By: Rafael Tonon
Your next beer bottle will be a “wine” (or something like this, in the lack of a proper name)
On the one side, the beer drinkers. On the other, the wine ones. In the center of the stage, the new market is trying to bring together the two audiences around new beverages that can please all drinkers – those who prefer the grape-based beverage and those who like the hop-based ones.
The gender-free movement seems to have come to beverage market as well: there are a number of breweries and wineries coming together to create new beverages that can please all types of drinkers without distinction – but that can’t fit in any existing shelf category in grocery stores and markets.
After the collaborative brews and many experiments with all kinds of recipes (from the most innovative to bizarre ones), brewers started to see in the wine industry a new perspective to create ingenuous beverages. Germany Freigeist brewer and historian Sebastian Sauer began experimenting with dry-hopped wines in 2012, and launched his first commercial product in 2016.
Coming from the grape-growing Rhineland region, he was quite familiar with the fruity-dry and mineral tastes of the area’s traditional wines, while his extensive brewing background eventually led him to the idea of adding Citra hops, whose bitter and spicy qualities seemed the perfect addition to the robust reds, whites, and rosés of the Pfalz sub-region.
Sebastian works directly with the local artisanal vintners and bottlers at Weingut Schenk-Siebert in Grünstadt to produce his simply-named Dry-Hopped Red, White, and Rosé wines.
The revolutionary Danish brewery Mikkeller recently started producing wines as well, in partnership with a German winery: their first Riesling has a dry hopping of Eldorado hops. Bier Geek Riesling has descriptions to beer or wine geeks, to put an end to disagreements and the distance between them.
Italian Birra del Borgo, for example, decided to create something really new in the market: a hybrid beverage made with 60% part of Sangiovese wine must and 40% part Duchessa (the brewery’s famous Saison). L’Equilibrista is fermented with wine yeast and refermented with champagne yeast, creating a new category – that the market names as “special”, in the lack of a proper name.
In Brazil, the partners behind Coruja brewery are launching Mature, a Sparkling Hop beverage, which they claim to be the world’s first sparkling wine made with hops. Since the South region in Brazil has a long-time tradition and a good reputation as a sparkling wine region, Micael Eckert and Rafael Rodrigues wondered what would happen if they added some hops to the champenoise method to create a whole new beverage. Two years ago, they started to do some tests and now they finally came up with interesting results: a Prosecco/Cascade white wine and a Amarone/Citra red one.
But Nature is not labeled as wine or beer: not only because it doesn’t belong to any of these categories, but also because it doesn’t comply with them according to Brazilian regulatory standards.
It has been labeled as “mixed alcoholic beverage” in order to encompass its own diversity. In Spain, some months ago, Gik wine had a similar problem by daring to be blue – as Spanish laws dictates only red, rose or white ones can be sold in the local market.
By not fulfilling all the requirements of the laws, many new beverages hitting the shelves can’t be considered or labeled as wine, beer or any other pre-established category. That is something that affects all the beverage industry across the world now. In many cases – and it’s important to say – even the manufacturers or entepreneurs don’t want to label their products in a category they don’t belong. But they end up using general terms in lack of better ones – what can make it more difficult to place them in the shelves and, consequently, get in the way of sales.
As new drinks are being created and new intersections are being established (not only by beer and wine, but also regarding tea, coffee, spirits, sodas, and more), it will be more and more necessary for the industry itself to seek a renewal – and realize that the terms that are in the laws may not encompass all the diversity of the new beverages. And that general terms will not work.
Consumers’ behavior change, the industry tries to woo them and the laws should follow suit. It has always been like this!
The “neutral-gender” and the “gender fluid” beverages era will enable the creation of new products that can’t fit any established category and will allow new intersections never before imagined in this industry, creating niches to new products that can please not only wine and beer drinkers, but also spirit drinkers, coffee geeks and tea lovers – without segregating one or the other. The consumer is the one who has to win: more good beverages, less limitations. Cheers!