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Craft Beer Times | Exploring Beers: The Fusion of Wine & Spirits Inspirations

Exploring Beers: The Fusion of Wine & Spirits Inspirations

Exploring Beers: The Fusion of Wine & Spirits Inspirations


Craft breweries are renowned for their creativity and innovativeness when it comes to crafting delicious beers. Lately, many craft brewers have been experimenting with adding wine and spirits to their brews, resulting in a distinct range of beer offerings. This trend is not new, but it’s gaining steam and popularity among beer enthusiasts. In this article, we’ll explore some of the exciting ways craft brewers are infusing wine and spirits into their brews.

Beer Ageing in Wine Barrels

One of the most common ways of producing wine-inspired beer is by ageing beer in wine barrels, typically made from oak. The barrel-aged beer takes on the character and flavor of the wine that was once held inside the barrel. This process results in unique and complex beers with a hint of red wine, sherry or port.

Brewers choose barrels that have been used for different wines such as whiskey, bourbon, scotch, and tequila. This process is a specialty of Cincinnati’s popular brewery Rhinegeist, whose Bourbon Barrel Aged Champion Ground Imperial Red Ale is a prime example of this style. Stone Brewing Company from San Diego, CA also offers the Arbalest Barrel-Aged English Barley Wine, which is fermented with Brettanomyces and aged in red wine barrels.

Spirits-Infused Beers

Innovative craft brewers have discovered that spirits, when added to their brews, can enhance the texture, aroma, and flavor of beer. The added spirit can provide a wider range of characteristics to the beer such as smokiness, silkiness, or fruitiness. These flavors and aromas can be added to a range of beer styles including dark ales, pilsners, and IPAs.

Inspired by the classic cocktail, the Boulevardier, Chicago-based brewery Goose Island created the “Bourbon County Boulevardier,” an imperial stout infused with cherries, orange peels, and a custom blend of whiskey. Similarly, “The Last Spike” brewed by Grand Rapids brewery Founders Brewing Co. is an amber ale aged in rum barrels as a tip of the hat to the transcontinental railroads’ last spike ceremony.

Wine-Infused Beers

Brewers, who are enthusiastic about wine, are infusing wine into their beers which results in a range of beers with unique qualities. The alcohol content of beer and wine differs, so the brewers have to be cautious about how much wine they introduce into the brewing process. However, when they nail the balance between beer and wine fermentation, the resulting brew can have an exceptional taste.

One of the notable brewing companies for wine-inspired beer is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Sam Calagione, the Dogfish Head brewer, co-created two IPA beers: the “IPA for the Family,” which is an IPA infused with sauvignon blanc grape juice, and a “Red and White IPA” which is an IPA brewed with both pinot noir and pinot gris grapes. Both offer a unique taste to their respective styles.

The Bottom Line

Craft breweries are always looking for new and creative ways to excite their customer’s palates. By adding wine and spirits to their brews, they can both challenge the taste buds and entice new audiences to join this adventure. The wide range of beers that can be produced with spirits are limitless, and we can only expect the trend to continue to expand and develop. So, next time you visit your local craft brewery, don’t hesitate to try out some of these wine and spirit-infused beers; it might be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your craft beer adventure.


Dustin is a writer about craft beer and a professional brewer in the city of Chicago. He has written for several magazines and has over a decade of experience in the beer industry. He is currently working on a book about the history of beer in Chicago.

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