In the past two years, I keep hearing the term “wineification” in regards to craft beer. What’s up with that? Who coined this term, and why does it seem to have gained such traction? Yes, it’s true, today’s U.S. craft brewers are attracting both wine and beer lovers alike (see graphic), but that does not mean craft beer as a beverage is trying to be wine.
I say craft brewers don’t need to compare their products to other beverages; but rather present craft beer on its own, sharing its individual merits that carry the beverage beyond the shadow of others. Just look what Wine Spectator had to say about beer in their recent March 2011 issue. Halleluiah!
Also, it seems odd to me that wine experts are often tapped over beer experts to represent beer in media interviews. If they are proud and professional cross-drinkers (those who enjoy fermented beverages across all three categories) that is one thing. But, if their sole bread and butter is just wine or just food, then why are they being asked to speak as an expert on something they may not intimately know about?
Plain and simple, it’s time to say that craft beer and beer are not the little brother (or sister for that matter, as wine is historically enjoyed by more females than males) of fermented grape juice. The beverage of craft beer is its own animal that pairs, tastes, costs, and is presented very differently than wine.
Julia Herz discusses the wineification of craft beer on Bloomberg’s Taking Stock.
Craft Beer & Food
When it comes to pairing with food, I like to say craft beer is helping beer reclaim its place at the dinner table; and yes, a table where wine has reigned supreme in the past. It’s exciting to say that a few of today’s chefs, food arts professionals, and even the likes of Wine Spectator are starting to make these connections with ales and lagers.
Craft beer picks up where wine stops with food. Wine mostly contrasts against foods with its acidity, thus nullifying salt, which helps food flavors become more apparent. Wine also mellows foods’ rich aspects. Craft beer not only contrasts and counteracts against the richness of foods, it also complements and links with food flavors and aromas. This complementing action is only heightened due to the many flavors a craft beer might present, including: roasted, smoked, browned, herbal, citrus and more. Plus, beers carbonation provides a scrubbing action, which actually cleans the tongue, preparing the palate for the next bite. Craft beer is a star, especially when the right beer style is paired against spicy food. It’s common knowledge that wine’s acidity has a difficult time working with heat.
Changes and growth are hitting the craft beer industry at lightning speed these days. It’s high time that enthusiasts defend the entire beer category as its own beverage; independent of the wine industry. In these historic times, I call on all beer lovers to support and advance the “beerification” of beer, with no apologies or looking back!
Julia Herz, Craft Beer Program Coordinator of the Brewers Association (publishers of CraftBeer.com), is a homebrewer, BJCP beer judge and Certified Cicerone™. She will always consider herself a beer beginner on an unending journey to learn more about craft beer. Follow her at @HerzMuses on Twitter or to read about her personal craft beer storey visit the Ladies Of Craft Beer interview.