, satisfying taste of a glass of wine. Well, maybe not nothing. Would you believe me if I said you could find that same palate in a glass of beer instead?
Though there will never be a perfect one-to-one taste parallel between wine and beer—one's made from grapes, and one's made from grains—Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers best echo the nuanced flavors of wine.
These beers are often brewed with wild yeasts that give a fermented funkiness to the finished product, and frequently have boatloads of cherries and other stone fruit thrown into the mix to enhance the tart fruitiness of the brew. And in another correlation with red wine, the beers that come closest to hitting those signature winey notes are all aged in oak barrels. Funny how that works, right?
If you're a red wine lover who's looking for a subtle switch, give these five wine-esque beers a try. Drink them all on the warm side, around 55˚F, just like you would a glass of Pinot Noir.
5 Beers for Drinkers Who Love Red Wine
- Rodenbach is one of the grandaddy brewers of traditional Flanders red ale—a style characterized by its acidity that comes from oak aging and (as the name implies) a distinctive ruddy color. Their Grand Cru blend is widely available, but keep an eye out for the Vintage series, which corresponds to wine vintages by taking the best of the bunch from a specific year. Cabernet Franc fans, this one's for you.
- Oud Beersel's Oude Kriek Vielle is a stunning representation of a Belgian lambic, another sour beer from the Continent. This one's cask-aged with cherries—the word "kriek" is actually the Dutch word for "cherry," dontcha know? If you love light but tannic Lambrusco, give this highly carbonated bottle a go.
- In typical American craft beer fashion, Wicked Weed's Black Angel tweaks the traditional kriek formula just enough to give you a double-take. Aged in bourbon barrels instead of straight oak, this beer pours almost black into the glass but hits you with jammy flavor like a really tart Zinfandel. (Want something with a little less pucker? Brainless on Cherries from Epic Brewery gives you kriek flavor with a more malty backbone.)
- Should you prefer something a little closer to port, guzzle some Monk's Blood. Inspired by the Flemish ales we know and love but brewed in San Francisco, this dense seasonal offering from 21st Amendment Brewery gets its depth from figs, cinnamon, and vanilla… and oak chips, of course!
- And if the sour mood really strikes you, Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge is the one to try. The tartest of this bunch, this beer is a Flemish red just like Rodenbach, but with a way more powerful punch. This one's for all you who love the crispness and acidity of Gamay (most frequently found in Beaujolais) or Nebbiolo.
What beers do you think match up well with red wine?